Customer Reviews: Silent Tears: A Journey of Hope in a Chinese Orphanage
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on July 31, 2008
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. Better to save something than to lose it all. But, it takes an emotional buffering to operate in such situations as you describe. I do not think I could have faced it.

Until I read your book, I did not understand the linkage my wife and I truly played in adopting our four lovely children from China. People tell us 'what a wonderful thing you have done'. We reply 'we did it out of selfishness, an overwhelming desire to have more children in our lives and our family'. I am sure many think we are being modest, but this is very true for us. We never approached adoption as a means of rescuing a child. We were driven by an incredible need to love children. Frankly, it was a need that neither of us fully understood then or now. We did not know of the desperation of the children other than through fleeting comments or inferences or rumors.

Now, I understand that God was guiding my wife and me in ways we did not recognize. We were definitely responding to your prayers without knowing of you or the influence your prayers were having in our lives. I know in my heart that God spoke to us and guided us even as you spoke to Him. So, have faith that God does listen to prayers and does work in ways we can not fathom.

Thank you for all you did for our lovely Le Men. He is truly an astounding boy and will grow into an amazing man. He is loaded with love and compassion and he continues to teach us and expand us each day. These are things that you made possible through your determination to save a child. We have purchased an additional copy of your book to keep for him until he is old enough to read it and understand your blessings, sacrifices and determination that made his life possible.

Thank you for what you have done and the sacrifices you have made. Your incredible determination resulted in simple acts of love and kindness that can change a world. I am sure the Lord will bless and keep you and yours.
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on July 18, 2008
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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on 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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on 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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on January 1, 2011
I gave this book two stars because I appreciated the honest descriptions of the conditions in the orphanage and applaud her volunteer efforts, but could hardly focus on the true content of the book because of all the narrow-minded remarks about China and its culture. It really bothered me reading all of the rude comments about Chinese customs and how people are not accomodating to her. The author knew she would be moving to a foreign country with completely a different lifestyle than America. Does she not understand that she is the one moving into their country, and that she should be tolerant of their customs, not the other way around?

I really wish another reviewer had warned me about Chapter 35 because I would have skipped it. It is the clearest example at her unwillingness to bend to another culture. Basically it is a rant about how she had to sit through two hours (geez, two whole hours??) of a Chinese New Year's party with her husband's company, where he works as a high-ranking manager. I was incredulous while reading the chapter - all the author did was complain about every aspect of the party after insinuating that she is some sort of "foreign Queen Bee". Clearly she thinks so. She then becomes irate when she wants to leave the party and her husband refuses because he is the manager and it would not be right to leave early. This is the principal holiday of the year for the Chinese, and she couldn't endure two hours at a party or comprehend that it may be important to her husband and his coworkers?

While reading that chapter I was getting so worked up that to vent I would read passages aloud to my husband, who is Chinese. Eventually he made me stop because it was upsetting him as well! I admit (from my own experience) that it is difficult to get used to some Chinese behaviors and customs sometimes, and some of the foods can be difficult to stomach, but at least TRY. Make an effort! I saw minimal evidence of the author doing this. I do give her credit for learning the language, as it is very difficult to master. And she did encourage the orphanage to take many steps forward to improve the living conditions. But by the end of the book there was hardly any mention of that anymore, instead each chapter was filled with complaints about a trip to McDonald's or to the market.

If you're living in another country, it wouldn't hurt to be a little more open to learning something about their culture instead of imposing your own. For me, the negative cultural remarks in the book really took away from the message of the plight of the children.
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on May 30, 2013
This book has important content but misrepresents information due to a ethnocentic way of looking at the Chinese people. This book represents a old wineskin of world missions, "the suffering missionary". This old shows an old breed of missionaries go into a culture without an understanding of how to love someone who has grown up in a completly different culture then him/ her self. They don't bond with the people and then precede to misinterpret the hearts and intents of the people the have come to serve, they thus become sceptical, critical, and untrusting. Me and many others also live in China and even work with the same issues as the author. We have many of the same things happen to us--such as people staring at us--but we interpret these actions through the cultural lense of collectivism. These people are not being rude, the are simply curious. They are taught all thier life that it is ok to do these kinds of things, whereas, we from the west are taught staring is rude.

The old mold teaches missionaries not to care about being cultural and language learners. Her exerience going to KFC helps me to explain my point. When she goes into KFC she is appalled that the person behind the counter "thinks a blue eyed, blond haired women can speak chinese." I could hear all those people from America in my head saying, "I can't believe so many immigrants come to American and don't know english. If they come to our country they should at least learn our language." This misrepresents the culture because Chinese people are the most gracious country when it comes to forienors. If you even attempt to speak Chinese, they will immediatly smile light up and say, "your chinese is so good". Your weakest attempts are applauded.

My biggest complaint of the book is that it paints the chinese in a terrible light.
The author then author then has the audacity to share an experience of how she gave a pillow to one of these "heartless" ayas to show how she cares not only for the babies but the ayas too. Preceeding to say many bad things about these ladies in the next few sentances. Such as her description of the women Tilly helps to describe the picture she is painting on the Chinese people; "Tilly is a big, menacing women who looks as though she could play football if she chose. She has a large head and a butchered hairstyle and she sweats all the time. Her eyes remind me of a snake's and she looks so mean it scares me. When she returns the babies from their baths, she dumps them from 5 inches off the ground so their heads thump on impact. I think she takes pleasure in this, smirking as she abruptly turns and stomps away. I can only hope she gets transfered to another part of the orphanage where she does not have contact with such innocent and helpless little children."

Many people are working together with the alive and vibrant church in China to raise up to the challange of adopting the unwanted children (outside the counry adoption is still wanted though.) Chinese people although they have some weaknesses are some of the most precious people in the whole world. I am going to spend my life learning from their great qualities. I will give my life away to this precious land. This book presents a false view of the Chinese.

Although this book sheds light upon some major issues in China (such as the opening story about how a girl was abandoned by her mom only because there was no other chance for a future for her daughter), it fails to interpret correctly even the basic events that were happening in the book and I readers are not getting a true sense of the conditions in China. My recommendaton is to stear clear from this book.

To get a view of the new wineskin of world missions especially about China read, "One Nation, One Journey" by Dennis Balcombe. Or about Africa read, "There is Always Enough" by Heidi and Rolland Baker.
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on April 14, 2012
I have to agree with all the other one and two start reviewers.
I could not finish this book, and like another reviewer stated, should have sampled a chapter first.
It is extremely repetitive, and the author comes across as very self indulgent, this book is all about her.
She shows no respect or understanding of the topic, or others, that live in another country.
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on August 21, 2008
This is pure vanity publishing. The author clearly published this as a means to feed her own ego (as evident by her constant reminders that she is at the orphanage a few hours at a time to provide a little bit of love to the children and how the workers talked about how pretty she is - oh gag!). The vanity publishing is also evident as the book lacks a critical editor's eye to correct the constant misuse of tense and help the author tone down her often insulting cultural ignorance for anything that isn't American. The tone of the book is condescending and reeks of American ethnocentrism. It gives new meaning to the ugly American abroad- especially when she sticks out her tongue at Chinese pedestrians who stare at her in the streets. It is a difficult 440+ page read.
While she states that her overall goal was/is to provide love and compassion to the children in the orphanages, I am fearful that this type of work will do more harm than good in the long run for the children in Chinese orphanages. As an adoptive parent from China, I am grateful she volunteered; however, she clearly lacks the foresight and cultural understanding to know that not all orphanages are run as the one in which she worked and her lack of cultural competence by publishing this work can slow down if not stop further international adoptions out of China.
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on April 13, 2010
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. They will be even less friendly and less willing to allow foreigners to volunteer and provide desperately needed education and training if they know it may have negative consequences. None of this is good for the children who have to live in these orphanages long after the loving Americans have gone home. I'm sure that what Ms. Bratt details of the orphanage is very true, as I have seen some of this firsthand - and it's not pleasant. But, as a serious writer, Ms. Bratt should have made her narrative less negative toward the nannies, or China in general. Her arrogance is almost insulting. Keep in mind that Ms. Bragg has not adopted a child herself, so she isn't vested in portraying more than one viewpoint like some adoptive parents may be. I'm thankful that she does not have a child from China, as her disdain would certainly color her child's view of his or her heritage.

I was intrigued by Ms. Bratt's motivation for writing what comes across as a self-serving narrative, so I checked out her Facebook page and her website. Ms. Bratt says in some of her posts that her dream was to be a published writer. I congratulate her on her book and the fulfillment of her dream. But after reading her recent posts that hype her book and often brag on it's Amazon ranking, I wonder if her heart is truly in helping the orphans of China or if her heart is more motivated by the desire to fulfill a dream - and her time in the orphanage is simply a way to get there.

Again, I do admire Ms. Bratt for her help in the orphanage and for the hard work she put in. It was a commitment and the lives of some of the children have been made better because of her. I am not judging Ms. Bratt, but the book leaves something to be desired. There are so many other books out there that provide a less one-sided, less narcissistic picture of the stark existence of China's orphans.
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on August 22, 2010
kay bratts motivation and determination to help poor chinese orphans in an understaffed and underfunded chinese orphanage may deserve five stars but the writing style and emotioal pitch of this expose is like slogging through a lengthy bog.
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