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China Ghosts: My Daughter's Journey to America, My Passage to Fatherhood Paperback – June 24, 2008

4.6 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As more Americans adopt Chinese children, the bookshelves fill with firsthand accounts of their experiences. Perhaps because many adoptions are preceded by infertility issues, most of these memoirs are written by women. So this, a father's account of going to China with his wife to adopt their first and second daughters, is particularly useful. Gammage, a staff writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer, had been happily married without children for many years, although he knew his wife really wanted children. By the time they discovered they couldn't have biological children, the best option was adopting from China. While there were tensions over their first daughter's medical problems (an infected scalp injury), both adoptions went reasonably smoothly. Back home, Gammage wrestled with his mixed feelings about the birth parents and his burden of good fortune, that guilty knowledge that his own happiness came from someone else's misfortune. Realizing that his own relationship to China was being shaped by the process of raising two Chinese girls, he ends this upbeat memoir by wondering about the impact of this new wave of immigrants on the future of Sino-American relations.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

In 1980, China's population and limited resources prompted the imposition of a one-child policy in an attempt to circumvent famine and improve its standard of living. This policy, along with a demand for sons, has prompted the rise of numerous orphanages whose inhabitants are predominantly female. What is a social problem for China is a boon for couples in the U.S. who are looking to adopt. In 2006, 6,493 children were adopted from China. Gammage, a journalist for the Philadelphia Inquirer, went to Changsha to adopt Jin Yu. His moving story of that adoption is an emotional account of a father's love for his daughter. Gammage writes, "Having a child enables you to imagine every child as your own." He finds it a revelation how much he loves her but is full of contradictory emotions regarding her origins: angry that she was abandoned as an infant and had to suffer her first two years in a Chinese orphanage, but grateful to China for granting him such a wonderful daughter. He views Chinese adoption as "a place where elation is paired with regret and hope stands as companion to sorrow." Segedin, Ben
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (June 24, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061240303
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061240300
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #193,615 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Sharon M. O'Neal on July 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Although I'm not yet a parent myself, Jeff Gammage's memoir of adopting his daughters from China moved me to think that having a child, whether a biological one or an adopted one, is an experience I really don't want to miss. It was especially refreshing to hear a story like this told from the dad's point of view --- a perspective we don't often hear. As a former coworker of Jeff's at the Philadelphia Inquirer, I recognized and appreciated the thoughtful and sensitive approach he brings to every subject he reports. The details of his trip to adopt Jin Yu are dramatic and touching. I liked the fact that Jeff and his wife recognized the loss their daughter experienced and decided to keep her name instead of giving her an Americanized one --- after all, as he's said, it's the one thing she didn't have to give up in leaving China.
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Format: Hardcover
As the adoptive mom of a Chinese daughter, I have read numerous stories written by the adoptive parents of Chinese girls. This is the one that stood out for me... Jeff Gammage writes so well the thoughts and feelings of a parent who has to deal with so many issues when adopting a child... and the complications that come with adopting a child from China.

If you are considering adoption, know that not all China adoptions are like this one, and yet, all China adoptions will have some, if not most, of the feelings, thoughts and issues one will deal with as Jeff documented. If you've been there done that - you will find yourself in this book. And if you just want to know more about China adoptions, I would recommend this book as a must read.
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Format: Hardcover
I devoured this book after someone on an adoption Yahoo Group recommended it and I heard the author on NPR. I have to say it's absolutely amazing. Jeff has extraordinary insight and he pulls no punches. He vividly describes both his incredible love for his daughter and his guilt and anger that she had to stay in an orphanage for 2 years before he could get her. He explores the contradiction between being eternally grateful to a country for allowing him to have his daughter, and being angry with the country whose policies forced his daughter to end up in an orphanage in the first place.

This is an incredibly moving book and is impossible to put down. China Ghosts will leave you touched and inspired.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As someone who has lived in China for a while, both as a teacher and as a student, and who has witnessed attempted forced abortions, I find this book to be a remarkable portrayal of things I've been unable to put into words. I've traveled to hundreds of cities and rural villages, including all of the places listed in this book.

I've seen the same things that Jeff talks about, and a lot more. His portrayal of Chinese society, the reasons that Chinese parents are abandoning their children, and why they're committing infanticide, and his vivid descriptions of the adoption process (which I've personally witnessed), is very good.

I highly recommend this book to anyone before they adopt a child from China, so they know what to expect. Moreover, I strongly encourage adopting children anywhere in the world, no matter where they hail from.
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The book started off good and was interesting how they went to China and picked up their daughter but it jumped back and forth too much to the author's past and present musings. He goes back and forth between trying to decide if there is a God, Buddah, gods. He also seems to blame God, not Buddah for the orphans plight. He also says adoption is purely selfish. I guess it was for them when they decided the only way to have a child was thru adoption although it turns out not to be selfish in the sacrificial love they have for their daughters. Over all it was alright and interesting enough to finish the book, although I skipped thru some of the ramblings.
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Format: Hardcover
I just finished this book and I couldn't put it down for the first 9 chapters! I've read MANY adoption stories and none have touched me like Jeff Gammage's. His honesty, love and compassion come through in his words. The only reason this book didn't get 5 stars is because he left me wanting more. I felt like the adoption of his 2nd daughter was underplayed and I wanted to hear more about his 2nd adoption experience; perhaps that's for the 2nd book?
I have finally found an adoptive parent who put into words exactly how I've felt since I adopted my daughter 2 years ago. Thank you Jeff!
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Format: Paperback
The book started out okay, with the author describing his trip to China and how it took several days for his daughter to warm up to him and his wife. I thought I was going to like the book and relate to it since my daughter was also adopted from China. (I will say that he and I have one major difference in our decision to adopt: Adoption was his second choice for starting a family, but it was my FIRST choice.)

Then he spent rest of the book in a self-spiral pity party of his own guilt and angst. He whines and whines about how guilty he felt that he wasn't there for his daughter during her first 2 years when she needed him the most and he was obsessing over infertility treatments instead of going to her. What he fails to realize is that Chinese adoption is a methodical process and if he didn't waste time with infertility treatments, he would not have been matched with the same daughter, a daughter he describes as a "perfect" match for his family.

He whines about the "culture shock" of returning to America after being in China. For a news reporter (and someone who has traveled out of the country before), he seems to be short-sighted.

In the end, I want to grab him by the shoulders and shake him yelling "Don't be such a drama queen and so melodramatic! You have your daughter. She has her past. Be there for her NOW. Stop sulking. Let the dark days behind you or you;ll bring her down too."
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