The Lost Daughters of China: Adopted Girls, Their Journey to America and the Search for a Missing Past

Karin Evans, 2000, 2001, 2008

Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin

I was drawn to this book because I went to China with my brother to help him bring home the baby girl he and his wife adopted in the late 1990s. The Lost Daughters of China is an example of how an author can take a personal experience and create a work of wide significance. In her quest for answers to her own questions about adoption, Evans, a journalist, read everything she could about China and Chinese adoptions and interviewed more than 100 people after she and her husband adopted a baby girl from southern China and returned for a second daughter, three years old when they brought her home.

The book is a rich tapestry that captures much of what children who are adopted and the parents who adopt them must feel. Evans places the phenomenon of Chinese adoption in the larger context of Chinese history and culture. She discusses the way the Chinese have traditionally valued boy children above girls, Mao’s agricultural revolution and the huge numbers who starved to death because of it, the central government’s one child policy, and the excruciating dilemma that led some Chinese parents to leave their daughters where they would be found and taken to a Chinese orphanage with the hope that they would find a good home. In order to be adopted by foreign families, Chinese children must be declared orphans and the parents presumed lost or dead.

More than 75,000 Chinese adopted children have been brought to the United States since 1990. As they grow up, they will have many questions about the land of their birth, their birth parents and their place in American society. The book sensitizes readers to their dilemma — not knowing their birth parents and having little hope of ever finding them. But Evans says more adoptees may be able to find biological parents in the future because of international organization efforts  and possible DNA banks.


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