Across China, various faith groups, humanitarian workers, and other organisations provide congregate care for Chinese orphans in private orphanages and foster homes. This network of relief for China’s “lonely children” (gu’’er) has emerged organically at the grassroots level in response to perceived gaps and deficiencies in the state orphanage system, and in the context of a broader societal shift from “welfare statism” to “welfare pluralism“. However, formal law and policy have not always kept pace with this shift, and private orphan relief providers have generally not been subject to formal state supervision or support. In practice, state regulation of these unauthorised care providers has centred more on negotiation, hidden rules, and discretion than on clear laws, policies, and standards. This flexible approach to private orphan relief has led to mixed outcomes for children, implicating the state’s fulfilment of rights-based duties in respect of the orphan population. This chapter introduces the historical, social, and political factors behind the emergence of this sector, including recent increased civic engagement with philanthropy, and developments in charity and NGO law, the effects of which continue to unfold today.