In many parts of the world we take it for granted that all children are of equal worth — regardless of their gender.
But there are also many places in the world where having a boy or a girl makes an important difference.
In the 1980s, China introduced the one child policy, which led to many gender-selective abortions and abandoned children.
In China, having a daughter is not always as desirable as having a son. A son is thought to have a better chance than a daughter of getting a job — not to mention a better paid one.
This way of thinking has caused major social problems in China when it comes to how women are viewed.
Many couples who have had daughters since the one-child policy was enacted, have decided to place them in orphanages in the hope that they will be of adopted.
But not every parent has done that. At worst, parents would kill their newborn girls, but more commonly they would abandon them in the woods or on the street — in a shoebox.
One person who refused to just watch when this would happen was Yu Shangzhong.
According to News Asia, Yu Shangzhong and his wife adopted their first daughter 35 years ago, when Yu Shangzhong was 40 years old.
Four years later, Yu Shangzhong found a little abandoned girl on the street. The baby was in a shoe box and Yu didn’t have the heart to leave her there, so he brought her home.
Yu and his wife also adopted that girl and through the years, the couple came to adopt twelve girls.
Yu found his two youngest daughters in abandoned shoeboxes as well, in 1998. The girls had been born only a week apart.
Although blessed with a big family, life hasn’t been very easy for Yu and his wife, who live in Wenzhou, in Chekiang Province.
Yu, who was the only one able to support the family, had to do his best through temporary positons.
It was difficult to put food on the table and feed all the children.
“We had tough days. When I was a little girl, my mother carried me on her back, collecting scraps or even begging,” Yu Caisong, the eldest daughter, told the South China Morning Post. “People gave us money and some old clothes.”
Because of the difficult conditions they were living in, Yu and his wife decided to find another couple who could adopt their eldest daughters as they grew older.
That would give their daughters the chance of a better life. Four of the girls are studying at the university today with some financial support from the government.
Five of the daughters remain with Yu and his wife.
In Yu’s living room hangs a framed picture with a Chinese embroidery made by one of his daughters. On it Chinese letters can be seen which translate as “a peaceful family will prosper.”
After everything the family has gone through, it chooses to look to the future with light and positivity.
For Yu’s 70th, his children all got together to buy him a gold ring as a token of their appreciation.
This story is a great reminder of how fortunate we are in certain parts of the world.
And it’s hard not to be moved by Yu’s commitment to help these vulnerable girls, who are now his daughters!
Please share this article to pay tribute to Yu Shangzhong, a man who deserves our deepest respect.