Xinran was born and raised in China and worked there as a reporter for a radio station.  The book begins, “A Book Written for Adoptive Daughters.”  Xinran begins,

“It took a long time for me to summon the courage to relive the personal memories and experiences of my life as a reporter in China.” Page 1

China has a strict one child per family rule, due to over-population.  If you are caught with having more that 1 child, there are deep penalties, including losing your job.  Xinran  goes on to recount numerous stories of mothers forced to give up their daughters  because their parents in-law insist that they have a boy. 

For a very long time, China would not allow adoptions of children from outside the country.  Many of the stories Xinran heard and some that she even witnessed, firsthand were gruesome.  Parts of this book was shocking to read.

“Suddenly, I thought I heard a slight movement in the slops pail behind me, and automatically glanced toward it. I felt ice in my blood. To my absolute horror, I saw a tiny foot poking out of the pail. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Then the tiny foot twitched! It wasn’t possible. The midwife must have dropped that tiny baby alive into the slop pail!” Page 92

There were other stories of female babies being abandoned and left to die.  There were some orphanages but they were all very poor.

“The children were just left to cry all day. She mostly fed them on rice gruel, and kept them clean by sluicing the urine and excrement off the mat with cold water. By night she slept squeezed onto the mat with the babies, at the mercy of the mosquitoes just as they were.”  Page 244

Things improved, some when adoption was opened up to families from other countries.  Though mothers don’t know where their daughters live, they did give messages to Xinran to pass on to adopted daughters, her main motivation for writing this book.

I found these true stories to be raw, heart rendering, and shocking.  Xinran writes beautifully but opens the child issue in China up for the entire world to see.  If you don’t know what is happening in China, even to this day, read this book.  If you know what is happening read this book and learn more.


Did you review this book?  Please leave the link in the comments and I will post it here.


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