Police discovered an unsupervised baby stroller in the middle of the night in a Chinese park with a note that read, “She won’t survive if we keep her.” Later, it was revealed that the tiny child inside the stroller had epilepsy.
An Epileptic Baby Found in a Park
A baby stroller carrying a 6-month-old baby girl with epilepsy was found in an empty Fengshan park on January 20 along with baby essentials like milk formula, extra clothes and diapers. A heart-breaking note from the parents attached to the stroller explained why they were forced to make the decision of abandoning their own daughter.
The hand-written letter read that even though the decision was selfish, the parents were left with no other choice but to give up on the baby. The police are now searching for the parents who claimed that they could no longer afford to keep the 6-month-old because she has epilepsy.
The parents further explained that they had already used up all of their savings for their daughter’s treatments and now they had no more money left to take care of her. ‘Her life is doomed,’ the letter said and requested whoever found the girl to hand her to a welfare center where she would be better looked after. The parents even said that the 6-month-old loves cuddles and anyone who becomes her new caretaker should give her plenty of hugs to help her calm down.
Chinese Healthcare System Under Scrutiny
The sensitive case has sparked a debate in Chinese media about medical treatments and facilities for children with disabilities with many calling for a healthcare reform to make it easier for parents to afford treatments for children with epilepsy and other disorders.
This isn’t the first case of child abandonment in China. A concerning report form the National Health and Family Planning Commission says that more than 100,000 children are abandoned across the country each year due to poverty and lack of family planning – and most of these kids have some sort of a disability or a mental disorder.
The parents of the 6-month-old epileptic child are being criticized on social media for showing a lack of compassion and responsibility and some blogging sites like Weibo have even commented that that they can’t forgive them for abandoning their child no matter what their reasons were. But was it really the parents’ fault for not having enough resources to look after a child with disability?
Many were condemning the lack of effort by the government in providing security and resources for families taking care of disabled children. One of the social media users said that no child should ever have to face the ordeal of abandonment but the parents also have no other option left in this matter. Chinese children with disabilities are often left uncared for and those who are abandoned are exploited even further instead of being rescued.
An Urgent Need for Improvement in Child Welfare System
China views its disabled children as an economic burden and therefore undesirable. The lack of facilities to look after these children and provide a learning environment for them is driving parents to abandoning or aborting them. The punishment for families who unjustly abandon minors is 5 years in prison whereas if the minor is unable to survive in the dangerous conditions and dies, the Chinese law holds parents or legal guardians accountable for the death and are punishable for murder.
Beijing Angel Mom is a charity foundation dedicated to helping minors who are no longer accepted by their families. The founder of the charity, Qiu Lili, says that she doesn’t blame the parents for the difficult decision they have to make. These aren’t bad people, they’re simply helpless against their circumstances and it is up to the government to make their jobs of providing care for disabled children easier.
China’s expensive health care system affects low-income families the most who often pay very high deductibles and co-payments on health insurance in return for unreliable coverage from insurance companies.
Most parents don’t even have insurance for infants because of the high costs, which makes the problem even worse. Healthcare for the disabled in bigger Chinese cities such as Beijing and Shanghai is largely subsidized but this isn’t the case with smaller cities where child welfare sector still needs major improvements.