China’s children are a treasure. Since China has been operating for years under a “one child” policy, these single children are well loved, well valued, and well spoiled. It’s not uncommon in the city to see two parents and two grandparents doting over a single beautiful toddler boy or girl, dressed up, fat and happy. It makes me smile every time. I love how generations in china work together on raising the youngest ones. I love the care they take with the children they raise.
In a world of supply and demand, though, due to human nature’s inclination towards reproduction, the supply of children is much too high here. The demand too low. This means only the best will be kept; those children who arrive at the right time, in the right place and to the right set of people. Those children who are physically flawless, whose future is secure and sealed.
So what happens to those suffering the minor blemishes that flaw so much of humanity? The ones who come with medical issues or physical disfigurements? They are discarded. Like vegetables sold to produce stores, these blemished and marked children are singled out for rejection. With supply high, the demand is for beautiful healthy babies.
It’s these “as is” children that we see in an endless parade in the China Hotel where we, and many other adoptive families stay. The picture is always the same, white foreign mom and dad, Chinese child, clearly adopted, sometimes other siblings. Almost every child has a visible defect: port wine stains across her face, missing hand or foot, clept lip, down syndrome. And for those who have no visible flaw we study them, left wondering what lies hidden beneath their seeming beauty: Hepatitus B, a heart defect, brain malfunctions or HIV.
We know that every single one of these child is one of the walking wounded. They are the unwanted, the discards, the returns.
I watch the Chinese locals take in the sight of these foreign families with their damaged children at the swimming pool, in the lobby and at the buffet. Some look angry and annoyed, others compassionate and grateful. Most look merely curious, and I wonder how foolish we must look to them, us Americans. They have rejected the flawed, the broken, the disfigured and the damaged and we have paid extra to take them home.