Grassroots delegate: A surrogate mother's dedication to 23 children
Updated : 2017-10-17
Zheng Zhongyan, a foster mother at the SOS Children's Village, an orphanage in Yantai, East China's Shandong province, teaches one of her children to learn the world map. [Photo/Xinhua]
In 1987, Zheng became a stay-at-home mother of the No 12 family at the SOS Children's Village in Yantai. Her job is to provide family-based care for orphaned and abandoned children or vulnerable children, and provide a safe, secure environment for their growth.
However, being an SOS mother is not an easy thing to do. The orphanage has strict requirements for its foster parents, who must be loving, caring, have a high school diploma, and, most controversially of all, must remain single.
Some consider SOS's demand that its foster parents stay single to be a step too far. But Zhang explained that if a foster mother gets married and has her own child, she might not treat the orphaned and abandoned kids equally.
Anticipating the objections of her family, the then 25-year-old signed a contract with the Yantai SOS Children's Village before informing them of her decision. Zheng then embarked on a journey of a lifetime, which has required passion, patience and perseverance.
Being a rookie mother, Zheng had to learn everything from scratch, such as cooking healthy meals, getting the children ready for school and tucking them into bed. However, the much more difficult part lay in building close ties with the children, who all came from different backgrounds.
Zheng remembered that one of her boys was reluctant to call her "mom" when he first came to the house, and this continued for a while.
The boy once had a high fever at midnight. After giving him some medicine, Zheng tucked him in and hurried to the kitchen to cook his favorite porridge. The boy woke up the next morning to find Zheng that had stayed awake all night at his bedside and was moved to tears.
"From now on, you are my dear mom and I will fulfill my filial duty to you when I grow up," the boy sobbed and gave Zheng a warm hug. The heartfelt words helped the two of them build a close bond.