China Babies Adoption Research

China Babies Adoption Research
China Babies Adoption Research

Friday, February 15, 2008

International adoptive families share experiences

By Christina M. Mitchell/staff

HARRISONBURG —The clicking sound of the bamboo sticks hitting the floor keeps time as 8-year-old Abby Lachance jumps.

Her long black pigtail and colorful beaded necklace bounce as she moves to the beat, two short jumps and then a slight pause on the third.

The sticks move in an opposite rhythm to her feet, first apart, then together, as Abby bounces in and out of their wooden boundaries.

Then a second girl half Abby's size joins in, and the beat slows a bit as the younger girl learns the steps. The two hold hands and jump together, like near-twins in their pink and red silk pajamas — special outfits for this special day.

The event, celebrated last Sunday at Mulenburg Lutheran Church in Harrisonburg, was held in honor of the Chinese New Year. It's the annual mini-gala for ValleyAdopt, a regional coalition of families who've adopted or are seeking to adopt children from outside the United States. Both Abby and her small friend were born in China but are growing up here in the Shenandoah Valley.

Part reunion and part support, the event is the largest of several that the group holds each year, chances for parents to get together, share stories and enjoy their children. For the kids, it's also an opportunity to interact with people who look like them — and who don't ask the awkward questions that the outside world sometimes does.

"When people would say, 'Is she yours' or 'Is that your real daughter?'" Kristan Lachance said. "It's just ignorance, and I know what they're asking."

"Part of doing an adoption is learning the terms that we use. I say, 'Do you mean where was she born?'"

Abby was born in China. She spent the first part of her life in an orphanage and then foster care before her mother found her. At the New Year celebration, she and the other children marked the site they were born on a large wall map. The map soon was dotted with neon Post-Its over China, Korea, Japan, Thailand, Russia and the United States.

"They used to call it your abandonment site," Lachance said of her daughter's first home. "Now they say her finding place ... I like that it's such a positive term."

Mother and daughter also celebrate "Gotcha Day" or the day Lachance first met Abby. The then-toddler cried at first, until her mother pulled out the exact replica of the blanket the little girl carried in her arms — the match to the one Lachance had mailed.

"It was absolutely beautiful, and it was immediate," friend Nina Siebens said of the bond between mother and daughter.

Siebens was Lachance's travel partner for the long trip to Beijing. The experience inspired Siebens to adopt a daughter of her own, a little girl from Thailand named Mali.

ValleyAdopt began about seven years ago with just a handful of mothers seeking to adopt children from China. The little group grew, however, and now includes nearly 100 members. Though the group's reach stretches from Winchester to Augusta County, families stay connected online through their Yahoo! Group, coordinating events several times a year.

"It's important for us that our children grow up with other families like ours, and learn something about their culture," said Diana Ferguson, one of ValleyAdopt's founding members.

The group's other purpose is to help other families go through the sometimes painfully long wait between filing adoption papers and picking up their child, Ferguson explained.

"When you're waiting, there's nobody else that knows what that wait is like, except for somebody else who's been there," she said.

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China-Babies Research

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

2007 US Federal Income Tax Benefits for Adoptive Parents

We have just hosted a file that outlines the 2007 US Federal income tax benefits for Adoptive Parents.

You can view the file here:

2007 US Federal Income Tax Benefits for Adoptive Parents

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China-Babies Research

Children suffer as historic snow hits China

Posted: 12 February, 2008

Ice covers power lines in China. Power throughout southern China was affected by the historic ice and snow.

China (MNN) ― Transportation, power generation and the food supply are slowly getting back to normal in China after the worst winter weather in decades. Dozens of people were killed, and the weather caused billions of dollars worth of damage.

Children's Hope International's Program Director Corey Barron describes the situation. "It snowed from mid-January into early February, and it's being called China's Katrina. Many, many millions of people were devastated by this. There are reports that over 300,000 homes were destroyed, and over 800,000 were damaged."

According to Barron, the snows were unprecedented. "There were snows as far south as Guangzhou in China, which is on the southern tip of China just north of Hong Kong. It just doesn't snow; it's a tropical area down there. And so we have regions that have buildings that are not suited for this cold snowy weather, especially the orphanages."

Children's Hope is doing all they can to help the isolated orphanages that were cut off from supplies, electricity and water for days on end. "We are fundraising to raise money for clothes, food, for heaters. A lot of these orphanages need heaters, diapers, for essentials like water, and formula and charcoal. A lot of these towns were cut off from their suppliers so prices have skyrocketed."

They're partnering with Operation Blessing, a ministry of Christian Broadcasting Network. Barron believes that as they help, "We can make a difference by showing the love of Christ in a crisis situation. There are a lot more than 13 orphanages in China, but we're focusing on these orphanages that have been hit very, very hard."

According to Barron, you can make a difference with just a $100 gift, which goes a long way. He's asking people to go to "You'll see the different orphanages that we're working with right now and that continues to build. In some instances, roofs collapsed from the weight of the snow, and everything got wet. Or they didn't have enough supplies anyway because they weren't prepared for such cold weather ."

Children's Hope gives needed physical, medical and humanitarian help to orphans at risk and in need, with the ultimate purpose of bringing spiritual life and accompanying hope, faith, strength and direction to all those who are served.

Pray that many will help with the humanitarian disaster. Pray also that God would use this situation to draw caregivers and others to Himself.

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China-Babies Research

Some not smiling over Juno's sarcasm on China

Reyhan Harmanci, Chronicle Staff Writer

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

San Rafael real estate agent Lo Mei Seh was shocked when she saw a theatrical trailer for the hit movie "Juno" in December. In one scene, the title character sarcastically tells the rich suburban couple hoping to adopt her unborn child, "You shoulda gone to China. You know, 'cause I hear they give away babies like free iPods. You know, they pretty much just put them in those T-shirt guns and shoot them out at sporting events."

Seh, the mother of two adopted Chinese girls, noticed a young Asian girl sitting behind her getting noticeably upset and muttering, "That's so mean and unfair."

"I calmed myself down, saying these things are just going to happen, and as a parent I have to teach my children to be strong," she says. But after that particular scene was shown on televised award shows like the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild awards, she became angry all over again.

"I know some people will say 'lighten up,' but that's not the point," Seh says. "The trailer is misleading" about the complexities of adopting infants from China.

"It's not only hurtful, but harmful," she says.

Seh is not alone: Online message boards and blogs have been lighting up locally and nationally with debates on the heavily promoted scene as parents, teens and other interested parties weigh in. Many defend the movie itself as an unusually positive representation of adoption but bemoan the "iPod scene."

The debate is fueled by the fact that the scene is widely available as a clip on the Internet. In addition, a promotional video on the "Juno" Web page shows star Ellen Page telling screenwriter Diablo Cody that those lines are her favorite of the movie.

While the lines are spoken by a sarcastic, irreverent 16-year-old character, critics say that it plays into the misperception that adopting transnationally is simple and easy and renders the children themselves as little more than accessories. Nothing could be further from the truth, say those who know about the adoption process firsthand.

In an e-mail statement to The Chronicle, director Jason Reitman and screenwriter Diablo Cody say the joke was intended to showcase Juno's teenage ignorance.

"No one could be more sensitive to this idea than myself. My wife and daughter are Chinese, and my sister is adopted," Reitman says. "While I am connected to this on all levels, I have always felt that it is important that we find humor in which we are most sensitive. It is through comedy that we can begin conversation instead of hiding behind political correctness - a wall that simply divides people and stifles communication."

Cody agrees.

"Juno's remark is meant to be casually insensitive in that wince-inducing, quintessentially teenage way," she writes. "The iPod line is a moment of sublime, ridiculous brattiness that was meant to be amusing. It's the kind of thing a kid who'd never experienced that pain would say."

But to the offended parties, the scene feels like an insult.

"Parents are correct to think that it's something very personal," says Susan Soonkeum Cox, vice president of public policy at Oregon's Holt International, a large adoption and children's services agency and an adoptee herself. "This is not to say you shouldn't have a sense of humor, but even though this is supposed to be a clever line, no child wants to think of themselves as throwaway or a souvenir. That's real."

The irony of the "Juno" line is that adopting from China is very difficult. The Chinese government began allowing adoptions to the United States in 1991, and the country became the No. 1 source of international adoptees. Approximately 55,000 Chinese children, 95 percent of them girls, have entered the United States since the early '90s, according to news reports. Adoptions from China reached a high of 7,906 children in 2005, but dropped to 6,493 in 2006 as new Chinese legal restrictions on adoptive parents went into effect. (New restrictions include barring gay parents, single parents, and parents over a certain body mass index and under a certain income level).

It's impossible to pinpoint where the highest concentrations of adopted children have ended up, but Berkeley resident Peggy Scott, the Northern California chapter president of Families with Children from China, says the Bay Area is a hub. She estimates that there are 600 members in her chapter and another 600 in Southern California. Nationwide, Scott estimates the group has a membership of more than 5,000.

"China has become what's considered the gold standard for international adoption - legal, fair, straightforward," says Scott, mother of an adopted Chinese-born daughter.

"They were one of the first major countries that required parents to go to the country to pick up their child," Cox says, "and China has a beautiful giving and receiving ceremony for the children. It's a very serious process."

Scott saw "Juno" with her 14-year-old daughter, Abbey, and says they loved the film and the Juno character. But before they saw it, Scott was listening to NPR's "Fresh Air" program when she heard the clip played as an example of the film's snappy dialogue. She says she felt like a bucket of cold water had been thrown on her.

"My daughter and I talked about it when I heard it on the radio. I told her I'd heard this line, and I told her it was on 'Fresh Air,' and she went, 'Oh, my gosh.' " But Scott says her daughter's first response was a quip.

"She said, 'Are the e-mails flying yet?' because she knows that's what happens when something comes up ... and sure enough, by the next day, the e-mails were flying."

The national magazine Adoptive Families set up a Web page to discuss "Juno," although editor Susan Caughman says she doesn't think most people involved in adoption, including her 16-year-old Chinese-born daughter, were offended.

Several parents interviewed say that they receive wrong-headed comments regularly as a result of misunderstandings about adoption.

"I think people who are touched by adoption feel like a targeted group," says Beth Hall, founder of Pact, a local nonprofit organization providing adoption services to children of color. "Often they are viewed with positive stereotyping, like 'Oh, it's so wonderful you rescued that child.'

"The flip side is that the child must be so bad, only a saint would take care of him or her."

The parents also say that the "Juno" line also plays on racist Asian stereotypes in an unacceptable way.

"Could you have made that joke with any other minority?" Scott says. "I don't think so. You'd catch hell."

International and transracial adoptions have been in the press more in the past few years thanks to growing multiracial celebrity families such as that of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie and a child trafficking scandal involving an adoption agency in Chad in November. Mills College Professor Julia Chinyere Oparah, co-editor of transracial adoption anthology "Outsiders Within" and herself a transracial adoptee, says that there is a long history of "saving" children of color by removing them from their families and communities.

Adoption is a difficult subject in general to talk about: As Hall says, it "makes people nervous."

"Any adoption situation, regardless of international or domestic, always has issues of grief, issues of loss, issues of abandonment. We as adults continually deal with it," says Lisa Marie Rollins, the founder of local group Adopted & Fostered Adults of the African Diaspora who is writing her dissertation on transracial adoption. She said she was "completely taken aback" when she heard the "Juno" lines in a clip.

Oparah echoes that comment: "On an emotional level, I was one of those children that were available for adoption," she says, adding that she was born in Nigeria and raised in England, "so to say that you can get them like iPods, like commodities, it's speaking to the adoption industry, and it's said in a really brutalizing way."

With "Juno" nominated for four Oscars this year, including best picture and best actress, Seh became concerned that the iPod clip would be shown again, this time to a potential audience of more than 1 billion people around the world. She wrote the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

The academy is paying attention. Last week, Seh got a call from academy President Sid Ganis, who said in a voice-mail message that he had gotten her letter, was sympathetic to her concerns, and would pass it on to others. The academy, through communications director Leslie Unger, confirmed it had heard from more than one person on the issue. Seh says she hopes the offending clip won't be broadcast when the awards air Feb. 24.

Sound off: Does that line from "Juno" offend you? Call (415) 777-6268 to comment for an Open Mic podcast at

E-mail Reyhan Harmanci at

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China-Babies Research

Monday, February 11, 2008

Update on China Weather and Nanchang

Special thanks to several people who have made donations to help out in Nanchang, we are purchasing two large electric space heaters that can also be used for drying diapers, as well as blankets.


We have made delivery of the blankets and heaters, here is a photo gallery:

The Nanchang SWI sends it thanks!

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