Parents of adopted children love to recount the details of the day they first met, and Emily Prager is no exception. She begins her personal memoir, Wuhu Diary, with the moment she first came face-to-face with her new daughter, seven-month-old Lulu, at the Anhui Hotel in the city of Hefei in China, in December 1994. When the phone call announcing her baby's arrival came, she remembers, I was so thrilled, I could hardly move. Prager, who spent part of her own childhood in Taiwan, has a deep love of China and showed a special commitment to help her daughter develop an awareness and understanding of her Chinese heritage. She enrolled Lulu at a Mandarin preschool in New York City, where she lives. And when Lulu was almost five, Prager decided to spend two months in her daughter's birthplace, the town of Wuhu in the southern Chinese province of Anhui. She hoped to visit the orphanage where Lulu spent her first months and find out all she could about her daughter's background.
Written in diary format, Prager's memoir recounts the daily challenges she faced in negotiating her way through Chinese society. She enrolled Lulu in a preschool in Wuhu, and together they explored the city. An engaging and charming child, Lulu was clearly on her own journey. We see her try, in her four-year-old way, to make sense of her family, her cultural and racial heritage and her adoption. Wuhu Diary is a highly personal account of what in many ways was a courageous journey (the Pragers' stay in China coincided with the accidental bombing of the Chinese embassy in Kosovo by the U.S.). The diary entries are filled with fascinating information about the people Prager and her daughter met, as well as details about everyday life.
Prager is the author of three novels and a critically acclaimed short story collection. Parents who have adopted internationally, especially those who have adopted from China, will find her account a welcome addition to the growing literature on adoption.
Author Deborah Hopkinson is the parent of an internationally adopted child.