IN ORDER TO LIVE by Yeonmi Park

IN ORDER TO LIVE by Yeonmi Park. Eye-opening on so many levels!

Want to know details on what’s going on in North Korea?  Read IN ORDER TO LIVE: A NORTH KOREAN GIRL’S JOURNEY TO FREEDOM by Yeonmi Park.

This is a horrifying book.  It begins in North Korea, where Yeonmi’s family cannot get ahead because they’re in the wrong political “caste,” and where their straits are increasingly  dire.  There’s a famine.  There’s the arrest of Yeonmi’s enterprising father, who was utilizing some unorthodox methods to make ends meet.  There are problems regarding the bribing of officials, medical staff, train conductors, and all sorts of people.  North Korea is a country where just about everybody who works anywhere has got their hands out in some direction, often, as in the case of the medical personnel little Yeonmi had to contend with when she was in the hospital, expecting a payoff simply for doing their jobs.

But just when you think the girl’s problems might be over after she crosses a frozen river on a cold winter night and escapes to China, they don’t!  It’s when she and her mother leave North Korea behind, and wind up in China as illegal aliens, that even more horrors begin…

As always, I don’t want to add any spoilers and reveal too much of the rest of the story.  I just want to recommend it, and add that it’s a “doozie.”  Read it if you’re not faint of heart and want to find out more about what the North Koreans go through.

God bless Yeonmi and her family, and the people they left behind in North Korea as well.

And P.S.: Shame on China for not doing a whole lot more to help North Korean economic refugees!  The horrors the illegal North Koreans were put through would not exist if China would have the balls to show them some mercy.  Come on, China – step up to the plate!


THE ORPHANS OF SHAO: A Harrowing Account of How Chinese “Orphans” are Created & How China is Trafficking in Stolen Children

THE ORPHANS OF SHAO by Pang Jiaoming. A must-read book about Chinese "adoptions!"

THE ORPHANS OF SHAO by Pang Jiaoming: a must-read book about dubious Chinese “adoptions!”


China is trafficking in stolen children!

Many years ago, after a good friend adopted his beautiful little girl from China, I looked into the possibility of adopting one myself.

I didn’t think it would actually be possible.  The “adoption fees” cost between $30,000 and $40,000, and I didn’t have that kind of money in my bank account.  I also thought the process of adopting from that country was pretty strange.  The Chinese government wanted the adoptive parents to not only pick the children up personally – in China – and have to pay for air fare, but also to stay in China for about two or three weeks, paying for hotels, food, transportation from one province to another as all foreign adoptions could “only” be finalized in one specific Chinese city, etc.  There were also legal fees, document translation fees, and all kinds of fees that seemed way too far over-the-top.

Ridiculous, I thought.  Adoptions from other countries, like Korea and Vietnam, I knew from a book I’d once read by Marjorie Margolies, allow the children to be brought to their overseas adoptive parents by escorts.  The idea of American parents having to go to China seemed like a blatant attempt to simply bring additional tourist bucks into the country.

Still, I knew, or at least had been told, there were so many orphans there, where abandoned girls abounded due to China’s “one-child policy.”  Chinese families wanted boys, not girls, it was said.  This was some kind of bizarre cultural preference not entirely understood here.  Or if a parent tried to have more than one child, there was also an astronomical penalty fee to pay, and most couldn’t afford it.  As a result, girls were left in parks or at police stations while the parents tried again for a boy.  So I felt it wouldn’t hurt to, at least, go to a meeting about adopting a child from China.

Well, the meeting ended any thought I’d ever had that adopting from China might be a good idea.

It was run by a lovely American woman who, with her husband, had adopted a luminescent little Chinese girl and given her a home.  The pictures they showed us prospective parents were of a child that was healthy, gorgeous and clearly loved.  I had no fault with the kind woman who had opened her heart and home to the little orphan.

However…what I did have a hard time with was one of the “regulations” she described that the Chinese government had “decreed” all adoptive parents “had to follow.”

It was this.  Now, fasten your seatbelts before I say it, please, first.  All set?  Okay.  It was this.  The Chinese authorities required every adoptive parent from America to show up with four thousand American dollars in brand-new $100 bill denominations.  Not ones, fives, tens, twenties or fifties.  Oh no.  They wanted hundred-dollar bills.  And this, the Chinese claimed – are you ready again? – was “an orphanage donation.”  “After all,” the woman in charge of the meeting said in her well-modulated, reasonable voice, “the abandoned babies, most of whom are about eight months old when you’ll adopt them, have been consuming formula at the orphanages until you get there.”

Consuming formula?

Four thousand dollars worth of formula?

I didn’t exactly know what the going rate for baby formula in China was, but four thousand dollars of it, imbibed in eight months, seemed like a ridiculously inflated estimation.

And if that, by itself, didn’t set off every alarm bell I had within me already, the requirement that the four thousand bucks be in brand-new hundred-dollar bills certainly did.  The woman running the meeting even described the group she’d been with in China, the night before they had to hand their “donation” of new hundreds over, ironing old bills in their hotel room to make them look brand new.  What was this?  What could possibly be the reason for it?  Were these crazy people serious?  Even if the Chinese were shaking down the parents – who would be taking these babies off their hands and, therefore, should be offered a stipend for leaving with them, if anything, not the other way around – why wouldn’t an older $100 bill work?  Why demand a brand-new one?  And what the heck is wrong with a  $20 or a $50?  I’m sorry, but this was nuts!

Then I had another concern: how could all of these Americans just blindly fall for lines like these, formula fees, donations that were anything but, and the incredibly hinky insistence on brand-new bills?  What kind of mental acrobatics does an intelligent American have to do in order to justify their actions as they iron the money in the Chinese hotel room the night before they “donate” it as a requirement to take home a baby?  How could anyone think any of this was on the up-and-up?  I was shocked to the point it was all I could do to stay until the end of that meeting, and not run from the room – screaming.

Well, whatever was going on over there, that ended that.  I didn’t trust China.  I didn’t even trust the idea that these babies were genuine orphans.  Too much money was apparently in play here.  This one-child policy situation was resulting in babies being left by the roadside and some officials somewhere were no doubt getting rich from their “adoptions.”

About a week ago I found out that my initial reservations were right on target when I heard of a book called THE ORPHANS OF SHAO: A TRUE ACCOUNT OF THE ONE-CHILD POLICY IN CHINA – Children are Kidnapped, and Orphans are Created – to be Sold to the West.  The truth of what was going on came to light thanks to a group of farmers who started a petition – signed in blood, they were so heartbroken – because their children had been seized and taken to “welfare institutes,” like orphanages.  Those who could pay got their kids back; those who couldn’t found out they’d been given up for international adoptions.

Good God Almighty, I thought.  This is even worse than I thought, and I’ve known since that meeting there’s something wrong with China’s adoption program!  This is downright disgusting, amoral, and sick.  Thousands upon thousands of Chinese “orphans” are here in the United States already – but how many of them are genuine ones, and how many have grieving parents like the ones in the book, hoping to find them back home?  The last time I looked at the criminal codes of the United States, kidnapping was still a Federal offense.  How much worse if it’s been done there and presented as “adoption” here!  If so much as one of them is here, then it’s already an injustice.  There are probably hundreds of trafficked children here, living under the misnamed banner of “adopted” children.

Furthermore, have the corrupt officials of China never heard of a handy little device known as genetic testing?  It should not be too difficult to prove which kids are stolen children, or to match them back up with their natural parents, either.  It’s a matter of a test with a cheek swab.

The author of this book, Pang Jiaoming, deserves an award for his hard work in exposing the story.  Thank god for Pang Jiaoming!  I highly recommend the book, whether you are an adoptive parent, an adoptee from China, or merely curious.   Another resource is Women’s Rights in China, the publisher, reachable at  Something major-league needs to be done on behalf of the Chinese parents and their lost children.  Please, help spread the word.







Further, the kind lady said, the night before the brand-new hundreds had to be turned in, American adoptive parents who had traveled in her group, while in the hotel in China, had been standing there, with an iron, ironing them so that some of their older hundred-dollar bills would look new, and therefore pass “inspection.”  Adoptive parents came halfway around the world to get these poor children, then were in the hotel, wielding an iron over money? 

Further, the kind lady said, the night before the brand-new hundreds had to be turned in, American adoptive parents who had traveled in her group, while in the hotel in China, had been standing there, with an iron, ironing them so that some of their older hundred-dollar bills would look new, and therefore pass “inspection.”  Adoptive parents came halfway around the world to get these poor children, then were in the hotel, wielding an iron over money?