Book Review: "Lucky Girl" by Mei-Ling Hopgood

I just finished reading "Lucky Girl" by Mei-Ling Hopgood. I really loved this book and it was a departure from all the text-style adoption books I've been reading of late.

Hopgood is an adoptee from China, raised in the midwest, and has two Korean-born brothers as well. Her book is a very quick read and shares her story about meeting her birth family in China. Although the topic of birth families can often cause fear for some adopted parents, it's something I'm really fascinated by. We hope that Seoul Baby will one day be able to find his birth family if he chooses.

What I took away from this story is a better understanding of the adoptee point of view. So much of what I have been reading is from experts talking about adoptive children, or adoptive parents telling their stories, or psychologists telling how to parent. I haven't read enough about the adoptee's perspective so I really enjoyed hearing this new voice.

She said a few things that really stuck out to me, and it's probably because of my stage in the adoption process.

I sometimes resented people's assumption that adoptees must automatically, deep down, feel part empty of abandoned, that we must suffer some hole in us that will never be filled because our birth parents could not or did not raise us. I know people think this. I know because psychologists and adoption experts write essays and books about it. I know because of the questions people ask ("Did you always know you were adopted?" "How did you feel about that?") as if being adopted might mean you are somehow incomplete.

She's dead on about this. From what I've read, this IS the common theory--you'd better prepare because your child will mourn the loss of their first family for the remainder of their lives. While that could be true for some, Hopgood reminds us that not every adoptee has this same feeling.

This is the section I found most meaningful:

Ultimately, I think people tend to forget that on a basic level our relationships with our adopted parents are normal parent-child relationships. The only difference is how we became parent and child. We can get along great and we can hate each other. We can love and fight,. We can long for another fate or adore our families and never want anything else. It's not biology that defines the relationship. In fact, one might argue that adopted families start out in a better spot, as Jung-Hoe [her Korean-born brother] pointed out, because of all the background checks and vetting that the parents have to go through. At least they have to prove they have the means and the heartfelt desire to raise the child.

Perhaps I have an overly unsentimental, simplistic view on the subject. I've always known I was adopted. I also know that my adopted parents loved us more than anything. I think that's why my brothers and I have been able to keep our pasts in perspective. I know for other adoptees, it's a more complicated question, and they do feel a tremendous loss.

A friend recently told me that I just think too much about this stuff, and she's right. But I love trying to understand and view the world from more than just my perspective. Hopgood's book certainly helped me to do this, and understand her experiences as an adoptee. I'd certainly recommend the book!


  1. Very interesting. I'll have to check this book out. I've given this thought too. I've seen both sides of this. One of my brothers does not feel any abandonment or "emptiness" due to his adoption. He has no interest in finding his birth family (even if that was possible). On the other hand my other brother, who wasn't given up by his birth family until he was 2.5 and lived in a orphanage for a year, did have abandonment issues. But I believe it is more due to the circumstances of his childhood rather than adoption itself.

  2. I'd like to read this book. I agree that it's good to get a diversity of opinions (and certainly for pre-adoptive parents to hear adoptee voices!). And it's also nice to be reminded that not every adopted child has abandonment issues, too...

  3. Thanks for the review, I'll have to check this out!


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