Li Li Juan is a former millionaire whose benevolent spirit has led her to bankruptcy.
The 47-year-old, from northern China’s Hebei Province, has adopted 72 abandoned children over the course of 19 years. She spent all her money caring for them, and is now facing a huge debt of over two million yuan.
Li became rich during the 1980s, earning huge profits from her garments business and her investments in iron ore mining. It was around this time that she started taking in sick and disabled children who were abandoned by their parents, and orphaned children whose parents had died in coal mine disasters. She used her two sources of income to provide for all her adopted children.
It was all smooth sailing for a few years, but as luck would have it, hard times fell upon Li in 2008. Her mine was shut down due to urban developments, cutting down a major source of her income. But she continued to care for the children by selling off all her properties and valuables, one at a time.
To make matters worse, Li was diagnosed with early stage lymphatic cancer in the winter of 2011. But after only seven days of treatment, she decided that she had had enough. She prioritized the children over her own health, choosing to spend whatever money she had left on them.
But the money soon ran out and the cost of running her ‘adoption home’ exceeded her income. Despite donations from friends, relatives, and charitable organisations, she still fell short of the money needed to maintain the home. Her debts kept piling up, and now stand at a whopping two million yuan.
A few kind individuals have offered to adopt Li’s orphans, but unfortunately, that’s not legally possible. Li never registered her adoption home with officially recognised Social Welfare Centers. According to Li Jing Wen, a representative of the Wu’An Civil Affairs Department, Li’s initiative is still a citizen-established non-corporal organisation that does not conform to the law. So she cannot legally give them away for adoption, nor does she have the money to care for them herself.
Although Li is a mother to 72 kids, her relationship with her own son, Xiao Wen, is strained. She claims that her son inspired her to adopt orphans and abandoned children, but Xiao wants nothing to do with her anymore. His anger apparently stems from the fact that Li wasn’t there to care for him when he suffered a spinal injury in 2004. Li was caring for an adopted child suffering from hydrocepahlus at the time.
After his surgery, Xiao became severely depressed and refused to speak to Li. He later underwent therapy and now lives with his grandmother.
All this would be enough to break anyone’s spirit, but not Li Li Juan’s. She continues to care for her 72 adopted children, relying on the help of kind-hearted people to make ends meet.