Gammage, Jeff

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Gammage, Jeff


Born in Trenton, NJ; married; wife's name Christine; children: Jin Yu, Zhao Gu (adopted daughters). Education: James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA, B.A., 1982.


Home— Elkins Park, PA. E-mail— [email protected]


Writer, memoirist, and journalist. Roanoke Times & World-News, Roanoke, VA, former reporter;Inquirer Sunday Magazine, Philadelphia, PA, former staff writer;Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia, PA, began as national correspondent, currently staff writer.


Sigma Delta Chi Award (as member of reporting team) for excellence in deadline reporting, for coverage of a mass shooting at an Amish school in Lancaster County, PA.


China Ghosts: My Daughter's Journey to America, My Passage to Fatherhood(memoir), William Morrow (New York, NY), 2007.


Jeff Gammage is a memoirist and newspaper journalist. His career as a reporter has largely been with newspapers in the eastern United States, including the Roanoke Times and World-News and the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he works as a staff writer.

In 2002, Gammage and his wife, Christine, made a decision that would fundamentally change their lives. That year, they traveled to China to adopt their first daughter, two-year-old Jin Yu, who had been in an orphanage since three days after her birth. In his memoir,China Ghosts: My Daughter's Journey to America, My Passage to Fatherhood, Gammage tells the story of Jin Yu's early life, her adoption, and the effects her presence has had on Gammage and his wife, as well as on the child they rescued from an uncertain fate in China.

On the China Ghosts Web site, Gammage explains his decision to write the book and make public his and his daughter's experiences. "Mostly, I wrote this book so that my eldest daughter would have a complete account of her adoption, or at least as complete an account as I could compile. Yes, this is Jin Yu's story. But it is my story too. Both of us where changed by the experience," he commented.

Gammage relates in painful detail the emotional effects his trip to China had on him as an adoptive parent. "It's one thing to know on a general level that your daughter suffered, and that you were not there to help her," he commented on the China Ghosts Web site. "It's another to go there every day, for months, to parse the ways in which she was in terrible need and I was absent. On one level I know I couldn't have helped her when we hadn't even met. But on another level I feel very much that I let her down." Gammage describes the state of adoption in China, noting that in a country where birth numbers are strictly controlled and where female offspring are often not wanted, there are thousands of girls living in orphanages and available to loving parents in the United States.

Two years after their first adoption, the Gammage family returned to China to adopt another daughter, Zhao Gu, a one-year-old girl who had also spent her early life in an orphanage.

In his memoir, Gammage "details the ups and downs of his journey to fatherhood, his joy and sadness, worry and relief, his feelings of guilt and helplessness, anger and acceptance. And he writes beautifully," observed Eliza Thomas on the Adoptive Families Web site. "Gammage's beautifully written memoir, which weaves together emotionally wrenching narrative with insightful social commentary, will resonate with any American who has taken the same journey" of adoption, remarked PopMatters reviewer Huntley Collins. "What distinguishes this book is Gammage's fine writing, his unflinching honesty about the losses his daughters will experience, and his poignant reflection on his own personal journey as the high-achieving professional becomes the engaged father who opens his heart to the small things that ultimately matter more than any assignment at work," Collins continued. A Kirkus Reviews critic named Gammage's book "a father-daughter love story from a sensitive writer who doesn't neglect thorny issues of race and culture."



Gammage, Jeff,China Ghosts: My Daughter's Journey to America, My Passage to Fatherhood(memoir), William Morrow (New York, NY), 2007.


Booklist, May 15, 2007, Ben Segedin, review of China Ghosts, p. 7.

Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2007, review of China Ghosts.

Publishers Weekly, April 30, 2007, review of China Ghosts, p. 150.


Adoptive Families Web site, (October 28, 2007), Eliza Thomas, review of China Ghosts.

China Ghosts Web site, (October 28, 2007).

HarperCollins Web site, (October 28, 2007), biography of Jeff Gammage.

PopMatters, (October 28, 2007), Huntly Collins, review of China Ghosts.