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The Lost Daughters of China: Adopted Girls, Their Journey to America, and the Search fora Missing Past Paperback – October 2, 2008
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The Lost Daughters of China is that rare book that can be many things to different people. Part memoir, part travelogue, part East-West cultural commentary, and part adoption how-to, Karin Evans's book is greater than the sum of its parts. Evans weaves together her experience of adopting a Chinese infant with observations about Chinese women's history and that country's restrictive, if unevenly enforced, reproductive policies. She and her husband adopted Kelly Xiao Yu in 1997, and anyone curious about adopting from a Chinese orphanage--which houses girls and disabled boys--will learn about the mechanics and the emotional freight of the two-year process. Borrowing an image from Chinese folklore, Evans conveys herself, her husband, and their daughter as tethered by a red string that yoked them across an ocean and an equally awesome cultural divide.
The elegant prose is spiced with bits of ironic cultural dissonance. A discount shopper, Evans "felt more than a little strange buying China-made [baby] clothes with which to bundle up a tiny baby, one of China's own, and bring her home." On a bus tour through southern China, she is one of a "bunch of Americans with Chinese infants singing 'Que Sera Sera' in the middle of a sea of traffic. Will she be happy? Will she be rich?" To suddenly hear Doris Day over the horns of a Kowloon traffic jam is heady stuff indeed.
The Lost Daughters of China is at its best when describing Evans's tally of emotional loss and gain. At one point the bureaucratic adoption process is unaccountably delayed, but her father dies during that time and she's able to sit by his bedside. The most mysterious example of this emotional calculus is Kelly's birth mother. Evans invents many plausible scenarios that caused this unknown woman to abandon her three-month-old daughter at a market. These incomplete, necessarily provisional stories help give a face to the larger cultural processes that compel new parents to abandon 1.7 million girl babies annually. The stuff of headlines--human rights, infanticide, rural and urban poverty--is rendered personally relevant in Evans's compelling book. --Kathi Inman Berens --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
After a 22-month-long adoptive "pregnancy" filled with heaps of paperwork, a U.S.-China liaison rang Evans and her husband one October evening in 1997 to say, "You have a daughter." According to her Chinese documents, the little girl was "found forsaken." While it is illegal to abandon babies in China, Evans reports that the number of "lost girls" is frighteningly high: "Babies, female babies, it seemed, were found everywhere, every day." Currently more than 18,000 Chinese-born children, predominantly girls, have been adopted by Americans. Evans's first trip to mainland China included the brief whirl of bureaucratic negotiations, sightseeing and eating in restaurants, leading up to her introduction to Kelly Xiao Yu, her year-old adopted daughter. Yet in the author's effort to understand the forces that shaped her daughter's situation, her lack of familiarity with China results in a heavy dependence on such sources as the writings of Confucius and Jasper Becker's 1997 book, Hungry Ghosts: Mao's Secret Famine--and few fresh insights. Evans shines, however, when depicting her new daughter's immediate affection for her and, following their return to the U.S., for the family dog and Harley Davidson motorcycles. In these lovingly wrought sections, devoted to exploring the mysterious process of adoption itself and Evans's quick fall into love with her newly "found" daughter, her narrative is both perceptive and moving. Agent, Barbara Moulton. (May)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
I did find however, that the book was slightly repetitive. There seemed to be a lot of "Women are forced to give up their daughters so that they can have sons..." and "Women were forced to abort if they went over the one child rule..." and "Having a son is more important than anything on the planet"...over and over and over. I understood that after the first chapter. But each chapter seemed to repeat this in different words.
I really appreciated the author's personal story. She was honest and real about the anxieties involved in this process, including the huge financial cost of adopting from China. She also made clear the joys of adoption from China. We got an honest look at both sides of the coin.
Overall it was a well written and informative book. I'm glad I bought it used though. :)