Wednesday, March 10, 2010

What to Read

When I do anything, I read a lot about it. Reading is a source of comfort for me, and there is an abundance of fascinating memoir out there to bring me closer to my soon to be daughter. There are probably a million stories about adoption in China, and I have chosen four to recommend to readers who might want to understand a bit more about this phenomenon.

The first book I read, Wuhu diary, was Emily Prager's account of returning to China with her 4 year old adopted daughter, Lulu. She wanted Lulu to experience being a child in China. Emily had spent time in China growing up so she knew the language fairly well and had a pretty easy time getting around. She was there long enough that she could enroll Lulu in a pre-school type classroom. It was a pretty straightforward adoption/travel narrative and one that got me thinking about traveling to China someday.

After we had submitted our dossier, I read Karin Evans memoir The Lost Daughters of China, a fabulous account of her adoption which included lots of facts and figures about Chinese girls, the cultural implications of the one child policy and what life was like for her as a parent waiting to adopt. Her adopted daughter Kelly would have been part of the first wave of infants from China to arrive in the US and would be a teenager by now. This book is very interesting and very readable and if you had to pick any book of the four on this page, it should be this one. One of the figure that stunned me was that social scientists estimate that a generation after the one child policy was mandated in China, about 30,000,000 girls are missing. In other words, China's adult population of women is thirty million fewer than it should be. This is very sad and very scary to think about what this mean for females in China and all over the world.

China Ghosts came out a few years after we joined the waiting list. Jeff Gammage was a father who wrote quite eloquently about what it was like to adopt a little girl from China. More specifically, he gave great weight to considering who the mother must have been and why she chose to abandon her child. He also conducted an extensive search for his child's biological mother going so far as to have someone write an ad in Mandarin which was placed in the newspaper of the town in which she was found. It did not amount to any leads but after some writing to various agencies and pestering the Chinese Government a bit, he was able to get the actual note that was left with his daughter when she was abandoned. This note became a great treasure which he will give to his daughter, and the only tangible thing she will ever hope to have from her biological mother.

Beleive it or not Forever Lily was a real page-turner of an adoption memoir. It was an abosulutely fabulous twist on the adoption story which I have come to know by heart. Beth Russell is asked to travel with a friend to China when the friend travels to adopt a baby girl. When the baby is brought into the room the friend cannot handle it. Beth tries to help the new mother bond but there is something wrong. Beth begins to love and care for the child and after a few days realizes that she should be the child's true mother. Beth and her husband do not have children of thier own, and when Beth calls home to tell her husband what is happening he says without heistation, "we'll take the child." So the suspense begins. Adopting a child from China is an immense amount of paperwork, how on earth can this woman get custody of the child that is not legally hers?Although we know that it ends well right from the start, it becomes monumentally suspenseful as we follow the two women and the child around China and overseas to home. What does Ms. Russell have to do to make sure that she becomes this little girl's true mother? It really is very well written and of all four books was the one that moved me to tears.

I'll post another time about some good books I read about Chinese travel and culture, but these are some of the books that shaped the way I think about this decision to adopt. I highly recommend all of them.


  1. I loved this post, I am going to order one or two of these books to read on the plane (20 plus hours so I will have lots of time). Thanks for sharing these.

  2. Amy, did you see the last edition of the Economist? Or maybe 2 weeks ago, I'm forever behind. The cover story was about the missing girls, not only of China, but of other countries as well.

  3. Thanks Diane--I'll be sure to check it out of the library.

  4. This blog is just great Amy. What a gift to share with all your friends eager for a bit part in your big adventure. It seems like a very long time ago that you shared Forever Lily with me. I think I'll read at least 2 of the others now. Thanks. MKP