China to ban names that signal 'orphan' status

Institutions in China that care for orphans will no longer be allowed to name children in their care in ways that signal their parentless status, a government ministry said this week, according to a report in the state-controlled China Daily.

The Ministry of Civil Affairs plans to issue new regulations set of rules to prohibit orphanages from using naming conventions that make it easy for other Chinese speakers to guess that an individual is an orphan—leading to lifelong stigma.

The article explains that some institutions named children in their care for where they were abandoned. Others gave children the surname “Guo” or “Dang”— to indicate the child was in care of the “State” or “Party.”

"We don't want children who grow up in orphanages to carry labels that imply they are different from those who have parents," Chen Luann, a children's welfare worker told the newspaper.

The new regulations will require that orphans be given surnames chosen from among the 100 most common Chinese family names.

According to Zhang Hiring, with a nongovernmental group aimed at helping the country’s orphans, it was a step in the right direction: "This move shows the government is paying more attention to these children's psychological needs, which helps their development."

There are about 100,000 orphans living in about 900 orphanages and children’s homes, the article said, citing government statistics.

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