The Mothers' Bridge of Love: Background information when reading Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother

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Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother

Stories of Loss and Love

by Xue Xinran

Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother by Xue Xinran X
Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother by Xue Xinran
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2011, 272 pages
    Mar 2012, 272 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Julie Wan

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About this Book

Beyond the Book:
The Mothers' Bridge of Love

Print Review

Xinran founded a charity in 2004 called The Mothers' Bridge of Love (MBL), Mothers' Bridge of Love which aims to build understanding between adopted Chinese children growing up around the world, their adoptive parents and their birth culture. The following letter, abbreviated from the original, written by an adopted girl to her unknown birth-mother, expresses the purpose of MBL better than any mission statement could:


My name is Charlotte but when I went to China, they called me Shasha. I am 18 years old now, and I live in a city near Paris in France. I hope you are fine. I'm sorry but it's hard for me to call you "mother". I know you are the one who gave birth to me but it's not you who brought me up until today. This woman is the one I call my mother. But this doesn't mean I reject you and forgot you. I will never forget you, never. Your blood runs through my veins, and it will run through my children's veins. You are part of me like I was and I am part of you. This is something no one could ever change.

You know, I've always wondered why you abandoned me. And I still wonder why. And I will always wonder why... Each abandoned and then adopted child has his own opinion and feelings about what he lived after he was just born. I personally have always considered that I was responsible for being abandoned by you after I was born. I've always felt guilty of this. To me, it was my fault. Year after year, my mother told me it wasn't my fault at all... For a long time, this idea made my life really hard to live. The sense of guilt led me to be afraid of losing the people I loved, afraid of being rejected by them. I always tell myself that if you, my biological mother, the human being supposed to love me the most on this earth, had been able to abandon me, then anyone could abandon me and leave me alone. When I was in primary school, I didn't have friends, I didn't talk to anyone because I thought that if I said something wrong, they would reject me... I can say, without the love and support of my mother, I wouldn't be alive today.

I read a book this week, Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother, written by Xinran. In this book, Xinran tells the story of 10 Chinese mothers, including her, who had to abandon their baby girl. As I told Xinran, this book was very hard for me to read. Sometimes I just closed it and burst into tears, thinking I would never be able to read it to the end. But finally, I read it to last page. And now, thanks to Xinran, I have some answers I was looking for. You abandoned me because you loved me. You knew you couldn't bring me up and offer me a bright future. So you made a huge sacrifice by abandoning me, knowing some other woman would "fall in love" with me and give me everything to have a bright future and be happy. You offered me a chance to live. Without my mother, I wouldn't be who I am today, but without you, I wouldn't be there at all. I can't imagine how much you loved me so you could leave me. I can't imagine how much you suffered when you left me. But what I know is that you suffered at least as much as you loved me.


Charlotte/Shasha, the little girl you gave life twice.

Article by Julie Wan

This article was originally published in March 2011, and has been updated for the March 2012 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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