A Chinese adoptee gives a brutally honest account of uncovering her ancestry.

As a Chinese adoptee who was happily raised in Detroit, Mei-Ling Hopgood never desired to uncover her ancestry. In fact, she rarely identified with her Asian roots, and instead practically abhorred them until she made her first Asian-American friend in college.
As fate would have it, one postcard is all it took to reconnect Hopgood with her past. Suddenly, she is whisked into a whirlwind of telephone calls, emails, and faxes, all in a language she had never cared to understand. Albeit reluctantly, she decides to travel across the world to meet the family that gave her up and find the answer to the question she always had in the back of her mind: why?


A journalist by trade, Hopgood pushes herself to ask tough questions. As she does, shocking family secrets begin to spill forth. Her birth father, for example, was so obsessed with the idea that boys are intrinsically better than girls, that he stopped at nothing to produce a male successor—even if it meant betraying all of the women in his life.

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Although Hopgood’s memoir is uniquely her own, multiple perspectives on adoption saturate her book. Her loving adoptive parents, the nun who swaddled her as a baby, and her two adoptive Korean brothers each come to life in her story through intimate letters, conversations, and situations. As she gets to know her birth parents and siblings, their stories and perspectives also become animated. The end result is a tale so brutally honest, one would hope a translated copy never reaches the hands of her birth parents.

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