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Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother: Stories of Loss and Love
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Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother: Stories of Loss and Love

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  1,238 ratings  ·  198 reviews
Following her internationally bestselling book The Good Women of China, Xinran has written one of the most powerful accounts of the lives of Chinese women. Her searing stories of mothers who have been driven to abandon their daughters or give them up for adoption is a masterful and significant work of literary reportage and oral history.

Xinran has gained entrance to the m
ebook, 272 pages
Published March 8th 2011 by Scribner (first published 2010)
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Petra X
This was a rant, now it's a review.

This book is the back story to all those little Chinese girls people from the West adopt. It's heartbreaking to see that the Chinese government with its policies on land grants and extra food distribution - on the birth of a boy child only - together with the one-child policy have set the scene for the murder of new-born baby girls, which is expected and never prosecuted. Those who can't bear to 'do' (as the euphemism goes) their daughters, or pay the midwife t
Larry Bassett
Jul 13, 2014 Larry Bassett rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone involved with adoptions of girls from China
Shelves: china, nonfiction
I have an adopted Chinese daughter. We call her Mei Mei which means little sister in Mandarin. I think about her birth parents regularly and imagine that they must think about her as well. In the orphanage she was called Fu Ping. She was born in Aksu, Xinjiang, China but she is pretty much an American child now at the age of nine. She came to us from China at the age of 3 underweight, speaking no English, shy, and eating every morsel of food on her plate down to the last grain of rice. From her ...more
Xinran is that rare, rare non-fiction writer that puts you completely into her interview conversations, as if you were standing next to her or sitting beside sucking up the bowl of noodles one at a time, just as she is. And listening.

Not only with accurate dialog but with each figment of emotional or locational context to that exact interview. And in doing so she imbeds you within the cultural and societal diameters of all consequence and onus. She is a gifted writer with an incredible backgroun
Indira Iljas
Memiliki anak laki-laki nampaknya masih merupakan hal dominan yang diinginkan oleh setiap keluarga. Dari masa kehamilan awal, banyak orang yang menginginkan anak pertama mereka adalah laki-laki. Masih menurut kepercayaan yang dianut oleh masyarakat, memiliki anak laki sebagai anak pertama tentunya diharapkan dapat terus melangsungkan generasi penerus keturunan, disamping dengan memiliki anak laki maka akan banyak pula keuntungan yang didapatkan oleh sebuah keluarga. Dan sepertinya hal ini masih ...more
Any family thinking about adopting a child from China, MUST read this book! It lays out the laws of adoption, gives extremely credible cultural perspective and gives a compassionate voice to and for the many Chinese women who, heartbreakingly, were forced to abandon or place their beloved children in orphanages.

Xinran does an incredible job at addressing the unimaginable heartache and pain millions of Chinese mothers suffered as they were pressured to abandon their children in the street, leave
Xinran has given myself and all others adopted from China such an incredible gift by writing this book. Before reading this book, I had a very different-and angry-way of viewing my traumatic situation. Her heartwrenching stories about the Chinese mothers' situation has changed everything for me. Each time Xinran told a story about a Chinese mother I would think, this could be MY birth mother. She painted a mental portrait in my mind of a woman who brought me into the world, and a woman who, thou ...more
Lisa Dyer
Journalist, women's advocate, and adoption charity director/founder, Xinran provides an incredible insight into the stories and insights into the women and their families in China who give up their daughters.

Intercountry adoption is a personal interest of mine, and I found this book heartbreaking and an eye opener. There are so many reasons why children are abandoned or worse in China. Many people immediately turn to the 'one child policy' as a blanket reason. There are pressures from family to
I'm a devoted reader of Xinran's books, beginning with The Good Women of China, which transformed the world view of anyone who read it and who cared at all about the world's biggest country. Her writing lays out clearly the realities of modern China and helps you understand what that country is about by speaking openly of topics that virtually every other writer keeps taboo. In doing so, Xinran both brings China closer and makes it seem more strange. For example, anyone can understand the heartb ...more
Il fenomeno dell'abbandono delle bambine nelle zone rurali della Cina è tristemente noto, ha radici profonde e antichissime legato al poco valore che l'essere donna ha in quel paese. Ma le testimonianze raccolte e narrate dalla giornalista Xinran non hanno uno scopo divulgativo o di approfondimento sociologico; vogliono essere d'aiuto a tutte quelle bambine adottate all'estero che si chiedono: "chi sono? Perché mia madre non mi ha voluta? Non c'è risposta, lo sappiamo, ma Xinran vuole dire che l ...more
I think most people in the world know about China's one-child policy and the baby girls who are often aborted, abandoned, adopted out, or killed after birth. This book is a compiled by a native of China who works in broadcast and journalism. She shares stories of women she sought out for interviews and women she came across in the course of her work or in her daily life.
If there is anyone who thinks that the women who rid themselves of their baby girls in whatever way are heartless, this book w
Interessante saggio sul problema "bambine" in Cina.
Xinran, una giornalista, è una donna fortunata: nata femmina, è stata pur sempre tenuta dalla famiglia d'origine. Uno dei suoi maggiori rimpianti però è il non essersi mai sentita amata dalla madre. Questa mancanza la spinge ad approfondire il tema della nascita di bambine in territorio cinese, specie durante la triste legge del figlio unico. Gli episodi raccontati variano per geografia: dai villaggi rurali che sembrano fermi a qualche secolo pr
The author Xinran wrote this book to help children who were given up for adoption to understand the circumstances which lead to their mothers making such a decision. The book is essentially ten chapters covering ten different circumstances which led to children being abandones. Throught the stories she is able to talk about political, economic and other forces placed on women in China over the past fifty years in particular. As well she is able to trace the development of state sponsored orphana ...more
(See more of my reviews at

Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother: Stories of Loss and Love by Xinran
It seems that most Americans know someone who has adopted a baby from overseas (and by “know” I don’t mean read about Angelina Jolie’s growing menagerie in the weekly tabloids), many of those being baby girls from China. There is endless speculation about why the adoption rates coming out of China were so large for so long (they’ve fallen off precipitously in
Mircalla64 (free Liu Xiaobo)
le figlie di cui la Cina pensava di poter fare a meno

Sono anni che in Cina le bambine vengono considerate una disgrazia,
l'ignoranza, la politica del figlio unico e infine la sciagurata procedura di assegnazione della terra fanno si che chi partorisce una femmina decida di abbandonarla, o addirittura ucciderla, per tentare di avere un maschio.
l'autrice è una giornalista che si è accollata lo straziante compito di indagare la realtà attuale del fenomeno, ascoltare le donne che si sono sentite in d
I was hesitant to read this book because I knew how emotional it was going to be. Working in adoption, specifically as the coordinator of the waiting child program in China for my adoption agency, I work as an advocate to find families for these sweet children who have been abandoned by their birth families. I know the reasons why they are abandoned. I know the political and cultural reasons and what the research says. I know there are no other reasons or methods for these little ones to be plac ...more
Jess Mortensen
Another book of heartbreaking stories from Chinese women, these from mothers (and fathers) whi give up daughters for various reasons: ignorance of sexual functions, and ending up unmarried and alone and pregnant; old traditions of sons being firstborn and earning land; being too busy working to give a child a good life; being unable to support the baby, leaving it at an orphanage, and upon returning to claim the child the place is closed and the babies gone; wanting a daughter to have a good lif ...more
I'm having a hard time quite knowing how to rate this book, it was a hard book to read in a lot of ways. I'm a mother of three beautiful China dolls and for that reason I read this book. I wanted to be able to understand and be able answer the questions I know will come up some day. Although I had some idea why these beautiful girls were and are abandoned, this book gave me a better idea AND coming from Chinese women's perspective helped even more. Someday when my girls are ready and wanting to ...more
I usually don't read horribly sad real stories, but somehow felt I had to buy and read this one. No idea why. Anyway, the author is a remarkable person; she tried to do something every time she encountered these cases (especially the first story and the story of Little Snow). I'll also remember the guy who was responsible for supplying food to the orphanage (there are only girls in Chinese orphanages, if any boys can be found, that means they are ill or handicapped and no one wants them) during ...more
This book breaks my heart. Rather poorly written and somewhat disjointed. After reading this book I cannot help but feel that some cultures have no empathy for their fellow humans, perhaps I am being a little harsh but detailed accounts of girl babies being murdered immediately after birth does not make easy reading. The story of the mother who was somewhat inconvenienced by having a child and eventually left her in an orphanage makes me angry not sad. Now she is stricken with guilt at her actio ...more
This book was so disturbing and yet so important for people to read. The stories pertain to the role of girls in Chinese culture--either those who have been murdered, abandoned, or tossed aside by a culture that places little value on girls. As an adoptee and a mother, I could feel the pain from both sides. This book should be on the bookshelf of every adoptive parent as I think it will help answer the inevitable question posed by most adoptees--"didn't my mommy love me?". A really important rea ...more
Madalena Elshoff
The stories of relinquishment are so heart-wrenching, I found myself crying many times while reading this book. I can imagine the acute ache of loss all those Chinese mothers faced and continue to face by giving up their daughters. I believe my grandmother had been given up and sent away as some of the girls described in this book. And it makes me wonder more now what her young life back in China was like. My mother also spent time in orphanages and as the youngest of 3 daughters, must have wond ...more
Le madri delle bambine hanno tutte lo strazio nel cuore

Donne di campagna che sono nullità se non sono in grado di dare alla luce un erede maschio. Donne che, per questo motivo, vengono continuamente umiliate diventando il disonore della famiglia. Donne che se partoriscono una primogenita femmina non hanno manco il tempo di vederla e tenerle tra le braccia che la neonata ha già smesso di respirare annegata nel secchio dell'acqua sporca, estirpata dal ventre materno come fosse un tumore. Ma anche
I began and finished the book in one day. The stories told are so compelling, so rip-your-heart-out, demanding you bear witness that I could not stop until I had finished.

Xinran compiled these 10 chapters and stories of Chinese women who had given up their daughters. Their circumstances run the gamut from being forced to do so because of the (currently shifting) one-child policy and a refusal by their family to accept a girl, to the shame of being an unwed mother, to wanting a better life for th
This book is intense and made me want to sneak into my kids' room at night and give them a squeeze. These stories could pull at anyone's heartstrings, mother or not, but of course I couldn't stop thinking about my own kids as I read.

The most significant thing I learned from this book was that the one-child policy in China is really not the biggest factor in families abandoning babies. The abandonment or killing of girl babies has been going on for many many generations, long before the populatio
I came away amazed, horrified, shocked, heartbroken, and touched after reading these unforgettable accounts of Chinese women who have been separated from their beloved daughters...a must read for those studying women's rights, Chinese culture, or just want some motivation to go out and make a difference in the world!
Eye-opening book about women in China who have either had to make the choice of giving their daughter's up for adoption or to snuff out their infant daughters' lives because of the one-child policy combined with the cultural and social importance placed upon having a son. I highly recommend this book!
Tärkeä ja kiinnostava kirja mutta jokin silti häiritsi. Teksti oli paikoin lörpöttelevää ja asioita toisteltiin.
Devastatingly honest and heartbreaking - but something that parents with children from China, and those adopted daughters (and sons) should all read. This will be kept for my daughter until she is old enough to handle these stories. We will never know the truth about our children's birth mothers, but this gives us an avenue towards understanding the incredibly complex and unforgiving set of political, social, historical and cultural circumstances that might have brought these mothers to such a d ...more
This is one of the most depressing books I have read in a long time. The conditions for women in rural China are difficult to fathom. Xinran explains China for westerners and has a charity to build bridges of understanding between Chinese mothers who have given their children up for adoption and Chinese adoptees who want to know more about their birth mothers and the country of their origin.
This book gives women's stories of what lead them to abandon their daughters to orphanages. Truly sad cond
Il libro è una sorta di inchiesta sul fenomeno diffuso dell'abbandono delle figlie femmine da parte delle famiglie cinesi, una 'sorta' perche' e' molto incentrato sul carattere sentimentale di tale fenomeno (il titolo in inglese e' "Message from an unknown Chinese mothers: stories of loss and love"), in cui e' assente qualsiasi aspetto di ricerca scientifica: sono vari racconti in cui l'autrice espone alcune vicende realmente avvenute di cui e' stata testimone in prima persona. Per quanto possa ...more
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2015 Reading Chal...: Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother 1 10 May 20, 2015 06:23PM  
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Xue Xinran, who usually writes as simply "Xinran", was a radio broadcaster in China before moving to Great Britain and beginning to publish books. She currently writes as a columnist.
More about Xinran...
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