Jonathan Mirsky

Girls Allowed

China’s Hidden Children: Abandonment, Adoption, and the Human Costs of the One-Child Policy

By Kay Ann Johnson

University of Chicago Press 208pp £16 order from our bookshop

One Child: The Story of China’s Most Radical Experiment

By Mei Fong

Oneworld 250pp £12.99 order from our bookshop

There is a familiar story that, after China promulgated the one-child policy in 1980, millions of babies were aborted or murdered at birth. This in turn gave rise to the belief that most Chinese feel that boys are more desirable and valuable than girls. For the tens of thousands of foreigners who adopted Chinese children, the policy ‘proved’ that Chinese people were willing to abandon girls, thereby making their adoptions not only necessary deeds but also moral ones.

Kay Ann Johnson, a political scientist at Hampshire College in the United States, adopted a Chinese girl almost twenty-five years ago. She has written this book, which follows on from several academic articles, in the hope of assuaging any resentment her daughter may one day feel towards the unknown parents who ‘abandoned’ her. She also wants to persuade her not to wonder, as many adopted children do, what was wrong with her and what she did wrong to lose her parents.

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