An elderly Chinese man has died after his advertisement to be adopted by a new family went viral on social media.
In December, Han Zicheng, 85, began distributing slips of paper advertising that he was up for adoption at bus shelters and around his neighborhood. "Looking for someone to adopt me,” the pensioner wrote, fearing he would die alone, reported The Washington Post.
Han, who survived the Japanese Invasion, the Chinese civil war and the cultural revolution, was lonely. After his wife died, he says his sons became distant.
"Lonely old man in his 80s. Strong-bodied. Can shop, cook and take care of himself. No chronic illness," he wrote. “I retired from a scientific research institute in Tianjin, with a monthly pension of [$943] a month.”
"I won't go to a nursing home. My hope is that a kind-hearted person or family will adopt me, nourish me through old age and bury my body when I'm dead."
Han’s flyers went unnoticed for a while, until a woman took a photo of it and posted it to social media.
Soon people, who were moved by Han’s story, began calling in. Although it wasn’t the family he wanted, they provided friendly conversation on the phone and kept him from being lonely.
Jiang Jiang, a 20-year-old law student, said she spoke to Han on March 13 and then missed a call from him the next day. She called again early in April, but his son Han Chang picked up and told her Han had passed away on March 17.
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Speaking to Washington Post, Han Chang maintained that his father had been lying to the media. He said that the old man had three sons, not two, and was well looked after.
Han Chang confirmed that his father called an unknown number on the day that he died, although he would not reveal who Han had called.
Han made it to hospital in his final days, overcoming his greatest fear to die alone in his bed.
According to the United Nations, China's population is aging faster than most other countries in recent history, due to the one-child policy and rising living standards. 15 percent of the country's population are currently over 60, a figure that is expected to rise to 25 percent by 2040.
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