The tragedy of the destruction in China is appalling. The stories that have been catching my attention about it though are those about the families that lost their only child, and just how many of those families there are because of the laws against having more than one child. (One-Child Policy Lifted for Quake Victims’ Parents; Parents’ Grief Turns to Rage at Chinese Officials; China Amends Child Policy for Some Quake Victims)
I can’t help but be reminded of a seven book series I read over the last few years. It is the Shadow Children series by Margaret Peterson Haddix. In this fictional future, a great war left the land struggling under a large famine, and the government ruled that families could only have two children. Any children beyond that would be killed and the parents punished. As the title of the series might suggest, it is about those children who must live in the shadows because they are illegal, not allowed, an unwanted burden on a society that would rather kill them than feed and educate them.
Parents in China who have more than one child, unless they live in more rural areas where they are permitted to try again if their first child is a girl, must pay fines for their second and third children. Only the first is allowed to go to school. The other children are not wanted by the Chinese society.
It’s what those books of fiction were about, only it’s not fiction. It actually happens in this world.