Lost and Found

An abandoned baby on the streets of Shanghai.

Patti Waldmeir

Chinese baby. Click image to expand.Are Chinese orphans better off than they used to be?

One might easily see such a thing in a Shanghai alleyway and think nothing of it: a bundle of fabric tied up with a rope. Except that this particular bundle was screaming.

I could not tell at first if the squalling child was male or female, but I knew exactly what it was doing there: a desperate mother had swaddled her newborn infant in several layers of clothing and left it alone in the winter darkness—so that it could have a chance to live.

For me, it was an all-too-familiar story: my own two daughters were abandoned at birth, left alone in a Chinese street to the mercy of strangers. But that was more than a decade ago—a decade in which China has become a powerful force in markets from natural resources to sports cars, from luxury goods to aircraft carriers. In a China of diamond iPads and gold-plated limousines were babies still ending up in anonymous alleyways?

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