Friday, June 19, 2009

Voices of Chinese Birth Mothers

In a comment to this post, Margie said that her view of birth families has been shaped in part by "having had the opportunity to hear first-hand Korean mothers who lost their children to adoption tell their stories." I wish we could hear directly from Chinese birth mothers as she has from Korean birth mothers. There are a few places to hear them speak second-hand -- the Dutch documentary, a brief cameo in China's Lost Girls, and Dr. Changfu Chang's Long Wait For Home.

But I want more. I was looking through A Passage to the Heart (drawn there by a cite in another article to a piece entitled, "The Importance of Loving Your Child's Birth Mother" (gee, I can't imagine why I wanted to read that one!)), and I ran across Susan Caughman's "Messages From Our Children's Birth Parents." She collected from adoptive parents the notes pinned to their baby's clothing when they were found and taken to orphanages.

It's fascinating reading:
From Wuhan, Hubei Province:
In our countryside the thought that a man is more important than woman is very popular. I myself don't have the strength to say something against it and overthrow it. But I believe on this big world there must be some kind, goodhearted uncles or aunties who can rescue my little daughter. I would do anything for him or her on my next life if I have another life. Birth Mother.

From Fuyang, Zhejiang Province:
To the adopter, please keep this note. In this life, in this world, I am not able to provide for you. I am giving you up so you can have a life. Good luck and be well.

From Hunan Province:
This baby girl was born on April 28, 1992, at 5:30 a.m. and is now 100 days old. She was born in a large hospital. She's in good health and has never suffered any illnesses. Owing to the current political situation and heavy pressures too difficult to explain, we who were her parents for these first days cannot continue taking care of her. We can only hope that a kind-hearted person will take care of her. Thank you. In regret and shame, your mother and father.

From Fuyang, Zhejiang Province:
She was born on May 24, 1992. Please help my daughter.

I still want more! Does anyone know of other places to find voices of Chinese birth parents?


Wendy said...

Not online. I did have a very personal conversation with a friend who's brother demanded the abandonment of his first son (he was showing signs of "being slow") and who also committed infanticide with his first daughter. Both times the mother had absolutely no say--she did leave him after her son was gone as she said it was all she could take. My friend still has extreme anger at her brother for the death of his daughter and the grandmother will not speak to him since he left his son. The women had strong objections, but the decision was made and carried out by the father without warning.
My friend said her brother is typical in attitude, but not in action. She says oftentimes the men are angry, but discuss with the wife the decisions that need to be made.
I hope I will have more information to share in a couple of weeks.

Michele R. H. said...

A couple of years ago my SIL, a labor and delivery nurse assisted a recent Chinese immigrant (to the US ) in giving birth to a healthy female. When the baby was placed in the woman's arms she sobbed inconsolably and continued for a over an hour. Once calmed down the woman confided in my SIL this was her first daughter she would be able keep, her other infant daughters were all taken away from her in China.

Michele R.H. said...

Back in 2007 the Research-China blog has a series titled "Child Abandonment From the Inside" which had several birthmothers interviews.

Dee said...

The note in your entry "From Hunan Province" ("This baby girl was born on April 28, 1992, at 5:30 a.m. and is now 100 days old") appears in Karin Evans's book, The Lost Daughters of China. Maybe the others in this entry are also from the Evans book, but I'm certain of the one about the child being 100 days old, because after reading the book that note was seared into my memory.

Some years ago I seem to recall reading that the writer Xinran was planning to do something focusing on birthmothers, but I have not seen a published product. I, too, yearn to hear more of the voices of our childrens' first parents.

Mei-Ling said...

I know exactly where those quotes are from.

Even though they put tears in my eyes, I lost all respect upon reading the line "We think that maybe these babies were just born in the wrong tummies, but now they have found the right parents."

Anonymous said...

Malinda, you might find the following interesting (see the last article on the attitudes of Chinese nationals to adoption). There are some comments about first mothers, if not direct comments from them.

The China Adoption Research Program is, um, overall. . .fairly positive about adoption. . .so that's something to keep in mind when reading its newsletters. But the description of the attitudes of rural women and the comments from the one guy who denied that his province was responsible for a huge numbers of adoptions were telling. Also the story at the end about two birthmothers searching. I'll let you know if I blog about this.

travel mom said...

I haven't read anything more than what is posted here except I love a book of interviews "The Good Women of China" and although it doesn't talk about abandonment of children at all it gives an interesting insight into the lives of many different women throughout China. I also think there are many great books like Wild Swans, Life and Death in Shanghai, Falling Leaves, and Wanting a Daughter Needing a Son, that give the reader a peek into the lives of women and the role of women over the past century in China.

I would love to read more birth mother stories. It is difficult for me to think that my daughter's birth mother had anything to do with her abandonment, she was found the day she was born still wet with birthing fluid. I can't imagine a woman having just given birth being able to have the strength physically or mentally to leave a child. From all I have read about women in China I think few mothers are involved in the abandonment of their children, and even if they are they are victims of larger political and cultural expectations that are out of their control.

malinda said...


I don't remember the context of that quote in Evans' book, and I loaned it out a long time ago and it didn't come back so I can't check! My admittedly imperfect memory is that Evans was quoting a Chinese adoption guide who said that, not that she was saying it herself or that she approved of the sentiment. Quite possibly I'm wrong -- anyone have a copy they can check?

malinda said...

One thing that always sticks in my mind is a conversation with Kay Johnson, author of Wanting a Daughter, Needing a Son. I was asking her about who in the family generally made the decision to abandon a girl, the parents or the mother-in-law. She said often it was the mother-in-law or the father chivvied into it by the mother-in-law. She told me of being at a SWI in the course of her research when a frantic woman came in looking for her baby daughter. Her husband had taken the baby and abandoned her while the mother slept. She didn't find the baby there . . .

Anonymous said...

The comment was made by one of the adoption guides. It is in the very last paragraph of chapter 5, p. 156.

Only know this because I just happened to be re-reading this book in the past few weeks.

Robert Jacko said...

Thank you for sharing the information.

Adoption of a child makes the child's future bright. Now a days, many adoption agencies are providing the service of adopting a child to those who want to become parents and are also providing help to birth mothers who want to place child for adoption.

Recently, I came across a site called Adoption by Shepherd Care who is providing the service of International Adoption Services at Florida for parents and also providing services to birth mothers.