China Babies Adoption Research

China Babies Adoption Research
China Babies Adoption Research

Friday, September 07, 2007

Hope's Heart

BY: Kellie Houx, Associate Editor
Wednesday, September 5, 2007 12:39 PM CDT

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Heather Williams has a heart for China.

After spending two weeks at a social welfare institute in south central China in July 2004, she decided that December, with the help of her parents Judy and Ken, Olathe, to start a foundation to help orphaned infants, toddlers and children.

Hope's Heart is a charitable, tax-exempt foundation administered by the Servant Christian Community Foun-dation.

“The foundation is a personal venture,” Heather, who lives in Olathe and works at ABC Adoptions in Lenexa, said. “When we went as a family in 2004, we played with kids and helped the staff. I knew I wanted to continue to help. I wanted to see children adopted and those who are not adopted – I wanted to see the best life possible for them. From this side of the world, I knew I could help supply funds that could benefit these children's health, overall care and education.”

Heather's parents stand beside their daughter in her decision to reach out to Chinese orphans. Ken traveled with Heather and Judy so the women would not travel alone, but he said he found himself happily consumed by children in need of love and care.

“I really feel that our actions are a visible representation of our faith,” Ken said. “It is how we show the love of Christ. We know words and actions speak louder. We get to live out our faith as we meet the needs of some of China's children and those who care for them.”

Hope's Heart seeks to raise more money and help more children. The Williams' ultimate goal is to build a private orphanage in China in 10 years.

The name Hope's Heart came about after the 2004 visit when Judy became attached to a girl and dubbed her “Hope.”

“We feel that God has a heart of hope for the children in China, so we just combined the two ideas and came up with a great name,” Heather said.

Heather, who received her bachelor's and master's degrees in social work from Avila University and the University of Kansas, respectively, said some donated funds are being used for medical procedures. As the family gets reports on children, their hope increases.

“We see children who have cleft lips and palates and they are so underweight,” Heather said. “The after pictures are so amazing as we see them gain weight and know they are going to have a better life. Their chances look better.”

Family support has kept Heather focused on her passion. Ken said the girls in China touched Heather's heart.

“I love being a father to a daughter,” he said. “I could not understand the decision to place a child in an orphanage. Of course, culturally, it is something they do.”

Contributing to Heather's concern for Chinese children is the country's one-child policy, in place since 1979. The policy sprang from the communist government's attempt to control its burgeoning population, which currently stands at 1.3 billion – one-fifth of the total world population of 6.4 billion.

Judy said her heart got tied up quickly too.

“Making a difference in every child's life is a giant step. But if we make improvements for one child at a time, that is so critical for our young foundation,” she said. “When we help one child rather than five, it is hard, but visible improvements are rewarding. We know there are huge numbers that need basic life care and someday we want to have the capacity to reach every one of them.”

The foundation also is working to create a school for special needs children in one of the government-run orphanages. Heather said she wants to give 20 students a chance to gain an education so they have skills to call on after being released.

“Five years ago, I knew nothing about China or their policies on children,” she said. “I had a passion to learn and an even greater passion to experience this. I knew I hated feeling helpless and wanted to make a difference.”

In July, the Williams' led a group of 17 friends to China to help children in various orphanages.

“As an only child, I always wanted a sibling, so I think I have a connection with them that has fulfilled part of that need,” Heather said. “As a family, we had some seed money and a couple grants. We are applying for others. Adoptive parents and folks in the community have helped. We have had a few fundraising events, but our biggest effort is to spread the news and our story. We are a grassroots group that God continues to bless.”

Heather attributes her values, years at Avila and profession for helping shape her interests.

“We have been in six different orphanages,” she said. “We have seen awesome nannies that give so much love to the children, but the orphanages are understaffed.”

Judy handles Hope's Heart's day-to-day operations. She gets financial help from Ken, who serves as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes chief operating officer.

“I wish we had millions and we could help every child,” Judy said.

For more information, visit

"Waves Become Wings"

Like me, I think there are many people who can remember the point when they were first confronted with the reality that there are people in the world who are less fortunate than themselves. For some this discovery may have been as meaningless as a leaf falling off a tree. I believe for others the impact is much more significant and it may, in part, define the direction of a persons life, leading them into such things as philanthropy, social work, missionary work or perhaps even education, just to name a few. Although I am none of these things, I do believe, for me, that initial discovery has, in part, guided me to where I am today.

There have been a number of times that I have been told I am lucky. People have called me lucky because of where I live or because of the job I have or the car I drive. It confuses and irritates me because I don't feel luck has anything to do with any of those things. I don't really depend on luck for anything, I am not a gambler. I have been to Vegas several times and I think the dollars I've spent on gambling remain in the single digits. The amount I've spent on Cirque Du Soleil tickets is a different story, although, depending on what you are seeing, that in itself can be a gamble. Being called lucky irritates me because it diminishes or invalidates all of the hard work and dedication I know was required to achieve and accomplish all I have.

I will admit that luck or chance may be a determining factor when it comes to things like genetics or geography. I imagine that my life would be far different had I been born an Iraqi or if I lived in New Orleans. If either of these had been my destiny, I doubt anyone would consider using lucky and my name in the same sentence. But once such things have been determined, I am inclined to think that the person has a greater impact on determining what their life will be as opposed to luck or chance.

Because I have worked so hard to get where I am I think I have a much greater appreciation for everything around me. I have never expected to be given something I didn't think I earned or deserved and I have always tried to take nothing for granted. Everything has a value, a value which is measured by the amount of work required to get it.

As an adult, somewhere along the way you come to the realization that many of the thoughts, hopes, dreams, ideas and plans you had and made in your youth, are simply not going to happen, and you re-negotiate. It is just one of the challenges of life and being able to take on these challenges is something I am eternally grateful for. I don't know where that ability comes from but I know that some of the things life throws at you are violating, humiliating and degrading and can knock you down lower than you ever thought you could go but in spite of that I've always found a way to rise above it. My attitude has always been that, regardless of how bad things may seem, you usually don't have to look very far to find someone who is worse off than you.

These all may just sound like inane ramblings. A bunch of uncohesive thoughts or ideas. But for me, all of these things together culminated in a journey. A journey that involved a novel worthy sequence of events, months of paperwork and waiting, weathering the storm of a SARS epidemic. All leading up to the summer of 2003 when I found myself in the courtyard of the Lily Orphan Care Center in the town of Fuling in the Chongqing Municipality of China.

During the time that preceded my arrival I developed some expectations about how this whole endeavor would play out. What would I find there and what would be challenging or difficult. At that point my main concern was how a 9-month old would tolerate the 20 hours of air travel ahead of us to get back home. I was expecting that to be a big challenge, but to the contrary it went much smoother than I had anticipated and it was far from being the most difficult thing to deal with. In an orphanage there are rooms full of babies, all in walkers rolling around like bumper cars at an amusement park. There are other rooms filled with row after row of tiny cribs. There are rooms full of infants in baby chairs lined up, wall to wall covering the floor like cars parked in a lot. The technical and legal part of the whole adoption process seemed to be little more than a government sanctioned, clandestine monetary transaction. I was able to accept all of these things and look beyond them.

I don't imagine the stories differ all that much, a baby is abandoned on a doorstep, the police are called, reports are filed, the baby is placed in orphanage, the baby is adopted and begins a new life in a new home somewhere in the world. I guess I led myself to believe this was the whole story. I soon found out it was not and I was not prepared for the other part of the story, the part I confronted in Guangzhou.

After leaving the orphanage we flew to Guangzhou where the US consulate is located. Adoptions by US citizens are finalized with the consulate. Many, if not all, children being adopted from China, regardless of their final destination go through Guangzhou. The part of the city where we stayed is filled with babies and their adoptive parents. There are many shops, restaurants and hotels in this area that get most of their business from foreigners adopting babies.

What I never expected to see and what I found to be the most difficult thing to accept or deal with was the presence of children who were no longer babies, their story completely different. Within this sea of babies there were older children, many with apparent birth defects and physical handicaps and deformities. Things that I could only imagine rendered them un-adoptable for such a period of time that they had grown beyond the age of not comprehending or remembering what is happening to them. The dissemination is probably pointless, an abandoned child is a tragedy, regardless, but the thought of an abandoned handicapped child is so much more difficult for me to understand and accept. And yet, there they were, so many of them, in this ocean of healthy infants.

Every child needed to have a brief physical exam before leaving the country. We were taken to this assembly-line physician's office which existed for this purpose. While waiting, I spotted this little girl. She may have been as old as 8 or 9. She sat on a bench with her new parents. She was a skinny little girl, staring at the floor and appeared to be completely withdrawn and folded up into herself. Possibly that saddest looking child I had ever seen. Then I noticed the twisted and mangled appendage that should have been her foot. Her little ankle was contorted and her foot facing in the wrong direction. It was obviously the result of a damaging injury. An injury that happened not recently but some time ago and was not treated and healed on its own leaving her with this crippled limb, unable to walk. I averted my eyes, I was shocked at what I saw, it was unbearable to see.

It was one of those situations where you try to be subtle and act like everything is normal and try not to make the situation worse by doing anything that might attract attention. And you desperately try to think of something else to barter away everything you are feeling. What could have caused such an injury to a child and how could it just be ignored, left to heal however it would on its own? Could this have happened in an orphanage or was there some other horror she escaped or was released from. If she was in an orphanage, I thought about what it must have been like for her as her 4th, 5th or 6th birthday passed and she would watch day after day as dozens of babies leave, on their way to homes, while she was passed over and remained behind. I felt such disbelief and shame and pity that I honestly didn't know what to do or think.

I later found reconciliation in 2 thoughts. First I looked to the fact that she was leaving this place. She was going to a home and would be part of a family and it would be a place where her physical injuries would most likely be repaired, at first, and then possibly the other damages. In myself I realized that everything I felt, all of the emotion, outrage and anger is exactly what I should have felt. I would never want to become so complacent that the idea of a child being abandoned or being abused and abandoned would not have an emotional impact on me. Complacency is a dangerous thing and in this world it is far too prevalent.

In the years that have passed, occasionally someone will mention how lucky my daughter is. Perhaps you can say that is true but I am still unsure how I feel about it. I don't think at this point she would even understand the concept of luck. She probably does not think her life differs that much from most other 4 year old girls. But I know one day she will discover that it is different in many ways. I guess if I do my job right, when she reaches the point of making all of the inevitable discoveries of life and discoveries of reality, she will be as profoundly affected by them as I have been.

With regards to luck, perhaps I am bothered by the implication that this world we inhabit is a world where once you are born into it, chance and luck play a prominent role in whether or not you will survive and prosper in it.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

KESSLER: In shadow of Ground Zero, a lesson in resiliency

Sun Chronicle

Wednesday, September 5, 2007 1:00 AM EDT

A trip to New York City for the fifth reunion of my youngest daughter's Chinese adoption group provided some much needed perspective on the immigration debate that continues to rage in this country.

It was a small, but spirited, group of young 6-year-old girls who got together in parts of historic New York. They gathered to do things that little girls do - giggle, play, run around, talk and eat. But they also did three things that I found quite extraordinary and quintessentially American. Just five years removed from their young lives in China - all were about 1 or a little older when they first came to these shores - they were fortunate to do the following:
Spend a Saturday afternoon picnicking in the Battery Park area in the shadow of Ground Zero.

Dine on Saturday night at a Chinese restaurant in the Battery Park area that offered a direct view of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

Take a Sunday morning cruise along the Hudson River that brought us within picture-op distance of the Statue of Liberty. A few pictures that will appear on holiday cards this year were snapped that day.

Each of those activities would have been pleasant - and inspiring - enough, given the history of immigration that one finds along this area of New York City, but they seemed even more impressive given the fact that they occurred close to Ground Zero. Indeed, one of the parents and her sister had just closed on a place not too far from the World Trade Center days before Sept. 11, and their memories of that day and the aftermath remain vivid.

The events of that chillingly unforgettable day made it even more remarkable to walk around the Battery Park area in the financial district, with its network of parks, which drew a lot of families and kids playing on a brilliant late-June Saturday afternoon, a day when the weather could have aptly been described as picture-perfect without being considered a cliché.

Our walk that day took us to the World Finance Center, a glass-enclosed building with an atrium that had been leveled on Sept. 11, but which was completely rebuilt. On that particular afternoon, children from New York schools were engaged in a ballroom dance contest. As the children danced in front of a packed house of friends and family members, tourists and New Yorkers alike milled about in the shopping areas.

If you didn't know any better, it would have been hard to suspect that anything had ever gone tragically wrong almost six years ago next Tuesday - that is until strolling to the top of the building and peering out of the huge picture window, which revealed Ground Zero.

On this particular Saturday, the massive site, which was bathed in magnificent sunlight, resembled a construction zone more than a flashpoint for a national tragedy that killed nearly 3,000 people. Yet, the site clearly was the latter more than the former, and it was easy to get goosebumps just looking at it. That feeling was reinforced after being told that one of the hotels in the shadow of Ground Zero, the Millennium, had not been touched on that fateful day. It was spared, just as devastating tornadoes sometimes leave nearby structures intact even while destroying everything else in their wake.

After staring at Ground Zero for several minutes, our walking tour continued, eventually coming to a spot that included fountains dug out in the rocks and a giant slide for kids to play in.

Such resiliency was inspiring.

In the evening, we were acutely aware of the rich history around us as we dined while looking out at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, the same landmarks that so many immigrants, including the grandparents of some of these girls' parents, had seen when they first came to this country. The girls' links to those quintessential American landmarks were reinforced during our harbor cruise the next day.

All in all, it was a weekend worth celebrating, and a weekend that made an incredibly powerful statement about the upside of immigration, and why our country must remain open to new people.

LARRY KESSLER is a Sun Chronicle local news editor. He can be reached at 508-236-0330 or at

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Families cross borders for adoptions


Janet and Greg Behning had three children and were living the good life in Woodstock.

But they felt God calling them to add to their family through adoption.

“We live a strong Christian faith, and it was a strong prompting in our hearts from God that our family was not complete,” Janet Behning said. “We began to pray, and doors kept opening, and God kept putting people in our path [who] talked about international adoption.”

When a woman at their church, Evangelical Free Church in Crystal Lake, adopted a son from South Korea, that clinched it.

“It was just amazing,” Janet Behning said. “We were open to whomever God put in our path.”

So the Behnings started out with Katie, 18, Nathan, 15, Joshua, 11, and added from South Korea David, 9, and Anna, 4.

“I’m so glad we did it,” Janet Behning said. “I can’t imagine life without these special kids. They really complete our family.”

Laura and James Kohlhaas of Cary adopted three children from South Korea: Adam, 20, Kimberly, 16, and Andrew, 10.

“Why did we adopt?” Laura Kohlhaas said. “Infertility for about eight years.”

They passed on domestic adoption because there is no guarantee of a child at the end of the process, she said.

“We looked at private adoptions in the U.S., but it’s a lottery,” Kohlhaas said. “We did not want to buy our children. We knew at the end of this process that we were having a child.”

Although the Kohlhaases were pioneers in adoption 20 years ago, international adoptions in the U.S. have increased steadily from 7,093 in 1990, when the government began tracking international adoption, to 20,679 in 2006, an increase of more than 292 percent.



Laura Stroup, social worker for Lifelink International Adoption’s Rockford office, said that generally when families chose a country for adoption, they had a connection to it or a lot of interest in it.

An international adoption can cost from $18,000 to $35,000, but adoptive parents also can qualify for a $10,000 tax credit, she said.

“Money is a big factor,” Stroup said. “Fees are different from each country.”

Countries have various requirements. China, the largest country of origin for adoption – 6,493 children in 2006 – now has more stringent guidelines, she said.

Adoptive families for Chinese children now must be between 30 and 50 years old, be married at least two years, have no more than two divorces per parent, a net worth of $80,000, and $10,000 per family member. China also requires prospective parents to travel there while other countries, such as Guatemala, allow children to be brought to the United States.

Both the U.S. Embassy and State Department advise that the adoption situation in Guatemala is “volatile and unpredictable.”

The U.S. Embassy on Aug. 6 began requiring a second DNA test to make sure that the child at the beginning of the adoption process is the same one at the end, according to the U.S. Embassy Web site.

On Aug. 11, Guatemalan National Police raided Casa Quivira, an adoption agency, and found 46 babies and toddlers who did not have proper paperwork to be given up for adoption.

A popular destination now for Americans looking to adopt internationally is Ethiopia, which has opened adoptions to single women, Stroup said.

Paperwork and background checks and home studies of prospective adoptive families are extensive, Stroup said, so families should be prepared and be patient for the months it can take before they have a child.

“We get to learn who the couple is, what their background is, where and how they grew up, and what their lifestyle is now,” Stroup said. “We also have to satisfy the needs of the state of Illinois and U.S. Immigration.”

They also want to make sure that a divorced parent pays child support.

“We did get called by an ex-wife 10 years ago,” Stroup said.

She questioned how her ex-husband could do an international adoption when he failed to pay child support for his biological children.

“I said, ‘You’re absolutely right,’ ” Stroup said.

The agency also tries to prepare parents in how to deal with questions – sometimes rude or intrusive – from a curious public so that their answers can provide some education, she said.

“We had one family who was asked how much they paid for their daughter from China,” Stroup said.

The parents had a good response.

“They said, ‘Not more than we can afford but far less than she’s worth.’”

Resources on the Internet:

•Lifelink International Adoption at

•Sunny Ridge Family Center at

•Adoptive Families Today at

•U.S. State Department at; click on travel, then on visas for foreign citizens

Top 10 countries for international adoptions 2006:

1. Mainland China: 6,493

2. Guatemala: 4,135

3. Russia: 3,706

4. South Korea: 1,376

5. Ethiopia: 732

6. Kazakhstan: 587

7. Ukraine: 460

8. Liberia: 53

9. Colombia: 344

10. India: 320

Source: U.S. State Department

How to Adopt a Baby from China

Adopting a child from China can be an exciting opportunity for your family, but you'll have many papers to file before the pitter-patter of little feet fills your home. The international adoption process is time-consuming, arduous and expensive - it can take up to 18 months and cost as much as $15,000 to $20,000 - but it's well worth the effort. Here is an overview of the steps required to bring your newest family member home. These instructions are written with Americans in mind, but many of the steps will apply to parents-to-be of any nationality.


Find an adoption agency specializing in adoptions from China. The China Center of Adoption Affairs (CCAA) is in charge of all adoptions from China, and they only accept applications submitted through a registered adoption agency. The CCAA maintains an extensive list of agencies on its website (see the links section). Some are better than others, and some have lower fees, so research to find your best option.

Complete a home study. The home study is a biography of the prospective parents and an assessment of their living situation, and must be performed by a licensed social worker employed by a registered Chinese adoption agency. The home study requires four face-to-face visits with a social worker which usually includes a social worker's visit to your home and three more interviews which can be conducted in your home or in the social worker's office.

Assemble your application dossier. Your full application dossier requires a long list of supplementary documents, including a cover letter, certified copies of health documents, a criminal background check, tax documents or a letter from a CPA stating your yearly income, and pictures of you and your home. All documents will need to be notarized, certified by your Secretary of State, then authenticated by the Chinese Consulate that is responsible for your home state. It can take some time to get all these documents together, so start the process as soon as you can. Most people take about six months to complete the paperwork.

Complete your adoption application, as provided by your adoption agency. Along with all the supplementary documents, you'll also send your application, which will include your preferences in age, sex, and health status of your child. Think long and hard about the preferences you list - the decisions you make will determine what child will join your family, and if you decide to change your preferences later, it can delay the process or even bring it to a halt. It should be noted that while the CCAA makes an effort to meet the requests of parents, files are matched based on the date that they are logged in with the CCAA with the files of children who are paper ready at the time. Individual requests may not be possible to meet, especially requests for a very narrow age range. Once your dossier is completed, your agency will submit it to the CCAA.

You should also submit an I-600A form ("Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition") to the USCIS to get preliminary approval for your child to come to the U.S. This can take some time, so file it promptly.

Wait for a referral. There's not much to do at this point but wait (and make sure your passports are current in preparation for the eventual trip to China). For many prospective parents, however, this is the hardest part of the process. The CCAA can be seriously backlogged and you may be waiting for a few months or more than a year if you are requesting a non special needs child. Follow up with your agency occasionally, but mainly just try to be patient. Remember, you're getting close.

Accept or refuse a referral. When the CCAA has approved your application and matched you with a child, they will send you a referral--sometimes called an offer--for a specific child. The referral will include a picture and medical history for the child, as well as a brief introduction letter, often in the form of a check list of child's abilities and personality. If you have additional questions, you may contact the CCAA through your agency. Refusals are rare, and second referrals can be difficult to obtain.

Travel to China to complete the adoption process. After you accept a referral, the CCAA will send you a sealed approval notice. With this in hand, you may travel to China to adopt your child. You will typically need to be in China for 10 - 17 days to finalize the adoption. Before you go, make sure you have the required immunizations. Your adoption agency will contact the U.S. consulate in Guangzhou, China to schedule an immigration interview. Do not make travel plans until you have a confirmed appointment with the consulate. If you've chosen a good adoption agency, these things will be taken care of for you.

Proceed to the Civil Affairs Bureau (CAB) in the province where your child is located. At the CAB, a notary will interview you and certify the birth certificate for your child. The interview is for official purposes only and is very brief.
Pick up your child either at a local governmental building, or your child will be brought to your hotel. If you are very lucky you will visit the Children's Welfare Institute where he or she resides. China's orphanages are called Children's Welfare Institutes (CWI) or Social Welfare Institutes (SWI). Here you will finally meet your child and finalize the adoption process. You will be interviewed again and sign the adoption paperwork. You will also need to make a required standard donation of $3000 to the CWI, plus the cost of in-country adoption paperwork (typically $750 - $1500 additional). Once the adoption is final, you are fully and legally responsible for your new child.

Obtain a Chinese passport and exit permit for your child. With the notarized birth certificate in hand, proceed to the provincial Public Security Bureau to obtain a passport. This is necessary to facilitate immigration into the U.S. Again, your agency will be making all these arrangements, and a great agency will do this all for you while you bond with your new child.

Get a medical exam for your child, as arranged by your adoption agency. Your child will need a medical exam from an approved health center to obtain an immigrant visa. This exam is most conveniently conducted in Guangzhou, since you will need to go there to get the visa.

Get an immigrant visa for your child. Go to the U.S. consulate in Guangzhou to complete the visa interview and obtain your child's visa. You should now have all the necessary documents; once the consulate has these, they will issue a visa within 24 hours.

Return to your home country. All you need to do now is bring your child back to his or her loving new home. In the US, if both parents meet the child before the adoption is final, he or she will automatically become a U.S. citizen upon arrival. Otherwise, you will need to apply for your child's citizenship upon your return, but that's the easy part - you've got a lifetime of parenting ahead!

More Paperwork. The CCAA requires two additional visits by your social worker to confirm that the child and you are adjusting well. These will entail detailed interviews and the completion of forms. Usually these visits take place at six and twelve months post-adoption. You will also need to submit photos your child in his new environment and apply for a social security number for your child. You may want to get a U.S. passport for your child as well. Additionally, many states require re-adoption done stateside. Check with your agency to ensure your paperwork is completed.


Do as much research as possible before choosing an adoption agency. The website for Families with Children from China (FCC), an organization of families who have adopted from China, has a good article on agencies. Checking with the Better Business Bureau is a good place to start, but you should also make sure to ask prospective agencies any questions you have and research them on the Internet. Ideally, you should interview parents who have used an agency before.

Once you get a referral, be sure to carefully review your prospective child's health history. Consider taking the report to a pediatrician. Your agency will assist you with any questions you have, and will be able to communicate with the orphanage you child resides in for further questions. You'll still need another exam for the immigrant visa, but if you discover new health problems at this stage, it's already too late to refuse the child.

When you travel to China, consider bringing necessities such as baby wipes, various sizes of diapers and a variety of bottles and sippy cups. Your agency should provide you with a comprehensive list of items to bring and not to bring. Purchasing an umbrella stroller in China is cheap, but not recommended as it's preferable for you to hold your child while they adjust to you and the new environment. Some items can be difficult to find in China, especially in rural areas, and your trip will be difficult enough without having to worry about last-minute shopping.

Meeting your child for the first time is an emotional, and often overwhelming experience for both the parent and the child. It may take several days for your child to become comfortable around you. Try to spend as much time as possible just getting to know your child, and making them feel safe and secure around you.
A wealth of information is available to prospective adoptive parents. Check the links section for useful resources, and perform a search on the Internet for specific questions.

While the amount of paperwork may seem daunting, you will undoubtedly find it worthwhile once you meet your new child.


The adoption process for special-needs children can be significantly faster than for others, but if you decide to welcome one of these children into your home, be sure that you are prepared and willing to take on the extra commitment in the long term.

Timing is everything. Especially when assembling your dossier, carefully review what you need early to acquire something later. For example, you'll need to include a photocopy of your passport in your dossier. This means getting your passport right away, even though you likely won't need the actual passport (to travel to China) for another two years. Be prepared to pay "expedited" fees if you are working under a desired timeline.

Be very careful with your passport and cash when traveling in China. Passports can fetch thousands of dollars on the black market, and it can be very difficult to obtain a new one if yours is stolen. Also, the adoption process necessitates that you carry large sums of cash with you. As always, use common sense and your intuition to avoid theft.

Removal from their culture can have a serious impact on a child, such as feelings of not belonging or being out-of-touch. Do research about what adoption means to both you and the child, but not just with agencies. Try to find an adoptee group of local or international adoptees or join and online forum who has international adoptees and ask questions.

From How to Adopt a Baby from China

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Book: China Ghosts

China Ghosts is the story of a girl.

It’s the story of a father.

And the story of a family.

Homepage for this book


Washington Post: “A love story … Powerful emotions.”
Posted August 29, 2007

China Ghosts is reviewed in Washington Post’s book review “Bound to China” (August 26, 2007).

Adoptive Families magazine review calls China Ghosts ‘riveting’
Posted August 19, 2007

You can read the review in the upcoming September/October 2007 issue or online at

Upcoming Events
Posted July 19, 2007

Reading and Book Signing - 2 pm. Saturday Sept. 22 - Ryerss Museum , Philadelphia, Pa.

Autumn Harvest Festival in South Jersey - Sunday Sept. 23 - details to come - sponsored by the Southern New Jersey chapter of Families with Children from China.

Reading and Book Signing - 7 p.m. Thursday Sept. 27 - Swarthmore Public Library , Swarthmore, Pa.

Reading and Book Signing - Saturday Sept. 29 - details to come - New York City - sponsored by the Waiting Families Support Group of the Alliance for Children.

Reading and Book Signing - Saturday Oct. 27 - details to come - Pittsburgh, Pa. - sponsored by the Three Rivers Chapter of FCC.

USA Today loves China Ghosts
Posted July 19, 2007

China Ghosts was reviewed in USA Today “Book Roundup: Memoirs” (July 18, 2007). Donates Build-A-Bears To Waiting Children Donates Build-A-Bears To Waiting Children

Wonderful news for everyone who participated in the “Hugs Sweet Hugs” event in late June! Over 50,000 bears were made by those of you who made a trip to your local Build-A-Bear retailer, and stuffed and donated a toy for one of many waiting children., along with Build-A-Bear workshops, and the Joint Council on International Children’s Services teamed together to sponsor this campaign, that will provide toys for children around the world who are waiting for an adoptive home.

An estimated 50,000 Build-A-Bear toys created by caring customers with love and donated to the program, at no cost to the builder of the toy. Approximately 1,100 of those bears were obtained by for distributing to children waiting for adoptive families both in the U.S. and internationally. Members of the Adoption Media staff have already distributed 400 of the bears to children in Arizona, with the help of the Arizona division of child, youth, and family services.

With over 143 million children awaiting adoption worldwide, and over 114,000 in the U.S. alone, that is a lot of “Hugs” to be provided. The hope is that these children, many of them orphans, will find some comfort hugging a new bear of their very own, while they wait for a family of their very own.

Nathan Gwilliam, the Adoption Media CEO commented about the event...

"We were very grateful that Thomas DiFilipo allowed us to be part of this project. Although adoption is an amazing act of sacrifice and love, most of the orphans in the world today will never have this blessing. In addition to considering adoption, we need to do better at taking care of all orphans around the world. These children are our children and our responsibility."

What a super project this appears to have been! An outstanding number of bears were made and donated by people like yourselves, and kids the world over will feel some of the love and care that was stuffed into them on their behalf. With so many children in need, projects like this can show those boys and girls that we are all doing what we can, and they have not been forgotten, I am certainly one who is hoping we will see this as an annual event.

Differences of Love with Adopted or Biological Children

Differences of Love with Adopted or Biological Children

I have read and heard discussions concerning adoptive parents loving their biological and adopted children differently. After spending a lot of time thinking about this and talking to others about it, I have decided to talk about it. As a parent to both, I was very put off with the subject in the beginning, but I have found myself thinking and talking more about it.

While I do realize that some adoptees are being treated very differently only because they are adopted which is wrong. I do not believe it is as common as some would like us to believe. Personally, I have known a couple of adoptees that dealt with being treated different in some cases to the biological child/children. With one adoptee, Sue it become an issue when they became adults. Her mother (adoptive) would show preference to her biological daughter. Her mother does not see it and feels that it doesn’t happen. Is this a difference in love and just in their relationship?

The reality is that a parent has a totally different relationship with each of their children. Does it matter whether they are adopted or biological? I am not implying that parents do not love their children. But is it a different love and connection with each child? We bond with people differently. Bonding leads to stronger relationships. When the subject is first brought up with parents their first reaction without thinking is to say they feel the same about all their children. Can this really be true? Once you start talking, there is clearly a child that they are closer to even as adults. I wonder if this is one of those ways we have been conditioned that everything must be the same with your children.

Differences of Love with Adopted or Biological Children - Could it be?

Differences of Love with Adopted or Biological Children

I have four children (1 biological and 3 adopted) which I love them all but I do have completely different relationships with them. I have stronger relationships with two of my daughters. This is not something I choose or planned, it just is. Surprise, surprise it is not the baby of the family she is all daddy’s girl along with my son, I am just the filler while daddy is not around. While I know that she loves me I realize that she has a strong bond with her daddy which I am fine with.

I guess I am closer with two of my daughters because we spend more time together and share the same interest. These are the two that will appear the moment I get into the bathtub sitting on the floor wanting to talk, if I lay down in the bed they are crawling right in with me, they know when I do not feel good or am having a bad day, and these two can read me quite well. This I believe makes our relationship different and deeper than with my other two children.

I am closer to my dad, but that does not mean I do not love my mom very much. This is true and accepted when it is about parents or other people in own lives but viewed differently about our children. The relationship is different with my mom (adoptive) I believe because we are different people with different interest, needs, and that we do not share that deep bond. My world revolves around my children, and she is not the involved grandmother type. While my dad and I share a lot of the same interest and he is very involved with my children. Maybe it does not have a thing to do with being adopted.

I have always wondered why people feel the need to make everything appear the same or be equal with each child. We have some family members that would buy the same thing for each of my children which is kind of crazy when the ages range from 13 to 1. I have one daughter that loves cars and the other two like dolls, so I do not force one to get something she does not want just to keep things the same. Having different feelings, relationships and bonds doesn’t mean you do not love your children, parents or anyone else.

Could it be more about our personalities? Why do things have to be different for our children or is it just taboo to talk about?

Adopting With Eyes Wide Open


Adoption can be a great and amazing way to build a family. A major concern of mine as an adoptee is that some potential adoptive parents do not research adoption before deciding to go down that road. While others believe the things they hear as gospel, without investigating on their own.

I had a friend state she would like to adopt a baby girl from China. I wondered why China? She said, “Because they do not have issues or problems and are beautiful.” Funny thing is, the few people she knows that have adopted have done so through domestic or foster care adoption.

We went on to have the conversation that Chinese infants or any other country’s infants are not exempt from developing issues or facing challenges in their lives. Believing ideas such as this can lead to heartbreak for all parties. I have been amazed concerning some of the things or ideas that people believe about adoption or different types of adoption.

I have been involved with adoption through foster care. People love to tell me why others (not necessarily themselves) do not adopt from foster care. While I do understand that adopting through foster care can be a lengthy process and there is the government red tape to deal with. What I have heard and learned about other adoptions, they also face challenges. International adoptions you have to still go through government red tape and may also be a lengthy process. I usually respond by saying, “Anything in life worth having is going to take some work. Yes, adoption is hard but as I remember it (yes, it’s been a few years) childbirth was no walk in the park.” In the end they’re both worth the wait or pain you endure.

The choice of adopting is about educating yourself about all the possibilities you may face and go in with your eyes wide open. Hearing from different people involved in adoption and learning from each member of the triad is important.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Baby Pic Bonanza

Ok, for all of you itching for your baby pic fix, I just ran across a blog that is a veritable cornicopia of cuteness.

I am not even going to try and post the massive number of photos, you need to go to this blog and see it for yourself.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Adoptees seek roots in China

American families reintroduce girls to country of their birth

12:00 AM CDT on Saturday, September 1, 2007
The Washington Post

CHANGZHOU, China – Twelve years ago, five families from the Washington area came to this city in China's 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.

Overnight, an infant named Chang Chunhe became Maddy Conover; another, Chang Chungui, became Maryann O'Connor Roe. Four other girls were adopted, one of them a year later.

Last month, the five families made their first roots visit to China, an effort to reintroduce their daughters to the country of their birth and to dig up clues about the first several months of the girls' lives. It was the kind of trip an increasing number of American families are making as the tens of thousands of children who have been adopted in China come of age.

"We wanted to give the girls a sense of who they are," said Janet Bass of Bethesda, Md., mother of Alison Staffin. "We came here without children, got to know each other's stories and became friends. There's a special bond between the girls, and we wanted Alison to be proud of her background."

Parents say it's a background coaxed out at home with trips to the Sackler and Freer galleries of Asian art or with lessons in martial arts or Mandarin Chinese. It's a background the girls are curious about and eager to explore.

But the babies who left China were returning as all-American preteens, facing a challenge: how to learn about a homeland whose traditions – and politics – they never really knew in the first place.

In Tiananmen Square, for example, the families tried to unfurl a red banner that said "Journey of the Dragon 2007." It was for a group photo in honor of their trip and not in any way connected to the bloody 1989 crackdown on democracy protesters there. But the police, wary of any public displays at the square, immediately confronted them and rolled up the banner. For the girls, it was eye-opening.

"In America, you have a lot of freedom of speech," Alison said. "You can have a big banner that says 'I hate Bush' or something, and the police don't tackle you."

During the trip, the girls' speech, posture and habits set them apart. At a restaurant, they squealed "Eeeww, gross!" when served a whole turtle. They struggled gamely with chopsticks. And when they hung out at their hotel, wearing flip-flops and shorts, they rehearsed "Breakaway," the hit by American Idol star Kelly Clarkson, which one of the girls had brought to China on her iPod.

"Grew up in a small town, and when the rain would fall down, I'd just stare out my window, dreamin' of what could be," the girls harmonized. "And if I'd end up happy, I would pray."

More than 50,000 Chinese babies have been adopted in the United States since 1989. Last year, the State Department issued 6,493 visas to orphans from China.

But those facts aren't well-publicized here.

Everywhere the families went, they drew stares – so much so, they began handing out pink cards that read in Chinese and English: "We are Americans. Our children were adopted from China and we have returned to visit China because we want our children to be proud of their Chinese heritage and see the beautiful country."

"I feel lucky that we get to come here. A lot of people probably don't," said adoptee Minna Pauly, 12, of Annapolis, Md. "We get to share our experiences with them. We get to show them what life's like back in the U.S."

As the American parents sought to strengthen their daughters' bonds with China, most Chinese they met were grateful the girls had moved on. Among the people the girls encountered were the women who had cared for them as orphans.

"I just hope they can have a better life," said Zhu Qinmei, the longtime nurse at the Changzhou orphanage. "As for whether they can use chopsticks well or speak Chinese, it doesn't matter. I just hope they can live a happy life."

The girls brought them scrapbooks and photographs, pieces of their lives and hobbies at home. The caregivers offered their visitors home-cooked meals and helped them try to find out where they had been abandoned.

Ms. Zhu immediately recognized Emily McNally, 11, of Germantown, Md.

"They're just like my own kids. It's like they've come back home to see us after a long journey," Ms. Zhu said. "I really miss them," she added, eyes watering. "I hope they can come back to China someday to work, so I can hear their voices and see their faces. I'm sorry I can't talk to them because of the language."

There was also a tearful reunion at the home of caregiver Wang Jianping, who recalled that Emily's sister, Mary, liked to suck her thumb but that Emily didn't. The girls, expecting a mud floor and tent, were impressed by the family's 42-inch TV set and the hot pineapple dessert. They said they felt a closeness that was hard to describe.

"I didn't really recognize her exactly, but I can feel something," Emily said later. "I feel like I've known her for a long time."

Barred from adopting

Much has changed in China since the girls were adopted.

In 1995, Changzhou had 700,000 residents; today there are nearly 4 million. The ever-present street vendors the families remember have been replaced by skyscrapers and shopping malls. The wait for babies has grown from about nine months to 11/2 years.

But another change made the trip especially emotional. Four of the five families would be unable today to adopt: In May, China barred adoption by foreigners who are single, obese, depressed, homosexual or older than 50.

"I'm a twofer. I was 51 when I adopted, and I'm a single parent," said Kristin Pauly, Minna's mother. "I feel so sad to think other mothers can't have the same blessing."

As living conditions improve and incomes grow in China, adoption patterns are changing. At the Changzhou orphanage, about 10 Chinese families adopt each year. Fewer girls are being abandoned, staff members said.

"Some Chinese parents are unable to bear children, and some of them already have one child and want to adopt another child to be a companion for the first child," said Chen Guoqing, 57, who was director of the orphanage in 1995 and retired in May.

The situation is a far cry from the late 1980s, when some Chinese were afraid that orphans would be taken to the United States so their organs could be harvested, Mr. Chen said.

"At that time, the Chinese were not so knowledgeable about foreign countries," he said. "Now, more people realize the responsibility of being parents. Birth control is also flexible in many areas, so parents don't always have to abandon their children."

Alison Staffin was found April 15, 1995, on a roadside in Luoyang town, about 22 miles east of here, and taken to the orphanage by officers from a police substation.

She and her adoptive parents searched for the Luoyang substation, but the one they found was brand new. Vice Director Xia Yiling was the only officer who had been at the old station in 1995. No one could remember Alison.

Mr. Xia offered to go through the files of abandoned babies, which dated only to 1997, and drove the family around the corner to the old substation, now shuttered.

"Usually parents abandon babies on the street, leaving a note, writing down their birth date," Mr. Xia said. "So far this year, only one or two babies have been abandoned at the station. I'm very happy to see she was adopted by a family. It's always better than staying at the institution."

In front of the old substation, her family hugged Alison. Her aunt asked whether she was happy she had been adopted.

"I like my life in America," Alison said, smiling. "I do feel very lucky, because if I hadn't been adopted, I'd still be here."

This is very sad...

The original Blog entry here

Mickey World Trip

Saturday, September 1, 2007
September 1st and only 4 months :(
Well it is almost the end of the day on September 1st. It has been commented that this time last year CCAA had referred though the 22nd of July, meaning in 2007 only 4 months of LID have been referred.

This honestly doesn't look very promising. This past week has not been the best of weeks. And my outlook has not been the best. I always try to remember when I write to this Blog that my intention is to keep it for you to read some day Rorrie. I think I said before that for your sister I kept a journey but I didn't do anything for Elrik. I feel bad about that, but I was sooooo tired all the time during my pregnancy that I had all I could do to keep my head above water.

I love your brother with all my heart, but I am sure glad that I only had one pregnancy! Growing our family by adoption was absolutely the BEST thing. I know I couldn't handle being pregnant again.

But all this being said, tonight I am so sad. I know these feelings could be fueled by the loss of Var this week, but they seem so ominous. And then today with the realization that this next batch of referrals will probably only be through the 24th of September, I have a terrible feeling of dread.

Rorrie, I hope this feeling is wrong, and I hope that things change. But tonight I have the worst feeling that you have been taken away from us. My heart breaks thinking that you may never get to enjoy playing with your sister and brother. My heart breaks thinking about the stocking that may never be hung, or the awe I would see in your face the first time you see Mickey's World.

Tonight I feel defeated. I think that China will close it's adoption program, or will change the requirements again pushing us out of the program. I can't imagine how CCAA can issue referrals based on 3 year old dossier information. I also can't imagine a referral for you in May 2009 (20 months away from now). I worry that they will say your BaBa will be to old, since he is now over 50.

Tonight I throw my Kisses to the Wind and I can't imagine them reaching you. I will send them anyway. And I think I will send them for the rest of my life. Maybe you will feel them and imagine a family out there that loves you in a beautiful dream. I hope you get to have a family of your own some day. Your sister and brother, although trying at times, bring me great joy as I know you would have brought me.

Live a good life, Rorrie. Grab onto joy when you find it, dance the dance when asked and give love freely.

Kisses my darling.....

Navy touting merits of military-family adoptions

By Sandra Jontz, Stars and Stripes
European edition, Monday, September 3, 2007

Jo-Ann Reale is within days of having a new son.

She’s not pregnant. She and her husband, Lt. Cmdr. Thomas Reale, are adopting a son, Josiah, 3, from China.

It took a little digging for the Reales to find an adoption agency willing to work with a military family living overseas, said the soon-to-be-mother-of-five, who lives in Gaeta, Italy. “We kept hitting a brick wall. Finally, like, the sixth agency on our list was able to help.”

The Navy has embarked on an informational campaign to educate adoption agencies on the benefits of considering military families, even those living overseas, said Bruce Moody, a spokesman with Navy Installations Command.

“We’re looking to provide a portrait of a military family on a military base, primarily for the agencies who can’t see it’s like a little America,” Moody said. “We want to show them this is a great place to raise a family.”

He traveled to Naples, Italy, last week, taping interviews and snippets of daily life of military families who have adopted children.

Navy Fleet and Family Support Centers worldwide are providing more information for Navy families who want to adopt children, said Meg Falk, who is with the Community Alliance Branch of Navy Installations Command and responsible for coordinating Navy support through Fleet and Family Support Centers for parents wanting to adopt.

The centers can refer families to local support networks as well as inform them about state and international adoption agencies, she said.

On Sept. 17, the Navy launches a new adoption Web page on the Fleet and Family Support Program Web site that will provide a wide range of information, such as state and national agencies that can help and an 84-page, step-by-step guide through the complex process.

The National Military Family Association is also educating agencies on the merits of military families adopting children, said Jessica Perdew, deputy director of government relations.

Some adoption agencies reject military families for reasons including frequent military moves and requirements for lengthy residency or home ownership.

But more agencies have loosened restrictions after recognizing advantages of the military lifestyle, including medical care, special needs programs, and the military school system, Perdew said.

There might be disadvantages, especially with the nation involved in two wars and missions elsewhere. The association has linked up with the Rand Corp. to study the effects of deployments on children, Perdew said. “There is no really good data right now on how deployments might be affecting kids,” she said.

Two couples fight for right to claim child as their own

Alex's note: I will not comment on instructing parents on the ramifications of adoption to their family, but I will say that with our adoption we weighed the possible scenarios very carefully before commiting to action. We have a 12 year old son and a 6 year old daughter, and we decided ahead of time that we would work through what issues we needed to as our new son integrted into our family. We knew that rushing the process, not thinking it through, or satisfying selfish urges without thinking through the consequences could end with a sad story, such as this.


By Pamela Manson
The Salt Lake Tribune
Article Last Updated: 09/02/2007 12:17:46 AM MDT

LOGAN - In Utah, hopeful adoptive parents call the toddler from China Amanda. In Kansas, another pair of longing parents know her as Amelya.

As she approaches her third birthday, both couples are battling to make the girl their own.

On one side are Scott and Karen Banks, Wellsville residents who are accused in an unrelated federal indictment of tricking parents in Samoa into placing their children for adoption through their agency.

On the other side are Mary Frances and Curry Kirkpatrick, of Overland Park, Kan., who claim they were pressured by the Bankses into placing their adopted daughter outside their home in what they believed would be a temporary arrangement.

"They have our baby," Mary Frances Kirkpatrick said. "They want her for themselves."

The Bankses and their attorney, Ann Wassermann, have declined to comment.

Mary Frances Kirkpatrick now flies to Utah each week to see the girl for about four hours. Her husband sometimes remains behind to take care of their four children in Kansas. Other times, they arrange for around-the-clock care of the kids, youngsters who are ages 6 and 4 and twins almost 2 years old.

The newest member of the family, named after Mary Frances' mother, came into their lives in 2005. The Kirkpatricks had their two older children when they began the adoption arrangements through Focus on Children, an agency operated by the Bankses.

Before the process was completed, Mary Frances became pregnant with the twins. Curry flew to China in December 2005 to pick up their new daughter while his wife remained at their suburban Kansas City home nursing the newborns.

Curry Kirkpatrick describes the 10 days he spent in China with the girl, then 14 months old, as "a magical time." The adoption was finalized before they flew back home, he says.

At first, life in Overland Park was going well, but then the toddler began exhibiting "destructive behavior" toward the twins, according to the Kirkpatricks. After six months of dealing with the situation, they decided - allegedly on the recommendation of the Bankses - that a temporary separation would be best.

The Wellsville couple came and took the girl to Utah in June 2006, the Kirkpatricks say, and refused to give her back at their request a few weeks later.

Instead, the Bankses filed two petitions in 1st District Court: one to adopt the girl they named Amanda and another alleging the Kirkpatricks should not get her back because they abandoned her.

The couple denies the allegation. Their Salt Lake City attorney, Steven Kuhnhausen, says the voluntary guardianship agreement expired as soon as the Kirkpatricks said they wanted the toddler back.

In addition, the Bankses, whose Focus on Children agency has ceased operations in Utah, lacked a child placement license permitting them to take the girl out of Kansas, Kuhnhausen said.

At a hearing last week, 1st District Judge Gordon Low, who was assigned the adoption case, expressed hope that the matter can be settled quickly. A home study is under way.

The adoption petition is on hold until the abandonment claim, which is before 1st District Juvenile Court Judge Jeffrey Burbank, is settled. In the meantime, Low - who retired from the bench Friday and will pass along the adoption matter to another jurist - laid down the law to the litigants.

For now, the girl will remain with the Bankses and the Kirkpatricks will continue to have once-a-week visitation. The parties are prohibited from talking about each other to the child "except in glowing terms."

Low also ordered everyone to call the girl Amanda to keep her from getting confused. The judge stressed that the arrangements are meant to minimize any trauma for her.

"My focus is on the welfare of the child," Low said. "This child's in a difficult situation."

Helpful Links for Adopting from China

Alex's note: This appears to be an excellent resource. I have not veryfied every link or every statement this gal is making, but an overview shows that she is putting some very strong effort into providing some great info on her Blog for people who are looking into the process of international adoption.

I highly reccomend checking out the original post, as there are many links to additional resources.

If you are just beginning to learn about adopting a child from the People's Republic of China there are a few facts you might want to consider:

The vast majority of the children available for adoption from China are girls, though there are some boys available for adoption;

As of today's posting date, the wait for adopting a healthy baby girl in China (from hiring an agency to returning home) is nearing 3 years (unless you or both of your parents hold passports from China, in which case you would be expediated and your wait would be over a year) and, as with all international adoption, it's possible the waiting time could increase;

If you are interested in adopting an older or special needs child, wait times could also be considerably less, but it will probably still take you at least a year to go through the entire adoption process start to finish;

In order to adopt from China you will have to travel to the country for about two weeks;

As with all international adoption the rules now set in place to regulate adoption from China could change at any time.

Do You Qualify to Adopt from China?

If after learning this, you are still interested in adopting from China then you will need to see if you qualify. Chinese restrictions on perspective adoptive parents (PAPs) are some of the most stringent in existence today. To find out more you should go to:

U.S. Department of State: Chinese Intercountry Adoption

Research, Research, Research!

A good next step is to join chat groups on adopting from China. There are several on Yahoo Groups. Each group has a screening process that you must go through in order to join. It is generally not difficult to complete the process.

The main groups on Chinese adoption are:

A China Adoption (ACA) - ACA is a support group for parents and prospective parents adopting from the People's Republic of China. This group is for prospective families at any phase of the adoption process, and also agency representatives. Membership is restricted to folks 30 years of age or older as China requires for adoptions.

Adoptive Parents China (APC) - APC is a support group for parents and prospective parents adopting from the People's Republic of China. I do not believe that adoption agency representatives are allowed to join this group, though this does not mean they don't sneak through the screening process.

Rate Your China Adoption Agency - This group provides a forum for people who have adopted children from the People's Republic of China to disclose their experience with their adoption agency. It also provides a source for prospective adoptive parents to get information on various agencies. It is open to anyone who has already adopted from China, is in the process of doing so, or is seriously contemplating a Chinese adoption. Members are permitted to "vent" about their agency, if their experience was negative.However, it is also expected that they will do so with courtesy and truthfulness. Adoption agency representatives are not allowed to join this group, though they might sneak through the screening process.

Rate Your Special Needs Chinese Aoption Agency - This group is for those who have already adopted a special needs child from China or are researching to find an agency that has good standing in the Adoption Community. This list is for the good, the bad, the ugly to be told without the risk of being flamed. Adoption agency representatives are not allowed to join this group, though they might sneak through the screening process.

China Expediated Referral Group (CERG) - This is a specialized China adoption support group for families that have requested expedited referral status due to Chinese ancestry with their dossiers. This status was made available by the CCAA as of 8/1/01. This group was formed so that families may wait together and share any news that they may hear about the process without feeling guilty of their special status. I do not believe that adoption agency representatives are allowed to join this group, but this does not mean they don't sneak through the screening process.
Other good groups to join are:

Adoption Agency Research - International - Adoption Agency Research Group was formed to help prospective adoptive parents (PAPs) in their research and selection of an international adoption agency. Adoption agency representatives are not allowed to join this group, though they might sneak through the screening process.

International Adoption Agency Feedbacks - This group was created to inform people researching international adoption agencies, attorneys and home study agencies. This group is open to ANYONE wanting this information including agencies, attorneys and home study agencies.

There may be other chat groups to join. You can do a search on Yahoo Groups or a general Internet search on Google. In particular, some cities and states have groups so that people from the same area can chat and meet up.

The Down and Dirty

Along with researching agencies and other people's experiences on Yahoo Groups, there are some other Websites I would recommend that may deal with some of the darker sides of adoption from China.

Group supports families with cross-racial adoptions


When an adoptive child does not look like the rest of the family, it can be an avenue to discuss international adoption.

Or it can be an opportunity for people to be rude: They stare or make comments because they don’t know any better.

“They do look different,” said Mary Noble, who, with her husband Joseph, have a biological son and adopted a son and daughter from Guatemala.

“But I don’t feel my children have been treated differently because people here are open-minded and more accepting,” Noble said. “If we get stares, I do not notice. I see them as my children; I do not see them as my Guatemalan children.”

Michelle Irwin of Geneva said realizes that her Chinese-born daughter, Genevieve, will attract some attention.

“We just feel very lucky we live in what seems - so far - an open community in the Tri-Cities area,” Irwin said. “People seem more curious and interested than disdainful or bigoted.”

Life is complicated enough when families are genetically related, says Juli Dunsing, an adoptive mother to three biracial children. When children are from various ethnic backgrounds, a family can develop layers of complexity, she said.

“It’s conspicuous when your family does not all look alike,” Dunsing said.

To address those issues, she began Crossing the Color Line, a discussion group which meets once a month in northwest suburban Libertyville where she lives. It draws adoptive families from all over, including Kane and McHenry counties.

“It’s hard not to look like your parents,” she said. “Unless you are living it, you do not realize the people out there who say rude things and difficulties with school and fitting in. What seems to benefit our kids and our families the most is connecting with each other so their kids do not think they’re the only ones out there.”

Dunsing said the group offers both a forum when children want to talk but also sponsors social and cultural events.

“Adoption and race and not looking like your family is one spoke in the wheel of your life,” she said. “It’s part of who you are, but not all of you.”

Their next meeting is 7 to 9 p.m. Sept. 12 at the First Presbyterian Church, 219 W. Maple Ave., Libertyville.

Crossing the Color Line is one of several discussion groups sponsored by Adoptive Families Today, a support group for adoptive parents and their families. The group is based in Barrington, but serves parents and families throughout the area.