Orphanage manager pledges to stop taking abandoned children after fire tragedy

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 January, 2013, 2:11pm
UPDATED : Monday, 14 January, 2013, 2:20pm

Yuan Lihai, the 48-year-old woman who ran an unlicensed orphanage in central China’s Henan province, said she would not adopt any abandoned children in future, the Beijing Times reported on Tuesday.

“If someone sends me an unwanted child, I will just call police and ask them to take the children,”she said.

Yuan became the focus of media attention after her orphanage in Lankao county caught fire on Friday, killing seven children.

Some have accused her of taking children in to turn a profit, to which Yuan said: “Shoot me if you have any evidence that I sold children.”

Yuan has taken in more than 100 children over the past 26 years, but she never used formal adoption procedures. Yuan would not have been legally allowed to adopt them because she has children of her own.

After the tragedy, Yuan moved all surviving children to government orphanages in Lankao and Kaifeng city, the report said. Yuan said she greatly missed them, “Sending them away was like ripping out my heart,” she said in tears.

Yuan had asked her son to drive her to the Kaifeng orphanage on Monday, about 60 kilometres from Lankao. They turned back halfway because the 48-year-old was not well, the report said.