Monthly Archives: March 2016

Websites you’ll need in process

At the end of every chapter in my book, I have a section called Additional Resources. This is where I give website, book, blog, or video recommendations to help you get more information on a topic. I wanted to share a sampling of these in one post to be a quick reference for people in process. You might want to bookmark or pin it to return to as you move through each part of the process.

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Dossier portion:

General USCIS adoption site– This has links to information on all parts of the process. It includes sample wording which your home study should include for a special needs adoption, visa information, and more.

USCIS contact information– Information on how to call or e-mail to ask the status of your case. Remember that the officers themselves will answer the phone or e-mail. Be polite and limit the amount of times you contact them so that they can spend their time approving cases.

List of FBI approved channelers for the initial FBI fingerprints you will need for your homestudy

Adam Walsh list of state contacts for child abuse clearances

Chinese consulate jurisdiction listing for authenticating your documents

ePassportPhoto for taking passport pictures at home

123PassportPhoto for printing six copies of a scanned passport photo on an 4×6 photo

USCIS I800a application form page.  Complete the G-1145 to receive a text notification that your form has been received.

China’s public holiday schedule – because once you send off your dossier you will suddenly want to know when the CCCWA is closed!

You can find more information in my blog post Tips for completing your homestudy and dossier

 

Matching portion:

Agency provided list of International Adoption doctors and clinics for file review

Listing of all OneSky (formerly Half the Sky) affiliated orphanages

Listing of Love Without Boundaries foster care locations

Ladybugs and Love from Above– updates and care packages

Anne at Red Thread China– updates and care packages

Brian Stuy’s finding ad service

The MDGB Pinyin to English dictionary– for looking up the meaning of your child’s name

Post-LOA portion:

There’s Always Hope courier service for visas

NVC contact information – for GUZ number and RTF

US consulate in Guangzhou holiday closure calendar

US Department of State visa status tracking site for Article 5 processing

Travel portion:

Quick reference of Chinese words and phrases with audio for adoptive parents

US State Department’s China travel page includes information on recommended immunizations and more

US Customs and Border Protection money declaration if you are carrying more than $10,000 out of the country jointly with your travel partner

US State Department passport application and renewal forms

US Embassy in Beijing’s pollution monitoring website

US State Department website providing pollution data for 5 major Chinese cities.

US Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to notify the Embassy of your in-country travel

A guide to hotel terms including bed measurements like the confusing Chinese “twin” bed

Hong Kong Airport Express guide for getting to the airport from a Hong Kong hotel

Websites for information on booking your own in-country travel:

The Man in Seat 61

China DIY Travel

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Once You’re Home:

American Academy of Pediatrics screening guidelines for internationally adopted children

AAP statement on helping foster and adoptive families cope with trauma, to help you advocate for better medical care for your child.

USCIS page with contact information for Certificate of Citizenship

Form N-565 to request a replacement Certificate of Citizenship

Social Security website on getting a Social Security number for an internationally adopted child

Information on obtaining a passport is found on this State Department page on the US Child Citizenship Act of 2000

State Recognition of Intercountry Adoptions Finalized Abroad on childwelfare.gov

IRS website on the adoption tax credit

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Two months home

I’m a week late on writing this post. I wasn’t sure if I should keep doing them, but I remembered that I read through the updates on Leo during the early days home with August when I was up with jet lag. It can be helpful to see the difference a month makes.

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August now goes to sleep without crying and sleeps through the night. He takes a good nap every day. His receptive language is very good. He can follow directions and shows us that he understands what we are saying. His spoken language is a little slower. He says many phrases that we use throughout the day: hi, hello, by, night-night, all done, more eat, more drink, shoes on, outside, mine, no (we hear this one all day long), go van, my turn, no mine, okay, and he says the names of most family members. He still uses some Chinese phrases and often his babbling still sounds more Chinese. He always hears “wait” as “wei”, which is what you say when you answer the phone in China. He often pronounces words with a Chinese accent. He says ee-TUH instead of eat and calls Vincent “win-son” the same as the adults at Chinese school.

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His fine motor skills aren’t too shabby but his gross motor skills are crazy advanced considering his limited range of motion on his left leg. He can climb over the back of the couch and jump off. He climbs up the slide on the playground. Besides this rock structure, he has also climbing two different 8 foot climbing walls. He loves to ride a plasma car around in our basement. Leo was only able to climb one of the climbing walls recently and the other he still can’t climb!

August is a great eater. There are very few foods he won’t eat. He will now drink some juice with water. He also drank more than a sip of milk for the first time over Easter weekend. Plain water is still his beverage of choice. We are continuing to make our way through medical referrals but so far he seems to be healthy and on-target in all areas.

Our biggest challenges continues to be his behavior. His tantrums have decreased a huge amount over the past month but we still have daily meltdowns. He is generally bossy. He gets angry if I turn right while driving if he wants me to turn left. He will often say no or refuse to do something I ask him to do simply to be contrary. For example, he will say “eat” but when I offer him a granola bar he refuses it. But if I put it away he will fall to the ground crying because he really did want it. We relied heavily on distraction as a parenting technique during this stage with our other children but he is usually too strong-willed to be distracted. However, given how much he has improved in the short time he has been with us, we feel he will eventually move beyond it as he matures.

Like any other toddler, he is playful and happy. He loves his family. We are blessed to have him.

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Mine In China book release giveaway party!

Note: This giveaway is now closed.

Although I’ve had a link up for pre-ordering the book for a week now, I haven’t actually given the details on the publication. I have chosen to self-publish this book. My goal is simply to make the information available to potential families and families in progress. It can take up to 3 years for a book to go through the traditional publishing process. The information in my book has detailed timelines and information specific to the China adoption process right now, not 2 or 3 years from now. An e-book is much easier to update with the changes to the process that regularly occur. I doubt it would be of interest to a mass market publishing company as only around 2,000 people a year adopt from China. It’s a book geared to a very niche market. But it’s YOUR niche, so I hope you find it helpful.

So here are your options–Mine In China is available as an ebook through Amazon. I tried to price it to be affordable to everyone. Maybe “e-book” makes you think of short, low quality, and lots of white space.  That is not the case with this book. I wrote an actual book, containing over 150,000 words, which is available in the e-book format. At around 350 pages long, I’m pretty sure you’ll get $5 worth of information out of it! If you subscribe to Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited,  you can read it for free. You might decide it’s worth it simply for the squatty potty tutorial!

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But I don’t have a Kindle!

I understand, I’m not actually a big ebook reader either. However, you don’t have to own a Kindle to read the ebook. If you have a smart phone or tablet, you can download a Kindle app to read the ebook that way. If you are so old-school that you read the blog by firing up your wood burning computer, have no fear–you can even read the book on your computer. You can get the information on these options here. Once again, I do not have an Amazon affiliate account so I get no benefit by your clicks there. I suggest clicking through the Love Without Boundaries affiliate link so that their programs receive the benefits of your downloads.

I just really like paper books!

The good news is that I am planning on offering a paper book option. I will be using CreateSpace, a print on demand service. A paperback version of Mine In China should be available about a month after the ebook is published.  You can hold out for that if it is your preference. However, due to publication costs the paperback version will probably be closer to $15. I’m guessing this will mean that most of the paper books will be sold to my loyal relatives. But hey, the option will be there for you. A nice benefit of this service is that libraries will be able to order the book. If even $5 is not in your budget, you can request your library purchase a print copy once it is available. Then others in your community who are considering adoption will be able to read it as well. I will notify you when this is available.

Table of Contents

Introduction
Chapter 1: Choosing to Adopt From China
Chapter 2: The New Face of Adoption in China
Chapter 3: When You’re Asking the Internet About Adoption
Chapter 4: Affording Adoption
Chapter 5: Understanding China’s File Designations
Chapter 6: Choosing the Right Agency for your Family
Chapter 7: Boy or Girl?: Talking about the adoptive parent preference for girls
Chapter 8: More Big Decisions: Which age? Should we adopt two?
Chapter 9: Which Special Needs?
Chapter 10: When it is Time to Review A File
Chapter 11: Adoption Dissolution: Begin with the end in mind
Chapter 12: After You’re Matched
Chapter 13: Tips for Completing Your Home Study and Dossier
Chapter 14: Collecting Your Letters from DTC to CA
Chapter 15: Preparing for the Trip
Chapter 16: It’s Finally Here!: Everything you need to know about travel
Chapter 17: Together at Last
Chapter 18: Handling Comments About Your Family
Chapter 19: Preparing for Big Children with Big Questions
Chapter 20: Travel Journal
Appendix I: Master List of Questions for Potential Agencies
Appendix II: Update Questions
Appendix III: Things to do at Home Before Travel
Appendix IV: The Annotated China Packing List
Appendix V: Souvenirs to Buy in China
Suggested Reading


Now for the giveaway! 

To celebrate the release of my book I’m having a giveaway. There are two different options. The prizes for this first giveaway are three sets of pearl earrings and one jade disk necklace. Please don’t be mislead by the words “pearl” and “jade.” These are inexpensive souvenirs from my time in Guangzhou.

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To enter this giveaway you can do the following:

  1. (1 entry) Leave a comment on this post letting me know if you are an adoptive parent, considering adoption, or just a random reader.
  2. (5 entries) Go to the Mine In China Facebook page and “like” the link to this giveaway post.
  3. (10 entries) Include a link showing that you spread the word about the giveaway on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, or whatever your preferred social media hangout is.

You may enter all of these if you like, but please try to include all of the info in your comment to make it easier for me to make sure I credit you with the correct number of entries. You will need to let me know your Facebook name so I can match that up with your commenting name.

 

Pre-Order giveaway

As a thank you to those of you who have pre-ordered by my book I am having a separate giveaway for a jade dragon necklace, also purchased in Guangzhou. If you have pre-ordered my book send a screenshot of your confirmation e-mail to mineinchina@zoho.com

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Winners of both contests will be announced on release day, April 4!

Contest rules:

*Must be over 18 to enter.

*Only residents of the USA may enter.

*Family members are not eligible to enter.

*No purchase is necessary to enter either contest.

*Contest ends at 12 am EST April 4, 2016.

*Winner to be determined through a random drawing using random.org

*Direct questions to mineinchina@zoho.com

 

 

What I’m Reading #10

Come back on Wednesday when I will kick off my book release giveaway! In the meantime, here are some of the articles and posts that have caught my eye during the past few weeks:

From the Touching Home in China: in search of missing girlhoods project, essays from two Chinese adoptees on what spending time in their hometown meant to them at the Adoptive Families website.

Was Our Adoption A Mistake? – A very good essay on RainbowKids which looks at a difficult older child adoption. You can read the follow-up essay which details how a special need diagnosis was found which explained much of the difficult behavior.

China passes new rules to help protect the “left behind” children of migrant workers. We will have to wait and see if the regulations lead to positive changes, no change, or unintended consequences.

On the NHBO blog an honest look at adopting out of birth order titled A Baby Sister But Six Months Older. I added it to my post on adopting out of birth order. I’ve seen many people who have only a toddler at home asking about adopting an older toddler so I think this will be helpful for them to consider what it might look like.

The Donaldson Institute recently released a large study on adoption. While I’m not sure anyone but myself will slog through the 178 page .pdf, you should consider reading the New York Times profile on adult Korean adoptees who shared their experiences with the study.

The Donaldson study had some statistics on special needs adoption from China. I added the following paragraph to my How Accurate Are Files From China? post:

The only official statistics I have been able to find on this are from the Donaldson Institute Study in 2013. They studied 271 children adopted from China, but not all were through the special need program. Of 105 children who were adopted with identified special needs through the special needs program, 32% of the children were diagnosed with an additional special need once home. 50% of the all children (this is sn and nsn programs both) had completely accurate medical information. Parents surveyed said that they experienced incomplete medical information, their child had an undiagnosed condition, their child was diagnosed in China with a medical issue they didn’t actually have, or that their child’s medical condition was more severe than indicated. Most parents indicated that they felt the issue was because of the poor quality of medical records. Translated medical records contained less detail or were less accurate than the original language records. Some parents indicated that poor medical care in China was the reason for the discrepancy between their child’s condition and diagnosis. A few parents felt that China had lied or been misleading in the reports they had been given.

These statistics might sound a little shocking but keep in mind that it is a small sample size. Additionally, they didn’t include the dates of the adoptions. The fact that half of the adoptees included were from the NSN program would indicate that the adoptions were from an older time period when the medical information given to adoptive parents was scant. It said that the most common diagnosis was “developmental delay” which I find completely understandable for those NSN girls adopted in the 90’s.  The orphanage conditions were poor then and most came home an under a year of age having never spent much time out of a crib or chair. Undiagnosed conditions would include the “minor” medical conditions I mentioned above such as a heart murmur, scoliosis, or hearing loss from untreated repeat ear infections. 

Definitely on the fluffier side, the LA Times has a short article on the Chinese habit of drinking hot water as a beverage. In my experience, they offer it to you on hot summer days as well as in Beijing in January!

Red Thread Advocates has a great post called Rejected which focuses on when a child strongly prefers one parent over the other. This is extremely common and something which I personally have experienced. Even knowing it is normal, it can be difficult to go through.

A photo essay in The Telegraph looking at the matriarchal Mosuo people who live in the foothills of the Himalayas, between Sichuan and Yunnan provinces.

Many Christian adoptive families have questions about the state of Christianity in China. This article from UCAnews gives an interesting perspective on how Chinese culture makes the situation more complex than we are aware of here in the US.

The BBC recently aired a series called Chinese New Year: The biggest celebration on earth. We really enjoyed watching this gorgeous documentary.

 

Sample chapter: Handling Comments About Your Family

Almost exactly two years ago in April 2014, I posted We Need To Take Care of Our OWN! which discussed why parents might choose to adopt from China rather than through foster care. It was the closest thing to a viral blog post I’ve ever written. It is still holds the record as my most read and shared post. I edited and expanded that post to become the chapter Handling Comments About Your Family, which I am sharing below. For the book format I switched to sharing links in an Additional Resources section at the end of each chapter rather than embedding links within the text.

Handling Comments About Your Family

One of the more challenging aspects of international adoption is that your family will visibly not match. Sometimes, you might feel a bit like a public spectacle as people turn and look when you walk into a restaurant or down the aisle in the grocery store, especially if you do not live in an area with a lot of racial diversity. When you decided to adopt you probably only thought of adding a child to your family. You might now realize that you aren’t prepared for the sheer amount of comments people will direct at you. You are now an ambassador for adoption whether you intended to become one or not. More importantly, you should be keenly aware that the little ears next to you are listening to your responses. Your child will internalize what you say as well as take their cues from you when they begin to respond to questions directed toward themselves as they grow older.

The most common comment you will receive by far is praise for what a good thing you have done. You will hear “It is so good of you to do that” or “I could never love a child that wasn’t my own” or “She’s so lucky!” The Chinese you encounter will inevitably say “You must have a good heart to do this.” Most parents find it easiest to deflect this praise by commenting “We’re lucky to have her” or “We’re so happy that she’s in our family.” This does not bog you down in a long discussion about your motivations for adopting. At the same time, your child will not hear you agreeing that she was lucky (to lose her first family and homeland?) or that she should feel grateful to be in your family. Instead, you are grateful for the opportunity to be her parent.

Most people will make comments out of curiosity and because they don’t know much about adoption they will say things you might find offense. It can be difficult to be patient if you receive many comments, but it is important to remember that it never hurts to be polite. Frequently, it will turn out that the person who asked you a question or made a comment is asking because they are considering adoption. So while many parents love to come up with withering sarcastic comments for stupid or offensive questions, that’s not my personal style. Remember that you always have a choice as to how to respond to annoying comments. You can choose to be offended, to educate, or to laugh it off. However you respond, remember that your child is the most important audience. How you respond will be formative as to how they handle comments and questions  they will have to handle for the rest of their life.

If you are at a loss as to how to respond to comments or questions, remember that you have no obligation to answer. You can say “That’s personal” or “I prefer not to share personal information like that.” Miss Manners’s all purpose “Why do you ask?” is suitable for any occasion. If someone makes a rude comment you can simply observe “What a rude thing to say!” or remain silent, allowing them to draw their own conclusions about the appropriateness of what they have said. The Center for Adoption Support and Education publishes the W.I.S.E. Up Power Book, which is intended to teach adopted children how to respond to comments but their system is equally helpful for parents. Remember that you have the power to choose how to respond to comments. You can choose to Walk away, say It’s private, Share information, or Educate others. There are appropriate times for each of those responses; it’s up to you to decide which is best for the situation.

If you have adopted a child with a visible special need you will receive additional comments. The W.I.S.E. up options are helpful there too, but really most of your job will be rephrasing what they said using more positive language. “What’s wrong with his ear?” “There’s nothing wrong with it—it’s just shaped differently. He was born that way. Is that what you were trying to ask?” While many adults will ask these questions, children are often more openly curious. You can try to help them to understand that people have limbs that are shaped differently or have ears that need a little extra help or need a cane to help them find their way because their eyes don’t see as well.  You can add that your child still likes to play just the same as they do. Sometimes it’s best to meet staring on the playground head-on by saying “Hi, her name is Lucy! Were you wanting to ask her to play? She really likes the slide.”

Tackling the foster care question

If you adopt internationally, you will get asked why you didn’t adopt from foster care. One time I was reading a newspaper article profiling an adoptive family and I noticed a particularly ignorant comment at the bottom (never read the comments!). I have preserved it in all its glory for you here:

there are THOUSANDS of children in the US of A that are in need of adoption… Yet this family paid $35k to adopt a child from a foreign country? This is what celebrities have done to America.. make it fashionable to adopt less fortunate children from other countries while drepriving children in the US of role models & a stable family… We need to take care of our OWN first!  I dont’ have a problem with a family going outside the US to adopt.. IF.. they don’t claim the foreign child as a dependent & get a tax break from the govt that I pay my taxes to… When you do claim the foreign child as a dependent & get a tax break for it.. THEN it becomes MY business.. because MY tax dollars are then being used to support a child from another country when there are thousands of children in the US that need families or fostered…

I’m not offended by this, because I know the person who wrote this just has no idea about the realities of adoption. I know I had no idea about adoption before we started! This is a knee-jerk reaction that has no basis in reality. Because I know this is something that families hear all the time, I thought I would take some time to break down the issues involved in a family’s choosing whether to adopt from foster care or internationally. Hopefully, you find some information in here that you can use when you respond to people who bring up similar points.

First, while I am no expert, I don’t think you can claim a “foreign” child as a dependent. We couldn’t claim our son until he was adopted and after he was adopted he became a US citizen. He is now legally our child, no longer a foreigner but as American as any other citizen, and as such we can claim him as a dependent.

Second, your tax dollars are not being used to support children who are dependents. Getting any tax deduction means that the amount of your income which you pay taxes on is reduced. It means couples with children pay less in taxes than those without. Why do we allow this sort of blatant discrimination? Because children are investments. They grow up to pay taxes and will support people like the ones who wrote the comment above when they retire. Hear that, buddy? My foreign child will grow up to pay for your retirement.

What about the adoption tax credit? Isn’t that paying people to adopt foreign children? Nope. The adoption tax credit is also used to reduce your tax liability. It is not taking money from taxpayers and giving it to people so they adopt. It is used to reduce the amount of tax owed by people who adopt. So this commenter should be aware that his tax dollars are not subsidizing foreign adoptions. It is not a grant, like the Pell Grant, nor does it refund money to people who have no tax liability, like the Earned Income Tax Credit. But the people who adopt internationally do pay taxes, and their tax dollars support children in foster care and other social services supported by taxes. Even if an adoptive couple paid no federal taxes the year of their adoption, they would still pay state and local taxes that year, and the federal taxes in all the years that they didn’t adopt.

So now our irate commenter might be thinking, “Okay, but that’s still 20,000 more US kids who could have found families.” The people who adopt internationally have made the decision that it was a better fit for their family than adopting from foster care. Perhaps some of them would have switched if they had more information on foster care, but many of them had already eliminated adopting from foster care and were actually deciding whether to adopt internationally or to not adopt at all. The person who wrote the comment was insulted that a couple used $35,000 and somehow deprived US kids.  However, they could have spent that money on a car or vacation, and then no child would have a found a family. Don’t all children deserve a family, not just American ones?

Here are some common reasons which people give for eliminating adopting from foster care as a choice:

  • They aren’t eligible to adopt from foster care. The eligibility requirements can vary, but for larger families especially, state regulations regarding square footage or number of children in a bedroom can mean that they are not able to adopt from foster care but can adopt internationally. Military couples might find it too difficult to go through the process to become eligible to become foster parents, get a placement, and complete an adoption before they are moved to another state.
  • They might have tried already. Many families try unsuccessfully to adopt through foster care for a few years and then turn to international adoption.
  • They have had their hearts broken and they feel international adoption provides a certain outcome. Particularly for couples who come to adoption from infertility, they have endured the loss of control over their fertility and often have had many pregnancy losses. Some states require you foster children to be eligible to adopt, and they don’t want to chance falling in love with a child and then having the child be reunited with their family of origin. Because the goal of foster care is family reunification. 
  • They don’t want their children’s hearts to be broken. Some couples feel that they couldn’t bear the heartbreak of parenting a child for months or years and then lose the child to family reunification. For families who already have children in the home, not only do they not want to spare themselves the pain of losing a child, they also want to shield their children from that loss and uncertainty. 
  • The age of children in foster care. Most people who adopt would prefer a young child. The median age of a child in foster care is 8.5. I could not find the median age of children who are legally free to be adopted but when I searched waiting children at http://www.adoptuskids.org/ there were only twenty-two children listed under the age of four and almost all had major medical needs. For comparison, there were over 2200 children listed between the ages of 14 and 18, many of them in sibling groups. Although there is a great need for families for older children, few couples will wake up one day and decide to adopt teenage siblings.
  • The perception that children from foster care are emotionally damaged. According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychology about 30% of children in foster care have severe emotional or behavioral problems.  However, that means two-thirds of them do not. Many adoptive parents feel that they avoid a child with emotional problems by adopting internationally, although the reality is that children adopted from other countries can also have endured abuse, neglect, and trauma. Parents are becoming more educated about this, but this perception will play a part in many people rejecting foster care as an option.
  • Couples with children might have fears that children from foster care would pose a danger to the children they already have. They might also have concerns that their own children could be removed from their home if a foster child’s biological parents report them to CPS as a form of payback.
  • The idea that things are worse there than here. Yes, some children in foster care need a family (but not the majority, as we will see in a moment). However, children in US foster care receive food, medical care, an education, and the majority are in family homes rather than institutional care or group homes. Some families will choose to adopt internationally because they know that in some countries, children will grow up never leaving their crib in the orphanage. Many live on very little food. Few are given an education. Children die from lack of medical care or malnutrition. Some families will chose international adoptive over foster care adoption because the situation seems more dire to them.

Looking at numbers

There is certainly the perception that people are racing to adopt foreign children while American kids languish in foster care. This is not the reality. We keep statistics on this sort of thing, it’s easy to find.

  • In 2014, there were approximately 415,000 children in foster care. Only about 25% were targeted as eligible to be adopted. The goal of foster care is family reunification.
  • In 2014, there were about 108,000 children waiting to be adopted, and 51,000 who were adopted.

Did you see that? 51,000 were adopted from the US. Know how many international adoptions there were in 2014? About 6400. The number of international adoptions decreased by 9% from 2013 to 2014. The number of adoptions from foster care are increasing, while the number of international adoptions is declining. Even when international adoption was at its peak, it topped out at around 20,000 foreign adoptions, well under the amount of children adopted from foster care.

The facts to note here are that there are more children adopted from foster care than there are adopted internationally in the US. Most children in the foster system are not eligible for adoption. International adoption is not in competition with adoption from foster care.

How to respond

It is so difficult to find a short way to convey all of this information when someone you know or often a perfect stranger says to you “There are kids here in America who need homes too, you know!” You may feel hurt or angry. That is perfectly justified in that situation. The person making the comment is being rude and you have no obligation to justify your decision. It is helpful to have a response prepared. Here are some responses commonly given by families who have chosen to adopt internationally.

  • You’re right, all kids deserve a family regardless of where they were born!
  • International adoption was the best fit for our family.
  • Our child was in China.
  • Have you considered becoming a foster parent or adopting from foster care, yourself? It sounds very important to you.

Additional Resources

 The W.I.S.E Up! Powerbook by Marilyn Schoettle is published by the Center for Adoption Support and Education (CASE)

IRS website on the adoption tax credit

The AFCARS report on children in foster care

US State Department statistics on intercountry adoption

Children’s Bureau foster care fact sheet

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry foster care fact sheet

New York Times article on the decline of international adoption

Mine In China . . . the book!

I mentioned before I left for China that I have been working on a big project. After several months of hard work, I’m pleased to present to you Mine In China–the book!

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I’m sure you’ve all noticed that I have a brevity problem. Several of my articles, especially the series on how to choose an adoption agency, are so long as to be not conducive to the blog format. Statistics for the site show that there are quite a few people who sit down and read all the articles on my Adoption Resources page in one or two sittings. When you add in that there are still many more questions that people have about the nitty gritty of the process, I decided that a book would be the best option. All of the information–big and small questions–are answered as you read through in order that makes more sense than clicking on blog posts as they catch your eye.

There is a lot of new content in the book. In fact, it’s almost 350 pages long! I begin with the basics of who qualifies to adopt from China and go all the way through the early days home to looking ahead to parenting older internationally adopted children.

Some new topics covered in the book include:

  • A reference list of terms and acronyms specific to adopting from China
  • The steps involved and a timeline for each
  • Affording adoption
  • The pros and cons of hosting programs as a way of finding your child
  • How to know if a referral is the right match for your family
  • The post- LOA process
  • Understanding your child’s Chinese name
  • How to transition your child to their English name if you choose to give them one
  • Medical appointments and important legal paperwork after you arrive home
  • Handling comments about your child and family

Plus, for the first time I write about TRAVEL!

  • Hotel reviews
  • Private guide options
  • What is involved in flying out of Hong Kong
  • Cultural differences
  • What to do about car seats
  • A squatty potty tutorial (yes, seriously)
  • Important reminders for the day you meet your child

While you already know I won’t skimp on the bullet points in the book, you can look forward to these printable reference lists:

  • A master list of questions to ask a potential agency
  • Questions to ask in a child update
  • Things to remember to do before you travel
  • An annotated China-specific packing list
  • Souvenirs to buy in China
  • Plus, a reference list of suggested websites and books

The book will be released on April 4th. I hope to also be able to have a print option as well. I have more posts than usual planned in the time leading up to the book release. Later this week I will be posting a sample chapter, then next week I will be starting a giveaway to kick off the celebration. I hope you guys are excited about this because I have worked really hard on it. I’m excited to finally be able to share it with you!

 

Three New Book Reviews

I have three new China or adoption related books to review. I wanted to discuss them more in depth than in a What I’m Reading post so I thought I would compile them together in one post. A reminder that I am not an Amazon affiliate so the hyperlink on the title will take you to another book review or somewhere you can get more info on the book.

Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 1.37.30 PMFirst up is Dreaming in Chinese by Deborah Fallows. I picked it up after Elizabeth at Ordinary Time recommended it. Deborah is a world traveler who speaks many languages. She and her husband lived in China for several years, during which time she tried to learn Chinese. She already spoke Japanese because they had previously lived in Japan. Some of her observations on the differences between the two languages are interesting. The book is a memoir but it is also a commentary on what you can learn about Chinese culture through their language. If you have learned another language then you might already be familiar with this. One of the first things that I learned about Chinese is that the literal translation of the word no is “not yes.” Indeed, the Chinese do not like to tell you no directly.

The tonal system, bane of your existence if you have ever tried to learn a little Chinese, is a frequent topic of conversation. One of my favorite parts was when she told about a famous Chinese poem which is written with many different characters, all of which are pronounced “shi.” Another fascinating section dealt with the difference in how the Chinese perceive directions. Or how the words for above and below are used for many concepts, including time. The book is full of tidbits of Chinese culture and history. It’s a difficult book to describe but a very quick and fun read.

 

Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 1.36.45 PMNext is The Whole-Brain Child by Daniel Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson. Many parents in the adoptive community move on to The Whole-Brain Child after reading Karyn Purvis’ The Connected Child. The link above takes you to Purvis’ website where there is an extensive discussion on how relevant it is for parenting children from hard places. The Whole-Brain Child gives a more in depth discussion of brain development. It also includes parenting strategies which work with how the brain has developed. If you are parenting a child who is acting out of a primal fear or who gets stuck on one particular fear then those are areas where the book can provide useful information. The authors described the brain as a two story house. On the bottom floor are the primal areas of the brain and the second floor has the higher developed brain functions. When your child has a response triggered, it is described as if a baby gate has been locked across the stairs so the child can no longer access the higher developed brain functions. I found this really helpful for understanding how a child who is acting out can’t think or act rationally about whatever it was that triggered the response. While in some ways I found the book a little oversimplified–I often found myself wishing for more information–I can see why it is so popular with adoptive parents. A good addition to the library if you like to have expand your parenting tool options.

 

Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 1.36.12 PMFinally, I have to admit that I read The Barefoot Lawyer by Chen Guangcheng several months ago. I decided to wait to review it on my blog until after our adoption had been completed because Mr. Chen is a political dissident who now resides in the United States. This memoir tells of Guangcheng’s early life growing up blind in rural China. If you have adopted a child with a vision impairment or are considering it then I highly recommend it for that reason. Guangcheng was not allowed to attend the village school. He did not receive any formal education until a teenager when he moved to Beijing to attend the school for the blind there. Guangcheng details the routine discrimination people with disabilities face in China. Guangcheng was able to pursue a higher education thanks to the financial sacrifices of his family. However, his real interest was in the law. He often acted as a voluntary unofficial lawyer (known as a barefoot lawyer in China) for human rights cases. This is what made him unpopular with the Chinese government. Mr. Chen eventually found himself under house arrest. He recounts the extreme measures which the Chinese government took to keep him away from the press.

Mr. Chen managed to escape from his village. He made his way to Beijing where he sought refuge with the US Consulate. Although he now resides in the United States, he does not spare his dissatisfaction with how the US government handled his case. His account of what happened differs dramatically from Hillary Clinton’s. If the US government had reservations about pressing China on the issue then they seem to be justified. According to the NPR review which I linked to above, China will no longer allow foreign governments to inquire about individual political prisoners.

I’ve got Deborah Gray’s Attaching Through Love, Hugs and Play on my end table right now so there are more reviews to come.