Monday, November 13, 2006

Book Review: The Lost Daughters of China, by Karin Evans

Reviewed by Alison Sawdey

Last spring I was reading through one of the suggested texts on international adoption, "How to Adopt Internationally" by Jean Nelson Erichsen and Heino R. Erichsen, when I first came across Karin Evans’s wonderful book "The Lost Daughters of China." I found the book’s title compelling and proceeded to run round to my local Barnes & Noble to pick up a copy. Over a long weekend I read the amazing story of Karin Evans, her husband and her daughter, Kelley. I have since shared this book with many of my family members and some of my dearest friends.

Evans is a California-based freelance journalist who only later in life considered adoption (with her second husband). After much soul-searching and a lot of research (she is a journalist after all!), Evans started down the long road to adopt her daughter. The story details this journey begun in 1997. Although there have been many significant changes in adoption from China in the last decade, the book is still very relevant in its scope and articulation of the amazing coming together of this family.

The book is interspersed with valuable statistics on China (these have been updated in the latest edition published in 2001) which help frame the very real societal pressures that have led this ancient culture to establish one of the most popular adoption programs anywhere in the world. Evans walks the reader through the current social, economic and political dynamics that have led to China’s overpopulation, up to the very real dilemma the birth parents encounter before making the heartbreaking decision to give up their children. I found Evans’s compassion for and understanding of the birth parents extremely touching. The latter part of the book focuses on Evans’s return to California with Kelley and her husband and their transition to everyday family life, after the excitement of their time in China. She also weaves in lovely stories of the growing numbers of families in her neighborhood who have adopted children from China and the resulting cultural richness both parents and children enjoy. Lastly, Evans asks some thought-provoking questions as to when and if these children will journey back to China.

I highly recommend this read to Gladney waiting families, families considering adoption from China and all those who wish to learn more about this wonderful family and life experience.

[The Lost Daughters of China: Abandoned Girls, Their Journey to America, and The Search For A Missing Past. ISBN: 1-58542-026-3 Tarcher/Putnam Publishers]

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