The Care in Chinese Orphanages, by Steve Forslind

Steve & Carol Forslind of Nashua, New Hampshire, are two very lucky parents who have adopted four daughters, 7 year-old Victoria Xinfen, 7 year-old Brittany Juanjuan, 13 year-old Jayne Taomei, and 13 year-old Melody Yuanyuan. 

Steve & Carol have shared their adoption experiences with families who are planning to adopt or have adopted children from China. With their permission, we have selected one of Q&A that Steve has published in his website:


Were Tory and Brit both in foster care before adoption? I have heard so many things that concern me about the care in some of the orphanages. I just worry about the children that have managed to survive even longer in these poorer run orphanages.


Most of what you've heard about the care in Chinese orphanages is probably unfounded alarmist, inflamatory stuff. Granted, there are bad orphanages everywhere in the world, but the one thing that must be taken into consideration is that China has a different culture than we have, and we can't judge their way of doing things by (our) Western standards. For instance: They think we're barbarians because we slaughter cows and eat beef. Western society thinks it's just horrible that they should kill and eat kittens and puppies. Perish the thought! We don't live by their standards; we can no more expect that they should live by ours. I suspect that some of your concern may have stemmed from the "Dying Rooms" piece that aired on CBS's "Eye to Eye" some time back. It must be said that the piece was not shown, and definitely not understood by many viewers, in the true context of Chinese culture. They, as we, do not euthanize (kill) terminally-ill children. They allow them to die as quietly and comfortably as possible and with as much dignity as their system of medicine can and will allow. The Chinese are very warm, caring, and compassionate people.

All of the people I know who saw the piece on CBS, and have never been to China, were outraged that such a practice exists there. Everyone else I know who saw the piece, those of us who have actually been there, were just as outraged that CBS should show it in that context, and possibly so offend and enrage the Chinese government that they might close their doors to international adoption, particularly to Americans. There was, and still is, genuine concern that China might do just that. Such an event would be most tragic, I'm sure you'd agree.

The Chinese treat their children in the orphanages with great love and care, and give the children every material advantage that they are capable of giving them. We saw that love and that care in the eyes of the orphanage officials that accompanied our daughters when they were delivered to us in the hotels in Suzhou and Nanjing.

Our daughters are delightful. They're cheerful, affectionate, friendly, considerate, and very caring. We can tell; we could tell in the first few minutes of knowing them; they had not ever been mistreated in the slightest way. I would be far and away more concerned about the living and emotional situation of a child being adopted right here in the United States. I would be infinitely more concerned about the possibility of getting a "crack" baby, or a child with severe emotional problems right here, which just happened to be some of the subject matter not too long ago on CNN Presents.

As to worrying about the children that have managed to survive in the poorer run orphanages; I wouldn't worry. No orphanage is an easy place in which to live. The children that have survived living in them, whether poorly run or not, I'm convinced are much stronger for the experience. They've learned discipline along the way and how to make the best of a situation, something we here in the West seem to be forgetting to teach our children. Just watch the evening news!

If you want to know more about Steve & Carolís experiences, please visit their site at