Biographies of Famous Adoption Personalities - Gladys Aylward Biography
Gladys Aylward - Adoptive Parent, Missionary
Your first question is probably, "Who was Gladys Aylward?" You may know her better if I remind you that the story of her life in China was made into a movie called "The Inn of the Sixth Happiness," starring Ingrid Bergman as Aylward.
Gladys Aylward's birth date is uncertain, but it probably was 1903 or 1904. She was born in London and worked as a maid after leaving school at 14. She felt called to be a missionary and felt very drawn to China, so she applied to the China Inland Mission Center in London. When they turned her down, the rejection sent her on a path that eventually led to great drama.
After being rejected, Gladys heard of an older Scottish missionary needing help. Mrs. Jeannie Lawson was 73 years old and living in the Chinese city of Yangchen, and accepted Gladys' offer of help. Gladys traveled on the Trans-Siberian Railway, then took ships, a bus and finally a mule, arriving in Yangchen in 1930, where she immediately started to master the local dialect. She became a citizen of China, a friend of the local Mandarin and a part of her local community.
A few years after arriving Gladys met a beggar woman. The woman had a small malnourished 5 year old girl with her. Gladys discovered that the child had been kidnapped and was a prop for the beggar. So Gladys purchased the girl for nine pence. This was the beginning of her work sheltering abused and abandoned children. She legally adopted 5 chinese children and sheltered hundreds.
The China-Japan war put an end to Gladys' work in Yangchen, but she continued her missionary work in Taiwan when the communists would not allow her to return to China. She died in 1970.Sources:
|Video: "Inn of the Sixth Happiness"|
starring Ingrid Bergman