A poor Chinese man who dedicated the last 35 years of his life to raising abandoned baby girls has earned the respect and admiration of Chinese readers after his story was published recently.
Now retired at 75 years old, Yu Shangzhong used his meager income as a mortuary worker in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, to support all his adopted children.
According to the Qianjiang Evening News, Yu was 40 years old when he and his late wife adopted their first child, a baby girl.
Yu would adopt another child after coming across an infant girl dumped in a paper box about four years later, reports the South China Morning Post.
This would be followed by another abandoned baby girl at a nearby pavilion.
In the interview, Yu narrated how he found his two youngest daughters, one after another, in a span of just three days in 1998.
“The two girls had been placed in paper boxes containing their birth information. One was just a week younger than the other,” he recounted.
Despite living in poverty, Yu and his wife managed to continue taking in more and more rejected female children, eventually until they were able to adopt 12 children in total.
Yu, who was the household’s sole breadwinner, admitted that it was difficult raising so many kids, especially before he found a stable job in a mortuary.
“We had tough days. When I was a little girl, my mother carried me on her back, collecting scraps or even begging,” Yu’s 35-year-old eldest girl, Yu Caisong, was quoted as saying. “People gave us money and some old clothes.”
Tragedy struck the family when one of the 12 girls died from an illness, leaving Yu and his wife deeply heartbroken.
The grief brought by their beloved daughter’s death proved to be a burden too heavy for the couple that they eventually decided to just keep five girls and give up the rest of the children for adoption.
“It was just like giving them new life if they went to families with better conditions,” the elderly man said.
Despite their hardships, the four youngest girls were able to make it to college, with the two youngest set to enroll this year in a university in Wenzhou.
To express their appreciation for Yu’s selfless efforts in raising them, Yu’s children bought him a golden ring for his 70th birthday.
After Yu’s story went viral online, Chinese netizens expressed their admiration and support for Yu and his family.
“Not everyone has such courage [to take in so many adopted children],” a netizen wrote online.
“Good people will be repaid for their kind deeds. I wish them happiness,” a commenter added.