Friday, August 31, 2007

It's What's For Dinner

In some places I've eaten, this would be called "truth in advertising":

No more 'virgin chicken' or 'burnt lion's head': Beijing improves menu names for Olympics
BEIJING: Hungry visitors to next summer's Beijing Olympics won't have to struggle to decipher bizarre English translations on restaurant menus, state media said Friday.

The Beijing Tourism Bureau has released a list with 2,753 proposed names for dishes and drinks, designed to replace confusing and sometimes ridiculous translations on menus, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

Foreigners are often stumped by dish names such as "virgin chicken" (a young chicken dish) or "burnt lion's head" (Chinese-style pork meatballs). Other garbled names include "The temple explodes the chicken cube" (kung pao chicken) or "steamed crap" (steamed carp).
When reached for comment, Anthony Bourdain said "The steamed is OK, but the fried crap garnished with warthog testicles I had in Malaysia blows this stuff away."

Washington Families Travel Back to China

The Pauleys, mentioned in the previous post, were one of several familes from the D.C. area who went back to visit China:

The Dawn Of Their Bond
Five American Families Who Adopted Chinese Infants a Dozen Years Ago Journey Back To the Very Beginning

CHANGZHOU, China --Twelve years ago, five families from the Washington area came to this city in China's eastern Jiangsu province to adopt children. They found little girls to welcome into their worlds and, in doing so, joined a new generation of American families that had only recently begun to adopt from this country.

Maryland Mom and Daughter Return to China

Coming full circle
Minna and her mother travel to China to trace her roots

She was found by a gate to the entrance of a police station. Abandoned by her parents, the baby girl wound up in a nearby orphanage.

And there she might have remained if Kristin Pauly, a then-51-year-old single woman, hadn't traveled more than 8,000 miles to Changzhou, China, to adopt her.

"It was one of those instant inspirations I felt drawn to do," said Ms. Pauly, an Annapolis resident who is managing director for a charitable family trust in Washington, D.C.

Fast forward 11 years, and her daughter, Minna, is about to start seventh grade at The Key School. Minna, now 12, takes private Chinese language classes and her mother has made it a priority to teach her about her birthplace. The real lessons, though, came this summer, when the Paulys returned to China. They spent three weeks investigating life there and tracing Minna's roots, even returning to the police station and the orphanage.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Michigan Adoption Story

Lahser coach lands his best recruit
STERLING HEIGHTS -- The thoughts and images Dan and Kelly Loria have when they look at their two young daughters must be astounding.

Whether Katie and Addison are playing outside, watching videos or eating breakfast, they seem inseparable -- as if they've been together forever.

Ten weeks ago Katie, 5, didn't have a baby sister.

That changed June 28, when the Lorias returned home from a two-week trip to China tired, disoriented and, most of all, overjoyed. The couple welcomed home Addie, whom they adopted.

"Having a second child changes your life," said Dan Loria, in his seventh season as Bloomfield Hills Lahser's football coach. "Nothing prepares you for this."

More Families Looking to Vietnam to Adopt

Adoption of Vietnamese Babies on the Rise
Jeff and Cerise Roth-Vinson arrived in Vietnam in late July to fulfill a longtime dream.

"We've been married for almost 13 years now, and we always knew that if we decided to have children, we would want to adopt," explained Cerise...

Single parents used to look to China to adopt. But China has instituted new regulations that bar foreign single parents from adopting, as well as obese people and couples with more than two divorces between them.

Chinese babies still make up the largest number of children adopted by foreigners, but the numbers have been falling. In 2005, Americans adopted nearly 8,000 Chinese children. In 2006, that fell to 6,500, and the waiting time to get a child stands at one and a half years.

It's approaching two years now, and increasing.

Families Not Given a Choice Fight Back

Chinese victims of forced late-term abortion fight back
QIAN'AN, China — Yang Zhongchen, a small-town businessman, wined and dined three government officials for permission to become a father.

But the Peking duck and liquor weren't enough. One night, a couple of weeks before her date for giving birth, Yang's wife was dragged from her bed in a north China town and taken to a clinic, where, she says, her baby was killed by injection while still inside her.

"Several people held me down, they ripped my clothes aside and the doctor pushed a large syringe into my stomach," says Jin Yani, a shy, petite woman with a long ponytail. "It was very painful. ... It was all very rough."

International Adoption and Work

From the Wall Street Journal:

For Some, Job Benefits EaseGrowing Hassles of Adoption
Flexibility at work has always been essential for adoptive parents. In anticipation of a Chinese adoption in 2004, Jean Walker, a marketing manager, shifted to a new job with her employer, Verizon Communications, New York, that required less travel. She laid plans with her boss for a substitute to cover her three-month adoption leave. Then, she waited -- for the call that a child was ready for her in a Chinese orphanage. It came within weeks, triggering a new flurry of paperwork, planning and leave-taking, Ms. Walker says. That adoption took about a year.

Oregon Adoption Story

Bringing Emma home
David and Dena Dwyer knew they would adopt a child from China when they both had dreams about being parents of an Asian child

TUALATIN — For two and a half years, David and Dena Dwyer, of Tualatin, had worked, dreamed and prayed with one goal in mind — to adopt a baby from China.

So when the day came on May 14 for them to meet 20-month-old Emma, who was born in Chongquing, China, they were excited.

But that emotional meeting didn’t turn out exactly as they had pictured it — when Emma saw Dena, she started crying and didn’t want to be near her.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Hong Kong Woman Abandons Newborn...

...and gets thrown in jail for it:

Hong Kong mother jailed for abandoning newborn on shop doorstep
Hong Kong - A 24-year-old Hong Kong mother was Wednesday beginning an eight month jail term for abandoning her newborn baby son on a grocery store doorstep six hours after giving birth. Yip Sze-wan put the infant in a box after delivering him in the bedroom of her parents' home and left him outside a nearby shop in the territory's Tuen Mun district, the South China Morning Post reported.

At a court case Tuesday, she admitted wilfully exposing a child and putting its life in danger and was branded "a liar and an irresponsible mother" by magistrate Kwok Wai-kin.

Kwok told unmarried Yip, who had given two previous babies up for adoption before abandoning her son, that she was "only a little better than mothers who strangle their babies."


Monday, August 27, 2007

Runner Girl

I don't care what her father says, this is nothing short of child abuse:

China girl completes 3,500km run
A Chinese girl has arrived in Beijing after running more than 3,550km (2,200 miles) from the southern province of Hainan in less than two months.

Zhang Huimin, eight, rose each day at 0230 and ran about 1.5 marathons (64km, 40 miles), Xinhua news agency said. Her father accompanied her on a bicycle.

He said the feat was aimed at drawing attention to her Olympic potential ahead of the Beijing games next year.

He denied forcing her to run, but some experts have said it amounted to abuse.

The girl arrived in the Chinese capital on Sunday after starting out in Hainan on 3 July.

Zhang Huimin, who is 1.22m (4ft) tall and weighs 21kg (46lb), is too young to compete in the 2008 Olympics but her father, Zhang Jianmin, believes she can compete in the 2016 games, when she will be 17.

Domestic media and some experts have accused her father of abuse, saying running such long distances could damage the girl's body and affect her growth.

"I make the training fun for her. I don't push her," Mr Zhang told the Beijing News.

"She loves to run. Many people don't understand us," he said.

Zhang and his wife have separated, mainly because she opposed his way of training their daughter, the newspaper reported.

"Whether people oppose it or not, we will soldier on," Mr Zhang said.

Adoption in the Military

Adoption no longer uncharted waters
Naval community in Naples offers support for growing families

Somewhere in China lives Marla and Matt Linton’s future daughter.

Her laugh is still silent to the Lintons. The girl’s touch still unfelt. Her name still unknown.

But the little girl one day will be chosen to become the Lintons’ adopted daughter.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

China Planning New Laws Against Aborting Girls

China plans tougher laws on sex-selective abortions
BEIJING (AFP) - Fearing the approach of a ticking "bachelor bomb," China is planning tougher laws against sex-selective abortions that have boosted the number of boys in recent years, state media said Saturday.

The State Council, or cabinet, is drafting special regulations that specify punishments for parents and doctors who abort foetuses after discovering they are female, the Xinhua news agency reported.

Abortions motivated merely by gender are already illegal in China but existing laws do not specify the punishment for such acts, according to Xinhua, which gave no timetable for the new rules...

In some parts of China, sex-selective abortions have created a situation where there are more than three boys for every two girls, Xinhua said in a separate report.

In a particularly striking example, there are 163.5 boys for every 100 girls in the city of Lianyungang in east China's Jiangsu province, according to Xinhua...

It is possible that part of the highly unusual sex ratio in China could reflect the practice of keeping girls secret from the authorities, allowing parents to try again in the hope of gaining a son.

Girls that are not registered will face severe problems in future as they are unlikely to attend school.

However, it is highly likely that a large proportion of the girls are dead, having fallen victim to the widespread use of ultra-sound equipment for determining the sex of unborn embryos...

Under the one-child policy, introduced in about 1980, China's urban dwellers are allowed one child, while rural families can have two if the first is a girl.

Ruthless enforcement has triggered widespread opposition, especially in the countryside where children are valued as additional economic muscle.

Riots have broken out against forced abortions and other measures, such as heavy fines, the destruction of homes and confiscation of property.

Friday, August 24, 2007

"Mom, was I supposed to be white?"

Cross-cultural parenting
When Judy Stigger's daughter Kathy was 8, Stigger took out all the congratulatory cards she'd received when she adopted her. She wanted Kathy to get a sense of the outpouring of love there'd been.

Instead, she was staggered to see pain wash across Kathy's face as she asked, "Mom, was I supposed to be white?"

Until then, Stigger hadn't noticed that all the baby faces on the cards were white. Stigger's face was white, too. But Kathy's was black.

Christians Still Being Arrested in China

Rights Group Reports Wave of China Arrests in New Drive Against Unregistered Churches
BEIJING (AP) -- Authorities have increased arrests on Christian groups operating outside China's sole official government church following a crackdown ordered last month, an overseas monitoring group reported Friday.

At least 15 leaders in the unofficial church have been detained in recent days across six provinces and regions, according to the China Aid Association, based in the U.S. city of Midland...

Those actions follow a crackdown on unauthorized religious activity ordered July 5 as part of a drive against crime and economic chaos at the village level.

"Strike hard against illegal religious and evil cult activity; eliminate elements that affect the stability of village governance," said the directive.
More like "Eliminate elements we don't understand, can't control and therefore threaten us".


The association said some of those arrested had been conducting worship services or vacation bible camps, including Kong Lingrong, who was running a Bible study class for young people on July 14 when it was interrupted by local officials.

Determined to make her stop, they cut water and electricity to her home, the association said.

Authorities have demanded Kong guarantee in writing that she would not conduct such classes in future, warning that until she does so, they would also cut power and water to the homes of anyone found meeting with her, it said.

How China ever got to host the Olympics is beyond me.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

China's Four Day Pollution Reduction Experiment


China hails car trial a 'success'
A four-day scheme that took 1.3 million cars off Beijing's streets reduced air pollution by 15-20%, officials in the Chinese capital say.

Not successful:

China prays for Olympic wind as car bans fail to shift Beijing smog
More than a million cars were taken off the roads for the four-day test period, but there was no improvement in the air quality, according to city officials.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Americans Living in China, Adopting in China

Expats open homes, hearts to Chinese babies
"After having two biological children, we felt if we wanted a larger family, we would expand through adoption since there were so many babies in the world who needed families," says American Robert Hulse who, with his wife Holly, adopted a third child in Shanghai.

Hulse and his wife moved here from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1999. He says the family "had settled into a routine of four but, once in China, the desire to expand came to us. We felt that with some experience, we could offer a Chinese child not only a loving family but also a family that would be able to share stories about their country of origin."

Five years later the family got their fifth member, a six-month-old son they named Jason, joining Chelsea, 12, and Austin, 10.


American Diane Vansant and her husband Kent decided that their first baby would be adopted, and found that the adoption process for Jenna Qing Vansant was complicated, but a positive experience.

Vansant, 46, feels being an expat is an advantage when adopting in China.

"If you just come for two weeks to pick up your baby, you do not have the experience to understand that child's culture," she says.

The Vansants, who arrived here three years ago, plan to stay in Shanghai until 2009 so their Chinese daughter will have a solid grounding and pictures of herself as an infant in her native country.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Montana Families Picnic

Adoptive familes swap stories at picnic
Joslin Fields' adopted daughter was wrapped in six layers of winter clothes when Chinese adoption officials handed her over in 2003.

“There was only 19 pounds beneath the 25 pound package we were handed,” Fields recalled Sunday. “It was weird, because 2 1/2 years of anticipation led up to this big event.”

Four years later, Fields, 44, and her husband strongly support international adoption and offer their daughter, Cecily Cary, 5, as proof of how well it can turn out.

“They say you're given the child you're meant to have,” Fields said. “She couldn't be more mine.”

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Finacing Adoption Creatively

Customized bobbleheads a side-business with purpose
Who knew a joke would end up turning a profit?

In 2003, Becki Carraway was asked to make a bobblehead in the image of a co-worker, just as a prank.

"A co-worker knew I was kind of crafty and asked me to make one as a joke," she said.

Soon, she was asked to make another, and then another.

This year, she's made 60, and she's even had to turn people away for lack of time, she said. Each bobblehead takes 15-20 hours to make, depending on the number of props or details requested...

[S]he's putting the proceeds aside to finance the couple's attempts to adopt a child from China. The Carraways began the adoption process in February 2006 and sent the paperwork to China in September. It seems the wait time for the couple to be matched with a child continues to grow, Becki Carraway said.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Going Back

Adoptees get a taste of China
Amused as they were, the summer campers found it really hard to create the same butterfly patterns that their teacher so easily cut out.

How does she do it? The young boys and girls asked, joking at each other's snowflake-shaped folded paper.

"They're like my friends," said 15-year-old Sara of her teammates. "It's like any other summer camp I've been to."

But it definitely isn't just any ordinary summer camp.

The atmosphere of bonding was a result of their shared background as adopted children from China. The 30 children were orphaned in different Chinese provinces and adopted by North American families between 1991 and 2001.

Today, 29 of them live in 17 US states, including Alaska and Hawaii, while the other resides in Canada's Saskatchewan Province.

The 10-day summer camp, themed "Embracing China, Experiencing Beijing," opened on Wednesday and is the first-ever such activity organized and hosted by the China Center of Adoption Affairs, Ji Gang, director of the domestic adoptions department with the non-profit organization, told China Daily.

It's the first China visit for about half of these children since their adoption, including Jiangsu-native Alyssa, who was adopted at 10 months old and just celebrated her 14th birthday at Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant in Beijing on Friday night, and Sara, adopted at 11 months in 1991 from the same province.

The youngsters have so far visited the Forbidden City, the Capital Museum and the Temple of Heaven, as well as Baigongfang, a traditional Chinese art and handicraft museum where they learned about paper-cutting and kite-painting on Friday morning.

On Friday afternoon, they also experienced a taste of haggling at the famous Xiushui silk market.

Connecticut Adoption Story

Family on way to China for girl
NORWICH -- A local family is in China this week picking up their new daughter as they complete their second international adoption.

When Bill and Kathy Henry return, they will be joined by 22-month-old Olivia Glynnis, who lives in an orphanage in China's Guangdong Province.

"It's very exciting," Kathy said. "We're fortunate to be able to do this, or we wouldn't have any children."

The Henrys adopted their son, Dan, now 19, in 1989 from Paraguay when he was 18 months old, a process they said was much shorter than this one.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Proof That Aggies Work For Sky News

Here's a link to a story about Jenna Bush's engagement to Henry Hager:,,30200-1280301,00.html?f=rss

If you read down, you'll notice that Jenna's alma mater is listed as "Texas University":

To most people, it might seem an innocent mistake to refer to The University of Texas as "Texas University". But this has deep meaning for Aggies and Longhorns, since "Texas University", or "t.u." for short (lower case intentional) is the derisive name by which that school in Austin is referred to by the Aggies of Texas A&M. Longhorns won't admit it, but it drives them crazy.

So to whoever is writing copy over there at Sky News: Kudos. You've just made Aggies all over the world grin a little bit today.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Cold Feet

On Saturday, the couple that signed a contract to buy our house backed out. We’ll never know the exact reason, but from what we can piece together, they appear to be somewhat naïve in the ways of the world and came to the realization that home ownership is a Big Responsibility best left to the grown ups. This happened after the home inspection, and they used that contingency to void the deal, which they had the right to do. We were given a verbal list of fix-ups from their realtor (nothing major, nothing I didn’t already know about), who was in the process of typing them up when she got a call from the buyers. I guess they came to the conclusion that they weren’t ready to shoulder a mortgage (+ taxes + HOA fee + insurance + maintenance) right now and got cold feet.

Needless to say, we were crestfallen. OK, I was pissed. For a week, we were BUYERS instead of sellers, and let me tell you, it was great. Unbelievable what a difference it was being on the other end. The market is so slow and people that HAVE to sell are desperate. You want granite counters, you got ‘em. That car in the garage? We can negotiate it. Closing costs? We’ll take care of it. Royalty for a week, we were.

Theirs was not the first offer we received, either; we had two others. The first, in writing, was for about the same amount as the last buyers but it was right after we reduced the price, and they initially bid $25K under that. Since it came so quickly, we figured we could do better so we rejected that one. The second was a verbal offer that was so ridiculous it wasn’t even worth considering: $45K below our reduced asking price and well below neighborhood comps. The guy was fishing for a desperate seller and didn’t find one.

This experience has left us physically and emotionally drained so we’ve decided to take our house off the market and stay put for the time being. Three offers in this market is pretty good; most properties aren’t getting any. So we’re confident the next time around we’ll be able to make a deal. It’s just a matter of finding the right buyer. And we never did find The Perfect House, anyway. Besides, being on the market instilled some good habits in us as far as keeping it clean and picked up. Well, at least for Lauren and I; not so much with Ally.

RIP: Brooke Astor

The Paris Hilton of the jazz age, apparently. Famous for being famous and inheriting a lot of money, of which, to her credit, she gave away quite a bit. I knew the name but not much about the woman. However, this part of her story stood out to me:
She briefly attended the Madeira School in McLean, Va., before dropping out to pursue her social life full-time.
Now that's what I call a party girl. Who needs school when you can have the chance to marry up? Of course, nowadays, school is your social life. By the way, I pass by the Maderia School every day on my way to work.

Another Black Eye for International Adoption

Guatemala has solidified its place as the most corrupt country from which to adopt:

Guatemalan Police Rescue 46 Children Believed Abducted for Foreign Adoption
GUATEMALA CITY — Forty-six children believed abducted or coerced from their parents were rescued from an adoption home catering to foreigners that is run by an American man and his Guatemalan wife, police said.

Guatemalan National Police spokesman Carlos Calju said the children, ranging in age from a few days to 3 years old, were found Saturday at the Casa Quivira children's home in Antigua, a colonial city popular among foreign tourists near Guatemala City.

"We searched the house after we got a tip from neighbors telling us that every day they would see foreigners pick up children there," Calju said.

Guatemala has been a popular source for adoption among Americans — U.S. parents adopted more than 4,000 babies from the country last year, second only to China. But the State Department said in March it no longer recommends adopting from Guatemala because women are frequently pressured to sell their babies and adoptive parents are often targeted by extortionists.

Calju said Casa Quivira is run by Clifford Phillips of Deland, Fla., and his Guatemalan wife and attorney, Sandra Gonzalez. He said Phillips was believed to be out of the country and would fly to Guatemala on Monday. Calju did not say whether Phillips would face possible legal action, and Gonzalez's whereabouts were not immediately clear.

The couple could not be reached for comment Sunday, and calls to the Casa Quivira Children's Fund in Deland went unanswered. No one responded to an e-mail sent to the children's home in Antigua seeking comment.

Authorities also said they arrested two lawyers who apparently processed the adoptions. Officials from the attorney general's office were taking care of the children at the home while police investigate, Calju said.

Attorney General Mario Gordillo said his office was trying to determine whether the children were stolen or obtained from their mothers under coercion. Most lacked the proper documents to be in the custody of someone other than their parents.

According to its Web site, Casa Quivira is a private, licensed adoption home that opened in 1996 and offers its services only to people whose household is inspected by "a licensed adoption agency or social worker and (who) meet the immigration requirements of their country."

It said 40 employees work to give the children "loving, private foster care ... as well as excellent daily medical attention."

Under Guatemalan law, unregulated notaries act as baby brokers who recruit birth mothers, handle all the paperwork and complete adoptions in less than half the time it can take in other countries. Casa Quivira says on its Web site it can complete adoptions six to eight months after a referral of a child is accepted.

Last week, the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala started requiring a second DNA test before granting adopted infants a visa. The second test is "to verify that the adopted child for whom an immigrant visa is being requested is the same child matched at the beginning of the adoption process with the birth parent," the embassy said.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

California Adoption Story

Faith in family bridges cultures
Suzanne and Tonye Holyde relied on their beliefs to help them realize a dream of adopting from China; now, they’re considering international adoption again

While at her Cayucos home on a June afternoon in 2004, Suzanne Holyde received an unexpected phone call.

Within minutes, she was a mother — again.

After two years of hoping, praying and relying on their steadfast Christian faith, Suzanne, her husband, Tonye, and their daughter Chanté, 9, learned they would welcome an adopted child, Ruthie, from China into their Cayucos home.

James 1:27 in Action

Churches to the rescue
Groups actively support families that adopt

Some conservative Christians say an intense focus on hot-button issues such as abortion and gay marriage has come at the expense of caring for needy children.

And they're doing something about it.

Some families are leading by example -- by taking in children from around the world. Parents and pastors are starting ministries. A national coalition that includes Focus on the Family aims to persuade thousands of churches to start adoption ministries.

"For the past 80 years, the church has really abrogated its responsibility to government, adoption agencies and others," said Christopher Padbury, executive director of Project 1.27, a Colorado-based group that has placed 60 foster children for adoption in Christian homes since 2005. "God has really taken a sledgehammer and started pounding on his churches."


Padbury's group, Project 1.27, is named after the Bible verse James 1:27, which says: "Religion that God our father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

Friday, August 10, 2007

Pineapple Juice is an Upgrade

I suppose I should explain the light posting of late. Our house, remarkably, went under contract last week. I say “remarkably” because there are about a million townhomes on the market in our zip code and only one or two go under contract in a given week. Last Thursday it was our turn, much to the dismay of the ten other homes listed for sale just in our immediate neighborhood. We were lucky enough to be That House That Someone Loves, which sentiment, strangely, was made no secret of by the buyers’ realtor. This after my wife and I were seriously considering taking it off the market, because August is supposed to be a slow month for real estate. Well, not only is August not going to be a slow month for us, but some lucky person is going to unload their detached single family, 4BR home, with a nice back yard, finished basement, two car garage in a great neighborhood teeming with kids, thank you very much.

So we got the offer, countered and ended up meeting in the middle, the way we knew it would end up. In the meantime, we’ve been visiting homes for sale that match the aforementioned criteria. And they are legion, this being a buyer’s market and all. Our buyers have generously given us 90 days to find our new home, but we hope to not take that long.

Yesterday was the home inspection, so once again we had to vacate the premises while someone you hope turns out to be Mr. Magoo scrutinizes your house like a proctologist. We know about the little things, and the obvious not-so-little things. I just worry about the unknown, as usual.

Anyway, we went out to eat at a place I’d never been to before. We ordered Ally a pineapple juice before reading the menu. She opted for the grilled cheese (natch) and I noted the kid’s meals came with a drink. When we got the check, I noticed her pineapple juice cost $2. I brought this to our waiter’s attention, and asked why we were charged for the pineapple juice.

“The drinks that come with the kid’s meals are the lower tier drinks, like milk and soda.”

Who knew there was a drink hierarchy? Have they checked the price of milk lately?

“So what you’re saying is pineapple juice is considered an upgrade?”

“Something like that.”

File that one under “lessons learned”.

Shocka! International Adoption is Unpredictable

Where do babies come from?
Countries with children available for U.S. parents can change dramatically

When Chicago lawyer Catherine Nelson adopted her daughter, Grace, from an orphanage in Vietnam, she considered herself very lucky. Nelson was single, and many countries refuse to allow single parents to adopt.

Six years later, Nelson realizes that she was lucky in another way. In the 2001 fiscal year, Vietnam granted 737 adoption visas for children heading to new homes in the United States, and Nelson's waiting time was a modest nine months. By 2006, that number had dropped to 163.

"Vietnam is still open but bumpy," says Judy Stigger, director of international adoption at the Evanston-based agency the Cradle. "It's become much more locally regulated in the various regions of the country, and it's much more unpredictable."

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Livin' La Vida Loco

I wonder how long the wait is for Antarctica:

Ricky Martin Wants to Adopt a Child 'From Each Continent' to Make a 'Family of Many Colors'
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Ricky Martin wants kids — perhaps adopting "one from each continent" if possible.

"It's something we want to begin to create this year, a family of many colors," the 35-year-old pop star told reporters Wednesday in Puerto Rico, where he is scheduled to perform this weekend.

Martin, who isn't married, said he doesn't expect special treatment in the adoption process.

"I want to do it right," he said. "I don't want any problems or misunderstandings. ... Some think as celebrities we can manipulate the system to have a quicker adoption."

Chinese Traffic Cops Have a Shorter Life Expectancy Than Rock Stars

Tough job:

China city traffic cops given 43 years to live
BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese city traffic police have an average life expectancy of just 43 years because of the dire working conditions and pollution, state media said on Tuesday.

And nearly every traffic policeman in the booming southern Chinese city of Guangzhou suffered nose or throat infections caused by dirty air.

Xinhua news agency said a survey of eight cities found that police officers who had worked the streets for more than 20 years were the most at risk.

Pollution was the chief culprit, but stress, traffic noise and standing long periods in the sun were also to blame...

More than 90 percent of the 2,746 traffic police who underwent a check-up in Guangzhou had infections, the China Daily quoted the Guangzhou Hospital of Vocational Disease Control and Prevention as saying.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Korean Adoption Backlash

Pretty sobering words, though with only 40 protestors, it's hard to say how widespread this sentiment is.

Korean adoptees from abroad and birth mothers protest overseas adoption
Roh Myung-ja has gotten together with her son every year since 2004, when she was reunited with him after giving him up for adoption about 30 years ago. She is one of thousands of Korean women whose children were adopted overseas.

The 49-year-old Roh believes what she has experienced in the years before her son returned to her should not happen to anyone. Now, she works as a staff member of Mindeulae, (Dandelions), a civic group of South Korean parents whose children were adopted overseas and who oppose the nation's adoption system, which sends thousands of orphaned and abandoned children abroad.

"We hope that no other mothers have to go through the pain and suffering that we went through. Overseas adoption leaves deep-rooted scars both on the birth mothers and the children," Roh said in an interview with Yonhap News Agency on Saturday.

About 30 Korean adoptees from abroad and 10 birth mothers, including Roh, came together Saturday for a rally in downtown Seoul calling for the government to abolish international adoption from South Korea. The mothers and adoptees were not all related to each other.

They held up picket signs that read, "Real Choices for Korean Women and Children,""Korean Babies Not for Export" and "End Overseas Adoption."

A signature-gathering drive also began to express opposition to overseas adoption. The civic group plans to collect one million signatures nationwide.

Government figures show that there have been about 87,500 domestic adoptions, versus 158,000 international adoptions, since the end of the Korean War in 1953.

In 1977, Roh had to give up her 11-month old child, and had no idea that her son had gone to the United States.

"I was literally shocked when I got a phone call in 2004 saying that my son is coming from the U.S. to look for me," Roh said.

Roh said that no one asks or is responsible for what happens to the children after they were adopted overseas.

"My son luckily turned out fine. But who knows what other kids undergo?" she said. "The day when I took my son shopping for the first time, he said to me, 'This is my first time in my life that I went shopping without caring that I am not white,'" Roh's son, who was not able to make a trip this week to Seoul from South Dakota, wholeheartedly supports her actions, she said.

Jaeran Kim was one of the adoptees from overseas who joined in Saturday's protest. A social worker focusing on domestic adoption in the U.S., Kim was adopted from South Korea by a U.S. family in 1971.

"When people talk about the adoption, they don't care about how the child grows up or how it affects the birth mothers," she said. "The adoption system is too much dominated by the adoptive families and the adoptive agencies." [That's a generalization at best. - ed]

Kim stressed that she did not have negative experience as a Korean adoptee in the U.S. and is in a good relationship with her adoptive parents.

"It is not a matter of whether you had a good experience or bad experience as an adoptee. The adoption system goes way beyond that. It works within a political, institutional structure of society," she said.

Kim, who was on her third visit to South Korea, has not been able to find her birth parents yet, but plans to live in South Korea with her husband and children for a while in the future.

"Adoption does not only affect me as an adoptee, but it also affects my family -- my husband and children. My children do not have their grandparents in South Korea, and they lost their part of the Korea culture, too," she said.

She argued that a child should be adopted by the extended family or extended community at least, and that international adoption should be the last option.

South Korea, the world's 11th-largest economy, was the fourth country in 2004 following China, Russia and Guatemala to send the most children to the U.S. for adoption, according to a research paper by Peter Selman, a British scholar.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Government Regulation Run Amok

China insists on naming Living Buddhas
BEIJING - Ratcheting up its control over Tibetan Buddhism, China on Friday asserted the sole right to recognize living Buddhas, reincarnations of famous lamas that form the backbone of the religion's clergy.

All future incarnations of living Buddhas related to Tibetan Buddhism "must get government approval," the official Xinhua News Agency said, citing the State Administration for Religious Affairs.

Guatemalan Adoptions to Require Two DNA Tests

Guatemalan Adoptions Face More Scrutiny
GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala (AP) - The United States will begin requiring a second DNA test next week for adoptions from Guatemala, amid growing concerns about a system that sends thousands of babies overseas each year.

Starting Aug. 6, the second test will be mandatory ``to verify that the adopted child for whom an immigrant visa is being requested is the same child matched at the beginning of the adoption process with the birth parent,'' the U.S. Embassy said Thursday in a news release.

Currently a DNA test is required only at the beginning of the adoption.

The State Department said in March it no longer recommends that Americans adopt children from Guatemala, saying birth mothers are frequently pressured to sell their babies, and adoptive parents targeted by extortionists.

Under Guatemalan law, unregulated notaries act as baby brokers who recruit birth mothers, handle all the paperwork and complete adoptions in less than half the time it can take in other countries.

U.S. parents adopted more than 4,000 babies from Guatemala last year, second only to China.

In May the Guatemalan Congress ratified the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoptions, which could sharply reduce that number. The treaty requires that governments regulate the practice to ensure babies have not been bought or stolen.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Maintaining Cultural Identity

Yesterday's Globe and Mail contained a challenging column about Asian adoptees, mostly from Korea, who are now coming of age and are seeking to reclaim their heritage. I'm sure this will become more of an issue when the children adopted from China enter adulthood.

Unearthing the roots of adoption
Vancouver — Jennifer Jin Brower was born in South Korea, but until a few years ago, she had never used chopsticks or heard of kimchee.

Because she looks Asian, strangers ask, "Where are you from? Do you speak English?" But English is her mother tongue - her adoptive mother's tongue.

Ms. Brower, 29, was raised by a Caucasian family in Grand Rapids, Mich. As a child, she says, "I didn't think that I was Asian." But that didn't stop other children from mocking her features.

Ms. Brower, who now lives in Seattle, says she didn't feel confident in her identity until she spent two months in South Korea last year. "I finally felt proud to be Asian and Korean because I finally knew what that meant," she explains.