'Mom' of 100 babies triggers controversy

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Yuan Lihai, a 46-year-old woman who has adopted more than 100 abandoned babies over the past 25 years, has aroused the public's curiosity about what kind of person she is, the Henan Business Daily reported Thursday.

Yuan Lihai, right, holds a baby born with a harelip in Lankao county, Central China's Henan province, Sept 7, 2011.

Yuan Lihai, right, holds a baby born with a harelip in Lankao county, Central China's Henan province, Sept 7, 2011.

Yuan, who started to adopt babies in 1986, is called "mom" by her adopted children.

Of all the children she has adopted over the years, 39 young children are still living with her in Lankao county, Central China's Henan province, as those who have grown up have left her to work or are married with their own families.

Most of the babies were found suffer from diseases when they were adopted, said Yuan who added that some of them were too weak to survive.

At first, it was Yuan's love of children that prompted her to adopt abandoned babies she saw at gates of hospitals. Since then she has became well known for adopting babies across the county, and has had some babies abandoned directly outside her house. Even the police officers and hospital personnel sent abandoned babies to her.

Thanks to the stress of caring for the adopted babies Yuan and her husband separated, but fortunately other family members agreed to help her take care of the adopted children.

As the number of adopted babies grew, Yuan found that her house was not big enough to raise so many children. To solve this problem, she sent some children to her relatives' homes, including her biological son, and found other places for the children to live.

Nowadays Yuan employs four people to help take care of the children.

While receiving a lot of praise for her kindness, there are also some doubts as to her intentions, because there is a considerable expense associated with Yuan, who is not wealthy, raising so many children.

Some doubters say Yuan sells the healthy children on for profit or cheats in insurance claims for minimum living costs.

Yuan denies the claims, and says she earns enough money in other ways to raise the children. Yuan receives some aid from people she has helped and earns money from other business ventures including a store operated by her sister and a house for renting.

Yuan says she receives a minimal 4,000 yuan of guaranteed relief allowance each month, but says that it is far from enough to cover her costs and expenses.

Yuan admits that she did send some children to other willing adopters, but says it was without charge.

In an attempt to ensure the adopted children have a better life, local authorities have advised Yuan to give up custody of the remaining children, so that they can be sent to official homeless shelters.

However, Yuan says she does not want to give up the children due to emotional ties that exist between her and the children.

Though confronted with difficulties and doubts, Yuan is still willing to accept more abandoned babies. She says that when she passes away, she will let her natural son continue to raise the children or send them to an official homeless shelter.

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