Article by: Robert Mark Glover O.B.E. | United Kingdom | Founder & Executive Director – Care for Children
Video by: Mia Setyawan
In 1998, I moved to China with my wife Elizabeth and our six children. We left our beautiful farmhouse in Guernsey to live in Shanghai, a city of 24 million people. Back then, “foster care” was an unknown concept in China. There were no words for it in Mandarin.
We were not a diplomat and had no political agenda. I was a social worker, and Elizabeth was trained as a nurse. We had read about the condition of children in China’s orphanages and wanted to help.
On my first visit to China in 1996, it became clear to me that my purpose was to help millions of Chinese orphans to find the lasting stability of family life. — Robert Glover
When I was two years old, my father left the family. Although I had a good mum, I realized that I lacked a guiding star as a teenager. I had to stand and speak up for myself. I did not have a father to give me confidence and to stick up for me like the other boys’ fathers did.
Maybe it takes a man who had no father to know the value of surrounding every child with a loving family.
There were millions of unwanted children in China, rejected by their parents and abandoned in orphanages. Our aim was to pioneer family placement care—a positive alternative to orphanages. It began as a small pilot project in Shanghai — the first joint social-welfare project between the British and Chinese governments. The project has since grown to a nationwide project with impacts throughout Asia.
Care for Children promotes permanent placements for orphans. We place children into families for the long term until they are independent. From attachment and strong relationships comes identity.
I remember the story of a little girl who had a hole in her heart. No one thought she could survive, but we were able to place her in a family.
A few years later, I visited her and found a chubby little girl in a ballerina outfit. I was told she was so strong that they could now do the operation in her heart. But when the doctor examined her, he lifted his glasses and wiped away a tear. He said that there was nothing wrong with her heart. That story made headlines and she became ‘The miracle baby healed by the love of a mother.’
Our family-placement scheme has transformed not only children and their foster families, but also orphanages which now run as family resource centres. The children can go there to get education, physiotherapy, and support.
When you have strong families, you have strong communities, strong societies, and strong economies. It is not surprising that while we developed family placement there, China grew in all those areas. Today, more than one million orphans in China had moved out of institutions and into local, loving families.
Robert and Elizabeth Glover founded Care for Children in 1998. Its mission is to serve governments of nations to pioneer a positive alternative to institutional care by placing children into local families in the community (fostering and adoption). Their work has seen a generation of orphans lives transformed through the love of a family.