Curated Resources for Further Learning
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Lesson One: Abandoned Baby
Title Reading LevelDescription
Overview Materials
Invisible lives: A legacy of China's family planning ruleall reading levelsThis 15-minute film provides a grounding in understanding how some families in China responded to the one-child policy – and describes how this policy was enforced on the local level.
Sinica backgrounder: The past and future of China’s one-child policyall reading levelsBefore delving into specific topic areas, below, explore this collection of articles about the past and future of China's one-child policy.
China's New Unwantedall reading levelsThis 42-minute video explores the changing population in China's orphanages. The children now being abandoned are overwhelmingly disabled; gender is not as large of a factor as it was in the earlier times of China's one-child policy.
From Mao to Now: Timeline of China's One Child Policyall reading levelsTouching Home in China developed this timeline, based on primary source material to which links are provided as part of this timeline, so that students can explore China's one-child policy in the broader context of the People's Republic of China's birth planning and population policies since its founding in 1949.
Beijing calls for baby boomall reading levelsListen to this fascinating discussion about the consequences of the one-child policy as China transitions to its two-child policy.
Challenging Myths About China's One-Child Policyhigh school and aboveDownload a pdf version from The China Journal to discover how academics challenge four prevailing myths about China's one-child policy. Guidance they provide about political and economic considerations help to explain, in part, why China embarked on and sustained the one-child policy for nearly four decades.
Group A: China's One-Child Policy and Gender Imbalance
China's One-Child Policy and Gender Imbalance
Middle School and Above
China’s Two-Child Policymiddle school and aboveThis Bloomberg story presents a solid overview of China's two-child policy by explaining why it was implemented and the effect it is having on families and women workers, in particular.
Not Simply Abandoned middle school and aboveA mother and daughter return to China to search for the daughter's birth family. In their meetings with possible birth parents, they learn the circumstances under which their children were "abandoned."
Many of China’s ‘missing girls’ are likely hidingmiddle school and aboveThis story explains the significance of this new research that is revealing the presence of many girls in China's population that until now were thought to be "missing."
A Letter to a Once “Hidden” Child — That’s Memiddle school and aboveThis personal essay describes the experience of being a "hidden daughter" in China.
China's Lost and Found Daughtersmiddle school and aboveAn excellent video story brings us inside the lives of two daughters given up by their families in China who are seeking a reunion with their birth families.
A Short Pictorial History of China’s One-Child Policy Propaganda middle school and aboveThis picture story shows changes in political messages through the decades. Even before the one-child policy went into effect in 1980, the Chinese people were being told that having fewer children was their national duty to make China a better place.
China keeps finding millions of people who never officially existedmiddle school and aboveThis article discusses how children who were thought to be missing from the population are turning up in census counts; this leads scholars to believe that there is less of a gap between the number of men and the number of women than was thought earlier.
How quickly can China come back from its one-child policy?middle school and aboveThis CNN video explains the challenges China confronts due to its long-term One Child Policy.
The chart that shows China’s baby-making frenzy since it lifted its one-child policymiddle school and aboveThis graph how families reacted to China's new two-child policy that went into effect in January 2016.
One Child Policy: Facts and Details middle school and aboveAn historical overview and informational resource with a lot of links to various aspects of China's one-child policy, compiled by educator Jeff Hays.
China's Gender Imbalance Likely to Declinemiddle school and aboveAs Chinese leaders were starting to make some changes to the one-child policy, the All-China Women's Federation published this story detailing recent year's male-heavy sex ratios at birth.
Chinese City Urges People To 'Appreciate The Significance Of Having Two Children'middle school and aboveThis article discusses how government officials in China are now pressuring famlies to have two children. (For another take on what a news reporter calls 'China's Demographic Timebomb', go to this story at
A New Baby Boom Is Happening in China’s Smaller Citiesmiddle school and aboveWhile demographers in China question whether China waited too long to switch to a two-child policy, other observers say that smaller cities in China don't have the facilities or professionals needed to care for the additional babies being born under the two-child policy.
China Mulls Incentives to Entice Parents to Have Second Childmiddle school and aboveWith many families unwilling to have a second child due to financial constraints, the Chinese government tries to come up with incentives for families.
China Fining Parents for Second Kid Born Before One-Child Policy Scrappedmiddle school and aboveFamilies that had a second child before the one-child policy was changed are still being fined for doing so, even though there is now a two-child policy in China.
From Mao to Now: Timeline of China's One Child Policymiddle school and aboveTouching Home in China developed this timeline (based on primary source material) so students can explore China's one-child policy in the broader context of the People's Republic of China's population policies since its founding in 1949.
China's One-Child Policy and Gender Imbalance
High School and Above
The True History of China's Disastrous One Child Policyhigh school and aboveHarvard Professor Martin King Whyte reminds of us of why China established its population policies and assesses their lasting consequences.
Mei Fong on the one-child policy, its consequences and what’s next for China’s demographicshigh school and aboveIn this podcast, Mei Fong, the author of "One Child" talks about the one-child policy’s history, examining its effectiveness and the consequences of nearly four decades of the government mandating and monitoring the size of families in China.
The worldwide war on baby girlshigh school and aboveThis story in The Economist places China's sex ratio in a global context while also detailing the gender-related consequences particular to China.
Baby girl wrapped in plastic sent by courier to China orphanagehigh school and aboveThis is a rare story about abandoned babies that appeared in China's news outlets. The reporters tell stories about children being abandoned without context of overall circumstances involving abandoned children mostly due to fear of censorship by government authorities.
China Should Scrap all Family Planning Ruleshigh school and aboveCaixin, an independent news organization in China, published this opinion piece calling for government leaders to come up with policies to encourage births "before it is too late."
High Court Accepts Appeal Against Family Planning Finehigh school and aboveA high court in China will hear a case brought by a family who contends they should not have to pay a "social maintenance fee" for an over-quota child born during the one-child policy era now that China allows couples to raise two children.
China unveils two-child policyhigh school and aboveThis CNN story – video and text – explores China's decision to institute the two-child policy, which it introduced in January 2015.
How likely are Chinese to have more kids, now it’s legal?high school and aboveIn this PRI radio interview, China correspondent Mary Kay Magistad assesses the likelihood of Chinese families having more than one child now that the one-child policy has been lifted.
Two is too much trouble': will China's parents rush to have more children? high school and aboveIn this Guardian newspaper story, some experts predict that switching to a two-child policy will "do almost nothing to boost China’s low fertility rate, which experts put at between 1.2 and 1.5 children per woman."
How China is rolling out the red carpet for couples who have more than one childhigh school and aboveChinese leaders are offering families benefits as a way to encourage them to have more than one child. This story emphasizes how the government's approach to talking about family planning is changing, too, from one of control to support and encouragement.
Chinese City Urges People To 'Appreciate The Significance Of Having Two Children'high school and aboveMore information on how government officials are pressuring families to have two children.
China Should Allow Three or More Children: Top Demographerhigh school and aboveIn February 2017, one of China's leading demographers is urging the government to increase the number of children that a family can have to three.
How Chinese Art Explores its one-child policyhigh school and aboveThe BBC's article by journalist Clarissa Sebag Montefiore describes artist Prune Nourry’s "Terracotta Daughters," which is featured the Abandoned Baby story's gallery called "Lonely Childhoods and Missing Girls." This article will be especially helpful to students in thinking about their Reflection and Action project. Here is a link to a short trailer for the film made about Nourry's "Terracotta Daughters."
In South Korea, parents are increasingly saying, 'we hope for a girl'high school and aboveListen to and read this story done by PRI's The World about how parental views are shifting about the gender of child they want to raise.
The plight of China’s family plannershigh school and aboveFor its one-child policy, China created a bureaucracy of family-planning (birth planning) cadres to enforce rules and regulations. With the two-child policy and fewer couples wanting to have children, the roles played by these hundreds of thousands of government employees are diminishing. The question is what will happen to them as their duties are phased out.
"China's 'missing girls' theory likely far overblown, study shows")high school and aboveScholars are reopening discussion about China's gender imbalance, as their demographic research shows that fewer girls might be "missing" from China's overall population than previously thought.
Missing Girls or Hidden Girls?high school and aboveYong Cai, a scholar who has studied deeply China's one-child policy, argues that "the conventional wisdom about the missing girls phenonmenon in China" is accurate and how their absence creates a "real social challenge that China has to face now and for the foreseeable future." Library access to The China Quarterly is necessary to access this entire note and evidence.
China's One-Child Policy and Gender Imbalance
University Level
Have China’s Missing Girls Actually Been There All Along?college and aboveTwo scholars examine and criticize recent research findings related to speculation about "missing" girls in China. The China Quaterly article can be read at
Challenging Myths About China's One-Child Policycollege and aboveIn this journal article, three scholars of China's one-child policy challenge some common beliefs about this policy
Population, Policy and Politics: How Will History Judge China's One-Child Policy?college and aboveUniversity-level students: In Population and Development Review, scholars examine China'a adoption of the one-child policy and trace the reasons why successive leaders kept it in place so long despite undesired consequences.
The CCP's Evolving Role in Chinese Bedroomscollege and aboveSharing an insightful dive into the history of how China's government policies and practices have influenced sexual relations and the lives of women – starting with Mao's Cultural Revolution. This story provides a counter-narrative to the view of Mao's era as being one of sexual repression.
Review of Outsourced Childrencollege and aboveIn "Outsourced Children," sociologist Leslie K. Wang aims to reconceptualize the unidirectional perspective that views adoption as a one-way migration of children from poor countries into richer ones.
China’s unfinished gender revolutioncollege and aboveThis EastAsia Forum article, authored by Yang Yao and Wuyue You of Peking University, speaks to the historic (1950-1980) correlation in China between greater involvement by women in the Communist Party and a decrease in the nation's gender imbalance.
Group B: Impact on Girls' and Womens' Lives
Impact on Girls' and Womens' LivesMiddle School and Above
How the one-child policy has improved women's status in China middle school and aboveThis article argues that the One Child Policy has greatly benefited the status of Chinese women, and that the shift to a so-called Two Child Policy is actually a setback for women’s rights in China.
China’s one-child policy: I am not alone at being alonemiddle school and aboveAn exposition on the author's personal experience with China's one-child policty
China's One-Child Daughtersmiddle school and aboveIn this essay, the creator of Touching Home in China describes how China's one-child policy has led to only-child daughters experiencing very different trajectories than past generations of girls growing up in rural China.
As China’s One-Child Policy Relaxes, Girl Children No Longer Stigmatizedmiddle school and aboveThis story in The Daily Beast invites observers of China's one-child policy to explain why the value of women in China has actually increased as a consequence of its one-child policy.
Just married at 13: Inside the child marriages that are on the rise in rural China after nation abandons one-child rulemiddle school and abovePhotographer Muyi Xiao documented cases of southern China's teen brides and grooms who still live in their rural hometowns.
Impact on Girls' and Womens' LivesHigh School and Above
China’s ‘Giant Infants’high school and above A member of China's one-child policy generation writes an essay about how growing up as only children in a society in which family values were changing influenced the character and temperment of young adults.
What’s life been like for the only children born under China’s one-child policy?high school and aboveFor almost two decades, Vanessa Fong has followed a contingent of young people who are growing up as only children in China due to the one-child policy. This story about her research offers a terrific overview of her evolving findings from her on-going study, especially about the changes in girls' lives.
The Truth About China’s Missing Daughtershigh school and aboveIn 2016, Kay A. Johnson, a parent of a daughter born in China and a professor of Asian Studies at Hampshire College, wrote "China's Hidden Children," a book challenging the assumption that Chinese families do not want to raise daughters. She reveals through stories what happened to many daughters that Chinese families tried to hide from authorities so they would not be discovered and taken away.
China's one-child policy led to my adoption - and a more privileged lifehigh school and aboveIn a Washington Post's Opinion section, Ricki Mudd wrties of being adopted as an older child after her birth family tried to "hide" her with another family. She also chronicles her trip back to China to see her birth parents, as well as telling about her younger brother's decision to join her in America.
A ‘Lost’ Daughter Speaks, and All of China Listenshigh school and aboveJenna Cook, an adoptee from China, writes this essay to tell about her search but also to express the enormous pain she'd absorbed from these many birth parents who came forward thinking she was their child.
The Truth About China’s Missing Daughtershigh school and aboveIn her review of Kay Ann Johnson's book, "China's Hidden Children," Kathryn Joyce shows how the author debunks the idea that families only wanted sons.
A Nation’s Buried Painhigh school and aboveIn this essay, Kay Johnson explains how and why she tells stories of "the buried pain of Chinese birth parents who lost children in the era of the harsh population control policies known generically as the One-Child Policy," in her book "China’s Hidden Children: Adoption, Abandonment and the Human Costs of the One-Child Policy."
A Letter to a Once “Hidden” Child — That’s Mehigh school and aboveSimeng Dai, one of China's "hidden daughters" during the one-child policy, tells her life story.
China’s Hidden Childrenhigh school and aboveThis brief article explains why it's important for a child in China to be given a hukuo (household registraion) at birth and describes why it's extremely difficult for some families to make this happen for their child.
Gender and Family in Contemporary Chinahigh school and aboveWith insight into cultural traditions in China, this 9-page report by the Population Studies Center offers a good overview on recent changes in gender relations and family structures.
China's One-Child Mothershigh school and aboveA Chinese daughter, writing in Foreign Affairs, describes the emotional turmoil the one-child policy brought into mothers' lives – and how its legacy endures in their generation.
Jiangsu’s Abandoned Girls and now Women search for birth parents who left them on the street after family planning crackdown. high school and aboveThis story is about a 38-year old Chinese woman, abandoned as a baby and then adopted by a Chinese mother. After her mother died, she was reunited with her birth family. A photo essay at the end of her story features several other women who were abandoned when they were very young and grew up in adoptive families in China. Jiangsu is the province where the girls in Touching Home in China live.
China's Worst Policy Mistake?high school and aboveIn this New York Book Review essay, Nicholas Kristof writes about the book "China's Hidden Children" which is about girls who were raised by someone other than their birth families so that their own family could have a son.
A Letter of Frustration and Gratitude on the end of China's One-Child Policyhigh school and aboveA 25-year-old adoptee from China, writing in the Huffington Post, expresses how she feels in hearing the news that China is ending its one-child policy. This policy likely led to her abandonment and international adoption.
What future for women in Chinese higher education?high school and aboveIn Times Higher Education, reporter David Matthews describes how China's one-child policy led to more young women enrolling in universities in China, which, in turn, is leading to societal changes in China. He raises the question of whether China's new two-child policy will reverse these gains for girls.
The Real Source of China's Trafficking Problemhigh school and aboveSoon after the U.S. State Department labeled China as one of the worst human rights offenders with the human trafficking happening there, Bloomberg published this analysis of the factors that lead to this designation. Among them is China's one-child policy and the lopsided gender ratio that resulted.
Sold: Brides for Sale in Chinahigh school and aboveRadio Free Asia's short annimated video illuminates one woman's experience of human trafficing, sexual exploitation and violence after being sold as a bride in China
A Cambodian Bride in Small-Town Chinahigh school and aboveThis story published by Sixth Tone describes the contented life of a Cambodian woman who was "sold" as a bride for an older, rural Chinese man who could not find a woman to marry in his town. She tells why she decided to leave her two children behind in Cambodia, marry a Chinese man, and raise the child they had together.
Impact on Girls' and Womens' LivesUniversity and Above
What’s life been like for the only children born under China’s one-child policy?college and aboveVanessa Fong – author of "Only Hope: Coming of Age Under China’s One-Child Policy – is two decades into a longitudinal study of the first children born under China’s one-child policy. This presents a rare portrait of the attitudes and experiences of an unprecedented generation of brother-less and sister-less singletons—the most intentionally created generation in human history."
China's One-Child Motherscollege and aboveIn this Foreign Affairs story, a Chinese daughter, born during the country's one-child policy, writes about the experiences her mother's generation had with the policy.
Book Review: Birth Mothers in South Koreacollege and aboveThis book, written by an adoptee from South Korea, addresses that country's legacy of intercountry adoption, much of what she writes about relates to what we are know about experiences and feelings of biological mothers in China, such as in Kay Johnson's book, "China's Hidden Children." (Read the essay "A Nation's Buried Pain" by Kay Johnson, in the resources for High School and Above.)
Jobs and Kids: Female Employment and Fertility in Chinacollege and aboveThis study by scholars evaluates how female employment affects fertility in China with a focus on the one-child era, a time of steep economic growth.
The Missing Girls of Chinacollege and aboveThis Cumberland Law Review article explains why girls are "missing" in China. Read pages 2-22 for overview explanations, then pick up on page 46 to place China's adoption program in the broader East Asian context. The findings of this study need to be seen in the context of later demographic research (see 2016 journal article below, China's "missing girls" theory likely far overblown, study shows) that challenges this article's findings.
China's 'missing girls' theory likely far overblown, study showscollege and aboveRecent demographic research about estimate of "missing girls" in China during the one-child policy reveals that many fewer girls are "missing" from the population that previously believed.
Love in a time of Cultural Revolutioncollege and aboveThis brief article by a visiting scholar at the University of Oxford China Centre addresses a time in China's history when government policies and programs orhcestrated the marriages of its younger citizens. These words speak to this curriculum's Big Idea of examining the consequences when government intersects with families’ lives.
The impact of women’s education, workforce experience, and the One Child Policy on fertility in China: a census study in Guangdong, Chinacollege and aboveThis study, conducted by Chinese scholars in Guangdong Province, aimed to analyze how three factors – women’s education, workforce experience, and birth control policy – jointly influenced the timing of births and affected women at different stages of their reproductive lives.
The Effects of China's One-Child Policycollege and aboveThe author writes about how China has experienced changes in filial piety and patrilineality and the effect on women.
Group C: Care for the Elderly
Overview Materials
How the One-Child Policy Heightens China’s Aging Crisisall reading levelsA good primer story about how China's one-child policy has upended centuries of cultural traditions and practices when it comes to children caring for elderly parents.
China Faces Daunting Challenges as Senior Care Comes of Ageall reading levelsThe outlines of the elder care crisis in China are in place: one child now often must assume the filial responsibilities for parents and two sets of grandparents. Known as the 4-2-1 family, it's a situation that China has never confronted before. This story provides a good overview of what lies ahead.
China’s senior citizens make their own old-age homesall reading levelsShort video describing China's impending elder crisis, explains how it's related to the one-child policy, then shows how some aging parents are finding others like them and coming up with a solution to the absensce of care and company of a couple's only child.
Care for the ElderlyMiddle School and Above
How the elderly are treated around the worldmiddle school and aboveThis story offers a contrast to China's elder care by offering glimpses of some other countries and cultures – Korea, Japan, the Unites States and United Kingdom, France, and the Mediterranean/Latin America cultures.
Aging China Considers Incentives To Boost Child Birth -- Too Little, Too Late?middle school and aboveWhile this story focuses on China's major effort to convince couples to have a second child, it also speaks to the rapid aging of China's population after more than three decades of its one-child policy. Provides good context for thinking about care of the elderly and how it will need to change given the population shifts.
Why Are China’s Old and Young At Each Other’s Throats?middle school and aboveGenerational divides happen, and in China, given the country's rapid economic growth and huge societal changes during the past two decades, observers find a wider divide, especially when it comes to characterizations of older people on online media. Given the cultural messages about filial piety, the tensions in this divide can be difficult for those on both sides, the young and their elders.
Under China's New Elderly Rights Law, Woman Ordered To Visit Mother Once Every 2 Monthsmiddle school and aboveWatch as an elderly mother asks the court to order her child to visit her. This story spotlights the legal implications of the "Eldery Rights Law," passed in China in 2013.
Shanghai Says People Who Fail to Visit Parents Will Have Credit Scores Loweredmiddle school and aboveMega cities in China are putting in place regulations that impose penalties on children who don't visit their parents. This story describes Shanghai's approach to this problem.
Shanghai’s Elderly Elite Flock to Luxury Nursing Homesmiddle school and aboveUrban sons and daughters who are responsible for their parents' elder care are looking to luxury "nursing homes" as a way to fulfill their filial piety obligation without having to maintain personal responsibility for their daily care. Only works for those who have invested in real estate which has increased in value and enables them to afford this luxury.
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