China Little Flower
China Little Flower is a medical orphanage in the Shunyi District of Beijing. The home is in a villa, reconfigured to serve this very valuable and beautiful work. When I first arrived in Beijing in 2011, there were, on a regular basis, about 40 babies there. Now the number is roughly 60.
As I learned from the founder of Little Flower about a week ago, medical problems are the primary reason why children are abandoned in China. There really is no national health care, and the costs for treating a baby with a life-threatening or chronic disease can be well beyond the means of many families. So, as I understand it, thousands of these children each year are left in hospitals, where they enter the orphanage system. Some are left at the orphanages themselves. Interestingly, perhaps sadly, this phenomenon of child abandonment is relatively recent in China’s history. Apparently it began to grow exponentially following the opening of China in the 1980s.
About a third of the state-run orphanages are apparently well run, a third make an honest effort at trying to do well, and a third are where babies and young children go to die, victims of institutional neglect and disease. The quality of these orphanages depends, as one might infer, on the financial status of the municipalities in which they exist. If the village or city is well off, so, most likely, will be the orphanages. If however the area is poor, all bets are off. For those so inclined, one can find on Youtube segments of the 1995 BBC documentary, “The Dying Rooms,” which portray the horrific conditions of the poor state-run orphanages. I have been told that things have improved since then, but are still not good for thousands upon thousands of babies and children across China.
China Little Flower, which came into being in the 1990s, is private founded and established by a couple from the United States, but who have made China their home. It is also one of the few orphanages in China that is able to provide round-the-clock medical care for babies, preemies, as well as children born with cleft palates, digestive and coronary conditions, infections and so on. In cases, it will fly children outside China for specialized surgeries that cannot be done within the country. It is not a long-term orphanage. Rather, other homes send babies to Little Flower for specific medical care. When the children are well enough to leave Little Flower, they are then sent back to the orphanages from which they came, with the express mandate that these children be adopted. Little Flower itself cannot and does not do adoptions. These are done by the government. In January of 2012, Little Flower joined with the Beijing Chunmiao Children’s Aid Foundation.
Over the course of the past two years I have visited Little Flower regularly, and have introduced it to others, students and colleagues alike. As I mentioned before, it is an amazing place, where medical care is combined with warmth and love. I am always inspired by my visits there, inspired and filled with hope. It is one of the reasons why I wish to continue to stay in China.