Thursday, August 31, 2006

Well *This* Isn't Good

According to certain computer projections, Ernesto is predicted to pass directly over our house some time tomorrow:

I guess it's time to start hoarding milk and toilet paper and hunker down.

Time Off For Adoptive Parents

Many companies are now offerring adoptive parents time off from work akin to maternity leave:

KATIE LEDBETTER, who is expecting a baby girl late this year, has delighted in the fawning of baby-obsessed colleagues, the cooing commentary on the joys of parenthood and the feigned laments over the loss of social life and sleep.

But because she is adopting instead of giving birth, Ms. Ledbetter, who works for Standard Register, a document services company based in Ohio, was initially told she was not entitled to the six to eight weeks of paid leave offered to pregnant employees.

Then in January, an ebullient manager told Ms. Ledbetter to check her e-mail. Effective this year, a memo to the company’s 3,500 employees read, Standard Register would offer adoptive parents four weeks of paid leave and up to $4,000 in financial assistance. Ms. Ledbetter, her manager told her, would be the first recipient. “It was like a gift from God,” said Ms. Ledbetter, 45, a customer service specialist in the company’s Charlotte, N.C., office. “When you are in this adoption mode, you just come to expect obstacles. I was so very, very touched to know my company backed us.”

With more than 100,000 Americans adopting each year, adoption benefits are becoming a hot new perk in the panoply of workplace benefits. Whether paid time off, reimbursement for costs or both, the benefits help parents defray hefty adoption fees and afford bonding time with new children. Just as important, recipients say, the assistance sends the message that adoptive families are as valued and worthy of support as biological families are.

The State of Things

Our dossier is nearly complete. It would be fully complete if not for one document snafu that’s gumming up the works. It appears New York now requires a county certification before they can authenticate a document, in this case my birth certificate. But that should be in our mailbox today. Tomorrow we have a “sit down” with our case worker at Bethany. If all goes well, she’ll give the dossier her blessing and forward the thing to the home office in Grand Rapids, Michigan, along with several hundred of our dollars. Once there, the individual documents get sent to the appropriate Chinese embassy or consulate for translation. Since we have documents from Texas, New York, Maryland and Virginia, that probably means three different consulates (Houston, New York and DC). In 2003, it took about three weeks between the time we sent our dossier to Grand Rapids to being DTC (Dossier To China), an important date after which there will be much rejoicing. A (hopefully) short time after that the dossier will be logged in at the China Center for Adoption Affairs (CCAA) and then we…wait some more. It's hard to say when a referral will come. In 2003, the wait was 12-13 months, but was down to nine months when we received Ally's referral. Right now, it's about a 13-14 month wait, so we'll see.

Last time, we got our dossier off the day before we left for a vacation with my family at Disneyworld. This time, nothing so elaborate but we are heading to New York for my sister’s annual pig roast; that is unless Ernesto washes out our plans. Right now it looks like Saturday is going to be the wettest, which is when the porcine BBQ is supposed to take place, but it can be moved to Sunday if need be. Then back home on Monday. So blogging will be light to nonexistent over the weekend.

Massachusetts Reunion

‘The best experience of our lives’
Inside the famous White Swans [sic] Hotel in the city of Guangzhou, there resides a red couch.

According to Andrea Holleran, this piece of furniture has become a popular photo spot for American families who travel to China to adopt children.

While visiting the People’s Republic to meet, adopt and then take home Chinese children — a visit Andrea and her husband Jay have made twice since 1999— the groups of families who travel together for the special journey often pose together, with their newly adopted children, on that couch at White Swans [sic].

Last weekend, Holleran had cause to bring out the photo she took with her family and the 14 other couples who adopted Chinese children together in the spring of 2002, during a very special party she and Jay hosted at their Norwell home.

On Saturday, a group of families from New York, New Jersey and across New England gathered at the Holleran’s home on Crossbow Lane to celebrate the fourth anniversary of the adoption of their little girls.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Ethiopia Opening Doors

Ethiopia opening doors to adoptions by U.S. residents
Born in a hut in Ethiopia, placed in an orphanage by a single mother who couldn't afford to keep her, and adopted by the Evanston, Ill., couple before her first birthday, Safia is part of the first major wave of African adoptions in the United States.

Ethiopia became the first African nation to hit the State Department's list of the top 10 foreign countries from which Americans adopt in 2004 -- the year before Angelina Jolie brought home her Ethiopian-born daughter, Zahara.

This year, the numbers are on pace to increase again, by about 20%, to 530 adoptions, according to State Department data.

Here's a table from the article showing the top countries from which Americans adopted in 2005:

China: 7,906
Russia: 4,639
Guatemala: 3,783
South Korea: 1,630
Ukraine: 821
Kazakhstan: 755
Ethiopia: 441
India: 323
Colombia: 291
Philippines: 271

Chinese Heritage Camp in Canada

A favourite China pattern
Little Katie Carruthers noticed something different when she walked into a hall full of kids at Lambeth United Church yesterday.

"Everybody here is Chinese," said the three-year-old.

Katie is Chinese, too. Her parents, Gail and David Carruthers, adopted her and her two-year-old sister Zoe in China.

Gail Carruthers and her two children travelled from Brampton to the Lambeth church for a Chinese heritage day camp for adopted children.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Minnesota Reunion

Families keep in touch after Chinese adoptions, too
The families of 16 toddlers also gathered in Duluth this weekend, catching up one year after they traveled to China to adopt their children.

Some of the kids came from the same collective foster homes, said Chris Bacigalupo of Duluth. He and Patrice Bradley are the parents of Lydia, 2.

The Chinese adoption process ensures kids won't ever know their biological parents, so it's important to maintain their earliest known Chinese ties, Bacigalupo said.

"As the years go by, they'll have a sense of continuity," he said.

The kids -- ranging in age from 22 months to3 years -- joined their siblings and families for a beach outing Saturday and a brunch Sunday. Most families were from Minnesota and Wisconsin, but others traveled from California and Illinois.

After an intense 17-day experience last year in China, it was fun to relax together, Bacigalupo said.

"We talk about behaviors, positive and negative," he said, laughing. "(Our) bond centers around just these brilliant little kids with great spirits."

He said he looks forward to the day his daughter can stay with the other families, and other kids can stay with his family.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

China's Male Children: Spoiled Brats?

I'm not sure that subjecting these kids to physical and emotional abuse is going to solve any problems.

'Little Emperors' Learn the Hard Way in China
Parents send boys with discipline problems to West Point, a private school with a military- style regimen where the rod is not spared.
HANGZHOU, China — Asked whether anyone has ever been beaten by his teacher, all the boys point to Chen Chen. The 12-year-old lifts up his shirt. Sure enough, there are four faint welts on his back from the feared whip.

"Of course it hurt," Chen acknowledged. "But it was because I misbehaved."

"We were all scared to death," classmate Xia Jingying chimed in.

If you think these children are victims of substandard public schooling, think again. Their parents paid to send them here to West Point, a popular boot camp named after the American military academy but designed to straighten out the "little emperors" of China's one-child generation.

For more than two decades, China's strict family planning policy has created a culture in which the coveted lone male heirs tend to run amok at home and in school because besotted parents forget to teach them the meaning of discipline.

Sunday Morning Dress Up

More costume changes than Cher, that kid.

China Related TV

China Sprout posts a much appreciated weekly guide to China related TV listings.

North Carolina Adoption Story

Family adds a little sister from China
Parents went across the world for 2-year-old
One of Waxhaw's newest residents has traveled a long way to get here.

A little less than three months ago, 2-year-old Molly White was adopted in Yang Xi, Guangdong Province, China and brought home to Waxhaw. Her new parents, Donna and Densel White, got to introduce the newest addition to their three other children, Erica, 13, Lexie, 9, and brother Ian, 6, on May 27.

It may have seemed like a long trip to Molly, but for her new mom and dad the journey started about a year earlier.

When the Whites decided to adopt internationally, they chose China because of the country's reputation for smooth adoptions. Donna had heard that many Eastern European nations had much longer processing times and required two visits to the country, compared with one for China.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Re-adoption Gets Easier in Pennsylvania

New law to ease foreign adoptions
For many parents of foreign-born adopted children, readopting those children once they are brought home to the United States provides an added sense of security.

A state law, set to take effect Sept. 7, could make the process easier for them.

"We feel more peaceful," said Sherry Sariano, 59, the mother of two girls adopted from China and then readopted in Pennsylvania. "We now have a document in our hand, besides ones written in Chinese, that says she is our child."

Even if an adoption is finalized in the child's home country, finalizing it again in the U.S. reinforces the documentation of that adoption.

Until now, that process differed from county to county, with some counties requiring families to hire a lawyer, and others simply asking for paper work to be filed. But the new law will streamline that process and standardize it across the state.

Lower Hudson Valley Ladybug Picnic

Chinese-adoptees event to be held in Congers
For Pamela Thomas, the Ladybug Picnic began as a way for her daughter Lianna to connect with a few other Rockland families that had adopted children from China.

Now in its 10th year, the event, to take place next month at Congers Memorial Park, gives nearly 100 families "a wonderful opportunity to connect or reconnect," said Thomas, the executive director of the Congers-based Homeland Adoption Services.

"In the beginning, it was just a get-together with a few other families, but it grew," said Thomas. "Year by year, it just gets bigger."


Thomas, who adopted Lianna in 1996, said the value of the picnic and other social gatherings could not be overstated.

"For the children, it's especially important to see other families that look like theirs," she said. "Some of the children were in adjoining cribs in China. They knew each other before they knew their parents."

I have to admit, even though I'm from New York, I had to look up where Congers was.

The picnic is September 9.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Kansas Adoption Story

A full house?
Every time Jeff and Lona Gorman figured their house was full, something told them to make room for one more.

“God gave us a heart for children,” Jeff said. “You have to be able to depend on God. You have to believe that he knows what he’s doing.”

The Gormans recently completed the adoption of their fourth daughter when Lona flew home from China Aug. 9 with Eden in her arms.

NYT Researcher Jailed

Times Researcher Receives 3-Year Prison Term
BEIJING, Friday, Aug. 25 — A Beijing court on Friday morning unexpectedly dismissed a state secrets charge against a researcher for The New York Times but sentenced him to three years in prison on a lesser, unrelated charge of fraud.

The verdict against the researcher, Zhao Yan, 44, spared him a prison sentence of 10 years or longer and also served as a blunt rebuke to the investigation by state security agents. Agents began detaining Mr. Zhao almost two years ago and accused him of leaking state secrets to The Times. He has consistently stated that he is innocent of both charges.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Funeral...or Bachelor Party?

I hope I don't have to resort to this when my time comes:

China acts on funeral strippers
Five people have been detained in China for running striptease send-offs at funerals, state media say.

The once-common events are held to boost the number of mourners, as large crowds are seen as a mark of honour.

But the arrests, in the eastern province of Jiangsu, could signal the end of the rural tradition.

Local officials have since ordered a halt to "obscene performances" and say funeral plans have to be submitted in advance, Xinhua news agency said.

The arrests, in Donghai county, followed striptease acts at a farmer's funeral, the agency said.

Two hundred people were said to have attended the event, which was held on 16 August.

The Beijing News said the event was later revealed by a Chinese TV station. The leaders of five striptease troupes were held, it said, including two involved in the farmer's funeral.

"Striptease used to be a common practice at funerals in Donghai's rural areas to allure viewers," Xinhua agency said.

"Local villagers believe that the more people who attend the funeral, the more the dead person is honoured."

As well as ordering an end to the practice, officials have also said residents can report "funeral misdeeds" on a hotline, earning a reward for information.

Chen Guangcheng Sentenced

Blind China activist sentenced to prison
BEIJING - A blind activist who was arrested after recording complaints of forced abortions was sentenced Thursday to four years and three months in prison on what his supporters say were phony charges, a defense lawyer said.

Chen Guangcheng was convicted of damaging property and "organizing a mob to disturb traffic" after a trial in the eastern province of Shandong, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

Chen's supporters say local officials fabricated the charges against him in retaliation for his activism.

Florida Kindergarteners Learn Chinese

Mill Creek Elementary starts to learn Chinese
Right along with coloring, Mill Creek Elementary School kindergartners are learning Chinese, and they're taking to it fast.

May Huang was hired to teach the Chinese classes. She is a Chinese American. In just weeks, Huang has taught these young students a handful of Chinese words.

"They are like little sponges," Haung said. "I say one thing, I don't necessarily have to teach it to them, and they remember!"

Five-year-old Randy McGill already knew a little Chinese because he visited China when his family adopted a baby girl.

He smiled and said, "That's where I got my baby sister."

Huang and Principal Don Campbell believe they're preparing the students for a global economy where China is fast becoming a major world power. Plus, they believe learning Chinese helps students learn English.

"Chinese is a phonemic language where every character represents a part of sound," Huang said. "It's all monosyllabic. For the kids breaking up the sounds actually reinforces what they're learning in the classroom."

Campbell said Mill Creek is the first elementary school in St. Johns County to teach Chinese. Huang is also teaching it to students in the first and second grades at Mill Creek.

As for Randy, he said he'll eventually talk Chinese to his adopted sister. With as much certainty as a five-year-old can muster, he added "but I'll have to wait until I'm older to teach her."

For now, he'll work on the kindergarten basics with Huang.

Kentucky Adoption Story

Adoption a lesson in baby steps for family
MELBOURNE -- It's taken more than a month for the Chaney family to help their adopted Chinese daughter find her footing in America.

The Melbourne family returned from China on June 17 with then 14-month-old Aowyn BaFuan Chaney, who they've since taught to walk on her own.

"We're just giving her a lot of love and attention, and working one-on-one with her," said Carol Chaney...

Four years ago, Carol and Mike Chaney heard a missionary describe the affects of China's One Child Policy at their church, Faith Fellowship Church in Melbourne. Mike Chaney is pastor of the church.

Ambitious Goal

China Pledges to Use Prosperity to Promote World Peace
BEIJING — China's leaders have issued a pledge to use the country's growing prosperity to promote global peace, state media said Thursday, amid unease abroad at Beijing's mounting political and military strength.

Ending a three-day conference on foreign policy, President Hu Jintao and other leaders also issued instructions to spread Chinese culture abroad and promote foreign understanding of China, the China Daily and other newspapers reported.

Foreign policy goals set at the meeting said "the country should use its economic growth to promote global peace, which conforms to the fundamental interests of the Chinese people and the world," according to the China Daily.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

NPR: China's Untapped Market

Newsflash: There are a lot of people in China. And they want to buy stuff.

Marketing to Millions: China's Changing Tastes

Texas Family Returns to China

Happy homecoming
Ivy Jo Avants says that when she and her new friends stepped off a plane recently for their first return to China, they joked with each other that they now know what it's like to be a movie star.

The 10-year-old was born in China and adopted at 81/2 months in 1996 by San Angelo couple JoAnn and Pete Avants. At the Beijing airport, Ivy Jo, her adoptive mother and several other families with children adopted from China were greeted with a banner and bouquets of flowers...

Ivy says she feels as if she had a connection to the village and understands the country and her roots.

''Now, I'm not always, 'Hey mom, why am I, like, different?' and that stuff,'' Ivy Jo said. ''I've changed by knowing where I'm from now. I know it a lot better.''

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Church Holds Potluck for Chinese Orphan

South Plainfield couple helping Chinese orphan
Her name is Mei Mei, which in Chinese means Plum Blossom. She is four months old and lives in a Chinese orphange. She was born with a cleft lip and a cleft palate.

To help raise funds for her corrective surgery, members and friends of the Willow Grove Presbyterian Church will have a Chinese potluck dinner and program 6 to 9 p.m. Sept. 8 at the Scotch Plains church.

The church came to know Mei Mei through a 12-year-old member of the church, Amylin DiDario, who was adopted from the same orphanage in China that Mei Mei is in.

Amylin's parents, Paul and Linda DiDario of South Plainfield, adopted Amylin when she was 8 1/2 months old through an adoption agency in Morristown.

Twins Reunited

Twin girls were separated at birth, united by chance
CHICAGO - The Funk family of west suburban Lyons, Ill., went to China two years ago to adopt a baby girl who had been abandoned on a sidewalk by a textile factory. They named her Mia.

Last year, the Ramirezes of suburban Miami went to China to adopt a girl who had been abandoned on the same spot a week later. As it happened, they also named her Mia.

This May, Diana Ramirez wrote about her daughter's upcoming birthday on an Internet site for parents who had adopted from the orphanage in Yangzhou.

Holly Funk saw it and wrote back, "Diana, I have a Mia as well and she is almost 3."

A flurry of breathless e-mails followed. Then DNA testing provided evidence of what the families had quickly come to suspect: The girls were fraternal twins, separated hours after their birth.

Friday, the girls were reunited, when Diana and Mia Ramirez flew to O'Hare International Airport.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Repression of "Unregistered" Chinese Churches Continues Apace

China Adds Restrictions in Effort to Shake the Faith of Independent Congregations
TUANQIANBU, China, Aug. 13 — The rusty parked bicycles clogging the little lane attested to a strong turnout, as did the sound of voices, which resonated with hymns throughout the hamlet. Despite the 100-degree heat, there was a crowd at the little Protestant church this Sunday.

But there was also a hint of trouble, as some foreigners arrived unannounced at the back of the dilapidated building. “Please, I beg you to leave here,” a woman called out as she approached them from the front. “We have already had a lot of difficulties. Go now.”

Two weeks earlier, as many as 500 police officers surrounded the congregants as they were closing in on their long-held dream of completing construction of a new church nearby. The 3,000 or so people were driven away from the site, and those who argued or resisted in any way were arrested and, according to their lawyer, beaten. Then the church, with all but the roof in place, was demolished.

Growing Problem?

Is China's one child policy responsible for a generation of overweight kids?

China warned over rising obesity
People in China are becoming overweight at an alarming rate, a Chinese medical professor has said.

Professor Wu Yangfeng said that in the 15 years between 1985 and 2000, the number of overweight and obese children increased 28-fold.

He made his comments in a special China edition of the British Medical Journal.

The edition also looks at the impact of China's one child policy, the increase in chronic disease caused by smoking and lessons learned from Sars.

Pennsylvania Adoption Story

You don't hear about very many adoptions fro Taiwan. Here's one:

Teen adopted as American couple's ninth child
An American couple adopted a Taiwanese girl in the southern city of Jiayi on Thursday, making her their ninth child.

William Adams, an emergency room surgeon at a hospital in Pennsylvania, and his wife Betty adopted 11-year-old Fan Ya-hui at a ceremony held at a Catholic church under the witness of Liao Su-hui, the wife of the Jiayi county magistrate, officials from the Jiayi county government in charge of social affairs, and church workers.

At the ceremony, Adams said he and his wife have four children of their own, four adopted children, and that Ya-hui will be their fifth adopted child. The four other adopted children include two sons and one daughter from China, aged four, five and six, respectively, and one son from South Korea, who is three years old.

Adams said there are no cultural problems at his home with so many kids with different ethnic backgrounds around.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Florida Adoption Story

Family marks adoption day
For most families, July 29 is not a particularly remarkable day. Anniversaries and birthdays aside, it isn't necessarily a call for celebration anywhere in the world, except in our family, where it marks the end of one miraculous journey and the beginning of another.

July 29, 2002, is our “Gotcha Day” - the day a tiny, frightened 14-month-old baby girl was placed in my arms as we stood in the hallway of a hotel in Fouzhou, China. Her name, we had been told, was Xiao Bao, which means “Little Treasure.” It was given to her by the orphanage worker who discovered her lying swaddled in a blanket on a chilly October morning outside the gates of the Gutian Welfare Institute. To my husband, John, and me, she was a gift from God, so we decided that thenceforth she would be called Grace Xiaobao Kurowski. OK, so it's not an easy name for a little kid, but we like to think it's an accurate reflection of who she really is.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Pang Qingjian: Foster Grandpa

Janitor saves six abandoned babies in ten years
Pang Qingjian, 68, saved six abandoned babies at the Qinglong Temple in the past 10 years. He adopted three of them and asked others to care for the other three, reported.

Pang first adopted a newborn baby girl, who was wrapped up in toilet paper and abandoned near the ticket office of the temple ten years ago.

The two other girls were picked up in 1997 and 2000 respectively near the temple. "The third child was the most miserable," Pang said. "Someone told me there was a baby abandoned in the dust heap. I rushed there to find the baby still alive and crying."

"The baby I picked up in 2000 was a boy, well-dressed as if his parents had abandoned him after dressing him up," Pang told Xinhua. He said he sent another abandoned baby to the local police station this March.

China's Katrina

China typhoon death toll rises
The death toll from the strongest typhoon to hit China in half a century has reached 319 and could rise further, Xinhua news agency said on Wednesday.

Much of southern China has been battered by a series of typhoons and tropical storms this year that have now killed about 1,300 people.
Many are complaining the government didn't give adequate warning.

Girl Scout Organizes Cultural Immersion Camp

China on the Hudson
When you're surrounded by parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, discovering your cultural heritage is a given.

But what if you are adopted from a country halfway around the world, a country with traditions far different from those of your new parents? How do you learn who you really are?

That's the problem that inspired Poughkeepsie Girl Scout Crystal Yu to undertake a Chinese Cultural Immersion Camp as her Gold Award project.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Article on the Chapmans

The Steven Curtis Chapman family supports adoption
Christian recording artist Steven Curtis Chapman rehearses at his home in Franklin, Tenn. (pop. 41,842), with a local children's choir for an upcoming tour.

"Listen to your heart,” the children sing. "You will hear a song.”

It was indeed a song in the heart of Chapman's oldest daughter, Emily, that inspired Steven, 42, and wife Mary Beth, 41, to adopt three daughters from China—Shaohannah, 6, Stevey Joy, 3, and Maria Sue, 2—and to start a foundation to help other families adopt. Eight years ago, Emily, then 11, took a mission trip to Haiti and was moved by the plight of the many orphans she saw there.

Children of China Pediatrics Foundation

I'm putting up the entire atricle because I think it's such a terrific story. These people do incredible work. You can learn more here:

Children of China Pediatrics Foundation

One week, dozens of operations
Last spring, Dr. David P. Roye Jr. performed 28 operations in five days.

This may sound like a record number of surgeries, but it is not unusual for the dedicated medical professionals who volunteer for Children of China Pediatrics Foundation.

Roye is a professor of clinical pediatric orthopedic surgery at Columbia University and a Pleasantville resident who has been traveling overseas to do charitable medical work since 1983. His travels have brought him to Africa, Eastern Europe, and China. Roye is a true veteran of the foundation, having been on every mission so far, and recently serving as Medical Director for the missions. His latest Chinese excursion in May 2006 brought him to Nanjing, just south of Shanghai, where he worked 13-hour days performing surgery on orphans.

Since its beginnings in 1998, the U.S.-based foundation has sent eight missions to China. Each mission lasts five to seven days. More than 250 procedures have been performed on Chinese orphans with serious medical problems, mostly physical deformities. The operations increase the children's chances for adoption and give them a better quality of life. The missions also allow Chinese and American doctors to exchange knowledge.

Roye's team of 28 included Dr. Philip LaRussa of Larchmont and Dr. Katherine Biagas of Scarsdale.

China possesses great medical technology but the average citizen often struggles to pay for the benefits.

"One of the problems is that China has no real insurance," says Roye. "People have to pay cash for even the simplest surgeries, which can cost a year's salary. The lack of infrastructure makes it hard to get basic medical care."

The American surgeons treat diseases like polio and fix clubfoot, cleft lip, cleft palate and congenital hand defects. For extreme cases, the foundation sends patients to the U.S., where they are adopted by a American family before undergoing surgery in an American hospital.

The surgeries can help assimilate a child who has been made an outcast due to physical defects.

Roye describes one particularly difficult surgery on a memorable patient, a young girl.

"She had so much bowing of her legs due to rickets, and was absolutely brilliant. She had taught herself some English and all of the infants could only be comforted by her. During the operation to straighten her femurs, there was an electrical power outage, and we had to hand-ventilate and use flashlights to see what we were doing," he says. "I had the opportunity to see her the following year and she was absolutely fabulous — for me it was totally rewarding."

LaRussa, a professor of clinical pediatrics at Columbia University, is equally enthusiastic.

"The kids from the orphanages are very well-behaved and happy for the attention and care that they are getting," he says. "It's hard to leave without feeling you should take some home with you."

La Russa fulfilled another part of the foundation's mission — exchanging medical knowledge with Chinese doctors and medical students. He delivered a lecture on HIV.

"Unlike most Westchester kids, these orphans have no options," says Roye. "Treating a group of people with so much need makes you feel so good. I regard the experience as totally selfish. It allows me to come back, work harder, and be more passionate about my profession."


China 'bans primetime Simpsons'
The ruling Communist Party is said to be worried about the effects of foreign culture on Chinese children.

Foreign cartoons will not be screened on TV between 1700 and 2000 from 1 September, state media claimed.

Regulators have already announced they intend to ban programmes mixing animation and live characters.

This could affect shows such as the BBC's Teletubbies.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Culture Camp: Indianapolis

Camp joins kids, Chinese culture
Adopted in China, Elizabeth Johnson lives happily with her family in Carmel. But she still welcomes the chance to learn about her former homeland.

That's why the 9-year-old fourth-grader at Forest Dale Elementary in Carmel attended a Chinese culture camp this summer at The International School of Indiana in Indianapolis.

"I know how to speak more (Chinese now)," said Elizabeth.

"I want to learn more about China when I get older because I've heard it's nice there."

Members of Families with Children from China Indiana and the Indianapolis Chinese Community Center Inc. started the camp last year, both for adopted children like Elizabeth and children of local Chinese families.

Traverse City Reunion

Special reunion brings together the 'Guo Sisters'
Six girls were adopted from a Chinese orphanage

Lia Williams belongs to an exclusive club, its six members' lives intertwined by luck and kept together by love.

The six girls were babies when their parents adopted them at the same time from the same Chinese orphanage. Their new families took them to a new country.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Squeaky Shoes: ARRGHH!

This article appeared today in the Louisville Courier-Journal today. Written by Joseph Gerth, himself the father to a Chinese daughter, it extols the virtues of "squeaky shoes", the children's footwear that's popular in the Chinese adoption community. The idea is that every time the child steps, air is forced through a membrane that produces a squeaking sound.

Sounds cute you say? Try repeating it 100,000 times and see how cute you think it is! Naturally, we had to buy Ally a few pairs of these shoes, thinking how adorable it will be when we learned to walk, squeaking her way about the house.

Well, not so much. It didn't take long to realize how irritating the noise was repeated hundreds of times in a row. And forget about going out in public with these things. With the exception of the playground, there are very few places where "squeaky shoes" are socially acceptable.

I would say the only people who think these shoes are cute are the kids themselves. Mr. Gerth may have a point in that they might encourage children to walk. Trouble is, they also encourage parents to pull their hair out.

If you're thinking of getting these for your little one, go ahead and get one pair, for the novelty if for nothing else. But don't expect you're going to want your kid wearing these until they're in kindergarten. We actually bought three pair for Ally and ended up taking the "squeakers" out when she learned to walk.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Typhoon Saomai

Typhoon kills 104 in China; 190 missing
The most powerful typhoon to hit China in a half century killed 104 people and left at least 190 missing Friday after it blacked out cities and smashed more than 50,000 houses in the southeast part of the country.

More than 1.6 million people were evacuated from the path of Typhoon Saomai before it struck late Thursday with winds gusting up to 170 mph, the official Xinhua News Agency said...

Hardest-hit was Wenzhou, a coastal city where at least 81 people were killed and 11 were missing, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Culture Camp

Bringing Home Cultures They Left Behind
One day last week, one group learned an Indian dance while another practiced taekwondo stances. Nearby, Minda Swett, 12, of Manassas was one of nearly a dozen busy at an arts and crafts table, carefully cutting and gluing bits and pieces to form paper dragons.

"It's my sixth year," Swett said. "I like all the stuff, like arts and crafts and learning about adoption. I like taekwondo. I feel like a normal kid," she said with a smile.

Swett, born in China's Xinjiang province, was at Culture Camp, where each summer children come to learn about the countries of their birth.

The kids were adopted from countries in East Asia and Eastern Europe. For three days they bond over arts and crafts, music and dance, even the food and athletic traditions of their native lands.

...and PROUD of it!

I am nerdier than 74% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Anarchy in China?

Punks and Posers in China
A Muted Rebel Yell Emerges in Nation Where Dissent Is Suppressed, Fads Rule

Shortly after midnight, in a smoky bar in a western Beijing neighborhood, a lanky 33-year-old in blue jeans and thick, black-rimmed glasses took the stage, looking every bit like an engineering student...

For Chinese punks today, it might take screaming to be heard. They make up a small slice of the music industry here, and they play to a largely underground scene. But their struggle to gain attention provides a glimpse of what it's like to be a rebel in a country that suppresses dissent and individuality, and an artist in a culture that worships money and Western fads.

Mass Murder in China

In my semi-daily perusal of Chinese news items, I came across this story about two cases of mass murder. The first involes a man who, for reasons unknown, stabbed ten members of his family to death before taking his own life. The second, a woman charged with killing seven people (including members of her own family) is notable for this bit of information:
Zhang fatally poisoned her two-year-old daughter in 1992 because her husband wanted a son, the paper quoted officials as saying. She had another baby girl in 1993 and killed her a year after, the [Shanghai Daily] said.
[My emphasis]

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Why Choose International Adoption?

More couples looking overseas for adoption
Globe-trotting celebrities like Angelina Jolie are shining a spotlight on international adoption, helping to increase awareness of a practice that hasn't received this much attention since children were airlifted to safety at the end of the Vietnam War.

Many local parents who have adopted a child from another country said they had a number of reasons for doing so, including humanitarian ones. However, the biggest motivation for many was the fear that an American birth mother would change her mind...

Others said they were attracted to the lower cost of international adoptions. Some wanted to avoid the long wait to adopt a baby in this country. And sometimes, health history prevented them from adopting an American child.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Reunion in Dodge City

Six adopted Chinese girls reunite during Dodge City Days
A bit of China came to Dodge City Days this weekend.

Local residents Craig and Janie Mock adopted a 1-year-old Chinese girl in 1997. The adoption agency put the Mocks in a group with eight other families who traveled to China to adopt a girl, and each family adopted a 1-year-old Chinese girl.

"When we were over there, we spent two weeks in China getting the visas, the papers and everything else," Janie Mock said. "We really got close during those two weeks, so we decided we wanted the girls to keep in contact with each other."

A year after the families returned to the States, the group started getting together every other year, and now it's the Mocks turn to host the reunion. Six families from New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Florida and Texas came to the Mocks home Thursday and will stay until Sunday.

Mock said the girls attended the rodeo Friday night decked out in cowboy hats and T-shirts. She, her husband and their 12-year-old son, Brett, take their adopted daughter, Macy, to the rodeo every year.

Mock said Macy loves the rodeo and looks forward to it every year.

Helping Others Through the Process

Dreams come true for adoptive parents
Adoption has opened many new doors for Allan and Pam Ogburn of Camden.

The couple adopted a Chinese girl, Brianna, 5, in March 2002 after being told by doctors that they were unable to have children.

Turns out they decided to get even more involved with international adoption:

Because the Ogburns love to tell their story of adopting Brianna and now the process of adopting a second child, they decided to become regional officers for the Great Wall headquarters. Becoming regional officers will allow them to help other couples in the Midlands and along the South Carolina coast with the Chinese adoption process. They will hold seminars to educate people on the process with basic questions such as getting a birth certificate and finger printing for the child's Visa to get back into the United States.

Good for them. Some of the best assistance comes from those who have gone through it all before.

Anger Management?

Bar in China allows stressed out customers to beat up staff
A new bar in eastern China is offering customers an unusual outlet for anger -- by allowing them to use the staff as punching bags, state media said Monday.

In addition to getting a drink, customers at the "Rising Sun Anger Release Bar" in Nanjing city are able to pay money to beat up staff, smash glasses, shout and scream, the China Daily said...

The bar employs 20 well-built men in their 20s and 30s who have agreed to be hit. Customers can specify how they want the men to appear -- they can even be dressed up as women, the China Daily said.
Here's the interesting part:
[M]ost customers are women...

California Adoption Story

Yearning for family transcends borders
"I just never thought that I wouldn't produce a baby. I was 39. We had gone through a year of infertility treatments," says Susan Bailey, an Oakland stay-at-home mom. "(We) wanted a family. We had to get over the fact that it wouldn't be the old-fashioned way."

Domestic adoption follows the laws of supply and demand. In the United States there simply are not enough babies to fulfill the dreams of would-be adoptive parents. Costs can soar. Some families end up paying not only pre-natal and hospital expenses for the birth mother, but apartment rent, car and college tuition. And the competition is fierce. Birth mothers pick and choose from among hundreds of potential parents.

After a while, says Bailey, the rejection gets to you. Susan and her husband, Gary, were told they were too old for an infant. They did not have a dog. They lived too far from grandparents. And they were "too religious."

"My husband's an Episcopalian priest. You can't hide that," Susan says. "(One mother) chose a family that had a horse. We said, 'This is totally nuts. We need to find a better way to find our family."

They turned to international adoption, adopting their daughter, Beilin, just after Easter in 1998 and their son, PengPeng, in 2003 just before Christmas.

Back to Reality

We had a great weekend in St. Michaels. Spent Saturday afternoon walking around the quaint downtown area, browsing in the shops and working up out appetite. Dinner was at 208 Talbot , a place we had spotted on our last visit but didn't get a chance to try. It was strange not having to ask for a booster seat but other than that it was "just like old times" when nice dinners out by ourselves didn't require such planning. We stayed at the Harbour Inn, where I was surprised to find out that my very resourseful wife had found an "internet special" and we got to stay in a super fantastic room for about half the price it normally costs. Thanks, sweetie! Sunday we cruised up and down the Miles River before heading back to pick up Ally from our friends' house. Overall, a very nice time. I recommend hanging one of those "Do Not Disturb" signs outside your door every once in a while. Maybe we should have brought that one home...

Friday, August 04, 2006

"Are they real?"

That was the first thing Ally asked when she saw the flowers.

"Yes they are, sweetie. They're for your mom, but you can have one", I said. The flowers were her cue to morph into full princess mode. Delightful.

Tomorrow's our anniversary (#11) and we'll be away from Ally overnight for the first time as we spend the night in St. Michaels on Maryland's eastern shore. The 100 degree heat and my poison ivy have both subsided so it should make for a spelendid weekend. Be well.

"Anybody see my towel?"

This picture was taken at a beach in the northern Chinese resort of Quindao, where 200,000 people flocked to get relief from the soaring heat.

Story here.

New Website Caters to Chinese Babies

Site fills an itty-bitty niche
Last December, Cecilia Sayre went to a shower for a single mom who had recently adopted a child from China.

Though she wanted to find a gift that held personal meaning and cultural relevance, she was stymied by the lack of selection.

"Though Chinese pajamas are gorgeous, a person only wants so many," she said.

What really inspired her, though, was love.

"I couldn't help thinking how fortunate these babies are to have families who want and love them," she recalls. "But on the other hand, it's really these adoptive families who are so truly blessed."

So Sayre, a 40-year-old South Tampa mother of three, and a former lawyer for Carlton Fields and Marriott Hotels, took on the cause.

She began combing the Internet for everything from crib bedding to artwork to diaper bags to teeny tiny T-shirts. Her Web site, will offer a range of nursery, clothing, stationery and gift items for adopted Chinese children assimilating to American culture.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Ohio Adoption Story

You’ve come a long way baby: Locals adopt orphan girl from China
She can say “Mama” and “Dada” with ease and grins when the folks make funny faces and glide her through the air. She is everything Mom and Dad could ever hope for.

Kaeli Qin Huff celebrated her first birthday last week as a new member of a family who waited a long time to hold her.

She started out in life at an orphanage in China, she is now a new Irontonian, getting to know a new land and a bunch of excited family and friends.

Chinese Home Churches Growing

Christian Home Churches Gaining in China
BEIJING--Like she does each Sunday morning, Yao Liu takes a seat among the 30 others crammed in a tiny apartment in northwest Beijing to pray. Sunday services are held in the 500-square-foot, two-room flat where worshippers sit in cramped rows on folding stools. Most are current or former students of Peking University, known as the birthplace of democracy and science in China.

Like Liu, 33, there are an estimated 80 to 100 million Christian church-goers in China, according to Vatican Radio, which means they outnumber the Chinese Communist Party's 70 million members.


Many attend the home churches because of their convenience. There are not enough government-recognized churches for all those who wish to worship. Others go because they do not like the state-sanctioned churches; they argue that Jesus is the only true leader of church, not the government.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Selective Abortions in China

From the mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party. Take it for what its worth. To its credit, the SCPFP has launched a "Care For Girls" program, evidence of which I noticed when I traveled to our daughter's orphanage in ShangGao. There were billboards along the road that said something to the effect of "Girls are just as good as boys", something like that.

China to keep on with fight against selective abortions
China has not relaxed its fight against sex selection abortions even though its newly revised Criminal Law does not criminalize the practice, say family planning officials.

"The decision to not criminalize sex selection abortions does not mean any policy relaxation," said an official with the State Commission for Population and Family Planning (SCPFP) who declined to be named.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

In other news...

My wife just brought in the mail, which contained a happy-gram from USCIS: Our Notice of Favorable Determination for our next adoption. Took three and a half months, a little less than the four months it took last time.

So, another important piece of the dossier process is complete. I'll let you know when we're DTC for Ally's mei mei (little sister).

Barry & Me

Last Saturday, I decided to clear the back yard of some ivy that had ventured over from my neighbor's side of the property line. So I hacked and pulled and gathered all the refuse into a lawn bag for garbage pick up. On Sunday, I noticed some red blotches and welts forming on my arms.

Yup. Poison Ivy. Or poison something-or-other, I don't know. Was I wearing gloves and long sleeves? It's 100 degrees here, what do you think? Anyway, it's all over my arms, face and neck and it didn't look like it was going away any time soon. On Monday I was popping Benadryl like Tic-Tacs, to no avail. Calamine lotion only gives relief for about ten minutes. Two sleepless nights convinced me to call my doctor today. He was out of town, so his office referred me to another doctor who prescribed Prednisone. A steroid.

This is also the first time in my life I've ever been prescribed drugs. Ever. My wife finds it hard to believe that anyone who's been alive for 42 years has never taken prescription drugs. Yes, I was the last hold out.

So now I'm taking 'roids. I haven't noticed any increase in muscle mass, so I think Barry Bonds's home run record is safe for now. But if you detect an edge to some of my posts in the next few days, go ahead and assume 'roid rage.