Her urgent medical situation filled me with fear, but Emma had the energy of a healthy, rambunctious toddler. She attempted to squirm out of my grasp as several old men rolled past with rattling metal carts, loudly hawking a diverse array of instant noodles, red cellophane- wrapped sausages, and cheap cigarettes. It was late at night when we boarded the train, settling into the bottom bunk of a dimly lit soft-sleeper car filled with businessmen.
Emma bounced up and down on the bed and babbled cheerfully as the men snored noisily overhead. Burdened with an overwhelm- ing sense of responsibility, I lay awake anxiously the entire night, terrified to let her out of my sight. When we reached Beijing the following morning, I passed the girl to an American volunteer waiting at the station and heaved an enormous sigh of relief. Emma spent the next two years in Hong Kong undergoing multiple costly procedures to save her young life. Then, at the age of four, she was adopted by an American family. However, the positive outcome she enjoyed is rare among aban- doned disabled youth.
Born with severe cerebral palsy, Henry was stick thin, ghostly pale, and nearly catatonic when he first arrived; his dull eyes lacked any sign of awareness, even when you peered directly into them. Without a birth certifi- cate or other identifying information, the doctor estimated that Henry was roughly six years old. Facial hair began sprouting from his chin, making clear that he was in fact a teenager. When volunteers entered the room he howled loudly; using plead- ing eye contact, he asked to be taken outside in his wheelchair. His ayi be- lieved that he was demanding too much of her time as she also had two other high-needs children in her care and ceased his physical therapy.
Instead, he was placed in front of the television for hours on end with his back facing the rest of the room. With only three volunteers tending to more than forty children, it was impossible to give Henry the individual attention he craved. In desperation, the boy began to bite his own hands, drawing blood on several occasions.
Volunteers attempted to provide him with more one-on-one time, but their efforts could provide only temporary relief. Both of these children were likely cast out of their families due to their costly life-threatening illnesses. They then embarked on an odyssey of care and rehabilitation within state-run orphanages, and their lives were totally transformed by an intricate set of collaborations between the Chinese govern- ment their official guardian and the international humanitarian aid groups that assumed full responsibility for their well-being.
Nonetheless, even though he remained institutionalized, the first- world care and resources he received also remade him into a very different kind of person than he would have otherwise been. A complex global migration of children is carving an indelible circuit between China and the industrialized world.
This new predicament raises a number of ques- tions. First, in this time of unprecedented prosperity, why have many Chi- nese parents abandoned their children to state care? The trajectories that Emma and Henry embarked on could not have been more different. Nonetheless, both children participated in the dynamics of what I term outsourced intimacy: This book highlights the two main ways that outsourced intimacy has operated as an ongoing transnational exchange: Because of the power inequalities that exist between countries, interna- tional adoption typically involves the migration of children from develop- ing areas to advanced industrialized regions.
Thus, nations that place their vulnerable children in the care of outsiders are typically perceived as hav- ing lower global status.
However, I contend that since beginning its interna- tional adoption program in the early s, the PRC has been able to further a range of state objectives through outsourced intimacy; these include fund- ing its child welfare system and fostering closer relationships with first-world countries, especially the United States—the destination of most adoptees.
Drawing on a year and half of ethnographic fieldwork in Chinese state- run orphanages that collaborated with Western NGOs, this book represents the first systematic analysis of the lives of institutionalized youth in the PRC. This analysis is not meant to condemn practices of international adoption and foreign assistance to institutionalized children.
Yet, to provide an honest depiction, I give certain descriptions of orphanage conditions or childcare that may be emotionally distressing to some readers. Since then, the nation has experienced meteoric rates of growth credited with alleviating poverty for more than million people.
As the second-largest U. Rising prosperity has fueled a pervasive sense of anxiety among citizens who engage in a fierce competi- tion over limited resources. Children in particular have received inadequate attention, even though many have been acutely affected by socioeconomic transformations. Parents and state authorities have expended significant effort to mold this group into industrious future workers.
In contrast, this book exposes the dark underbelly of modernization by highlighting the experiences of those who were cast out of their families.
Her desire for ideological purity in serving the children is complicated by the fact that Ms. Inside, they find a smiling Chinese baby girl who has the other end of their red threads looped around her ankles. Both of these children were likely cast out of their families due to their costly life-threatening illnesses. Amazon Second Chance Pass it on, trade it in, give it a second life. Page 1 of 1 Start over Page 1 of 1.
Within a context of financial insecurity, limited fertility, and an existing cultural preference for sons, Chinese parents now carefully choose which offspring to invest their resources in. Particularly in the countryside, parental desire to bear at least one healthy male heir who can care for them in old age has negatively impacted two main groups of kids, healthy rural daughters and special needs children. Second, meteoric economic growth has been accompanied by a rapid increase in the number of children born with congenital illnesses and disabilities. Between and birth defects jumped by nearly 40 percent, an increase that many have attributed to environmental pollutants, particularly in coal-producing regions.
It should be noted that, even though the Chinese govern- ment halted the one-child policy in early , many urbanites are deeply am- bivalent about bearing a second child due to the high cost of child rearing. An online survey on Sina News that received over , responses found that 43 percent of individuals were not interested in having two children, while 28 percent said they would have to wait and see. Only 28 percent said that they would definitely do so.
Through residing in orphanages, which tend to have little contact with broader society, they are also shut out of civic participation. This situation, which was the norm in most of the orphanages I visited, challenged my own personal assumptions about abandonment and institutional care. Like many other Westerners with a surface-level under- standing of these issues, I expected to find myself surrounded by countless healthy female babies.
Over the course of a week I watched with fascination as a six-month-old infant with the wizened face of an old man sat patiently in a booster seat while a physi- cal therapist fitted tiny, undoubtedly painful, braces onto his severely clubbed feet. During one of these sessions, I asked one of the caregivers in the room where all of the healthy girls were.
It quickly became apparent that due to their immense desirability for adoption—both internationally and domestically—healthy girls generally leave institutions quite early. Hence, through an ironic twist of globalization, adoption has turned the local disadvantage of being born female into a benefit within or- phanages that participate in this practice. Because special needs youth will likely never be adopted, their stories are rarely told.
This book seeks to give voice to their experiences and examine their lives in relation to the unfolding of modernity in the PRC. Located in the primarily agricultural province of Henan, this urban facility cared for about mostly special needs children from the surrounding region. The impres- sive six-story main structure was covered from top to bottom with thousands of sparkling white square tiles. However, when I ascended the wide cement staircase to the second floor— out of sight of most visitors—the general conditions quickly deteriorated and began to resemble an aging hospital.
Determined to see this room for myself, I ventured down a long hallway whose walls were gray from years of built-up grime, peeking furtively into rooms lit by naked fluo- rescent bulbs dangling from wires affixed precariously to the ceiling. Some of these items ship sooner than the others. Buy the selected items together This item: Ships from and sold by Amazon. Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother: Customers who bought this item also bought. Page 1 of 1 Start over Page 1 of 1. Love, Money, and HIV: Stories of Loss and Love. Western Advisers in China. The United States and China: Here's how restrictions apply.
Review " Outsourced Children is a provocative analysis of the global assemblages of care around children in Chinese orphanages. Stanford University Press; 1 edition August 31, Language: Start reading Outsourced Children on your Kindle in under a minute. Don't have a Kindle?
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There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later. This is a beautifully written book detailing why certain children have been abandoned in China, what their lives are like in state-run orphanages, and how this relates to international adoption to Western countries. It doesn't mean the author believes adopted children are bought and sold. Overall, this is a carefully crafted, highly engaging analysis of challenging political and ethical issues.
I learned a lot and highly recommend it to anyone interested in children, adoptive families, or the side effects and politics of China's economic ascent. Kindle Edition Verified Purchase. Accessible to the non-academic reader. I met Wang during her research and am familiar with the facilities and individuals mentioned in the book.
This is an excellent, well written overview of the orphan situation in China over the last 10 years. I appreciate her emphasis on the cultural differences between Chinese nannies and expat volunteer wives. My opinion is that each group treats the children like puppies from their respective countries.
Wang writes an approachable narrative, and the writing style is not hard to read, though the content can be challenging. The aims of the Communist party are fairly consistent. She has a few pointed criticisms, but otherwise simply accounts their actions as reasonable outflows of their worldview. This concept was particularly illuminating in tying together themes of international competition, class disparity between rural and urban citizens, and the parallel of raising up vulnerable children to make them useful while simultaneously despising them.
Wang integrated them in a way that had previously eluded me. The abandonment of 'unplanned children' relates directly to the PRC's quest to become a modern society and achieve 'material and moral parity with the West.
Chapters 4 and 5 are devoted to western non-profit interventions in China, one which Ms. Wang deems successful and one she deems unsuccessful. Viewing them as intruders in China, who lack cultural insight and serve out of questionable motives, Ms. Wang is much more free in her criticism of these organizations that lack the power to restrict her future travel in China.
Finally, Special Needs adoption, the most common type from China to the West today, is discussed in Chapter 6, including the shift from healthy girls to needy boys. She questions their motives, claims their actions cloud the issues and minimizes the value of their commitment to children in families. Her desire for ideological purity in serving the children is complicated by the fact that Ms. Wang herself was sustained while doing her research by grants from various American academic organizations.
In this way, her own perspective is similarly tainted by making her living from these children in just as concrete a manner as the agencies she censures. Her critical insights might have been more palatable had she acknowledged that she has more in common with the meddling Westerners than any other party in her sphere of research. In the end, I appreciate her nuanced treatment of most sides of the issue, though she possesses neither self-perception of her own role in the dynamic, nor an appreciation for the role of a free market supported private sector in addressing social concerns, nor empathy with conservative Christian families.
I would recommend that families adopting from China both read this book and preserve it for their children, particularly those that were in state care at the time of Ms. Some may find my recommendation of her work ironic. However, I do not think it is ironic. They need secure families in which to grow as 3 or 4 years to a bureaucracy is nothing, but to a child it is the hardening of a foundation for life.
I agree with many of Ms. Jul 08, Ebookwormy1 rated it really liked it Shelves: Sep 18, Layla Win rated it it was amazing. Very well-written book that delves deep into the reasons why kids are available for adoption from China and what their lives are like in orphanages. As an adoptive parent, I found myself crying at various points when reading about some of the conditions that the author witnessed. It's pretty different from other adoption books I've read because it's looking at the bigger structural issues that affect the practice.
While I don't necessarily agree with everything the author argues, she really conv Very well-written book that delves deep into the reasons why kids are available for adoption from China and what their lives are like in orphanages. While I don't necessarily agree with everything the author argues, she really convinced me that adoption and international relations go hand in hand. It's a brave book. Ruilinch rated it liked it Mar 16, Kristy rated it liked it Dec 03, Kelsi Macklin rated it really liked it Jan 08, Sabrina rated it really liked it Aug 05, Maryellen Geiger rated it liked it Sep 07, Stefanie Bishop rated it liked it Jun 08, Kirstin rated it really liked it Oct 09, Claire rated it really liked it May 06, Cindym marked it as to-read Jun 02,