Monday, May 4, 2009

Everybody Wants to Know What's Going to Happen to the "Lucky Girls." Mei-Ling Hopgood Gives us an Early Perspective on May 18th

I'd be very surprised if you don't know a family that has adopted a child from China. According to the website, over 40,000 children were adopted from China between the years 1983 and 2003. I'd susprect that the rate for the next four years was similar or even higher, until the requirements were tightened (excluding single, older, and same-sex couple parents, for example) in 2007. Most were girls, as these adoptions were fueled by their abandonment, a result of the one-child policy enacted in 1979.

Here is some background history if you'd like to read more.

There have been a plethora of memoirs from the perspective of the adoptive parents. Some titles that have come out over the years include:

The Lost Daughters of China, by Karin Evans
China Ghosts, by Jeff Gammage
Forever Lily, by Beth Nonte Russell
From China with Love, by Emily Buchanan

There's another kind of book that's been popular, kid's picture books targeted at Chinese adopted children, and also their friends. The White Swan Express, by Jean Davies Okimoto, has been recommended to me several folks as an entertaining and informative book on this subject.

But I think the books we are all waiting for now are the stories of the adopted girls themselves. Mei-Ling Hopgood's new memoir is one of the first of this generation. My former coworker from Schwartz Nancy, a voracious reader on this subject (well, and many others), turned me on to this book and I'm quite grateful.

Her story, told in Lucky Girl, is slightly different in that she arrived from Taiwan in 1974. That's how she got the jump on her mainland cousins and was able to polish her writing chops. But the root cause of the adoption is the same; Mei-Ling's father desperately wanted a boy and continued fathering children until there were eight daughters, at least two of whom they gave up for adoption.

The story is from Mei-Ling's perspective, not searching for her roots but having them fall into her lap. How she connects with her birth parents and learns to adjust to the joys and disappointments of this new family form the basis of Lucky Girl. I don't want to give anything away, but one of my favorite ironies was that Mei-Ling was the only one of the sisters who had not taken on an English name.

My only regret was that I wanted to know more about how her adoptive parents adjusted to their new shared custody. But lucky me, I'll get to ask her about this when she comes to Boswell Book Company on Monday, May 18th, at 7 PM.


Here's a cool, bookish blog from longtime publishing icon Paul Kozlowski, including a tongue-in-cheek look at a recently published table. Hey, I read those comments! (Oh, and erase the ones from authors touting their own works who clearly didn't even make an attempt to read mine before they promoted their book. Note: if your post has even some sort of vague connection to the subject at hand, I'll leave it.)

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