Sunday, February 18, 2007

Chinese New Year in New Jersey

LONG BRANCH — When 6-year-old Jordana Friedli left for school Friday, she brought along 11 red envelopes, each one stuffed with 50 cents, to give to her classmates.

Jordana, who was adopted from China and came to the United States when she was 13 months old, is the only student of Chinese ancestry in her class at the Gregory School. She and her mother, Joanna Friedli, wanted to share the Chinese tradition of giving out red envelopes for luck and prosperity to start the Chinese New Year, which begins Sunday.

"She may have been baptized in a Greek Orthodox church and she may go to Sunday school, but she's still Chinese," said Friedli, 49, of Long Branch.

The Friedlis are part of a growing group of Americans who have adopted children from China and who are faced with a delicate balancing act — how to help their children assimilate into the culture of the West while maintaining the traditions of their homeland in the East.

For many American families who have adopted babies from China, the Chinese New Year celebration is a time to embrace the heritage of their children.


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