A Man Wanted To Be Adopted Because He Feared Dying Alone. He Just Died

“My hope is that a kindhearted person or family will adopt me, nourish me through old age and bury my body when I’m dead.”


A lonely Chinese man, who reportedly put himself up for adoption, died after waiting for a “kindhearted person or family” who could “bury his body” when he’s dead.

Han Zicheng, 85, lived alone in a home in Tianjin, China. His wife had died and his sons were busy in their lives. Tired of living alone and in search of company in old age, he wrote an advertisement, titled “Looking for someone to adopt me,” on a piece of paper and pasted it on a bus shelter.

“Lonely old man in his 80s. Strong-bodied. Can shop, cook and take care of himself. No chronic illness. I retired from a scientific research institute in Tianjin, with a monthly pension of 6,000 RMB [$950] a month. I won’t go to a nursing home. My hope is that a kindhearted person or family will adopt me, nourish me through old age and bury my body when I’m dead,” read the advertisement.

Han survived the Japanese invasion, the Chinese civil war and the Cultural Revolution. Despite his age, he was physically fit to ride his bike and went to the market himself to get his things.

The plea for support and company didn’t come overnight.

The man had been trying to get help for a longtime. It got to a point where he would stop his neighbors and tell him that he was lonely and was scared of dying alone.

At first, the advertisement got no response but once a woman took a picture of it and posted it on social media, the ad went viral. People began contacting Han in huge numbers but he never found a family that he wanted.

Han’s wish of being with a family who could look after him was never completed. He passed away on Mar. 17, 2018 in a hospital in the city.

The elderly man lived a tough life.

During his childhood and teenage years, he saw Japanese invasion on China and the foundation of the People’s Republic. He met his wife while he was working at a factory and he then enrolled in night classes and then at a university.

When people reached out to him and talked to him about his life, he said one of his sons had moved to Canada and they had not been in contact since. He also refused to give his contact details over fear it might embarrass his son.

Unfortunately, Han was not the only person who feared dying alone.

Due to the country’s one-child policy and improving living standards, China’s population is ageing faster as compared to other countries. As a result the population pyramid in the country has turned upside down.

This means more and more old people in the country continue to live alone. To control the problem, the Chinese government imposed a law that made it mandatory for children to visit their parents. Children who refused to do so had to pay a fine or face jail.

“The challenge is that China is both an aging society and a developing country. China got old before it got rich,” said Jiang Quanbao, a professor of demography.

He added that although these people can afford and can go to a nursing home, they refuse to do so because they don’t want to shame their children.

Spotlight, Banner: Reuters, Stefano Rellandini

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