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'Guang' Dropped as Surname for Orphans

Starting this year, Guangzhou's orphanage has stopped giving its wards the surname "Guang" to prevent them from being identified as orphans.

All children adopted by the orphanage are being given the surname "Li" this year, the Guangzhou-based Southern Metropolis Daily said yesterday. "Wang" will be used next year, followed by other Chinese surnames listed in the Baijiaxing, a book of 100 common surnames. Staff members of the orphanage said they would also try to think of unique names for each child, rather than middle names representing the location of orphanage, and a randomly picked given name.

The children can also pick their own name later if they do not like the name given by the institute, the head of the orphanage said.

Abandoned children are given their names upon entering the orphanage, the paper said. With several hundred children living in the institute, and a small number of staff members, children are normally given the surname "Guang," representing Guangzhou, followed by one of several middle names, such as "Tian," "Bai," or "Li" which represent Tianhe, Baiyun and Liwan districts respectively.

The given names provided are "Yong," meaning bravery, or "Hong," meaning redness. Other given names often chosen are "Qiang," "Wen," "Ping" or "Cui" meaning strength, literacy, duckweed and green respectively. These names often mark them out as having been residents of the orphanage, and are not good for their psychology when they try to interact with the outside world, the orphanage has found.

In China, such a practice of naming is widely adopted in orphanages. In Shenzhen, children in the welfare center are often given the surname "Shen."

(Shenzhen Daily February 13, 2006)

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