Monday, July 30, 2007

Connecticut Adoption Story

Worth the wait: International adoptions grow more complicated
Katrina and Tom Rusin arrived home in Wilton late on a recent night after two weeks in China, where they immersed themselves in the culture, visiting the Great Wall and touring a farming village.

Their return marked the end of another long journey - the two and a half years it took to adopt baby Kate.

The Rusins, who first sent an application in December 2004 to Wide Horizons for Children, an adoption agency with a branch in West Hartford, are one of many families who have weathered arduous adoptions.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Chinese Priests Arrested

Report: China Detains 4 Priests
BEIJING (AP) -- Four priests from China's underground Roman Catholic church were detained by police, a U.S.-based monitoring group said Sunday.

Three priests were detained Tuesday in the northern region of Inner Mongolia after fleeing their hometown to avoid arrest for refusing to join the state-sanctioned church, the Cardinal Kung Foundation announced. It said the fourth priest was detained in early July in the northern province of Hebei following a motorcycle accident.

It gave no details of what charges the priests might face.

China's Catholics are permitted to worship only in churches run by a government-monitored group with no ties to the Vatican. But millions who remain loyal to the pope worship in secret "house churches."

The priests detained in Inner Mongolia's Xilin Gol League region were identified as Liang Aijun, 35, Wang Zhong, 41, and Gao Jinbao, 34. All were from Hebei, according to the Kung Foundation, which is headquartered in Stamford, Conn...

The fourth priest was Cui Tai, 50, of Hebei's Zhuolu county, the group said.


Ally is pretty much out of afternoon nap mode, and has been for some months. But with all the daily summer activity of late (swim lessons, VBS, etc.), she's taken to lying down on the couch and covering herself with the blanket, which seems to induce sleep in about five minutes.

Florida Adoption Story

Area couples join growing number of people who've opted to adopt internationally
John and Kim Beagle knew they wanted children; they even had a plan, but the couple's plan got changed along the way.

Kim, a first-grade teacher at Talbot Elementary School, says the plan was to have a biological child and then adopt. But when that biological child didn't come, they decided to adopt first.

Like a growing number of people in the United States, the Beagles' hopes for adopting a child stretched around the world - all the way to China.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Things That Get You Killed in China

Stealing oil:
China oil thieves sentenced to death

Accepting bribes as head of Food and Drug Administration:
A Chinese Reformer Betrays His Cause, and Pays

Man gets death for kiln slavery

More FDA corruption:
China Sentences Official to Death for Corruption

Drug trafficking (and you don't even have to be Chinese):
Uganda: 10 nationals face death in China over drugs

Extreme VBS

Ally turned four this year, so that means she's old enough to attend Vacation Bible School (VBS). We figured one wasn't enough, so she went to two different ones in consecutive weeks. The first was at a large local church and was attended by over 500 children. The theme was "SonForce Kids" and the idea was to follow "Dr. No" all around the world and change him into "Dr. Yes". They got together in the mornings for a week and finished with a program on Friday night. All the kids were encouraged to wear sunglasses (secret agent theme, get it?) and Ally was happy to comply:

The next week, VBS was at our home church. It was much smaller, about 70 kids, and they met in the late afternoon/early evening, from 5:30 - 8:30 PM. Those hours meant we had to feed her something before we took her, then Lauren and I ate by ourselves later. Not having Ally at the dinner table was weird. We forgot what it was like when it was just the two of us and it was a reminder of how much richer our lives had become after she became part of our family.

Anyway, they had a sports theme and the kids broke up into different groups based on a particular activity (soccer, cheerleading, etc.). The youngest ones, like Ally, were in the Tater Tots and, from what I can tell, they did just about everything. The memory verse was Jeremiah 29:11 and Ally pretty much nailed it. They all got shirts:

And certificates at the end:

Friday, July 27, 2007

Missouri Adoption Story

Family tells their story of adoption
Malia Xi, Yong Zhu Berends -- a beautiful name for a beautiful little girl who’s name means enchanted pearl from the west.

At only 20-months-old, Malia met her parents, George and Marla Berends, and made a trip from Kunming, Yunan Province, People’s Republic of China, to Missouri.

Of course, Marla and George began their adoption quest two years before actually being able to meet and hold their little girl.

In October of 2003, Marla and George had seven grown children between them, but they had a heart-felt passion for making their plans to adopt from China a dream come true.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Interview With Mary Beth Chapman (2003)

I don't know why this showed up on my search for adoption stories today, but it's an interview Mary Beth Chapman did with Today's Christian Woman in 2003. Mary Beth, along with her husband Steven Curtis Chapman, founded Shaohannah's Hope.

Surprised by Joy
Mary Beth Chapman never dreamed she'd travel to China to adopt two little girls, or that they'd help in her journey toward healing from depression.

Weight a Factor in Domestic Adoption

It's not only China that discriminates based on weight:

Missouri Man Claims He Was Denied Adoption Because of His Weight
Gary Stocklaufer said he and his wife, Cynthia, were asked to adopt Gary's cousin's 3-month-old son because the relative couldn't care for the boy anymore. But a judge — the same judge who approved Gary's adoption of his now 7-year-old son — denied the adoption on the grounds of Gary's weight, Stocklaufer said.

Stocklaufer said he weighs roughly 500 pounds — though he's lost 35 and is working to lose more — and that his weight hasn't stopped him from working as a truck driver or playing with his son.

The couple said their attorney has filed a motion for a new hearing.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Hunan, Henan Increase Fines for Excess Procreation

China province sets huge fines for one-child rule
BEIJING (Reuters) - A Chinese province plans to levy fines as high as eight times the violator's annual income for breaking long-standing family planning rules that usually limit couples to one child, Xinhua news agency reported.

The provincial parliament in Hunan is discussing a draft amendment of local family planning regulations that would raise the fines after revelations this month that almost 2,000 officials and celebrities had broken the country's family planning laws, it said on Wednesday.

"Those who had an illegitimate child would face an additional fine six to eight times the income of the previous year," it said.

An official with the Hunan family planning commission told Xinhua: "The current penalties are too low for well-off people, and we are raising them to ensure social justice."

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

How Many Children are Abandoned in China?

According to UNICEF:

An estimated 100,000 Chinese children are abandoned each year, most of them disabled or girls. Some studies show this figure increasing. New laws have eased restrictions on domestic adoption, so more Chinese parents are adopting these children, and this is encouraging.

Evidence of neglect several years ago resulted in a significant effort by the government to improve conditions at China's Child Welfare Institutes (CWIs), and progress has certainly been made. China has adopted new policies and guidelines that promote de-institutionalisation in providing protection and care for abandoned children through family- and community-based approaches to child care, such as foster families. Even so, most abandoned children are still placed in CWIs, which basically function as orphanages.

Arizona Girl Returns to China

Girl's trip to China brings back memories
A Tucson teen recently made a trip to China with her adoptive parents and saw her birth country for the first time since she was a baby.

Kia Hitt, now 13, made the trip with Mike and Linda Hitt last month through the Dillon International adoption agency, which helped the Hitts adopt Kia in 1995.

Kia said she doesn't have many memories of the 2 1/2 years she lived in Qing Yuan, China, before the Hitts adopted her, but she always talked about a "rainbow bird" that seemed so exotic it couldn't possibly exist.

The Complicated Issue of China's Abandoned Children

I found the following article on a web site called Shanghaiist:

Adopted girl hits Catch-22
A WOMAN'S decision to raise an abandoned baby girl left on her doorstep at midnight has led to a terrible dilemma 14 years later.

"Without a residence certificate, she can't go to senior high school next year, go to college or find a job, or can't even get married," said Shi Jianlin, 46. "But as a human being, she has her rights."

About 1,000 children in Shanghai are in the same boat, city officials estimate.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Guangxi Riots: Update

China jails two men for birth-control riots
BEIJING (Reuters) - A court in southwest China has jailed two men who joined in violent mass protests against harsh family planning measures in May, finding them guilty of falsifying an official document, state media said on Monday.

Thousands of villagers rioted in several towns in Bobai county in the region of Guangxi from May 17-20, ransacking government buildings, burning cars and clashing with police, after being fined for breaching the one-child policy.

The Bobai county court "recently" sentenced a man surnamed Peng and another surnamed Li to two years and one year in prison respectively for stoking the riots, the Xinhua news agency reported.

Illinois Adoption Story

From China with much love: Girls true blessing for Streator woman
STREATOR -- Ten years ago, a rural Streator nurse practioner decided it was time to start filling her modern log home with children, even though she was single and intended to stay that way.

To fulfill her wish, Rose Schaumberg, now 54, had to turn to an agency that specializes in overseas adoptions. The result was three girls born and abandoned in China. She is planning a trip to China next month to pick up a fourth girl.

The Joncha-Klein Case: They're Court

Remember the Joncha-Klein case from last December? Walter Klein and Susan Joncha were shacking up boyfriend and girlfriend when Joncha adopted two girls from China. Since, at the time, China didn't allow unmarried couples, or single men, to adopt, Miss Joncha's name was on all the adoption papers and Mr. Klein was, in the eyes of the law, a stranger, even though they travelled to China together both times. You can review the story of their fight over Christmas visitation here and here.

When they split, he sued for visitation and she refused, thus setting in motion a protracted pissing contest legal battle.

Now a judge has given Walter Klein a small victory when she refused to throw out Klein's motion to see the girls.

Well, good. In the meantime, the poor kids, ages three and six, at the center of this tug-of-war are being exposed to this childish behavior by people who are supposed to exhibit maturity in their lives.

By the way, Joncha and Klein "dated" for thirteen years. I thought dating was a prelude to marriage, not the permanent status of a relationship.

And the wheels of "justice" grind on.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

A Definition


Pronunciation: \ˈrü-mər\

Function: noun

Etymology: Middle English rumour, from Anglo-French, from Latin rumor clamor, gossip; akin to Old English rēon to lament, Sanskrit rauti he roars

1: talk or opinion widely disseminated with no discernible source
2: a statement or report current without known authority for its truth

[My emphasis]

Source: Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary

Relocating From Manhattan to Shanghai

An adoptive mom settles in a new city.

Settling Down in a City in Motion
THE first week I lived in Shanghai, I was walking down Nanjing Street, in front of Cartier, and a man tried to sell me tiger paws. I was near one of the main high-end shopping plazas, a glittering mass of high-rise office buildings and luxury stores, when the man — rustic looking, darkly tanned and wild-eyed — approached me. Nearby, on a cardboard box, I saw his wares: the dried-out skins of indeterminate animals. He walked up to me and thrust out the two giant paws, clearly those of a long-gone big cat. He peered at me expectantly and waited for his money. I looked down at the moth-eaten paws and up at the diamonds in Cartier’s window, and I felt as one often does here, like part of a Surrealist painting.

I left Manhattan a year ago, after a lifetime there. I was annoyed at spending $20 for a hamburger, depressed by designer boutiques on Bleecker Street, weary of the hovering specter of Al Qaeda, and still grieving over the demise of the Thalia. I was getting old waiting for the real estate bubble to burst and the city to regain its vibrancy. I decided to move myself and my 12-year-old daughter, Lulu — whom I had adopted as a baby in China — from the old capital of the world to the new: to make a home in Shanghai, a city of the future.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Sound of One Man Clapping... pretty loud:

Man claps as loud as helicopter din
A Chinese man whose clapping hands are nearly as loud as the roar of a helicopter is hoping to get into the record books.

Zhang Quan, 70, of Chongqing city, had his clapping monitored by local environmental protection officials, reports Chongqing Business News.

His claps measured 107 decibels - only slightly lower than helicopter blades which measure 110 decibels.

"When I am clapping, even my own ears feels painful, no mentioning of others. That's why I usually don't clap," says Zhang.

Workers from the environmental protection bureau confirmed that technically Zhang could face arrest for noise pollution if he clapped too often.

In other news, lights are inexplicably turning on and off all around Chongqing city.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

"Cardboard" Dumpling Story Bogus

As was noted by a commentor in a previous post:

Beijing cardboard-stuffed buns a hoax
BEIJING - A freelance reporter for a Beijing television station has been detained for faking a hidden camera report about street vendors who used chemical-soaked cardboard to fill meat buns, local media said.

The report came amid a spate of real food scares involving toxic fish, tainted pork and egg yolks colored with a cancer-causing dye that have harmed China's reputation as an exporter and alarmed people at home.

Well, that's one less thing to worry about. I just hope the reporter doesn't meet the same fate as this guy:

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Baby Trafficking in Guatemala?

Very disturbing story:

Guatemalan police rescue baby stolen, possibly to be offered for adoption
GUATEMALA CITY: Guatemalan police rescued a two-month-old boy who had been stolen from his home and arrested four people who were allegedly preparing the baby for illegal adoption, an official said.

The rescue comes amid growing concerns about the Central American country's export of thousands of babies each year to adoptive parents abroad.

It was unclear where the baby was to have been sent, but police detained four people in the house where the baby was rescued and found a false birth certificate for the boy, said Jesus Esquivel, assistant chief of criminal investigations for the police force.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Christian Musician Adopts from China

Third Day's Brad Avery Adopts Daughter Canaan From China
Brad Avery, of GRAMMY-winning and multi-Platinum-certified rock band Third Day, is in China this week to adopt the newest member of his family, daughter Canaan. The event marks the end of a long process for the Avery family, who have been preparing for this adoption for the past two years.

After spending countless hours traveling the distance between the United States and Nanchang, China, Brad Avery, along with his wife, Mindi, and three daughters, Chloe, Charis, and Chai, officially welcomed Canaan Avery into their family on July 9.

Read about the adoption here.

China Solves Tainted Food Mystery

It's the U.S. media's fault, of course:

China blames food fears on foreign media
China's top quality control official accused foreign media of raising unnecessary alarm about the safety of the country's food and drug exports, complaining in particular about U.S. reports...

"Some foreign media, especially those based in the U.S., have wantonly reported on so called unsafe Chinese products. They are turning white to black," said Li Changjiang, minister of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine.

"One company's problem doesn't make it a country's problem. If some food products are below standard, you can't say all the country's food is unsafe," he said in comments Monday in the state-run China Daily.

Right, I suppose that's why they executed Zheng Xiaoyu, former director of its State Food and Drug Administration.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

UK Adoption Story...With a Twist

Our lone twin from China
Soon after bringing this little girl home from a Chinese orphanage, her British parents proudly posted photos of her online - only for it to reveal that she has an identical twin sister, also adopted abroad...

Just over three years after they began their adoption journey, last November Jo and Charlie went to China to collect the baby they had been matched with. They called her Evie, keeping her Chinese name as a second option...

And then, two months after coming home, the couple made a chance discovery that their daughter had an identical twin who had been adopted by family who live far from the UK. Both families belong to an e-mail group for the orphanage.

"I had put some photos of Evie up there and they saw her," Jo says. "We were shocked. Having believed Evie would never know any of her blood relatives, we now have as close a blood relative as you can get."

Chinese Dance Classes: Update

Earlier, Red Threads reported on a story about Chinese students enrolling in dance classes as a way to curb childhood obesity:

Chinese Students: Sweatin' to the Oldies

Some of the parents were concerned that such activity would lead to unbridled passion. Well now, it looks like they've changed the curriculum:

China takes steps to curb passion
China is changing the way it runs compulsory dance classes, introduced to tackle child obesity, because parents fear their children may fall in love.

Sports officials say they will now encourage students to dance in large groups or by themselves.

Some parents had expressed fears that if boys and girls danced hand in hand they might fall in love and put their studies at risk.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Forbidden Coffee

Starbucks Closes Controversial Coffeehouse in China's Forbidden City
BEIJING — Starbucks has closed a coffeehouse in China's former imperial palace, the company said Saturday, ending a seven-year presence that sparked protests by Chinese critics who said it stained the image of a key historical site.

The froth over Starbucks at Beijing's 587-year-old Forbidden City has highlighted Chinese sensitivity about cultural symbols and unease over an influx of foreign pop culture.

Starbucks closed the 200-square-foot outlet Friday after Forbidden City managers decided they wanted all shops on its grounds to operate under the palace's brand name, said Eden Woon, Starbucks' vice president for Greater China.

My wife and I actually visited this Starbucks during our tour of the Forbidden City.

Friday, July 13, 2007

China's Weather Modification Program

You know the old saying: Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it. Well, the Chinese are doing something about it:

Ready, aim, fire and rain

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Chinese Food

There doesn't seem to be any end to the food problems in China. Now we have this:

Beijing steam buns include cardboard
Chopped cardboard, softened with an industrial chemical and made tasty with pork flavoring, is a main ingredient in batches of steamed buns sold in one Beijing neighborhood, state television said.
Good thing the Olympics are coming up, or these problems might have gone unchecked:

China to begin Olympic food checks

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Russian Adoption

Good news for people adopting from Russia, which apparently has 700,000 children in orphanages.

Russia renews adoption agencies' licenses
Russia has reopened its doors to Americans who want to adopt children, re-accrediting seven adoption agencies based in the USA.

Licenses granted in the past two weeks will enable the agencies to resume helping Americans adopt from among the 700,000 Russian children in orphanages, says Lee Allen, spokesman for the private National Council For Adoption.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Prozac Nation

Under the new CCAA rules that went into effect on May 1, antidepressants are among the things you can't be on if you want to adopt from China.

CDC: Antidepressants most prescribed drugs in U.S.
ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Dr. Ronald Dworkin tells the story of a woman who didn't like the way her husband was handling the family finances. She wanted to start keeping the books herself but didn't want to insult her husband.

The doctor suggested she try an antidepressant to make herself feel better.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Chinese Officials Think They're Above the Law

Chinese officials break 1-child policy
BEIJING - Nearly 2,000 officials in central China's Hunan province have been caught breaking China's strict one-child policy, state media reported Sunday...

Xinhua said the officials were caught between 2000 and 2005 by the provincial family planning commission and included 21 national and local lawmakers and 24 political advisers.

Xinhua said some of the officials were discovered breaking the law only when they were being investigated for corruption...

[R]ising incomes mean some newly rich can afford to break the rules and pay resulting fines. In April, the government said it would crack down on rich lawbreakers with bigger fines.

South Carolina Adoption Stories

Five little girls on a journey of love
Some of them are found in front of buildings.Others are found in train stations and even flower gardens, but always in very public places.

Each year millions of newborn Chinese babies (nearly always girls) are abandoned by their parents. The children are victims of the government’s “one child only” law, which was enacted to help curb the population explosion.

[Not sure if it's "millions"; that might be stretching it a bit. - ed.]

One particular little girl was found on the front steps of a government building. She was quickly scooped up and taken to an orphanage. Like so many others, her parents had abandoned her.

But she had not been completely forgotten. Though she couldn’t have known it, there was indeed someone out there who loved her.

Thousands of miles away in South Carolina, Robin Cobb had felt a tug on her heart and a calling from God to participate in international adoption.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Friday Funny

And there's still a line outside the ladies room:

China Public Restroom Has 1,000 Stalls
They're flush with pride in a southwestern Chinese city where a recently-opened porcelain palace features an Egyptian facade, soothing music and more than 1,000 toilets spread out over 32,290 square feet...

"We are spreading toilet culture. People can listen to gentle music and watch TV," said Lu Xiaoqing, an official with the Yangrenjie, or "Foreigners Street," tourist area where the bathroom is located. "After they use the bathroom they will be very, very happy." [As we always are.]

...For open-aired relief, there is a cluster of stalls without a roof. [Careful, you never know what might show up on Google Earth.]

Some urinals are uniquely shaped, including ones inside open crocodile mouths and several that are topped by the bust of a woman resembling the Virgin Mary...

There are also plans to build a supermarket nearby, which will sell toilet-related items, CCTV reported. [It's not a supermarket if it doesn't sell "toilet-related items".]

IA: Some Warnings and Some Advice

An Op Ed from Richard Klarberg, President & CEO of Council on Accreditation:

International adoption not as easy as stars make it look
When celebrities such as Angelina Jolie and Madonna adopt children from desperately poor countries, they send a powerful message about the plight of these children and the need for inter-country adoption.

But they don't necessarily set a proper example. Although the number of foreign adoptions by American citizens has doubled over the last decade, from 11,340 to upwards of 22,000, most Americans do not have the means or the access of a celebrity. For them, inter-country adoptions can be a harrowing process.

IA is Getting Harder

No kidding.

Experts: International Adoptions Grow Difficult
CHICAGO -- Every year, hundreds of Chicagoans adopt internationally.

Many choose to go overseas to avoid the complication of birth parents and uncertain waits in domestic adoption. Now, those families are waiting longer than they ever expected to bring home a baby they can't wait to meet.

In recent months, political and cultural changes in China have made adopting internationally much more difficult -- now there's a much longer wait.

"It's a difficult time in the field of adoption," said Richard Pearlman, executive director of Family Resource Center in Chicago, which facilitates about 100,000 international adoptions each year.

Fact check alert: I think there are about 20,000 to 25,000 international adoptions into the US each year, so I don't know where the 100,000 number comes from.

Monday, July 02, 2007

PLA Gets Metrosexual Makeover

China military getting trendier uniforms
SHANGHAI, China - China is rolling out sleeker uniforms for its 2.3 million-member military, prompted by a bigger budget and growing involvement in U.N. peacekeeping, state media said Monday.

The uniform of the People's Liberation Army — plain, baggy green with red and gold insignia — had changed little in more than two decades since China opened up its economy and relaxed social controls.

The new uniforms will be cut closer for a snappier appearance and include casual and dress styles, along with battle fatigues.

Quebec City: Foreign Adoption Hot Spot

Quebec City has little diversity but is capital of foreign adoption
Little Deuxian and Xiao stand out like tulips after a spring snowfall in the neighbourhood where their adoptive Quebecois parents raise them.

The two girls from China are visible in any crowd in Quebec City, the least ethnically diverse place of its size in Canada.

“The first time you take them to buy groceries, you certainly get a second look,” says the girls' father, Charles Huot...

Quebec City is scornfully known in Montreal as “Le petit village.” But its homogenous, whitebread reputation masks the flipside of a paradox: For its size, Quebec City welcomes more children adopted from foreign lands than any other Canadian city.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Questions People Ask

Some things people say harken me back to Mad Magazine's "Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions".

Parent to Parent: 'Is she yours?', other adoption silliness
You're eating dinner with your young daughter at a restaurant. The toddler time-frame is short, so you inhale a salad while she's happily occupied with angel hair pasta. Life seems grand as a new mom, when a man at a neighboring table interrupts: "Is she yours?"


It seems that since I've become a parent, unfamiliar people make a beeline toward me, particularly when I'm out alone with my daughter: "Where did you get her?" (um, Saks Fifth Avenue!); "Is she adopted?" (Why do you ask?); "Is she yours?" (No, she's a loaner) ; "Does she speak Chinese?" (She's busy with Sanskrit just now); "She's not biological, is she?" (Very observant, Sherlock) - - and my favorite: "Does she understand you?" (I communicate with her telepathically.)

I answer strangers' questions politely, despite my inner snarkiness, but often wonder if I should bother.