Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Red Thread to China

One of the many topics of debate among parents waiting to adopt from China is when, or whether, to send care packages to their children. Sending a care package to your child's orphanage, or to your specific child, is fairly common among the "in the know" parents who frequent the many adoption Yahoo groups. The adoption Yahoo group culture is one I was a little late picking up on, but it turns out there are email groups for specific orphanages, ones for waiting children, older children, etc.

It was on these groups that I found out about the popular practice of sending your child a care package with small presents, photos of yourself, and a disposable camera that you hope the orphanage will use to take photographs of your child for you. We are preparing to send our daughter a package, but I am wary because I've read that it can be sad for the other children to see those who are going to be adopted receive gifts. It is such a heartbreaking thought.

But for an older child, who has been told she will soon be adopted, surely any shred of information about the ways her life is about to change, and who her new family will be, is essential. I cannot resist letting her hear from us, see pictures of our family, and get a little present. I am going to include extra candy for all her friends at the orphanage. I hope it helps a little.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Great Wall of China Meets the Ocean

A couple hundred miles or so east of Beijing. Now, I could have become aware of this simply by looking at a map of China and thinking about it for a few minutes, but I never did that. Instead I read it in an adoptive family's account of visiting that spot, and fairly gasped. Wouldn't you love to see the spot where the Great Wall meets the ocean?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Lie We Love | RHRealityCheck.org

I read this article months ago and it has haunted me ever since. I have no idea how many of these claims are true. It is certainly a fact that an orphan problem exists worldwide; it is also a fact that several popular IA countries have had scandals involving some of the charges leveled in the article. Though the circumstances of our adoption (China, older child, special needs) are assessed as relatively legitimate by the author, the existence of such a problem on any scale is a tragedy for the whole adoption community. Can implementation of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption contribute to the solution of this problem? I hope so. Perhaps the growing numbers of adoptive parents, and the increased awareness that will result from the sheer increase in numbers, will also play a part.

You can read more about the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption here.

The Lie We Love | RHRealityCheck.org

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Family on Wire

Without a net. That was the metaphor another adoptive mom gave me last night for the leap we are taking into the unknown with this adoption. She suggested I watch the documentary Man on Wire, which is a far cry from the two most common preparation strategies of adoptive parents, from what I can tell: decorating nurseries and reading everything they can find about adoption and parenting strategies.

I have done those things, but I have spent much more time focusing on the high-wire nature of this endeavor: why we chose this when others don't, what new category of family we will be catapulted into (hmm, another circus metaphor), etc. The uncertainty is overwhelming. But there is one thing I know we're gaining, in addition to a new family member: a different relationship to risk, as the adoptive mom I talked to described it. Her description was so very apt. I spent enormous amounts of time weighing whether should introduce such an enormous variable into our lives, especially now, just when the kids are finding their respective grooves in elementary school.

And then, while standing in line at Anthropologie one day, I picked up a book from their impulse-buy table and read this quote from General Douglas Macarthur: "There is no security on this earth. There is only opportunity." We decided to seek this as an opportunity for our family, and we can't wait to see what happens next.

Sunday, February 8, 2009


I read recently that almost 1 in 4 Houstonians is foreign born. This confirmed my belief that the city is a great place to raise a multi-national family. But the circumstances of the hundreds of girls who came to Houston as adoptees are unique. What will it mean for these girls as they mature, especially for the increasing number who will retain clear memories of the home and the people they left behind?

The adoption boom of the laste 20th/early 21st century may not rank among the most famous moments in American-Chinese relations (think Nixon in China, Hillary Clinton's speech on women's rights), but its significance will echo down generations. What that significance will be I can only guess at now. When I peruse my Fodor's in order to plan our trip to Beijing, I run across a list of inventions attributable to the Chinese, which include: paper, gunpowder, and movable type. I am left a little breathless that this ancient civilization would entrust my Texas family with one of its own daughters.