Nov. 15, 2019

After adopting her own daughter through China’s international adoption program more than a decade ago, Jena Heath, associate professor of Journalism and Digital Media, began to realize that the narrative of abandoned Chinese babies “saved by Western families” was complicated.

China’s one-child policy, implemented in 1980 and relaxed in late 2015, gave rise to the country’s international adoption program, which has since faced criticism. To a great extent, adoptees and their adoptive families were not given information about the circumstance of the adoptions or the birth parents.

In order to shed light on the adoption process and build connections between adoptees, adoptive families and, potentially, Chinese birth parents, Heath started a digital archive of personal narratives from the Chinese adoption community called Our China Stories, which includes the oral histories, photos, videos and written narratives of more than 100 adoptees and adoptive family members.

The digital archive represents a collaborative effort between Heath and digital librarians from the university’s Munday Library. The Our China Stories site is now part of the Munday Library’s digital collection and the stories will also be available on the Portal to Texas History, a digital portal created and maintained by the University of North Texas Libraries.