Yuan Lihai and her last adopted baby. [Photo: Shanghai Morning Post]
Yuan Lihai, the controversial and unlicensed Chinese caretaker, said on Monday that she will never adopt homeless children again, Beijing Times reported.
Yuan made her return to the countryside yesterday morning, with the intention of taking her last adopted baby to a charity home in Kaifeng. Unfortunately however, her currently ill health did not allow her to do so.
Yuan Lihai, a woman from Lankao County, Henan Province, has been raising homeless children, orphans and abandoned babies with birth defects, at her own expense for 20-odd years. In total, she adopted over 100 homeless children over the past two decades, making her known as "Foster Mother" in her area.
On the morning of Jan. 4, 2013, disaster struck. A fire broke out in Yuan's two-story home while she was taking some of the older children to school. Seven lives, six young children and one 20-year-old, were lost in the fire.
Yuan started having breathing difficulties and heart irregularities late Saturday night and was rushed to hospital. When she woke up, she remembered there was yet another child...
Her relatives have stated that one month ago, Yuan adopted a newborn baby and asked an elderly woman to look after it, with Yuan herself visiting from time to time. After the fire, she had no time to further deal with the adotpion and felt like she no longer had the ability to raise the child. Subsequently, Yuan intended to place the baby in a charity home.
Yuan was in low spirits on Monday morning when she took the baby to a local hospital in her area and asked to see her other adopted children. She broke down in tears as she found out all the children had been taken away, and said it felt as if "you've taken away my heart." Yuan's elder son then decided to drive her and the baby to the Kaifeng home, but he had to turn around halfway. Given Yuan's current physical and mental condition, she may very well have fainted when actually faced with the children. Around 3 p.m. that same afternoon, an unknown middle-aged woman took the baby to Kaifeng instead.
Yuan said that in the past few years, whenever children would be delivered to her doorstep, she simply had to take them in; otherwise she would not be able to live with herself. Yet in recent years, her health had been deteriorating and she realized she had her limits. Consequently, when government officials asked her to transfer her children to a charity home, she gave up ten of the younger ones. Nevertheless, she refused to let go of the older ones for the time being. But then tragedy fell upon her home.
Yuan said she has nothing left now, and is going to return her subsistence allowance to the government. "I don't have a nickel in the bank. The children are all gone, so that allowance is now useless," she said. When asked if she were to continue to adopt, she was momentarily dazed by the question and said, "It's a human life, do you want me watch that die?"
Not long after, however, she added she would never adopt children again. Even if someone leaves a child on her doorstep, she intends to call the police and let them handle it.
Yuan's charity actions have sparked a national debate on whether or not her actions should be considered good deeds or illegal ones. Online rumors also read that Yuan might be cheating the government out of subsistence allowance by raising orphans in her own house. What's even worse, she may have been unlawfully profiting from under-the-table adoption deals.
Yuan has so far categorically denied all speculations.