A lot of relatives say we are wealthy, so they give us their children.: Becoming Minnesotan

Female silhouette.
  • Name - Khou Xiong
  • Age at interview - 61
  • Gender - Female
  • Generation - First Generation American / Refugee
  • Date of Interview - 11.13.1991
  • Class & Work

    Economics, Family, Hmong

    Essential Question

    Life in the Old Country: What makes a country a person’s homeland?

    Class & Work: How important is work in defining a person’s identity?

    Background Information

    The Hmong traditionally farmed in the mountainous areas of China, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand.  Most of the Hmong were subsistence farmers who grew only enough food to feed their families, because farming was difficult in the mountainous regions where most of them lived.  The Hmong in Laos typically had large families, and the children spent most of their time helping the family with farming and household tasks.  However, having a lot of children could also be a burden if there was a year with bad crops, leaving not enough food for all of the family members.

    To learn more about Hmong history and culture, visit our Hmong Community page.

    • Chapter 1
    • Chapter 2

    Download Khou Xiong 1
    0:42 Minutes | 0.68Mb


    Note: Original interview was conducted in Hmong.  Excerpt is read in English by MayKao Hang.

    Narrator: Khou Xiong (KX)

    KX:  When I was still back in Laos with my husband a lot of people consider us wealthy. Within our own family we only have two children, and then I'm not able to have any more children. A lot of relatives say we are wealthy, so they give us their children. That's how we end up with ten adopted children. They say, "We are really poor. We are not able to give our children the things they need, so we want you to have our children." So, we end up with ten adopted children. We enjoy it. We accept the children as our own, within our home, and love them, and give them as much love as we can. We also help the parents. Everybody was giving us children. I'm really glad we can help.

    Download Khou Xiong 1 (Hmong)
    2:30 Minutes | 2.4Mb


    Excerpt of original interview in Hmong language.


    Minnesota Historical Society. Becoming Minnesotan: Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees. September 2010. Institute of Museum and Library Services. [Date of access]. http://www.mnhs.org/immigration
    nid: 1193