Two American adoptees and six Chinese girls shared their childhood experiences when they met as teenagers in their rural “hometowns” in China in August 2013. This journey brought each American “home” to where she was abandoned as a newborn; each met Chinese girls who grew up there as only-child daughters.

In the weeks before, Touching Home writer Melissa Ludtke (Maya’s mother) had asked Wu Nan, a Beijing-based journalist, to travel to Xiaxi Town and Xixiashu Town in Jiangsu province. Nan met teenaged girls who lived there; several volunteered to spend time with Maya and Jennie when they arrived in August.

In the scorching heat of summer, these Chinese girls and their friends enthusiastically took on the role of being Maya and Jennie’s guides. For the Chinese girls, it was exciting getting to know the first foreigners they had ever seen in person. For the Americans, their new friends offered them clues about what it’s like to be a girl in 21st century rural China.