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Ray of hope for parents who adopt after losing a child
January 09,2018   By:China Daily

Jan. 9, 2018 -- Couples who adopt after losing their only child could be brought into a central government system that provides financial support to help them cope in old age.

Liu Yan and her husband adopted a baby boy in 2012, two years after the sudden death of their first son.

"Our adopted son saved us from hell," said the 48-year-old, who spoke on condition of using a pseudonym to protect her family's privacy. "We've been raising him as if he was the son I gave birth to."

Liu, 48, used to work at a power plant in Taiyuan, Shanxi province, but had to quit to look after her son, who is now 5 years old and has started kindergarten.

However, because they adopted, the couple is not eligible to receive the government relief-including monthly subsidies-that is offered to families who have lost their only child.

"We've suffered the same loss and endured the same pain, but we get nothing in compensation," Liu said, adding that she and dozens of other adoptive parents have contacted the National Health and Family Planning Commission in recent years to demand policy support.

"We want to enjoy the same benefits," she said.

A statement from the commission released last week has offered these families a ray of hope. It stated that the top health authority is looking into extending support policies for parents who lose their only child to include those who go on to have another child, either through natural birth or adoption.

China established a relief system in 2008 for people who lose their only child, allowing them to claim benefits once they turn 49 years old.

The monthly subsidy was 340 yuan ($52) per person in 2016, according to the national health commission, although the amount varies depending on the region. In Beijing, for example, each parent gets 500 yuan a month.

Parents can also receive other support, such as help with medical bills for those in financial difficulty, and are given priority at public nursing homes for those age 60 or above, the commission said.

China's family planning policy, adopted in the late 1970s, limited most couples in urban areas to only one child for three decades. However, in 2016, all couples were permitted to have a second child.

Zhang Jing, a tutor at China Women's University in Beijing, said many couples who have lost their only child but later had another child, naturally or via adoption, also face many difficulties.

"Many of them were already over 50 when they lost their child, so they had to resort to assisted reproductive technologies or adopt," she said. "But they have to face economic burdens such as education and medical fees for the child, so they also need support from the government."

More than 1 million families were childless in 2012 due to the death of their only child, and that number increases annually by 76,000, according to a report by the China National Committee On Aging in 2013.

By: Wang Xiaodong

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