Dear Adoptive Parent,

We are glad that you are interested in our article: “Letting Her Go: Chinese Birth Parents Search and Reunion.” Birth parent search and reunion is a topic that has not been addressed by any previous published research. We based this article on in-depth interviews with seven Western adoptive families who have undergone the process of search and reunion. The adoptive families we spoke with were encouraging but also urged caution; while everyone agreed that searching can potentially bring about many positive outcomes, they also held a number of serious reservations. Specifically, adoptive parents mentioned the following factors: the unpredictability of what might be discovered, the importance of considering the birth family’s needs, and that adoptive parents should search early but only reveal information to children if and when they are ready for it.

The adoptees we interviewed explained that they were conflicted over whether parents or children should have the power to decide whether or not to search. While the children generally felt that the choice should be left to adoptees, two participants acknowledged how grateful they were that their adoptive parents made the decision to search early on. One young adoptee summed it up, “It is good to search, but don’t let that impact your whole life…and don’t let that affect you being happy.” We are only at the beginning of understanding the complex experience of birth parent search and reunions in China, but we hope that this study sparks some discussions that can help your family’s journey.


Leslie Wang and Iris Chin Ponte

 “Letting Her Go:

Western Adoptive Families’ Search and Reunion with Chinese Birth Parents “

This is the first study to investigate the trend of adopted individuals from China who search for and reunite with their birth parents. The authors suggest that the closed nature of China’s inter-national adoption program and growing ethical concerns about children’s true origins impact the desire to search. Due to the generally younger ages of Chinese adoptees, adoptive parents have taken an unprecedentedly proactive role in this process. This article relies on in-depth interviews with adopted children and adoptive parents from seven Western families who reunited with Chinese birth parents. Interviews focused on the decision to search and methods used; the initial reunion; the development of bonds between adoptive and birth families; and post-reunion views of searching.