Mother's Choice (Hong Kong)

Mother's Choice (Hong Kong)
Mother's Choice
Mother Choice's Logo
Founder(s) Ranjan Marwah, Phyllis Marwah, Helen Stephens, and Gary Stephens
Type Non-governmental organisation
Founded 1987
Location Hong Kong, China Hong Kong
Key people Mr. David Youtz (Chief Executive Officer); Mrs Nancy Chang (張蘭欣女士), Mr Matthew Ginsburg (Co-Chairmen)
Volunteers over 600
Employees 110

Mother's Choice, Hong Kong (Chinese: 母親的抉擇) is an independent, non-profit community organization. It was founded in 1987 in response to rising crisis pregnancies in Hong Kong. Throughout the years, the organization has been offering support to small children, teens, and women who are in need of care, counseling, or shelter as a result of unintentional pregnancies or other domestic conflicts. With four centers in Hong Kong, Mother's Choice provides various services to ease the pressure of unanticipated pregnancies. Each week, over 350 volunteers assist in its operations.[1]



Mission statement

Mother's Choice provides and promotes loving, nurturing care for babies and children needing permanent homes, and for single girls and their families facing crisis pregnancies.[1]


Board of Directors (2008–2009)[2]

Patron Co-Chair Board Directors
Selina Tsang
Nancy Chang
Lily Ng
Kit Ying Chan
Matthew Ginsburg Paul Zee
Ronald Lee
Julie Parkinson Sunita Makhija
Gretchen Ryan Melissa Mowbray-d’Arbela
Gary W. Stephens Phyllis Marwah


Mother's Choice was founded in 1987 to confront the rising problem of teenage pregnancies. After realizing the growing trend of pregnant girls traveling to Southern China (e.g. Shenzhen) to receive illegal and dangerous abortions, businessman Ranjan Marwah and missionary Gary Stephens and their wives Phyllis and Helen decided to establish Mother's Choice to provide education and care to revert the potentially fatal pattern.[3]

In the 1970s and 80s, Hong Kong schools lacked sex education and awareness.[4] Absence of programs and resources attached a stigma to teenage pregnancies and the persons involved. Pre-marital sex was viewed as disgraceful, and as a result, girls experiencing crisis pregnancies tended to be socially ousted.[5] With determination to help such girls, the two men, along with their wives, created Mother’s Choice in order to provide a home for pregnant teenage girls until they delivered.

Services soon included Baby Care, a new initiative, after the first baby was born in Mother's Choice. Baby Care was created to support babies and those in need of foster care. In 1993, Foster Care began to include children as well. Other services also include Wee Care, established for children with special needs.

In 2007, the Mother's Choice Support Centre was established in Tsim Sha Tsui to extend its reach to single pregnant girls living in Kowloon and the New Territories in Hong Kong.

As of today, Mother’s Choice has an internal adoption team which cooperates closely with other adoption agencies based in the United States and the Social Welfare Department of Hong Kong.


Administrative Office
Central Administration Office of Mother's Choice at Kennedy Road, Mid-Levels, Hong Kong

In order to provide support for pregnant young women and ensure they live a fulfilling life regardless of the choices they have made, Mother’s Choice provides numerous services for those in need. These services include Pregnant Girls’ Services, Adoption Services, Childcare Homes, Foster Care Services and Small Group Homes.

Pregnant Girls Services

Pregnant Girls Services aims to provide assistance to girls and women who face unanticipated pregnancies. Mother’s Choice does not impose an age restriction to the girls they serve. Pregnant Girls Services offers non-judgmental support to ease the decision-making process for young pregnant women, ensuring that they do not influence final decisions. It also offers a counseling hot-line, face-to-face counseling, post-abortion counseling, free pregnancy tests and residential hostel services.

  • Pregnant Girls Hostel
    Mother’s Choice provides residential hostel services for young pregnant women on the basis of voluntary admission. The Pregnant Girls Hostel operates in the form of a boarding school. Full-time classes and activities are provided for single pregnant girls and women. In addition to regular classes, the Tutoring Option, Career Development Project and Weekend Activities were launched in 2008 and 2009. The Tutoring Option Program was established to encourage the girls to continue with their studies and to prepare them for further schooling after delivery. The Career Development Project provides individual career counseling and various business-related experiences in order to enhance the girls’ capabilities for potential future occupations. The Weekend Activities serve to widen the residents’ experience and allow them to enjoy various events during their stay.
    The hostel fee is HK$1,800 per month, excluding any other expenditures including personal expenses and medical fees.[6]
  • Counseling Services
    Crisis pregnancy and sex-related counseling services are provided via Mother’s Choice’s counseling hot-line which operates daily from 9:00am – 10:00pm, including public holidays.[6] Mother’s Choice also provides on-site counseling services for pregnant girls, their families and boyfriends. Face-to-face counseling services do not have location restrictions. Counseling services include parenting training, pre- and post- abortion help and other sex-related issues. Follow-up counseling services include post-natal counseling, dating and relationship counseling and career planning.[6]
  • Referral Services
    Medical and adoption referral services are provided for young pregnant women upon request. Medical referral services are made directly to government hospitals for regular prenatal checks, screening for sexually transmitted diseases, and delivery services. Young pregnant women who made the decision to place their babies for adoption will be referred to the Adoption Unit of the Social Welfare Department after delivery.[6]
  • Other Pregnant Girls Services
    Apart from providing guidance for young pregnant women, Mother’s Choice is also devoted to educating the next generation on safe sex and sex in general. Mother’s Choice holds and organizes numerous sex education talks and workshops that are specifically designed for students, parents, teachers and social workers covering topics such as dating, relationships, love and sex. During 2009, Mother’s Choice has visited over 280 institutions across Hong Kong, educating more than 50,000 students, parents and teachers.[7] Mother’s Choice continues to promote sex education through hosting video competitions, gift set deliveries, advertisement campaigns and holding research and sex education exhibitions.[8]

Adoption Services

With the vision that "every child deserves a family," Mother’s Choice introduced the adoption program in 1993 in order to recruit permanent overseas and local families for children in need.[9] Since 1993, Mother’s Choice has been maintaining a close collaboration with the Adoption Unit of the Social Welfare Department of Hong Kong as well as two partner adoption agencies in the United States (Bethany Christian Services and Family Connections Christian Adoptions) to launch an inter-country adoption program. Only waiting children with special needs are eligible for inter-country adoption. These children range from a few months old to sixteen years old and mainly suffer from Down’s syndrome, autism, behavioural issues, or other complicated backgrounds.[10]

Mother’s Choice also offers adoptive family enrichment programs such as support groups and education classes. Extensive work has also been put into promoting adoption within the community through parent training, book publications and the annual “Adoption Festival” event.

  • Adoption Support
    In order encourage adoptions, Mother’s Choice offers various adoption support for adoptive parents, including Adoption Parenting Classes, Adoption Support Groups and Information Sharing Sessions. Counseling is also provided for adoptive parents at every stage.

Child Care Home

Child Care Home was established in 1998 and offers residential care for newborn babies and infants awaiting adoption. It also facilitates the time and chances for adoption - during 2009, 87% of the babies have been successfully placed in an adoptive family home by the age of eight months.[11] Child Care Home consists of two subgroups – Baby Care and Wee Care. Both streams are operated by workers and volunteers who received special training in child welfare.

  • Baby Care
    Baby Care was established first in 1988 and was relocated to a larger centre in Bowen Road in 1990 in order to accommodate for the increased number of children and services provided. It is funded by the donations from the community.[12] Baby Care is responsible for taking care of newborns and infants aged between 0 to two years old who are awaiting adoption. This service also helps to prepare the children for life in a new adoptive family by offering a motivating and nurturing environment.
    No fee is charged for child care under the Baby Care Services. Withdrawal from the Baby Care Service can be conducted at any time on a voluntarily basis after thorough discussion of a discharge plan.
  • Wee Care
    Established in 1991, Wee Care is a child center set up to cater for the needs of children who are waiting to be adopted. It aims to provide a healthy and home-like experience for children in a warm environment. Furthermore, by receiving proper training, children with special needs become one) more prepared to enter permanent homes and 2) ready to face a new post-adoption life with drastic changes. Wee Care is targeted at children under the age of six who have special needs like visual and/or hearing impairment, hyperactive disorder, physically or mental challenges.[13]

Foster Care Services

Mother's Choice's Foster Care Service started in 1993 and services young people and children who are not sufficiently taken care of by their families. The organization cooperates with the Social Welfare Department of Hong Kong to look for overseas foster families.

Mother's Choice Sign
A sign directing visitors to Mother's Choice on Kennedy Road, Hong Kong.

Such service is committed to let children experience a happy and healthy family life in substitution of their own homes. These children have families experiencing crisis, and therefore lack the chance to have a normal community experience. Foster Care Services include seminars, sharing groups, support groups and other recreational activities for both foster parents and children. Children under the Foster Care Service can enjoy the service until they turn eighteen, reunite with their families, or are able to support themselves independently.

With the increasing number of children in need of such services, Mother's Choice is actively recruiting bilingual foster families. Those families are originally approved by the Central Foster Care Unit (CFCU), which is under the Social Welfare Department of Hong Kong. The chosen foster families will be granted foster care allowance from the Inland Revenue Department of Hong Kong.[14]

  • Emergency Foster Care
    This kind of foster care will be provided to children who need to leave home for a short period during family emergencies. Mother Choice will implement emergency foster care to families who face sudden crisis without support. Those children will usually stay at the center temporarily for about six weeks or less.

Small Group Home

Mother's Choice established Small Group Home in 1993. There are currently three Small Group Homes labeled as the following: Kindness, Joy, and Peace. Families who face problems like divorce, death and imprisonment and cannot take care of their children can seek help from Mother's Choice and benefit from Small Group Home, which provides residential service to those children. The service targets children aged four to eighteen.[15]

In each small home, there is one married couple responsible for eight children. Similar to other services provided, these residential homes aim to surround the children in need with a loving and nurturing environment in order to prepare them for life after they turn eighteen years old. In each home, there are basic amenities such as toys, computers, and other items found in an ordinary home. Social workers are present to take care of children individually. Tutors are also available to offer help in children's school work. Furthermore, there are program assistants who organize leisure activities to promote interaction between children. Boys and girls are housed in separate rooms.[15]

Online Services

In addition to providing child care, educational services, and shelter, Mother's Choice also provides online resources to those impacted by crisis pregnancies. Member-only blogs and forums facilitate an exchange of information, experience, and advice. Topics include love, sex, relationships, pregnancy, and adoption. A virtual space called "Parent's Corner" provides parents with the resources they need in order to talk to their children about sex, ease the trials of youth pregnancy, and prevent crisis pregnancies.


Short Film Making Competition

From 2007 to 2008, Mother's Choice has organized a short film-making competition to enhance the knowledge and values of teenagers towards sex, love, relationships, and responsibilities henceforth. Eleven films were created by secondary education groups and other individual groups.[16]

The winner for secondary school section was "Freaky Zoo" with their film, "Remorse. Responsibility". The winner for individual section was Vincy Tamm with her film titled "Joy Without Impulse". The award ceremony was held on the afternoon of July 4, 2008.[17]

Holiday gift sets

Holidays have been an opportune time for Mother's Choice to educate Hong Kong girls about the consequences of sex and pregnancy. In the past, the organization has distributed red envelopes with candy coins and educational messages for Chinese New Years, kits with pregnancy tests and hot-line numbers services for Valentine's Day, and posters promoting caution regarding sex around Winter Solstice.[18]

Annual Gala Dinner

The Gala is held by a committee of volunteers every year in May to celebrate the support of Mother's Choice volunteers. Sponsorships by companies such as JW Marriott, Hong Kong have been providing the venue for this event for fifteen years while The Peak Magazine have provided photographers, videographers and editors free of charge to eliminate costs for this event. Mother's Choice has an emphasis on low cost productions of its Gala to reduce costs.[19]

Auctions are carried out to raise money for the charity, donated by large and small corporations, hotels, airlines, restaurants. Every year the Gala has different themes.

  • 2008: “The Way We Were” theme was a celebration of the 1980s, the decade when Mother’s Choice was founded.
  • 2009: For the “Fairy Tales” theme, six hundred guests dressed up in different costumes for the event. In reducing decoration cost, bakeries and hotels in Hong Kong provided inspired cakes matching the theme serving as table centrepieces.
  • 2010: "Cowboys and Indians, Where Wild Wild West Meets Bollywood". A celebration of Asian and Western collaboration to make a positive difference with the children and vulnerable girls that Mother's Choice cares for.
  • 2011: "Around the World in 80 Days". Changing the world, one person at a time.


Tin Shui Wai Sunlight Project

In order to launch sex education at an earlier stage to prevent teenage pregnancies, Mother’s Choice initiated a one-year pilot project in June 2008, funded by Drs Richard Charles and Esther Yewpick Lee Charitable Foundation. Participants include two secondary schools and two primary schools. Project activities include "Adventure Based Training Camp," "English Camp," "Jazz Dance Class," "Harmonica Class," "GO Chess Class," "Sex Education Talks," and "Experience Sharing."[20]

This project promotes involvement from various community parties. By providing early sex education and talent development training, the Tin Shui Wai Sunlight Project hopes to prevent early school drop outs and enhance the self-esteem of teens and children.

Yale University-Asia College Community Service Exchange Program

Starting in 2003, New Asia College and Chinese University of Hong Kong have been organizing a Summer Community Service Exchange Program with Yale University in the United States. Since 2008, each university assigned one student to work as an intern at Mother’s Choice for four summer weeks to enhance their knowledge of services for women in Hong Kong.[21]

Community College of City University - Pregnant Girls Services service exhibition and charity sale

Four Public Relations & Communication students from the Community College of City University undertook a fund-raising project in collaboration with Mother’s Choice from September 2008 to April 2009. The students sold hand-knitted accessories at both the Telford Annex and the Kowloon Tong campuses. The event raised HK$10,400 to contribute towards the cost of training courses for the residents of the organization’s hostel.[22]

Sex Education Talk and Workshop 2009-10

The program is a school-based educational project aimed at providing sex education activities to students. Activities include sex education talks and workshops for young teenagers, adolescents, parents, teachers and social workers. There is also a program to enhance sex education in schools with a “Pregnant Daddy” project which uses the Empathy Belly Pregnancy Simulator as a teaching material to let the students understand the physical changes in their body during pregnancy.[23]

S.W.A.N. Project

The S.W.A.N. Project (Single Women Action Network Project) addresses young teens making the decision to parent their babies. It is proposed to provide support and training for the young parents as they are prone to face financial challenges and discrimination. An online support network is also developed so that social workers of the charity can keep track of the growth of the babies and the parents.[24]

The project also attempts to meet demands that are not covered in the Pregnant Girls Services, such as the growing problem of compensated dating and single parenting in order to promote better self-value, understanding of love and relationships among young people.[25]

Adoption Festival

This is the first festival in Asia focused on adoption education held in November 2008. It aims to promote a positive perspective to adoption for the public, providing functional information and support for adoptive families.

The festival lasted for three weeks where eight hundred people participated in the eighteen programs provided about the knowledge of adoption. Mother's Choice has also translated Lois Ruskai Melina's guidebook 'Raising Adopted Children' into Chinese for Hong Kong people to retrieve facts and advices for adoption.

Affiliate Programs

Mother's Love AIDS Care for Children (Mainland China)

Mother’s Love was launched in 2008 to care for children and infants affected by HIV/AIDS in Southern China. Supported by Goldman Sachs, the program started their first group home in August 2008, welcoming five children between the ages of one and four with one house mother and one care worker. In addition to the renovation of a three-bedroom apartment, a housemother has been hired to oversee the home and appropriate medical equipment have been purchased.

The program's children have maintained a stable health condition and have responded well to the introduction of anti-retroviral medication. They have been integrated into some of Mother’s Love activities for children when possible. The program received favorable comment from the provincial Centre for Disease Control.[26]

Mother's Hope (India)

In addition to the program in China, Mother's Choice has opened a service center in India named Mother's Hope. Mother's Hope cares for single young females who experience crisis pregnancies. Resources include adoption and education services. The center opened June 1, 2001 in Dimapur, Nagaland, India.[27]

Mother's Heart (Cambodia)

In 2010 Mother's Heart was founded by Katrina Gliddon and a small dedicated team to respond to the lack of choice for women in Cambodia facing unplanned pregnancies. Mother's Choice has been able to provide expertise and support to the Mother's Heart team as they establish and develop Mother's Heart.

Controversies and Notable Cases

Notable cases: Mother's Choice works in a range of public services — including teenage pregnancy, and care of abandoned or relinquished babies who are awaiting adoption — that can be sensitive and sometimes appear in the news. In one notable case in 2007, Hong Kong media highlighted the story of a girl who became pregnant at 12 years old and received counseling and care at Mother's Choice. [28] Two years later, another 12-year-old girl was reported to be pregnant and sought help from Mother's Choice.[29] These stories underscored the need for better sex education and protection of youth, including some at very young ages, across Hong Kong.

Response to the 1990s Orphanage Crisis in China: In the mid-1990s, the Sunday Morning Post, a Hong Kong-based English newspaper, and other international media reported on various Chinese state orphanages alleging that there were "dying rooms" where some babies were left to die of dehydration and neglect.[30] Mother's Choice, which had sent volunteers to China to help improve orphanage care, briefly withdrew foreign staff members from a Guangxi Province state orphanage when it appeared that, according to the South China Morning Post (in the same article cited above) "Beijing suspected they were connected with damning press reports." Mother's Choice clarified that it was not the source of the allegations and that the negative publicity, in fact, was "damaging its efforts to improve conditions for the orphans."[31]The "dying rooms" accusation against Chinese state orphanages arose again in 1996, when British Channel 4 aired the documentary, "Return to the Dying Rooms".[32] Documentary filmmakers posing as Mother’s Choice volunteers entered a state-run orphanage in Nanning, Guangxi Province to document the "dying rooms" to highlight malpractices within orphanages in China. Although the filmmakers were not Mother's Choice volunteers, the relationship between Mother's Choice and the Chinese government was damaged for some months. Services for abandoned babies nonetheless recovered and more than 1400 babies were cared for and adopted to families through a new joint venture orphanage established in 1995 by the Guangxi Province Civil Affairs Bureau and Mother's Choice.

Recent English Publications

Year Title Authors Notes
2009 “My Real Story – Deciding to Raise my Child” Mother’s Choice & Hong Kong Polytechnic University This research report addresses the stigma usually attached to single mothers. It was partially funded by Sir Robert Ho Tung Charitable Fund. A press conference is to be held on March 27, 2009 at the Tsim Sha Tsui Support Centre. A Chinese version of the report is also available: 「未婚媽媽作出撫育孩子決定的取向研究」.[33]
2007 "A Study on Values & Attitudes of Adolescents on Sexual Behaviour and Sexual Education" [34] Mother's Choice & City University of Hong Kong
2006 "A Study on Values & Attitudes towards Unplanned Pregnancy among Adolescents & Parents in Hong Kong" [34] Mother's Choice & Chinese University of Hong Kong

Supporters of Mother's Choice

According to Mother's Choice's Annual Report, they have received support from the following organizations in the year 2008-2009:

  • The Community Chest. The Community Chest has consistently funded the operating costs of Baby Care for the past nineteen years.
  • The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust. The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust has been supporting Mother’s Choice for nineteen years. It has donated $2,530,200 to support sex education and counseling services for single girls, impacted families, students, and professionals.
  • JW Marriott, Hong Kong. The JW Marriott Hotel has been providing a venue for the Mother’s Choice Annual Gala dinner for 15 years.
  • Swire Coca Cola HK. Swire Coca Cola HK provides drinks to Mother’s Choice staff, volunteers and visitors.
  • KPMG. KPMG provides audit services.
  • Ohel Leah Synagogue
  • Nutricia (Asia-Pacific) Limited
  • Procter & Gamble Hong Kong Limited
  • Kimberly-Clark
  • TOD’S Hong Kong Limited

External links


  1. ^ a b Mother’s Choice. Annual Report: The Magic of Community Support. Mother’s Choice, 2009.
  2. ^ Mother’s Choice. "Annual Report 2008-2009: The Magic of Community Support". P.42. Mother’s Choice, 2009.
  3. ^ Roberts, Gwyneth. “Charity is Mother's business; After discussing a local problem over a cup of tea, two enterprising couples are now making a difference to society's bottom line.” South China Morning Post (Hong Kong). 2001-06-17. Page 4.
  4. ^ Mother's Choice & City University of Hong Kong. "A Study on Values & Attitudes of Adolescents on Sexual Behaviour and Sexual Education", Hong Kong, June 2007. Page 4. Retrieved on 2010-03-20.
  5. ^ Yung, Chester. “Pitiful State of Sex Education Blamed for Teen Pregnancies.” The Standard (Hong Kong). 2005-04-25.
  6. ^ a b c d Mother's Choice's Pregnant Girls Services, Retrieved on 22/3/2010
  7. ^ Mother's Choice School Talk and Workshop Enrollment Information, Retrieved on 23/3/2010
  8. ^ Mother’s Choice. "Annual Report 2008-2009: The Magic of Community Support". P.4-5. Mother’s Choice, 2009.
  9. ^ Mother’s Choice. "Annual Report 2008-2009: The Magic of Community Support". P.11. Mother’s Choice, 2009.
  10. ^ Mother's Choice's Available Adoption Services, Retrieved on 23/3/2010
  11. ^ Mother’s Choice. "Annual Report 2008-2009: The Magic of Community Support". P.9. Mother’s Choice, 2009.
  12. ^ Baby Care Services, Retrieved on 23/3/2010
  13. ^ Wee Care Services, Retrieved on 23/3/2010
  14. ^ Mother's Choice's Foster Care Service, Retrieved on 23/3/2010
  15. ^ a b [1], Retrieved on 23/3/2010
  16. ^ Mother’s Choice. "Annual Report 2008-2009: The Magic of Community Support". P.6. Mother’s Choice, 2009
  17. ^ Website for the Short Film Making Competition, Retrieved on 26/3/2010
  18. ^ [2], Retrieved on 20/03/2010.
  19. ^ Mother’s Choice. "Annual Report 2008-2009: The Magic of Community Support". P.23. Mother’s Choice, 2009.
  20. ^ Mother’s Choice. "Annual Report 2008-2009: The Magic of Community Support". P.24.
  21. ^ Mother’s Choice. "Annual Report 2008-2009: The Magic of Community Support". P.26. Mother’s Choice. 2009.
  22. ^ Mother’s Choice. "Annual Report 2008-2009: The Magic of Community Support". P.27. Mother’s Choice, 2009.
  23. ^ Sex Education Handbook 09-10, Retrieved on 22/3/2010
  24. ^ Mother’s Choice. "Annual Report 2008-2009: The Magic of Community Support". P.6. Mother’s Choice, 2009.
  25. ^ Mother’s Choice. Annual Report 2008-2009: "The Magic of Community Support". P.6. Mother’s Choice, 2009.
  26. ^ Mother’s Choice. "Annual Report 2008-2009: The Magic of Community Support". P.25. Mother’s Choice, 2009.
  27. ^ [3], Retrieved on 26/03/2010.
  28. ^ Chong, Winnie. "Worries rise as Girl, 12, gives birth", The Standard, Hong Kong, July 30, 2007. Retrieved on 24/03/2010.
  29. ^ Fong, Loretta. "Teen admits sex with 12-year-old girl, who later gave birth," South China Morning Post, 01/09/2009. Retrieved on 24/03/2010 via LexisNexis.
  30. ^ Carter, Jessica. "Foreign aid workers quit 'dying room' orphanage," South China Morning Post, 09/01/1994, p. 1.
  31. ^ Ibid.
  32. ^ Moyes, Jojo. "TV evidence may harm charity work." The Independent, 09/01/1996, pg. 6.
  33. ^ Mother’s Choice. Annual Report: The Magic of Community Support. Pg. 4. Mother’s Choice, 2009.
  34. ^ a b Mother's Choice. [4] "Research Report", Retrieved March 20, 2010.

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