Tag: expat adoption

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!

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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.

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?