Jonathan Mirsky

Girls Allowed

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

By

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

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

By

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.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • The mystery of Jack the Ripper's identity has long been agonised over. But what do we know about his victims?… ,
    • A piece of Literary Review history from way back in 1983: John Haffenden talks to the great Iris Murdoch. ,
    • Britain’s only travelling lit fest, the Garden Museum Literary Festival is heading to Houghton Hall, Norfolk, for a… ,
    • 'The 19th-century German sage is not my idea of a pleasant travel companion' goes hiking with Friedr… ,
    • If you want ideas about what to read next, sign up to our free email newsletter, and get book reviews, archive mate… ,
    • 'The heroic male nude could not, I think, be used today to signify civic pride and glory', as Michelangelo’s 'David… ,
    • 'Munch’s later works show us a man liberated from the torments that gave rise to some of the best-known early works… ,