Friday, December 29, 2006

Brian Lehrer Show: Chinese Adoptions

Adam Pertman, executive director, Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute and author, Adoption Nation: How the Adoption Revolution is Transforming America (Basic Books, 2000), Peter S. Goodman, correspondent for the Washington Post and Gongzhan Wu, director of the China Program at the Gladney Center adoption agency are interviewed.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

More Orphanages Planned in China

I'm printing the entire article because I think this is a pretty important development. One of the more interesting facts: China claims there are 66,000 orphans living in public welfare institutions and 570,000 living with families. It's good to see that many children with families.

Nationwide plan for better care of orphans
The Ministry of Civil Affairs said yesterday more welfare institutions for orphans will be built in the next five years.

Dou Yupei, vice-minister of civil affairs, said the ministry would allocate 200 million yuan (US$25 million) annually between now and 2010 to build welfare institutions in each prefecture-level city across the country.

The institutions will have multiple functions, such as better care, education and rehabilitation, Dou said at a donation ceremony yesterday.

The plan, called the "Blue Sky Plan," means orphans will live under the same blue sky as normal children. This was advocated by President Hu Jintao during a visit to a children's welfare institution on June 1.

China now has 66,000 orphans living in public welfare institutions and more than 570,000 living with families, according to the ministry.

Half the orphans living in welfare institutions suffer from physical disabilities or congenital diseases.

Dou said another children's welfare plan, the "Tomorrow Plan," has achieved fruitful results since it was launched in May 2004.

The Tomorrow Plan, which provides rehabilitation to all handicapped orphans, has brought new life to more than 25,000 children, 10 per cent of whom have now been adopted by families.

Orphans suffering from congenital diseases or physical disabilities receive free treatment or operations.

Dou said the new plan, implemented by the China Centre of Adoption Affairs under the ministry, is expected to be completed by May next year and would be extended to children of poor families.

"China is still a developing country with limited government funding for welfare," Dou said.

"We are very grateful for the donations and support from home and other countries and hope more warm-hearted organizations and individuals will join our cause in the welfare of children."

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

New CCAA Rules Cause For Angst on Upper West Side

In an Adoption Hub, China’s New Rules Stir Dismay
The news last week that China was putting sharp restrictions on foreign adoptions landed harder on the Upper West Side than just about anywhere else.

The neighborhood has the nation’s highest concentration of adopted Chinese children, according to the group Families With Children From China. A bicultural social network has developed there that offers everything from ethnic-heritage training to Mandarin-speaking nannies to mother-daughter dumpling-cooking classes.

Now, some of the same demographic factors that made the Upper West Side an adoption capital — a tendency for women to want a career first and children later; an abundance of single people who can afford to support a child without a mate; a large gay and lesbian community — are considered deal breakers by the Chinese government.

The rules, which take effect in May, require an adopting family to be composed of a man and woman between 30 and 50 years old who have been married at least two years (or five years if it is a second marriage). They cannot be obese or have a net worth less than $80,000. And anyone on an antidepressant or other psychiatric medication is out, a rule sure to raise anxiety levels in a neighborhood where seeing a therapist is considered unremarkable...

About one-fifth of the Chinese adopted children in the country live in New York, said Families With Children From China, a support group founded on the Upper West Side in 1993 that now has chapters all over the United States.

The Chicago Sun Times on Klein vs. Joncha

Laws haven't kept up with changing family structure
As much as American families have changed, some things remain the same. For instance, although out-of-wedlock births in the United States now account for 37 percent of births, it still takes the sperm of a male and the egg of a female to make a baby. When unmarried couples with children go their separate ways, they are faced with the same emotional trauma that accompanies divorce. Only in these cases, parents are trudging on new ground. That is even more true when the children are adopted.

For example, when Susan Joncha and Walter Klein flew to China to adopt two girls over the last four years, they probably didn't anticipate that their relationship would end on a sour note.

So the couple did not enter into a legal agreement that spelled out what would happen should they decide to go their separate ways.

Now a Cook County judge has ruled that Klein has no legal basis to get Christmas visitation with the girls, now ages 2 and 6.


Small wonder the CCAA has imposed tougher marriage requirements in their new regulations. I'm sure they're paying attention to this case.

Iowa Adoption Story

West Des Moines Family Celebrates Christmas With New Daughter
DES MOINES, Iowa -- A West Des Moines family almost didn't make it home in time for their baby's first Christmas.

Greg and Lisa Wall were in China for the last two weeks picking up their adopted 10-month-old daughter Olivia.

They made it as far as Chicago, when their flight home was delayed on Christmas Eve.

"We were on a standby for a flight, but they weren't sure if we'd actually make it on, so Greg's parents and my parents drove to Chicago and drove us home," Lisa Wall said.

It was the last stretch of a two-year journey that ended just in time for Christmas.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Wall Streeters Adopt

It's hard not to be cynical with a headline like this from the New York Post:

Adoptions of Chinese children are now wildly popular among the cream of Wall Street society - and shouldn't slow with China's planned new restrictions coming next year...

One recent financial high-roller to adopt in China is trader Matt Andresen, a top boss at hedge fund behemoth Citadel Investment Group. He and his wife - who already have three biological boys - made their emotional journey to China this month. Like most other adopted Chinese children, his is a girl...

Andresen said the process in China is easy. But, he added, seemingly half-joking: "We knew where we had to go - and how much money to grease which guy with."

Not even half-funny, Mr. Andresen, considering the recent Hunan trafficking controversy. Save the jokes for your cocktail parties.

Asian Culture Celebration in Pittsburgh

Adoptive families embrace Asian culture
For three years, Amy Min Gong has taught Chinese language and culture to children born in China and adopted by local families.

Gong believes it is important for these children to know their heritage, and she teaches them Chinese music and dances, along with colors and numbers. Gong, who was born in China and came to America 20 years ago, teaches Mandarin, the most widely spoken of the Chinese dialects...

"I would like them to know the traditions and their backgrounds," said Gong. "These kids are very interested in where they come from, what they look like."

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Ally Sings Rudolph

My first YouTube video. We'll see how it works. Have a Happy Christmas.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Virginia Adoption Story

Boy finds a family
An 8-year-old adopted from China will celebrate his first Christmas with his new family.

JAMES CITY -- Jane Chambers looks forward to seeing her 8-year-old son's face on his first Christmas morning.

After all, Jack is already pretty excited about the Christmas tree and decorations.

"I think he's going to be beside himself," she said.

"I'm going to have every camera in the house set up and ready," said her husband, Ed Chambers.

Jack was living in an orphanage in China until Halloween. That's when Jane and Ed Chambers, and their 11-year-old son, Ben Trainer, flew halfway around the globe to adopt the little boy found wandering the streets alone in the western part of China four years earlier.

Domestic Adoption in China

I'm assuming the "welfare homes" referred to in the article are the "social welfare institutes" (SWIs) which are home to China's orphans/abandoned children.

Families urged to adopt orphans
GUANGZHOU: Ordinary households in South China's Guangdong Province are being encouraged to adopt handicapped children and orphans.

The adoption drive is part of a bigger programme called Caring the Future of Children that has been in place since 2004.

"The effort is considered one of the most effective ways to protect the rights of this special group of children, which includes the handicapped and the homeless," said Liu Zhiwei, a spokesman of the Guangdong Provincial Department of Civil Affairs.

He said 932 orphans and handicapped children had been placed with families around the province this year.

"By placing these children with families, we can make sure that they have a better chance of being cared for. Adoption will also help ensure that they can exercise their rights, like their right to education," Liu said.

He said most of the children had been adopted from welfare homes.

"We are planning to build more homes to host handicapped children and orphans," said Liu, adding that all cities in the province were required to set up at least one welfare facility for children.

There are currently seven cities in Guangdong that lack welfare and charity homes for the needy.

"Welfare homes are required to provide facilities for education, rehabilitation and entertainment," Liu said.

Guangdong is home to 50 welfare homes, housing more than 7,000 children, of which 60 per cent are handicapped.

"As one of the most populous provinces, Guangdong has a large share of handicapped children and orphans," Liu said.

He added that most of the orphans had come from other provinces and regions.

At the end of November, more than 10,000 vagrant children roamed cities' streets. More than 90 per cent of those children had come from other provinces.

"Besides encouraging ordinary households to adopt orphans, we have also been working closely with international foundations to be able to offer financial support to pay for the children's education," Liu said in an interview with China Daily.

Scrooges in China

Chinese students urge Christmas boycott
Ten doctorate students from China's elite universities are calling for a boycott of Christmas and urging people to revert to Chinese traditions.

In a statement carried by many Chinese Internet websites, they lamented the loss of Chinese traditions and morals, amid what they said was the widening invasion of western popular culture.

"We notice that many Chinese who do not believe or do not know anything about Christianity... would join in Christmas partying without much thought," said the students, all from elite universities.

That phenomenon is not unique to China.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Dealing For a Good Cause

Hoping for a 'Deal'
Mt. Spokane teacher makes audition tape to appear on game show

Steve Allen won $5 million on "Deal or No Deal" last Friday. Unfortunately, it was only a mock version of the show at Mt. Spokane High School. But it was good practice for Allen. The Mt. Spokane teacher is putting together his audition tape for the real version of the TV game show.

What sets Allen apart from other game show hopefuls is what he plans to do with his winnings. He's pledged all of his winnings to help other families finance adoptions. He and his wife, Carrie, have five children, including three daughters adopted from China.

New CCAA Rules: Implications in Canada

Rules put Chinese adoptions out of reach
Single or older prospective parents worry over chances of getting accepted before new limitations take effect

In Quebec, where few couples actually marry and women are waiting longer to have children, new, tighter rules for adopting children from China are expected to hit hard.

Mireille Vennes of the Societe formons une famille - one of two agencies that help Montrealers adopt from China - predicts there may even be a mini adoptive-baby boom as single or older prospective parents rush in their applications before the new rules take effect May 1.

Then there will be a crash.

The rules, confirmed yesterday by a Chinese government official, all but bar single people and those over 50, by putting those categories at the bottom of the ever-expanding list of applicants, Vennes said.

No Christmas Visit For Guy "Mom Only Dated"

An update to the this story. A judge has ruled that Walter Klein, the ex-boyfriend of a mom to two adopted Chinese daughters, can't spend Christmas with the girls. The "adults" are obviously using these poor girls as pawns in their little power play. I feel sorry for all parties involved.

'I really want to see the girls'
But court rules 'Da' has no right to holiday visit since breakup

Walter Klein won't be spending Christmas with the two little girls he considers his daughters.

He claims in a recently filed lawsuit that he is their father, since he and ex-girlfriend Susan Joncha, when they were together, flew to China to adopt the 2- and 6-year-old children...

She cut off contact between the girls and Klein, 56, and he now is trying to formalize his relationship with the kids through the courts.

But during an emotional hearing Wednesday, Cook County Judge Leida Santiago said Klein has no legal argument to get Christmas visitation, though she'll continue to hear his claims that he's entitled to be a parent to them.

Maine Adoption Story

Welcome to Maine, Baby Jing
ELLSWORTH — A Chinese baby girl, abandoned when 6 days old under a highway overpass in Hunan Province, is getting ready to spend her first Christmas with her adopted family on Riverside Lane.

George Russell and Mary Pat Champeau adopted Jing Hui Fan last summer, after more than two years of trying to adopt a child. Jing Hui means “smart” in Chinese.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

NPR on China's New Adoption Requirements

Potential Parents Face New Adoption Rules in China
Potential adoptive parents may have to think twice about their weight and marital status before adopting a baby from China. Tom DiFilipo, president of the Joint Council on International Children's Services, explains the recent revisions to China's foreign adoption policy.

The link has an audio of the interview.

Houston Kids Learning Chinese

Kindergartners tune in to Chinese
Grant allows Kolter Elementary students to learn a language that is spoken by 1 billion

In what would otherwise appear to be standard kindergarten fare, more than 20 youngsters sat cross-legged on a colorful rug singing a familiar children's tune about the parts of the body.

The catch: These Kolter Elementary School students were reciting the words in near-perfect Mandarin Chinese.

As the song ended, teacher Liling Yu said: "Children, you're wonderful. Tell your neighbors to say 'hen hao,' " Chinese for "very good."

A Special Adoption

An American Mom Adopts a Special Chinese Son
A Chinese orphan too old to be adopted, an American mom too determined to let go. They finally got together in the U.S. But life takes surprising turns. For producer Roger Hsu, Elaine Lu tells the story of Emmy and Xiaofu.

The story began when Emmy was helping a friend adopt a baby girl from China.

Emmy and Xiaofu met at an orphanage. Abandoned by his parents, Xiaofu grew up in an orphanage in an eastern province of China. A victim of polio, Xiaofu has the use of only one arm and one leg. He worked hard and became a typist at the very orphanage he grew up in.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Florida Girls Celebrate Christmas

Adoption Fills Empty Void in a Tallahassee Family
Christmas decorations welcomed the holiday season from the outside but inside one Tallahassee home different cultures are embraced through what one family called the greatest gift, the gift of love.

"We've got some wonderful girls and it feels like it was a piece of our life maybe that was missing in our hearts that they really filled," said Paula Holder, mother of two adopted girls.

Paula and Billy Holder adopted two girls from China; Dakota Holder, five years ago and Bailey Holder three years ago. They all agree the holidays bring out the joy in all of them.

Be sure to watch the video that accompanies this story.

WSJ: More Children Available? [Updated]

I don't subscribe to the Wall Street Journal, so I was only able to see this snippet from the story:

China Tightens Adoption Rules Amid Surge in Foreign Applications (Subscription required)
BEIJING -- China is tightening rules on foreign adoptions, barring parents who are unmarried, over 50 or obese, but says it will try to increase the number of children available to those who qualify, according to U.S. adoption agencies.

The move comes amid a surge in foreign applications to adopt Chinese children. The U.S. is the No. 1 destination for children adopted abroad, but the number going to Europe and elsewhere is rising.

The restrictions are meant to limit adoptions to "only the most qualified families," said the Web site of one agency, Harrah's ... [Emphasis added]

This is the first report I've seen indicating that China intends to increase the number of "paper ready" children in its international adoption program. There are many, many more children in Chinese orphanages than are adopted out of the country each year. Some of these are adopted domestically, but not all. It will be interesting to see if anything comes of this.

Update: More information in the following AP story:

Agencies: China tightens adoption rules
The Chinese agency also is trying to increase the number of children available by creating a new charity to improve conditions in orphanages and "keep infants and young children alive and well enough to be adopted," Harrah's said.

China's New Rules Reported in the Media

China Tightens Child Adoptions to Bar Singles, Obese, Over-50s
Dec. 19 (Bloomberg) -- China, the largest source of overseas children adopted in the U.S., plans to bar would-be parents who are obese, single or over 50, according to notices posted on the Web sites of three leading U.S. adoption agencies.

Under rules effective from May 1, applicants must be married for more than two years with at least a high school education. The measures also ban multiple divorcees, the blind and those taking depression medication from becoming parents, according to the postings.

The changes come as demand for Chinese children outstrips the number available for overseas adoption. While China's government wants to ensure they get the best possible homes, the new restrictions will exclude people who may make good parents, some child-placement professionals say.


China to tighten rules on adoptions
Single adults and many with disabilities who want to adopt a Chinese baby or child will no longer be able to under new rules China will enact next year.

Stricter financial requirements also will be part of the new regulations, which some American adoption agencies have learned about from Chinese officials in recent weeks.

The rules will also exclude people who are seriously overweight, wheelchair dependent or take anti-depressants...

About 12,000 Chinese orphans are expected to be adopted this year, two-thirds of them going to homes in the United States.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Church Christmas Pageant

The preschoolers at our church had a "Christmas Around The World" presentation. The kids were encouraged to wear clothing representitive of their countries of origin, of which there were many, and they sang a couple of Christmas songs. Ally got to wear a Chinese outfit we bought for her over the summer: She's usually more cheerful, but a slight cold put her mood in check.

Sad Situation in Chicago

Chinese adoptions are finalized in China. The agency was right in this case, that unmarried couples can't adopt but single women (for now) can. Since that's the case, he doesn't have much of a legal leg to stand on. I feel sorry for the kids.

'You're just a guy I dated' -- will he get to see kids?
Couple battle over adopted girls

As far as Walter Klein is concerned, the 6- and 2-year-old girls he and his ex-girlfriend flew to China to adopt over the last four years are his daughters.

He helped raise them. He says he's the one they called "Da!" the last time they threw their arms around him in an emotional 10-minute reunion in their mom's driveway in September. And he is the one who will be heartbroken if he doesn't see them this Christmas.

But his name is nowhere on the adoption papers. The adoption agencies told him and his ex-girlfriend it would be easier for a single woman to adopt than for an unmarried couple, he said.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Half The Sky Foundation: A Testimony

Who Will Help the Children?
Our youngest daughter's "birth" into our family started with a phone call on June 28, 2005. The adoption agency's China program director parceled out tiny bits of information about this little person who would change our lives: "Your baby was born in October of 2004 in Jiangsu province, her name means 'beautiful and peaceful,' and she's lived in an orphanage." Then the director added, "Half the Sky has a program there; you're very lucky."

And so began our love affair with our daughter, Zoe, and the amazing organization that helped to transform her life.

Half the Sky had arrived to renovate the Gaoyou Social Welfare Institute, the orphanage where Zoe lived, in April of 2005, when Zoe was just seven months old. The renovation to the physical environment alone was stunning, the effort of a team of volunteers who turned a stark, derelict-looking building into something softer, kinder, and more stimulating. But the other part of the work -- the reason I get tears in my eyes whenever Half the Sky is mentioned -- is what Half the Sky did to bring warmth and nurturing into her life, and what it continues to do to transform the lives of countless other orphaned children across China.

Read the whole thing. Half The Sky is a great organization. Click the link on the sidebar to learn more about them.

Christian Protesters to be Tried in China

China Christians to stand trial
Eight Chinese Christians will stand trial on December 22, accused of inciting violent resistance to the law after they protested the government's destruction of a church, a Chinese dissident and a court official said on Friday.

The seven men and one woman from east China's Zhejiang province were arrested after about 3,000 Christians in Xiaoshan -- a prospering commercial suburb of the provincial capital Hangzhou -- protested against the demolition of a church in July, Zan Aizong, a Christian dissident close to the Xiaoshan group, told Reuters.

An official from the Xiaoshan court also confirmed the case.

"The Christians will face trial at our court soon," she said by telephone, but declined to comment further.

China's ruling Communist Party is atheist but tolerates religions that accept official supervision.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Al Saunders: Useful Idiot

Al Saunders is one of the 38 or so assistant coaches hired by the Washington Redskins (a playoff team last year) that has helped propel them to their current 4-9 record. Saunders’ most notable impact has been to burden the team with a 700 page offensive playbook, none of which seem to be very effective at generating touchdowns. Did I mention they’re paying this guy $2 million per year?

Jason Campbell replaced Mark Brunell as the Redskins starting quarterback midway through the season and has since had to play catch-up in learning Saunders’ complicated offense. Here’s an excerpt from a recent Washington Post article about Saunders and Campbell:

In high school, he could stand back and wait for a receiver to get open and the velocity of the ball would get there before a little guy who just came from chemistry class could go and break it up. And he played against Vanderbilt[in college], and he's flushed out of the pocket and throws downfield and the ball gets there before the nuclear physicist two years down the road can get there.
Did you catch that? Chemistry students and nuclear physicists aren’t very good cover corners. Wow, Al, that’s quite an observation. I guess they’re too busy studying for tests or tutoring the kinesiology and sports management majors to learn their schemes. Oh well, I guess they’ll have to be satisfied with careers that are actually, you know, useful to society.

What a tool, and an overpaid one at that.

Saving the Dolphins

Good thing it wasn't a shark. By the way, Inner Mongolia and Liaoning are adjacent provinces, so he was kind of in the neighborhood.

Dolphins saved in the arms of a very tall man
The world's tallest man helped save two dolphins in China by reaching into their stomachs and pulling out harmful plastic they had swallowed, state media said Thursday.

The dolphins got sick after eating plastic from the edge of their pool at an aquarium in Liaoning province.

Veterinarians said they decided to call for help from Bao Xishun, a 7-foot-9-inch herdsman from Inner Mongolia, according to Chinese state media...

Chen Lujun, the manager of the Royal Jidi Ocean World aquarium, told the Associated Press that the shape of the dolphins' stomachs made it difficult to push an instrument very far in without hurting the animals.

The dolphins are in "very good condition now," said Chen.

South Carolina Adoption Stories

Locals enjoy success with foreign adoption
Drs. Stephanie and Scott Brumfield are old hands at foreign adoption. Of their four children, two have been adopted from China and plans are under way to adopt another...

"Margaret is our oldest child," begins Stephanie Brumfield. "We adopted her from Jainxi [Jiangxi or Jiangsu, perhaps? - ed.], China, nearly eight years ago. Then, we had Grace six years ago - she is our biological child. After that, while I was pregnant with Jackson, now 3½, we adopted Olivia from Hunan, China. Olivia and Jackson were born three days apart."...

For Leita Deese, who lives in Socastee and works for Blue Cross/Blue Shield of South Carolina, foreign adoption was a great way to build her family...

After deciding to adopt, Deese carefully studied the adoption process in several countries before deciding on China.

"At the time I decided to adopt, China had a lot of children available. After looking at three possible agencies, I selected Chinese Children Adoption International in Inglewood, Colo., and they walked through the entire process with me.

The Rules

As of yesterday, our dossier has been logged in at the CCAA for one month. Estimates are that we have 23 more months to wait for a referral. Hence, in the “Profile” box, I’ve changed the projected time we’ll be back in China from 2007 to 2008. Do you think we’ll get to see the Olympics? Maybe. Will we make it back before Ally starts kindergarten in September 2008? Who knows.

I’m sure most everyone has been hearing about the December 8 meeting in which the CCAA announced their new (and still unofficial) eligibility requirements for adoptive parents. We received an e-mail from our agency yesterday which contained a report from their representative in China. We have been asked not to share any information until the CCAA makes the new rules official, but I will say there is nothing in the report that I haven’t already heard, specifically those regulations regarding singles (no longer allowed to adopt), weight (BMI < 40), financial status (minimum $80,000 net worth) and health of the applicants (much more stringent, especially in regards to mental health issues). We were also told these new rules would not affect anyone logged in before May 1, 2007 and that they expect a flood of applications between now and then. Hey, you think?

Obviously, these new rules will disqualify many excellent parents from adopting a child from China. Or it may mean that those who were hoping to adopt a Chinese sibling for their child will not be able to do so. Unfortunately, that’s what restrictions do. They restrict, and it doesn’t always seem fair. I’m sure the CCAA looked at the number of dossiers they had (more than twice as many now than in 2003) combined with the declining number of “available” children for adoption and felt that they had to “do something”. Now we pretty much know what that “something” is and many would-be parents are going to be disappointed. I don’t know what to tell you. If China was your dream, then any other option seems inadequate. I would encourage you to explore other countries, if you want to stick with IA, or pursue a domestic adoption. You still have choices.

As for us, we’re mentally preparing ourselves for a two-year wait. Our intention was to add another child before Ally started school, but it doesn’t look like that will be the case. That’s all right. Things may change. Maybe it won’t be two years; maybe it will be an 18 month wait, in which case we’d miss the Olympics. At his point, it’s all in God’s hands and we don’t have any control over the situation. As I said before, the time with Ally has gone by so fast, maybe two years will fly by like nothing. Right now, we’re enjoying our time with her as we wait (patiently?) for her mei mei (or di di).

Home Depot Comes To China

Home Depot to Buy Protégé Retailer in China
A decade ago, Home Depot began training executives at a small Chinese retailer, called HomeWay, on how to sell screwdrivers and shower heads. One tip was to paint its stores orange, Home Depot’s signature color.

Now, Home Depot is buying its retail protégé in a move that will give the giant American chain its first stores in the fast-growing Chinese market.

Home Depot said yesterday that it had agreed to purchase HomeWay, which has 12 outlets in cities like Beijing and Qingdao, for an undisclosed amount. People briefed on the deal said the purchase price was about $100 million.

With the acquisition, Home Depot will become the latest American big-box chain to enter China, a country that, despite its size and growing middle class, remains largely untapped by foreign merchants.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Tree

Ally helping to decorate the tree.

The finished product.

Georgia Girls Participate in Zoo Atlanta Ceremony

Local girl to participate in panda-naming event
This Friday, Zoo Atlanta will host a ceremony to officially name the giant panda cub born there Sept. 6.

One of the people who will be right in the middle of the action is 7-year-old Stockbridge resident Lorna Waldrop.

Waldrop will be one of 20 Chinese-born girls from the metro area adopted through the Chinese Children Adoption International agency participating in the international event.

“I think it’s great,” said the Pate’s Creek Elementary second-grader.

During the ceremony the girls will be dressed in authentic Chinese attire as they will sing “Panda Mimi” in Chinese. The girls had three weeks to learn the song.

Waldrop is one of 10 girls selected to perform the song in front of a private audience which will include Chinese officials and dignitaries.

Kentucky Adoption Story

She's all business toward adoption
Some women have unexpected pregnancies. But Kathy Werking, a Midway artist and business owner, has unexpected adoptions.

Werking, owner of Soap-werks and Werking Studio, became a single mother three years ago when she decided to adopt 3-year-old Leah after reading an article about children with disabilities living at a Beijing orphanage.

To raise money to bring Leah home, Werking sold the soaps, lotions, and candles she has been making since 1997. To help cover the adoption expenses, which can average $19,000, friends and community members also put money in a collection jar Werking had at her kiosk in Victorian Square.

Recently, Werking again felt the tug from China.

She is now raising funds to bring home 8-year-old YuLan, a girl she spotted while looking through lists of children waiting to be adopted.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Alabama Adoption Story

Jerry Green writes about his daughter from Jiangxi, the same province Ally is from.

A miracle from China
HARVEST — Sept. 24, 2004, in Yongxiu County, Jiangxi Province, China was for one young woman a day of agonizing decision about what to do with a newborn child she could not keep. Even though it is a largely neglected province, Jiangxi has enjoyed a distinguished place in China’s history. Though China itself is a young country, having been founded in 1949, its varied civilizations are thousands of years old. Jiangxi is often hailed as “The Cradle of Red China.” It was here, in the Jinggang Mountains, that Chairman Mao (Mao Zedong) began developing his philosophy of government and leadership.

Jiangxi life is demanding, full of tough choices. Many of its citizens live in unimaginable poverty. Rural communities are dotted with shacks without electricity, plumbing, or even doors in many cases. Yet for all of this, the people of this region are hospitable and friendly.

It is from this region that God birthed a miracle for our family. We are the Greens: Jerry, Connie and Austin and the miracle that God performed in our lives is the addition of Lily Grace, through the miracle of adoption.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Orphan Visa Statistics

From the U.S. State Department:


The number of visas issued to Chinese orphans went from 7,906 in FY2005 to 6,493 in FY2006, an 18% reduction.

The Rumor Queen has some thoughts.

Massachusetts Mom on NPR's "This I Believe"

A mother's love
REHOBOTH - Jackie Lantry has four Chinese-born adopted children and she said it's possible to love them the same way parents love their biological children."

Absolutely. I'd take a bullet for every one of them," Lantry said.

Lantry, of 417 Tremont St., and her husband, Steve Szydlowski, own Five Acre Farms in Rehoboth. They grow and sell peonies, a specialty plant.

She said her friends, who have adopted and biological kids, say they love all their kids in the same way.

Unconditional love is what inspired Lantry to submit an essay to National Public Radio's revival of a 1950's program, called "This I Believe," in which celebrities, politicians and everyday people share their philosophies and ideas about life.

More on the Hague Convention

Stiffer rules should make international adoption process safer
International adoptions could get more complicated.

An international adoption agreement known as The Hague Convention will go into effect in the United States sometime next year, strengthening the rules that govern international adoptions.

It requires training for prospective parents, insurance for and forthrightness from adoption agencies, and proof that children are truly eligible to be adopted.

"The Hague Convention is the gold standard for adoption," said Marshall Williams, vice president of international adoptions and family services at Fort Worth's Gladney Center for Adoption. "It outlaws child buying and sets certain standards for adoption agencies and certain education standards families must complete.

"This is a good thing for families," he said. "And in the long run, it's the right thing to do."

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Adoption Group Meets in New York

Families with Chinese children gather in Nanuet
NANUET - Sarah Quinn sat comfortably on her mother's lap while munching on pasta at a holiday party last night.

Her mother, Alice Quinn of Nanuet, gently asked if her 2-year-old daughter wanted more to eat. The girl answered with a nod and a smile.

The Quinns were one of about 300 families gathered in the St. Anthony's School cafeteria that had adopted children from China and were getting help from the China Support and Adoption Information Group.

"I cannot imagine my life without her," said Alice Quinn, who adopted her daughter in February. "It's been wonderful. She adjusted very quickly. She's perfect for me."

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Priorities of Students in China

School Day 24: Urban-rural China
Students at three schools - urban, semi-urban and rural - in Guangdong province linked up to discuss how they can bridge the gap between cities and the countryside and reduce the inequality between rich and poor.

Note their answers to the following question:

Question: What do you care about most?

Pupil from Tian Jiabing High School: We care most about our studies, because we will be facing college/university entrance exams in a year's time [A-level equivalent], which in a way determines our future.

Pupil from Feng Xia Middle School: I agree with him - studying is very important to us, especially those of us who are poor students.

Pupil from Tian Jiabing High School: Only 20% of my time is spent on preparing for the college entrance exams, 80% of time doing other things. My parents think it's fine, they think I am old enough to decide what's best for myself.

All three mentioned studying and/or preparing for college entrance tests. Obviously these kids are instilled with the idea that a good education is a worthwhile pursuit. I wonder how students in America would answer that question.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Garage Sale For a Good Cause

Couple hope garage sale pays baby adoption bill
A Cape Coral couple hopes some money raised from a holiday garage sale will bring them closer to fulfilling their dream of an overseas adoption.

Tom and Jodi Shaw will have a garage sale Thursday through Saturday beginning at 8:30 a.m. at their home at 416 S.E. 11th Court. Their goal is to raise more money to put toward adopting a Chinese orphan.

So far, the couple has raised around $5,000, but an additional $17,000 is needed for a single adoption.

Wow, a three-day garage sale. I hope they make their goal.

Whitworth College Faculty Adoption Stories

Whitworth College faculty and the rising trend of International Adoption
Not only does Ginny Whitehouse, associate professor of communication studies, have two adopted children, but she is also the coordinator of the Spokane branch of Families with Children from China (F.C.C.), which includes 250 families who have adopted children from China.

Whitehouse adopted Kaili from Guiping, Guangxi in 2001. Kaili is now 6-years-old. Whitehouse also adopted Marie, who is now 2 and a half-years-old, from XiuShan, Chongqing. Both of her adopted children were about one-year-old at the time of their adoptions.

Whitehouse adopted Kaili and Marie through Dillon International.

“My sister, who is also a single mom, adopted at the same time,” Whitehouse said. “It is an important thing for us because we have nieces who are the same age.”

China Spending on Research & Development

China to beat Japan in R&D spend
China will overtake Japan to become the world's second biggest spender on research and development (R&D) in 2006, according to the latest forecast.

China is predicted to spend around $136bn (£68.7bn), on R&D in 2006, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said.

This is ahead of Japan's forecast spend of $130bn.

The United States will remain the world's leading R&D spender, predicted to invest $330bn.

The EU-15, which includes the UK, France and Germany, will spend just $230bn, the organisation predicts.

Adoption and Depression

Joy for new child turns to despair
As the number of overseas adoptions grows, more parents seek help.

In November 2003, Vicki Hummel came home from Russia with her newly adopted baby boy, excited to start a joyful new phase of her life.

Instead, the first-time mother plunged into despair. Even picking up her son, Alex, took enormous effort. She was convinced she could die at any moment.

Today, feeling better, Hummel has hard-won perspective on the little recognized and rarely studied malady that leveled her - post-adoption depression.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Montana Adoption Story

Twin Bridges woman specializes in bringing overseas orphans to families here
Tang JiaQi was found in a doorway in her native China, less than a day old, abandoned by a birth mother who couldn't care for her.

Four years later, she's playing with her three siblings in Twin Bridges, where she has a new home and a new name, and is part of a family that wanted her badly. Now called Delilah, she was adopted by Van and Heather Puckett, who had three of their own children but wanted to add to their family in a different way.

But Heather Puckett said although they helped Delilah get a new life, the couple and their children - Dalton, Daphne and Kirkwood - are the ones who feel blessed.

"We weren't doing it to save a kid," the 33-year-old said in the family's home. "We were doing it to grow our family, and this is the way we wanted to do it.

"We didn't save her; she saved us," Heather added.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Odds and Ends

It’s a two birthday party weekend coming up. Such is life for our little socialite. Two weeks ago, it was ice skating. Tomorrow, the theme is The Little Mermaid and Sunday is a ballerina dance party. I don’t remember birthday parties having themes when I was a kid, aside from eating cake and ice cream. Which was fine by me. In addition to these latest soirées, Ally has attended a Dora the Explorer party, a Pawsenclaws build-a-bear party, a gymnastics-themed party and a princess tea party (her own). All in the last year. And now they give out swag, little gift bags of candy, toys, stickers and other trinkets the hostess confers on her guests. Times have changed.

Last week, we had formal pictures taken for the first time as a family. And by “formal”, I mean taken by somebody who knows what they’re doing with a camera. Normally, I don’t like to sit for pictures, especially in a studio setting. Everyone looks nice and all, but it looks so phony. We never look like we do in those pictures, save for the amount of time it takes for the shutter to open and close. But you know what? After seeing the finished product, I have to admit they look pretty good. In fact, we picked one shot that we’re using for our Christmas card.

We do the picture cards for Christmas now. I’ve written the “Christmas letter” a couple of times. It’s hard to do that and not come off sounding like an insufferable boor or an egotist. But at the same time, I like reading other people’s letters. For some reason, they never sound that way to me. A simple recitation of the facts, positive or not, of the past year makes for an adequate epistle. I can’t do that. I agonize and twist myself around the words so much that whatever I write doesn’t sound like me at all. Perhaps that’s because I’m an engineer and not a writer. In fact, it’s taken me seven hours to write this. If people want to read about our life, I’ll direct them here. From now on, our family and friends will have to be content with a picture at Christmas time.

Cold weather’s a comin’. High today: 73. High tomorrow: 52, and descending thereafter. The last vestige of warm weather is being blown out by a massive cold front that’s already wreaked havoc on the Midwest. Already the wind has picked up. We don’t expect any snow, but the cold weather will herald in the holiday season and remind me that there are a dwindling number of shopping days left. I always say I’ll stay away from the brick and mortar stores, but I know there will be at least one thing I can’t, or won’t, get online, at which point strategy is the order of the day to avoid the crowds.

We try not to go overboard with gifts, not wanting to instill in Ally the idea that that’s what Christmas is all about. I’m waiting for the switch to flip in her head that tells her SHE MUST HAVE EVERY BRATZ DOLL AND MY LITTLE PONY NOW!!! Fortunately, that hasn’t happened yet. I’m heartened by the fact that she likes us to read her the nativity story, even when it’s not Christmas time, and we do our best to keep her grounded in that. She knows about Santa but we try not to associate him with gift giving. To her, he’s just a guy in a red suit you have your picture taken with. Any attributes of omniscience are de-emphasized. Besides, Santa’s a works-based legalist.

So, that’s the state of things now. Have a good weekend and stay warm.

Chen Guangcheng Convicted Again

How predictable:

China activist's verdict upheld
A court in China has upheld a sentence of four years and three months in jail given to a prominent human rights activist, Chen Guangcheng.

Mr Chen, who is blind, was originally convicted in August of damaging property and disrupting traffic.

But that sentence was unexpectedly overturned due to what the court said were procedural violations, which led to a third hearing on Monday.

Trouble For Guatemalan Adoptions?

Guatemala fears U.S. child adoption ban
Guatemala fears the United States could suspend child adoptions from the Central American country if it fails to implement an international treaty against child trafficking, a government official said.

The United States, by far the world's largest international adopter, plans to implement the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoptions next year, which would toughen standards to prevent fraud and the selling of children.

Guatemala, which ranks third after China and Russia as the most popular source of foreign adoptions, ratified the treaty in 2002 but it has yet to implement any of its requirements.

"There will be an implicit moratorium once the United States ratifies the Hague Convention," Josefina Arellano, head of child protection at the attorney general's office, said on Thursday.

The treaty would prevent the United States from adopting from any non-compliant countries, she told Reuters. "The number of adoptions could drop to zero."

Celebrating "Gotcha" Day

Adoptive families celebrate the day they and kids 'got' each other

"We watch the video and talk about how special it is," says adoptive parent Cara Finger, noting the viewing comes at the end of the day's observance that includes dinner at Pei Wei and a trip to a Brentwood ice cream parlor.

She and husband Christian III have three children. Oldest child Caroline, 5½, is their biological offspring. Corinne, 4, is from China, and Christian IV, 16 months, has recently come home from Russia.

"We celebrate Corinne's Gotcha Day Aug. 17. That's the day she was placed in my arms. Right now there's this controversy on a Russian chat room I'm in. They say it shouldn't be called Gotcha Day, but call it 'Forever Family Day.' ''