Book Reviews

February 10, 2007 at 1:26 pm Leave a comment

I read every night prior to bed, but lately I can’t seem to read more than a couple pages before drifting off to sleep. This definitely cuts in to my capacity for book completion but, hey, it isn’t really a race. Along with the constant reading I do in texts and on-line for teaching purposes, I also tend to read 2 or more books at a time, switching on an off as my moods take me. Anyway….. I’ve recently finished two books on adopting from China and would like to share my thoughts, briefly, on each.


Wanting a Daughter, Needing a Son by Kay Ann Johnson, is a compilation of her research on abandonment and adoption in China. The preceding link will give a review in greater depth than I will. In fact, the review is an excellent summary of the entire book and is so detailed that it could replace spending hours reading of what I found to be a very repetitive text.

Ms. Johnson’s extensive research is presented in this collection of previously published articles on the topic mentioned above. The information is excellent but my impression upon finishing this read was that the entire book could have been summarized in one or two chapters. Perhaps I misunderstood the format intent of this publication. Personally, I felt that a detailed graph showing the data dispersed throughout the text with a two or three chapter reflection would sufficiently covered the author’s message.

Another disappointment came in the fact that although this book was published in 2004, the reported research and time frame studied occurred mainly in the 90’s and just into 2000. There claims to be an update on “China’s Orphanages Today, 2003” but I really found that chapter empty of any real information. It seemed to be supposition rather than fact. (Link to chapters.)

However, despite my complaints, if you are adopting from China you should read this book. Like learning my multiplication tables, the same information over and over again certainly sinks in…along with a deeper understanding of the “why”. At this point in time, Wanting a Daughter, Needing a Son is a modern historical perspective on how and why China became such a popular destination for foreign adoption and an excellent report on the hardships and excruciatingly painful decisions that Chinese citizens sometimes have to make. It is not informative on adoption and the situation in China after the year 2000.

Overall impression: not impressed with the author’s writing skills, valuable information, already modern history, but a must read for potential parents of children adopted from China.


My second book, The Lost Daughters of China was a much more pleasant read. This well written (thank you!) account of a mother’s journey through the entire process of adopting a daughter from China clearly explained the long journey that my husband and I are now experiencing and the much awaited reward that will only come after months and even years of patience.

Mostly a reflection, research was also evident in chapters and comments that reinforced information read in the first publication. No two couples going through this process will have the same experience and no two adoptions will be the same, but it was nice to read another’s to gain insight on what may be to come. I especially was intrigued by the after adoption chapters and the acclimation of daughter Kelly to her new world and the Ms. Evan’s transition to becoming a new parent.

My only criticism is that I would have liked to have heard more about her husband’s experience as well. Does anyone know of any books from the father’s perspective?

Overall impression: well written and enjoyable to read, informative to those thinking about adopting or in the process, a recommended publication for family members of those going through this process.


Entry filed under: Book Reviews.

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