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Caring for families that lost their only child

(CRI Online)

15:35, March 13, 2013

Professor Wang Ming from Tsinghua University says that he started to pay attention to families who lost their only child when he wrote his proposal to suggest that the country revise its family planning policy. [Photo: Wei]

How to take care of elderly parents who have lost their only child is a growing problem for Chinese society. Such families are faced with serious economic, psychological, and social security difficulties.

Due to China's One Child Policy adopted in 1979, millions of families gave birth to only one child.

If such families lose the child, or the child becomes disabled after the parents lose their childbearing ability, they will become a "Shi Du Jia Ting", literarily translated as families who lost their only child.

The number of these families has been surging in China in recent years.

With low incomes and being out of physical condition, their lives are much more lonely and helpless.

Professor Wang Ming from Tsinghua University started to pay attention to such a special group of people when he wrote his proposal to suggest that the country revise its family planning policy.

"What does a family mean? A family is made up of parents and their child. The child represents the future and hope. A family who lost their only child is like a family who lost their future and hope."

Ms. Wang is a mother who lost her only son years ago.

"When I was getting old, I made a plan for my old age. I would have been very happy to help my son bring up his child, but now I've already lost the chance."

According to Wang Ming, the problem is caused by the special national family planning policy, so the government should take the responsibility to help them.

He also suggests the government revise the adoption law in order to encourage and support such families to adopt an orphan if they are willing to.

For families who don't intend to adopt, article 27 of the Law on Population and Family Planning states that local governments should provide necessary help to them, if they've already passed the age of giving birth to a second child.

But national advisor Yang Jia, vice-chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, thinks the government should revise this article, since it didn't say clearly what kind of help is necessary to these families.

"We should mention the necessary help must come from all the three areas -- namely economic, psychological, as well as health care and old age like nursing homes, so that the local government knows where to pay attention and where to support them."

As a female advisor, Yang also suggests building a mutual support network among mothers who lost their only child instead of just waiting for government support.

"Such mothers can have peer help. We are in the internet age. I think the government or NGOs should set up more networks or platforms for those mothers to communicate more, and to organize more activities."

According to Yang's research, right now there are more than 1 million families who lost their only child in China. By the year 2035, the number will be more than 10 million.

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