Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The "Evil Empire" in China

Even the New York Yankees are outsourcing:

Joining China to Find a Yao Who Can Hit
BEIJING, Jan. 30 — Two of the world’s most closely watched empires signed a deal here Tuesday. China wants a half-decent national baseball team. The Yankees want a toe in the Chinese sports market, and the chance to find — better yet, develop — Major League Baseball’s Yao Ming.

In a ceremony at China’s national sports ministry, the Yankees’ president, Randy Levine, committed the team to helping the Chinese Baseball Association train and develop young talent while also trying to promote baseball in a country in which it remains virtually unknown.

The Yankees agreed to help establish baseball academies in China and also send coaches, scouts and “player-development people” here in a few months.

Monday, January 29, 2007

...And We're Not Talking About Polkas

Chinese cautiously pole dance their way to fitness
BEIJING (Reuters Life!) - Treadmills are run-of-the-mill -- Luo Lan wants the Chinese masses to pole dance instead.

As manager of Beijing's first pole dancing school, Luo says she is trying to make exercise fun -- and not morally corrupt anyone in a country where this kind of dancing is associated with seedy bars and sex is still a taboo topic.

But she admits she has had a tough time convincing people that pole dancing, which has a celebrity following said to include pop star Britney Spears and heiress Paris Hilton, is great for your health.

Beijing: The "Moral" Olympics?

China warns on Olympics morality
Chinese authorities have warned government and Olympic officials not to indulge in corrupt or immoral behaviour during the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Officials will be monitored to ensure they are living clean lifestyles, the China Daily newspaper reported.

The city's communist party chief has specifically warned officials not to be "dissipated by wine and women".

Liu Qi, also the organising committee chief, cautioned officials not to visit "entertainment venues" after work.

Detroit Free Press on China's New Adoption Poilcy

China gets too strict on adoptions
January 29, 2007

Chinese children deserve better than the highly restrictive new foreign adoption guidelines their government is eyeing.

If the rules go into effect, as expected, early next year, obese, middle-aged or single prospective parents need not apply. Countries clearly have a right to set rules, but China seems more intent on pushing the boundaries of good taste than protecting children. Russia, on the other hand, is changing its rules in a smarter way: requiring mental health assessment.

That's a much more reasonable focus than China's absurd interest in fat and marital status. Without some change, China's policy jeopardizes thousands of needy children's ability to find safe homes, particularly in America. Since 1989, some 48,000 Chinese children have been adopted, according to the Joint Council on International Children's Services in Alexandria, Va. The new standard is bound to strain that relationship.

Obesity may be an indicator of potential health risks, but it's a poor predictor of parental ability. So is the notion of banning middle-age prospective parents above age 50. Often, they are the people with the most free time and life experiences to offer.

As nice as it would be to see a rise in American adoptions, families interested in looking to China first should not have their interest denied based on the size of their waistlines or their proximity to middle age.

They could be just the parents some child needs.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

China's Nouveau Riche Acquiring a Taste for Wine

For China's Newly Affluent, Imported Wine Is De Rigueur
"More and more Chinese drink wines, because it's fashionable and a kind of social status," said Zhou Ning, market strategy manager of a Beijing-based real estate company whose ads often feature young couples drinking wine or beautiful women lounging with a glass of wine. "We include wine in our ads because we want to tell potential customers that people living in our apartments are elegant and cultivated, and they pay attention to quality of life."

This country has a growing urban middle class; experts estimate that roughly 500,000 Chinese earn as much as $64,000 a year, though exact figures are hard to come by. Meanwhile, the tastes of the newly affluent in Beijing and Shanghai have driven sales of a wide variety of luxury items.

Friday, January 26, 2007

"Ghost Brides"


Report: Chinese police detain men for deaths of 2 women sold as 'ghost brides'
BEIJING: Police in northern China have detained three men for the deaths of two women whose corpses were to be sold as "ghost brides" to accompany dead men in the afterlife, state media said.

Authorities indicated that the killings last year were not isolated cases, the Legal Daily newspaper said on its Web site, but did not give any details.

Yang Dongyan, 35, a farmer from Shaanxi province, said he had bought a young woman for 12,000 yuan (US$1,600, €1,200) and planned to sell her as a bride, according to the paper.

But then he met Liu Shenghai, who told him that the woman could command a higher price as a "ghost bride," it said. The tradition, called "minghun" or afterlife marriage, is common in the Loess Plateau region of northern China, where a recently deceased woman is buried with a bachelor to keep him company after his death.

Cooking the Books

The headline seems encouraging, until you find out they've changed the way they count divorces.

Report: China's divorce rate halved
BEIJING - It turns out Chinese couples are a lot happier than they seem.

China is switching to a more common international standard of counting divorces that will cut the divorce rate in half, state media said Friday.

From this year, China will count the number of divorces per 1,000 people instead of counting the number of people who split per 1,000 population, the official China Daily newspaper said.

The divorce rate for 2005 was 2.76, but according to the new method it was 1.38, the paper said.

Imagine that!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Chinese Migrants Face Discrimination

China Strains to Fit Migrants Into Mainstream Classes
SHANGHAI, Jan. 24 — It seemed like an ordinary day earlier this month at the Jianying Hope School for migrant children here, with fidgety students settling down in their modest classrooms as their teachers prepared for the day’s lessons.

Then the police officers arrived. At least 100 of them, according to witnesses, along with even larger numbers of security agents and local officials, who quickly filled the school’s courtyard and cordoned off the site. The private elementary school, the teachers and their 2,000 students were informed, was being closed.

“They just showed up and closed the school while we were teaching,” said one teacher, who asked that her name not be used for fear of official retribution. “Children were crying, teachers were crying and people were very scared. You know in China that the police are the most frightening thing.”

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Anna Mae He Case

This case is not one of a birthparent appearing out of the blue to reclaim their child. It's more complicated, since both sets of parents apparently knew each other from very early on in Anna's life. The real question was whether there was a transfer of parental rights or simply an unwritten agreement. Still sad for all parties involved. I do, however, take Shaoqiang He's comment as a bit of a slap at adoptive parents.

Court Rules Against Foster Parents
Chinese Couple To Get Child

The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled yesterday that a 7-year-old girl raised by an American couple since infancy must be returned to her Chinese parents, who say they never intended to give her up for adoption.

Shaoqiang He, a 42-year-old restaurant manager in Memphis, said he will probably return to China with his family after a transition period for Anna Mae He. She turns 8 on Sunday and has spent all but the first three weeks of her life with foster parents Jerry and Louise Baker.

"We have a big bedroom for her in our apartment, and we're going to buy clothing and furniture for her," He said in the telephone interview. "She knows by her face that she is Chinese, and she must be asking the Bakers, 'Where is my mom? Where is my dad?' "

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Wuhan Adoption Story

Wonder how the CCAA is going to handle this request:

Wanted: Grown woman for adoption
It's not that former Ministry of Construction expert Tian Zhendong and wife Ding Shuhui, a retired professor, don't have an offspring.

In fact, their son is a computer science major who joined IBM's Chinese branch after graduation. He is married to a woman who is highly educated, too. She is a dentist. But the two emigrated to Canada in 2000.

The elderly couple want their adopted daughter to be between 25 and 40, with a college or higher degree, but without living parents. She should be cheerful, kind-hearted, caring and unmarried. And she has to be living in the capital of Hubei Province.

Persistence Pays Off

A Chinese Morality Tale
Morning Edition, January 23, 2007 · A teacher in China had her bag stolen, losing her cell phone, credit cards and a lot of cash. Instead of calling police, a Chinese news agency reports, the woman sent text messages to her phone. "Keep the (money) if you really need it," she wrote, "to err is human. Correcting your mistakes is more important." After 21 messages, the thief returned the bag, the money and a note begging forgiveness.

After 21 messages, the thief probably had enough.

The Graying of China

China ages at alarming rate
Graying population clouds economic future, threatens major strain on public-welfare system

BEIJING -- The principal's office is now the mah-jongg room.

Classrooms have become bedrooms equipped with bells to summon the nurses. And the clamor of more than 1,000 elementary school students has faded into the shuffle of slippers through the halls.

Four decades after opening its doors in Beijing, the Dongzhimen Elementary School reinvented itself last year as the Three Harmonies Senior Citizens' Home. The transformation reflects a vast and sobering challenge on China's horizon.

"There are very few young students anymore, but more and more elderly people," said Three Harmonies' manager Wang Shuyuan.

A generation after China adopted its unprecedented one-child policy, the world's most populous nation is aging faster than any major country in history.

China's Gender Imbalance Will Sort Itself Out

So they say. It's hard to change "thousands of years of deep-rooted" tradition.

China says needs 15 years to tackle gender imbalance
BEIJING (Reuters) - It could take up to 15 years for China's gender imbalance to sort itself out, the country's top family planner said on Tuesday, admitting that three decades of strict population policies had contributed to the problem.

In 2005, there were 118 boys to every 100 girls born in China as wider use of ultrasound and easy availability of abortions compounded a traditional preference for boys. In some parts of the country, the imbalance is as high as 130 to 100.

"There are many reasons for the gender imbalance, and the first is the existence for thousands of years of a deep-rooted traditional view that men are worth more than women," said Zhang Weiqing, head of the National Population and Family Planning Commission...

"Solving this issue is rather difficult, and we may have to wait 10 to 15 years for the proportion to balance out."...

Last year it scrapped plans to make sex-selective abortion -- which is already banned -- a crime. Experts have said such a step would more effectively deter parents from aborting baby girls.
Zhang did not elaborate on what specific legal methods the government would use to deal with the problem.

But he defended the national population plan -- which he said had prevented 400 million births in the past 30 years -- and said it was wrong to think of it as a "one-child" policy...

Only just over one third of the population was strictly limited to just one child, but in 19 provinces rural couples were allowed to have another baby if their first was a girl, the minister said.

And in five provinces, including the southern island of Hainan and Yunnan in the southwest, all rural parents were allowed to have two children.

NYT Op Ed: Where Are All the Children?

[I'm reprinting the whole article because it's important.]

The Mystery of the Chinese Baby Shortage
McLean, Va.

ACCORDING to a State Department report released this week, American citizens adopted 6,493 children from China in 2006, a decline of 18 percent from the previous year’s total of 7,906. And yet, just over a month ago, this newspaper reported that China had prepared strict new criteria for foreign adoption applications because the country claimed it lacked “available” babies to meet the “spike” in demand.

China has always limited foreign adoptions, and it does not publish reliable statistics on the number of children in its orphanages. So how is one to know whether the decrease in adoptions reflects a lack of supply or a lack of demand?

In the week following the report on the new guidelines, more than one bewildered person said to me, “But I thought there were lots of babies in orphanages in China!” My response was to helplessly reply, “So did I.” My understanding of this was based not on conjecture, but on having been to China twice to adopt, having seen orphanages with my own eyes, and on research and other eyewitness accounts. Many hundreds and perhaps thousands of orphanages operate in China, most of them full of girls.

According to a February 2005 report in The Weekend Standard, a Chinese business newspaper, demographers in China found a ratio of 117 boys per 100 girls under the age of 5 in the 2000 census. Thanks to China’s one-child policy, put into effect in 1979 in order to curb population growth, and a strong cultural preference for male children, this gender gap could result in as many as 60 million “missing” girls from the population by the end of the decade, enough to alarm even Chinese officials.

And what happened to these girls? According to the International Planned Parenthood Federation (a term that takes on a whole new meaning when referring to China), there are about seven million abortions in China per year, 70 percent of which are estimated to be of females. That adds up to around five million per year, or 50 million by the end of the decade; so where are the other 10 million girls? If even 10 percent end up in orphanages... well, you do the math.

A few months ago, in a conversation with my friend Patrick Mason, executive director of the International Adoption Center at INOVA Fairfax Hospital in Virginia, I confessed a growing fear: that China, the country from which my two daughters were adopted, would sooner or later shut down its international adoption program. Dr. Mason immediately dismissed my concern, saying, “The number of orphans is just too great.”

And yet, I continued to wonder whether, as China increasingly asserts itself on the world stage and prepares to host the 2008 Summer Olympics, allowing Westerners to adopt thousands of infants each year would fit the image it wanted to project. I suspect not, and China’s new restrictions lead me to believe that national pride is more important than getting these children into loving homes.

The issue of abandoned and institutionalized children remains a taboo subject in China, a problem the government does not even acknowledge exists. The impulse to hide it seems to stem partly from embarrassment and partly from fear of revealing the grave human rights abuses the one-child policy has produced; surely, watching a parade of well-off foreigners cart off thousands of babies would make the Chinese authorities understandably uncomfortable.

But the answer is not to stop the foreigners from adopting; it is to put an end to their reasons for doing so. My fondest hope, and the hope of thousands of parents who have adopted from China, is for all the orphanages there to close because there are no more abandoned children to put in them. This will be accomplished only when China decides that there is no economic or political justification for the magnitude of suffering that has resulted from the one-child policy. The government must openly acknowledge the problem, in part by publishing verifiable information about the status of its orphaned children, and take real steps to correct it. To do so would go a long way toward building the international trust and respect China seems to want so badly.

China has announced the lifting of restrictions for foreign journalists in preparation for the 2008 Olympics. Perhaps this will allow reporters to look for answers to some basic questions: how many children are there in institutions in China? If there is nothing to hide, why do visitors need approval to visit orphanages? Why are only certain orphanages allowed to participate in the international adoption program, and what is going on in the ones that are not?

The Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption, to which China and 69 other countries are signatories, goes a long way toward ensuring against child abduction and trafficking; but it does not include provisions that would require member countries to report such information as the number of children housed in institutions or the criteria used for selecting “suitable” children for adoption.

The treaty states that “for the full and harmonious development of his or her personality,” each child should have the opportunity to grow up in a “family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding.” Indeed, it requires that each signatory take “as a matter of priority, appropriate measures to enable the child to remain in the care of his or her family of origin.” One could argue that China’s one-child policy directly violates the treaty by ensuring that many children will not remain in the care of the family but be relinquished to the care of the state.

Under the new Chinese adoption guidelines, the international adoption celebrity Angelina Jolie could not adopt from China (she’s not married, and alas, she and Brad have more than two divorces between them, which is a no-no); nor could the actress Meg Ryan (again, not married). Another person who is not eligible is yours truly. My husband is over 50, so I would have to trade him in, marry again, wait the required five years (another new rule) before beginning the adoption process, and by that time I would be sneaking up on 50 myself.

It is comforting to know that Madonna is still eligible, at least until she turns 50, gets fat (the new regulations call for a body mass index of less than 40), gets divorced or goes broke (anyone with a net worth of under $80,000 is excluded).

The Chinese have asserted that the demand for adoptions far exceeds the number of babies it deems “available,” based on criteria that have never been made public. We can only wonder how many babies will be left behind by Beijing’s new policies — perhaps spending their lives in institutions because of these arbitrary and artificial limits.

Beth Nonte Russell is the author of the forthcoming “Forever Lily: An Unexpected Mother’s Journey to Adoption in China” and the co-founder of the Golden Phoenix Foundation.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Pillow Talk

Chinese strike a blow for stress freedom -- and love
SHANGHAI, Jan 22 (Reuters Life!) - More than 150 professionals exchanged blows -- and phone numbers -- during a mass weekend pillow fight in a downtown bar in China's financial capital Shanghai.

The event was organised by local dating Web site and also included various dating games that involved pillows.

The crowd, mostly made up of professionals in their 20s and 30s, held no punches as they walloped each other during the 10-minute fight finale. In the end, there were broken pillows, scattered feathers and a whole lot of tired, but happy, spirits.

"I feel that everyone can let their hearts out, have fun together and do this without holding back," said 28-year-old kindergarten teacher who gave her name as Xu.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Finally...'s snowing here in Northern Virginia. We aren't expecting much, just an inch or two. Look for schools to be closed tomorrow and delayed two hours on Tuesday. As soon as Ally woke up from her nap, the first thing she wanted to do was play in the snow, what little of it there was. After a snack, she donned The Big Red Snow Suit and we ventured out. For about an hour.

UPDATE: From the Loudoun County Public Schools website, as predicted:

The people in Minnesota are laughing at us.

Our Referral: Three Years Ago

Everyone remembers where they were when the got The Call. Me? I was at work on a Wednesday morning. My wife and I had heard that referrals had been sent out and many on our May 2003 DTC Yahoo group were already posting their good news.

Our agency called Lauren at home with the information they had and, in what seemed like a confusing game of “Post Office”, she relayed that information to me over the phone. I took down what she said in my notebook:

If you can’t read my writing, it says “Shang Juan Shi, Jiangxi Province, March 9, 2003, Shanggao SWI, Nanchang City”. I had taken down the province incorrectly as “Giangxi” and crossed it out. Although I didn’t know it until later, her name was also taken down wrong, and I’ve already explained what happened there. As you can see, I looked up what Juan meant in Chinese, not having any actual Chinese characters to go on. Very dangerous. March 9, 2003 was her birthdate and Shanggao SWI was her orphanage, although we’d find out later she had been living with a foster family for all but one month of her life. Nanchang is of course the capital city of Jiangxi Province and it would be there where we’d meet Ally for the first time.

We wouldn’t get her pictures until the next day (an eternity!) and of course it was love at first sight:

Our log in date was April 21, 2003 (San Jacinto Day for you Texans; Aggie Muster for you Aggies) and our referral date was January 21, 2004. Nine months. A true "paper pregnancy". If only our second referral would come so quickly.

Friday, January 19, 2007

McDonalds Super Sizing Beijing

McDonald's Opens Drive-Through in China
BEIJING (AP) -- McDonald's Corp. opened its first drive-through in Beijing on Friday, launching a partnership with a major Chinese oil company to exploit the country's growing taste for both cars and Western fast food.

The Beijing drive-through is the first in McDonald's venture with China Petroleum and Chemical Corp., which McDonald's China CEO Jeffrey Schwartz said would open 25 to 30 more in the next 12 to 18 months. Both gas stations and drive-throughs are booming as car purchases by newly affluent drivers speed China's change from a bicycle culture to a car culture.

McDonald's and its partner, also known as Sinopec, christened the new two-story Beijing restaurant, set beside a Sinopec filling station, with a ceremony that mixed traditional lion dancers and a Chinese- speaking Ronald McDonald.

The Only Children

90M Chinese grow up as 'only' children
BEIJING - China's one-child policy has created a generation of "only" children that now numbers 90 million, a senior family planning official said Friday.

From the beginning of the one-child policy at the end of the 1970s through last year, some 90 million children who would never have siblings have been born, most in cities, said Zhao Baige, vice minister for China's National Population and Family Planning Commission.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Starbucks Thwarted in Bid For World Domination

Report: China Palace Starbucks May Close
BEIJING (AP) -- Managers of China's vast Forbidden City palace are deciding whether to close a Starbucks outlet on its grounds after protests led by a state TV personality, a news report said Thursday...

"The museum is working with Starbucks to find a solution by this June in response to the protests," the official Xinhua News Agency quoted a palace spokesman, Feng Nai'en, as saying.

A news anchor for China Central Television has led an online campaign to remove Starbucks, which opened in the palace in 2000 at the invitation of its managers, who are under pressure to raise money to maintain the vast complex.

That's my wife outside the offending Starbucks. It was relief to find it because we were starving and this was the only place around to get something to eat.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Model Children

Some parents in China are spurning education and embracing the superficial and sleazy world of child modeling:
China's pushy parents are shunning traditional ambitions for their children and have a new profession they hope their kids will conquer - modelling.

Stiff competition for top universities have parents fretting more than ever over their child's future.

So in a bid to find a new niche in which their children can succeed, parents are turning to the catwalk instead.

Chinese Women Look to Hong Kong to Skirt One Child Policy

Pregnant Chinese face HK limits
The Hong Kong government has announced new rules to try to limit the number of pregnant women from mainland China coming to give birth in Hong Kong.

The women are tempted by Hong Kong residency rights, the chance to dodge China's one-child policy, and higher standards of medical care.

But Hong Kong mothers say the influx has strained medical facilities.

In future, any pregnant woman coming from China without a hospital booking will be turned back at the border.

The rules are due to take effect on 1 February.

More on the CCAA Rules Changes

U.S. families puzzled by tighter China adoptions
NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York lawyer Meg Tolan is the mother of three adopted daughters, all of them from China, but if she wanted to adopt another, she couldn't. Beijing no longer considers her a suitable parent.

Tolan is a single mother and that is one of several new criteria that will rule out parents who want to adopt children from China, along with being overweight, depressed, married less than two years, divorced and remarried less than five years, or over 50.

The restrictions, to be implemented later this year, have led U.S. parents of Chinese children to question whether it is a bid by China, which has experienced rapid economic growth in recent years, to shrug off a perception that it is a poor country that cannot look after its own children.

"If I wanted to have another kid or if I decided that I couldn't I would like that to be my decision and not theirs," said Tolan, who lives in the Bronx borough of New York City and is mother to Hannah, 12, Julia, 9, and Celia, 4.

Memo to Miss Tolan: When China offers you the privilege (not the right) to adopt from their country, ultimately it's ALWAYS their decision. You are only a parent to your daughters because they've allowed you to be.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Reality Shows in China: Gov't Says "Enough!"

A better idea would be for viewers to start voting with their remote.

China threatens reality TV crackdown
China has threatened to crack down on "vulgar reality shows" this year, in a fresh drive to clean up what domestic viewers can watch on their TV screens.

But the surge in audiences watching competition-based reality TV suggests that the moral crusade will face opposition not just from viewers but also dissenting voices in China's media industry.

"There have been too many reality shows on our TV screens. Many are low-quality, low-brow programmes, only catering to the bottom end of the market," said Wang Taihua, general director of the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT).

Monday, January 15, 2007

Couple Adopts Two Girls From Ethiopia

Don't tell Roland Wilson or Solangel Maldonado:

Heitritters make Ethiopian girls part of their family
The Ethiopian national anthem gets played many times during the day at Steve and Laura Heitritter’s home north of Boyden. Their newly adopted daughter, Shaya, requests the song repeatedly. “It’s her connection to the life she left, and I think she’s still homesick and grieving,” explained Laura sympathetically.

Steve, Laura and two of their four children, Emma, 14 and Thomas, 8, traveled to Ethiopia last month to bring home two girls, Shaya, 41/2, and Megan, 11 months.

The two were living in an orphanage because their mother couldn’t support them. Since arriving in Boyden on Dec. 16, they have been adjusting to a new language, foods, culture and cold weather...

They first investigated adopting children from China, but then decided to focus on Africa with its many children orphaned because of AIDs and poverty.

Canadian Adoption Story

Chinese child finds new beginning in Sask.
Four wasn't enough for one Emerald Park family.

Randy and Donna Johnson travelled to China in October to meet the newest addition to their family, three-year-old Hannah. She's the Johnsons' fifth child, joining Kelsey (17 years old), Lindsey (15), Josh (14) and Hailey (3).

Hannah's Chinese name, Li Xin, means "new beginning" in English. Donna and Randy thought it was fitting and kept it as Hannah's middle name.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Violins: Made in China

China, the violin prodigy
Xiqiao, China — FOR more than 10 years, Wu Hong Fang's days have been filled with the same gentle sound, the quick chafe of sandpaper on spruce and maple. Working briskly, methodically, her hands a dusty blur, she sands violins all day, six days a week.

There is a rhythm to what she does, but you wouldn't call it music. Wu laughs when she's asked whether she feels any connection to the melodies these violins will one day produce.

"Basically," she says, "it's a living."

Wu earns about $100 a month working for Taixing Fengling Musical Instrument Co., the largest violin maker in the world. Its low-slung, low-tech factory sprawls over the center of this once-sleepy farm town in southeastern China.

The people of Xiqiao once grew cabbage, rice and other crops. Today the town of 35,000 is home to about 40 violin companies, giving it a credible claim to being the violin capital of the world.

NYT Article on IA

A question many parents who have adopted Chinese children are asked is "Why China"? One of the reasons is the relative predictability of the process in China. This article in today's New York Times tells the stories of several families who have participated in hosting programs, where older children from mostly ex-Soviet bloc countries get to live with a host family for a couple of weeks before going back to their country. The proecess is uncertain and the children may or may not be adopted.

A Taste of Family Life in U.S., but Adoption Is in Limbo
During the two weeks that Marino and Debbie Prozzo welcomed a Ukrainian orphan in their home, they fell head over heels for a 7-year-old child they may never be able to adopt...

Hosting programs, like the one that brought Alona to an American family this Christmas, showcase older children, generally from orphanages in former Soviet bloc nations. The programs have long been hailed as an effective marketing tool by adoption experts, who say 8 of 10 families would not adopt these children without a trial run.

In the largely unregulated world of international adoptions, these programs often lead to happily-ever-after, but sometimes end painfully. Ukraine and Russia place formidable obstacles in the path of parents, among them inaccurate information about children’s availability and health status. Multiple families can wind up competing for the same child. And children themselves know they are auditioning for what the industry calls their “forever families.” Then there is an entrenched system of favors — requests for cash or gifts from facilitators, translators, judges and others who handle the mechanics of adoption overseas...

The Prozzos had been deceived before by an intermediary who showed them a photograph of an adorable child they later learned was not available. So their guard was up before Alona’s visit in December.

“We won’t let this child call us ‘mama’ or ‘papa’ because we aren’t,” Mr. Prozzo said. But Alona’s visit had barely begun when she jumped into his outstretched arms and called him “papa.”

“Now what?” Mr. Prozzo said, melting. “Now what?”

Friday, January 12, 2007

Gender Imbalance

China facing major gender imbalance
China will have 30 million more men of marriageable age than women in less than 15 years as a gender imbalance resulting from the country's tough one-child policy becomes more pronounced, state media reported Friday.

The tens of millions of men who will not be able to find a wife could also lead to social instability problems, the China Daily said in a front-page report.

China imposed strict population controls in the 1970s to limit growth of its huge population, but one side effect has been a jump in gender selection of babies. Traditional preferences for a son mean some women abort their baby if an early term sonogram shows it is a girl.

"Discrimination against the female sex remains the primary cause of China's growing gender imbalance," Liu Bohong, vice director of the women studies institute under the All-China Women's Federation, was quoted as saying in a report from the State Population and Family Planning Commission.

Sex selective abortion is prohibited but the government says the practice remains widespread, especially in rural areas.

The report, carried in the newspaper, said China's sex ratio for newborn babies in 2005 was 118 boys to 100 girls, a huge jump from 110 to 100 in 2000.

In some regions such as the southern provinces of Guangdong and Hainan, the ratio has ballooned to 130 boys to 100 girls, the newspaper said. The average for industrialized countries is between 104 and 107 boys for every 100 girls.

The report predicted that by 2020 the imbalance would mean men of marriageable age — especially those with low income or little education — would find it difficult to find wives, resulting in possible social problems.

The problem is not just a rural issue, with the newborn gender imbalance also widening in cities. In the first 11 months of 2006, there were 109 boys born in Beijing for every 100 girls.

China Daily said one way to solve the problem would be to create a proper social security system so rural couples would not feel they needed a son to depend on when they get old.

Up to 800 million of China's 1.3 billion people live in the countryside.

World's Tallest Ferris Wheel

Shanghai scraps world's tallest Ferris wheel plan
SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China's booming financial hub of Shanghai has ditched plans to build the world's tallest Ferris wheel and will build a skyscraper in its place, state media said.

The wheel would have stood about 656 feet (200 meters) high and have 36 cabins able to take more than 1,000 visitors at a time, Xinhua news agency said in a report seen on Friday.

It would have stripped the world's-tallest title from the 135-meter London Eye, and could have cost up to 800 million yuan ($103 million), Xinhua said.

But a Chinese Ferris wheel could still have its day in the sun, as a developer in China's landlocked eastern province of Jiangxi wants to register its 160-metre-high wheel as the world's tallest.

The Star of Nanchang, named after the provincial capital, opened for business last May, and cost 57 million yuan to build, Xinhua said.

The developer of that wheel said application procedures for an entry in the Guinness Book of Records as the world's tallest wheel were underway, the report added.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

UK Girl Wins Poetry Contest

Award for back-to-China poem
A BUDDING poet has won a national award after writing about her adoption from China.
Josephine Chunrui Jay, 10, beat off competition from more than 6,000 children across the country to win the nine to 11 age category of the Children’s Poetry Bookshelf contest.
Josephine, who lives with her parents John Jay of the Sunday Times and financial journalist Judi Bevan in Belsize Road, was awarded her top prize by broadcaster and poet Ian McMillan at a ceremony in December.
Her poem, From Past to Present, is about a trip she took back to China to visit her orphanage in Hanghou, and the doorstep she was abandoned on – which she calls the “finder’s stone” because she was found there.
Josephine, who goes to South Hampstead Junior School, said: “When I found out at school I felt really proud and I really wanted the day to end so I could tell my mum.”
She said her poem took just 15 minutes to write.

From Past to Present

An unwanted daughter,
from the rice fields of China.
Born across to the land of rain.
Raised by a family loving and true.
Never prone to seek the spotlight,
Nor the teachers’ empty words.
Skilled with pen, from tutor of father,
along with brush, only time can tell.
Being taught the tongues of many.
Returned to the land of rice to see
the finder’s stone.
Outside the walls of the forbidden city,
once barred to many.
On the boundaries, tall.
Back to the home, once protecting.
Then to the orphanage who covered my head

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Adoption Story

Normally, I identify adoption stories by state or country, but this one is a little different. Lieutenant Colonel Schmid, originally from Missouri, is currently stationed in Okinawa. The story is from a New Zealand newspaper, where Tessla was baptized and Loise Schmid is from Western Samoa and is half Chinese. Let's just call it a world adoption story.
Abandoned newborn Tessla Schmid was just a few hours old when a stranger found her on a convent doorstep in China.
Her mother left no clues and the tiny waif was sent off to an orphanage - identity unknown.
Today, Tessla is the much-loved adopted daughter of United States marine Lieutenant Colonel Steve Schmid and his wife Loise.
She has a sister - also adopted - and a huge extended family spread all over the world.

Canadian Mom Anxiously Awaiting May 1 Deadline

`Golden age' of adoptions from China fading fast
Anne Marie Devine has always felt blessed to be a mom. But now she feels even luckier.
Devine, who is single and lives in Newmarket, adopted her daughter Julia, 4, from China and brought her to Canada just before the girl's first birthday. And she is eagerly awaiting news about her application to adopt a second daughter.
But as of this May, China's tighter rules on foreign adoption would essentially push single adults like Devine to the bottom of the rapidly growing waiting list – along with potential parents who are physically disabled, obese, on medication for depression or anxiety, or who have a facial deformity...
China accounted for 973 of Canada's 1,871 foreign adoptions in 2005.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Friendly Skies

Good news, as we live about fifteen minutes from Dulles International Airport:

United Picked for Nonstop Dulles-Beijing Route
United Airlines today won tentative federal government approval to begin daily nonstop flights between Washington Dulles International Airport and Beijing...

The Washington-Beijing service, which could begin as early as March 25, would further enhance Dulles' reputation as an airport offering nonstop, long-haul flights. The airport already offers nonstop service to such overseas destinations as Tokyo, Seoul, Johannesburg and Buenos Aires...

The DOT said it chose United's bid because a Washington-Beijing route has "the potential to benefit the greatest number of passengers," the agency said in a news release. "More people travel from the Washington metro area [to China] than from any other U.S. city that currently does not have nonstop U.S.-China service."...

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which runs Dulles and Reagan National airports, said today that the D.C. area was a logical choice for the route because it has the largest population among U.S. communities that do not have nonstop service to China...

With the Dulles-Beijing service, United would offer more than 253,000 seats annually in the U.S.-China market, according to the DOT.

United plans to use a 347-seat Boeing 747-400 on the route. The airline says two of its code-share partners, Air China and Shanghai Airlines, will offer connections in Beijing to other cities in the region.

More on the Terror Raid in Xinjiang

China says terror raid finds ties abroad
Police found links to international terrorist groups during a raid on an alleged terror camp in China's restive western Muslim region last week, the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday...

"There is a large amount of evidence that shows, including evidence we got from this raid, that the ETIM is associated with international terrorist forces," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao.

He also said that the group "planned, organized and carried out a series of violent terrorist activities in China."


Liu gave no specific details about the alleged evidence or attacks and did not say which overseas terror groups those arrested were linked to. China has said before that ETIM has links to al-Qaida.

More People Learning Chinese

Mandarin learning soars outside China
In just five years, the number of non-Chinese people learning Mandarin Chinese has soared to 30 million. What is fuelling this expansion, and will it change the status of English as a global language?

Paula Zahn Redux

Last night, Paula Zahn of CNN revisited the topic of Chinese adoption due the tremendous hue and cry over her deplorable show last Friday. Here’s how she opened the segment:

[ZAHN:]We have been flooded with your e-mails, thousands of them since our segment on Friday about China's plan to tighten restrictions on foreigners adopting children. It's a controversial subject. And we brought it out in the open because of the potentially intolerant rules on who can adopt, only prospective parents who are thin enough, rich enough, and attractive enough.
First of all, I want to say kudos to all who wrote, called and e-mailed CNN after last Friday’s show aired. Our collective voice was heard and Paula had no choice but to do a follow-up. The fact that she acknowledged the tremendous amount of e-mails they received speaks volumes.

I didn’t watch the episode, but I have read the transcript. She invited back Roland Martin and Cenk Uygur from Friday’s show as well as introducing David Youtz, president of Families With Children From China of Greater New York and Ginny Gong, president of the Organization of Chinese Americans. Mr. Youtz and Ms. Gong offered some much needed balance and really should have been part of Friday’s show.

To his credit, Mr. Uygur sounded somewhat contrite in explaining his remarks from Friday night:

UYGUR: On the other hand, was I overbroad in saying that [race] -- implying, in my one sentence, that that was the sole factor? Absolutely.

I was overbroad -- I think overbroad, to the point of being wrong. I think there are a lot of factors involved. I think there are a lot of great people who do adoption for many good reasons. And God bless them for it.
Mr. Martin, on the other hand, still doesn’t get it. Responding to the charge that some of his comments might be construed as racist, here’s what he had to say:

MARTIN: Well, first and foremost, anybody who knows that definition of what being a racist means, having power over someone, that wouldn't apply.
By conveniently using a narrow definition of “racism”, that only those who hold power over another can be racist, Mr. Martin absolves himself of any wrongdoing and gives himself carte blanche to make any statements he wants, no matter how preposterous.

In addressing the so-called “preference” Americans have for Chinese children, here’s what he had to say:

MARTIN: I raised that question because, again, I asked, OK, if there is such demand in America for Chinese children, then what about American children? Now, the guest that you had on the air [Mr. Youtz], you asked him the question about whites adopting African-American children. What did he say? He said, well, that's a personal preference as to how people want to put together their family.
Once again, Mr. Martin fails to grasp the vast differences that exist between international and domestic adoption, as well as failing to address the policy of the National Association of Black Social Workers, who still maintain that black children should only be placed in black families.

Overall, I’m glad Paula Zahn did a follow-up show and on such short notice. I think that’s testimony to the amount of correspondence received in regards to Friday’s show. I can see her need in trying to bring diverse points of view to the table but the bottom line is some of those views are just plain wrong and deserve to be challenged.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Terrorism in China

You don't hear too much about this happening in China:

China 'anti-terror' raid kills 18
Chinese police have killed 18 people in a raid on an alleged militant training camp in the western autonomous region of Xinjiang, officials say.

One policeman was killed and another injured in the raid, which took place on Friday, a police spokesman said.

China is waging a campaign against what it calls separatist activities of Xinjiang's Uighur Muslim minority.

The announcement came as a Chinese official denounced Nobel Peace Prize nominee Uighur activist Rebiya Kadeer.

Angelina Rips Madonna

Cat fight.
Angelina Jolie has attacked Madonna for adopting a child 'illegally'.
She said the singer should never have visited an impoverished African country with the sole intention of choosing an infant.
Her comments follow accusations that Madonna used her fame and money to speed the adoption of one-year- old David Banda late last year.
'Madonna knew the situation in Malawi, where he was born,' said Miss Jolie, who has adopted two Third World youngsters of her own.
It's a country where there is no real legal framework for adoption...
Despite her own harsh words, Miss Jolie said she still felt sorry for Madonna, 48, who has been harshly criticised since taking David back to London to live with her husband Guy Ritchie and her own children, Lourdes and Rocco.

South Carolina Adoption Story

Local family learns value of international adoption
As 9-year-old Alyssah Ridley playfully runs around the living room of her home giggling, it's easy to see why her father describes her as a "ball of energy."

Tall, with long, dark hair and a bright smile, her parents say Alyssah is artistic with a great sense of humor. "She loves to write stories and put on plays," said her mother, Jean Ridley...

Jean said Alyssah is the daughter she and her husband Bobby always wanted, the daughter that they traveled all the way to China to adopt.

More CCAA Rules Fallout

Family Denied
Patricia Mounts has adopted three children and was planning on adopting more from China. But sweeping changes in China's adoption system will guarantee the 62-year-old Valparaiso woman -- and many others -- will never be able to permanently cradle another Chinese baby in their arms.

In May, adoption restrictions will go into affect in China prohibiting anyone who is older than 50, single, obese, poor, or physically or psychologically ill from adopting. Those looking to adopt must also have at least a high school diploma, and cannot have a criminal record. They must be married for at least two years, or be married for at least five years if either spouse had been previously divorced...

China's flexible adoption rules were why Mounts turned to the country in the first place. She was 52 when she adopted from China, and had been turned away from other countries that said she was too old. Mounts said she had been depending on China for her fourth adopted baby in the near future. Now that the rules have changed, her adopting days are over.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Connecticut Adoption Story

Three Girls And A Lady
The middle child actually came first. It was 1996 when Marie Carmenati traveled to Gejiu, China, to adopt her first child. The baby, whom she named Olivia, was 8 months old.

Four years later, Carmenati went back, this time to Hefei, to adopt a 9-year-old she named Anna. And so the first became the youngest.

Even with two daughters, the 48-year-old bank vice president felt her family was not finished. A single mother juggling a demanding full-time job at Chelsea Groton Bank's mortgage department and two active girls now 15 and 11, Carmenati knew she needed to make one more trip east.

In January 2006, she brought home 4-year-old Sophia from an orphanage in Nanchang. And so the first became the middle, and the family became complete.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Harbin Ice Festival

From BBC News:

Check 'em out, they're incredible.

Fewer Foreign Adoptions in U.S.

Foreign adoptions in U.S. drop in 2006

After tripling over the past 15 years, the number of foreign children adopted by Americans dropped sharply in 2006, the result of multiple factors which have jolted adoption advocates and prompted many would-be adoptive parents to reconsider their options.

The consequences could be profound for the ever-growing numbers of Americans interested in adopting abroad. Already, some have had their hopes quashed by tightened eligibility rules in China; adoptions from Africa, where millions of children have been orphaned by AIDS and wars, could increase if those from China and Eastern Europe continue to decrease...
{sarcasm on}

Don't tell that to Roland Martin or Solangel Maldonado. They think we're all racists for choosing China and wouldn't even consider Africa if China continues to decrease.

{sarcasm off}

The number of orphans and abandoned babies in China remains substantial, though authorities say it is dwindling. About 51,000 were adopted in 2005, according to the government — 13,000 by foreign families, the rest in China.

Professor Li Luxin, deputy secretary general of the China Association for Juvenile Studies, said domestic adoptions will surely increase.

"More families are well-off," he said. "They own apartments and cars and it is a way for them to repay society by adopting an orphan."
So about 38,000 children were adopted domestically in China in 2005. That still leaves many thousands of children in orphanages and foster care.

The president of one of America's largest China-oriented adoption agencies, Joshua Zhong of Colorado-based Chinese Children Adoption International, said China's new restrictions were in line with those of many other countries, and he predicted China would remain the top choice for Americans seeking to adopt.

However, he hopes democratic reforms will occur in China that shrink the pool of abandoned children.

"I'm praying to be out of a job as soon as possible," said Zhong, a one-time child member of the Red Guard who came to the United States in 1986. "I want to see a China where no one will be abandoned."
What a selfless guy. I concur.

Paula Zahn Celebrates International Adoption

Well, not really. Last night on her CNN show, Paula Zahn attempted to put together a panel of "experts" to talk about Chinese adoption. Let’s see who she found.

ZAHN: One more time. Cenk Uygur, Roland Martin, Solangel Maldonado.
Cenk Uygur is a lawyer and a host of Air America Radio’s “The Young Turks” and, as far as I can tell, has no experience with international adoption in general, nor Chinese adoption in particular.

Roland Martin is a syndicated columnist and author as well as, I’m sorry to say, a 1991 graduate of Texas A&M University. As far as I can tell, Mr. Martin has no experience with international adoption in general, nor Chinese adoption in particular.

Solangel Maldonado is a law professor at Seton Hall University whose current work, according to her bio, “explores the reasons many Americans prefer to adopt children of color from other countries over African-American children”. As far as I can tell, she is not an adoptive parent to a child of any color.

ZAHN: Obviously the Chinese government is making it clear it wants to be more selective will prospective parents, it wants to place these children in the best family environment it can. Isn't that justified?

MALDONADO: Absolutely. I think we all know that China is a sovereign country. It has the right to place whatever restrictions on foreigners who are seeking to adopt their children that it wants. And adoption is really about supply and demand, and the reality is that there are many more Americans, many more Westerners seeking to adopt children from China than there are children available so the Chinese government can decide to do whatever it wants.
She’s right, China can do whatever it wants. And it is also true that there is a large “supply” ( for lack of a better word) of Chinese children who are eligible for adoption. However, given that most conservative estimates put the number of children in Chinese orphanages in the low hundreds of thousands, I doubt there are “many more Westerners seeking to adopt children from China than there are children available.”

MARTIN: OK, why? What's the big deal with Chinese children? Enlighten me, please, help me out.

ZAHN: You understand this better than anybody. Why don't we see more Americans adopting black foster children?

MARTIN: That's my point. What's the big deal with Chinese children? Why the infatuation?
Mr. Martin should familiarize himself with Chinese culture, which has always favored boys over girls, as well as China’s one child policy, which has been in effect for about 30 years. The shear number of children, mostly girls, left abandoned coupled with what’s generally regarded as a good and fair system of matching children to prospective parents, makes China a very popular country from which to adopt a child.

The question of why black foster children aren’t adopted transracially is more of a domestic vs. international issue. The National Association of Black Social Workers has always held the position that black children should be placed with black families, so perhaps Mr. Martin should take up the issue with them.

In regards to international adoption of African or other children of color, I personally know of Caucasian families (not named Madonna or Angelina) who have gone this route and are very happy. It just happens to be more difficult than with China.

ZAHN: You think it's something with the color of their skin? Is that what you're driving at?

MARTIN: Maybe they think they can adopt a smart kid that is going to grow up to be a doctor? I don't know. They need to realize that's called training, not just inherent, it will happen when they're born.

Angel, help me out.
I’ll help you out, Mr. Martin. I don’t know what my daughter is going to grow up to be but I’m going to love her regardless of what she chooses.

MALDONADO: Absolutely. This is something I've been looking into for a long time. Americans have this love affair with girls from China. There is this belief, this perception, irrational as it might be that if you adopt a little girl from China, she's going to be intelligent, she's going to be more lovable.
She’s right, I am in love with my Chinese daughter, but it has nothing to do with her intelligence. And I find most children lovable, regardless of skin color. It sounds like Ms. Maldonado is the one being irrational.

MARTIN: Like the porcelain doll.
Yeah, I need to hear the “doll” reference again.

MALDONADO: We definitely see that idea of the beautiful Chinese little girl, as compared to do, they really want to adopt a black boy.
The issue has nothing to do with race. They’re creating a controversy where there is none.

ZAHN: What difference does it make if the prospective parent has a facial deformity and the prospective parent weighs 70 more pounds than the scale says they should weigh.

UYGUR: I love the idea of them weighing people. All right. So you know, first of all, okay, so gay parents are out. That's a clear rule, but then also Dennis Hastert's out because he's way too fat. They put him on the scale, sorry. But I'd probably be out.

I don't know, maybe I'd have to go on an exercise regimen, to do the body mass indexes they pinch you in all of these different places.

ZAHN: You can fake it, suck it in.

UYGUR: Not me.

MARTIN: Paula, you raise the question - China, first of all, they do have the right to do it, but the flipside is what is the infatuation by Americans and other foreigners when it comes to adopting Chinese children? That is a real issue there, and why do we avoid other children and not just -- children who are here in America, who are looking for homes, and who just like Chinese orphans want a nice place to live.
Mr. Martin just won’t let it go. All kinds of Americans love all kinds of kids. Some feel that China is best for them, some Guatemala, some Russia, others domestic adoption. I think the “infatuation” Mr. Martin sees is that of people seeing their friends adopt from China and noticing what the process is like and deciding that that is the route they’re going to take to adopt a child. I’m sure if Malawi had the same system and the same number of children, you’d see quite an “infatuation” with Malawi.

It also has to do with publicity. Look at what happened with Romania in the early 90s. More people know about China now, so naturally, that’s where they’re going to look.


MALDONADO: I think what we need to do is we need to break down some of the misconceptions. For example, people believe if they're adopting a child from China, the child is going to be healthier than a child they adopt in the United States and that is just not true. Even if the child is born ...
The children in China are relatively healthy, but probably no healthier than children here in America.

ZAHN: It defies logic. The quality of the medical care many of these kids have suffered through the first several months of life.
Medical care varies in different parts of China, just like it does here.


ZAHN: What are some of the other assumptions you think people in America make about the native intelligence of children based on whether you're Hispanic - We had a guest on the other night when you were with us suggesting that Hispanic parents don't take education as seriously as some other sets of our population. There's a very complicated picture here.

UYGUR: And America is changing and some of the assumptions are going to change because of that. What really happens isn't of course that Asians are smarter. Immigrant families foster a culture where they work hard and emphasize education so Jewish families went through that, Asian families went through that. But now Eastern European families are coming and doing the same thing and African families are coming and doing the same thing. So I can't wait for 10, 20 years down the line, everybody's like I've got to have an African child. Because they're all geniuses.
Even though he was trying to be cute, Mr. Uygur makes a valid point here regarding immigrants.


ZAHN: All right. Hispanic ...

MALDONADO: Well the idea about Hispanic kids, it's sort of mixed. I think the stereotypes about Hispanic kids are both positive and negative. They believe that Hispanic kids are likely to work harder than black kids, but they also believe that they're not going to be as intelligent as Asian kids.
By the way, Guatemala is now second to China in the number of children adopted out of the country.

ZAHN: Muslim kids.

UYGUR: They're going to grow up to be violent. Who is adopting a Muslim kid? Has anyone adopted a Muslim kid in the last 20 years in America?
First of all, kids aren’t born Muslim. Islam is a religion one must either accept or reject when one is old enough. Besides, there isn’t much (any?) participation from predominantly Muslim countries in international adoption.

MARTIN: You've got somebody sitting there saying, keep the Muslim kid out of chemistry class. Keep them away.
Nope, no stereotyping there.

ZAHN: How about black kids? Do you think the average American out there makes the assumption they'll be lazy and never make it through high school?

MARTIN: I think they probably assume they're going to sing for them like Jay Z and play like in the NB[A].
I think Mr. Martin has proven he cannot be taken seriously in any discussion about adoption.

ZAHN: Anybody would love to have Jay Z's career.

MARTIN: I'd rather have Bob Johnson's. He's a billionaire and Jay Z isn't.

ZAHN: Thank you, Roland Martin, Solangel Maldonado. Thank you, all. Appreciate your time.

So on to another controversial question, who is smarter? Men or women?
Certainly not the men and women Paula Zahn chose for her panel. In the future, she should probably consider Jane Liedtke from the Our Chinese Daughters Foundation. Or someone from Half The Sky (Karin Evans would be a good choice). Or Steven Curtis Chapman from Shaohannah's Hope. Or Joshua Zhong and Lily Nie from Chinese Children Adoption International. You know, someone who actually knows something about Chinese adoption, not some ivory tower dwellers with an agenda.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Rush Hour in Xiamen

Forget motorway congestion - this is a traffic jam
The M25, central London, the Autobahn...if you thought these roads were traffic-congested then take a look at this picture.

Hundreds of cars queue aimlessly for the chance to actually get to their destination in Xiamen, south China.

The country has experienced a massive increase this year in the sale of cars, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

NPR: Single Adoptive Mom Looks at Options

Single Mother Looks Past China to Adopt Child
Michele Norris talks with Heather Wareing about Wareing's adoption plans. Wareing adopted a daughter from China more than two years ago; she is now looking to adopt another, but as a single mom, she will look to a different country.

Audio on the link above.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Jane Liedtke Article in China Daily

Ex-professor leads adopted kids home
Jane Liedtke remembers vividly the first time she set eyes on her adopted daughter.

"She was tiny, underfed and covered in lice," she said. "But we had an immediate bond; I could feel it so strongly."

It was 1994 and the then-university professor, who had traveled from her home in Bloomington, Illinois to China to adopt a child, had found Emily, a scrawny 17-month-old baby, living in a barren, State-run orphanage. She had been there for more than a year after being found abandoned on the steps of a small-town hospital.

Now Emily is a bubbly 13-year-old, and Liedtke is running a not-for-profit organization that helps hundreds of families from Europe and the US return to China with their adopted children. The Our Chinese Daughters Foundation (OCDF) has also helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for some of the country's most impoverished orphanages.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Restricting Abortion in Henan Province

China's Henan bans abortion drugs
Retailers in the Chinese province of Henan have been banned from selling abortion drugs.

The policy is part of Henan's efforts to "keep gender balance among newborns" according to the China Daily newspaper.

The one-child policy and a traditional preference for male heirs has led some women to abort baby girls.

According to the last census in 2000, 118 boys were born in Henan for every 100 girls. The global ratio is 103 to 107 boys for 100 girls.

Those who violate the new regulations will fined up to 20,000 yuan (US$2,560), the China Daily said.

China already prohibits abortions performed after a scan has determined the baby's sex, except for medical reasons.

But the government admits that, despite such efforts, selective abortion remains widespread.

Green Ham and Eggs

China heralds year of the fluorescent green pig
BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese scientists have successfully bred partially green fluorescent pigs which they hope will boost stem cell research, Xinhua news agency said.
A research team at the Northeast Agricultural University in Harbin managed to breed three transgenic pigs by injecting fluorescent green protein into embryonic pigs, Xinhua quoted Professor Liu Zhonghua as saying.
"The mouth, trotters and tongue of the pigs are green under ultraviolet light," said Liu.
Genetic material from jellyfish was injected into the womb of a sow which gave birth to the three pigs 114 days later in Harbin, he said.
China celebrates the start of the Year of the Pig in February.

Number of Foreign and Domestic Adoptions About Equal

More U.S. Parents Look to Adopt Overseas
Deb Myers and her husband, Peter, are expecting their fifth child this month, a young girl they are adopting from China. They already have three biological children and a son adopted from India.

"A few generations ago, we would have just been getting started," said Peter, a pastor in New Market, Md., of his large family.

Across the country on Bainbridge Island near Seattle, Chris and Rachelle Castleberry are raising twin toddlers Olivia and Vivienne. They were adopted from China last year, after a complex, at times frustrating process that took two years to complete.

The number of Americans deciding to adopt children from overseas is soaring, even amid high costs, mountains of paperwork and as some countries, notably China, are tightening requirements for eligible parents. In 2006, the U.S. Department of State issued 20,679 visas for orphans being adopted from other countries. This is up from just under 7,100 in 1990, but down from 22,728 in 2005...

Domestic infant adoptions peaked in 1970 at 89,200, and dropped off significantly following the legalization of abortion and the availability of birth control. In comparison, 22,291 U.S. infants were adopted domestically in 2002, the most recent data available, according to the National Council for Adoption. That's down from 26,672 in 1992.

CCAA Defends New Rules

China defends new adoption rules
BEIJING --China has defended new adoption regulations for foreigners that favor middle-aged married couples without physical handicaps, saying the rules were designed to help children and expedite adoptions.

The revisions have drawn criticism from U.S. adoption agencies and their clients who say that they are discriminatory and overly restrictive. The United States is the No. 1 destination for children adopted abroad.

Lu Ying, director of the China Center for Adoption Affairs, said the rules were aimed at guaranteeing "optimal family conditions" for adopted children.

"The new rules will help shorten waiting time for qualified foreigners and speed up the process for children, especially the disabled, so that they can go to their new families, where they can get better education and medical treatment, more quickly," Lu said in an offical report Wednesday.

The regulations, which take effect May 1, make it more difficult for overweight, single and "economically precarious foreigners" to adopt, while giving priority to stable, well-off foreign couples between 30 and 50, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

According to U.S. adoption agencies who were briefed on the rules in December, the new rules also bar parents who are wheelchair dependent, take medication for psychiatric conditions including depression and anxiety or have a "severe facial deformity."

Xing Kaimin, another official with the China Center for Adoption Affairs, told the China Daily newspaper that the revised criteria were devised to "protect children's interests and not to show prejudice against less qualified applicants, who can still apply."

Xing said overweight people were more likely to suffer from disease and might have a shorter life expectancy, which would impact an adopted child.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Happy New Year

Greetings. Sorry for the absence the past few days, but we were up in Long Island visiting family, exchanging gifts and eating food. We got back late last night after driving much longer than we should have.

Memo to Delaware: Get rid of that toll plaza on I-95. The only reason it exists is to create a 5 mile backup on holidays which only furthers my resolve to use a work-around next time. Just so you know, I drive extra fast through the EZ-Pass lane in the hopes that my transponder isn't picked up.