Sad Story With Triggers

Liu Xuezhou

Trigger Warning: Content contains explicit details about suicide and suicidal thoughts.

When Liu Xuezhou‘s story first went viral last month, it brought together people from all corners of the internet — and the world. On December 6, the 17-year-old shared a video on the Chinese social media platform Weibo, where he asked the public for help in finding his biological family. Amazingly, thousands of strangers joined forces, and before long, the teen was able to connect with his birth parents. But instead of finding some closure and peace in the reunion, Liu was heartbroken when they both shunned him. Tragically, it appears the experience was so devastating that Liu took his own life over the weekend, Chinese media reported.

The teen was in the dark about his exact birth date, as his adoptive parents only knew that he was born sometime between 2004 and 2006 in Hebei, a province in northern China. He was purportedly sold by his parents as a baby. His biological mother has disputed this saying it was complicated. At some point during the adoption process, Zhang said that the “middleman” who transferred Liu to his adoptive parents insisted on giving them money for the child. The child was “sold” for $4,200 – most of which went to the middleman.

When Liu was just 4 years old, his adoptive parents both died on the same day in a freak accident. Over the years, he was passed from relative to relative, never truly calling any one place his home. To make matters even worse, he reportedly struggled financially for most of that time. After his story went viral, the teen shared that he’d taken on a part-time job to help pay for his schooling and was living in a run-down home, where he was barely scraping by.

Detectives were quickly able to track down Liu’s biological father using DNA testing, and the two were finally able to meet just weeks after the teen initially shared his story. The pair met up in Shijiazhuang, the capital of Hebei. Though the boy hoped he could go and live with his father. The man told his son that he simply couldn’t because he was already raising another family of his own.

Then, the teen found his biological mother in Inner Mongolia and arranged to meet with her in person, with the same hopes to be taken in. Her reason was also that she’d started a family of her own and simply “wanted a peaceful life.” 

At first his parents pooled some money together and sent him on a vacation to Sanya, a city on Hainan Island. But when he continued to ask them for help with finding a new place to stay, they reportedly refused. In fact, his mom even blocked his phone number and social media accounts, essentially cutting him off from all contact with her. Both parents claimed Liu asked them to buy a house for him and that they were poor when they gave him up and were still too poor to do anything of that sort. Liu claims he was merely asking for money to help cover his rent.

Having been “abandoned twice by his biological parents,” which had deeply affected him – it was the subsequent cyberbullying that made things even worse.  The 17-year-old reportedly died from an overdose of antidepressants. His aunt confirmed his death with local media outlets, sharing he was found early Monday morning and immediately rushed to a hospital in Sanya, China, before he was pronounced dead.

This story highlights the very real and dangerous nature of child trafficking, which sadly occurs all over the world but is particularly egregious in China. Under Chinese law, child trafficking can be punishable by up to 10 years in prison. But even so, the nation remains ranked as one of the world’s worst countries for human trafficking.

The Easiest Way To Get A Newborn

A couple said publicly that they were going to foster a pregnant teenager, so they could take her newborn from her and adopt it when it was born. They are telling other hopeful prospective adoptive parents that if they adopt a pregnant teen, its the easiest way to get a newborn. Oh my. This was written as a comment in a Facebook group called “US Kids For Adoption.”

One woman in my all things adoption group shared – remember when I was pregnant at age 15 with my daughter, there were lots of predatory people trying this with me. I’m not surprised at all.

Here is an example of what it means to care about others – one woman shares that she has a friend who fostered two pregnant teens with the sole goal of keeping the moms and babies together. Now that the teens are grown and moved out, she is still in their lives and acts as an extra grandma to the babies. Wow !!

Another woman shares her story, she was not a teen but 25 years old. She was already a single mom and 33 weeks pregnant with her second child. The prospective adoptive couple said they couldn’t afford to help her with her own baby but they were very quickly able to raise $20,000 to have lawyer write up the papers for a direct placement adoption. It is predatory.

One woman noted that – Those types of posts need to be reported as child trafficking because that’s exactly what that they are.

Orphanage And Tourism

Two words – Orphanage Tourism – that should NEVER be linked together but sadly are.

I had no idea that this was a thing or problem.  Lumos, a children’s charity founded by Harry Potter author, J K Rowling, is shining a light on a practice that is seen as contributing good but is actually causing the problem of family separation and child trafficking.

“Despite the best of intentions, the sad truth is that visiting and volunteering in orphanages drives an industry that separates children from their families and puts them at risk of neglect and abuse,” Rowling said.

“Institutionalism is one of the worst things you can do to children in the world. It has huge effects on their normal development, it renders children vulnerable to abuse and trafficking, and it massively impacts their life chances. And these dire statistics apply even to what we would see as well-run orphanages … The effect on children is universally poor.”

Huge numbers of volunteers, tourists and backpackers visit residential children’s institutions every year, creating a multimillion-dollar tourism industry that leaves children at risk for many forms of abuse, according to Lumos.

Children in institutions are 500 times more likely to take their own lives, 40 times more likely to have a criminal record and 10 times more likely to be involved in prostitution.

Most people are unaware that 80% of the 8 million children currently living in orphanages worldwide have at least one living parent.  The children are placed due to reasons of poverty, disability, or to receive an education, and many have a family who could care for them, given the right support.  Parents are told that their child will be fed and educated, yet schooling is rare and the children often go hungry – even as thousands of tourists visited the orphanage each year.

These children are not tourist attractions. They are not zoo animals to be viewed on an outing. They have lives and destinies.  Children worldwide are increasingly being trafficked into institutions to attract donations and volunteers.  Families, and their children, are being targeted by ‘child-finders’ who are sometimes paying them or otherwise encouraging them to give their child up to the orphanage for a ‘better life’, with education being one of the main reasons, usually because of poverty.