Four months after the disastrous Sichuan earthquake, only one of 88 orphaned children eligible for adoption has found a new home, announced Sichuan officials.
Zhang Anyun, a 10-year-old pupil with the Hanwang Central Primary School in Mianzhu, was adopted by an unnamed couple from the provincial capital of Chengdu last Friday, according to Li Boshan, an official with the Mianzhu municipal bureau of civil affairs.
The Sichuan provincial department of civil affairs announced on August 23 that qualified mainland families could adopt 88 children orphaned in the May 12 earthquake.
One reason for the slow response is that many of the orphans have disabilities, sources from the department said.
Of 532 children who lost their parents in the magnitude 8 quake which killed nearly 70,000 people, 240 are under 14. Most of them have grandparents or other relatives as guardians. Only 88 in the hard hit cities of Deyang, Mianzhu, Mianyang and Guangyuan and the Aba Tibetan and Qiang autonomous prefecture have no relatives to care for them, according to deputy department chief Chen Kefu.
Zhang Anyun's parents were both killed when their rented apartment in Hanwang town in Mianzhu collapsed. According to Chen, Sichuan gives priority to the relatives of orphans, but Zhang's grandparents are over 80 and could not afford to support him.
The Ministry of Civil Affairs states that only childless Chinese over 30 can be considered adoptive parents.
Only children under 14 can be adopted.
Children over 10 must give their permission to be adopted.
"Zhang Anyun signed his name agreeing to be adopted after living with the couple for some time in Chengdu," said Li of the Mianzhu municipal bureau.
The status of orphans can only be determined with death certificates of both parents issued by police or hospitals.
Those whose parents are missing must wait for two years for a court to declare their parents dead, according to Jiang Tao, chief of the division in charge of adoption in the Sichuan provincial department of civil affairs.
Most of those intending to adopt quake orphans are hoping for children like Zhang, who are not disabled.
They would also prefer them to be under six years old.
However, many of the children were disabled in the quake, which has made adoptive parents hesitate, according to Jiang's division.
Of the 88 eligible children, 28 are between 5 and 10 years old and 54 are between 10 and 14 years-old.
Most of them suffer from physical or other disabilities.
In the meantime, the provincial government has set up temporary foster homes or boarding schools and has provided a monthly allowance of 600 yuan for each orphan.
1. How many children can be adopted in the May 12 earthquake?
2. What determines if a child is an orphan?
3. If the parents of a child are missing, how long will it take to declare the child an orphan？
1. 88 orphans.
2. If the death certificates of both parents are issued by the police or hospitals.
3. Two years.
(英语点津 Helen 编辑）
About the broadcaster:
Bernice Chan is a foreign expert at China Daily Website. Originally from Vancouver, Canada, Bernice has written for newspapers and magazines in Hong Kong and most recently worked as a broadcaster for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, producing current affairs shows and documentaries.