What would you do with a million dollars?
That’s a scenario that many of us dream of. Some of us say we’d splurge on one big thing (a house, a car), invest most, and donate a fraction.
Li Lijuan isn’t interested in fractions.
Lijuan, a former garment business owner from China, earned millions from coal mining investments she made in the 1980s.
Not only has the Wuâan County native spent all of her money adopting and housing abandoned children over the last 19 years, but she is also now in hundreds of thousands of pounds of debt.
Most of us wouldn’t be able to dream of giving up all of our money to help the disadvantaged, let alone more than we ever had. Some of Lijuan’s foster children have gone on to achieve university degrees, and work as public servants.
Lijuan adopted her first orphan in 1994, and went on to adopt another 6 dozen or so. But the 46-year-old lost her entire life savings when the coal mine she had invested in shut down. She was no longer able to meet the costs of raising such an enormous family.
That didn’t stop Lijuan. She has begun selling all of her properties, all of her valuables, to help support her children. No doubt inspired by her tremendous compassion, several volunteers have come forward to offer the children new homes. But China’s strict adoption laws prevent Lijuan from accepting such generosity.
She is able to receive donations from charities, but it is still not enough. A number of her children need care for disabilities and other birth defects—care which is, as anyone with a differently-abled child knows personally, extremely expensive.
As if the situation were not dire enough, Lijuan was diagnosed with early-stage lymphoma in 2011. She laments the fact that the money spent on her week-long hospital stay took away from her children’s care.
Though inspiring, Lijuan’s sprawling motherhood has left her biological son, Xiaowen, feeling deeply neglected. Lijuan was not by his side as he underwent surgery for a serious spinal injury in 2004, as she was taking one of her foster children to a different hospital for a follow-up operation. The two have not spoken in a decade.
Photo credit: YouTube @ RuptlyTV