Wednesday, June 13, 2007

China Ghosts

An adoption story with beautiful depth
China Ghosts
My Daughter's Journeyto America, My Passage to Fatherhood

Reviewed by Huntly Collins

One out of three American children who are adopted from abroad come from China. For the most part, these are baby girls who have been abandoned because of the Chinese government's one-child policy and the deep-seated Chinese cultural tradition that the oldest son is to care for his parents in their old age. This oddly female Chinese diaspora, which began in the early 1990s, has changed the face of many communities in the United States as Chinese-born American girls join other children on playgrounds, at school and in church pews and synagogues. The oldest among the girls, those adopted in the first wave, are now graduating from college, moving on to find their place in the rich diversity of the American tableaux.

In China Ghosts: My Daughter's Journey to America, My Passage to Fatherhood, Jeff Gammage, a reporter at The Inquirer, tells the touching story of his own adoption of Jin Yu from an orphanage in China's Hunan Province in 2002. Like many American couples, Gammage and his wife, Christine, decided to adopt after being unable to conceive children themselves. Into their life came Jin Yu, who was left as a newborn in an alleyway in Xiangtan, a city just south of Changsha, the provincial capital. She spent the first two years of her life in a local orphanage before she was adopted. A few years later, the Gammages went back to China to adopt a second daughter, Zhao Gu, 11 months, who came from an orphanage in Gansu Province in western China. The family now lives in Elkins Park.


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