There were some scenes in A Girl and Her Panda that were very hard to write because they were very personal to me. My little sister is adopted, and I dedicated the book to her Before my American parents adopted her, I didn’t know much about adoption even though it has a long history in China. Adoption in China is something that happens, but isn’t really talked about. Many people try to adopt a child that looks like them and then they don’t plan to ever tell the child. they were adopted My mom says that American adoption used to be very similar, so hopefully, with time, this attitude in China will change as well.
But what is very scary is the link between child trafficking and adoption. We don’t have any reason to believe that my sister was trafficked, but the two topics often are related.
I work in a fertility clinic, so I know that for many people, having a baby is not a simple process. Also, decades of China’s family planning policies have added layers of complications for Chinese people wanting to build their families. Because of these and many other factors, child trafficking happens often in China.
After I had completed the outline for A Girl and her Panda, a news story broke about a taxi driver who spent 24 years looking for his daughter after she was kidnapped and sold to another family very far away. As I was reading the story, I thought, “Oh my god! This is A Girl and Her Panda come to life!”
After I finished writing A Girl and Her Panda, one of my mom’s friends sent her a frantic text that said, “I just found out I am adopted! I thought my mother loved my little brother more than me because he was a boy. I never knew it was because I wasn’t her daughter!” Again, we were shocked at the similarities between the woman’s story and the one I had just written.
Even though A Girl and Her Panda is fiction, many aspects of the story are true. They were true in the past – the story is set in the 1920s – and they are still true today. While I love my sister and am glad that adoption has made sure that many Chinese children have found safe and loving homes around the world, child trafficking is a terrible tragedy that I hope will stop if China’s family planning policies end.