Saturday, September 30, 2006

Learning Chinese: Cultural Anchor or Business Edge?

I'm all in favor of children learning another language, especially if it's tied to their culture. However, I wonder about parents who push their kids to learn Chinese (a very difficult language to master) because they think it will be a "very important language in 20 years." Don't they know the same thing was said of Japanese 20 years ago when they were going to be the world's economic powerhouse?

Parents Take Language Class Into Their Own Hands
“I tell people that we’re going to Chinese school, and they say, ‘Why Chinese?’ ” said Carlota Beacham, 30, a dentist born and raised in Brazil who now lives in Short Hills, N.J., and spends nearly $12,000 a year to send her sons, Thomas, 4, and James, 1, to the Chinese preschool. “It sounds silly to people, but it makes sense to me because I believe Chinese will be a very important language in 20 years.”


Similarly, Sharon Huang, 45, a former marketing executive for Weight Watchers and Nabisco, founded Bilingual Buds last year for her 2-year-old twins, Warren and Ethan, because she could not find a Chinese preschool locally like the ones she had seen when she lived in the San Francisco Bay Area. What started with 10 children in her home quickly grew to 70 students and 7 teachers, in a rented space in the church.


In Riverside, Conn., about two dozen parents organized a Chinese-language school in 2002 after becoming dissatisfied with the traditional teaching methods at a local school for Chinese-Americans. The Chinese Language School of Connecticut now has 220 students in its Sunday classes, nearly a third of them under 5.

Susan Serven, 42, one of the school’s founders, said the parents had developed an interactive curriculum, using puppets and playing games like Twister and Jeopardy in Mandarin. Ms. Serven, who adopted two girls from China, said that many of the families are mixed racially and ethnically, and see the language as not only an investment in the future but also a way to preserve their children’s heritage.

Discovery Atlas: China Revealed

The Discovery Channel is broadcasting the first of 20 planned documentaries in their "Atlas" series. The first is "China Revealed" and will be shown tomorrow night, October 1, at 9 PM Eastern and Pacific time. It will be rebroadcast on Sunday, October 8 at 7 PM ET/PT.

Here is some information about the show.

Here is a New York Times review.

Everyone Vacationing at Once: Bad Idea

China to rethink forced holiday plans
BEIJING (AFP) - China may overhaul a vacation scheme which forces workers across the country to take their three weeks of paid holiday at the same time.

The system of "Golden Weeks" was introduced in 1999 in an effort to boost domestic consumption and tourism revenue.

But it has also spawned major frustrations with overcrowded tourist sites, scalpers charging exorbitant prices for rail tickets and booked-out hotels.

"We will begin research in the near future on how to arrange public holidays," the China Daily quoted Wang Zhifa, vice director of the National Tourism Administration, as saying ahead of next week's seven-day break for National Day.

All Chinese workers, except for those assuring essential services, are compelled to take the specified three weeks off and are not allowed to choose to take their vacations at different times.

The first week comes at the Lunar New Year or Spring Festival, which falls in January or February, the second week centres on Labour Day on May 1 and the third begins on October 1, China's National Day.

"The quality of people's travelling experience has been negatively influenced during the past six years due to the contradictions between consumer demands and service capacity," Wang said.

California Adoption Story

Waiting for a new addition
The long wait, which began in June, still has about nine months to go. That's when a new baby girl is scheduled to arrive in the Heinzen household.

Todd and Keely Heinzen of Roseville, when given approval by the Chinese government, will fly over to China and return with a new member of their family - a baby girl.

The Roseville couple has three sons, Kallen, 7, Trayton, 4 and Deklan, 2, but admits a deep desire for another child.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Chinese Instructors Sought for DC Schools

Teachers From China Sought
D.C. school officials signed an agreement this week with education officials in China to hire several teachers to instruct students in the Chinese language and culture.

Sally Schwartz, the school system's director of international programs, said officials plan to offer Chinese at six schools: Eaton Elementary, Deal Junior High and Wilson Senior High in Northwest Washington and Burrville Elementary, Kelly Miller Middle School and Woodson Senior High in Northeast.

The system is seeking teachers from China because it has been unable to find qualified instructors through other channels.

"The demand and interest in Chinese is growing in the United States," Schwartz said.

I'll say it is. There are Chinese language classes offered in public schools in our county.

"A Thousand Miles of Dreams: The Journeys of Two Chinese Sisters"

Something to read while you're waiting for that referral:

Trailblazing women: a grandmother and great-aunt
Reading Sasha Su-Ling Welland's book about her remarkable forbears is like unearthing a long-hidden treasure.

In "A Thousand Miles of Dreams: The Journeys of Two Chinese Sisters" (Rowman & Littlefield, 368 pp., $24.95), Welland writes linked accounts of her grandmother, Amy Ling, who became a medical doctor, settling in the American Midwest, and her grandmother's sister, Ling Shuhua, a writer of renown who consorted with England's Bloomsbury set.

The author, a lecturer at the University of Washington, interviewed her grandmother extensively, and pieced together the life of her great aunt (whom she never met) through a trove of collected writings and the works of others.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

It's Out of Our Hands Now

All right, our dossier finally made it to our agency’s headquarters, complete and error-free (ha!) this past Tuesday. They caught one more mistake last Friday that necessitated another trip to Richmond, both to pick up a new employment verification letter (the original had my wife’s hourly pay, not her annual salary), and head down the street to the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office for another state seal. They’re getting to know me pretty well there. I then overnighted it to Grand Rapids, they received it Tuesday morning and promptly sent it out for authentication. Most of the documents will end up back here at the DC Embassy, however my birth certificate is probably going to the New York Consulate and our marriage license to the Houston Consulate.

Last time, we sent our dossier to the agency on April 3, 2003 and we were DTC on April 21, eighteen days later. If that’s the case this time, we expect to be DTC around October 16 (a Monday). We’re already on the October 2006 DTC Yahoo group, so we’re hoping that date holds. Would a late October log in date be too much to hope for? Stay tuned…

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

More College Students Doing Good

Students travel to Chinese orphanage through China Care Brown
While some Brown students flocked to New York and other American cities over the summer, eight members of China Care Brown traveled to an orphanage in Weifang, China, where they worked long hours changing diapers, playing with and caring for babies.

The Brown chapter of China Care is part of a larger organization founded by Matt Dalio, a recent graduate of Harvard University, who created the group to help orphans in China achieve a better standard of living. The organization works to improve conditions in Chinese orphanages and facilitate the adoption of Chinese orphans by American families.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Mid-Autumn Festival at Notre Dame

Party turns into cultural classroom at Notre Dame
Chinese students at ND teach about their country

SOUTH BEND -- Think of the Mid-Autumn Festival as a Chinese Thanksgiving."

It's a traditional Chinese ceremony," graduate student Maria Su said, explaining the traditions behind the festival, celebrated Sunday on the University of Notre Dame campus. "It means harmony in your life."

It also means families coming together to eat traditional foods, especially moon cakes, sweet cakes that were once used, according to Chinese legend, to send secret messages written on papers hidden inside the treats.

The festival falls during the eighth lunar month, when the moon is at its fullest.

Chinese students attending Notre Dame have celebrated the festival for years, but this year's Notre Dame Chinese Friendship Association president, Yong Li, said the group wanted to do more than just offer food at the event.

"China is a country of long history," Li said. "There are a lot of stories to be heard."

Li and other association members put up posters around the LaFortune Ballroom with Chinese legends written in Chinese characters and translated into English. Li, a third-year graduate student, said he sees many Americans have a growing interest in China and wanted to offer a chance to explain more about his country's history.

A majority of the 300 or so people at the party were Chinese, but Li made sure other people interested in Chinese culture, like American families who adopted children from China, also attended the event.

The celebration is also good for Americans of Chinese heritage, Notre Dame sophomore Kan Zhang said.

"We have a lot of American-born Chinese here who don't know much about their culture," Zhang said.

Bay Area Adoptees Return From China

Journey Of Personal Discovery
Since the 1990's some 50,000 orphaned girls and boys have been adopted by American parents. Bay Area Adoption Services out of Mountain View was among the earliest agencies to find homes for many of theses children right here in the Bay Area.

Play a game of cards in the Hanschen house and what you'll discover is the kind of loving playfulness that mothers' relish. It's a connection this family is about to deepen with a trip to another continent and another life for two young girls.

Brenda Hanschen, Mother: "We always tell the girls they were loved, that their parents wanted them to be found so that they would be happy and find a home."

Home is Orinda, but both 10-year-old Quinn and eleven-year-old Chloe were born in China, strangers until Brenda Hanschen and her husband Peter turned them into sisters. They adopted three-and-a-half month-old Chloe from an orphanage in Changsha; two and-a-half-years-later Quinn from Chengdu.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Texas A&M 45, La. Tech 14

The Aggies are 4-0 so far this season. So why am I not impressed? Because they haven't beaten anyone of consequence, including last night's victory over Louisiana Tech. In the only game I've actually watched, they struggled against Army in what was, for all intents and purposes, a home game in San Antonio. And their victory over Division 1-AA Citadel doesn't count toward their bowl-eligibility. Now they're heading into what figures to be a rough Big 12 schedule that may not produce many wins. We'll see.

South Carolina Adoption Story

The article below covers a range of IA issues, not just those pertaining to China:

Finding Family: The call to adopt breaks barriers
A 6-year-old girl - all sugar, spice and spunk - jumps up onto a bench and pushes wisps of black hair from her sweaty, smooth, cinnamon-colored face.

Her name is Tally Perry, and she is a daughter of Melinda Perry, whose flock consists of six other children.

For now, anyway.

Come October, Perry, 49, will become a mother again when she goes to Foshan City, China, to get Tabitha, a 19-month-old toddler who has big, luminous eyes and sports a mohawk. And Tally, who was adopted from Wuhan, China, in January 2002 will be there when her parents get the newest addition to their family.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Chinese Adoptees Reunited in Georgia

Teen adoptees have unlikely reunion
They're too young to remember each other, but the three little girls were raised in the same room of the same orphanage in Shanghai, China.

In the mid-1990s, three American families adopted the girls, and since then, they've lived all over the world — but never in the same place.

Destiny, it seems, has changed that.

Through what their families call amazing coincidence, the girls have moved — or will soon move — to east Cobb County, and live within a few miles of each other.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Affluence, One-Child Policy Putting Pressure on Chinese Kids

Children of Rich Learn Class, Minus the Struggle
SHANGHAI, Sept. 21 — Every weekday this summer, Rose Lei drove her daughter, Angelina, 5, to a golf complex at the edge of central Shanghai for a two-hour, $200 individual lesson with a teaching pro from Scotland.

But now that the school year has started, little Angelina will have to cut back on the golf, limiting herself to weekend sessions at a local driving range. In addition to her demanding school schedule, she will be attending private classes at FasTracKids, an after-school academy for children as young as 4 that bills itself as a junior M.B.A. program.

Ms. Lei, 35, a former information technology expert and the wife of a prosperous newspaper advertising executive, is part of a new generation of affluent parents here who are planning ways to cement their children’s place in a fast-emerging elite...

To some extent, the trend is driven by a collision of rising affluence and China’s one-child policy, which forces parents to focus all their energy and resources on a single child. But experts say there is more at work, that it reflects fear of a new kind of rat race, in which the entire society is hustling for advancement.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Want Fries With That?

Sex, Skin, Fireworks, Licked Fingers -- It's a Quarter Pounder Ad in China
SHANGHAI, China -- Beef is luxurious. Beef is healthy. And, yes, beef is sexy.

These are the messages McDonald's Corp. is sending Chinese consumers as it tries to seduce them into eating more hamburgers. One racy billboard ad features a close-up of a women's lips; on another ad on the door of restaurants, a woman runs her hand over a man's flexed biceps. "Flirt with your senses," signs say.

The campaign -- supporting the introduction in China of the Quarter Pounder -- is part of a shift in strategy for McDonald's. The company recently started focusing less on selling menu items created especially to appeal to local Chinese markets and more on pushing traditional American hamburgers.

Author Weaves Adoption Into Her Stories

Novelist imagines for real
Wendy MacGown - lanky, with neatly kept neck-length strawberry blonde hair that blows in light breeze, in a navy blue, knee-length dress and square collar, a fresh-water pearl necklace the lone adornment - appears anything but a novelist. Perhaps a central-casting English teacher, which she is not. Or, perhaps, a technical writer, which she is.

Nothing gives away MacGown's passion - writing novels whose characters experience all the joy and pain, hope and agony life offers...

MacGown and her husband have adopted two girls from China, Andrea, 10, and Ashley, 3, and have an extensive network within the adoptive community.

"I want to establish myself and my books where I have recognition first and then expand beyond that," said MacGown.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

They Are *Bears* After All...

Panda bites man, man bites panda at zoo
BEIJING - A drunken Chinese migrant worker jumped into a panda enclosure at the Beijing Zoo, was bitten by the bear and retaliated by chomping down on the animal's back, state media said Wednesday.

Zhang Xinyan, from the central province of Henan, drank four jugs of beer at a restaurant near the zoo before visiting Gu Gu the panda on Tuesday, the Beijing Morning Post said...

The panda, who was asleep, was startled and bit Zhang, 35, on the right leg, it said. Zhang got angry and kicked the panda, who then bit his other leg. A tussle ensued, the paper said.

"I bit the fellow in the back," Zhang was quoted as saying in the newspaper. "Its skin was quite thick."


The Beijing Youth Daily quoted Zhang as saying that he had seen pandas on television and "they seemed to get along well with people."

"No one ever said they would bite people," Zhang said. "I just wanted to touch it. I was so dizzy from the beer. I don't remember much."

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Dossier Complete

At least that's what our caseworker tells us. We have reached the summit of Mount Paperwork and should be DTGR (Dossier To Grand Rapids) by tomorrow. I drove to Richmond this morning to get the last four state seals and dropped the documents off at the Bethany office in Fairfax on the way back home. Once it gets to the home office in Grand Rapids, then it will take another three weeks to translate/authenticate and then we will be DTC (Dossier To China), a milestone day for adoptive families. Log in with the CCAA is usually two to three weeks after that.

Monday, September 18, 2006

China Has It's Proverbial Finger in the Dyke

News flows like water - even in China
Beijing leaders are looking more like King Canute, the English monarch who ordered the tide to retreat. Their attempts to ban certain types of news seem downright silly to those Chinese who now thrive on global flows of information in a buzzing economy.

The latest official move would further restrict the sale of foreign news within China. It would force financial news agencies to sell their products through the state-run New China News Agency, or Xinhua, allowing the propaganda arm of the Chinese Communist Party to filter what is now a $100 million financial information market in China.

In addition, any news that would endanger China's "security, reputation, and interests" would be banned. With vague terms like those, journalists in China may feel a new chill in their work.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Maintaining Cultural Ties

South Florida parents with Chinese-born children keep heritage alive
Penny Drapkin and her husband were living in New York when they brought their adopted daughter home from China.

In New York, they could take Julie to Chinatown, immerse themselves in the food and the language -- all in a place where their daughter could see faces like hers.

When they moved to Pembroke Pines five years ago, finding Chinese culture proved more difficult, Drapkin said.

Saturday, September 16, 2006


We went to Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, Maryland today for their Wings of Fancy live butterfly show. Ally loved it and it provided some great photo opportunities. Here she is, scarcely aware there is a butterfly near her head:

Some of the better photographs I took:

Texas Churches Support Orphanage in Langfang

Chinese orphanage helps pastors find a common goal
Levi was found in a field, badly burned and on the verge of death.

What happened to that child left crying and alone among cornstalks in China four years ago has helped forge close ties between two Texas churches.

For the sake of Levi, who survived and is now a happy 4-year-old, and thousands of other orphaned and abandoned children in China, Fielder Road Baptist Church in Arlington and Richland Hills Church of Christ in North Richland Hills have set aside doctrinal differences and formed a rare partnership.

Two of Tarrant County's largest churches are supporting Harmony House, a new orphanage for abandoned and special-needs children at Langfang, near Beijing. The orphanage in China is led by John Bentley and his wife, Lisa, the couple who adopted Levi. The couple had formerly worked with the Philip Hayden Foundation, which helped Levi and continues to help many other abandoned children.

Minnesota Couple Raises Support For Chinese Orphanages

Helping an orphan, then an orphanage
Bob and Fay DeBellis' adopted daughter had been close to death, so malnourished her nerves were damaged. Now, the couple wants to give other orphans the care they need.

Fay DeBellis tells her only child, Ling, that they were destined to be mother and daughter. Even before they met, she tells her, a long, red thread — a Chinese symbol of destiny — connected them from southern China to Minnesota.

Since the adoption in 2001, DeBellis and her husband, Bob, have followed that same red thread back to one of the poorest provinces in China to fight for better conditions at the orphanage that was their daughter's home.

The St. Paul couple hopes to begin implementing a project in November that will help preserve an endangered foster-care program and pay for extra caregivers and medical supplies at the facility in the southeast province of Guangxi. Their goal is to raise $50,000 over three years.

Friday, September 15, 2006

New Daily Flight to China Planned

The Transportation Department is going to choose one airline to operate a new non-stop route to China. One of the leading contenders is a United flight from Dulles to Beijing. That interests us because we have miles on United and we live about ten miles from Dulles International Airport. However, a flight to Beijing may not be the best plan, unless it's a stop-over on our trip to our next child's province, as we probably won't tour Beijing again (like we did in 2004) with Ally in tow. Unless someone wants to accompany us. Hint hint.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Typhoon Saomai: How Bad Was It?

Typhoon Toll Much Higher Than China’s Leaders Let On
Clearly, this fishing village and others near the mouth of a bay on China’s southeast coast suffered catastrophic damage when Typhoon Saomai blew through on the afternoon of Aug. 10, a Category 4 storm packing sustained winds of 150 miles per hour. Yet the next day, initial reports listed only 17 people dead and 138 missing in all of Fujian Province.

By noon on Aug. 10, according to news reports distributed nationwide, more than 500,000 people had been evacuated, and five million others had been alerted to the impending danger through short messages sent to cellphone users. The emergency response was trumpeted as a triumph...

[A]n internal report by the official New China News Agency, compiled in the days after the storm and intended just for the authorities, bluntly contradicted the official picture. In succeeding days, the Chinese news media also took an increasingly skeptical view of the official accounts.

After consulting with local fishermen, these publications, among them Chinese Newsweek, concluded that about 900 boats from the immediate area had been lost at sea. Because each fishing boat typically carries a crew of two, they estimated that some 2,000 people had died just in this vicinity, where the storm hit hardest.

During events like these it often seems that the Chinese authorities are at war with the news, or even with the truth itself.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

China's Having a Baby Boom...

...of pandas:

Record Number of Pandas Born in Captivity in China
SHANGHAI, China — The birth of twin pandas at a research center brought the number of the endangered species born in captivity this year in China to a record 25, a news report said Tuesday.

The number of births so far this year is up from at least 19 for the research program in 2005, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Illinois Adoptee Receiving Hearing Help

Read the incredible story of Jia Billadeau:

Children need time to adapt after receiving hearing help

I was especially taken with this part:

The girl is a natural smiler, the kind of kid who holds the hands of people she's just met and hurls her whole body joyfully into her mom and dad after missing them for a few minutes. But until recently, Jia's life has been an "Oliver Twist" story (minus the pickpocketing chorus).

An orphan in China's one-child-per-family culture, the little girl was all set to get a family in May 2004, when Jim and Carol Billadeau of Bourbonnais were given her picture and told she would be theirs.

Chinese officials matched Jia to the Billadeaus and e-mailed them her picture.

"You just hit that enter button, and your child kind of materializes," Jim remembered, comparing the experience to "giving birth. It was neat. It was really cool."

Less than two weeks before the Billadeaus were to leave for China to pick her up, they got a call. Jia had hydrocephalus, fluid built up in cavities inside her brain, according to the Hydrocephalus Association."

They were asking us very sternly not to take her," Jim said. They told the couple "You could just be bringing her home to watch her die."

Would they take another child instead?

They said they would, not wanting to endanger Jia or adopt a child who might immediately die.

Instead, Lucy, now almost 3, came home with them. The bright, highly verbal girl is a little shyer than Jia with strangers but eager to answer her teachers' questions as she accompanies her sister to preschool at St. Joseph.

Still, in the months after adopting Lucy, the Billadeaus couldn't stop thinking about Jia as well. Was she better? Was she with another family? Was she alive?

"I began to inquire and, all of a sudden, 'bam, bam, bam!' Doors were shutting," Carol said. "I really thought she died and they didn't want us to know."

"The director of the orphanage told us maybe we should just let it go," Jim said.

At the same time, Carol connected with a woman in an adoption chat room who had adopted a child from the same orphanage that Jia resided in. Carol sent the woman Jia's picture, hoping it would spark recognition.

Soon after, that woman was sent another picture of the girl from a person in Oregon looking to adopt Jia through another agency. When the Billadeaus found out, they contacted the Oregon agency and, eventually, were given permission to go get Jia.

"It was probably another eight months of waiting," Jim said. "This time we knew what we were waiting for."

Not quite. In November 2005, 10 days before they were to pick up Jia, they found out she was deaf. Did they want to back out?

"We said, 'This time, full speed ahead. We're going to get her,' " Jim said. They picked her up in December.

"They brought her in and, I'm telling you, it was a shock," Carol said. "We were not prepared for deafness. It's a huge thing."

When Jia arrived at her new home, she was missing one cochlea, a part of her inner ear that helps transmit sound, and her other was deformed, Jim said. The family learned some sign language but wanted to get Jia a cochlear implant as a backup so that she could hear at least a little.

The implant attached to her deformed cochlea has performed beyond expectations, Jim said. So has Jia.

Alabama Adoption Story

From China with love...
Since August 24, Kevin Strickland of Russellville has been keeping a unique record of his international adoption trip to China on Blogger, an Internet service that allows users to create a personal diary or "blog" of daily events with words and photographs.

Strickland's blog entries document his arrival in China and the differences between Chinese and American culture.

"The vast majority of the people here are kind and helpful," Strickland wrote in one of his most recent posts. "They are very proud of their past and honest about their shortcomings."

Strickland's blog is titled "Addie's Adventures." "Addie" is Addison Xin Strickland, Kevin and LeAnn Strickland's newly adopted Chinese daughter.

Kevin's blog:

Monday, September 11, 2006

Remembering Jeffrey Mladenik

The Fort Worth Star Telegram has a tribute to the 11 crew and 76 passengers that were aboard American Airlines Flight 11, which crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center five years ago today. Among the stories was this one:
Jeffrey P. Mladenik, 43, Hinsdale, Ill. He was an interim CEO for eLogic, traveling on business. An associate pastor, he often read the Bible aboard the airplane and was in the process of adopting a second daughter from China.
The Mladeniks have a web page here. Jeff's widow, Sue, went through with adopting a second (and a third) daughter from China.

You can also read Jeffrey's New York Times tribute page here.

Update: Sarah's Other Blog is part of the 2996 Project and she has a nice tribute to Jeff Mladenik here.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Face Painting

My second attempt at a Photoshop collage (or is it a montage? What's the difference?), this time with Ally getting the face painting treatment at last week's pig roast. The kids love it.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Panda-monium in Atlanta

Giant panda cub born in Atlanta zoo
Zoo Atlanta announced the birth of a giant panda cub Wednesday. On its official Web site, the zoo said the cub was born to Lun Lun at 4:51p.m. ET.

The zoo announced little else but that the mother and cub appeared to be doing fine. A news conference is scheduled for Wednesday evening.

Keepers will give the cub, which is about the size of a human hand, its first veterinary check-up when it is possible to do so without disrupting maternal care, the zoo said. (Watch Lun Lun with her new cub -- 1:56)

In March, the zoo announced it had used artificial insemination on 8-year old Lun Lun after natural breeding with her male companion, Yang Yang, 9, appeared unlikely.

According to Zoo Atlanta, this is only the fifth giant panda cub birth in the United States since 1990. Only an estimated 1,600 giant pandas live in the wild now. The zoo says another 185 live in captivity.

Hu Tongkai's Children

Chinese Garbage Collector is Adopter of 21 Abandoned Children
Hu Tongkai, a poor garbage collector from Kunming City of China's southwestern Province of Yunan has adopted 21 abandoned children. Hu's life completely changed after he adopted the first abandoned child in 1993. His compassion has touched so many people that strangers are offering to help him one after another. Some parents have also taken back the children they had once abandoned. According to Xinhua website, on the morning of June 16, 1996, Hu Tongkai found a bloody infant girl with her umbilical cord still attached and trembling in a carton when he was sweeping the streets at an intersection in Kunming...

When news of Hu Tongkai's adoptions reached his hometown in Jiangxi Province, none of his family or friends understood him. His younger brother Hu Liangkai even argued with him, suggesting that if he should not adopt abandoned children when he cannot even support himself. In the face of his younger brother's accusations, Hu Tongkai responded, "But this is a life—many people would rather raise pets than adopt [the orphans]. Aren't those little lives more important than pets?"

Indeed. Nice work, Mr. Hu.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Nine-Year-Old Girl Has Rare Blood Disease

Pray for the Wells family.

9-year-old with rare disease undergoes infusion of donor cells
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - A 9-year-old girl whose family moved from Albuquerque to Wisconsin so she could get treatment for a rare blood disease has undergone an infusion of donor cells to try to stabilize her condition, her father says.

Kailee Wells underwent the stem cell boost on Aug. 30, her father, Owen Wells, said in an e-mail update.

"Now, we start the stressful waiting and watching again, hoping in three or four weeks Kailee's (blood cell) counts will start to climb once more," he said.

Kailee initially underwent a bone marrow transplant in January 2005 with cells that were not a perfect match. That transplant ultimately failed, but the girl appeared to be doing well after a second marrow transplant last November at the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.

Doctors pronounced her free of severe aplastic anemia, a disease in which the bone marrow no longer produces enough red blood cells. But her father said that in the past five months, Kailee was requiring more blood transfusions as her blood counts decreased.

The stem cell boost was necessary because of "late graft failure," which caused her marrow to stop producing.

The cell infusion procedure used marrow from the same donor used in the second transplant, a physician from China who was found to be a perfect cell match.

Owen and Linda Wells adopted Kailee from China when she was a year old.

When Kailee was diagnosed with the disease, her story made headlines as her parents orchestrated dozens of marrow donor drives and traveled to China trying to find a donor for their daughter.

The Wells family has a web site:

Charm Bracelets For Chinese Orphans

Local Parents of Adopted Chinese Children Launch Charm Bracelet Fundraiser to Support Chinese Orphans
Charm bracelets have been a popular tradition around the world for countless centuries. That's why this year, the China Parents Committee of Family & Children's Agency (FCA), a Connecticut-based adoption and social services agency, is holding a charm bracelet fundraiser to help improve the lives of children living in Chinese orphanages.

The Committee, comprising parents who have adopted Chinese children, is offering fine sterling silver charms and bracelets for adults and children in high quality sterling silver, made in North America by leading charm manufacturers. The charms range from ladybugs and Chinese slippers to symbols of love and happiness, at $11 to $24 each.

To view the charms and place an order, visit the FCA website at All profits from the sale of the sterling silver charms and bracelets will be used to provide financial support for Chinese orphans. For questions on our charms or this fundraiser, please email

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Natalie Nichols Gillespie

Author could've used own book
When she was looking to adopt, she wanted a guidebook with a Christian perspective. Not finding one, she decided to write it...

When she began the adoption process with [her husband] Adam, Natalie Gillespie wondered how many others felt like she did. Just where were they supposed to start? Should they adopt in or out of the country? Could they really afford it?

All of those and more questions got her thinking as she searched the Internet, read books and asked friends who had adopted before for answers. She had yet to find a handbook with a Christian perspective. A practical book with some guidance from Scripture was what she needed.

So she floated the idea to an editor she knew. And as she and her husband made their way through the yearlong process to adopt Amberlie, Gillespie started writing. The 394-page book came out July 21. Amberlie came home July 28.

Find out more about Natalie's book here:

Chinese Immersion School in Minnesota

Students immersed in Chinese language and culture
The first day of the new school year was also the first day of operation for the state's only Chinese immersion school. After more than a year of planning, the Yinghua Academy charter school in St. Paul opened its doors to kindergarten through third grade students. The children will learn Mandarin Chinese along with their daily academic lessons...

The school has yet to identify the students' ethnic backgrounds, but it's evident a majority of the students here are Asian girls. While many are adopted from China by American parents, others are children of Asian families living in the Twin Cities.

Chinese Au Pairs In Demand

In the 90s, many thought that learning Japanese would give a person an edge in business. In the same way, some think learning Mandarin is the key to a successful future in banking. At least that's the view of one couple in this article:

To Give Children an Edge, Au Pairs From China
Jean Lucas, who lives outside Tampa, Fla., had been frustrated in finding a Chinese au pair for her four children. She is now obtaining one through Au Pair in America who will arrive in a few weeks.

Ms. Lucas said her husband, Sky, a manager of a hedge fund, initiated the search because he did not want to raise culturally narcissistic, monolingual children.

“My husband had been following China for some time,’’ Ms. Lucas said, “and he simply believes that it would be better for international relations if we all put some time and effort into learning Chinese. I’m not expecting this girl to come in and lecture. My children wouldn’t put up with that. But I want them to have an introduction, and I want it to be fun.”

Dossier Interrupted

Our trip to Long Island could not have come at a better time. Last Friday, I met with our case worker at Bethany to drop off what I thought was a nearly completed dossier. After she had time to go through it, she sent us an e-mail with a list of problems.

It seems our agency now requires a notary’s term to be valid for at least a year from when the document was signed. Under the old rules, a notary’s commission had to be current when the dossier arrived in China, which ours would be, give past experience. It seems that Bethany has gotten some dossiers back because a notary’s term had expired before log in, so they decided to implement the one year rule. This rule went into effect after our home study was complete and after our police clearances came back. Turns out the term of the notary who signed our clearances expires at the end of November, which would run afoul of the new edict. Now, we don’t have control over who notarizes our police clearances, so naturally we were pretty upset at this turn of events.

The bottom line is we need to re-submit our police clearance forms and Bethany now requests a notary with at least a year remaining on his or her term for this document. So that’s going to delay our dossier submission for a few weeks, at least. Given the current trend in time from log in date to referral, every week counts, especially since the latest referrals from the CCAA only covered about nine log in dates, putting the average wait to over 13 months.

Needless to say, last Friday was a very frustrating day. There were a couple of other issues which are easily fixable, but do require some running around. Saturday morning, we drove up to New York though what had become tropical depression Ernesto. The pig roast had been pushed back to Sunday, which turned out to be very nice after all. Ally had such fun playing on her cousin’s new swing set she pretty much forgot about eating anything. It’s nice to be three years old and having your hardest decision be whether to navigate the monkey bars or go down the slide.

We drove back on Monday, ready to resolve our dossier problems and get it submitted as soon as possible. We haven’t explicitly discussed a sibling with Ally, but once the paperwork is finished and The Wait begins, we’ll start broaching the subject with her. The real test will come when the new addition becomes a reality and competes with Ally for her parents’ attention.

"Mandarin Only" a Failure in China?

Study:Nearly Half of China's Population Can't Speak National Language
BEIJING — Nearly half of China's 1.3 billion people can't speak Mandarin, the country's official language, a news report said Tuesday.

An Education Ministry study found only 53 percent of the public can speak the version of Mandarin known as "putonghua," or "the common language," the China Daily said.

The communist government has promoted putonghua since 1956 as a common language to bind together a vast country with dozens of languages and dialects. It is used in schools, government meetings and for television and radio television broadcasts.

"Without a common language, people are unable to understand each other. This has become an obstacle to China's social and economic development," Yuan Zhongrui, director of the ministry's putonghua popularization department, was quoted as saying.