Background to COCOA
During the 1990s many complex issues led to the neglect of unwanted children in China's state orphanages.
In recent years there have been huge changes. In spite of a severe shortage of funds in the state orphanages, and sometimes low morale, there are many people - both Chinese and foreigners - who are doing their best to improve conditions. Charities, politicians, pressure groups, the media and the UN itself have all helped to increase awareness of the problems in the orphanages.
China is slowly learning to trust the western charities that have been working in its orphanages, and now positively welcomes the offers of help and expertise from some sources. COCOA has been at the front line, funding many such projects. Help towards staff training, high motivation in child-care, managing the medical aid that radically improves survival rates.
Where there was once dinginess and chronic lack of care is now bright surroundings with good quality toys and learning aids. The children are healthy, they are well cared for. They are no longer on the scrap heap.
China changed its adoption laws in 2000 to meet the needs of its orphaned children. Married couples with a child of their own are now able to adopt, as are childless couples. The adoption age has been lowered to 30. Fostering schemes are being introduced so that orphanage children can be cared for in families rather than big institutions - good for the child, and good for the community as well.
So there has been progress. But only a little - there is masses still to do. There are about 100,000 orphanages in China, and only a small percentage have been exposed to new radical management. Girl babies are still being abandoned, along with disabled children. Progress is agonisingly slow. But in China today, there is a will to change, and COCOA is at the forefront of the reforms.
To 'do your bit' see your How You Can Help page.