Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Lucky Girl - extremist views

Tuesday, May 26th - Sunday, June 7th this blog is hosting a book discussion surrounding Taiwanese-American adoptee Mei-Ling Hopgood's memoir "Lucky Girl."

In "Lucky Girl," Mei-Ling's father (Ba) has some extremist viewpoints on gender and children born with special needs. [Mei-ling's birthparents left their infant son born with a cleft lip alone in a room to die, released two daughters for adoption, adopted a son themselves.] How did you feel while reading these? Although viewed as extremist to us, do you think they are held by many modern day Taiwanese? Do you worry that people who casually read the book will think that many Taiwanese think the same way?


  1. This is a tough question. I would imagine there is still a cultural stigma associated with special needs, particularly a physical one like cleft lip. I don't know that a casual reader would jump immediately to the conclusion that this is a commonly held view among all Taiwanese, particularly since this incident happened 30+ years ago. It was heart-breaking to read what happened to the son who was born with cleft lip, and I would hope that other children don't suffer like that. Was surgery available in the 1970s for cleft lip/cleft palate? If so, do you think Mei-Ling's birth parents knew there was surgery for cleft lip or was it such a shameful thing to have a child born this way at the time, they didn't want anyone to know about it?

  2. Cindy, I'd REALLY been wondering too about the availability of cleft lip/palate surgeries in Taiwan in the late 60s early 70s, too. What happened was VERY shocking to me. I could imagine that kind of thing happening over and over in one child policy China, but not in Taiwan in the modern era.

  3. Back when Maureen was helping the Hopgoods find a baby she wrote in one of her letters that cleft lip surgeries were "commonplace" and that with the surgery she could look normal. So I would think that the availablity was there. Just FYI. =)

  4. KB, Hmmmmm. That is really disturbing. Thank you for bringing that to our attention.

    In a literary sense... doesn't seem like Ma and Ba couldn't have any more boys together because they literally threw away the male child they had together. I'm certainly didn't major in literature... but if I was in college freshman English and I had to write an essay on this book I'd write about how Ba had the son that he dreamed about, but threw him away because he was born cleft affected. He adopted a son, but this child wasn't perfect either and they were ashamed of him.

    This just makes me so angry. I can't seem to let go of it.

  5. I have to think that Ba's views and certainly his actions would be condemned by the ovewhelming majority of Taiwanese. When I asked my Taiwanese parents for their opinion, they were quick to denounce his views on female children (they themselves are parents to four girls and no boys!) and certainly what he did to his cleft-affected child. I seem to remember that Mei-Ling refers to Ba as "a lunatic" at one point, so I'm sure she also recognizes the extremity of his viewpoints.

  6. Judy, I was looking forward to your comments here. Thank you!


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