‘Made in China: A memoir of Marriage and Mixed Babies in the Middle Kingdom’ – Excerpt

Starting a family in China can be a unique adventure, especially for cross-cultural couples. A native of Denmark, Simon Gjeroe shares his own foray into the world of parenting with his Chinese partner through his new book Made in China: A memoir of Marriage and Mixed Babies in the Middle Kingdom, which is published by Earnshaw Books.

It’s my pleasure to introduce you to this book through the following excerpt.

You can learn more about Simon Gjeroe and Made in China: A memoir of Marriage and Mixed Babies in the Middle Kingdom at Simon’s website. The book Made in China: A memoir of Marriage and Mixed Babies in the Middle Kingdom is available at Amazon, where your purchases help support this site.

The first time I really started to consider my life as a prospective father was when I was around twenty-two or twenty-three years old. One day, as I was staying in a small village in the southern province of Guangxi, I chanced upon an old soothsayer from the Yi ethnic minority who I still remember vividly. She stood only about 1.5 meters (less than five feet) tall, had more wrinkles than a Chinese Shar-pei puppy, and only a few crooked teeth left in her mouth, all stained a reddish-black, dyed from years of chewing betel nuts. She wore a big black turban with her white hair sticking out, and a cape over a simple blue and reddish set of clothes. Around her neck, dangling from her long earlobes, and wrapped around her wrists were elaborate and lovely pieces of silver jewelry. I believe (maybe naively) that I was the first foreigner she had ever set her beady black eyes on. She looked directly at me for a while and then took my left hand and turned it over and looked at my palm with a concentrated look on her face. Then she started to tell me what my future would be. Maybe because of the betel in her mouth or because she spoke only limited and broken Chinese, and my Chinese was very far from perfect at the time, I did not understand that much. However, what I did understand was that I would live to be 88 years old, and father no less than four children. After she finished predicting my future, almost to underscore her divination, she spat a red chunk of saliva on the ground dangerously close to my feet and left.

Fu and I had been trying for children for some months (Fu had long since given up smoking), even before we were married (please don’t tell anyone), but since nothing had really happened and considering we were both already in our mid-thirties, we began to wonder if everything was okay down there. This included me visiting a very local hospital to have ‘my everything’ looked at thoroughly, while struggling to keep the door closed to prevent people from peeking in. Ultimately, I was prescribed something probably derived from a poor dead animal or a fast-disappearing exotic forest somewhere in Southeast Asia. It wasn’t fair on my little boys to stand trial on such a hot and humid August day in Beijing anyway.

Then I did what probably quite a few Chinese, but very few foreigners, would consider normal. I invited a couple of friends out for a meal at the local restaurant called Guolizhuang, which translates into something like “the contents of the pot will make you strong”. Here we were shown into a small private room for a dinner consisting of mainly animal genitalia, which, according to Chinese beliefs, should increase male potency. To be more precise, a set menu which had been given the poetic name “The Essence of the Golden Buddha” was presented to us and it included not only ox, sheep and dog penis and testicles, but also a floating turtle and a sprinkle of seahorses. To my surprise, it was really tasty, although the dog penises were a little like eating a really old gummy bear. The waitress politely explained that our female companion should avoid eating the testicles, because it could give her both a deeper voice and even a beard. But she added that the penises would be fine for her to eat.

Harmless or not, I have to say that I was very sceptical to begin with, but I must admit that for the next twenty-four hours after we had finished our exotic meal, I have never felt so energized. I might sound weird, but I really felt like a ball of pure energy was streaming out from my belly and through my whole body. Animal genitalia or exotic forest plants, whatever the reason, something happened down there and just one month after our December wedding, Fu came to me one day with the delightful, but shocking news that she was pregnant.

Many thanks to Simon for sharing this excerpt! You can learn more about Simon Gjeroe and Made in China: A memoir of Marriage and Mixed Babies in the Middle Kingdom at Simon’s website. The book Made in China: A memoir of Marriage and Mixed Babies in the Middle Kingdom is available at Amazon, where your purchases help support this site.

Divorcing Your Chinese Spouse Doesn’t Mean You Must Divorce China

Susan Blumberg-Kason in Hong Kong (photo from Susan Blumberg-Kason)

Divorce is never easy for anyone. But when you married someone from a country you came to love — or have always loved — and decide to divorce them, you might wonder: what will happen to your connection to that country?

That’s a question Susan Blumberg-Kason had to grapple with some 13 years ago when she decided to divorce her Chinese husband, who grew up in rural Hubei Province. She loved China and Chinese culture for years, a love that moved her to learn Mandarin Chinese and study abroad twice in Hong Kong. For her, the answer was this: that a divorce from her husband never meant she had to divorce China as well, something she will detail in today’s guest post.

Before we get to that, I also wanted to share Susan’s exciting news. Her memoir Good Chinese Wife was just acquired by the publisher Sourcebooks! Here’s the scoop on the book deal from Publishers Marketplace: Continue reading “Divorcing Your Chinese Spouse Doesn’t Mean You Must Divorce China”

Why I Write About “Forbidden” Love in China

Forbidden entry sign
(photo by ilco)

Forbidden. That’s what someone once called my writing back in 2004 when I started sharing my relationships with Chinese men. It’s not as if I put some adult-store-version of my life out there, complete with salacious descriptions that would have everyone heading for a cold shower. Sex never even came up.

No, I just happened to write about my former Chinese boyfriends.

I broke with Chinese tradition, where you keep your past loves buried away in your heart (to be sure, I never used their actual names and changed some of their details, though everything I shared was essentially true). That comment shook me then — I never realized I crossed a cultural line in my writing. If my old files from that time are any measure — I steered clear of intimate topics for years — the comment impacted me in ways I didn’t even realize. Continue reading “Why I Write About “Forbidden” Love in China”

Double Happiness: A Western Woman Walks Into A Bar

Two beer glasses lined up on a bar
Western women walked into bars, and walked out finding their future Chinese husbands (photo by gianni testore)

“A Western woman walks into a bar…” sounds like the start of a joke. But instead of coming back with a punchline, a number of Western women came back with Chinese men who they would eventually marry.

Sure, bars get a bad rap in the world of dating sometimes — yet these women show that your local watering hole just might turn into the backdrop for your “how we met” story. (In their case, the “how I met my Chinese husband” story.)

Continue reading “Double Happiness: A Western Woman Walks Into A Bar”

Ask the Yangxifu: Six Western Women of the Past who Married Chinese Men

Louise Van Arnam Huie, with husband Huie Kin
Louise Van Arnam Huie, with husband Huie Kin (photo from http://www.huiekin.org)

mali asks:

I just came across this book Grace an American in China with a foreign woman marrying a Chinese man in the 1930s and going to China. I thought it was pretty cool that they had their relationship then…wow that must have been so hard!! So I wondered if you knew about other actual women like her that married Chinese in the past?

I sure do. You might call them our “yangxifu grandmothers,” the Western women who paved the way for the rest of us to love and marry Chinese men (and often at great cost to their own lives). Here’s a list of six prominent women I know of — including Grace: Continue reading “Ask the Yangxifu: Six Western Women of the Past who Married Chinese Men”

In the Mood for Summer Love (in China)

A bride and groom running through a green park in the summer
(photo by Fran Flores)

Programming note: from May 2 until May 13, I’ll be in the process of flying to and then settling down in China for the summer. During this time, I’ll be digging up some classic content from the archives, and sharing it with you in the form of theme-related posts. And don’t worry — I’ll be back on May 16. Promise! 😉


Okay, it may only be May — but in the Hangzhou region, where my Chinese husband’s family lives, summer is on like a renao Chinese wedding banquet.

For me, summer is a time of love. That’s when I first came to know and fall in love with my Chinese husband John. So if you’re in the mood for some romance, these entries just might get your heart fluttering:

John is My Chinese Boyfriend. That late summer night by the West Lake, when John and I fell in love to the sound of cicadas.

Of Lovely Bouquets and China Birthday Programs. Three lovely summer bouquets, and the thoughts of John’s “birthday program” tantalized me as I got closer to this Chinese man.

The Dog Days of My China Summer. This entry is my little Valentine to the dog John and I loved so much a few summers ago.

Have you ever had a memorable “summer love” experience in China?

2011 Blogs by Western Women who Love Chinese Men

John my Chinese husband and I after registering our marriage in China
My 2011 update of all the blogs by Western women who love Chinese men. 

March 8 — International Women’s Day — is just around the corner, so it’s time for my homage to other fabulous Western women out in the blogosphere who love Chinese men.

If this update is any measure, the state of the community — that is, the community of Western women who love Chinese men — is strong and growing. Last year, I featured only 16 blogs. This year, it’s over 30. Either there are more of you out there speaking up on the internet, or I’m just getting better at finding you. 😉

So, in alphabetical order according to title, here they are:

Aimee Barnes. She’s more known for thoughtful, probing interviews with China’s up-and-coming movers and shakers — but she once loved a man from Shandong (and, I hope, hasn’t given up writing about it). I’ve come to appreciate her voice even more after reading this post about how she went against expectations (she had a learning disability) to master Mandarin and succeed in college and graduate school. Aimee is now living in Singapore with her Asian husband. Continue reading “2011 Blogs by Western Women who Love Chinese Men”

Stuck Between Taiwan and Jun, Published in Matador Life

In "Stuck Between Jun and Taiwan," I tell my story of how I learned that international love doesn’t come easy.

I just had another piece published in Matador, for their “Love in the Time of Matador” series. Stuck Between Taiwan and Jun (yes, “Jun” is my husband’s real Chinese name — long story why I use “John” instead. Ask me later. 😉 ) chronicles some of the hardships we experienced as an international couple:

It was a rainy Tuesday in a Taiwanese cafe in Shanghai, and Jun and I were having fried rice with a generous side of tears. To the patrons around us, the whole scene had “breakup” written all over it. But it wasn’t that kind of breakup. Leaving melodrama aside, this was the US government breaking up our trip back to my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio.

To me, Jun was the guy who first kissed me to the tune of cicadas, next to Hangzhou’s West Lake. The man who loved to pick me up from the metro station late at night, and ferry me home on the back of his bicycle. But to the visa officer at the US Consulate in Shanghai, Jun was just another immigration risk from China with no apartment or car, let alone a wife or children. “You’re too young,” the officer declared in Mandarin, stamping a denial in permanent red ink into the passport.

Read the whole story at Matador. And if you love it, don’t forget to share it too. Thanks! 😉

The Top 5 “China Articles” of 2010

Looking back with my Chinese husband
We look back on 2010, at the top five posts -- by views -- posted in my "China Articles" category

As 2010 comes to a close, I thought it might be cool to look back on your most favorite articles for the year (especially for those of you who have just discovered this blog). The criteria? They must have been posted in the category “China Articles,” and must have been written in 2010.

So, here they are, ranked according to number of views:

1. China Blogs by Western Women who Love Chinese Men. Readers loved this post (so much in fact, that it is the third most popular page overall for 2010!), rounding up all of the extraordinary Western women out there who love Chinese men, and blog about it. (P.S.: My apologies to the new voices I discovered later this year — I promise to revisit this topic in March 2011, and update everyone with the latest list of bloggers out there, which you can always find in my blogroll under “Chinese Men + Foreign Women”)

2. Chinese Men Are Sexy. And, given that this is second most popular post for 2010, my readers agree! 😉

3. Three Inches of Separation: On Loving a Shorter Chinese Man. I wrote this after getting an e-mail from a supportive reader, about how she was taller than her boyfriend. And I never thought so many people would connect with my own tale of overcoming my own prejudices about height, to fall in love with a Chinese man who stands three inches below me.

4. Stereotypes About Couples of Chinese Men and Western Women. This post about the misconceptions surrounding couples of Chinese men and Western women got a lot of readers’ attention. (Thanks to Gerald Zhang-Schmidt, for collaborating with me by doing a post the same day on the stereotypes for the flip scenario — Chinese women and Western men)

5. Western Wives, Chinese Husbands. This article I worked on, for Middle Kingdom Life, covered many of the issues Western women face when dating Chinese men in China. I collaborated with three other American women with Chinese husbands. Susan Chi, Melanie Gao and Jessica Larson-Wang, thanks for helping me make this such a valuable piece. 🙂

Still hungry for more good reading? Why not revisit my 83-chapter Memoirs of a Yangxifu series, which I began in January, 2010. You can start at Chapter 1, see the top 1o posts for the series, or browse the Memoirs of a Yangxifu archives.

And, don’t worry — Monday, January 3, 2011, I’ll post up some fresh content for the fresh new year. Happy holidays!

Ask the Yangxifu: Books with Chinese Men and Western Women in Love

Books such as Foreign Babes in Beijing feature Chinese men and Western women falling in love. (image from http://www.goodreads.com)
Books such as Foreign Babes in Beijing feature Chinese men and Western women in love.

In lieu of the usual Q&A, I decided to do a post is inspired by a previous Q&A. Specifically, the question I answered two weeks ago about movies with Chinese men and Western women — since many movies owe their existence to books, that ultimate writer’s labor of love (including at least two of the movies on that list). And, even if it is cliche to write this, well, the book usually IS better than the movie. 😉

So, here’s a list of all the books I can think of with Chinese men and Western women in love:

As the Earth Turns Silver by Alison Wong

As Katherine struggles to care for two children in New Zealand in the wake of her husband’s death, she discovers love with the Chinese shopkeeper — but must keep it secret because of the racism and prejudice of this era, just on the brink of World War I. Continue reading “Ask the Yangxifu: Books with Chinese Men and Western Women in Love”