Order Now for A China-Love Christmas!

Written by Kay on . Posted in China News & Tidbits, China-Inspired Book Recommendations

christmasBall

If you or yours have a love for China, it’s time to get thinking about putting some China-love gifts under the tree.

Don’t wait too long…custom gifts take a lot of time and effort. Need some ideas?

Here are a few of Kay’s Favorite Things…

Ruffled Feathers Lydia Love dolls

The Lydia Love Dolls are always sweet to see in the arms of a little one.

$40 + $6 for shipping, contact Valerie Almquist @ Ruffled Feathers FB

Twins

You can sponsor a child in China, or give the gift of a donation in a loved one’s name! We all know I am obsessed with twins (I am one!) and I’ve sponsored these twins, Frances and Jack Robert, to give them the chance to experience life outside of an orphanage via foster care.

Go to Love Without Boundaries to learn more.

MeiMei

Custom charms from Jiayin Designs is a great gift for the younger or older ones,

… and the proceeds support Chinese Nationals doing purposeful work in China.

$55 each (must order by mid-Nov for customized characters).

Contact Kelly @ Jiayin Designs and see other ideas for China-inspired gifts there too!

red butterfly

For the middle-grade or older reader in the family, Amy Sonnichsen’s debut book, Red Butterfly, would make a lovely gift.

In Red Butterfly, A young orphaned girl in modern-day China discovers the meaning of family in this inspiring story told in verse.

Available here on Amazon.

ChinaHome

Adoption maps have gained popularity recently and I found one on Etsy you may be interested in.

$9.90 + shipping, click here.

CorolleDoll

Of course, we can’t ignore the sweetness of a soft Corolle doll!

At the time of this post, it’s 50% off on Amazon Prime at only $20.46!

Click here.

Palest Ink 3D sm

Lastly, I fully recommend if you have a bookworm in your family that you go ahead and hit the button to buy my latest release, The Palest Ink.

Available in a beautifully embossed hardcover edition, it would make a wonderful gift. You could even send it to me and I’ll autograph it and send it back!

(You pay shipping costs)

Kay’s best selling memoir, Silent Tears, a Journey of Hope in a Chinese Orphanage, exposed the horrors of life behind the walls of a Chinese orphanage.

Now she returns with a thought-provoking novel set during the tumultuous Chinese Revolution.

The Palest Ink, a prequel to the beloved Tales of the Scavenger’s Daughters series, weaves a heart-rending story around actual events most of the world has no idea even transpired.

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OR……you can buy the entire series and wrap them up with a pretty red bow!

Available on Amazon

 

China Ends One Child Policy but is it a Little Too Late?

Written by Kay on . Posted in China News & Tidbits

The Mothers’ Bridge of Love by Xinran  [Illustration by Josée Masse] Featured in Time Magazine’s Top Ten Children’s Books of 2007

The Mothers’ Bridge of Love by Xinran
[Illustration by Josée Masse]Featured in Time Magazine’s Top Ten Children’s Books of 2007

A Little Too Late?

 

While many around the world yesterday were surprised and pleased by the breaking news that China has scrapped its infamous one-child policy for a more relaxed two-child policy, others felt the impact in a much more personal sense.

As Jenni ‘Fang’ Lee, a young woman adopted from China put it, ‘how can something so political feel so personal’? Jenni is one of over seventy thousand adopted from China since the country opened its doors to international adoption decades ago. Many like Jenny were relinquished (a more accurate and compassionate word than abandoned) because of illnesses or disabilities their birth family could not financially support. But for those who were separated because of fear of the heavy fines and penalties a second child would bring—or even the loss of jobs or persecution of family members as punishment—today’s news is bittersweet.

Over thirty years ago the one-child-per-couple policy was launched with the idea that implementing a strict family planning policy was the only way to control the rising population of over a billion Chinese, and reach a goal of modernization by year 2000. Human rights groups have long claimed that the policy is directly responsible for the high numbers of abortions—those voluntary for sex-selection and those forced by family planning officials—which China has worked to keep hidden. Not as widely acknowledged was the subsequent issue of infanticide due to the long held belief that a newborn daughter is not as valuable to a family as a son, and if a couple could only have one child, a son it must be. Another repercussion of the policy has been the ever increasing gender imbalance, resulting in more illegal trafficking of women to villages and cities suffering from too many men and not enough women to marry.

But as of Thursday, October 28, many applaud the news that all Chinese couples will be allowed to have two children without fear of governmental repercussions.

‘”To promote a balanced growth of population, China will continue to uphold the basic national policy of population control and improve its strategy on population development,” Xinhua, China’s state run new agency reported, citing a communique issued by the ruling Communist Party. “China will fully implement the policy of ‘one couple, two children’ in a proactive response to the issue of an aging population.”’

But what about the damage already done? Does this change mean that many of that country’s undocumented ‘ghost’ children can now be claimed? Perhaps even given the coveted hukou legal identification that is required to attend school, receive medical care, travel, and even marry later in life? Or will those children who were already living in the shadows of a policy gone wrong be forced to remain there with ripples of their undeserved punishment passed down from generation to generation? *China’s 2010 census estimated that there are over 13 million people without the official documentation (hukou) that will enable them to move freely around China and live normal lives.

ghost child

As for how the changes will affect children still in orphanages across China, Amy Eldridge, Founder of Love Without Boundaries, an organization that supports orphans in China says, ‘”I know so many people were overjoyed at the news today that the one-child policy is officially being retired, but I honestly don’t anticipate any change in the often overwhelming needs of Chinese orphanages.”’

Amy makes a very valid point, as I look back and remember my years working as a volunteer in the orphanage and the fact that almost every child I met had some sort of disability or illness that was the catalyst for the separation from their biological family. Read more about my time there in my memoir, Silent Tears; A Journey of Hope in a Chinese Orphanage

Despite the harsh criticism of motive, and the outspokenness of those who say the government still has no business regulations how many children a couple can have, most of us can agree that this policy update is a positive step for the future of China’s social welfare system.

However, as the world acknowledges that China has taken a step in the right direction in the subject of human rights, we must not forget the adoptees around the world and those left undocumented in China, who because of the repercussions of a draconian-style edict such as the one-child policy, will forever wonder if this new change has come a little too late.

 

 

A Son, Survivor, and a Leader (behind the curtain of the Cultural Revolution)

Written by Kay on . Posted in Book Recommendations, China News & Tidbits, China-Inspired Book Recommendations

Xi Jinping during a visit to Beijing in 1972. He has rarely spoken publicly about his experiences as a teenager in the capital during the early years of the Cultural Revolution. Credit Xinhua Press, via Corbis

Xi Jinping during a visit to Beijing in 1972. He has rarely spoken publicly about his experiences as a teenager in the capital during the early years of the Cultural Revolution. Credit Xinhua Press, via Corbis

In a recent article in the New York Times titled Cultural Revolution Shaped Xi Jinping, written by Chris Buckley and Didi Kirsten Tatlow, the world is given a rare glimpse at China’s Cultural Revolution.

Jinping, the son of an unseated official, speaks of surviving the Cultural Revolution; a time in history that impacted many of China’s families and put them through turmoil, destruction, and even death. Can you imagine being denounced by your own mother? Criticized and disowned, acts of betrayal probably uttered through tears by the woman who gave him birth and loved every hair on his head? In my mind, I can see the boy standing stoically, struggling to be a man and accepting his fate so that his mother would be left alone and not persecuted alongside him. Despite his courage, her role as the pampered official’s wife was reversed and she was sent to do hard labor on a farm.

According to the article, Jinping’s father was exiled from home and taken to a city where he was displayed in the back of a truck, through the streets as the locals beat him. From the New Yorker, Born Red by Evan Osnos; ‘In January, 1967, after Mao encouraged students to target “class enemies,” a group of young people dragged Jinping’s father before a crowd. Among other charges, he was accused of having gazed at West Berlin through binoculars during a visit to East Germany years earlier. He was detained in a military garrison, where he passed the years by walking in circles, he said later—ten thousand laps, and then ten thousand walking backward. Jinping was too young to be an official Red Guard, and his father’s status made him undesirable. Moreover, being born red was becoming a liability.’

Also from Born Red; ‘A recent state-news-service article offers the mythology: “Xi [Jingping] lived in a cave dwelling with villagers, slept on a kang, a traditional Chinese bed made of bricks and clay, endured flea bites, carried manure, built dams and repaired roads.” ‘

Jinping’s life went from normal to devastating in a few short years but he didn’t blame Chairman Mao for all of the bad luck that fell upon his family. Quite the opposite, he felt an urgency to prove his loyalty and he dedicated himself to the party.

Much happened in between but years later when the horror of the revolution was over, Jingping and his brother were reunited with the father who had suffered much physical and mental damage from the isolation and torture he’d been through. The first moments must’ve been heart-breaking as a father didn’t even recognize his own sons. According to the NY Times article, the father wept and Jinping offered him a cigarette.

The old, battered man asked him why he also smoked.

Jinping gazed into his father’s eyes and spoke of the ordeal they’d both experienced, similarly but separately, in the years they’d been apart.

And his father considered it, then gave his quiet approval of a son who had not only survived what many did not, but like a phoenix from the ashes he’d turned tragedy into triumph and became the president of China, Xi Jinping.

If this small piece of history interests you and makes you long to read more about the upheaval of the Cultural Revolution and how people survived it, I hope you’ll take a peek at my latest novel, The Palest Ink, available for pre-order now on Amazon.

Palest Ink 3D sm

The Palest Ink

A sheltered son from an intellectual family in Shanghai, Benfu spends 1966 anticipating a promising violinist career and an arranged marriage. On the other side of town lives Pony Boy, a member of a lower-class family—but Benfu’s best friend all the same. Their futures look different but guaranteed…until they’re faced with a perilous opportunity to leave a mark on history.

At the announcement of China’s Cultural Revolution, Chairman Mao’s Red Guard members begin their assault, leaving innocent victims in their wake as they surge across the country. With political turmoil at their door, both Benfu and Pony Boy must face heart-wrenching decisions regarding family, friendship, courage, and loyalty to their country during one of the most chaotic periods in history.

The Palest Ink depicts the coming-of-age of two young men during the tumultuous years of the Cultural Revolution. Available for Pre-Order on Amazon here.

True Love Still Exists

Written by Kay on . Posted in China News & Tidbits

Who doesn’t like a fairytale love story?

Taken (real life…not a movie)

Written by Kay on . Posted in China News & Tidbits

Story from South China Morning Post (Amy Li)

Kidnapped child returns home after 23 years with aid of Google Maps

(Photo SCMP Pictures)

Five year old Luo was abducted and placed with a new family at the age of 5. But even that young, he swore he wouldn’t forget his first family. From article: ‘”Everyday before I went to bed, I forced myself to re-live the life spent in my old home,” he said. “So I wouldn’t forget.”‘

All he really remembered geographically was he lived close to two bridges. Eventually that one memory he held on to led him to be reunited with his parents, who were devastated when their son was taken.

Kidnapping and trafficking happens all over the world. However, in Asia, resources are limited and more times than not, the child is never found. In my novel, A Thread Unbroken, the story chronicles just this type of tragedy, but with two girls who are sold to be raised as future brides.  Like Luo, my character, Chai, refuses to give up hope of returning home. Her new family will try to break her and make her conform, but Chai’s spirit is much too strong to let go.

Like our daughters, Chai is just a girl with hopes and dreams. She loves her family, dotes on her little sister, and is a certified bookworm. Now, in her new life, she is barely more than a slave. Will she find her way home? Or will home find her?

Find out when you download the book from Amazon at this link.

(Rest of Luo Gang’s story here)

If Your Child is Abducted and Trafficked in China, You’d better pray for a Miracle.

Written by Kay on . Posted in A Bratt's Life, China News & Tidbits

The above photo is of a mother in China. A mother who refused to give up. When her child was abducted and sold by her grandfather to child traffickers, the police refused to help her. She eventually found her child on her own but the couple who had bought it refused to give it back until she paid a sum of 350,000 rmb. (A Chinese fortune) Luckily, the public was outraged and the county officials have now gotten involved to get this mother and child reunited.

Thank you to All Girls Allowed for the story. Read more here.

[Chinese source here]

It’s is stories like that above that prompted me to write A Thread Unbroken. Researching other stories, I was soon even more captivated to know where the trafficked children end up. What sort of lives do they lead? Do they try to find their way home or come to terms with a new life? Those questions sparked my story of Chai and Josi. I hope it will also answer some of your questions.

Chai and Josi share a bond that transcends ordinary friendship. While Chai has always been Josi’s protector—ever since they were toddlers, growing up together in a small Chinese village—she finds herself helpless when they are both abducted from their families and sold to faraway strangers. In their new home, with the family of the fisherman who bought them, their old lives are torn away piece by piece. But Chai knows she must stay strong if they’re to have any chance of escaping.

That same tenacious hope guides Chai’s father, Jun, who fights to find the girls and bring them home, despite seemingly insurmountable odds and a corrupt legal system. The days since the girls were taken soon stretch to weeks and months, but Chai’s spirit remains unbroken and Jun’s resolve unwavering.

Set against the backdrop of modern day China, A Thread Unbroken is an inspiring story of remarkable courage, indefatigable hope, and the invisible ties that hold people together, even when everything around them is falling apart.

Chasing China; A Daughter’s Quest for Truth

Written by Kay on . Posted in China News & Tidbits

“Lady and gentle man, Xiao xin! Be careful! Watch your step and duck your head! Do not let swaying red lanterns poke your eye! Bu yao chou yan. No smoking, please. Hurry up and find seat so we can start our tour of the Suzhou canal, China’s Venice.  Xie xie, thank you.”  The tour guide waved her patrons on to the boat and pointed out places to sit, her hands moving gracefully through the air. She paused and straightened her jacket, and then smiled at everyone around her, obviously pleased with the sudden business.

Moving through the crowds of pedestrians and onlookers, the last couple from the tourist group ducked under the elaborate carved archway and squeezed onto the deck of the creaking vessel. They quickly found an empty bench to settle on.  As the boat backed away from the concrete stairs at the bank, the wife reached into her deep bag and pulled out a small bottle of hand sanitizer.

“Danny, use this. You’ve managed to touch every surface on this side of Suzhou. I swear, don’t you ever learn? We’re only here for a week, and I don’t want you picking up some bug.”

“Mary, pay attention. We’re here to learn about our daughter’s heritage. I didn’t travel all the way from Seattle to worry about a few germs. Look at those carved dragon heads on the edges of the rooftops over there—the artistic detail is fascinating!” He pointed across the way at the busy walking street lined with shops. Like a child, he couldn’t look fast enough. He turned again. “Or look at that bridge we’re coming up on—notice how the bridge is equipped with shooting holes and lookout towers? You’d better believe they were ready to do battle here!”

The tour guide turned on the microphone and gestured behind her at the elaborate bridge they were floating to. ”Good afternoon.  Today we begin our tour of the Suzhou canal here at the Panmen Gate.   With a history of 2,500 years, this city gate is the most completely preserved part of the ruins of the ancient city of Suzhou. The murky water surrounding it was the watery grave of many Japanese who tried to infiltrate the city and failed. If you stand atop this bridge you can also see the Wumen Gate Bridge….”

For Mary, it was hard to concentrate on the history of the structures and bridges—for her mind was on the people. This was her second trip to China, but this time she was determined to learn about their culture and customs. Her own daughter, now a beautiful young woman, was born here and then sent through the notorious orphanage system before they found their way to each other. It amazed Mary to see so many faces with the familiar structure and contours of Mia’s, and to know that with just a few twists or turns of fate, they could have missed being a part of each other’s lives.

Beside them an elderly Chinese couple worked to peel pieces of unfamiliar fruit. They had boarded the boat in front of Mary and she had been moved at the gentle way the old man helped his wife onto the vessel and guided her to the bench, as if he were handling a delicate piece of art. Though it was early spring and the weather was warm, they were bundled in the dark clothes. Mary studied their ancient faces and wondered what secrets the deep crevices and wrinkles held. She knew the elderly of China had seen many major changes in history and survived resulting tragedies. Their infamous tenacity to survive was nothing short of remarkable and Mary wished she could hear their stories.

Suddenly the old woman pointed to the street that ran alongside the canal. Whatever was happening, it was attracting a lot of attention.  Mary struggled to understand the outburst, but her basic knowledge of Mandarin proved inefficient. As they moved closer to the activity, the crowd parted a bit and Mary glimpsed a policeman holding the collar of a little girl. He appeared to be giving her quite the lecture and the child of no more than six or seven years old looked terrified. It was evident from her scraggly hair, disheveled clothing and dirty face that she didn’t belong to anyone. Still, she frantically searched the crowd around her as if she were looking for anyone to step up and help her.

The flustered guide explained. “Aiyo, that girl is street child. She is taught to beg and steal from people and was caught with hand in pocket. Let’s get back to tour, please.”

Mary pursed her lips and looked at Danny. After their daughter’s journey to find the truth of her birth family details last year had resulted in some shocking revelations, their sympathy for the plight of children like the girl had increased even more. Most likely it wasn’t the child’s fault she was forced to be a little criminal. Most of the children like her were either kidnapped from their families, or sold into the industry by destitute parents. Some found their way to orphanages and futures decided by the Chinese government.

“Stop the boat!” Mary called out to the tour guide. She gathered her things and stood up, struggling to maintain her balance unsettled from the sudden sway of a passing gondola.

The tour guide shook her head side to side. “Bu keyi. Cannot. Tour not over, Miss.”

“Mary, what’re you doing? Sit down,” Danny tugged on her arm from his place on the bench.

“No, I will not sit down. I’m getting off and we’re going to find out what’s going to happen to that child. Look at her, Danny, she’s scared to death. That could’ve been our little Mia. Let’s see what we can do for her.” Mary began moving to the front of the boat.

Danny sighed and waved at the tour guide to let them off. “I might as well help you get your way. When your face takes on that expression, I know you won’t back down. It looks like our day of sight-seeing has taken a turn towards a more dramatic ending.”

~

Read Kay Bratt’s latest novel,Chasing China; A Daughter’s Quest for Truth. Join Mary’s daughter, Mia, on her journey to uncover the truth about her early years in China. After spending years working through the hurt and anger of being abandoned in a busy Chinese train station, Mia will travel to her homeland to uncover facts that will change her life forever. Along the way she will learn the true plight of abandoned children and their indomitable resolve to succeed, despite unfavorable circumstances. [Available at Amazon in Kindle and Print]

*Photo of Panmen Gate by Laura Griffin

Dear Mr. Giver of Amazon Review

Written by Kay on . Posted in China News & Tidbits

Dear Mr. JJK, (Anyone else that may be planning on reading my novel, Chasing China, please stop here and read it first as this contains HUGE SPOILERS)

First, let me thank you for taking the time to read my novel, Chasing China. You are one of over 30,000 readers who have downloaded my novel in the last few months and I appreciate your interest. While every reader has the right to review books and publish their own opinion, your review is full of statements that as the author, I would like to address. It is evident that you read the book, but perhaps because you state you are Chinese, English is not your first language? I can think of no other reason that you would have gathered the opinions of details in Chasing China that you did.  Therefore here on my own website I will address your misconceptions about the book.

You gave:

By jjkSee all my reviews  (As this is the only book review as of today that you have ever done on Amazon under that screen name. Out of the millions of books you would choose mine means I’m flattered.)

This review is from: Chasing China: A Daughter’s Quest for Truth (Paperback)

The book is more like an American journey report on Suzhou/Shanghai/Xi’an China, and with some details about the orphanages. The idea of the story is okay, but the story itself is being carried on by a series of unrealistic events which are not quite logical, and in a bad rhythm. Not to mention that it is also intervened with a couple of “Hollywood” like scenes. So the general impression that I got is that the author is trying to use a story as a tool to link up each piece of the observations she had got in China. And once the observations are used up, the author could not wait one more chapter to end up the story.

(Here, Mr. JJK, I must answer this by telling you that I could have added many more chapters but unfortunately the book had to end somewhere. It is already considered lengthy at over 90,000 words and 344 pages. I’m sorry if you feel it ended too abruptly, but there will be a sequel.)

Also, as a Chinese I admit that China has a long way to go in terms of human rights. And I do appreciate the author could provide accurate descriptions on some of the facts in China. However some of the key events to complete the story are simply too unrealistic. And I do not think making up stories would help to improve the situation in any way.

(Here I must remind you that though the definition of fiction is in a nutshell, “Making up stories” as you so called it, the premise from Chasing China was created from the true Hunan story in which there were children who were ‘snatched’ from their parents and sold to orphanages, then later adopted by foreign families. You can find that here, here, and here. If you question the experiences the man had in prison, it was also taken from bits and pieces of true accounts from Chinese prisoners and the ordeals they suffered.)

Just to name a few unrealistic things:
===Spoiler Alert===
1. Tingting, a 15yrs old girl, learned English from her brother, who is an English teacher. Do you know that over 95% of the Chinese students have to learn English from 10yrs old? And even that, most of them could not speak fluent English when they are over 20. There is no way a self-taught 15yrs Chinese girl can talk with Mia like in her native language.

(As you say in the first part of your statement, Tingting was taught English by her brother, who was sent to school and became a professor in Hong Kong. This is very plausible. She was not, as you say, self-taught.)

2. Mia’s father had 2 children when he lost Mia to the officials. And you can tell that both him and his wife were shocked by the lost. How is it possible for them to recover from such a tragedy to give birth a couple of more children including Tingting?

(I never wrote that they had ‘a couple more children’, they only had Tingting after Mia was taken. In the villages of China it is not uncommon for women to have several children, even after tragic events. They are amazing women who have suffered much in life and keep on going.)

3. Think about the story from the perspective of those birth control officials. Asking money for the 2nd child of a northwestern Chinese family under the name of “birth control” is understandable – I don’t mean it is moral. But if they were after the money, why they moved the children to southeastern China instead of waiting the parents to pay the money locally?

(You misunderstand this, Mr. JJK. They used the guise of controlling birth numbers for the one child policy to take Mia, but in most cases they never expect the family to be able to pay that kind of money to get the children back. And to the orphanage, 6000 rmb is a pittance to what they can get for international adoption and future donations from adoptive parents who support the institute their children come from. In the Hunan cases, the orphanage had no incentive to accept a measly 6000 rmb when they could get more through the adoption process.)

4. 6000 yuan is a big amount of money back to 90s in China. If Mia’s parents had the money and were determined to give the money to the gov in exchange for their daughter, I don’t see any reason the orphanage still want to keep Mia and reject the offer.

(Again, see statement number 3. I’m sorry this is so hard for you to fathom, I truly am. I am not surprised, however. During my five years in China, I met many Chinese friends who didn’t even know about the orphanage I worked at and were shocked about the situation there. Once educated about it, they wanted to help. I fault the communist ways for this, as many negative issues are kept under wraps.)

5. Everyone knows that China has birth control. So why the director of the orphanage does not want to tell Mia the truth? Sending some officials to get her passport in the hotel illegally is definitely an overkill for such a case.

(Mr. JJK, your statement here confusing. Of course they would not want Mia to know that she was not truly abandoned by her family. That would put them into jeopardy of prosecution. They wanted to keep her finding details secret and they hoped taking her passport would stop her search and finally send her packing)

6. With the assumption that the guys who broken into Mia’s hotel room were policemen, why Jax went to a police station asking for details of Mia’s case the next day? Is he just too brave?

(Jax was falling in love, so yes—he was brave. I’m glad you got that one right! They made a lovely couple, wouldn’t you agree?)

7. Jax’s parents landed on SF in 1952, and from his story, his parents were adults at that time. So let’s say they were about 20. Jax is having an internship in China and is in about the same age with Mia, so let’s assume he is 25, which means his Mom gave birth of him when she was around 55?

(Again, This is a great find by you and huge error by me. I plan to correct this in the next version of Chasing China. Many thanks.) 

Again, Mr. JJK, I appreciate you taking the time to read and review Chasing China, and our exchanges have been very educational for me. Thank you for taking so much time with my book.