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Silent Tears: A Journey of Hope in a Chinese Orphanage [Kindle Edition]

Kay Bratt
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (617 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Irrepressible memories. Vacant eyes. A child being dangled from a third story window. A boy tied to a chair. Children sleeping in layers of clothing to fight off the bitter cold. An infant dying from starvation. Some things your mind will never allow you to forget.

Silent Tears is the true story of the adversity and triumphs one woman faced as she fought against the Chinese bureaucracy to help that country’s orphaned children.

In 2003, Kay Bratt’s life changed dramatically. A wife and mother of two girls in South Carolina, Bratt relocated her family to rural China to support her husband as he took on a new management position for his American employer. Seeking a way to fill her days and overcome the isolation she experienced upon arriving in a foreign country, Bratt began volunteering at the local orphanage. Within months, her simple desire to make use of her time transformed into a heroic crusade to improve the living conditions and minimize the unnecessary deaths of Chinese orphans.

Silent Tears traces the emotional hurdles and daily frustrations faced by Ms. Bratt as she tried to change the social conditions for these marginalized children. The memoir vividly illustrates how she was able to pull from reservoirs of inner strength to pursue her mission day after day, leaving the reader with the resounding message that everyone really can make a difference.

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

“An eye-opening account of life in China’s orphanages. Kay Bratt vividly details the conditions and realities faced by Chinese orphans in an easy-to-read manner that draws the reader in to the heart-wrenching moments she has experienced in her work to bring hope to these children.”—Dan Cruver, cofounder and director of Together for Adoption

When her family relocated to rural China in 2003, Kay Bratt was thrust into a new world, one where boys were considered more valuable than girls and poverty and the one-child policy had created an epidemic of abandoned infants. As a volunteer at a local orphanage, Bratt witnessed conditions that were unfathomable to a middle-class mother of two from South Carolina.
Based on Bratt’s diary of her four years working at the orphanage, Silent Tears offers a searing account of young lives rendered disposable. In the face of an implacable system, Bratt found ways to work within (and around) the rules to make a better future for the children, whom she came to love. Her story balances the sadness and struggles of life in the orphanage with moments of joy, optimism, faith, and victory. It is the story of hundreds of children—and one woman who never planned on becoming a hero but became one anyway.

Kay Bratt continues to raise awareness and advocate for at-risk children. In China, she was honored with the 2006 Pride of the City award for her humanitarian work. She is the founder of the Mifan Mommy Club, an online organization that provides rice for children in China’s orphanages, and is also an active volunteer for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for abused and neglected children. Kay currently resides in Georgia with her husband and daughter.

About the Author

Kay Bratt is a child advocate and author of the books Train to Nowhere, Chasing China, The Bridge, A Thread Unbroken, and the acclaimed memoir of the years she spent working in Chinese orphanages, Silent Tears: A Journey of Hope in a Chinese Orphanage. She has actively volunteered for several nonprofit organizations, including An Orphan’s Wish (AOW) and the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for abused and neglected children. In China, she was honored with the Pride of the City award for humanitarian work. After living in China for several years, Bratt now resides in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in South Carolina, with her husband, daughter, dog, and cat.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1757 KB
  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 054774496X
  • Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (March 16, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0031R5JSM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #19,575 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
330 of 345 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank You For Our Son July 31, 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is Le Men's dad. (Le Men was a heart baby in the orphanage described in this book.)

I wanted to write to you and let you know what an astounding service you have done in the publishing of your book. You have provided a glimpse into a world that many, including myself, are unable to fathom and terrified of realizing really exists. As the father of eight, I love my children more desperately than most people can comprehend. And so, it is difficult for me to comprehend situations of abuse and neglect like you describe. I would not have had the strength and determination that you showed to continue returning. I have great confidence in my skills and ability to succeed in many areas in this world. In the battle you faced, I am ashamed to say I would have failed. My love for children would not have been sufficient to overcome my weaknesses.

You asked in your book how God could let these children suffer. I believe in a loving and compassionate God. But, I also believe that we have free will and that nature will play its role of random change within our lives. The whims of men and culture created the situations you describe, not God. God provides the canvas and the paint. We provide the hand. He gently guides the brush when we ask Him.

As I read your book I started out with anger as I read of the suffering of the children. As I read deeper into your story I began to understand, as you did, that the staff in the orphanage were buffering themselves emotionally in a situation that was largely a no win situation. It brought to mind stories from the Civil War and Vietnam where doctors quickly amputated limbs to save a life because there were not sufficient resources, personnel or supplies to save limbs or lives of all those injured.
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68 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A story that needed to be told July 18, 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As the mother of a child adopted from China, I was very interested in reading this book. When it arrived, I couldn't put it down until I got to the last page and yes, I cried throughout.

Kay Bratt tells an important story about the institutional environment so many of our children were raised in. Understanding the trauma they have been through goes a long way to knowing how to help them recover. While this is the story of one orphanage in one country, I imagine the scenarios could be true in far too many places. A must read for parents adopting from an orphanage.
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127 of 140 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great topic...average writing January 17, 2009
My wife and I have been blessed with a daughter we adopted from China. I saw this book on Amazon and was looking forward to reading it and gaining some knowledge of a Chinese orphanage.

I received this book for Christmas and started reading it almost immediately upon opening the gift. I made it quickly through the initial chapters but kept waiting for something that never seemed to develop. While the story is moving and the author should be applauded for her efforts to improve the orphange at which she volunteered, it is my opinion her writing style left a great deal to be desired. I guess I was hoping for a better written story with more depth and instead found myself reading a blog of her daily activities.

I would still recommend this book for parents of adopted Chinese chidren or for people with an interest in the story of an orphanage in China. While I'm certain my review will be unpopular, I guess I was simply expecting more and want to let others know my opinion.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Book!!! July 24, 2008
I started this book intending to read it slowly. Well, I could not put it down! It is beautifully written and insightful. I love the honesty of the author as she is down and then back up with her emotions. She gives an excellent picture of what life is like in a Chinese orphanage which is shocking to say the least. The best part; however, is that it is a "journey in hope". I am so encouraged to see what one person can accomplish. We should all be so blessed to find an area in our lives that we can make a difference. I HIGHLY recommend this book!
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109 of 139 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Narcissistic April 13, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I applaud the author for her years of work on behalf of China's orphans. I know that I could not have done what she has done. But, I have to say that this book is a huge disappointment. I have adopted two beautiful children from China and have also worked on behalf of the orphanages. I was looking forward to reading more about where my children may have spent their early years and what experiences may have helped shape them. Instead I got a very one-sided narcissistic look at Ms. Bratt's experiences - HER feelings and the hardships SHE endured. Though she does give a valuable glimpse into a particular orphanage in a particular city, I found that her ego got in the way of any meaningful narrative. The writing is also a bit dull; I felt like I was reading flat blog entries. There is certainly nothing wrong with this, but I personally was expecting more. About 10 pages in it was clear that the author was ego-driven and wanted to let us know that she was a good American sweeping in to save the orphans. There are so many hard-working foreigners who have spent their time and personal resources to help in the orphanages, and few seek public approval for their service or write an expose of their experiences.

Ms. Bratt's view of China and her people is very negative in this book. I wish she could have had more appreciation for the cultural differences in our countries and not chastised so harshly those things that don't fit her viewpoint of "right" simply because it isn't the American way of doing things. Sadly, I have been told by more recent volunteers to this orphanage that Ms. Bratt's book caused some repercussions for some of the nannies mentioned. These nannies need our support, our education, and our compassion for the hard job that they have.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars another eye opener about China....
I loved this book even do it was very sad, and pulled on my heartstrings. The tenacity of the expatriates, giving their time and love to so many orphaned children was very touching... Read more
Published 2 days ago by Maus
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye-opening book
I read this book a couple of years ago, yet I still think about it on a regular basis. This book moved me to tears and I read it twice in a two day period. Read more
Published 4 days ago by Kate Newendorp
5.0 out of 5 stars Great story
This book was very enlightening. I had no idea that the care of the children was so bad in the Chinese orphanages. Kay Bratt is a very good author. I will read other books by her. Read more
Published 11 days ago by lcraft
5.0 out of 5 stars Speaks to my heart
Silent Tears: A Journey of Hope in a Chinese Orphanage by Kay Bratt – A Book Review
God led me to this piece of non-fiction years ago, long before I retired from teaching,... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Christian Fiction and More
2.0 out of 5 stars Good topic, but would rather read a more intentional description of...
I hate to give this just two stars, because it's a greatly important topic and I truly learned a lot. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Jamie Story
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
What an incredible journey into a land unknown to the main character. I could feel her pain.
Published 1 month ago by dwilee
4.0 out of 5 stars tears for tears
It was hard to read about the condition of the orphanage and the treatment of the children. The volunteers had (and are having) a huge impact on the children. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Minion
5.0 out of 5 stars Silent tears
Eye opening and heart felt. It brought tears to my eyes to learn how the children were treated at the orphanage.
Published 1 month ago by Yuen Giacalone
2.0 out of 5 stars Don't waste your time
Two stars because it's an eye opener to the way the Chinese misrepresent their treatment of abandoned children. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Melissa Milligan
5.0 out of 5 stars What an eye opener! Well written by someone who ...
What an eye opener! Well written by someone who knows firsthand.
Published 2 months ago by grannym
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More About the Author

Kay Bratt is a child advocate and author who lived in China for almost five years and fell in love enough with the people to want to write about them forever. If you would like to read more about what started her career as an author, and also meet the children she knew and loved in China, read her poignant and best selling memoir titled Silent Tears: A Journey of Hope in a Chinese Orphanage.

From Kay: To be notified when new books are released, please sign up for my monthly email newsletter at or at this link:

The Tales of the Scavenger's Daughters now has four books! See below for what order to read them:

The Scavenger's Daughters
Tangled Vines
Bitter Winds
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