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Wanting a Daughter, Needing a Son: Abandonment, Adoption, and Orphanage Care in China Hardcover – February, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-0963847270 ISBN-10: 0963847279

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Wanting a Daughter, Needing a Son: Abandonment, Adoption, and Orphanage Care in China + The Lost Daughters of China: Adopted Girls, Their Journey to America, and the Search fora Missing Past + Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother: Stories of Loss and Love
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Yeong & Yeong (February 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0963847279
  • ISBN-13: 978-0963847270
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,238,483 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Author

Proceeds from Wanting a Daughter, Needing a Son support medical care for AIDS orphans in China.

From the Inside Flap

"In this highly illuminating and deeply moving book, Kay Johnson provides an intimate portrait of the complex processes by which, over the past decade, thousands of little Chinese girls have made their way from orphanages in China into adoptive homes overseas. It is a story that plays out on many levels and challenges long-held stereotypes about China. While Johnson documents dramatic improvements in the conditions of Chinese orphanages during the 1990s, she also illuminates the persistent challenges facing families caught between the Chinese state’s policy of one or two children for all and rural Chinese society’s insistent need for sons. Written by the leading scholarly authority on the abandonment and adoption of Chinese children, this groundbreaking study opens up a world of Chinese politics--the politics of children--whose inner dynamics will fascinate, disturb, and ultimately give hope to adoptive parents and scholars alike." --Susan Greenhalgh, Professor of Anthropology, University of California at Irvine, co-author of Population and Power in Post-Deng China (Stanford Univ. Press, 2004), and author of the forthcoming book Science, Modernity, and the Making of China’s One-Child Policy.

"The universal and most pressing questions for transracial and transnational adoptees are ‘Why didn’t my first parents keep me?’ and ‘Why couldn’t I grow up in the land of my birth?’ Kay Johnson’s remarkable book documents the reasons why so many children were available for international placement, and it also illuminates the long-hidden story of adoptive parents in China, who take in far more foundlings than are adopted overseas. This is an essential book for parents, professionals, and others interested in international adoption. But above all it is a gift to the children themselves when they are older, for it will help them understand the competing pressures on birth and adoptive parents at a time of tremendous social change in China." --Jane Brown, MSW, creator of Adoption Playshops for Children

"I am exceedingly grateful for this volume because--as Amy Klatzkin puts it in her Introduction--it provides not only an historical record for future adult adoptees, but also a history of the present for ‘everyone touched by adoption from China.’ In Kay Johnson’s hands, that would mean just about all of us. Johnson displaces the polarity of prepackaged answers and hopeless confusion surrounding the abandonment and adoption of Chinese children with careful, humane, and nuanced scholarship. Her research connects the everyday work of caring for children to larger political and social processes, and individual kinship decisions to the broader complex of human relations. This book warrants a wide readership, from people who know a child adopted from China to anyone who wants to better understand families and social welfare in contemporary China." --Sara Dorow, Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of Alberta, and author of When You Were Born in China.


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Customer Reviews

And the fact remains that more sons will result in more old-age security for the parents.
Charger
This book provided me with enlightening information to questions that my little mind had been pondering regarding my daughter's early life.
Ginger Holland
Wonderful book that I am suggesting to all family members that they read in order to better understand the situation in China.
CLM Dumfries, VA

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

66 of 69 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 15, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Kay Johnson has written that rare book-a detailed look at and analysis of Chinese governmental policy that tells you what actually happens as a result of that policy. This book is important, not only to adoptive families, but also to those who study China and try to understand the real life implications for policies that affect the world's most populous country.
For adoptive families, Kay Johnson has provided an invaluable insight into the circumstances that led to children being available for foreign families. Stripped of the emotional overlay that accompanies so many books about adoption, Kay Johnson fearlessly examines her own preconceptions to get closer to the truth by talking to birth parents, spending time with orphanage officials and pouring over statistics. Kay Johnson shows us what happened, what changed and what could change in the future.
While I personally hope that there will be an international adoption program in place for many years, I am also respectful of Kay Johnson's belief that children are best off being adopted in their birth countries. The children in China's orphanages have been helped enormously by both the international adoption program and by better domestic adoption policies. Kay Johnson, almost alone of the authors and journalists who write about Chinese adoption, recognizes the contributions of the adoptive families to the orphanages as well as recognizing other contributions that have dramatically improved the care of children whose welfare is overseen by the orphanages.
This book offers a unique insight both for those who erroneously leap on the orphanages as a token of the depravity of the Chinese and for those whose choice to adopt in China has given them a life-altering link to a country halfway around the globe.
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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Jean MacLeod on March 8, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Reviewed by the author of "At Home in This World, a China Adoption Story" (EMK Press, 2003):
"Wanting A Daughter, Needing A Son" is a snapshot in time of the socio-political circumstances leading to the abandonment and international adoption of thousands of China's daughters. The facts and statistics that Dr. Johnson cites as part of her research, reflect a complex Catch-22 of a patrilineal society moving from desperate economic survival towards prosperity, and of population laws and policies that are unevenly policed and out of sync with the current emotional lives of Chinese parents.
"Wanting A Daughter, Needing A Son" is not a band-aid; it's truth won't banish our children's feelings of loss, or give adoptive parents the kind of explanations that would allow us to put a loving or heroic spin on the sad act of abandonment. But Dr Johnson's important work broadens the China adoption picture, gives it depth, and hands us the knowledge our children will eventually need in order to comprehend the complicated facets of their own Chinese/American/adoptee identity. Kay Ann Johnson's research uncovers the surprising fact that many thousands of abandoned Chinese babies actually do find happy homes (legally and illegally) within their own communities, despite our previous understanding of the one-child policy and domestic Chinese adoption. In an added twist, our children may someday realize that they have "adoptee peers" in China, who grew up in loving families with Chinese adoptive parents, and without the associated alienation of cross-cultural, trans-racial adoption that our China girls and boys must learn to live with here in the USA.
Dr.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Ginger Holland on February 1, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I am an adoptive mother of a daughter from China. When I saw this book's title, I just knew that I had to read it--and, boy, was I not disappointed! This book provided me with enlightening information to questions that my little mind had been pondering regarding my daughter's early life. I can truly say that I am much more prepared to answer any and all of my daughter's future questions regarding why her birth parents may have abandoned her. I learned how the Chinese feel about adopting their abandoned children domestically, and I have newfound respect for the person who found my little girl and brought her to safety. I had never dreamed that the people who take these babies off of the streets would be accused of either being the parent or knowing the parent(s). The reader can tell that the author, Kay Johnson, has poured both her heart and soul into her research--and, at first, it may have been to just answer her own questions she had regarding her adopted daughter. However, we can all be grateful that she decided to publish her findings so that all of us can glean insight about our daughter's or son's unknown beginnings. This book is a MUST read for those of us who have been blessed with raising a Chinese child. I think our children will thank us one day for taking the time to educate ourselves--which is what this book does. I plan on sharing "Wanting a Daughter, Needing a Son" with my daughter one day. Thank you, Kay, for your research and for writing such an invaluable book.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Charger on February 23, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an excellent work on the population control and adoption policies of communist China. Very detailed and very educational. Explored the causes of abandonment and posited some unexpected conclusions about this issue. One of the best books I have read in a long time.

The only criticism I have is that the author seems to go to great lengths to show that Chinese society has come to value daughters in a way that it did not do so in the past (thus, the book's title). The author asserts that, after having a first son (who will be relied upon for social security in the old age of his parents), Chinese families are more than willing to accept and value a daughter as a second child. However, while there are certainly parents who will make this claim (perhaps because it would be shameful to claim otherwise), the fact remains that almost every infant abandoned in China and almost every child living (and dying) in a Chinese orphanage is a girl. This hardly reflects a new-found appreciation of the value of girls. And the fact remains that more sons will result in more old-age security for the parents. Chinese parents who value one son for the security he can offer will value two sons for the added security.

If you have been touched by adoption from China or just have an interest in China or its population control policies, then this book is worth its weight in gold. Kay Ann Johnson has done a wonderful job.
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