Wuhu Diary: On Taking My Adopted Daughter Back to Her Hometown in China
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In 1994 an American writer named Emily Prager met her new daughter LuLu. All she knew about her was that the baby had been born in Wuhu, a city in southern China, and left near a police station in her first three days of life. Her birth mother had left a note with Lulu's western and lunar birth dates. In 1999 Emily and her daughter–now a happy, fearless four-year-old--returned to China to find out more. That journey and its discoveries unfold in this lovely, touching and sensitively observed book.
In Wuhu Diary, we follow Emily and LuLu through a country where children are doted on yet often summarily abandoned and where immense human friendliness can coexist with outbursts of state-orchestrated hostility–particularly after the U. S. accidentally bombs the Chinese embassy in Belgrade. We see Emily unearthing precious details of her child’s past and LuLu coming to terms with who she is. The result is a book that will delight anyone interested in China, and that will move and instruct anyone who has ever adopted--or considered adopting--a child.
class are coming tomorrow to “help their foreign friends.” No payment is necessary. A girl called Caroline is the best English speaker among them. After thanking Anne and inviting her over to see the hotel, I hang up and turn off the TV. In seconds I am blissfully asleep. May 7 I am sick. I stagger into the bathroom and hunt out the adult antibiotics I brought from the United States. As I’m downing them, there’s a knock at the door and I open it to three giggling, very shy Chinese girls in
last!), the hair ornament stall, the plastic slipper stall, and the purse stall. Then I turn a corner to find the underpants stall, the knitting wool stall, the kitchen towel stall, the brassiere stall. Another turn and there’s the pots and pans stall, lighting and bulbs, rattan furniture, fans, air conditioners. There is also a kitchen stall, where you can buy packs of ten little Kleenex packets—a necessity, since toilet paper is never provided anywhere. I inch along, fascinated. The hair
authorities to complete their stories. The student who wrote about the dorms neglected to interview the university for views on dorm conditions. The student who wrote about the rubble did interview city government officials, then subscribed entirely to their point of view. Nonetheless, she did interview the city government, which took some bravery. Anne is impressed with everyone’s work, and I am amazed at what they accomplished after hearing just one lecture. At dinner, major dignitaries are
anything. How I closed the door behind them, eager to be with her alone, and looked deep into her eyes and kissed her little cheek. You were so little, I say to her, only eleven pounds, all hands, feet, and a head. And so pretty. And so willing to be loved. Hi, I think I said to you. Hi. I’m so glad you’re here. Hi. And I suddenly thought you might be hungry. I laid you down in the middle of the bed—I do this now—and I apologized. Would you like milk? I asked. I didn’t make it yet. I’m sorry.
way. I replied that she did not speak Chinese because neither Neke nor I speak Chinese and so we did not speak Chinese at home, but since we live in an English-speaking country, she is very lucky that she speaks such good English. This seemed to comfort her. It brought her a lot of comfort, too, to hear about how her dear friends Sasha and LiLi and Emily and Gianna were there at her adoption, along with our friends, their parents. In the next several weeks, she asked to hear the story every