For those families who overcome the “blood” issue — perhaps because they cannot have children yet still desire a future bloodline — Bev Skiles says many seek out only those orphans who they perceive to be the most beautiful, the most intelligent and the healthiest. For Skiles, however, every child is a “gift” from God.
“More people in the West want to adopt because they want to love the child,” rather than as an investment in the parents’ future, Li says.
She adds that there has to be a change in the way parents perceive children. “If they can see the unique part of each child, then they can see through impairments and accept the child,” she says.
“We want Taiwanese to adopt — we need to take in our unwanted children,” Li says.
Embracing adoption is not just about culture, Li says. The government has a role to play as well.
“The welfare systems in [certain Western] countries enable families to cope with the challenges that come with raising children,” Li says.
“In Taiwan we need the government to do more to support the families and children,” she says.
Li adds that Taiwanese tend to work long hours and lack temporary care givers, “never mind those providing care for people with special needs.”
This is where the Skiles come in. Though not everyone is supportive of their missionary work and question the right of missionaries to convert Taiwanese to Christianity, there is no doubt they are providing a valuable service for unwanted children.
On the wall of the orphanage is a large photo collage of the hundreds of children that have been adopted.
“I’d like to say that every child lived a good and law abiding life, but I cannot,” says Bev Skiles, referring to the children she’s raised at home or placed with other families.
Pan, who has now been a teacher in Yunlin County for 10 years, says were it not for the home he might have led the same life as some of his brothers.
“They are drivers of heavy goods vehicles. They travel up and down the highway many times a day. Long working hours, no fixed salary, no two-day weekends, no time with family and kids, using alcohol to dampen their worries,” he says.
“Now that I am an adult, I understand the helplessness of my parents and their decision to send me away,” Pan says.
“The Skiles taught me not to blame my parents. They told me to be brave and to find my direction and work to my goals. And to love my family even more.”