Why was Gigi abandoned? A not so simple explanation.

Adoption is curious. My daughter Madison and I met when she was five. I very clearly remember the first time I saw her. She’s fourteen now. Although she’s not really adopted, (her other family is in Salt Lake), there is really no difference.  :… when you hold your precious jewel for the first time, no one cares if none of those chromosomes came from you.”

The following is from my brother in laws blog, Meet Gigi, the story of a little girl from China who now lives in San Francisco and is very loved by all who know her. And even though I know the players, it’s one of the sweetest and most touching things I’ve ever read.

Why was Gigi abandoned?


This is a post drafted long ago, and worked over a few times, in an effort to get the tone and details right. Here’s our best effort with the delicate subject.

So, why was Gigi abandoned? It’s a complicated mix of cultural and political factors that caused Gigi’s birth family to “abandon” or, as we’ve taken to saying, “anonymously place” her with authorities. Gigi was likely given up by parents who loved her, who wanted a child throughout the pregnancy, but who desired—or were pressured to want—a boy. As in other patriarchal cultures, in Chinese tradition boys are favored over girls. In addition to contributing to a family’s livelihood during their parents’ working years, particularly for the farming families that fill China’s inland, they also play the role of caring for their parents when retired.

Whatever the cause, many Chinese girls end up unwanted—aborted (when a physician can be bribed into illegally disclosing the results of an ultrasound), abandoned, or worse. How many? If you view the Lost Girls documentary referenced below, you’ll learn about the troubling trends in Chinese demographics. The boy-to-girl gap is already noticeable in a typical elementary school classroom, where boys are in a clear majority. Demographers predict it may reach as many as 100 million unmarriageable men by 2040.

Which brings us back to Gigi: Where does she fit in this complex socio-political situation? What led to her parents’ decision? Here’s what we know: She came from a rural part of southern China and is therefore likely to be among the girls displaced for economic reasons. That she is apparently healthy and had good nutrition readings upon arrival at the orphanage indicates that she was cared for prenatally.


But here is the clincher: Days after being united with Gigi, we received a copy of the solitary trace she will ever have of her birth parents. When found, Gigi had this note attached, indicating her birth day, March 26, 2004, but also on the Chinese lunar calendar, February 6, 2004.

While this is not uncommon with such children anonymously placed with authorities, it indicates that Gigi’s birth parents or mother wanted these two key elements of her otherwise blank identity to be known. In other words, she was loved. And it was hoped by people who surely carry a sense of loss and regret that she would benefit from the life they chose not to provide—or couldn’t. Abandoned? No. Anonymously placed.


Happily for the girls yet unborn in China, and those at risk of suffering from the side effects of the one-child policy, things are changing. The government has awoken to the crisis of the gender gap and, among other measures, has launched a public education campaign to shift the perception of girls in Chinese society. Headlong into industrialization, social change in the developing part of China is also well underway, with the attendant realignment of lifestyles, gender roles, and family sizes. So, as much as we will cherish Gigi, we can hope that fewer of China’s girls like her will have to be taken so far from their birthplace to join a loving family to which they’re entitled.

You can read the rest of Gigi’s story here.

Cogito, Ergo Sum: Why you think you are?

blogito.jpgCogito, Ergo Sum. I think, therefore I am.

Cogito ergo sum” is a translation of Descartes’ original French statement: “Je pense, donc je suis”. Philosophers love to translate everything into Latin to make it just a little bit cooler sounding.

(Pronounced: Kog-e-toe, Air-go Sum)

Certainly the most famous sentence in philosophy, Rene Descartes’s ‘cogito, ergo sum - I think, therefore I am - appears in his work Discourse on Method.

Descartes’s famous conclusion came at the end of a self imposed project to subject all of his beliefs to radical doubt and reject any belief that he could not know for certain to be true. (He gave himself one pass since he still believed that his mother loved him even though she named him Rene.)

He rejected his belief in the world of sensory experience because he believed his senses could be deceived knowing for a fact that everything could not possibly taste like chicken. However, he found one belief he could not doubt - that he was thinking. Descartes found it to be impossible to doubt that he was thinking, because in doubting it, he would be thinking. Exactly the same kind of logic that thirteen year olds use on each other to prove that they didn’t do it.

Descartes declared that if he knew for certain that he was thinking, he also knew for certain that he existed. Thus, he had discovered one unquestionable belief - that he existed.

Philosophers have used Descartes as a jumping off point for what is called the Problem of Self-Knowledge: What is unique about our awareness of ourselves from the inside? That is, in what ways is it different to think about our own thoughts, feelings, and desires as opposed to anything else? Again, just like a thirteen year old.

Some people think one difference is that we cannot be mistaken when we honestly report what we are thinking or feeling. Thus, If you feel that you are in pain, it seems impossible that you could be wrong in believing you are in pain. It works equally well for hunger.

Descartes believed that he had provided a proof of the existence of God that was so strong it could not possibly be doubted. 

Parodies and pop-cultural references
  • In The Adventures of Baron Munchausen the King of the Moon, claiming that he is the creator of everything, says “Cogito ergo es” translating it himself as “I think, therefore you is.” (The actual translation being “I think, therefore you are”.)