Karin Evans’s The Lost Daughters of China: Abandoned Girls, Their Journey to America, and the Search for a Missing Past (New York, 2000) is an account of the experiences of Evans and her husband as they adopt a baby girl from an orphanage in China. The book interweaves Evans’s personal story with information about Chinese culture and society. Of particular importance is the Chinese population policy that began in the 1980s, which restricted families to one child. This policy was established because China’s leaders believed that the country, with one billion people, was overpopulated and would only be able to achieve economic prosperity with rigidly enforced population control. The result was that thousands of babies, almost all of them girls, were abandoned by their parents and had to be placed in orphanages. Many were adopted by American parents who, like Evans and her husband, had to go through a long bureaucratic process with many delays before they could connect with their new daughters in China.
In addition to providing a moving account of how two American parents bonded with a Chinese baby and brought her back to live in San Francisco, The Lost Daughters of China also raises many issues that Evans discusses in an accessible and interesting way: the challenges of raising a baby who has a different ethnicity than its parents; the place of women in Chinese society, both in history and today; and the origins and consequences of China’s one-child policy.