Publishing Your Family’s Mystery Story: an interview

November 13th, 2010

An interview with Becky Cerling Powers by Jessica Gibson

Why did you find the story of Laura Richards Nieh so compelling that you started researching it and then kept on trying to find it out for 25 years?

I’d always been curious about Laura’s story. Laura was my mom’s older cousin and I grew up hearing bits and pieces – how she started an orphanage in China but how more than 20 years later the Chinese Communist government forced her leave the country and killed her Chinese husband.

And there was this big mystery about the part of her story that couldn’t be told because it was too dangerous –people might be killed or might be sent to jail if the story was told and the wrong people heard or read it. So the whole political background intrigued me. Read the rest of this entry »

Orphan Update

June 19th, 2010

In a recent letter from China, Rachel (one of the former Canaan Home orphans described in Laura’s Children) said that some of the orphans gathered together last Christmas to celebrate Christ’s birth. They sang hymns, praised God, and talked together about Faith Journey, the Chinese translation of Laura’s Children. The book is a great encouragement to the orphans. They were too young to understand what was happening when the Japanese and Chinese soldiers fought in their neighborhood or when the Men in Black appeared and began their reign of terror. They were still children or very young adults when the government forced Laura to leave them. There were many details they did not know. “This book gave us a clear picture to see how Mom depended on God and raised us,” Rachel wrote.

Rachel also said that reading the book helped give the orphans perspective about their foster father, Mr. Nieh. “It is God’s mercy, love and grace that He helped us to revisit and change some of our ideas,” she said. “We didn’t understand Mr. Nieh. For Mom and Mr. Nieh to be together and raise 200 orphans, it was really difficult. Mr. Nieh used his network in China and helped Mom to help the orphanage in many, many ways, so we should have a thankful heart toward him. Although he sinned against God and also hurt Mom, we cannot say anything because judgment belongs to God.”

The Story That Couldn’t Be Told is Finally in Print

May 14th, 2010

Laura Richards was a shy American nurse who moved to a remote North China village in 1929 to take in castaway babies. Through 22 years of famines, bandit invasions and wars, she lived in the same poor conditions as the Chinese peasants, while managing to save the lives of nearly 200 destitute orphans. So why did she refuse the Chinese Communist Party’s offer to make her a national heroine? 

Laura Richards’ story was too dangerous to tell when she returned to the U.S. in 1951. But when she died thirty years later, the old letters, photographs, and scattered bits of memoir that she left behind were so intriguing to her second cousin Becky Cerling Powers, that Becky began a 25-year quest to discover her quiet relative’s amazing story. Eventually that quest led Becky to China and the orphans themselves. Today, over half a century after Laura left China, her story and her children’s story is finally being told.

 Laura’s Children: the Hidden Story of a Chinese Orphanage is now on sale on For more information click on the Books tab.