China Elevator Stories

“I don’t want to keep the baby”

A Chinese friend tells me this in the spring of 2014.


Ruth Silbermayr-Song


One day in the fall of 2013, a 27-year-old Chinese friend sends me a message on QQ telling me that she broke up with her boyfriend. She doesn’t seem too sad about it: “He didn’t really seem to care about me and we were fighting a lot. I don’t need a boyfriend to be happy, I’m doing fine just on my own.”

A few minutes later, she says: “If you know anyone you can introduce to me, let me know.”
I ask her: “Well, what kind of guy are you looking for? What are your preferences?”
“He has to treat me well, that’s all.”

A few months later, she tells me that she has found a boyfriend. When I ask her how they met, she says that they got introduced to each other by friends. She adds that their story is pretty ordinary, nothing worth mentioning.

For spring festival 2014, they visit both sets of parents – in China, introducing your girlfriend or boyfriend to your parents often means that you’re just one step away from getting married.

Right after spring festival, my friend tells me: “I’m pregnant!”
I knew that she wanted to have a baby all along, so this information does not come as a surprise – she had told me she wanted a baby even before she got together with her new boyfriend.

After another two weeks have passed, she tells me: “I don’t want to keep the baby. My boyfriend doesn’t want to get married too soon*.”

Another week later, she sends me a wedding invitation.

When my husband and I go to their wedding banquet in March 2014, and meet her husband for the first time, we ask her why she chose to be with him in the first place. She says: “He’s a great cook.”

At the wedding banquet, she’s 3 months pregnant and planning to keep the child. Her bump doesn’t show yet, which is one of the reasons she didn’t want to wait too long to get married.

*Chinese mothers who have a child out-of-wedlock have to pay a “social compensation fee” that can make up the equivalent of one-year of their income. Moreover, they also face the problem that their child can not be legally registered within the Chinese household registration system (hukou), making it impossible for the child to attend public kindergarten and school or get social insurance. Except for these legal issues, single mothers also face “moral condemnation by society”, with many people believing that having a child out-of-wedlock is a “personal mistake” made by the mother.

Have you ever heard of a similar story?