China Babies Adoption Research

China Babies Adoption Research
China Babies Adoption Research

Saturday, September 01, 2007

US adoptions rise sharply, so does related graft

Alex's note: Yes, this isnt about Chinese adoption, but it is good for informative purposes


The Peninsula
Web posted at: 8/27/2007 1:15:0
Source ::: AFP

WASHINGTON • A raid on a Guatemalan orphanage has thrown the spotlight on overseas adoptions which have tripled in the United States in 15 years despite many perils, corrupt officials and exorbitant fees.

"There are tremendous stresses that come with building a family through adoption," Sandra Hanks Benoiton, the mother of two adopted children from Cambodia, told AFP.

"Situations like the present one in Guatemala make things much worse," she added, after police earlier this month seized a children's home run by an American in the tourist area of Old Guatemala, where officials said nearly 50 boys and girls were victims of an illegal adoption ring.

"Imagine the horror that comes when a parent learns that their child-and these children are as much theirs as any gestating infant-has been removed at gunpoint from what they have come to accept as a safe environment (and) transported to who-knows-where," Benoiton said, an American who lives in the Seychelles.

"Add to that the possibility that all this could be happening for nothing more than political maneuvering, and you're beginning to get the picture." International adoptions by US families have more than tripled since 1992, when 6,472 children were brought into the United States, according to data compiled by the State Department.

Of just over 20,000 international adoptions by US families last year, 4,000 were from Guatemala, which was ranked second behind China.

The State Department has described the adoption situation in Guatemala as "volatile and unpredictable" and has called repeatedly on Guatemala to tighten regulations on adoption, which critics say has now crossed the line into outright baby-selling. On its website, the US embassy in Guatemala warns adoptive families of several pitfalls including an imposter claiming to be the biological mother of the child or the real parents of a child having never relinquished their custodial rights.

Other obstacles to international adoption are the huge financial burden and bogus agencies.

Lauren Gold was told to expect to pay around $20,000 (14,000 euros) to adopt a child from Ukraine.

"I haven't gone through my papers to work out the final cost, but it was more than that," said Gold. Ann Spurbeck and her husband, Andrew, from Minnesota paid $25,000 over nearly two years after they set their sights on adopting a girl from Ukraine.

"We took out a loan against our home to pay for the adoption," said Spurbeck, who also has three biological children.

But after numerous battles with corrupt officials, both in Ukraine and the United States, the Spurbecks abandoned their dream.

"Some countries have systems in place that cause these little ones to stumble on the road to being adopted. They make so many roadblocks and hindrances, and the price is exorbitant," Spurbeck told AFP.

Most of the Spurbecks' money went to the Minnesota-based Reaching Arms agency, which had its licence revoked in March and is currently being investigated by US authorities.

"Using children as a commodity is shameful," Spurbeck told AFP.

"If I had a soapbox and could stand up and say something to the world, that's what I would say," she said, adding the high cost of her failed bid to adopt has ruled out any further attempts.

Gold, who also went through Reaching Arms, was able to adopt a brother and sister from Ukraine.

But the process required Gold and her husband to spend seven weeks in Ukraine and pay out tens of thousands of dollars in fees and kickbacks.

"We spent a lot of time dealing with bribes, which we were told by Reaching Arms we wouldn't have to do," said Gold.

"It was harrowing because we were never sure we would actually get the kids," said Gold, who eventually returned home to Florida with nine-year-old Nastia and her four-year-old brother, Sasha. The Spurbecks and Golds have been asked many times why they did not adopt domestically. "Our first thought was to adopt in the US," Gold stressed. "But we have family ties to eastern Europe, and we had friends who had successfully adopted in Ukraine.

"And a course we had to take, before we began the domestic adoption process, made it sound as if we would be part of a system and would spend all our time working within that system, not being parents. It painted a very grim picture."

Steve Nash and Yao Ming, Making Something Happen

August 31, 2007 5:14 PM

On March 12, 2007 the Houston Rockets played in Phoenix (Leandro Barbosa went insane, making 12-18 shots, and Phoenix won by a country mile).

Steve Nash had something on his mind. After the game, he went to talk to Yao Ming about it, in the tunnel under the stands.

The topic? Orphans.

Specifically, Chinese orphans.

Steve Nash is that kind of thoughtful.

And Yao Ming is receptive to that kind of thought. The two decided that night to try to do something to make the world a bit of a better place.

They share the same agency, BDA Sports, so Nash and Yao put the BDA people to work figuring out how best to undertake an ambitious charity project. Many long days of work later, BDA President Bill Duffy, Vice President of Marketing Bill Sanders, Team Yao leader Erik Zhang, and many others have cleared all of the necessary hurdles to create something special.

It's going to happen in a couple of weeks. And here's what it is: On September 14, in Beijing, Steve Nash, Carmelo Anthony, Greg Oden, Bonzi Wells, Derek Fisher, Baron Davis, Chuck Hayes, and Leandro Barbosa (all BDA clients, except Davis and Fisher) will play in a charity game against Yao Ming and the Chinese National team.

It will be televised on China's CCTV, and the stadium is expected to be sold out. The hope is to raise in the neighborhood of a million dollars to be distributed to the charities of choice: Chi Heng, a privately funded non-profit that works with children with AIDS; the Special Olympics (with World Summer Games next month in Shanghai); and the China Youth Development Foundation.

Well done, everyone involved. This seems like a pretty amazing project.

Yao Ming wipes tears from the face of Chinese AIDS orphan Zhang Yun during a July 2005 HIV/AIDS awareness event that was part in the NBA's Basketball Without Borders program in Beijing. (Photo: REUTERS/Alfred Cheng Jin)

Friday, August 31, 2007

Coming full circle


Minna Pauly, 12, of Annapolis, and her mother, Kristin, look at pictures from their recent trip to China.

Minna and her mother travel to China to trace her roots

Published August 30, 2007
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.

It's impossible to track down her birth parents, according to Ms. Pauly, and Minna said she's not particularly interested in that, but they both called the trip a profound experience.

Minna, who describes herself as Chinese American, said she left feeling "lucky" to have the life she has. After observing poor people labor in the heat on the streets of Changzhou, she said she realized that could have been her fate if she hadn't been adopted. "It made me think of how privileged I am here," Minna said earlier this week, sitting at a table filled with pictures and souvenirs from the trip.

Still, she didn't find the experience shocking or disturbing. "It felt very normal," she said. "I don't know why; like I was meant to see it. That is where I started my life."

Her favorite part of the trip took place in another part of China, where she got to play with baby giant pandas at a preserve.

Minna said she was too shy to use the Chinese she's learned in class, and didn't know quite enough to respond to some questions anyway. "They'd go (too) fast," she said.

Regardless, Minna said she was treated like she was Chinese even though most of time "I still felt like a tourist."

The Paulys went with five other American families who have adopted Chinese children. They're part of a group of 11 that used the same adoption agency and originally traveled to China together in 1995 to pick up their children.

The families kept in touch through the years and scheduled the return trip together. They dubbed the journey "Coming Full Circle."

"We made a pact we'd do it together," said Janet Bass of Bethesda, who went on the July trip with her husband and adopted daughter. "We've all been together. We've all been through this journey for 12 years."

Ms. Bass called the Paulys "an incredible family," and said mother and daughter were "meant for each other."

Circle of life

In a sense, the entire adoption experience was a way for Ms. Pauly's life to come full circle.

She has a grown son with three children of his own, but she gave him up for adoption when she 19. Ms. Pauly was a college student at the time - too young, she said, to be a mother and unsure about the state of her relationship with the boy's father. She reconnected with her son, now 44, two decades ago.

Ms. Pauly said being an older parent has had its challenges, but not anything she hasn't been able to handle. She said she relies on friends for help and support.

For her, the return journey to China was emotional. It was also more physically taxing than she initially thought, since the group covered a lot of ground between July 7 and July 21.

Ms. Pauly said it was moving to return to the orphanage, which is now a home for the elderly, and see some of the same people from nearly a dozen years ago. But the part of the trip that had the most impact was simply arriving at the hotel in Minna's hometown. Ms. Pauly said she wept tears of joy.

"It was about all of us having made the effort to get back," she said. "I feel like there's a completeness now, like I've done my job."

Where is that thing buried??

If you happen to see a post here that you really like, and feel it would serve others, by all means please comment on the post, so we can set up permanent links in the menu to it.


Your China-Babies Team

First Day of School!!!

Great Story of Hope. Our kids really do grow up and come so far, through so much, it is amazing to see examples like this. I admire our son Kai, because he is a total trooper.

Source: 4emma


I read this blog entry from Amy Eldridge the other day and it really struck me how far these children of mine have come. Even knowing the many details of the inner workings of the Chinese orphanage system, I know that I can't even begin to understand how my children spent the first years of their lives - the confusion and sorrow that must have been their daily companions. I think about these beautiful souls in these sturdy little bodies marching off to their first day of school today. The journey they have made is truly amazing. I think about the journey we have made together - 4 times now - to become a family and I am totally blown away by the twists and turns of fate or the hand of a higher power that brought us all together. What started out as a tiny little ad in the Tri-Cities newspaper for an adoption seminar has sprung into a family. I look at them all fresh and eager for the new year - I'm sure we will face trials and tribulations in the year ahead. I also know they make me proud and I love them with every last fiber of my being.

You've Come a Long Way Baby

Another terribly cute post.
Source: The Story of Us

A round of applause please!

Today I took Zoe to Eric's school for a visit. The teachers were all so amazed at how different Zoe is now from when they first saw her when we came home in June. It got me thinking about everything this amazing little girl has accomplished in the 2.5 months she's been home. She went from a (dr. diagnosed) malnourished little peanut, to a chubby cheeked, well...she's still a little peanut. She may be rear facing in the carseat for a long time as she quickly got to 18 pounds but now her appetite has really slowed down.

When we first saw Zoe she could only sit unassisted for probably 10 seconds. Now she cruises around the furniture, stoops to pick something up, gets back up and continues on. She's standing alone for longer periods of time (when motivated) and the other day shuffled between the coffee table and couch without holding on. She would bring nothing to her mouth and now she self-feeds finger foods (when motivated). She had no idea of midline, and now she claps her hands. Zoe was so quiet at first I thought she may be she babbles with inflection (particularly at Herman when he goes for her toys) and has said the word "up" appropriately. Her receptive language and grasp of English has truly amazed me. She developed the one finger pointing a couple weeks ago and now points at everything and seems to want it labeled for her. She also likes to point out all the trees and lights :) Most importantly, she went from complete apathy towards Eric and I, to loving us as her parents. In China Zoe often reached out for the other Chinese women (on the airplane, in restaurants, etc.) as they looked like her nannies in the orphanage. She and I were shopping at the outlets the other day and a very friendly Chinese couple came up to her and the woman reached out for her. Zoe grabbed on to me and buried her face in my chest. I'd always read about how quickly the girls develop once they got home, but Zoe has really exceeded my expectations, particularly lately. It's also been so nice to get updates from her China orphanage sisters and know that they too are doing beautifully.

In other Zoe news..she's cutting two bottom teeth. She had one rough night after 10 nights of blissfully sleeping through the night and we were afraid her ear infection was back until we saw the tiny tops of her new teeth poking through. Thank goodness for baby Tylenol! We're expecting some regression when daycare starts but hopefully it will just be for a little bit. I guess my next post will have pictures from her birthday. I can't believe she's 1 already!

Were Here!

Very Cute Post From A Family In China
Source: China-Calling Blog

First of all, my sincere apologies to anyone who requested my travel blog password and didn't get it- I could not log-in to Blogger from either Nanjing or Beijing, and although I could read it using "anonymouse", I also could not access the Comments section of the blog. I'll e-mail you all the link later today from my DH's account (still having probs at home with my e-mail), so you can get the "retrospective" view of our trip if you're still interested.

Things here are going swimmingly!! We've been back since early Friday morning and the jet lag is pretty much over. Actually, the whole trip was fantastic for us, and our little guy is a dream child so far! Once we met him, he was quiet for the first 2 days, and then he started to come to life. And come to life he did! He's a real character- all-boy, terrific sense of humour, loves to sing and dance, happy most the time, loves to eat, and has been sleeping well. I'm pretty sure his smooth adjustment has nothing to do with anything we're doing right- I think he just has an easy-going, fun-loving temperament, and I also believe that he was probably well-prepared by his SWI for the adoption.

I also believe that because of his cleft issue, he probably received a lot of individual attention and care, especially during feedings when he was an infant. This early attention is so important to healthy emotional development in children. So, although his medical need was most likely the reason his birth family could not raise him, it may also be part of the reason why he's adjusting so well to his new life with us.

I'm not really into posting a lot of pictures here, but I have to share one of my favorite "at home" photos. Is he cute or what?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

How to Post to your Blogger Blog While In China

To set up email to your blogspot you need to:

Sign into your blogspot and go to customize;

then to Settings under settings chose the email tab;

The first thing you need to enter is the email address you will be using to email to your blog;

The second spot you can just add your first name in the blank and this is then the email address to which you send your email when you are wanting to send something to be posted to your blog.

Always do a test run to see that it is working plus than you have the information in your sent mail if you forget what you did when you get to China.

a sign?

Thought this was a great post about the current state of things. This gal sums it up in a few short paragraphs.

For those of you in the waiting part, dont give up or lose hope, the little ones depend on us not giving up.



I have been away for nearly a month! The Adirondak Mountains don't emit wireless signals, campgrounds lack DSL hook-ups --imagine that! The rest of the locales on our vacation docket weren't much better but also I was having fun and enjoying my vacation. Lots of thoughts have been knocking around in my head for some time now. They seemed so eloquent while canoing a still lake but can I convey them now?

The China Adoption Pipeline is clogged. Everyone keeps asking how things are going. I keep telling them they aren't--we are just waiting. Countless Yahoo Groups, support groups, list serves and blogs are devoted to the subject of Chinese adoption-- from support to predictions to bashing the system as well as the Chinese government. I feel like I have been swept into a cult. I don't necessarily mean that to be negative--not all negative.

Lots of the groups I am a part of are into gift swaps, 100 Wishes Quilts, learning gems of Chinese culture, discussing the wait. I am doing it all, this is my first child I am waiting for and I want to immerse myself in the experience--the unique experience of adopting a child--my distinctive route to motherhood. The wait though is something I choose not to get wrapped up in analyzing or discussing.

My sister is pregnant right now and I rub her belly and everyone asks when she is due and how the pregnancy is going...and before you know it everyone is clucking about how their pregnancies are alike or different, what symptoms she is having, how this pregnancy is get the picture. I don't have that I have no one to compare notes with, gosh I really don't have any notes. I actually try not to think about it too much and I am caught up in my life and I am hoping that one day I'll be pleasantly surprised with a referral. On one hand I am rather removed from the whole thing.

On the other hand...

Ladybugs are supposed to be some kind of a good luck symbol in adoption. I think it is something that someone made up to give them something to talk about during these unpredictable waits in China adoption. Expecting parents post cute notes about ladybug sightings and how they hope the wait is going to get shorter. I don't really get into that stuff and I admit it seems to be the product of people with too much time on their hands. And of course they have time on their hands--they are waiting! For my own sanity, I am trying to be focused on living my life that is here now while I am waiting so that the actual wait doesn't consume me. I suppose I am trying not to wait. I just want to be here when our little one is ready for us. I must admit it is going well. Nearly 5 months have passed in the blink of an eye and I am not going too crazy...yet.

While on vacation I had a ladybug land on me and I must admit I thought about my little girl at that very moment and about 3 minutes later my sister found this pendant and brought it straight to me. Of course it had to be mine. It may or may not be lucky but they are reminders of my daughter who lingers, sweetly haunting me, just beyond my reality.

Does anyone out there know what this character means?

For me these are just wonderful reminders that my daughter is there. I don't have a growing belly or strange cravings but my daughter is affecting me. My hair keeps getting longer and unplanned signs are the confirmations of her existence in my life however distant.

These are signs to me, not necessarily luck but signs of a life that will persist despite the odds against her. Signs that she will be here and that my husband and I have taken steps to align that remarkable life with ours. I feel like I am teetering between the bustle and excitement of expectant parenthood and the seriousness of being aligned with a faraway soul who's fate hangs in a balance. Does anyone out there relate?

War with China?

Complete Post: War with China?
Posted By: grant in the China Adoption Blog at 06:34 AM.

War with China?
As if a person who has become intimately involved with China (as adoptive parents and parents-to-be do), the drums are continuing to rise in volume somewhere in the background. "Is China preparing for war with the U.S.?" the articles ask (and more often than not, the answer is yes - and, in fact, in the case of the one behind that link, the war has already started, just not with guns).

This, needless to say, bodes ill for, say, those planning to travel to China, or, even moreso, those who get singled out on the schoolyard for being from China. Because kids do pick up on these things. It's become quite popular to see the words "China" and "war" used together in news stories.

China has declared war on tainted food products (one wonders if the food products are putting up much of a defense), and on gender imbalance (which is definitely an issue to watch, since, well, our families include the "lost daughters").

There's also a war on religion (and not only as far as the Vatican and the Dalai Lama are concerned, but also on things like Bible camps) and on, um, U.S. soy beans (which again seems a little silly, except inasmuch as it fits into the big picture of diplomacy/trade relations/why is my visa taking so long to process).

It's easier to get behind the war on pollution and, for those of us who know Runescape and fear its effects on our domestic GPAs (parents of net-savvy teenagers, you hear me, don't you?), the war on videogame addiction. (And by the way, that turns out to be another interesting story about the unintended consequences of the One-Child Policy.)

But why is it always a "war" or, at best, a "crackdown"? Why is the news from this one country always told in military terms? What are we bracing for?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Questions about Adoption from China


Why are there so many children in orphanages in China?
In the 1950's and 60's, China experienced huge population growth without as great a growth in food supplies. There were famines and food riots. The Chinese government developed population control regulations. These regulations limit the number of children each family may have, the age at which people may marry, and when they can begin having children. Significant fines and penalties are imposed on families who exceed these regulations. At the same time, the Chinese people love children. For this reason, women will often attempt to conceal pregnancies. This is particularly true for unmarried women, or women who have already had children. They prefer to give birth to the child, giving it a chance for life, even if they must later abandon it. When the infants are abandoned, it is usually in a place where he or she will be quickly found, and the birth parents will often secretly watch from a distance to make sure the baby is quickly helped.

Why are so many girls abandoned?
Because of culture and tradition, male children are frequently perceived as more valuable to the survival of the family. Traditionally, it is the responsibility of the male child to care for his parents when they are no longer able to work or care for themselves, and to carry on the family name. Daughters marry into other families, and help care for the parents of their husbands. China does not have Social Security or retirement plans. Interest bearing investments are not available or affordable for most people. China is still a developing country.

If a couple's first baby is a boy, the baby is usually kept. If the baby is a girl, a second or third child, a child born outside of marriage, or a child with some physical abnormality, it may be abandoned. The children are not abandoned because they are unwanted. Pregnancies can be easily terminated in China. The children are born out of love and abandoned, as safely as possible, for the survival and security of the family.

May we adopt a boy?
Absolutely! During our tour of the orphanage in China where we found our son Joe, we felt that boys made up about 10% of the population. The little boys also seemed to have more profound and physically obvious special needs, but there were many healthy boys as well. If no preference is expressed, most families will be assigned girls. Families preferring to adopt a boy usually are processed at the same time as families who prefer girls, but on very rare occasions are asked to wait for some time before a boy is available in China, or possibly be willing to accept an older child or a child with more significant special needs. Generally healthy infant boys are available upon request. We help several families adopt boys by choice every year, and have not had a family delayed in their adoption, had their request denied, or been asked to adopt a special needs child. Some families have the impression that only older or special needs boys are available from China. This is not correct. The misimpression is probably due to the special needs boys made available through China’s "Waiting Child Program".

What are conditions like in the orphanages?
There have been some negative reports in the popular media about bad conditions in Chinese orphanages. These reports have been greatly exaggerated. While life in an orphanage in a developing country can be quite harsh, and while some orphanages do a better job than others, overall orphanages in China are adequate places staffed by caring people.

Further, the donations and contributions made by parents adopting children are having a real impact on the lives of the children who remain behind. Staff to child ratios and basic nutrition is very good. Positive changes are being made to facilities (we saw open sewers being replaced with a new, underground sewer system at one orphanage), and there are improvements and additions to equipment. Many children are placed in foster homes by the orphanages, giving each child more attention and care in a family environment. We believe that care for children without families is better in China than in any other developing country.

What are the advantages to adopting from China?
We found the adoption process very attractive with adoptions from China. While the Chinese process can be a slow one (as this is written it is currently taking about 9 - 10 months to receive an assignment after your paperwork to is submitted to China, see our newsletters for more current information), the process is extremely fair, ethical, and predictable. All fees are official and known in advance. Healthy infants under eight months old are often available. Single female parents are allowed to adopt, although they must be under 50 and are currently limited to 8% of total adoptions, so waiting lists can be very long for singles. Single women up to age 55 may adopt Special Needs children without delay. China imposes few age or other restrictions on adoptive parents. Parents must be at least 30 years of age, and parents over 45 may be asked to adopt older children. At least one parent must be under 55 years of age. The available children are easily and ethically classifiable as orphans, as defined by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Adopted orphans are more routinely approved by the USCIS for immigration into the United States from China than from any other country.

***Please note, this is reposted from the original source, current information on requirements can be found here: US Dept. of State

Studies routinely show that children from China are the healthiest of any children available to be adopted from a developing country. Hepatitis B rates are around 2 – 3% in infants, and there has yet to be a case of a child with AIDS adopted from China, even with over 6,000 adoptions per year for the past several years. Children receive good and consistent care, and typically come from average families who have exceeded the population regulations. In other countries, children are normally only available due to extreme poverty and/or substance abuse by the birth family. Americans Adopting Orphans offers an optional service that arranges for a medical exam to be performed in your child’s home town before your adoption is complete. By having a doctor who works for you, as opposed to the orphanage, you may obtain a second medical opinion about the overall health of your child.

There is a tremendous need for children to be adopted. With over a billion people and a thousand orphanages, it is likely that as many as 100,000 children a year enter state care, never to have forever families.

How long does it take to complete an adoption from China?
In most cases it takes over a year to complete an adoption. The first three or four months are spent completing your home study, gathering other documents, and preparing them for submission to the Chinese government. The Chinese government then takes 8 - 10 months to review your documents, and send you a picture of your child. About two months after receiving that picture, you travel to China. Your stay in China is usually 10 or 11 days. Americans Adopting Orphans does not require that you spend additional time in China for cultural tours, although they are available upon request. Ethnically Chinese families, and families requesting older or special needs children may receive expedited processing.

What happens once our dossier has been sent to China?
Each dossier is reviewed by the China Center of Adoption Affairs. If the documentation is found to be in order and complete, a child will be selected based on your request (boy, girl, infant, older child, special needs child, etc.). If you have requested a specific city or province to which you would like to travel, or a specific older or handicapped child who you would like to adopt, these requests may be honored. Once a selection is made you will normally be sent information about the child including a photograph, birth date (possibly estimated), basic information about the health of the child, and a narrative about the child’s care. If you accept the referral, we send a letter to that effect back to the Chinese government. Once your acceptance has been received and processed, in a month or two you will be issued an invitation to travel to China to adopt and take custody of your child.

You can choose to receive our help with preparing your request to adopt a child. We offer the tracking of your dossier as it is processed in China. In the event of questions or problems with your paperwork, our experienced Mandarin speaking staff can help diplomatically resolve problems.

When do we learn about our child?
Most families simply describe the child they wish to adopt in their application letter to the China Center of Adoption Affairs and allow China to select a child for them. Several months after receiving a family application, the China Center of Adoption Affairs will assign a child to your family. They will send at least a small passport style photo and basic medical information about the child to Americans Adopting Orphans. We translate this information, and provide it to you as quickly as possible (normally by the next business day).

Many people have friends and relatives in China. These contacts are often willing to get in touch with an orphanage in order to assist in matching your family with a child. It is very important to be sure that any child you request has been legally abandoned and is registered with the China Center of Adoption Affairs. The Chinese authorities sometimes honor these requests, but are generally only willing to consider placing handicapped children, or children over three to a family requesting a specific child.

Note - There are some "facilitators" who claim to be able to place a child directly from a birth family or hospital to adoptive parents. This is a violation of Chinese regulations and puts your adoption at risk. Both the Chinese authorities and US Immigration work to prevent "adoptions" like this from taking place. Under these circumstances, it is possible to complete an adoption in a child's province only to be told by the US Immigration that the child may not enter the United States. If your paperwork is not submitted through the China Center of Adoption Affairs in Beijing, you are probably in violation of Chinese regulations.

Do we travel to China, or is our child brought to us?
China requires that at least one adoptive parent must travel to China to complete the adoption. Your trip in China is normally about 10 days, with a week spent in your child’s hometown, where you legally adopt your child. You then travel to the US Consulate in Guangzhou for a few days, where your adoption papers are examined, and your child is given permission to enter the United States. The vast majority of adoptive parents feel that their adoption trips significantly increased their understanding and appreciation of their child’s birth culture.

China is a very safe country for travel by US citizens. Street crime is very low, and the Chinese people are very happy to see orphanage children being adopted. Air transportation and hotel accommodations are good, with 4 and 5 star hotels generally available. Many hotel and store clerks have some English skills, and are very eager to help you. Many of our client families choose to travel with children they already have, or with other friends and family.

What is the trip to China like?
In most cases you fly to the city where your child's orphanage is located. In that city you legally adopt your child. The government of the United States recognizes this adoption, although re-adoption when you return to the United States is strongly recommended. The adoption process consists of visiting several government offices over several days. Forms need to be filled out, fees paid, questions answered, and documents signed. You are normally given custody of your child on arrival. The entire adoption process normally takes a week or less. Congratulations, you are now a family.

Your family will be accompanied by professional adoption facilitators who we arrange to help your family. During your trip you will normally be able to visit the location where your child was found, and probably get to visit your child’s orphanage and/or caregivers. Skilled interpreters will be with you for every official meeting or appointment, and you will be assisted with cultural experiences, sightseeing and shopping when not at appointments. All of your adoption related appointments are arranged in advance. Most mornings are spent processing paper, and most afternoons spent with your child sightseeing or shopping, while government officials complete various documents for your adoption. If there is a question about your adoption paperwork, it is generally resolved quickly, frequently without your involvement, or having to try and figure out what is needed next. We are able to provide cribs in most cases. In China, soft drinks, diapers, bottled water, and other personal supplies can be delivered to your room by your facilitators, for less than you can purchase them by yourself. Hotel reservations at substantial discounts can be made for you, and your facilitators can obtain your airline tickets for travel within China.

Do we travel in a group?
Your family will normally travel to China in a small group (usually about 6 families). Some costs, as well as emotional support, can be shared by traveling in a group. We do not require that families travel in groups, but do give preference in scheduling our adoption assistance to groups. It is the policy of some agencies to require families to travel in large groups (15 to 25 families). In some cases this means that families who receive permission to travel for their adoption may have to wait to travel for months before a large enough group has been assembled. Families who use Americans Adopting Orphans agency will normally travel less than three weeks after receiving final permission to travel and complete their adoption.

Can we visit the orphanage?
Probably. There has been negative publicity about Chinese orphanages, sometimes including video footage taken secretly. As a result, some orphanages are very sensitive about visits by foreigners. Some orphanages are a considerable distance away from the large city where your paperwork is handled, and it may not be practical to attempt that journey. Accepting custody of your child often happens in your hotel room, or in a government office.

How do the Asian people react to Americans adopting their orphans?
Virtually everyone you meet will be curious and supportive. It is not uncommon for large crowds to gather around you. Many people will want to touch you and your baby in a friendly way. People will frequently ask if the baby will learn to speak English, and comment that the baby is very lucky.

When is our adoption final?
When you adopt a child from China, the adoption is normally complete and final in that country. In domestic adoptions, and some international adoptions, there is a period of time where the adoption is "at risk". This is the period after the child is placed with you, but before the adoption is final. This can be a very stressful time for the adoptive family. It is a time when the adoption can more easily be legally challenged, and in a few rare cases, when the adoptive family can be required to relinquish their child back to a government agency or a birth family. This at risk period can last for months, particularly with domestic adoptions. When adopting a child from China, the adoption is normally final in the home province of the child, before you return to the United States. The only exception to this is when only one spouse of a married couple travels to China. This is discussed in detail below.

Where do we go after we have adopted our child?
Once you have adopted your child, you fly to GuangZhou (formerly Canton). This is where the US Consulate is located that issues immigration visas for your child to enter the US. Your child is still a native of the People's Republic of China, traveling under a passport from that country, and needs a visa to enter the US. Adoption by United States citizens automatically makes your child a citizen of the United States, if both parents travel, as soon as you enter the United States.

In order to be issued a visa, your child must undergo a physical examination. There are several clinics and hospitals recommended by the US Consulate. Our staff will take you to an appropriate facility. In our experience this examination is very brief, and non-invasive. It takes less than an hour (depending on the lines), no blood is drawn, and no specimens are required.

A sealed copy of the physical examination report, photos of your child, proof of your adoption, and all other required documents are then taken to the Consulate. All of the documents are reviewed, and there may be an interview with a consular official. If all of the documents are found to be in order, your child is issued a visa to enter the United States. This process can normally be completed in a few days.

Before the trip, you will receive an Instruction Pack which includes (among other things) a list of the documents the consular officials may want to see, and the correct form and wording for these documents. An adoption specialist will go over all of the documents you need to bring with you to China in advance of your trip, and be sure that you are ready to go.

What happens when we arrive in the United States?
Any time you enter a country, you must stop at a customs station. Here they ask if you have anything to declare. Every country has rules about what you may and may not bring on to their soil. The United States is no exception. Anyone who has traveled outside the United States is familiar with this procedure. When returning with an adopted child, you must also stop at the US Immigration Service station at the (air)port of entry before you go to customs. Here, you surrender the sealed Visa envelope to the US Immigration officer. The documents within are then sent to your local US Immigration office. This office should then issue a Certificate of Naturalization.

How much does it cost to adopt from China?
This varies tremendously with how you choose to adopt. By completing most of the paperwork and educational process on your own, you can greatly reduce the cost of your adoption. Total costs can be around $13,000. Most families qualify for a $10,600 Adoption Tax Credit from the Federal Government, which can reduce total adoption costs to under $3,000. Not all agencies are the same, and some can be much more expensive costing $20,000 or more. Most of our clients' total adoption costs are in the $16,000 range ($6,000 after the tax credit). Only about $4,000 of this is for fees to Americans Adopting Orphans. For a very detailed breakdown of our fees, and to see how you system allows you to design your own adoption program, please ask for our Description of Services.

***Note: While this article provides a lot of great info, I suspect it has been a while since it has been updated, in our experience the cost of adopting from China is closer to $30,000

Why does it cost so much?
Fees and donations to the Chinese government are under $5,000. Unlike many countries, China dedicates most of the money to the ongoing care of children. Rather than having most of the fees paid to the central government, or spent on legal proceedings, only about $1,400 is spent for these services. There is a required $3,000 "donation" to the orphanage from which you adopt your child. This donation has been having a very positive impact on the lives of the children who remain in the orphanages. China requires that at least one parent travel to China to adopt their child. It would be difficult to complete an adoption trip for much less than $2,000. Document gathering costs are generally $1,000 or more. In short, there are about $8,000 in unavoidable costs, not including fees to your adoption agency.

Americans Adopting Orphans is a very efficient agency with outstanding service, a very low overhead, and very low adoption fees. You have the option of doing much of the clerical work of your adoption yourself, and can choose how to educate yourself about adoption and adoption issues. We have no religious missions in other countries, and do not have a domestic adoption program. While we are a charity, and hope that you will consider making a tax-deductible donation to our relief efforts, we do not build a donation to our agency into your fees. You pay for your own adoption services and yours alone. We also are dedicated to keeping our fees as low as possible to encourage as many parents as possible to adopt. For these reasons families can have very inexpensive adoptions using our agency. Families who choose our higher levels of service will still have moderately priced adoptions, but will receive services not offered by other agencies at any price.

Do we have to take a lot of cash with us to China?
Generally not. In most cases we are able to wire most of your in-China fees to China in advance of your trip. Many routine bills, like hotel charges, can be paid by credit card. Taking one or two thousand dollars with you, in Travelers Checks if you prefer, is all that is usually required. Some adoption trips can take place with short notice, or be in remote locations, making wiring money impractical.

Will our child be able to search for her or his birth parents?
Probably not. As the children are abandoned, and as abandoning children is against the law, the birth parents of the child attempt to avoid leaving any identifying information with the child that could lead the authorities (or the child) back to them. Many adoptees do have a very natural desire to search for their birth parents as they grow and become adults. This is an issue that adoptive parents should treat with respect and understanding.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Cross-cultural parenting

Source: Sun Times

August 24, 2007
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?"

Catherine Nelson and her daughter Grace, 6, an adoptee from Vietnam.
(Rich Hein/Sun-Times)
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.

"I was dumbstruck that I hadn't noticed that before," Stigger says. "How was I going to equip her for a world where sometimes she wouldn't see her face coming back at her, where other families didn't look like hers?"

Stigger and her daughter are part of what's called all sorts of things: cross-cultural adoption, inter-country adoption, "conspicuous families." And it's increased steadily over the past decade, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. More than 20,000 such adoptions are taking place each year from places such as Russia, Guatemala and China, adding to the more than 200,000 foreign-adopted children already living here.

Now Kathy and her brother Aaron are grown, and their mother is much less naive. Today Judy Stigger works as the director of international adoption for the Cradle in Evanston, and she's sharing what she's learned with new parents.

"They need to understand that race and ethnicity still matter," Stigger says. "Love is not going to be enough. Where your child came from is part of them, whether that's a neighborhood in Chicago or an orphanage in China."

Parents need to expand their social circle, Stigger says. She had black kids, so she made black friends -- and now describes herself as a black mom. "You need to have people over to your house who look like your kids,' " she says. "You need the expertise of those parents, who will notice things that you might not.

"And if those friends have kids, their kids will hang out with your kids, and a lot of issues get taken care of while they play. Because they talk about this stuff. Even figuring out how to do your kids' hair -- that's how you learn."

Greg and Lynn Battoglia started the process before they'd adopted 20-month-old Claire from Colombia. From Oak Park, they began developing lists of Colombian restaurants and started buying books. Greg struck up a conversation in a bookstore with a man whose wife turned out to be adopted from Colombia. The Battoglias spent a month in Colombia while completing paperwork, and now they regularly meet with a group of adopted families.

"Yesterday we went to a festival to celebrate Colombian Independence Day," says Lynn. Claire is much too young to remember any of this. "It's definitely for her benefit, but it's for all of us," says Lynn.

"I don't think we want Claire to feel like, 'I was born in Colombia, that separates me,' " Greg says. "That's just another dimension of her personality. We don't want it to be a barrier, we want it to be a binder."

Cross-cultural families will find support from parents' groups, culture camps and organizations like Adoptive Families Today, Hands Around the World, Chicago Area Families for Adoption and more specialized groups. Linda Yang is the executive director of the Xilin Association, a Chinese culture school in Naperville with other locations throughout the Chicago area.

"Out of 300 students, about 40 of our students are adopted," Yang says. "We are helping parents to maintain the kids' birth heritage, with culture, with language, with all kinds of activities. The kids get to know more people in their same culture, and there's also a class for parents.

"No matter what, these kids are different. Sooner or later, these questions will be coming up."

Yang says the more informed children can be about their background, the more secure they'll feel in their identity.

Michele Harbeck Haley sends her two daughters to Xilin, and has visited China three times with her family. "They feel very at home in China, and I do, too," she says. "I'm not sure if it's because the people look like my children. It's obviously a wonderful place. We've visited both the towns they were from and both the social institutions. And we met the foster family that cared for my youngest daughter."

Harbeck Haley is thankful that Xilin provides Asian role models for her girls, and she tries to provide the rest. "We cook Chinese, go to Chinese restaurants, have a lot of Chinese art in our home, celebrate the Chinese festivals," she says. "Twice a year I give a party at their public schools for the Chinese New Year and Chinese Moon Festival. It's just part of our life -- what we feel is important as a Chinese-American family."

That's the key, says the Cradle's Stigger. She advises cross-cultural families: "Think of this as an identity for yourself and your family, not just for your child. Become a multiracial family, and once you figure that one out, the rest will follow."

Stigger had to figure it out on her own. "The angels on the Christmas tree used to be all white," she says. "Now they're black -- they're made in China, but they're black."

Emotional visit to her homeland — and Chinese orphanage

Source: Eastbay RI

BARRINGTON — On a June afternoon in the small town of Yi Yang, Hunan Province, China, Sara Emaus stood in the old orphanage she had traveled thousands of miles to see. In the room with her were several children who were happily playing with the coloring books and crayons that Sara and her mother, Sue, had brought for them that day. They looked like her when she was that age: Black hair, tan skin and dark-brown, almond-shaped eyes.

To Sara, however, the orphanage may as well have been on another planet compared to the home she knows back on Grassy Plain Road in Barrington. The faces were different, the languages foreign. Growing up, Sara used to tell her mother that she was Chinese. But now that she was in China, the 12-year-old felt more American than ever.

The reality was that Sara herself was once a baby in that orphanage. She was adopted by Ms. Emaus before she could even begin to remember her brief life there, but Sara's curiosity about her heritage led her to this far-flung orphanage in the heart of the country, the culmination of the Emaus' three-week tour of China.

"I didn't know what I was going to find out [at first]," Sara said. Now, she wants to return again for her graduation present — "it was such a letdown coming home," she said.

"It was a really good experience, to see the culture and see where I was from."

Planning the trip

According to Ms. Emaus, she and Sara had been planning the trip for at least three or four years.

"I had always wanted to take her to China," she said. "As the years went on, it became more and more meaningful for her."

Ms. Emaus, a physician's assistant at Miriam Hospital in Providence, always had a fascination with Chinese culture. She admired not only the country's distinct art and fashion, but also its emphasis on the importance of family and respect for elders.

"I was very excited to go back with [Sara]," she said of her return trip to the country. "I had no nervousness, just pure excitement. I love everything about it."

Sara, too, was excited, though she was a little more nervous to be flying nearly 15 hours to another country for the first time. The trip to the orphanage was also on her mind.

"I was a little nervous to be going back," she said. "I wasn't sure of the people there, I wasn't sure what it was going to be like."

First, however, the Emauses were taken on a whirlwind tour of the country, with stops in several major Chinese cities. For most of the trip, Sue and Sara were with a guided tour operated by an agency that facilitates adoptive family trips. Like the Emauses, many of the other families were also bringing their sons or daughters to China for the first time.

Sara noted how different everyone looked from what she normally sees in America.

"They all looked the same — they looked like me," she said of the Chinese people. "It was actually kind of cool. I've never been in a place where the people looked like me."

She and Ms. Emaus also had to adjust to other Chinese customs while touring the cities. The food, for example, was a bit of an adventure.

"I wasn't sure what I was eating half the time," Ms. Emaus said. "But it was still good."

One of the most educational experiences for the Emauses was their visit to a classroom in the village of Hutong. Sara was actually able to help teach the fifth-graders during their English lesson that day.

When she walked in, Sara said the students "all started whispering to each other." The student she was working with seemed to relish the chance to practice her English, however — Sara said she kept saying "thank you" to her during the lesson.

"I got the feeling she thought it was really fun," Sara said. "She was smiling at me."

Sara also learned about some of the historical consequences of China's tumultuous past hundred years. While visiting a Hutong family's home, for example, the Emauses learned that the house's main courtyard was taken by the government during the rule of Mao Zedong because it was "too big."

Most of the time, however, Sara was exploring destinations such as the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, where she got to fly kites with the other girls on the trip.

"It was neat getting to see another culture," she said.

"She and I were on a high while we were there," Ms. Emaus added. "It was so educational, so emotional."


When the Emauses arrived in Hunan Province and departed on the two-hour drive to Yi Yang, however, both mother and daughter began to feel the weight of their trip.

"That was really the only point that I was nervous," Ms. Emaus said. "That was the slowest driver we had in all of China."

After their arrival in town, Sara and her mother met with the orphanage's director and several other staff members for lunch at a local restaurant. At first, the meal was relegated to mostly silent eating — "they were very quiet and reserved," Ms. Emaus said. After having a few traditional toasts, however, they "just opened up."

"It was a good thing," she said. "They started asking more questions about Sara."

Sara, meanwhile, was too struck by the experience to ask many questions of her own.

"I think she was too awed by the whole thing to even think," Ms. Emaus said.

After her visit to the orphanage, Sara became more aware of the reality of the situation.

"I wished I could bring [the kids] home with me," she said. "I kind of felt bad for them — they didn't have a family."

The Emauses were encouraged by the attention given to the children, though, and Ms. Emaus remarked that they "seemed really happy and well-taken care of."

"All the caretakers seemed really nice," Sara added.

On the return trip home, Sara reflected on her visit. Weeks later, she still wouldn't be able to put into words the feelings she felt in her three weeks there. But Ms. Emaus believes that her daughter sees her world in a different light now.

"I think she probably feels more American now than before she went," she said. Sara, of course, did return to her American life of ballet practices and violin lessons. But as she enters the seventh grade at Barrington Middle School next month, she'll take with her a new appreciation for where she really came from.

"In America, there's not many people that look the same," she said. Now she knows that behind her face is an entire country's history.

By Scott O'Connell

Half the Sky is growing

Posted By: grant in the China Adoption Blog at 06:05 AM. 347 words.
Categories: Chinese Red Tape
Half the Sky is growing.

There are interesting things afoot at one of our favorite charities, Half the Sky. They've gotten the go-ahead from the Chinese government to help improve over 300 children's welfare institutions across the country. The Blue Sky plan is starting with 31 model children's centers, starting with one that's already underway in Wuhan. They want one center in every province in China, so that, as President Hu JinTao put it, "orphans and disabled children... can live under the same blue sky... as us all."

Half the Sky is a charity based on hugs, which is nice.

I mean, it's more than nice - hugs are vitally important to little bodies and minds, as it turns out. Babies need hugs in order to develop properly. And that's what Half the Sky does - it helps child welfare institutes give all the babies the attention and affection they need, by hiring and training nannies, and giving them room for coddling.

They also train preschool teachers, run a Big Sisters program and what they call the Family Village Program, which is basically a special needs foster care program for kids who are too "medically or developmentally challenged" to be adopted through the government-run program.

I've mentioned them before, during their successful run in the Global Giving Open, and Chicago Tribune writer and mom Kelly Haramis likes 'em too (check out the July 5 entry), and so do scads of adoptive parents who've bought their rather attractive photo book of kids in welfare institutes, called Mei Mei, Little Sister: Portraits from a Chinese Orphanage. The photos are by Richard Bowen, who started the charity with his wife Jenny after they adopted their daughter Maya in 1998 - and saw personally how much affection can transform a baby in just a year.

The name comes from a Chinese proverb, "Women hold up half the sky," and from a delightful Chinese folk tale about a hummingbird who helps hold up the sky. Just a little - but it makes a difference.

Cute Bog Entry - Up and Down Day

Source: Blog Entry

Frannie is definitely progressing -- she only cried when she woke up yesterday and got in the bath. We had to wake her to get her going (she slept solid from 9:15 or so until 6:15). I didn't want to startle her too much, so we just started turning lights on and making some noise, but she slept on. I finally stood next to her crib and coughed and stamped a bit and she finally looked up wide-eyed and furrowed her brow like "Knock it off!"

We had a lot to do yesterday with her passport and the meeting with the Director of Civil Affairs. He's the guy we had to answer to -- why do you want to adopt from China? Why a girl with a disability? What would you do with her if she got sick or if you found out she had something else wrong, etc." It was a bit nerve-racking because he was so serious and I had heard from another adoptive Mom that they have the right to say no. Yikes. Sally our guide told us she had never heard of him saying no, but....we had to pay all the fees -- more than Hope had warned us -- 2,000 yuan to one guy, 2,500 yuan to another, 200 for passport photo, etc. We met the Director of the Orphanage who was very, very nice and we met two other families who were adopting from Spain. One family had a little boy with a deformed hand too, only he had just little bumps with no real fingers. This little boy's Mom (they named him Lino) spoke about as much English as I do Spanish. She had her two nieces with her, the oldest of whom spoke English very well. She looked to be about 14. She kept trying to get Frannie to smile and I told her, "No, she hasn't smiled for us yet." So she danced all around her and jumped up and down and her little sister was singing this beautiful little song in Spanish and ... nothing. So she said "I think she will like bubbles" and I told her we had tried that and Frannie didn't like them. So she said, how about tossing her up in the air above your head? So I tried it and Frannie totally cracked up. Kevin got it on video. Later Sally tickled her slowly up her leg and she gave us lots of smiles then too. What I have failed to mention is that Frannie would not take any milk or water in the morning which concerned me. She ate only a few little bites and would only eat this one cracker that the orphanage had given us. At lunch, nothing. The night before, we had taken her orphanage sippy cup and it leaked all over the place so I had been trying yesterday with her Braves sippy cup. At lunch she only took a tiny bit and again, no liquid. I started to get nervous and when we got home for a 1 hour break she laid on the bed squirming and started to whimper. I suspected she was constipated so I rubbed her belly which calmed her down. She got whimpery again so we laid her in the bed and Eureka! She finally went. I tried with the Braves sippy cup and again and NOTHING. I decided I needed to try her leaky orphanage cup and she drank and drank and drank. Thank you Lord. Later in the day at another office, the Spanish Mom and I were trying to communicate and I understood about 70% of what she was saying in Spanish and at one point I told her I didn't understand so she turned to her Chinese/Spanish interpreter and she asked her "How do you say.... in English" and the interpreter said "I don't know English" (she said this in English) so that interpreter turned to my interpreter and asked her in Mandarin so Sally told me in English and I asked her to ask a question to the lady so Sally turned to the other interpreter.... it was hysterical.

She is getting more and more attached to us, but I think she would go to Sally just as easily as to us. Kevin and I have been so exhausted and still messed on with our sleep -- she are wiped out at 4:00 pm so we go to sleep for a few hours, then again at 9pm, but then we wake up at 3:00 wide awake. We played cards one night and read another, etc. Last night we decided to try to stay up as long as possible to get regulated and it worked. We ordered room service both nights to spend some private time with Frannie which has been nice. Tonight we are going to the local restaurant on the corner.

The new name of Kevin's article is "Tex's Two Cents' Worth"

Tuesday August 30 (AP) -- The U.S. Commerce Department is reporting that the U.S. trade deficit with China is shrinking rapidly and will be a surplus by the Chinese New Year 2008. Officials cite University of Florida paraphernalia worn by Frannie Fay (F squared) is the catalyst to this economic phenomenon. As the "Frannie Across China" tour continues, China officials proclaim "this stuff could become bigger than Peking Duck."

She had a sad look almost all day

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

China warned of risks of imbalanced sex ratio

Updated: 2007-08-24 20:15

Sex ratio for newborns aged zero to four had reached 163.5 boys to 100 girls by the end of 2005 in Lianyungang, a city in east China's Jiangsu Province.

Newborn babies exercise as they float in water at a hospital in Shanghai January 23, 2007. [Reuters]

Similarly alarming figures have also been recorded in Hainan, Henan, Guangdong and Anhui, with Hainan chalking up a ratio of 136 to 100, according to a report of the China Family Planning Association (CFPA), which called for attention to the severe challenges in population affairs.

A total of 99 cities had sex ratios higher than 125 and the national average figure reached 119 in 2005, the CFPA said.

The normal sex ratio should be kept below 107:100, according to the United Nations standards.

The CFPA, which is affiliated to the National Population and Family Planning Commission (NPFPC), attributed the gender imbalance to sex-selection abortions aided by ultrasonic scanning, which is banned by regulations but still pervasive in many places.

"The root reason should be the traditional thinking that boys are better than girls, especially in poverty-stricken areas. Those people expect boys to support the family by going out for jobs," said Song Jiang, a professor of Population and Development Department of the Beijing-based Renmin University.

Highly imbalanced sex ratio may seriously affect stability and harmony, Jiang said, noting it increases difficulties for men in poor areas to find spouses.

The report, delivered at a recent forum in Shenyang, northeast China's Liaoning province, also mentioned other population-related challenges confronting China.

It said that as net population growth maintains an annual rate of eight to ten million, China will meet its population peak of about 1.5 billion around 2030.

However, the overall quality of China's population is not high. The incidence of birth defects stands at 4 percent to 6 percent every year, which puts heavy burden on their families and the society.

Endemic and infectious diseases also seriously threaten public health. For example, AIDS is proliferating from the high-risk groups to the general population, the CFPA said.

China's working population, men in the 16-59 year age bracket and women in the 16-54 age bracket, will peak at 932 million by 2013 and stand at around 930 million by 2020, the CFPA said, noting finding enough jobs for them is an important and arduous task.

People aged above 60 now accounted for more than 11 percent of the total population and will grow to 16.1 percent by 2020, which means the government will have to support 234 million aged people by that time and meet serious challenges in social security, social welfare and service, the CFPA said.

It said China had 147 million migrant workers by 2005 and will have 300 million more from the rural areas by 2020. The huge forces of migrant workers have already constituted challenges to the country's infrastructural facilities, resources and the government's public administration and service capabilities, the CFPA said.

By the end of 2005, the CFPA said, rural people that didn't have sufficient food and clothing numbered 23.65 million, while rural people who had just passed this line but still earned very low income numbered 40.67 million. In the Tenth Five-year Plan period (2001-2005), 22 million urban residents relied on government financial aid to sustain basic living.

In addition, 40 million farmers have lost their farmland in land development projects and the number is growing at a rate of 3 million a year. Some of these people may easily drift into poverty.

The CEPA also noted that China's per capita fresh water, arable land, forest, minerals and some other important resources are all lower than the world's average level.

Foster families brighten lives of a few lucky kids

By Rex Rhoades , Executive Editor
Saturday, August 11, 2007

USM L-A College team sees how love and attention, along with some outside help, is making a world of difference.

The foster parents were waiting patiently when the group of college students and faculty from Maine arrived at the orphanage. They stood with their clean, well-dressed children, most in wheelchairs.

The parents had come to this orphanage in Lu'an, China, for advice, eager to learn from a group of occupational therapists from Lewiston-Auburn College how to improve the lives of the disabled children in their care.

This is a major success story in China, moving disabled children from orphanages into homes so they can be part of a family. This foster program is sponsored by an international group, Love Without Boundaries, which is providing foster care for 300 children in 12 Chinese cities.

LWB estimates there are more than 1 million orphans in China, only 2 percent of whom will find an adoptive home. For $35 per month, LWB says, anyone can "allow a child to have the priceless gift of being loved" in a family setting.

It could be the beginning of a movement toward a foster-care system similar to that of the United States, and away from institutionalizing orphans and disabled children.

The L-A College occupational therapists on the team went right to work, and ran right into a problem: the language barrier. The group had one bilingual guide, and he was being pulled to other rooms in the orphanage.

Without the guide, the OTs couldn't communicate with the foster mothers, and they couldn't even be sure of the child's age or name.

While most in the L-A College group could speak a few words of Chinese, and most Chinese can speak a few words of English, it was often frustratingly difficult for the students and faculty members to obtain even basic information about their assigned children.

Soon, though, the indispensable interpreter returned and the therapy assessments began.

Feeding a child

In one room, occupational therapist Karen Betts was trying to show a mother a better technique for bottle feeding her child with cerebral palsy.

She demonstrated, then she had the mother imitate. The language barrier was overcome by pantomime and example, and that small success was met with laughter and hugs.

In a second room, faculty member Roxie Black, Ph.D. director of the Masters in Occupational Therapy Program at Lewiston-Auburn College, was working with another child with cerebral palsy.

Black put the child on a mat table and soon had him doing exercises that forced him to stretch his torso from one side to another. She explained the movements to the interpreter, who then explained them to the mother, who nodded her understanding.

Then the mother gave it a try, and the child and mother received a round of applause.

Love Without Boundaries has made a striking difference at this place, and its work is recognized by a large, brass plaque at the entryway to the orphanage.

The international group has decorated the orphanage's rooms with painted murals and purchased much of the physical therapy equipment in one room. There are staircases for teaching disabled children to negotiate steps, and parallel bars for helping them learn to walk. The rooms are decorated with colorful cutouts of trees, flowers and suns.

Love Without Borders began this foster program two years ago, and it's obviously working. These children are clearly loved and well cared for.

Many programs

But the organization does more. It arranges lifesaving heart operations and reconstructive surgeries to correct physical problems in orphans, like cleft palates.

The group also sponsors the education of 200 children and teen orphans, ranging from pre-school to college. It funds new schools, renovates existing ones, provides teacher training and purchases supplies, according to the organization's Web site.

It also runs nutrition programs in 16 orphanages, supplying high-quality formula and rice cereal.

The difference between this orphanage and the one the USM team had left the day before is striking. The building is bright, the children have toys and equipment, and the caretakers do not seem overwhelmed.

When, after two days, it comes time to leave, an official from the home boards our bus to thank us.

"China loves you," she said through our interpreter. Looking at the beaming faces of the USM team, the feeling was clearly mutual.

To help

To sponsor a surgery, feed a child, or support a foster family, contact:

Love Without Boundaries

306 S. Bryant, Suite C

PMB 145

Edmond, OK 73034

or visit:

Monday, August 27, 2007

IR-3 and IR-4 Visa

International adoption
Posted by: sak9645

Date: August 26, 2007 04:35AM

First off, did your child come home on an IR-3 or IR-4 visa. If you don't know, look at your child's foreign passport. It will have the visa stamp in it.

If both members of a married couple, or a person adopting as a single, traveled and saw a child prior to the issuance of a final decree of adoption overseas, the child gets an IR-3 visa. In this case, the U.S. government considers the adoption to be "full and final". As a result, you do NOT need to readopt in your state UNLESS either your state requires it or you wish to do it. The child also becomes a U.S. citizen immediately upon entering the U.S., and a certificate of citizenship is sent to the parents automatically.

An IR-4 visa is issued in the following situations:

1. Only one member of a married couple sees the child prior to the issuance of a final decree of adoption overseas.

2. A child is issued a final decree of adoption overseas, and no parent sees the child prior to the decree being issued.

3. The child does not receive a final decree of adoption overseas, but comes to the U.S. under a decree of guardianship for adoption in the parents' state. (Possible in Korea and a few other countries.)

If an IR-4 visa is issued, the U.S. government does not consider the adoption full and final, even if a final decree was given overseas. If the parents got a final decree overseas, they must either readopt or obtain a "recognition" in their home state before the adoption is considered full and final. (Some states offer the recognition option, but some do not.) If the parents got a decree of guardianship overseas, they must finalize the adoption in their home state. In either case, the child does not become a U.S. citizen until a decree of adoption or readoption, or a recognition document, is issued. The parents must apply for a certificate of citizenship using the N-600 form.

Readoption is a legal process, in which a judge reviews all aspects of the adoption done overseas and then, after a brief hearing, issues an adoption decree. The judge basically pronounces the individual or couple to be the legal parent of the child. In some cases, the decree also includes a legal change of name, from the foreign name to the American name. (If the American name does not appear anywhere on the foreign paperwork, a legal name change is mandatory for the American name to be used on official documents.) In some states, readoption is relatively simple, and can be done without involving an attorney. In other states, the process is almost as complicated as a domestic adoption -- for example, involving a homestudy update, new police and child abuse clearances, etc. -- and an attorney may be necessary or highly advisable.

Recognition simply involves going to a state office with some paperwork, and receiving a document saying that your state recognizes your overseas adoption as valid. Recognition cannot be used for doing a legal name change, since it does not involve the judicial system; the parent who chooses to do a recognition, which is usually easier and cheaper than a readoption, will have to use an alternate mechanism available in his/her state for doing a legal name change.

People choose to readopt for many reasons. Here are some:

1. You get a final decree of adoption issued by a judge in your state. If you need to prove your relationship to your child, it is easier to use an American adoption decree than a foreign one, whose validity may be questioned by some people. The state readoption decree is a stand-alone document; you don't usually have to show both it and the foreign adoption decree. If you do a recognition, however, the recognition simply becomes an appendix to the foreign decree. You show the foreign decree and then say, "And here is the my state's reaffirmation of the decree."

2. In some, but not all, states, you MUST have a readoption decree in order to obtain a state certificate of foreign birth for your child. The state certificate of foreign birth is much more acceptable when proof of birthdate is needed than a foreign-issued birth certificate, which may be challenged as invalid. Some states do allow people to obtain a certificate of foreign birth after doing a recognition, or without requiring a formal recognition.

3. As mentioned above, if the child's American name does not appear on any of the foreign adoption documents or, especially, on the foreign passport, it cannot be considered the child's legal name. (Some foreign countries include the American name, but many do not.) You MUST do a legal change of name in order for the American name to be included on such documents as a U.S. certificate of citizenship or a U.S. passport. Without a name change order issued by a judge, only the foreign name is allowed to appear on legal documents. In readoption, the judge can write the adoption decree so that it includes a statement such as, "The child, formerly known as Zeng Chufang, will now be known as Rebecca Joy Chufang K......", which basically authorizes the legal use of the American name. Since a recognition does not involve a judge, it cannot be used for a legal name change. The parent who does a recognition, or who does not do either a readoption or a recognition, will need to find out the legal name change process that his/her state uses and go through it.

4. Since decrees of one state court are supposed to be recognized by all other state courts, a readoption decree is valid, even if the parents move to another state at some point. It is not clear whether a recognition document issued by a state office will be accepted in other states; I've heard opinions on both sides, and would suggest that you talk with an adoption attorney about this question.

5. Some adoption attorneys feel that readoption may help to protect inheritance rights. As an example, if you should die and your will specifies that your vast fortune (yeah, right) will go to your child, your evil twin might make the case that your child isn't "really" yours, because the only proof you have is a decree from a foreign country (and maybe a Communist country, at that); as a result, your evil twin, who is "really" your sibling, should inherit. While the likelihood that a judge would accept this argument is low, it gives many people (even those without vast fortunes or evil twins) a sense of comfort to know that their child is protected from inheritance battles.

6. Some adoption agencies write into their contracts with families a provision requiring readoption; mine did. If you agreed to readopt as part of your contractual agreement with your agency, you must do so or you could be sued.

I hope this helps.


China plans tougher laws on sex-selective abortions

by Peter Harmsen
Sat Aug 25, 7:18 AM ET

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.

The sex ratio among Chinese toddlers is becoming ever more skewed as a direct result of the nation's one-child policy.

This is because couples that cannot give birth to an unlimited number of children are more likely to abort female foetuses in the hope of having a much-wanted son.

"The root cause is traditional thinking that boys are better than girls, especially in poverty-stricken areas," said Song Jiang, a population expert at Beijing's Renmin University. "Those people expect boys to support the family."

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.

The statistics came from the state-controlled China Family Planning Association, which said in a survey that 99 cities had sex ratios higher than 125 boys to 100 girls.

Previously published figures have showed that the national average in China in 2005 was nearly 119 boys to every 100 girls.

The average global sex ratio at birth is about 105 under "natural" conditions.

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.

While abortion is considered the main factor behind the skewed sex ratio, infanticide is believed to be relatively rare in China.

Demographers are increasingly warning of the dangers the trend poses to social stability in China.

The biggest worry is that a huge army of bachelors will result with an estimated 30 million more men than women.

Some analysts argue that the disparity could become a force for social instability.

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.

However ruling Communist Party officials and the rich often ignore the law themselves or pay the necessary fines.

Despite its unpopularity, the policy has been effective in slowing China's demographic growth.

At 1.3 billion people it already has the world's biggest population but it is expected to be overtaken by India some time this century.

China's doors wide open for Mass. high schoolers

China's doors wide open for Mass. high schoolers
Students hope to gain an edge in careers
By Tracy Jan, Globe Staff | August 26, 2007

Intent on giving their graduates an edge in the workforce, public high schools across the state are sending students to China, where they live with host families in high-rise apartments and study alongside Chinese peers in crowded classrooms, experiencing the country in a way tourists rarely do.

Most student travel to China in the past decade has been through private exchange programs. Now, about 20 Massachusetts high schools, primarily in affluent suburbs, have or intend to design their own programs for groups of students and teachers. By staying with Chinese families and studying in Chinese schools, the students get a deeper understanding of a country poised to be the world's next superpower, their teachers say. And the teens are forced to test their comfort levels as they adjust to living in a foreign culture.

"These kids are very sheltered," said Yafei Hu, a Chinese teacher at Sharon High, which will send eight students to China for the first time in March. "If they don't have this genuine experience of another culture, then they will grow up with one perspective of looking at the world."

High schools starting China programs are modeling their initiatives after Newton's, whose high schools in 1986 became the first in the United States to send students to stay with host families in China. Newton teachers are helping schools across the country design similar programs. China also has been aggressively reaching out to American schools and cities in recent years, hoping to spur exchanges.

Brookline and Dover/Sherborn started their China exchanges in the ancient cities of Xian and Hangzhou more than five years ago. Needham plans to start an exchange in Shanghai in spring 2009, and Whitman Hanson, which began teaching Mandarin this fall, hopes to send students to China for a semester in two years.

Students must pay for their plane tickets, about $1,500 round trip, but they stay for free with Chinese families who cook meals for them and take them on weekend excursions. They also attend the Chinese schools tuition-free, auditing Chinese classes in various subjects in the morning.

In the afternoons, American students typically attend their own classes for credit in Chinese history, literature, and culture, mostly taught in English by teachers from their own schools. They also take a Mandarin class with a Chinese teacher. Many of the students have already studied Mandarin for years in their home schools. In exchange the following year, the Chinese students study in America and live with host families.

Teachers say they hope the early exposure to China will spark students to continue their studies of the country and language in college and pursue related careers.

When Liebman's group visited, the long-insular China was just beginning to open up to the world after the death of Communist Party chairman Mao Zedong in 1976. Deng Xiao Ping, China's next leader, allowed foreign investors and tourists into the country and sent his granddaughter on a Newton exchange in the late 1980s, said Charlotte Mason, a former Newton teacher who helps other schools copy the district's efforts.

Liebman was so enthralled by his experience in high school that China immediately became an integral part of his life when he returned from Beijing. He spent a summer as a delivery boy for a Chinese restaurant in Brookline to keep up his newfound language skills. He majored in Chinese at Yale University, studied Chinese law at Harvard Law School, and practiced corporate law in China. Liebman still visits his Chinese host family and other Chinese classmates when he travels to Beijing on business.

"It's the most important thing I've ever done in my life," said Liebman, 38. "None of this would have happened without this exchange."

Claire Jensen, a Brookline High senior who lived in Xian for four months in 2006, said she thought she had made a huge mistake when she first arrived in China. She was nervous because she had only taken one semester of Mandarin and could not communicate with her Chinese family. But she soon felt at home, helping the family's father shop for a car online, and trying whatever her new family served her including pig intestines and cow tongue.

Eager to use her Mandarin and keep her ties with China, Jensen spent the summer along with her mother in Beijing, where they volunteered at an orphanage. She and two classmates have started a club at Brookline High that will pair young Chinese adoptees in the community with older ones. And she is applying only to colleges with Asian studies and Chinese programs.

The exchanges have forged hundreds of friendships between American and Chinese students, something unthinkable when their teachers and administrators were young.

"When I grew up, China was the enemy. Red China," Robert Weintraub, principal of Brookline High. "Here was an opportunity for us to build a bridge. This is our way of creating a more harmonious, more understanding world."

Most high schools prepare their students for culture shock the summer before they leave for China. Students take hours of Mandarin a day to improve their listening and speaking skills, and their teachers, who are from China or who have visited the country during previous exchanges, share stories about their travels and daily life in China. At Sharon High, students have peppered their teachers with questions for the last month. In the beginning, some students were put off by the teacher's warning that beggars might follow them and strangers might touch their hair or snap their pictures.

And the teenagers say they are nervous about living among new people and eating new food. Most have never traveled so far or been away from their families for six weeks. But all summer they have practiced introducing themselves in Mandarin. They shopped at a Chinese supermarket in Quincy, picking up the cabbage, tofu, eggplant, and scallions on their teacher's grocery list, and learned to cook dumplings, wontons, and rice.