The One-Child Policy: Adoption and its Effects on Birth Mothers and Adopted Daughters


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HIST 490: Mao's China and After: History of Contemporary China

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The controversial one-child policy was implemented in China in 1979, a year after Deng Xiaoping rose to power. Deng was a strong advocator for population control and saw it as a method of raising the GDP per capita of China and, of course, a way to curb a growing population. With a country deeply rooted in Confucian values, the preference for sons dominated the wanting for a daughter. After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, political, economic, and cultural forces further shaped the gender hierarchy in the country, resulting in a continued preference for sons. Females in China throughout time have been seen merely as objects; a vessel to produce a son that would carry on the family line. The one-child policy has had disastrous and unintended consequences on the population as a whole, including the leftover women, as we learned in class. These leftover women, first-born daughters under the one-child policy, benefited from the attention and investment from their parents, and have gone on to excel in their academic and business careers. But what about women who were the second or third child of a family under the one-child policy; what was their fate? I will be focusing on domestic and international adoption and the effect that had on adopted daughters and birth mothers.