I am 60 Years-Old, Why Did I Make This Life Choice? — A Dream and a Prospectus
Updated: Dec 16, 2021
Author: Steven Shen, Chairman of China-US Business Summit
I am 59 years-old this year, and then I am 60 years-old. I should retire at this age, but I couldn't stop the impulse to create this organization. If you want to know if there was enough thought behind my impulse, I believe that it will be clear after reading this article.
More than a hundred years ago, in a place called Chaozhou in Guangdong, China, there was an “abandoned baby island.” Many people often threw their newborn baby girls into this swamp full of mud. These babies would often be eaten by wild animals before they died.
In 1914, Mrs. Bell came to Chaozhou from the West. When she learned about these incidents, Bell made a basket and hung it on a tree, then put a note in Chinese in the basket—"Please put your babies here, don't throw them into the swamp."
Chaozhou Prefecture, Mrs. Bell rescued abandoned children in the basket
In this way, whenever Mrs. Bell heard the cry of a baby in the basket, she would hurry to see the dying little life. Bell then rescued the babies and sent them to the nursery or a Christian family for adoption.
After hearing this story, there was an image in my mind of an overseas woman rushing to the basket hanging on the tree to a crying baby girl.
105 years have passed, and times have changed, but China’s abandoned baby issue is still happening every day. There are figures that show that tens of thousands of babies are still abandoned each year as of recently. Most of these babies are girls, and most have congenital diseases or disabilities. When they came to the world, they had physical impairments, and lost their maternal and fatherly love at birth.
For adopting Chinese abandoned infants, the United States has always ranked first in the world. According to one statistic, the number of abandoned babies adopted in the United States accounts for nearly 70% of the total number of abandoned babies adopted by all foreigners in China. According to figures of the U.S. Department of State's International Adoption Department, in the past two decades, American citizens' private adoption of China’s babies has totaled nearly 100,000 people.
Although nearly 100,000 young Chinese lives were unfortunate in their hometown, they gained maternal and fatherly love from the other side of the world.
In 2016, I learned the true story of such a couple who first adopted a Chinese abandoned baby with cerebral palsy. Then they found the sibling of this orphan, and she was also abandoned at the time. They tried to adopt her so that the two siblings could be permanently reunited in the United States.
The Lumpkins parents and the six Chinese children they adopted
The couple lives an ordinary life, but it did not stop them from adopting babies with disabilities in China. In order to adopt more children, they had to sell their original Lexus car for a second-hand Toyota. Finally, they adopted six Chinese children with disabilities after having two biological children! In this way, the American parents and eight children formed a family of ten, then lived happily together.
Thus, I started to have a dream—that every abandoned child in the world could be adopted by a loving family. And every family raising Chinese adoptees did not have to struggle financially because of their loving behavior. I can't personally adopt these children, but I can certainly provide some financial support for these great families who adopt orphans.
I know that only dreaming is not enough. I have to act. Without action, my dreams will always just be daydreams and thoughts!
Some friends have advised me, “You shouldn't do this. There's a strict law in life—support the urgent and not the poor. There are too many poor people in the world; you can't support all of them.”
This did make me reconsider for a little bit, but I finally realized—I am not saving the poor. None of the families who adopted these children were poor; the Chinese government's adoption fee is 20,000 to 30,000 US dollars. At the same time, the law stipulates that if the adopters are still struggling on the poverty line in the United States, they will not be eligible to adopt a child.
A baby girl abandoned in a garbage can
On the contrary, I feel that giving donations to them is like an emergency! - They cannot live according their original living standards because of these fees. Isn't it necessary to help this kind of love?
They started doing this a hundred years ago, and even if we start helping today, we are already a hundred years late!
At the same time, I believe that such donations should not be made into one-off public welfare activities. This work should be done continuously, year after year, since these adoptive parents' choices are not themselves one-off charity moves; they are day-after-day, or even a lifetime. Therefore, I believe that a special foundation must be set up so that support will continue to bring together love from all sides of the world. This will allow those who give a lot of love to the world to reap the rewards of love forever as well, even after I am a hundred years-old.
I know that maybe I am doing something not self-sufficient. I have invested in such a big business with my current financial resources; it is simply a drop in the bucket. But I am confident that I will continue this. It's not the first time that I started a non-profit business that does not seem self-sufficient. The China-US Business Summit is meant to build a platform for Chinese and U.S. entrepreneurs to communicate with each other. It isn't profitable, but haven’t I been happily operating it for ten years?
I can't help but think of a famous quote, which I have remembered from an early age: "It's not difficult for a person to do something good, but it's hard to continuously do good things all the time." At this moment, it made me realize the true meaning of this sentence—donating to a charity is a blessing (especially for wealthy people), but it is only really difficult to do it all year-round.
It’s hard, but we live only once; are we meant to choose the easy life? It's because it's difficult that I want to do it. Because it's difficult, I have to be determined to do it! In the face of life choices, the correct things are often difficult to do. But no matter how difficult it is, shouldn’t we always stand on the morally-correct side?
Accompanying my 89-year-old mother at the Las Vegas night scene
As a 60-year-old, I have a 90-year-old mother and a son who is a little over one year-old. No one would think that this is the best age to start a career, but I think it is the right time. Welcoming my child into the world made me personally experience how important it is to have motherly love, fatherly love, and family love. Thus, I feel particularly empathetic, and can't even imagine a child not having a parent's love when he/she is born. I still remember what my parents taught me: one’s goal should not be to make money, but to be a person who makes an impact on society. Now that Dad has already passed away, my mom is 90 years-old. Isn’t it about time that I practice their educational teachings? In addition, a few years ago, an mother named Lisa found the twin sister of a Chinese orphan whom she had adopted with cerebral palsy. She applied for adoption again and went online to request donations because she did not have enough funds. Countless people donated money immediately, but I myself haven't taken action!
When those unscrupulous people abandoned their child, they committed unforgivable sins. All of us should redeem the faults of the parents who abandoned their babies, and only then can we share a nation’s obligations.
A close up picture with my son
Today I can't wait any longer, and I have to fight for it. That's because I want my son to grow up with his parents' charity since he can learn from it. I believe this is the most worthwhile lesson for children. Through my words and deeds, I will let him know what to give and dedicate to. Also, I will let him know the struggles from orphans who have been abandoned by their parents. From their inspirational growth, they know what is life’s nirvana.
I thank my wife, for she strongly supports this choice. Even though we have an age difference of 28 years, we have no generational gap on this issue. Since she is also a mother, she already knows the value of mother's love.
Although she knew the money we donated would make us lose opportunities to buy a lot of toys for my son, and that the time I spent on the foundation would affect the time I could have spent traveling with her, she did not complain. She believes that this foundation I founded would add love to the world.
I believe that I can do it, not because I have the money, but because I have a heart. I believe that I can do it, not because I am strong, but because there will be support from everyone.
This year is the tenth anniversary of the China-US Business Summit. Building a memorial wall, and laying the foundation for the China-US Enterprise Summit Building... I have thought of countless ways of commemorating, but in the end I believe founding this foundation is the best commemoration of the ten year anniversary of the China-US Business Summit.
Looking back ten years ago, why did I start China-US Business Summit? Isn't it necessary to build a platform for non-governmental exchanges between China and the United States, to promote understanding and integration of the two cultures? Today, this foundation, full of love from both Chinese and American entrepreneurs, is the concept of the China-US Business Summit.
Maybe this foundation may not have enough money in the beginning, but I am not afraid. I believe that someone will continue to join. My friends also have people I don't even know. Every investor knows that this is a business that will never be lost, and they can get so much from the money they put in here!
If you have money and are looking for a risk-free project, then I will tell you that this foundation is a good choice. At least from a return point of view, its output is so great that it cannot be measured. If you have money, you can also make a trade-off. Some money is wasted on an expensive meal, and some money is spent on various forms of entertainment. But when you invest the money here, it becomes a meaningful thing; love beyond national boundaries and the whole of humanity! It is in this nourishment of love that we see that Chinese orphans adopted by these families have grown into countless life models – Harvard University graduates, world gymnastics champions, and so on. We must ask ourselves, what is better than taking one individual and letting them to grow up to be able to give back to the world with higher merit?
If you ask for how much per share, I will tell you that there is no limit to the amount of money. What we need is not money, but love. Ask only if you have the same view as me—that no matter how ruthlessly these children’s parents have abandoned their children, our world will not abandon them! Now hope can continue, and love can be connected. I believe that there is human warmth that can be passed on from generation to generation. I believe there is a power of communication called the denominal effect of sparks!
China-US Business Summit live event
Joining this business has nothing to do with the governance policy of any country or any government. For those with disabilities in China—some of the most vulnerable in Chinese society—there is the family that adopts Chinese orphans—the most caring group of people. You make a one-time decision, I make a lifetime commitment. I believe that our joint effort will lead us to achieve the philosophy practiced China-US Business Summit—together we walk, to achieve a win-win situation!
Chairman of the China-US Business Summit