The first pilot hatch was introduced in 2011. Now there are 32 across the country, according to the official Xinhua news agency. "We had to find a more humane way to take in abandoned babies," said Dr. Wang Zhenyao, one of the founders for China's child welfare policy and a retired Ministry of Civil Affairs official. "In reality, children were being thrown into trash cans, on the side of roads, in front of hospitals, or in front of the Ministry of Civil Affairs so we had to standardize it and regulate it."
According to UNICEF, there were around 712,000 orphans in China in 2010, but child welfare groups believe that the number could be in the millions if you account for children in non-government orphanages and foster homes. Unlike in the 1980s and 90s, when most abandoned babies were girls, now most suffer from a range of disabilities and medical conditions, such as cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, congenital heart disease, club feet and cleft lips.In a country with no welfare program to help parents with disabled children, and where the one-child policy dictates that this may well be the parents' only child, some parents are obviously driven to extreme measures. This is a reminder, yet again, that the one-child policy has many unintended human rights consequences.