China Babies Adoption Research

China Babies Adoption Research
China Babies Adoption Research

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Sandi and Hannah Cleared to Come Home

Lansing woman OK'd to return home with adopted Chinese daughter
By JAMES PRICHARD | Associated Press Writer
2:39 PM CST, November 16, 2007

A woman whose husband unexpectedly died in China while they were there to pick up their newly adopted daughter is expected to return home Saturday with the child, a spokeswoman for a Michigan congressman says.

Sylvia Warner said Friday that Sandi and Dennis Sheldon of Lansing, Mich., left for China on Oct. 30 to get the 17-month-old girl, whom they named Hannah. They originally had planned to return home this Saturday.

But only days after the adoption process was completed, Dennis Sheldon suddenly died. The family was told that he apparently suffered heart failure, said Darlene Hill, Sandi Sheldon's mother.

Because the family's status had changed and Sandi Sheldon had become a single mother, the U.S. consulate in China told her that she could not leave that country with the toddler until new family-status paperwork had been filed. The process normally takes weeks.

U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers and his staff learned of the situation on Thursday, when they were inundated with e-mails and more than 500 telephone calls from an online adoption community that knew what was happening.

The authors of several adoption Web logs that were following the situation posted telephone numbers for the offices of Rogers, other elected officials and various government agencies, encouraging readers to ask them for help.

Rogers, a Brighton Republican, called the consulate late that evening -- first thing in the morning in China -- and worked out a resolution that involved fast-tracking the filing of the proper paperwork.

"Through the congressman's call to them and that ensuing discussion, they were able to move the process along," said Warner, his spokeswoman.

Rogers' office was notified around 4 a.m. Friday that Sheldon, who had been staying in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, was cleared to return home with her daughter, Warner said.

Dennis and Sandi Sheldon were married for 19 years and Hannah is their first child, said Hill, who lives in Lansing with her husband, Herbert, and is now the grandmother of 13 children. Sandi, 42, works part time at a Wal-Mart store and Dennis, 46, was a custodian for Lansing Public Schools.

Hill said family members, while still grieving their loss, were excited to learn that Hannah will accompany her new mother home.

"We got that news about 12:30 last night," Hill said Friday. "It's the best telephone call we've had in two weeks."

The Sheldons applied to adopt a child from China through Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Bethany Christian Services, one of the nation's largest adoption agencies. The process usually takes two to two-and-a-half years, said John Van Valkenburg, a Bethany spokesman.

He called the pending homecoming a "bittersweet time" for the Sheldon family.

"We are very ecstatic that both mother and daughter are able to return home and join the rest of the family," Van Valkenburg said. "At the same time, our hearts and prayers go out to them for the loss of a father, husband and son."

Dennis Sheldon's body was cremated in China and his ashes were returning home with his widow, Hill said. A memorial service for him will take place Nov. 30 at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Lansing.,1,4153401.story

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Friday, November 16, 2007

China: Abandoned child basks in maternal love

By Zou Huilin (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-11-14 07:18

SHANGHAI: She has been doing everything for him for seven years that a mother would. But she is not his mother, rather his "grandmother", and she is not sure if he will grow up to enjoy the same rights a normal Chinese citizen does. Though he is healthy and attends classes now, will he have the same right to healthcare and education in future? She doesn't know.

Zhu Junlong

Zhu Shuibao heard a baby cry as she was walking past a stretch of green in her neighborhood in Shanghai's Pudong New Area in 2000.

Sympathy mixed with curiosity made her walk up to it. She found a baby boy wrapped in a blanket, pinned to which was a note: "The child was born on August 1, 2000."

On closer inspection, she realized something was wrong with the child's complexion. Doctors later suggested the child could be of mixed (possibly African) parentage.

Zhu, who is now more than 60 years old, has named him Zhu Junlong, but he still does not have an official identity.

Zhu Junlong attends a local school only because it agreed to waive his tuition fees. But education didn't come easy. Other schools had earlier rejected his application because Zhu Shuibao couldn't furnish the names and other details of his parents.

She, however, is not the only one who takes care of the boy. Her biological son and his wife, too, are equally fond of him.

"School teachers also give the boy extra care. But my son and I still worry whether we can give him a good education," says Zhu Shuibao.

"He has no nationality, and our family is not qualified to adopt him officially. Thus he cannot have an identity."

The government agencies she has approached for help have told her that there's nothing they can do to let her adopt the child officially. The reason: her old age.

And her son and daughter-in-law are reluctant to adopt him because that would mean foregoing the right to have their own child.

They, however, say they will look after him should anything happen to Zhu Shuibao.

The alternative is to hand Zhu Junlong over to the State welfare system. But then he would be sent to an orphanage, and Zhu Shuibao doesn't want that to happen.

"I didn't even see him properly when I lifted him from the grass and brought him home because I just wanted to save him," she says.

Considering the delicate relationship of the woman with the boy, the civil affairs bureau hasn't pursued putting him under State care. And nothing could be better news for Zhu Junlong, who considers his "grandma" the most important person in his life.

His love for her is immense. He says: "When I'm naughty at school, my teachers scold me, and I never want them to tell my granny. That's why I want to be a good student."

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Womans Husband Dies While In China To Pick Up Baby, Being Denied Permission To Proceed By US Consulate

Alex's Notes: This is a horrible situation, this womans husband has died while they were in China on their trip to pick up their baby Hannah. The US Consulate is apparently denying the I-171 because her husband died.


"To Bethany Families:

The US Consulate in Guangzhou has denied Sandi Sheldon permission to
proceed with the adoption of Hannah. They want her to fill out a new
I-171 and are making no guarantees after that. Sandi, of course does
not want to leave China and leave Hannah here because she has no where
to go. Sandi needs our help desparately! Please start a massive
campaign of calling to her US Congressman and US Senator and urge them
to intervene on Sandi's behalf. We have discussed this with Sandi and
she wants our help. Please pressure these elected officials to contact
the State Department and straighten this out. Sandi should not be
denied Hannah's adoption because her husband passed away unexpectedly.
The adoption has been finalized here in China.

Sandi's congressman is Mike Rogers. His Washington office number is
202 225 4872. His Michigan office number is 517 702 8000, he also has
a toll free number 1-877-333-MIKE.

Sandi's US Senator is Debbie Stabenow. Her Washington DC number is 202
224 4822 and her Michigan office number is 517 203 1760.

Everyone should try to help and call these people until we get final
approval. We should continue to pray that her adoption is finalized
quickly and that Sandi can return home to Michigan with Hannah.

Thanks from everyone here in China."

Can you imagine being in China loosing your husband, and now they tell
you you can't adopt your baby!!!! This is a travesty!




Some from congress has apparently called BCS (Sandi's agency) and asked that we stop making calls so that they can focus on working on this situation....seems like the squeaky wheel is getting the oil...GREAT JOB everyone!!!!!

The congress people and senate are saying they are "aware of the situation and are working on it. However, ultimately the decision is made by the counsulate." Sounds like CYA to me.... I say we start emailing the consulate.......

Let's bring Sandi and Hannah home!!!!!!
Julie M in MD


Update: 6PM EST NOV 15

I posted this to the group already, but haven't seen it come up, so I
may be repeating myself.

I just spoke with Sandi's mom. She is requesting that we stop the phone
call campaign. Bethany Christian Agency, Sandi's agency, is requesting
the same. The U.S. Rep's offices received over 1000 calls, and her mom
is worried about it doing more harm than good at this point. Her mom
talked directly to Senator Stabenow's office and both Senator Stabenow
and Rep. Mike Roger's are working on it.

Mary Kay (in Michigan)


Update: 747AM NOV 16

I just received an email from the Consulate in Guangzhou
Posted by:ruckergrigsby
Fri Nov 16, 2007 3:49 am (PST)

A Mr. Eric Aldrich,
Returned my request stating that Hannah's adoption paperwork
has been successfully completed and she can come home with
Sandi-her mother. I thanked him for doing this so quickly.
Praise the Lord! Yvonne Grigsby

Beyond the Lion Dance

By Jeff Gammage
New York Times

Jin Yu is 7 now, and lately she’s been telling me she wants to go and visit her nannies, the women who cared for her at the orphanage in China.

Not so much for herself, she says, but for them. Because she is sure they must miss her and wonder how she’s doing.

I promise we will try to go.

“They are going to be so surprised!” she tells me.

I hope so. But the turnover in Chinese orphanages can be steep. Low pay and 24-hour shifts are not strong inducements for tenure. A friend recently sent photos from the orphanage in Xiangtan, where my daughter spent her first two years, and I didn’t see one nanny I recognized. There’s every chance that by the time Jin Yu returns, everyone who might remember her will be gone.

I wonder if my child is hoping to visit people as much as a time and place, to somehow grab hold of a life that fell away when she was a toddler. If in wanting to visit her nannies, she is seeking to regain part of what she surrendered in coming to this country.

But I can’t give my daughter China. I can only give her Chinatown.

Every Saturday morning, my wife and I take Jin Yu to Lion Dance class, watching as she and the other children practice their steps under the critical eye of their sifu. The troupe’s public performances dictate the schedule of our lives the way those of other families are organized around travel soccer. On Tuesday nights, Jin Yu and her little sister, Zhao Gu, attend a Chinese culture class near our home, learning the Mandarin words for vegetables and fruits, dancing with long blue-and-yellow ribbons, and helping to make dumplings and wontons.

Jin Yu Gammage, 7, at the Mid-Autumn Festival in Philadelphia in September. (Photo: Jeff Gammage)Is that enough? Or perhaps too much? Jin Yu is old enough to be enchanted by China, although Zhao Gu, at 4, is much more interested in Leap Pad than the Great Leap Forward.

My daughters are two of the nearly 62,000 Chinese children who have been adopted into new homes in this country during the last 15 years. Almost all are girls, abandoned by Chinese parents barred from having “extra” children and pressured to raise sons. For these kids, a new family comes at high cost: their language, their food, the sights and smells of their homeland, the faces of their countrymen.

My wife and I try to mend that severed connection by making China an integral part of our lives, expressed in everything from the music we buy to the art we hang on the walls. But culture is a tricky thing. And in me, my daughters have a poor teacher. I have no experience at being Chinese.

Certainly my parents never felt the need to drag me to fiddle lessons and clog-dancing contests to show me I was Irish. They didn’t send me to after-school classes to learn about the Great Famine. Then again, they didn’t have to. For them, and through them for me, the past was close behind. How my maternal grandfather dropped the “Mc” from the start of his surname, because to be identified as Irish was to go without work. How my paternal grandfather trained horses in Ireland and America. How his wife tried to teach her children – my father among them – to speak Gaelic. How that language disappeared within a generation, and none mourned its passing, the ways of the old country no longer relevant or useful.

I worry I’m succeeding only at forging my children’s links to a vanished, historical China. That knowing the starting and ending points of the Great Wall, the home city of the famous Terra Cotta warriors or the animals of the Chinese Zodiac will do little to help them thrive as Asian girls living in 21st Century America.

A Chinese friend who visited from Beijing thinks I’m daft, lugging my girls to New Year’s banquets and dragon-boat races. “They are not Chinese. They are American,” she told me. She meant American in more than address, American in a way that’s obvious to anyone who is not from America. It’s the way they stand, how they carry themselves, the cut of their hair, the things they find funny or sad.

The irony is that in this country, my daughters are seen as wholly, fully Chinese. Indeed it is Chinese blood that runs in their veins.

Like every father and mother, I know that later on, it will be all my fault — as it has been the fault of parents through millennia. So when that time comes, when Jin Yu is a teenager, full of the certainty of her years, which blame can I live with? For having dragged her to National Day parades and Moon Festivals? Or for not having done so, for having let the tie to her past slip away like the string of a wind-tossed kite?

At least I get to pick.

I hope someday my daughter will see that her mom and dad made an effort, however flawed and imperfect, to restore part of what was taken from her. I hope if we do return to China that some of what Jin Yu learns in this country will help her make sense of that one. That if we can visit the orphanage, she will feel at ease, even if she doesn’t feel at home.

Jin Yu asks me if her nannies loved her, and I tell her I am sure that they did.
I ask what she plans to say to them.

“I’ll say, ‘Ni hao,’” she answers. “I still speak a little Chinese.”

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Precious treasure

Alex's Notes: Great blog entry from a family on the last part of their jounrey to their little one in China. Might want to grab a tissue.

Posted by Rebekah Goodman

Well, here we are in Guangzhou, the last stop before heading home. Before I go into much detail about this place I need to go back a few days.

On Saturday the 10th ,we headed north out of Nanjing to Lianyungang, the city where David's orphanage was. The van ride was a long 4 1/2 hours with 3 little babies in tow. We did enjoy the sights on the way up, including the Yangtse River, green rice fields, and people riding bikes carrying HUGE loads of hay. Lianyungang is right on the Yellow Sea. It is smaller than Nanjing, but still has 4.5 millon people including all of the districts. It was late when we arrived so we headed straight for bed in anticipation of seeing Lianyungang in the daylight. When we woke up we looked out the window of our hotel to see mountains right behind us. As we headed down the elevator we saw the sea sprawling before us on the other side. An amazing site.

We took a short walk on the island near our hotel. The old time fishing boats were of particular interest. Fishing is a big of the economy in this area. We then looked through more of David's information to see where he was abandoned. We found out that his spot of abandonment was about 1 hour away from Lianyungang. Jason decided to stay with David at the hotel for naps while I went with our tour guide to the place where David was found. We drove west from Lianyungang to a very rural, agricultural area. The homes were quite small and made of stone, surrounded by fields and livestock. Quite different from Lianyungang. We arrived in the city of Donghei and found the hospital and even the chair where David began his journey to us. Quite an emotional moment and very special. After quite a few pictures we headed back to Lianyungang to meet the others.

The next day we went to the orphanage. Jason and I had planned to take turns going in while the other person stayed with David outside the orphanage. Jason went in and was able to view where David spent his first 15 months of life. He slept in a crib right next to a baby girl who was adopted by a family from Parker, just 5 miles from our home. We joked that the kids were neighbors in the orphanage and now they will be neighbors in Colorado. The kids lived out their lives in three rooms - the crib room, playroom, and washroom. David's area was primarily babies and toddlers. The other part of the orphanage had kids who were middle school or high school age. It was hard to see these children who so desperately need a family. The older kids were very aware of what was going on and why we were there. All the kids were "special needs" as far as we could tell. The nannies seemed to be very invested in the lives of the children. David's nanny had the day off on the day we visited, but apparently she had been his nanny for 12 months of his life. The administrative staff seemed very kind. They were willing to answer any questions they could. They told us that when they first received him, he was very ill and frail, even near death. They also said he is obstinate and a fighter. Having observed him the past week and a half, it goes without saying that that is why he survived.

Although it was very hard, we were very glad to be able to visit the orphanage. I feel like I have a much better idea of what is going on with him by just seeing where he came from.

From the orphanage we headed directly back to Nanjing to catch a flight to Guangzhou. After a 6 hour van ride back and a 2 hour flight - through which David slept :) - we arrived in Guangzhou. We hit the pillows close to midnight, but were thrilled to be one step closer to home.

David's health gets better daily. He is trying new foods and drinking formula like crazy, both answers to prayer.

Each day also brings us one step closer to home. Now in Guangzhou, the last stop for all American families, we see why this is considered the hub of Chinese adoption. So many families, so many children. It is truly wonderful to see. We ate "western food" for lunch. The hamburger was fine, nothing like Red Robin, but the warmth of the sunshine and the people was great. While there, a woman (who was here to tour, not for adoption) asked me how old my "precious treasure" was. Of course had no idea that the meaning of his Chinese name is "precious treasure baby."

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Morgan Girls Return To China - Part 3

By Susan Morgan
Friday, November 9, 2007
Guixi, Jiangxi Province, China

During breakfast, Tammy and I reviewed the questions that Anna, Mary Ruth, and I had come up with in the States that we wanted to ask about Anna's first year. We added one or two more then divided them into two categories - those for the SWI staff and those questions to keep for Anna's foster mom (Mrs. Huang) when we went to her house for lunch.

The Guixi SWI was just a short drive from our hotel in the city. As we drove up the narrow road to reach the complex of mostly pink-colored buildings, I wondered again about the circumstances surrounding Anna's being found outside the gates of the orphanage four days after her birth. Who exactly found her and when...and then what happened?... These questions and others occupied my thoughts as we drove up the only road leading to the orphanage, the one that Anna most likely traveled before she was found. I wondered also about what she was now thinking... How would this visit to her birthplace, and what we might find out, affect what she thought about herself?

The meeting to review Anna's orphanage file was held in a small room on the second floor of the main building. Workmen were busy taking down the handrail and installing a new one on the staircase as we made our way upstairs. Director Shao and Vice Director Yang along with Ms. Hou, the Supervisor of the Infants Department, facilitated the meeting, with Tammy asking our prepared questions and translating. Although it was confirmed that no "red note" had been found with Anna, we did learn some new information.

The present day orphanage gate was constructed around 2000 when the original, located at the top of the narrow road leading to the complex, was torn down during renovation. We realized that Anna was not found outside the current gate in 1996, but further down where the front of the new wall ended. Also, we learned that the "passerby named Peng Nianlan" who found Anna was an employee of the orphanage who went out into the courtyard on a cold December morning at about 6 am to get some water when she heard a baby crying. After she brought Anna in from outside the gate, the police were called. An investigation followed to confirm that the baby's parents could not be located. No clothing or blankets found with Anna were kept as all babies were given a bath and put in clean baby clothes. We were told Anna only stayed in the Guixi SWI for the day until a foster mother surnamed Huang, who lived less than half a mile away on the main highway, came to take her home. When I asked about how long Anna may have been outside the orphanage gate before being found, I was told probably not for more than several hours. There was a custom back in those days that firecrackers would be set off at night to alert the orphanage staff that there was a baby outside to be found as nearby farmers' animals sometimes roamed at night. Since no one heard anything, most likely Anna was left shortly before the sun came up early in the morning.

We were told that, of course, no one could say where Anna may have been from, Guixi city center or rural village on the outskirts, or who her birthparents might be... As Mrs. Huang joined the meeting near the end and greeted us warmly for the second time, I realized that we had found Anna's roots after all in this woman who had cared for her during her first year of life. Now, after ten years, a relationship was beginning to form that could provide some closure to Anna's questions about her past.

We left the meeting with a copy of the orphanage file, which Director Shao provided us upon request, and promised to send periodic updates on Anna's life in the States. We were invited to return to Guixi SWI in the years ahead and to stay in touch.

Ms. Hou accompanied Tammy and me as we walked towards Mrs. Huang's home just down the road for lunch. Mary Ruth and Anna had been invited to climb aboard the electric motorscooter that Anna's foster mom drove, so they were already eating snacks inside when we arrived. Many grandchildren and neighbors were gathered around the modest rural farmhouse as we were greeted by Mrs. Huang's husband and invited inside. We were introduced to her now grown daughter (who was eighteen during the time Anna lived there and liked to play with her) and her oldest son and daughter-in-law. Another son lives in Guandong Province. A wooden table, narrow benches, and a large cabinet holding some bowls were in the front room. An adjoining bedroom was the one that Anna had shared with her foster mother. On the wall was a calendar with a large cross and Tammy translated that Mrs. Huang was a Christian, one of only several in their village, who attended church every Sunday. She had taken Anna as a baby with her and felt that the prayers had helped protect her as she had no parents to do so.

The lunch was a hearty one with plates of delicious food reminding me of those in rural An Shang Village in Shaanxi Province where the girls and I learned so much about the lives of the farmers in China while teaching conversational English with Global Volunteers. Mrs. Huang, through Tammy as she spoke no English, told us about her life growing up in Guixi and her reasons for becoming a foster mother. She talked about the first time she saw Anna on the day she was found and about how she cried for several days a year later when the orphanage officials came to take Anna to Nanchang to be adopted. For ten years she never expected to see her foster child again and when they told her we were coming back she couldn't sleep for the excitement. As I pulled out photos to pass around, it seemed as if this day was closing a hole that had existed in the lives of both Anna and her foster mother.

After lunch we were invited to tour the house to take more photos. Several Guixi foster moms stopped in who lived in the village hoping that perhaps we could reconnect them with some of their foster children from years ago who had been adopted in the US. As I copied down some information and took a few photos of them, I hoped that my efforts would be rewarded with equally wonderful reunions as ours had been.

We decided to walk back to the SWI and take some photos of the outside area where Anna was found and her foster mother wanted to join us (which was wonderful as no one was ready to say goodbye). We were pleasantly surprised when arriving at the site we met two other foster moms who chatted with us for quite awhile as Anna and Mary Ruth scavanged for small rocks on the ground for their treasure boxes.

One of the ladies had to leave us but the other foster mom, along with Anna's, continued to walk with us as we headed towards a nearby scenic spot where one could have a wonderful view of Guixi. The large hill with steep cliffs had a hole through it like a tunnel and it reminded me of "Elephant Trunk Hill" in Guilin in Southwest China. The weather was sunny and pleasant, a beautiful day as we strolled past rural village houses along the tree shaded lane. When we reached the hill and started to climb, I was grateful for the occasional helping hand from the foster moms whose climbing skills sure beat mine! The girls scampered along unaided for the most part and once or twice, in a reversal of roles, Anna offered her hand and helped her foster mother in a particularly steep spot. Once at the top, Tammy and I took out our cameras for some (I hope!) great pictures.

After the walk back down, we reached the orphanage gate and the foster moms with us invited us to see the babies again. We were very happy as we had only had a short visit the day before in one room. We ended up spending quite a long time playing with the babies and toddlers until almost suppertime when we had to leave. The children all appeared healthy and very clean. We all hoped to visit again someday.

Mrs. Huang wanted us to have dinner at her house and we hoped she'd eat with us at a restaurant rather than giving her more work to do. In Chinese style (!) we each tried to invite the other to have dinner with no resolution. Finally, Anna's foster mom stated that she would just have a simple meal and that it had been ten long years until this day so it was not a lot of work for her. We didn't feel we could refuse.

Entering her house as the sun began to set now felt like home despite the difference in appearance, lifestyle, language, and culture of our two families. There were really more similarities deep down, they just weren't as obvious. Almost as soon as we finished eating, the taxi that had been called showed up and we all rushed to gather up our belongings. We walked in the now dark night to the road and Anna gave "Mama Huang" one last hug before hopping into the taxi. I was grateful for the quick departure as I felt it made it easier for everyone, especially Anna's foster mom. I'm also grateful for the opportunity to have given her a copy of the red memory book "Anna Gwendolynn Hongxiang Morgan's Bethany Adoption Story," translated into Chinese by Cindy Liu, which we had printed if and when we were ever able to return to China and find her. In it is an old photo of "Mama Huang" and the caption reads in part..."she was given a baby found outside the walls of the orphanage by a passerby and took wonderful care of her for almost a year - the baby's name became Anna Gwendolynn Hongxiang Morgan. Someday, she will meet her foster daughter again..."

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Morgan Girls Return To China - Part 2

By Susan Morgan
Thursday, November 8, 2007

As we drove through the gates of the Guixi Social Welfare Institute (SWI), two young men set off firecrackers to welcome us. A long red banner, hung across the front of the main building, proclaimed "Welcom Guo Hongxiang Back to natal Home". Director Shao and several other officials and staff greeted us warmly. Then a woman approached, hesitantly at first, then smiling broadly as she recognized Anna, her foster child of almost a year. It was a moment full of emotion and I knew then that returning to Guixi was the right thing for us to have done.

As we entered the main building and walked up to the second floor, Anna and her foster mother hand in hand, workmen were busy renovating the inside courtyard area. Inside the second floor conference room, we sat and were offered fresh fruit as we were formally welcomed to Guixi SWI and introduced to those present around the table. Our gift of baby formula and cereal (which Anna had helped pick out) was graciously accepted. Director Shao presented Anna with a green jade necklace and brochure about Guixi.

After the formalities, we walked back downstairs and took some photos in the courtyard outside the building. It was a beautiful sunny day with temperatures in the upper 60's. As we had a little time before lunch, we were invited to visit one of the baby rooms in the new infant building across the courtyard. The room, painted a bright white, was very clean and the babies were similarly well cared for and healthy in appearance. Several tiny infants were in cribs lining the two sides of the large room while some older babies were moving freely in plastic walkers like tiny "bumper cars" nudging each other. One older toddler entered the room and the nannies told us that he was a three year-old boy, the oldest child in Guixi SWI, who needed a family and was eligible for adoption. He spoke Chinese, they said, and would help the nannies by getting something for them if asked.

Soon it was time to leave for a local restaurant in Guixi downtown area. On the way, about a half mile from the orphanage, someone pointed to a house alongside the roadway and announced that it was the home of Anna's foster mom, Mrs. Huang, the house where Anna had spent her first year of life!

The lunch was held in a small private room on the upper floor of a local Guixi restaurant, a loud and boisterous place filled with local people enjoying the good food and company. Mrs. Huang glowed as she sat next to the now grown child she had cared for ten years earlier and helped serve her from the many dishes in the center of the table. There were numerous toasts back and forth around the table during the meal and I appreciated Tammy's whispered coaching in my ear on the correct way to respond!

After a long meal with much good cheer, Director Shao and the other officials and staff said goodbye. We would meet again the next morning to review Anna's orphanage file, ask any questions, and then walk to Mrs. Huang's home for lunch. We were all excited about this opportunity that Tammy had helped arrange. It would be wonderful to spend some time with her and find out more of Anna's past life in China...

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Morgan Girls Return To China - Part 1

By Susan Morgan
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Nanchang, Jiangxi Province, China

Dear Family and Friends,

Our time in Nanchang, the provincial capital, has been filled with a mixture of "new and old"...old in the sense of being the same (or nearly so) as it was in 1997 and new in that everything has changed.

Our arrival in Nanchang was a new experience since the airport Ruth and I (and the other seven adopting families) flew into in December 1997 is now a military airport located about forty miles from the current large and modern facility. The beautiful ceramic bowl I hoped to finally purchase from the Nanchang Airport giftshop if I ever returned is probably no longer still sitting on the counter...

Our visit to the Teng Wang Pavillion on the banks of the Gan River was a nostalgic one for me, a novelty for Anna and Mary Ruth. The many-storied cultural center hundreds of years old matched my memories of it in 1997 when all eight families and babies made their way to the top. It was here that, with Guo Hongxiang in my left arm and my camera in my right, I snapped many panoramic photos of the skyline of Nanchang City. Today's skyline seemed much the same except for the addition of a multitude of skyscrapers, not to mention the biggest ferris wheel I have ever seen on the drive to reach the pavillion from our hotel.

The visit to the Jiangxi Hotel brought back many memories of our days there during our adoption trip for Anna. We ate dinner in the same hotel diningroom on the first floor where we ate almost every meal while in Nanchang in 1997. The restaurant seemed familiar although the decor had changed and I couldn't remember details of the diningroom. The area where I was pretty sure our adoption group always sat had not a trace of all the mess our eight babies managed to make after every meal! I was relieved, however, to find out that indeed it was the same place when a waitress employed more than ten years recognized the photo of another Jiangxi waitress holding Anna in a 1997 photo. Unfortunately that waitress, who had taken a shine to Anna during our stay, left the service of the Jiangxi Hotel about a year later and was thought to have traveled overseas. Tammy joked that maybe she was looking for us!

As we left the Jiangxi Hotel through the main lobby, I glanced around, remembering the night we arrived in 1997. I remembered the walk from the check-in counter to the bank of elevators on the far side of the lobby and the sounds of voices and soft laughter on the other side of the wide room. Glancing over, I saw a woman holding a small child dressed in red who quickly moved behind a large pillar but not before the baby in her arms (who I'm now sure was Anna) flashed us a beautiful smile...

Tomorrow, we will arrive in Guixi, Anna's birthplace. On Thursday, we will meet with the staff of the Guixi Social Welfare Institute and spend the day there. It has been confirmed that Anna's foster mother, who took care of her for almost one full year, has been located and will be there to meet us! We are full of anticipation and will write again of this continuing adoption adventure...

Susan, Anna (adopted from Guixi, Jiangxi Province, in December 1997), and Mary Ruth (adopted from Lu'an City, AnHui Province, in February 1999)

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

More Orphanages for China

China to build more orphanages

The Chinese government plans to build 83 new orphanages in 2008, as part of the effort to improve child welfare infrastructure, the Ministry of Civil Affairs said Tuesday.

The State Development and Reform Commission plans to allocate 130 million yuan (US$17 million) for the construction, while the Ministry of Civil Affairs will use 200 million yuan (US$26 million) from the income of the Welfare Lottery.

The funds would mainly be spent in building the new orphanages, said Zhang Mingliang, director of the ministry's department of social welfare and social affairs.

Efforts would also focus on improving the facilities and functions of orphanages, so as to provide orphans with fostering, medical care, special education, rehabilitation, and vocational training, said Zhang.

By the end of 2006, China had 249 orphanages with 30,716 beds, which accommodates 72,000 orphans, or 13 percent of the country's total.

The government plans to set up orphanages or open orphan's departments in local welfare houses in all prefecture-level cities by 2010.

So just over 30,000 beds for 72,000 orphans? I guess they assume two children per bed. Also, if 72,000 orphans represents 13 percent of China's total, where are the rest? Some type of foster care, I hope. Or with relatives?

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