China’s Hidden Children: Abandonment, Adoption, and the Human Costs of the One- Child Policy

Kay Ann Johnson. Univ. of Chicago, $22.50 (224p) ISBN 978-0-226-35251-0
China scholar Johnson (Wanting a Daughter, Needing a Son) continues her quest to uncover the hidden reality and long-term consequences of China’s family planning laws, which up until 2016 prohibited more than one child per family. She provides a thorough examination of the effects of the one-child policy on rural families. In telling the stories of parents forced to abandon daughters, Johnson debunks the myth that Chinese families unequivocally favor sons. Despite restrictions on domestic adoption, her research found numerous Chinese families eager to adopt abandoned girls. Johnson shows the various ways families demonstrate resilience and cunning in dealing with “overquota daughters.” For instance, parents forced to abandon their children often tried to arrange for them to be adopted by family members or acquaintances. Johnson also explores the financial incentive created for child seizures by international adoption. She shares one couple’s story of their daughter, “Victory,” who was taken by local officials and later placed with a family overseas. Despite a dry prose style, this book is important for challenging conventional assumptions that international adoption is the only option for “unwanted children.” Johnson’s comprehensive survey humanizes a rural population often overlooked in debates over Chinese family planning policies. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/22/2016
Release date: 03/01/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
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