Tag: adoption

Welcome to Spring

Welcome to Spring

Hello everyone,

gosh, yes, I know it has been so long since I posted, but I knew it would be harder to keep up with the blog after the baby came home.

But I have also been focusing on writing! I will have several new books coming out this year. Two are complete and are only waiting on editing and covers and others are still works in progress. But I am super excited to be launching several new book series this year! I hope you enjoy them. The best news is that you can even join my Street Team and have early and FREE access to my new books! All you have to do is agree to post a review in exchange. You can join my street team and find out more here.

And now the baby update, which I know is what you have been waiting for.

Our little girl is doing amazing. She is learning new things every day. Her favorite show is Daniel Tiger, which is really adorable. She recently had her third birthday, which we celebrated with some friends here in China. She went to see her first movie, which was Beauty and the Beast, my favorite Disney movie.

Here are some cute pictures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I promise I will blogging regularly again soon. Several people are waiting on book reviews from me and I even have some guest posts coming up. If you would like to submit a guest post, check out my submissions page.

Read the book that reviewers call

“Utterly Charming”

“Richly Woven”

“An absolutely amazing read from start to finish!”

Threads of Silk only $2.99 on Amazon!

Two Americans in China And Growing!

Two Americans in China And Growing!

We finally have our little girl home! She came home a week before Christmas, so we did the obligatory Christmas pictures.

People keep asking me how I feel, if I feel different somehow. Other than having issues balancing taking care of a kid and working from home, Seth and I don’t really feel different. I think we just waited and planned for this for so long, finally bringing her home was just natural – it was just right.

We are very happy to finally have our little girl home and we can’t wait to watch her – and our family – grow. We are still getting to know her, but she loves music and the color red!

If you want to know more adoption – especially expat adoption – feel free to ask questions in the comments section or email me. I’m more than happy to help other people grow their families through adoption.

I know that on the global stage, 2016 was terrible. But for us personally, 2016 was amazing. I had three books published, I started my own publishing company, I quit my “day job” and am able to work from home full-time, we traveled to Vietnam and Japan, and we topped it off by bringing our first baby home! 2017 will have a lot to live up to! I can’t wait to see what the future brings.

Happy New Year!

Read the book that reviewers call

“Utterly Charming”

“Richly Woven”

“An absolutely amazing read from start to finish!”

Threads of Silk only $2.99 on Amazon!

We Found Her! Finally Getting Our Match

We Found Her! Finally Getting Our Match

We finally found our daughter! Anyone who knows us or follows this blog knows that our adoption journey has been a long and difficult one. But we are so happy to finally announce that we have found our daughter! Meet little Zofia!

Zofia-8-30-16-7As a blogger and now a mommy blogger, I am still wrestling with how much information to share about her. I am a pretty open person and I love talking about my life in China and the adoption process, but this isn’t only my story. Where does my story end and Zofia’s begin? I’m not sure, and I know I will make mistakes along the way, but hopefully I will be able to strike a balance between sharing just enough information to encourage others to adopt without divulging information that should be hers to share if and when she is ready.

For now, just know that this little girl is already loved and we can’t wait to bring her home!

If you ever have any questions about adopting from China, just ask! And I will do my best to help you. Especially if you are an expat interested in adopting. When we moved to China in 2010, there was no information about non-military families adopting while living abroad. Now, there are whole communities of expat adoptive families!

We still are not sure exactly when we will be home, but when she does, we will have a lot more pictures to share!

I know many of our friends and family members would like to know how they can support us during this time. Here are two main ways:

1 – Donate money directly. You can click on the button below to send funds to us directly through Paypal.

2 – Buy my books! You can buy my books – The Crazy Dumplings Cookbooks and Threads of Silk – from me directly through this site or you can buy them through Amazon (however, I (and the rest of my team) earn a lot more money per book if you buy from me). You can also buy a variety of dumpling related gifts here on the website. 

Of course, adding our little dumpling to our family means a lot of changes. I have already been blogging less because I have been working so much to raise money to pay the adoption fees and several publishing projects are being pushed back. Santa and the Christmas Dragon will be published in the fall of 2017 (with better, updated art!) and Crazy Dumplings III will be published in the spring of 2018.

Thank you so much for reading and being part of our adoption journey! This story is only beginning.

 

Adoptive Families Need Parental Leave Too

Adoptive Families Need Parental Leave Too

The following was originally published in the Shenzhen Daily. 

One day, your parents are gone. Your home is gone. You don’t know where you are. You are in a new, strange place. There are other people around you who seem nice, but they are not your parents. There are other children in this place. You cry and cry and wait and wait, but Mommy and Daddy never come back. Sometimes the other children disappear from this new place. Sometimes the caretakers leave and new ones arrive. You have trouble trusting or bonding with anyone because you never know if they will leave you too.

Chinese-Agape-Foundation_orphans-in-China-05-12-15One day, two new people take you away. You never met them before and don’t know where you are going. They try to hold and kiss you, but why? Will you go back to that place with the other children? Will these people leave just like Mommy and Daddy did?

Even though adoption is a joyous occasion for adoptive parents, parents know that adoption only comes after great loss. Even very little adopted children have experienced loss and abandonment. Adopted children need time to adjust and bond with their new family just like any new baby.

China has very progressive maternity leave allowances. Chinese mothers are entitled to a minimum of 98 days of paid maternity leave. Some provinces, cities and employers offer much more than this. Many parts of China are currently extending their parental leave policies for mothers and fathers because of the new two-child policy. However, Chinese law does not allow for parental leave for adoptive parents.

As demonstrated by the illustration above, parental leave for adoptive parents is a necessity. While adoptive mothers do not need time off work for their bodies to heal after a birth, the emotional turmoil that accompanies an adopted child means that the child needs time to get to know her new parents and her new surroundings. New parents need this time as well. Adding a child to your life is always a momentous and life-changing event!

I understand that the main reason why adoptive parents are not taken into consideration in China’s parental leave laws is because adoption was not always popular in China in the past, but that is quickly changing! Prior to 2009, only about 7,000 families adopted children in China annually. But by 2011, that number soared to over 31,000. Today, as many as 45,000 families adopt children in China every year. It is time for China’s parental leave policies to catch up!

china_kids1That number is far behind other countries, though. In America, there are over 130,000 adoptions every year, including over 10,000 annual adoptions of Chinese children. But in America parental leave is the same for birth parents and adoptive parents.

One way China can help support adoptive parents and encourage domestic adoption is by extending parental leave to include adoptive parents. While many families have no problem covering the costs of adoption, quitting their jobs or taking extended unpaid leave to care for the new child is out of the question for most families. How wonderful would it be if Chinese orphans could be adopted by more families in their home country? And now that China has changed the one-child policy to a two-child policy, many more parents might choose to grow their families through adoption instead of birth if they didn’t have to risk losing their jobs to do so.

Adoptive parents are not asking for special treatment – they are simply asking for equal treatment. Adopted children deserve time to bond with their new mommies and daddies just like any other baby.

It is Legal to Buy a Kidnapped Child in China

It is Legal to Buy a Kidnapped Child in China

I had only been in China for a few months the first time someone told me I could buy a baby in China. I had told one of my new friends at our school in rural, northern Hunan about my dream of adopting a child in China. 20111122-Wiki C Xinhua Missing-Kids-QQ-Page“Why bother with that?” she asked. “Just go to the countryside and buy one for 10,000 RMB.” This suggestion is one that I have heard repeatedly during the years I have lived here. I make no secret about our desire to grow our family through adoption, and most people I meet, while curious, are anxious to help. I have been told to “simply buy a baby” in every place I have lived, from rural Hunan to the metropolis of Shenzhen. I usually reply with “well, we have to adopt legally so that we can get our child American citizenship.” This is enough for them, but I can’t help but wonder about just how easy it is for Chinese people to “buy babies.”

A recent story in the Shenzhen Daily was a real eye-opener on this issue. An article entitled “Child Buyers May Face Punishment” explains that “a draft amendment to the Criminal Law being considered by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress advocates ‘light punishment’ for buyers who don’t harm abducted children or hinder their rescue.” The article goes on to say that “most buyers treat abducted children as their own, and won’t be punished, said Chen Shiqu, director of the Ministry of Public Security’s anti-trafficking office.” Currently, people who buy abducted children in China do not face legal consequences if caught. 

Child trafficking in China is a huge problem. China has one of the highest kidnapping rates in the world, with numbers ranging from 20,000-200,000 each year. Too often, kidnapped children are not just sold domestically, but to international adoption agencies as well. The kidnapping problem even affects China’s Southeast Asian neighbors, with many girls and women in neighboring countries kidnapped and trafficked into China as “brides” for China’s growing bachelor population.

I know the pain of not having a child. My adoption journey has spanned over a decade and we are still waiting. Of course, if adoption was as simple as “buying a baby,” it would be tempting. I want a baby more than anything. But adoption laws and procedures exist for many reasons, chief among them the protection of the child. It is important to make sure that adopted children are not stolen and that they will be well taken care of. How could you sleep at night knowing that the only reason you are a parent is because you stole someone else’s child?

A woman holds a candle behind a board showing photos of missing children during a campaign to spread information to search for them in Wuhan, in central China's Hubei province.
A woman holds a candle behind a board showing photos of missing children during a campaign to spread information to search for them in Wuhan, in central China’s Hubei province.

The adoption system is flawed – and I mean every adoption system in every country and the international programs. The rules are too strict and the programs are much too expensive, but you don’t solve those problems by going outside the system – especially if going outside the system means kidnapping someone else’s child.

While I am completely sympathetic to the pain that would drive parents to buy a child to complete their families, I cannot condone their actions. People who buy children from child traffickers are child traffickers, and they should face legal consequences. Every link in the child trafficking chain must be smashed to stop this horrendous crime, and that includes the buyers who only want to be mommies and daddies.

I hope that the Standing Committee endorses the draft amendment that was presented to them that all buyers of stolen children be punished.

What about you? Do you think people who buy stolen children should be punished? Let me know in the comments. 

Rachel Dolezal’s Appropriation of Adoption Language

Rachel Dolezal’s Appropriation of Adoption Language

Rachel Dolezal today (left) and Dolezal as a teenager (right).
Rachel Dolezal today (left) and Dolezal as a teenager (right).

If you haven’t heard of Rachel Dolezal, then you are one lucky duck. Dolezal made international headlines last week when it was revealed that she, a White woman, had spent the better part of a decade masquerading as a Black person and was even the chapter president of the Spokane, Washington branch of the NAACP. What really captured people’s attention, though, was her rationalization of why she did what she did and the fact that she claimed to “identify as Black.” Since Dolezal’s story came out soon soon after Caitlyn Jenner revealed her true self on the cover of Vanity Fair, many people were quick to conflate the two topics – if people can be born male but identify as female, why can’t people born White identify as Black? I’m not Black and I’m not trans, so I don’t think I am the best person to explain the differences between transgendered people and what Dolezal was claiming to do, but there are many wonderful articles out there written by Black women, transgendered women, and Black transgendered women who have done an excellent job explaining this issue.

Dolezal with her adopted black son (left) and her biological mixed-race son (right).
Dolezal with her adopted Black son (left) and her biological biracial son (right).

However, there is one aspect of the Dolezal controversy that I can talk about – the question of whether White people can raise children of color.

In her interview with Matt Lauer, Dolezal said that after she adopted her son (who was previously her adopted brother) who is Black,

He [her adopted Black son Izaiah] said, ‘You’re my real mom.’ And he’s in high school, and for that to be something that is plausible, I certainly can’t be seen as white and be Izaiah’s mom.

The idea that she couldn’t be her son’s “real mom” and be of a different race is an appalling stance to take since she is basically saying that every White parent who has adopted a child of another race is not a “real parent.” This hurts me deeply since, as anyone who has read this blog knows, adopting a child here in China has been my goal in life for as long as I can remember. I also have a god-daughter whom I love very much who calls me “Mom” and my husband “Dad.” I have always believed that family is not based on blood but on love. I know I will love my children just as much as if they had come from my own body and no one will ever love them more. Of course, they will also have a birth mother and birth father out there somewhere who will never forget them, but I will be my children’s mother, their real mother.

A multi-ethnic family built through adoption.
Raising children of another race is a challenge. 

However, I don’t deny that raising children of a different race is a challenge, for both the parents and the children. The issue of balancing race and culture in a multi-ethnic household is one that is constantly under discussion in adoption communities. I think Adoptive Families magazine (an excellent resource for adoptive families) has multiple articles in each issue about parenting children of another race and their website has hundreds of articles about it.

What is also disturbing, though, about Dolezal’s claims to Blackness is not only how she has appropriated Black culture to be something she isn’t but adoption culture as well. She claims that she once identified as “transracial.” Transracial is already a known term, but it in no way applies to what Dolezal has done. Transracial is an adoption term that refers to adoptees of one race who are adopted and raised by a parent (or parents) of another race and the spectrum of the relationship they have with both races. Not all adoptees consider themselves transracial, and the amount of difficulty or ease the adoptees and their families experience while navigating both cultures varies greatly. Dolezal’s claim of being transracial is extremely harmful to those who are actually transracial. As someone with wide media attention and a shocking story, Dolezal’s use of transracial is the first time many people have heard the term and are, thus, learning about it incorrectly, which could cause problems for transracial adoptees in the future.

Dolezal’s belief that she can’t be a Black ally while White or a mother to a Black son while White shows a pathological need to be something she isn’t that is harmful to everyone.

What do you think about this topic? Do you consider yourself transracial or are you part of a multi-ethnic family by adoption or by birth? Share your experiences or thoughts in the comments!

Step 1 of probably 100 million

Step 1 of probably 100 million

IMG_2536As any reader of this blog or anyone who has ever met us knows, our dream is to adopt a baby here in China. We finally took that first step and submitted our initial application, which was approved last week! Yay!

That was probably the easiest step, though. I was immediately given about 50 more forms to fill out before we can start our home study, which is a whole other thing. But we are just taking it one step at a time.

Adoption, especially international adoption, is an expensive way to grow a family. And we have additional hurdles and costs to face because we live abroad. We have set up two crowdfunding campaigns, one at IndieGogo and one at GoFundMe (because I know different people prefer different platforms). I am offering copies of Crazy Dumplings (digital copies and physical copies) and the amazing crazy dumpling dumplinger as Thank You gifts for supporters, so if you missed out on our Kickstarter campaign or want more books or dumplingers as gifts, this is your chance!

Also, adoption is a very personal journey. I am a pretty open person, and I am looking forward to sharing our journey with readers, but I have already been struggling with how much to share with readers. How can I tell my story without overstepping the boundaries of what is our child’s story and her right to keep her story private or share when she is ready? As a writer, this is something I will probably always struggle with as my kids grow. But in light of that, there are some things about the adoption journey I won’t be sharing publicly on the blog, but might be more willing to share with our supporters, people who I know care about us, our child, and our story. So I will be setting up a separate mailing list just for supporters to get more “behind the scenes” information about our journey.

An Open Letter to Victoria Thompson, Author of the Gaslight Mystery Series

An Open Letter to Victoria Thompson, Author of the Gaslight Mystery Series

Dear Ms. Thompson,

Every day, women are told that they can only ever be truly happy if they give birth to a child. It is everywhere – from our own mothers, to politicians, to religious leaders, to books, movies, and TV shows. No matter what else a woman has in her life, no matter how many kids she may have through adoption or marriage, no matter whether she might not even want kids, the idea that women can only know true happiness by forcing another human being out through her vagina is force-fed to us every day.

victoria thompsonI started reading your Gaslight Mysteries series for lots of reasons. I actually read Murder in Chinatown first because, obviously, China and Chinese people are particular interests of mine. I really loved it, again for many reasons. I love the setting. I love the mysteries. I love the romance. I love how you have created a realistic Victorian heroine with a job other than lady or whore. So I started to read the series from the beginning this year. I read the first 15 books in about 8 weeks.

I mainly love how the protagonist, Sarah Brandt, has an adopted daughter. Even though gaining a child through adoption was not Sarah’s dream, it was simply meant to be. She loves Catherine as her own, as all adoptive mothers do.

About book 13, though, I really started getting nervous. Like, really nervous. I was anxious and frustrated and almost angry. I wanted to skip books 13 and 14 and read 15, Murder in Chelsea, just to know what happened to Catherine. Obviously, the arch of the book was heading toward Detective Sargent Malloy and Sarah getting married (that’s not a spoiler, that’s just the trajectory of the series). The book was also heading toward solving the mystery of Catherine’s past. But if they found out who she was, most likely they would find out who her family was. Most likely, that would mean Sarah losing Catherine because no matter who they were, legally, they were her family.

I can honestly say that I was sick with worry that your series was going to follow the same trope as millions of others: Sarah was going to lose Catherine, marry Malloy, have a baby of her own, and discover true happiness.

MurderInChelsea_CoverI almost feel I owe you an apology for thinking so poorly of you. By the end of Murder in Chelsea, I was nearly in tears. The only thing stopping me was my husband looking at me as if I had grown two heads. I gave him a quick explanation of what happened (I think I failed in summing up all 15 books in two sentences), but I am still not sure he quite understood what your denouement of this plot arch meant, and still means, to me.

But I hope you do.

Every day, women without birth children are made to feel less-than, and we are sorely underrepresented in media (and this is in an area where women in general are underrepresented). I just want to thank you for your lovely series and for including non-traditional women and families in your books. As an aspiring mystery writer myself, I can only hope to live up to a fraction of what you have accomplished. I have even thought of enrolling in the writing popular fiction program at Seton Hill University just so I can learn from you directly. Maybe someday.

Sincerely,

Amanda R.

Conversations on Adoption – Unwanted Advice

Conversations on Adoption – Unwanted Advice

My boss was kind enough to surprise me and the other American copy editor at the newspaper with a Christmas lunch a couple of weeks ago. As usual, I get asked why I don’t have kids. The question “why don’t you have kids” is something I am asked almost daily in China. In China, it is a given that people who are married have a kid, usually within the first year of marriage. Anyone outside of this norm is weird, local or not.

Personally, I find the question “why don’t you have kids” invasive and down right offensive. It is no one’s business why I don’t have kids. And the actual reasons are complicated and rather painful, reasons I’m not going to share with strangers. Some of the reasons my own parents don’t know and I wouldn’t even tell my BFF. And don’t come at me with “oh, invasive questions are just Chinese culture.” Don’t care. It’s still rude and still very painful.

I replied with my usual, “Well, we are hoping to adopt here in China instead.” My boss replied with a whole bunch of unsolicited advice. “Oh, well adoption is very difficult.” “You know, it is so expensive.” “It can be very hard to raise an adopted child.”

pensive-very-young-chineseI start tuning him out at this point and just nod because the only answer I want to give is “I KNOW!” But I can’t because he’s my boss and he is actually a really nice guy.

But I’m the one who has been on the adoption journey for more than a decade. I’m the one who moved to China to achieve this goal. I’m the one who works 4 jobs to make this happen. I’m the one who reads countless articles on adoption every single day. I don’t want or need adoption advice from someone who has never even considered it.

Unless you have adopted/ have been adopted and are asked for your advice, do not offer advice on adoption to adoptive families. This goes for people anywhere in the world. Even if you have adopted, the adoption process is different for every family and offering unasked for advice can actually cause more harm than good.

If you want to know more about adoption, feel free to ask questions. I’m sure many adoptive families are more than willing to share parts of their journey with you.

What about you? How do you deal with unsolicited advice? Not just on adoption, but parenting in general?

Conversations on Adoption in China

Conversations on Adoption in China

cute-chinese-kidWhile walking to the subway with two of my coworkers yesterday, I had the following conversation:

Sarah: Why do you live in China instead of Thailand?

Me: Well, my husband and I are planning on adopting here in China.

Sarah: Oh, is that very difficult for foreigners?

Me: Yes. It is very difficult. It takes a long time and is very expensive.

Julie: It’s like buying children.

Me: *eye-roll*

Sarah: In China, we don’t understand why someone would want to raise someone else’s child.

Me: Well, it is just a different way of thinking. I wouldn’t be raising someone else’s child. I would be raising my child.

Sarah: I asked my mom once what she thought about adoption. She said, ‘well, you can discipline your own child. You can’t discipline an adopted child.’ Well, I go this way now. Bye!

Me: *left speechless*

I’ve actually had several conversations like this with Chinese friends and co-workers. In China, adoption simply isn’t common and isn’t widely accepted. While I would love to raise my kids here in China for at least a few years, these kinds of micro-agressions are worrisome. I want to give my kids the best life possible, not make them unnecessary objects of fascination or ridicule. Our goddaughter Zoe is actually very worried about our daughters attending local schools since their classmates won’t have any understanding about adoption and might make fun of them. While they most likely will be teased and face racism no matter where we live in the world, I am worried about raising them in a place where they are isolated, where there are no other adopted kids for them to talk to and share their experiences. I know I am not going to be a perfect parent, and I’m going to make mistakes, but I want to make sure my mistakes aren’t excessive.

I’m a worrier, though. Even though it will still be a year or more before our first daughter comes home, these are the kinds of things I worry about a lot. What about you? Have you had conversations with locals about adoption? What have your experiences been?

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