Based on the cover
story of Caixin Century magazine’s May 9th issue.
Yang Libing always bring the photo of his first born daughter Yang Ling with
him through his years of searching for her. She would be 7 years old by now.
10 months after born, Yang Ling was taken away by officials from local one
child policy office. The reason was that the family didn’t pay “social raising
fee". Yang had never saw his daughter again.
One day in 2009, Yang and his wife Cao Zhimei was shown a photo of a little
girl. Yang knew the moment he looked at the photo that this is his daughter. The
photo was taken in the US. Yang’s baby girl is now some American parents’ sweet
Yang Libing’s daughter was born on July 29th, 2004. He named his first
daughter Yang Ling, a common girl’s name just like Jennifer or Lily. Yang and
his wife stayed with their daughter for 6 months and then left their rural home
in Hunan and went to the southern metropolitan Shenzhen to work. Their daughter
Yang Ling stayed with her grandparents at home. Parents work in the city and the
grandparents take care of the child at home. That’s very typical for immigrant
workers in China.
One day in 2005 while calling home in Shenzhen, Yang learned the shocking
news, his daughter was taken away by local officials. Yang rushed from Shenzhen
to home but it was too late. How can they take away my only child? Yang figured
the reason would be that since both the parents are working and left the child
with the grandparents, the one child policy
office thought this girl was
adopted. Family who adopted child should pay “social raising fee", which gave
them an excuse to take the girl away.
Yang’s father remembered that day. It was April 29th, 2005. Around 10 people
from local one child policy office came to their house. Yang’s mother saw them
from the window and immediately went away with the child to hide. They hid in
the pig farm. After searching, the officials found the child in the pig farm and
took her away because “social raising fee" was
Yang’s father went with them but the officials demanded 6000 yuan to release
the girl. Yang’s father only raised 4000 at that moment. On the next day the
officials said they won’t release the child even if Yang’s father gave the
10,000 yuan. When Yang came back home from Shenzhen his daughter was already
transferred to the city welfare center. Information said for every child sent to
the welfare center, an official would receive 1,000 yuan or more. And for every
child adopted by a foreign family the welfare center would receive 3,000 US
dollar. Before being “sold" aboard, these children would be announced as orphan
by local government. This is a legal business.
Yang Ling was not alone. Child taking was phenomenon in Gaoping. Gao ping is
a poor rural village located in the mountain area of Hunan province in
Southwestern China. Behind this phenomenon were not just economic interest but
also political one. One child policy was made a national policy in 1982. To
implement it Hunan province linked the implementation of the policy with the
local officials’ career like what many other provinces did. If their were people
violating the one child policy in the local administrative area, the local
administrator would not receive promotion and many other benefits for a year.
This way of implementation worked but it got worse and worse. Before 1997 the
slogan was the local officials would just “tear down the house" or “take the
parent away" if a family had more than one children.
But after 2000 they
would “take your child away". Maybe that’s when the officials discover the
business of exporting children.
A Chinese in the US, Ye, found out about Yang’s story and helped to find the
girl that is very likely to be Yang Ling, Yang’s long lost daughter. Ye didn’t
take any further action except making sure the girl was adopted and informing
Yang. Ye said the little girl is living a happy life with her American parents
and her adopted parents loved her very much. I am sure Yang
daughter very much too. But he was just a farmer in rural China. His lifetime
saving won’t be enough for a air ticket to the US that seemed impossibly far far
(illustration by Brain