Tag: Adoption in China

Home Six Months!

Home Six Months!

It’s hard to believe that six months ago, we were still just a couple. But Monday will be the sixth month anniversary of bringing our kiddo home! This is typically a time when parents post before and after photos of their kids to show how much children can improve in such a short period of time when they are in a loving family environment and are receiving the care they need. For parents, it can sometimes be hard to see the improvements our kids are making when we see them every day. So looking back can be a good reminder of just how far our kids have come.

On the left, baby girl had only been home a couple of weeks; on the right, a picture I took today.

She’s getting stronger and learning new things every day. I’m not going to lie and say it has been easy or that everything (anything?) has gone according to plan. What has really surprised me the most is how hard it has been, even in such an advanced modern city like Shenzhen, to find doctors who can meet her needs. We’ve met some really great doctors, but we’ve met some really awful ones as well. I could do a whole post about that.

But overall we are so happy to have our little girl home and are so blessed to be able to help her grow up the best she can. If you want to learn more about adoption, you can check out our agency’s website, CCAI. You can also email me or hit me up on Facebook. I’m always happy to answer questions about adoption or our life in China in general.

Happy Anniversary, Sweet Girl!

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.

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.

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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