The Lost Daughters of China by Karin Evans (ISBN 1585421170)
The first layer of this book is an autobiographical tale of a couple adopting a daughter from China, the bureaucratic rigamarole that ensues, and their emotional journey they go through in bringing their daughter home.
On a sociological level, the story gets much interesting. Because of China's one child policy, the number of abortions and abandonments of daughters has spiked. Stats go so far as to say that there is up to a 20% gender gap in this new generation. China's culture has valued male children (to carry on the family name, inherit property, so on), and if a family can only have one child, they will sometimes abandon or abort girls so that they can have a boy child without flouting the law. The burgeoning orphanages are packed with little girls, and generally the only orphaned boys to speak of are those with health issues whose parents are unable to care for them.
Now, families are often given an allowance to have two children (if the first one was a girl), but then if they have a second girl this puts them in this same dilemma.
So there's a whole segment of Chinese girl growing up in orphanages or jumping the big puddle to come to the States. The Chinese adopted community here is growing by leaps and bounds because it is relatively inexpensive and there is no concern that the birth parents will come back and sue for custody. The downside is that these girls are entirely cut off from their heritage, their ancestry, their roots.
The author brings up a good (and frightening) point also. What happens when all of these children get to marriage age, when there are 20% fewer women than men? When there are so many young men with no outlet for their lust? On the one hand, perhaps it will make women more valuable and mothers will consider keeping more of their daughters. On the other hand, wars have been fought over women before, and with not enough to go around, tempers could run high. Would these young men unable to start a family throw themselves into their work, advancing the Chinese economy and industry? Would they join the military (and how would that affect their relations with other countries, if their military keeps growing to such an extent)?
Only time will tell, but the prospects for the future do definitely give pause.
Excellent book, fairly quick read. It discussed politics, sociology, and history, as well as the emotional aspect of family and adoption. Worth the read.