Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Friends From the Beginning

Girls began friendship in Chinese orphanage
AVON, Ind. — Mike and Kathy Perry and Bob and Barb Kilbourn have been friends for the past 30 years. The couples went through the births of their children together and also the adoptions of their daughters from China.

The Kilbourns said they decided to add to their brood of six by adopting a little girl from China. Barb said she had always wanted to adopt and when her father passed away, she felt it would be a fitting tribute to a man who loved the Chinese culture...

The Perrys said they decided to adopt after their three biological children had already started families of their own. Kathy had gone on a trip with a friend in 2003 to help with her adoption. She said it touched her so that she decided to adopt a child as well.

The two couples sent in applications and were both accepted. They requested two little girls that were the same age and could grow up together.The adoption agency knew just the girls. They were born only weeks apart, played together and slept next to one another in their cribs in an orphanage about 9,000 miles from Avon.

National Adoption Month

National Adoption Month, 2006
A Proclamation by the President of the United States of America

During National Adoption Month, we encourage the adoption of young people in need, and we honor the adoptive and foster families who have offered children a loving and supportive home.

The best of America is reflected in the many citizens who have adopted children as their own. Mothers and fathers are the most important influences in a child's life, and children with caring, involved parents can better realize the full promise of America. Parents help their children thrive by encouraging them to aim high, work hard, and make good choices that will lead to healthy, satisfying lives. On November 18, loving families across America will celebrate National Adoption Day by finalizing their adoptions of children from foster care. This day will also raise awareness of the many children still waiting to be adopted and encourage more Americans to choose adoption.

My Administration is committed to helping place children with caring families. Through the Collaboration to AdoptUsKids project at adoptuskids.org, we are working to provide guidance and support for parents considering adoption. We are also offering tax credits to ease the financial burden on adoptive families, and we are providing funding to help strengthen State adoption services through the Adoption Incentives Program and the Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program. Together, these efforts can help connect children with loving families and help provide greater hope and opportunity for America's children.

During National Adoption Month, we pay tribute to the parents who have opened their hearts and homes and helped provide love and stability for young people. By caring for the youngest members of our society, these families are helping our children grow into successful adults and building the future of our country.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim November 2006 as National Adoption Month. I call upon all Americans to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities to honor adoptive families and to participate in efforts to find permanent homes for waiting children.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand six, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-first.


Monday, October 30, 2006

Chapman Weighs in on Madonna Adoption Controversy

Steven Curtis Chapman hopes Madonna controversy won't discourage adoptive parents
Steven Curtis Chapman hopes that the recent negative attention surrounding Madonna's pendingadoption of an African baby will ultimately inspire others to recognize the need and adopt children as well.

Controversy has surrounded Madonna's pending adoption of a 13-month-old boy from Malawi, particularly whether the child's father understood the legalities of the proceedings. Madonna has maintained that she followed all laws."

The bottom line is, there are 145 million estimated orphans in the world," says Steven, the Christian singer who is a national adoption spokesman. "Anytime a celebrity turns their focus to that, I think good comes from it. It opens up more people to consider the fact that, 'Wow, there are a lot of children in the world who don't have families.'"

Am I concerned there would be negative light on it? Yes," says Steven, who adopted three daughters from China. "I am always concerned that there will be negative press for adoption. I would rather say, hey, a lot more good can come out of it than the negative."

I've got to admit that I scratch my head when I see a celebrity riding in on a white horse to save the day for a child or country. But the fact of the matter is, these children are literally dying physically, and their spirit is dying and there's hopelessness. If these celebrities are going to use their celebrity for that, I'm going to cheer on the good and raise the flag if there are questionable issues."

Well said.

Delaware Adoption Story

The adoption option
John and Jo-El Azato of Wilmington took a different adoption route and went through a private agency to find an international child. "We had seen an ad in the newspaper about a seminar on domestic and international adoptions, so we went," recalls Jo-El. "We knew we wanted an international child who was about 1 or 2 years old. And after doing research, we decided to go with a child from China."

During the 14 months the Azatos waited for their daughter, Nina, they busied themselves with preparations. "We had a baby shower and got her room ready," Jo-El says. "We also read a lot about parenting and asked friends who had kids lots of questions."

Waiting, experts say, can be the hardest part of the adoption process, whether it's waiting for the paperwork to go through, or waiting to receive the referral, or waiting to welcome the child home. But while families are on hold, there are things they can do.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Texas A&M 31, Baylor 21

The Aggie juggernaut rolls on. This game was very close, back and forth, as per usual, until freshman running back Mike Goodson ran one in from 64 yards with two minutes left to seal the victory. Next up, Oklahoma and Nebraska at home. If the Aggies can manage a victory over one of those teams, they’ll have nine wins going into the Texas game. I think if you told me at the beginning of the season that the Ags would win at least nine games this year, I would have been pretty happy.

Bringing Huang Jinmei to Jacksonville

Students' bake sale raises funds for Chinese girl
Upper elementary students at the Amelia Island Montessori School raised $520 to help bring a Chinese girl to America for lifesaving heart surgery. The students held a bake sale to raise the money, which was donated to Grace & Hope for Children, a Christian organization in China that is working to bring Huang Jinmei, 9, to Jacksonville.

"We are very grateful for the donation," said Jesse Duke of Fernandina Beach, one of the founders of the organization. "I'm really impressed that these kids would make this effort on her behalf."

Duke's daughter, Hannah, who was adopted from China, is a former student at the school.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Olympic Events Conform To Fit U.S. TV Schedules

Prime Time in U.S. Translates to Morning Call in Beijing
That $3.5 billion the International Olympic Committee gets from NBC will buy a lot of alarm clocks.

Swimmers and gymnasts at the 2008 Beijing Olympics will probably want their share.

Heeding a request from its biggest television partner, the International Olympic Committee announced yesterday that swimming and most gymnastics finals would be shifted to the morning in China so they could be shown live in prime time in the United States.

There is a 12-hour time difference between Beijing and New York.

“We’re pleased with the announcement,” Mike McCarley, a spokesman for NBC Sports, said. “It will allow the two most popular Summer Olympic sports in the United States to be seen here mostly live.”

Not so pleased was the contingent from Australia, which is two time zones from China. Swimming is tremendously popular in Australia, and if it is going to be televised live there, it will probably be in the wee hours of the morning.

The Australian coach Alan Thompson said he was not happy because the International Olympic Committee “made the decision for commercial reasons, not for the good of the sport.”

Thursday, October 26, 2006

A Serious "Chutes and Ladders" Beat Down

I don’t want to brag or anything but when it comes to Chutes and Ladders, I totally rule. Maybe it’s the years of practice spinning that dial just right so that I land on all the tall ladders and none of the slides. Some say it’s luck but I think it’s mostly skill. When other kids were outside playing baseball and football, I was inside, working on applying just the right force to that spinner so it would do my bidding. If I need a “4”, I’m getting a “4”. I’m a Chutes and Ladders rock star.

I’ve been told you should let your child win every now and then to instill self esteem. Nonsense. In the real world, you get better by playing the best and in our house, that’s Daddy. Think of it as a lesson in the school of hard knocks, little girl. You’re learning from the master. Maybe now you’ll work on your game instead of playing princess dress up all the time.

My wife thought that my taunting victory dance after last night’s game was in bad taste. Whatever. She’s just a hater, envious of my mad skillz. Besides, how can you be humble after a thrashing like this:

If it took you six spins to get to square 100, you’d lord it over your opponents, too.

Bow to the king of Chutes and Ladders, suckas! Peace, out.

North Carolina Adoption Story

An Open House: Kernersville couple felt called to pursue adoption even after the birth of their daughter
Robert and Tara Maxey felt called to adopt, and not even the birth of a natural child changed the way they felt.

After the birth of their daughter, Amelia, in 2003, their thoughts turned once again to the prospect of adopting a child.

"We knew there were children out there for us to love," Tara Maxey said.

The adoption process came full circle this year with the couple's adoption of a baby boy from China. Stone Hua Maxey - his middle name is the one he was known by in China - flew with his adoptive parents from China to America on Sept. 20 to begin his new life in this country.

Shaohannah’s Hope: 1000 Grants

SCC's Adoption Foundation Announces Landmark 1000th Grant
The United Nations reports a staggering 143 million children identified as orphans. Answering the call on his own life and family to orphans and making known God’s instruction about caring for orphans, Steven Curtis Chapman has become a spokesperson for adoption. Now he continues to encourage others to step up and recognize the worldwide crisis in November for National Adoption Awareness month.

In response to the miracle they saw in their own family through adoption and with a desire to help eliminate the obstacle of finances for many families they knew, Chapman and his family established Shaohannah’s Hope Foundation in 2000. Then in 2002, as opportunities to financially assist families ready to adopt far outpaced the Chapmans’ personal abilities to fund, the foundation began accepting donations to raise further financial grants for willing families. Arriving at a milestone this month, Chapman and Shaohannah’s Hope are thrilled to announce the 1,000th grant awarded.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Great Wall Buzz Kill

Party ban at China's Great Wall
Partying and all-night music raves are to be banned from parts of the Great Wall as China imposes laws to protect its top tourist attraction.

Writing and driving on the wall are also among several activities that are being prohibited, the government said.

Anyone who breaks the rules could face fines of up to 500,000 yuan ($62,500).

The 6,400km (4,000 miles) wall receives about 10 million visitors a year - most of whom visit the short 10km stretch open to tourists at Badaling.

They'll probably have to update this sign then:

Georgia Adoption Story

From China with love
It is 7:45 p.m., coordinated universal time, and Deanna and Michael Lamar are going to have a daughter in 15 minutes. They are in a hotel in Lanzhou, the capital city of China's Gansu province, and before they can unpack someone tells them that the babies will be in the meeting room at 8 p.m. They have traveled by plane, van and foot. They have come to take their daughter home.

Screams are a natural part of birth, a part that is no different for the Lamars. When they enter the room where they will meet their daughter, they hear the shrieks and cries of 12 Chinese toddlers. They see the families they've traveled with scramble to find the child they've waited months for.

Translators attempt to bridge the language gap between the families, pediatricians and orphanage officials as the two children old enough to walk scramble under tables. It was chaos.

"It wasn't ceremonial in any way," Deanna recalled later. "It could not have been more pandemonium."

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Will China's Image Tarnish Games?

Olympic chief worries about China's image
BEIJING (AFP) - International Olympic Committee (IOC) chief Jacques Rogge praised Beijing's work on hosting the 2008 Olympics here but expressed concern about the world's image of China.

The IOC chief, on his first visit to Beijing since October last year, said that Beijing had done "magnificent" work towards staging a technically top quality Olympics.

"However, we should all remember that the Games are not judged solely by the technical proficiency of the project, but also through the perception that the world has of the Games," Rogge said in a speech.

"We must therefore ensure that while all the technical elements are in place, that we do not forget to look after the less tangible elements that will ultimately shape the world's image of China and the Beijing Games."...

Rogge did not elaborate on his concerns about the world's perception of China. However, Beijing's image has been hurt since his last visit here by concern over human rights and reports of a crackdown on media freedom ahead of the Games.

Adoption Community of New England

From all over the world; Group offers support for adoptive families
BYFIELD - Chris Sousa was afraid her daughters would think that only Chinese children were adopted.

So she brought them to a gathering for adoptive families in Byfield, where the girls, ages 4 and 7, spent the afternoon on Saturday running through a field and scrambling over hay bales with other children of all ages - and races.

"It's good now to be around kids from other countries," Sousa said as she watched her daughters playing.

Though the children at the gathering looked different from one another, they all had one important thing in common: All of them were adopted. Some, like the Sousa girls, are new to the group, while others, like 15-year-old Liam, the oldest, have been going to these gatherings for years.

These children are some of the 75 who, along with their parents, are members of the Newburyport chapter of the Adoption Community of New England. Saturday afternoon, they got together for their annual "harvest festival," held at John and Kate Cabot's Middle Street home.

Mandarin for Preschoolers

At least they're being productive while they're waiting to get into kindergarten:

Pre-school Mandarin classes take root in Manhattan
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Kalista Godsman arrives to her Mandarin classes in a vehicle that's foreign to many other language students: a stroller.

The 13-month-old and her 3-1/2-year-old sister Helena, who also takes French, are enrolled in Xiao Bao Chinese, one of a handful of emerging Manhattan Chinese language programs for infants, toddlers and preschoolers.

"I think that it will lead to all kinds of things for them," said their mother, Rachel Moore. "Whether they are interested in the culture or the art of China, or whether they want to use it to make friends, travel, business."

As China's economy booms and the world becomes more interconnected, U.S. parents are beginning to demand lessons that go beyond romance languages. Chinese language classes for preschoolers are still rare. But they are emerging across the country from Oregon to Michigan to Washington, D.C.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Jewish Family Services (New York)

Adoptive families helped by area agency celebrate
PITTSFORD — Lori and Jeff Petrie will travel to China next week to expand their family of four to a family of five.

The Irondequoit couple adopted 5-year-old Sydney in 2003 and 3-year-old Jay in 2005, and will soon adopt 2-year-old Jordan Mian, all with assistance from Jewish Family Service of Rochester Inc.

JFS guided us through the whole thing," said Lori Petrie, as Sydney and Jay played behind her with dozens of other children whose adoptions were also facilitated through Jewish Family Service. The Petries were one of more than 25 adoptive families the agency brought together Sunday for a celebration picnic at King's Bend Park in Pittsford. "They were our partners through all things, and now they're our friends."

Cathy Gipner, an adoption caseworker with Jewish Family Service, said the agency helps anywhere from 50 to 100 families each year connect with children from all over the world: China, Guatemala, India, Ethiopia, South Korea, Ukraine, Liberia and more. Adoption assistance is one of many programs offered by the organization, including counseling, youth outreach and services for the developmentally disabled and the aged.

"Our mission is to help build families," said Gipner.

Alabama Adoption Story

[You folks from Alabama are terrific. I think I see more adoption stories per capita from there than any other state.]

Adoptive family finds new Hope
In China, she was Wu Feng Mai, a baby without a home, named for the county where she was born.

Today, she is Hope, a 20-month-old cherished by a couple in Montgomery, named for what she represents.

Hope now is the daughter of Kerry and Desirée Christopher, and an American citizen just like the rest of her new family.

"I'll be honest, at the beginning, I wasn't completely on board," said Christopher of his wife's suggestion that they adopt a child from another country. "She did just about everything she could to get me interested in the idea. It wasn't until I really started to think about it and pray about it that it just felt like the first thing to do."

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Texas A&M 34, Oklahoma State 33 (OT)

The Aggies are leading a charmed life this season. Yet another back-and-forth game which they could very easily have lost but they somehow managed to snatch a victory. I didn't watch this game but followed it on the internet. From what I heard, the Aggies knocked out OSU's starting QB in the second quarter, yet his replacement managed to engineer three touchdown drives in the second half to put his team up by seven late in the fourth. But A&M nutted up and scored a TD with three seconds left in the game to tie the score. In OT, after the Aggies scored a TD, OSU answered. However, the extra point was blocked and the Aggies escape Stillwater with a win. Sucks to be that kicker, huh? Baylor is up next and then the three-headed monster of Oklahoma, Nebraska and Texas. Looks like this will turn out to be Coach Fran's best season, maybe something to build on.

Texas Adoption Stories

Beilue: Couples offer a home (reg. req'd)
Some call it The Golden Age. For the Schneiders and later the Stricklands, it was the Add-On Stage. There are many ways to respond to the empty nest, but seldom has it been to adopt three abandoned children from China.

But that's what they did. Without knowing each other at the time, the two families followed their heart, followed God's call, and some might joke, discarded common sense. In essence, they have rewound their own life, while giving a new life to six Chinese children.

The Schneiders have three sons: Brian, 33, Berin, 30, and John, 23. They also have three daughters: Lia, 8, Ming, 7, and Holly, 5, via China.

The Stricklands have two sons and a daughter: Michael, 24, Matthew, 22, and Missy, 19. And then along came two more daughters: Molly, 4, and Madelyn, 2. Mason, 6, should arrive in February.

There may be as many as 50 families in the Amarillo area with adopted children from China, but likely not any other than two who decided to restart a family as their biological children were leaving home.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Stefani Ellison Receives "Angels In Adoption" Award

Anyone adopting a special needs child from China has Stefani Ellison to thank. After all, she started the program.

Cedar Resident Receives National Recognition For Adoption
Cedar City resident Stefani Ellison has helped children all over the world to find good homes, and she doesn’t intend to quit. Because of her work in saving children in China, Ellison recently received the “Angels In Adoption” award in Washington D.C. from the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute.

This award is given every year to individuals who have changed the lives of children and families for good through adoption. Senators are invited to recognize these people and this year Sen. Hatch nominated Ellison.

Ellison works for Children’s House International, an international adoption agency that helps children from all over the world find homes in the United States.

“In 2002, the China Central Adoption Authority in Beijing, China, created an expedited program for identifying and placing children with special medical needs,” wrote Marji Hanson, an adoptive parent who was blessed with two children through Ellison’s efforts, in a letter to Senator Hatch.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

When Pandas Attack: The Sequel

Chinese panda cub bites U.S. visitor
BEIJING - A panda cub bit off part of the thumb of an American visitor who was feeding the animal at a reserve in southwest China, state media reported Thursday.

The 50-year-old woman, identified only as Lisa, had registered in the Wolong Giant Panda Protection and Research Center in Sichuan province as a volunteer, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

She was wearing gloves and feeding the panda bamboo on Tuesday morning when "suddenly, the panda bit into her thumb," Xinhua said.

"When she cried out, the cub became excited and gripped more tightly," it said. "Lisa finally managed to wrench herself free."

About 20 percent of the thumb had been bitten off, Xinhua said...

Last month, a drunken Chinese tourist bit a panda at the Beijing Zoo after the animal attacked him when he jumped into the enclosure and tried to hug it.

The Eternal Preschool

Uh oh, I feel a rant coming on.

Angst-ridden, micromanaging, yuppie parents in New York City are sheltering their precious children from the harsh rigors of kindergarten by keeping them in preschool for an extra year. Sometimes until they’re seven! They don’t want their kid to be the “smallest” or the “runt of the class”, you see.

Prepare yourself for more gag-inducing comments from these self-absorbed fusspots.

Preschoolers Grow Older as Parents Seek an Edge
Jack Haims, who turned 6 in late September, started kindergarten this year with an enviable skill set under his tiny belt: He could already read simple rhyming books, count to 100 and write his name.

“He has a lot more self-confidence if he tends to be the older one,” said his mother, Charlotte, 37. “I wanted him to have an easier time.”

Jack acquired his confidence and abilities thanks to an extra year of preschool, or perhaps simply an extra year of life. He is not alone: From Bronxville, where he lives, to Manhattan and beyond, parents are strategizing more than ever to keep their children out of kindergarten until they are nearly, or already, 6 years old...

Fueled by the increasingly rigorous nature of kindergarten and a generation of parents intent on giving their children every edge, the practice is flourishing in New York City private schools and suburban public schools. A crop of 5-year-olds in nursery school and kindergartners pushing 7 are among the most striking results...

“It’s kind of crazy to hold them back,” said Jessica Siegel, 40, whose daughter, Mirit Skeen is back for another year at Montclair Community Pre-K in New Jersey, although she turned 5 in late August and the public school cutoff there for kindergarten is Oct. 1. “Someone’s going to be the youngest. Someone’s going to be the smallest.”

Ms. Siegel and her husband considered the decision for months, waiting until the week before public school started before making it final in case Mirit “suddenly had some kind of huge emotional shift.”

“I felt like her whole experience is about being the smallest and the youngest, and I wanted to change that experience for her,” Ms. Siegel said, adding, “The more people do it, the more people do it — partially because you don’t want yours to be the last.”...

“Nobody ever was successful because they were the youngest in the class,” said Betsy Newell, director of the Park Avenue Christian Church Day School.

“The gift of a year, that’s what I always say to parents,” Mrs. Newell added. “The gift of a year is the best gift you can give a child.”

I would inform Mrs. Newell, if I could, that I started kindergarten when I was four and had a pretty successful career in public schools, even managing to graduate high school at 17 in the top fifteen percent of my class.


Chinese Adoption: A Cautionary Tale

The link below is to an article written by an adoptive parent from the UK who wishes to remain anonymous. The author apparently had a very negative experience with the adoption, from the "clinical" way in which the adoption was handled, to bonding issues, to lack of support from the social service system. All of this eventually resulted in the break up of the author's marriage.

While the author's experiences, in my opinion, are not typical of most adoptions, it should serve as a cautionary tale in that we never know what to expect when we adopt. It is stressful, not only for the parents but for the child as well. There occasionally are bonding problems, particularly with older children, as I suspect was the case with the writer of this article.

I found the following quote near the end of the piece troubling:

The more I read about it, the more I think that it is the wrong approach. People who adopt inter-racially are a little selfish and naive.

They think that they can offer a child from anywhere a normal upbringing but that often proves to be very difficult in reality.

There are many other ways to help orphaned children without taking them out of their world.
I don't see the need to generalize about all adoptive parents being "selfish and naive". Certainly, some are more than others, but I think (again, in my opinion) most people adopt because they do feel they can offer a child a better life than they would otherwise have had. I honestly don't know what happens to Chinese children who grow up institutionalized and are never adopted and I don't think I want to know. I can't imagine it's better than the life we're giving to our daughter, or that most adoptive parents are giving to their children.

It's still too early to tell what effect being adopted into American culture is having on Chinese children, as the oldest ones (and there are only a few) are just now entering college. Studies have considered the assimilation and well-being of Korean adoptees, who have been entering the country for over forty years now, and the results are encouraging.

'My international adoption struggle'

Chinese Gymnasts Win Gold

Check out the sour grapes "they didn't beat us, we beat ourselves" excuse from women's coach Martha Karolyi, demonstrating to the world we have no class in defeat.

Chinese Women Surprise U.S. to Win First World Team Title
AARHUS, Denmark, Oct. 18 (AP) — The Chinese women’s gymnastics team received strong performances from Zhang Nan and Pang Panpan on Wednesday to win its first world title and give China a sweep of the team gold.

The men’s team won Tuesday. Not a bad way to prepare for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

Although the men’s victory was not unexpected, the women’s certainly was.

“Before the games, we knew there was a little gap between the Chinese team and the Americans,” said Cheng Fei, a specialist for China in the vault and the floor exercise. “It makes it so we could come in with no pressure, and we could give a top performance.”

The United States team, whose competitors won a stack of medals from last year’s individual world championships, crushed the rest of the field in the preliminaries, even with the national champion Nastia Liukin limited to one event.

But in the preliminaries, the worst score is discarded; in the finals, every score counts. Every mistake counts, too, and the United States made too many — with falls on 2 of its 12 routines.

China finished with a total score of 182.200, less than a point ahead of the United States (181.350 points). Russia, rebuilding after winning bronze at the 2004 Athens Olympics, finished third (177.325). Romania, which won gold in Athens, was fourth (175.450), missed a medal for the first time in 25 years.

“I think I was a little surprised,” said Martha Karolyi, the United States team coordinator.
“China was consistent tonight, and I thought they deserved to win. But they didn’t beat us. We beat ourselves.”

The Chinese, who finished seventh at the Athens Olympics, had not won a medal at worlds since 1999.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

An Inspiring Golfer

She Has the Will to Succeed
PALM DESERT - The new girl sits comfortably in the driver's seat. She operates the golf cart with her left foot, and on her right is one fine piece of carbon graphite and titanium that is unlike any club in her bag.

Palm Desert High golfer Scout Bassett's right leg is a prosthesis, an object of derision, the source of strength for a senior who stands only 4-foot-8 and is blessed with a selectively short memory.

"I love that you can finish one really bad hole, and on the next hole, you get a clean slate," said Bassett, a transfer from Michigan. "I love to start all over."

But how could she possibly forget her humble beginning, back when she was known as Zhu Fuzhi at an orphanage in Nanjing, China?

She was abandoned there as a 1-year-old, presumably because burns that had caused her leg to be amputated made her undesirable under the government's one-child policy.

Illinois Adoption Story

Family adopts Chinese orphan
Dong Li Ping was one of millions of orphans in China, mostly girls, facing a bleak future.

Her life changed Oct. 5 when Joe and Vicki Zastrow of Coal City boarded a plane with their oldest daughter, Kirbi, to pick up the newest addition to their family -- a 3-year-old girl with a repaired congenital heart defect.

The trip to China is the last leg of a rescue mission which began after Vicki learned about the desperate need for families to adopt Chinese children.

"We were inspired to adopt about two years ago after hearing about the numerous abandoned girls of China," Vicki recalled in an e-mail. "A good documentary is National Geographic's 'China's Lost Girls,' which tells of the plight of these girls and the country's need for population control. After researching adopting from China, we went ahead knowing we had a daughter, maybe two, waiting for us there."

Golf: "Vulgar Elitism"?

Chinese university in golf drive
Golf lessons are going to be made compulsory for some students at one Chinese university, reports say.

The president of Xiamen University in south-east China was quoted as saying it would help produce "socially elite people with the best education".

Golf, once frowned upon by China's Communist Party, is now enjoyed by the country's rich and powerful, and has grown in popularity in recent years.

One critic accused the university of "vulgar elitism", state media reported.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

DTC Today!

We just received word today from our agency that our dossier is on its way to China. This is a milestone date for adoptive families, as it represents the day your paperwork is truly out of your hands and is on its way to being logged in with the China Center for Adoption Affairs (CCAA). The "log in date" is the next important one, but we probably won't find out what that date is until weeks after it happens.

It's been a long, bumpy, frustrating road but we are one step closer to our second child. I don't want to speculate on how long the wait will be until our referral, but we'll keep a close eye on how things are going.

From the "All Your Base Are Belong to Us" Dept.

Here is a slide show of some of the more humorous mistranslated signs from around China.

Madonna's Special Treatment Irritates Some in IA Community

Madonna gets baby, other parents wait
Madonna took her new baby home from Malawi on Monday, a week after the pop star reportedly applied to adopt the boy.

For regular folks, the international adoption process grinds on much slower -- typically a year or more for babies from the most popular country, China.

"I have never heard of a child being adopted from Malawi at all, so it's not something that's common or mainstream at all," said Bob McNeill, director of intercountry programs at Sunny Ridge Family Center in Wheaton, which handles close to 100 foreign adoptions each year.

Oklahoma Adoption Story

Bringing Clara home
EDMOND — Sitting on the floor with a variety of baby toys, Harrison Pierce is trying to talk about his 1-year-old sister Clara. The only problem is Harrison is a little distracted by Clara’s continuous efforts to tackle him.

“I just really wanted a sister, so I kept on begging them,” he said. “I’m glad she’s here.”

Having their 10-year-old son prompt Joe Pierce, the principal of West Field Elementary School, and Joy Pierce, a nurse, to add to their family may seem a bit extraordinary, but Clara’s life to this point is extraordinary as well. Abandoned in front of a hospital in China when she was 2 months old, she spent much of her life in an orphanage until the Pierces adopted her. Although Harrison is their biological child, the Pierces chose to adopt this time.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Rural Chinese Offerred Cash Incentives to Have Fewer Children

China to pay farmers more for having fewer children
BEIJING (AFP) - China will next year introduce new financial incentives to encourage its 750 million rural residents to have fewer children.

Parents in the countryside aged over 60 will each year receive 600 yuan (76 dollars) if they have only one child, or two girls, the China Daily reported, quoting the National Population and Family Planning Commission.

The incentive equates to just under a fifth of an average farmer's net income of 3,225 yuan a year, according to government statistics for last year.

The lack of a social security system for China's farmers has often forced couples to exceed birth quotas or abandon girls so they could have a son.

Farmers depend on sons to take care of them in old age as daughters are married off.

A pilot project has been in place in 23 provinces and regions since 2002, covering 1.35 million senior citizens in rural China, the newspaper said.

Under China's so-called "one child" policy, introduced over two decades ago, couples living in Chinese cities are allowed to have just one child.

In the countryside, parents are allowed to have a second child if the first is a girl.

China, the most populous country in the world, has a population of 1.3 billion, but the government claims the number would be closer to 1.7 billion if the policy was not in place.

Although the law states only that financial measures should be used to enforce and encourage the implemenation of the policy, critics have long said gross human rights abuses have been carried out under its name.

Forced abortions and sterilizations of women by government officials, as well as abandonment and infanticide of baby girls due to traditional preferences for sons, have been widespread, according to rights groups.

A Good Sign in Beijing

Beijing stamps out poor English
China has launched a fresh drive to clamp down on bad English in the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Previous attempts to wipe out Chinglish - the mistranslated phrases often seen on Chinese street signs and product labels - have met with little success.

Emergency exits at Beijing airport read "No entry on peacetime" and the Ethnic Minorities Park is named "Racist Park".

Beijing city authorities will issue new translation guides by the end of the year, Xinhua news agency said.

China's Aging Population

China braced for pensioner boom
Around 7.5% of the Chinese population is over 65, but in the next quarter century that number will increase to 30%. It will be one of the greatest demographic changes in history.

"The pressure on the working age population will be much bigger than before," said Professor Peng Xizhe, a population expert, at Shanghai's Fudan University.

"Ageing is mainly caused by China's population control programmes in the past. At the beginning stage of the one-child policy... no one really realised that ageing would be such a serious population or social problem," he added.

The drop in fertility caused by the so-called one-child policy is beginning to feed through into the working population.

This generation of Chinese pensioners are supported by at least six workers paying taxes. In 30 years time there will only be three workers for every Chinese pensioner.

And as China's population ages, it will become less economically productive, according to Professor Peng.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Texas A&M 25, Missouri 19

Nice win for the Aggies yesterday against previously unbeaten Missouri. Perhaps Coach Fran can move off that hot seat for now. As much grief as he and the Aggies are getting, the bottom line is they're 6-1 and are a last-minute touchdown pass away from being undefeated. And that loss to Texas Tech is looking uglier since they got their clock cleaned yesterday by previously winless Colorado.

I didn't get to watch the game, but it seems the Ags jumped to an early lead and Missouri tied it at 17 just before the half. The defense clamped down in the second half, just like they did against Kansas, and didn't give up a point as the A&M offense played ball control.

The real test will be when the Aggies play the better teams in the Big 12: OU and Nebraska at home and Texas in Austin. OU just lost Adrian Peterson for the season, so that might be a winnable game.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Children of Chinese Prisoners: Who Cares For Them?

In China, Children of Inmates Face Hard Time Themselves
DALIAN, China -- The children answer to nicknames such as "Seagull," "Brightness," "Summer" and "Ocean," but they come with scars that social workers initially mistake for dirt. When they first arrive at the two-story house here, they hoard toothpaste, or they hide new socks and steamed buns in their bed quilts, as if they were precious gems.

They are the children of prisoners, and in this country, they belong to no one.

The law is unclear on who should provide for the children of China's more than 1.5 million prisoners. No government department is willing to supervise them. Historically, relatives have taken them in, but in practice, many unwanted children are shuffled from family to family. Sometimes, even the families do not want them...

The reasons for the neglect can be traced to China's bureaucratic system, but also to the scorn with which some Chinese have traditionally regarded criminals and, by extension, their children. In rural areas especially, the stigma against criminals and their families is felt almost as strongly as it was during the Cultural Revolution, the brutal 10-year campaign of terror that pitted youth against parent, wiped out any notion of trust and taught millions of people to shun "bad elements."...

Hai Xia, 6, the youngest at the home, is the daughter of a mafia boss killed in an accident and a drug-dealing mother imprisoned for life when Hai Xia was 2.

Pan, the executive director, said that Hai Xia had nearly been adopted before she came to the home. But the Chinese couple that was interested in the girl had demanded that she never again see her mother. They thought the mother would be a bad influence.

"Chinese people have some traditional ideas, in that if your father commits crimes, your son will be a criminal, too, or the son will always follow the father's path," Yang said. "I think the discrimination is always there. Chinese people don't want to be associated with bad elements."...

The home would have better access to international funding if it were registered with the government as a nongovernmental organization, or NGO, but the government makes the process extremely difficult -- to the point that local civil affairs officials have failed to even explain to Pan whom she must see to register.

The problem is a loophole in the law that fails to address prisoners' children. But adding to the problem is the government's year-old investigation of NGOs, especially U.S.-funded organizations suspected of having ulterior motives. Registration of new groups has come to a virtual standstill...

An Aug. 1 letter from the father of the home's newest resident, Hai Chen, 10, reached Pan last month.

"I've been in prison for three years and every moment I think of my crime I'm filled with regret. I know my crime has brought pain and harm to my family, to society and to the country," wrote the man, who is in prison for stealing a car. "I have learned that my son was not abandoned by society, but was adopted by the Children's Village. I can't do anything to thank you except to rebuild my life. Please educate my son strictly so he will never be like his father."

Madonna and Child

I believe adoption should be a private matter, if all parties involved choose to keep it that way. This goes for celebrities as well as the not-so-famous. Meg Ryan recently adopted a girl from China and, while there have been a few news reports about it, she’s pretty much kept a low profile. That may be due in part to the fact that she’s not as big a star as she used to be, certainly not as big as Angelina Jolie is right now, but also because she hasn’t exactly sought the spotlight, either. In general, though, celebrities are going to have their lives scrutinized more so than the average person.

Much has been made recently about Madonna and her apparent adoption of a boy from the African nation of Malawi. As much as I dislike her music and the oversexed, shock-at-any-cost image she’s created for herself, I wouldn’t criticize her for wanting to offer a better life to a child who would otherwise spend the rest his developing years in foster care or in an orphanage.

However, the more facts that come out about this story, the harder it’s becoming to pass the smell test. First, the boy, whose mother died shortly after his birth, has a father who is still alive but was not willing to keep the boy due to financial hardship:

On Tuesday, 32-year-old [Yohame] Banda told The Associated Press: "I am the father of David, who has been adopted. I am very very happy because as you can see there is poverty in this village and I know he will be very well looked after in America."

He said his wife Marita died a month after David's birth from medical complications and the child had been cared for at an orphanage in Mchinji, a village near the Zambian border.

Also, Malawi supposedly has very strict laws regarding adopting children out of the country:

The decision by the judge at a Malawi court brings to an end 24 hours of uncertainty for the couple who both appeared in court earlier to convince authorities to sidestep strict Malawian law.

Under Malawian rules, nobody can adopt until they have fostered a child for two years - while living in the country.

Madonna and her husband, film director Guy Ritchie, seemingly convinced authorities to bend the rules. This rule bending may have been influenced by the couple’s willingness to donate millions of dollars to local charity, on the condition the schools teach Kabbalah:

Madonna worked closely with the Raising Malawi charity, which has earmarked $1.5 million to the village of Gumulira, population 6,000. Part of the funds will be used to improve the local school.

However, concerns have been raised that Madonna-supported care centres feature a curriculum based around Spirituality for Kids, which is linked to the mystical Kabbalah faith, of which Madonna is a famous advocate.

Finally, there are reports that Madonna asked for 12 children to be identified so she could choose one:
Officials in Malawi continued to insist Madonna was in their country to adopt a child, but acknowledge tension with the singer who denies choosing an orphan boy."Madonna's people asked us to identify 12 children aged one, and the Ministry of Women and Child Development has done (that), and what I know so far is that she identified one child yesterday," Minister of Information Patricia Kaliati told Reuters.
I find this part of the story most unseemly, and, for the record, it has been denied (sort of) by her publicist. Adoption is a sensitive subject, particularly the adoption of a child of a different race from another country. I want to think the best of Madonna and her motives and that she will give the best life possible to young David. I don’t want to be as critical as some others, but at the same time there are aspects to this story which suggest that money and celebrity can trump the rule of law and children are mere accessories and status symbols. Such an image can only hurt international adoption.

Every Wal-Mart in China Unionized

Official Union in China Says All Wal-Marts Are Organized
Workers have set up unions at all 66 Wal-Mart outlets in China, beginning what a Chinese union official described Thursday as a wider campaign aimed at other foreign companies.

Wal-Mart has long battled to ban unions from its stores and distribution centers, and Guo Wencai, a senior organizer of the government-sanctioned All-China Federation of Trade Unions, called the establishment of union branches at the Wal-Mart stores a “breakthrough” for organized labor.

Mr. Guo said at a news conference here that the success at Wal-Mart would be a springboard to similar efforts aimed at Eastman Kodak, Dell and other companies.
Unionization, however, isn't quite the same as it is in the United States:

It is unlikely, though, that the existence of branches of the official union will lead to increased worker militancy. Labor activists at times accuse the labor federation of siding with management rather than acting as a champion of workers’ rights. At best, they say, the official union sometimes tries to mediate disputes.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Du Juan: Chinese Supermodel

Shanghai surprise: Face of the new China
Sitting in the lobby of Beijing's Grand Hyatt hotel, Du Juan is every centimetre a supermodel, but she is most definitely a supermodel from Shanghai. She is extremely polite in the traditional Chinese style with a playful sense of humour and a great line in casual understatement.

I don’t normally pay much interest to the modeling industry; this article caught my attention because Du Juan is apparently the first Chinese woman to grace the cover of Vogue. Then I noticed her name: “Juan” is part of Ally’s middle name, but I wondered if Ally’s “Juan” and Du Juan’s name were in fact the same in Chinese.

Some background first: When we got our referral, my wife called me at work with the news and passed on all the information she had at the time, which wasn’t much. Here’s what I wrote down:

Province: Jiangxi
Birthdate: March 9, 2003
Name: Shang Juan Shi
Orphanage: Shanggao Social Welfare Institute

I knew that children in a particular orphanage are given the same surname, so I assumed that was the “Shang” part and that the “Juan Shi” part was the name given to her by the staff.

It turns out we got the name wrong and that she was actually called Shang Guan Shi. The “Shang Guan” part was the surname and the “Shi” part was her given name, which, as it turned out, was the name of the man who found her. The character for “shi” (tone 4) is 世 and it means “world”.

Trouble is, I had already done a dangerous thing and looked up what “juan” meant in Chinese, without regard for tones or what the Chinese characters were. It turns out that one of the translations for “juan” (tone 1, pronounced joo-wan) was “beautiful, graceful” and the Chinese character is 娟.

We rather liked that and decided to keep it. Then, when we learned she was found by a man named “Shi”, we wanted to use that, too. But we didn’t want her to have two middle names, so we combined them into JuanShi (娟世). When you plug those characters into Babelfish, it translates into “winsome world”, which is close enough to “beautiful world”, I guess.

Taking such liberties is probably linguistically risky and might not make any sense to a Chinese speaker, but it’s the best two Americans with internet access can do.

So what about Du Juan, the supermodel? Turns out her name in Chinese is 杜鵑. The “juan” part, also tone 1, is translated as “cuckoo”. So there you go. Class dismissed.

Oh, and if any native Mandarin speaker is reading this, please don’t write and tell me I named my daughter a velvety bag of walnuts, or something. I’d rather not know.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Utah Governor Adopting...Again

Governor to adopt child from India
Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. hoped to bring home something more than new business for the state from next week's trade mission to China — the baby girl he and his wife are adopting in India.

But the governor found out Tuesday that the adoption paperwork for the 10-month-old baby they've already named Asha Bharati won't be completed for at least another month. So he has postponed plans to pick her up until possibly Thanksgiving...

Huntsman had intended to bring along his wife, Mary Kaye, and Gracie Mei, the youngest of their six children, when he leaves for China on Sunday, so they could accompany him to India. Now, though, both will stay behind.

Gracie Mei, 7, was adopted from China by the Huntsmans in 1999. Huntsman said on this trip, he would have taken her back to the vegetable market in a poor Chinese neighborhood where she was abandoned as a baby.

Chinese Authorities Not Down With Jay-Z

'Vulgar' Jay-Z barred from China
Chinese officials have denied US rapper Jay-Z permission to perform a concert in Shanghai because his music contains too many profane references.

Concert promoter Sun Yun told China's state-run Shanghai Daily that ministry of culture officials pulled the plug because of Jay-Z's "vulgar language".

Yeah, you think? For the record, Jay-Z is banned in our house, too.

Who's the Richest Person in China?

You may be surprised:

Woman tops China's new rich list
Paper-recycling tycoon Zhang Yin has become the first woman to top the list of China's richest people, with a fortune of $3.4bn (£1.8bn).

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Slumber Party

Tonight's the night when Ally decided all of her stuffed animals should be in her bed:

Monday, October 09, 2006

Odds and Ends

About those moon cakes: It’s a good thing I snapped this photo of Ally taking her first bite of moon cake on Friday night because it was also her last. She decided that this was an acquired taste and showed no intention of acquiring it. Funny because we really talked it up, too, and she was really looking forward to it. But in the end, her sweet tooth was just too Americanized to consider lotus seed paste and egg yolk for dessert

Texas A&M 21, Kansas 18: Another ugly game I actually got to watch, thanks to the magic of DirecTV. The Aggies trailed throughout until the final minute when the scraped together an 80 yard drive capped by the winning touchdown. A&M has never lost to KU in Big 12 play but they came darn close in this one. The offense looked sloppy by committing penalties at the worst time and the special teams were awful, allowing a fake punt early in the game which resulted in KU’s first touchdown. The defense gave up some big plays but for the most part held the Jayhawks in check. Next week: 6-0 Missouri at Kyle Field.

Army Ten Miler: Sunday was a beautiful day for the race, sunny, cool and no mysterious packages under any bridges. I managed to crank out an 8:25/mile pace, a far cry from my 7:30/mile I could expect during my marathon training days, but still respectable. I didn’t have much time to linger at the finish because I had to dash home, shower and get ready for…

Cox Farms: The local FWCC chapter arranged an outing and we were supposed to meet up at 11:00, which meant a five minute shower for me before heading down to Centreville. Cox Farms is better than your average corn maze/hay ride/pumpkin place. There are plenty of things for kids to do, including slides, pony rides, face painting, etc. We met up with four other families from the area, with children ranging in age from one to five. It was good swapping stories of our trips, comparing notes and expressing angst over the current wait times. It was a very good time.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Indiana Adoption Story

New little sister
AVON, Ind. — AJ and Dawn Schneider now have one more thing to keep them busy: Lia, their new bundle of joy from China.

The Schneiders adopted their first child, Lily, from China in 2003. She was born Dec. 25, 2002, in the Hubei Province, Wuhan China.

“It’s been great working with the officials in China,” AJ said. “It can be a long and difficult wait, but it’s obviously well worth it.”

This time around, AJ traveled to China with his mother, Leslie Schneider, to meet their newest family member — Lia Jade Yangxi Schneider. She was born Nov. 18, 2005, in the Guangdong Province.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Music From the Moon

China picks top 30 songs for moon satellite
BEIJING (Reuters) - China marked Friday's Moon Festival by announcing 30 songs to be broadcast to Earth next year from its first lunar-probing satellite.

The song that got the most votes was the folk ballad, "My Wonderful Home Town," followed by "I Love China," "Singing Praises of Motherland" and 27 others, Xinhua news agency said.

The songs were chosen according to public votes and by a panel of experts, organized by the Commission of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense, China Central Television and the China Musicians' Association.

I think they're done taking requests, but here are some other songs they might have considered:

Moon River - Audrey Hepburn (from Breakfast at Tiffany's)
Blue Moon - The Marcels (the definitive version)
Moondance - Van Morrison (one of my favorite songs of his)

Any other suggestions?

National Day Holiday + Friday Moon Festival = Traffic Chaos

Beijing braces for full moon traffic madness
BEIJING (Reuters) - Smog shrouded Beijing on Friday as hundreds of thousands of cars headed back to the capital near the end of the week-long National Day holiday, prompting warnings to China's notoriously negligent drivers.

Thursday saw a sudden surge of traffic flow in and out of Beijing, as people rushed home for the Moon Festival on Friday, a traditional holiday for family reunions, the eating of mooncakes and, for some, gazing at the full moon, if possible...

The National Day break, which ends on Saturday, is a "Golden Week" holiday which, along with Chinese New Year and May Labour Day, spurs one of the biggest migrations of humanity...

China has the most dangerous roads in the world, with accidents killing almost 100,000 people last year, or about 270 a day.

The high toll is largely a result of negligence, with drivers commonly switching lanes without looking or signaling, ignoring traffic lights and even throwing their vehicles into reverse when they have missed a highway exit.


Weekend Plans

Today is the Chinese Mid-Autumn (or Moon) Festival. This is a time of year when families traditionally get together and eat moon cakes while gazing skyward at the full moon. I’m not sure we’ll get to see the moon tonight; it’s supposed to rain all day and into tomorrow. However, I did stop at the local Asian grocery store yesterday and picked up a moon cake, which came in a decorative box. I have to confess, I didn’t know what went into making a moon cake. I thought they were like Moon Pies, but moon cakes are actually quite different. Moon cakes are made with a red bean or lotus seed paste. The Asian grocery had both, so I asked which one was better. The woman who worked there said the cake made with lotus paste was more traditional, so I went with that one. She also said these cakes had an egg yolk in the middle. I can feel my cholesterol going up already. Legend has it that in the 14th century, the moon cakes were used to hide messages for a planned rebellion against the Mongol oppressors.

We’re planning to head into Crystal City, in Arlington, Virginia, this evening. I need to pick up my race packet for the Army Ten Miler, which will take place on Sunday. While we’re there, we’ll look for dinner at a Chinese restaurant. There is a Charlie Chiang’s there now, which may not be the most traditional place but might be our only option. This Sunday, after my race, we’ll be meeting up with a local FWCC group at Cox Farms for more Fall Festival activities. In addition, the Maryland Terrapin and the Texas Aggie football games are both televised on Saturday, not to mention the fact that my Giants are playing her Redskins on Sunday afternoon. This is shaping up to be a pretty full weekend.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Wealthy Chinese Developing a Taste for Wine

And they're not going for the cheap plonk, either:

Fine wine, the latest in chic among China's nouveau riche
Zhang Yucheng, a real-estate magnate in Beijing, likes French wine so much he decided to build a private wine cellar and stock it with 2,000 bottles of France's finest.

And then there's the 100 million euro (125 million dollar) replica of the legendary chateau Maisons-Laffitte that he built on top, which he fittingly named the "Zhang-Laffitte" domaine.

After reigning uncontested for 25 years as the prestige beverage of choice among China's burgeoning nouveau riche, Cognac has been dethroned by fine grape wine, preferably foreign and expensive...

The great wealth generated by one of the most spectacular economic booms in history has not only fueled a thirst for prize bottles from Bordeaux and Napa Valley, but also a hunger for the Western lifestyles they represent, analysts say.

Arranged Marriage in China...

...in the hereafter:

Dead Bachelors in Remote China Still Find Wives
CHENJIAYUAN, China — For many Chinese, an ancestor is someone to honor, but also someone whose needs must be maintained. Families burn offerings of fake money or paper models of luxury cars in case an ancestor might need pocket change or a stylish ride in the netherworld.

But here in the parched canyons along the Yellow River known as the Loess Plateau, some parents with dead bachelor sons will go a step further. To ensure a son’s contentment in the afterlife, some grieving parents will search for a dead woman to be his bride and, once a corpse is obtained, bury the pair together as a married couple.

“They happen pretty often, especially when teenagers or younger people die,” said Yang Husheng, 48, a traveling funeral director in the region who said he last attended such a funeral in the spring. “It’s quite common. I’ve been in the business for seven or eight years, and I’ve seen all sorts of things.”

The rural folk custom, startling to Western sensibilities, is known as minghun, or afterlife marriage. Scholars who have studied it say it is rooted in the Chinese form of ancestor worship, which holds that people continue to exist after death and that the living are obligated to tend to their wants — or risk the consequences. Traditional Chinese beliefs also hold that an unmarried life is incomplete, which is why some parents worry that an unmarried dead son may be an unhappy one.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

"Bring Me Hope"

Man fulfills a wish with trip to China
MEDFORD — In China, Chris Cannatella was called “Kang An Hua,” which means “man who brings peace to the Chinese people.”

Cannatella, a Medford resident, traveled to China in July with a group of 13 others, all members of the Fellowship Alliance Cha-pel on Church Road.

The group went to China as part of the Bring Me Hope program, a nonprofit summer camp that “exists to create the vision for adoption,” according to its Web site. Bring Me Hope was established two years ago by a California family.

“I always had it in my heart to participate in some humanitarian service to foreign countries, or even in our own country,” Cannatella said.

The group went to Nanchang, China, and brought 20 orphan children to the mountains of Jing Gang Shan.

Web site: Bring Me Hope

Monday, October 02, 2006

WaPo: Texas A&M Coach on the Hot Seat

Coach Fran's ineptitude has not escaped the notice of The Washington Post:

Stock Is Falling
Dennis Franchione

What Texas A&M's coach needed was a victory over a marquee Big 12 South school; Franchione had been 1-8 against Texas, Oklahoma and Texas Tech. The Aggies held a 27-24 lead over Texas Tech at home on Saturday, but Tech quarterback Graham Harrell hooked up with Robert Johnson for a game-winning, 37-yard touchdown reception with 26 seconds left. Franchione was criticized after the Aggies lost their final four games last season. If Saturday was any indication, scrutiny won't stop any time soon.

China's Underground Churches in Limbo

In China, Churches Challenge the Rules
Bold Congregations Risk Official Wrath

WENZHOU, China -- A new breed of churches in this region of China has demonstrated a boldness and independence unmatched elsewhere in the country, despite strict government guidelines for places of worship.

Here in Wenzhou and the surrounding province of Zhejiang, just south of Shanghai, a growing number of congregations that began life as house churches -- unauthorized places of worship set up in private, often dilapidated homes -- have recently registered with the government, while continuing to spurn the rules of the official Protestant church in China. Like so many institutions in China, these churches now hover in a sort of legal netherworld.

The official church, known as the Three-Self Patriotic Movement, was founded in the 1950s to free religious Chinese from foreign funds and influence. Its name is derived from the principles of self-governance, self-support and self-propagation of the Gospel.

The fact that many Christians in this region have turned away from the official church's beliefs, analysts say, is a result of history and prosperity.

Profile: Our Chinese Daughters Foundation

Foundation aids in overseas adoption
BLOOMINGTON -- Deb Wollrab was in China to adopt a child and feeling a bit apprehensive about being half a world away from home. Then she met Jane Liedtke, founder of Our Chinese Daughters Foundation.

“Jane helped provide insight about what my daughter would be going through,” said Wollrab, a Bloomington woman who adopted through an agency but set up a sightseeing tour through Liedtke’s foundation. “I wanted some time in China to get part of their culture.”

Liedtke, a former Bloomington-Normal resident, knows how important that is. She adopted daughter Emily, now 13, in 1994 in China.

She formed the Foundation the next year.

Here's their web site: Our Chinese Daughters Foundation

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Open Domestic vs. Closed International Adoption

Overseas adoption has benefits
'Closed adoption’ more attractive to some prospective parents

Nathan and Melissa Bridges don’t claim to have an exciting story of how they decided to adopt a child from Russia...

The Bridges are six months into their journey to adopt internationally, a tedious process fraught with paperwork and bureaucratic delays that typically takes anywhere from a year to 18 months to complete. So why would anyone choose to take an already difficult and emotionally charged situation and add the barriers of an ocean, international politics and different languages?

“There are benefits to almost any kind of adoption -- international, domestic, whatever," Melissa said, as her husband of almost eight years nodded in agreement. “We chose international, and I think this is where it gets touchy for a lot of people is that a lot of people are proponents of open adoption. And I think that’s great. I think it’s wonderful if it works for them. The international adoption process is a lot more closed, which can be good and can be bad, but that was one of the draws for us."

North Carolinians Expose Adopted Children to Their Culture

Culture is a family affair
Adoptive parents help kids learn -- and join them in the process

Despite just having had wrist surgery, Joyce Melton was not going to miss the opportunity to participate in Charlotte's inaugural Chinese Dragon Boat race this past spring at Lake Norman.

Melton, brace or no brace, needed her adopted daughters to see her paddling away in this traditional boat adorned with a dragon's head and tail brought over from their homeland.

"Normally, we encourage their participation in Chinese events," she said. "In this case, we wanted them to see that it's even important for us to participate."

While past generations of Americans who adopted children from abroad tended to dismiss the children's backgrounds, today more parents strive to expose adopted children to their roots -- and join them in the experience.

Research shows that adopted children have a healthier self-image if they know about their cultural pasts, says Dawn Davenport, author of "The Complete Book of International Adoption: A Step by Step Guide to Finding Your Child."

Texas Tech 31, Texas A&M 27

It's no secret that Texas Tech owns the Aggies. A&M has now lost five of the last six match ups to Tech, a team that used to be an easy win. That wouldn't be so bad in and of itself, but the Texas Tech fans look at A&M as their main rival now, which feeling is not reciprocated by the Aggies. As a result of their recent success, thanks to a pass-happy run and gun offense that the Aggies always have a hard time against, Red Raider fans have become downright obnoxious. And it's not a good-natured ribbing, either. The Aggies and their fans are treated worse in Lubbock, an oasis of dullness in "Friday Night Lights" country, than they are anywhere else, including Austin.

Last night they lost on (what else) a last minute touchdown pass that, I guess, caught the defense by surprise. I mean, who thought they'd try a pass play down by three with under a minute to go? So that means another year of Texas Tech lording it over the Aggies, who will try to gain some measure of payback next year Jones Stadium, by far one of the ugliest fields in college football.

I think if the Aggies don't at least make it to a bowl game this year, Coach Fran has to go. The honeymoon is over, these are all his guys and they are at best mediocre. They stuggled against Army and haven't beaten anyone of consequence this year. Start the search now.