Imagine this…

Imagine you go off to college – you’re young and idealistic.  This is a fabulous opportunity.  You want to live differently than your parents, living for your beliefs, not the government.  There’s so much to learn – the classwork and this boy.  Oh, this boy!  You  meet – carefully, quietly.  He loves you; he will forever.  Your period stops, but you think this is the excitement from love.  He knows otherwise and disappears – transferring to another school.  You never see him again.  Your belly swells.  You’re pregnant!  How?  You have learned so much, but you never learned about this.  Fear… hope… need to hide.  A cleaning woman offers help.  She knows people who can abort the baby.  You don’t want this; the swelling belly represents a new love.  But no one else has offered help.  You can’t stay at school – not with the swelling belly.  In desperation, you go with her.  Suddenly you refuse the abortion – “Please let me have my baby!” – a beautiful girl.  Now disgrace.  You can’t return to school.  Your parents lose face.  But you want to be different – live by your ideals; not be trapped, like your parents.  You want to live for love.   You try to find work, but there’s no work, no home for a young woman with baby, as homes are tied to work.  Desperate, hungry, baby losing weight… you leave her by the orphanage gate, hoping they’ll look after her… just for a little while.  As soon as you knew she’s safe inside, you run, not looking back, sobbing.  You find a  job.  You go back for her.  The orphanage, it’s gone… rubble.  Where are the babies?  No one knows.  You wait… and wait… for the daughter that isn’t there.  You try to move on.  To marry, but your past creeps up.  You won’t pass the pre-marital gynecological exam – they’ll see your no virgin.  Maybe they’ll see you’ve had a child and not allow you to have another.  Will he marry you then?  You love him.  And still you wait for the beautiful ghost of a daughter you left – trapped in your past and your love.

I just finished reading Xinran’s Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother: Stories of Loss and Love and … wow.  I read it in under 24 hours, something I haven’t done in ages.  I often wonder about the other side of our adoption story and this book has several such stories.  I often read simplistic, black and white stories of abandonment and sometimes trafficking that make it easy to judge the people harshly.  I read the stories told to Xinran and I see they are not black and white.  I can understand, just a little bit, the impossibility that people, especially women, are living with in China.  I understand that these parents love their children.  Our children.  They are desperately wanted and missed.  Xinran wrote this book for them, so they will know they are loved by their Chinese parents.  I strongly recommend it.

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4 Responses

  1. Awesome book! I also could not set it down and finished in a day. You are right, there are so many possibilities–even beyond the book, which is true in M’s case, the judgements and simple stories have to end. It does no benefit to our kids to believe the “fairy tale” that prevails. Thank you XinRan.

  2. Thank you for the tip, another to add to my ever-increasing reading list.

  3. I am in the middle of this book. Something really feel the need to talk about with others. It is fascinating and so very very painful. Adding that I have one of China’s girls asleep in the next room as I read, leaves me feeling so many things.

  4. Thank you for this recommendation. It too is on my must read list. I hope that one day it will help Sunshine understand a little bit.

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