Dear friends and family,
As some of you know, we are in the process of adopting a baby girl from China. Since we haven’t had a chance to tell
all of you and those who do know have asked about our progress, we thought we would share some details.
The adoption process from China has three major steps. (1)The first step is called the “PAPERCHASE” for obvious
reasons. It involves applying to the agency of your choice, completing a home study (where your personal, professional, financial,
and family life is thoroughly investigated) and applying to the immigration office to bring a foreign adopted child into the
US which includes an FBI fingerprinting. What you end up with is a bulging file of dozens of documents. We have just completed
this much and are waiting for the immigration office to send us our acceptance letter. Once that is here we will need to send
this small mountain of documents to various government agencies to have them notarized, certified, and authenticated. Our
papers (or dossier) will then be sent to China where we will be given a log-in date...this will be a day of great celebration,
as we are then DONE with the paperchase. But now is the hardest part...(2) The WAIT. Currently the waiting time lasts 8 months,
but we are hopeful for it to lessen this year. This is the time our papers are translated, processed, and shuffled around
a bit in China. But, after the wait comes...(3) The REFERRAL. This is a photo(s) of the child China has matched with us along
with as much information about the child as China has. Upon our acceptance of the child, we would be given travel approval
and be expected to travel to China a month or two later.
This much information may be adequate for many of you. However, others may have questions about the myriad of issues that
circle around the adoption issue. We are attaching some more information about Chinese adoption and our process for those
who would like to know more.
Why Adopt? Why China?
We’ve been asked many times now, “Why did you decide to adopt?” and I always find it difficult to really
put into a brief response something that has grown deeply in our hearts through numerous circumstances over the past couple
of years. The simplest and truest answer I can give is that this is what we feel God has called us to do. We‘ve had
some interesting “coincidences“ in coming to this decision. One of the most interesting was the first time we
discussed names when Pat said, “What about Miyah?”. Miyah is the very name I had used in praying for a tiny girl
in China for many months.
Our initial reason for adopting was a mix of seeing the need (having watched a program on Chinese orphanages really started
much of it), and sensing a growing desire to add to our family. Our desire to adopt has deepened out of the research and information
we‘ve read. The number of orphaned children is staggering, and as one author put it, “All it takes to bring the
statistics to life is to look into the face of one small child. Then all the numbers come with faces--and they are not easy
to look in the eye.” We were amazed to hear there are more than 30 million orphaned children around the world. Nearly
2 million of them are in China and it is estimated that only 2% of these children are ever given a mommy and/or daddy or a
place to call home. Every year in China, hundreds of thousands of baby girls are put into orphanages. And of course, China
is not alone. Many other countries have similar stories. Africa is estimated to have 5.5 million orphans and our own foster
care system is flooded with children who are longing for a home. The numbers are compelling, making the feelings of loss and
aloneness almost palpable for those who dare to read them.
For over a year now, there has been a scrap of paper tucked in our computer desk with an ancient Chinese belief scribbled
on it. It reads, “An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstance.
The thread may stretch or tangle, but will never break.” The proverb is said to refer to those we will one day marry,
but many parents believe it applies to those children that God has birthed in their hearts, that will one day be theirs. Over
the last year the thread has stretched and there may even be tangles in the coming months, but we’ve held tight to the
promise that the thread will never break.
Because of Megan’s love for the people and culture of China, our home has had many handmade paper lanterns hanging
around during the lunar New Year, we’ve visited Chinatown while in Honolulu to buy silk outfits and other Chinese trinkets,
and have learned to write Chinese numbers and characters through the years. We’ve all begun to feel connected to China.
One day while watching a program on Chinese orphanages, the need seemed very personal and the footage of multiple babies in
tiny cribs pleaded for our response; not for our pity, but for our action. There seemed to be no question that God had put
China on our hearts for a reason. The red thread had always been there, we are just recently beginning to feel it’s
tug on our hearts.
If you have children, please use discretion in sharing some of the following information with them. To give our daughter
the best chance of developing a healthy self-image, we will be very careful in how and when we tell her about the circumstances
of her abandonment (to the extent that we will know them). While we plan to be very open and honest with her about her adoption
from the very beginning, some issues need to be handled carefully and at the appropriate time. Please decide what to tell
your children about her and the Chinese culture after you read the following pages, using gentle words that will not someday
be fed back to our daughter in an unwittingly hurtful way (we‘ve heard of children innocently telling an adopted child
their mother threw her away in the garbage because she didn‘t want her...obviously misunderstanding what she heard her
China is the most populous country in the world with 1.2 billion people (22% of the world’s population). The one-child
policy is enforced in varying degrees in different regions of the country. In some places, a couple must apply to the government
and receive an authorized schedule of when it is “their turn” to try for pregnancy. The penalties for having unauthorized
children are severe if discovered and can consist of being fined a year’s wages, the loss of a job, imprisonment, social
ostracism, etc. Forced abortion has been a common practice to both eliminate an unauthorized pregnancy or a baby girl.
Preference for Boys
China is primarily an agricultural country where hard labor is necessary for survival, and therefore there is a need for
men and boys. Cultural practices are also at work in the desire for sons. The sons take care of aging parents and carry on
the family name and farm. A son is “social security” where there is no government care, 401(k) or pensions on
the rural farmlands of China. As a Chinese girl grows up and marries, she goes to the home of her in-laws to live and serve
there. If one only has a daughter, there is no security in retirement. When one father was asked why the quest for a son after
having seven daughters, he said, “My girls will belong to someone else. Only my son will feed me rice when I am old.”
Abandonment of Baby Girls
It is illegal in most of China to give birth to a second child. It is also illegal to abandon a child, though many have
no other choice since there is no system where a parent can place a child for adoption. This is a Catch-22 for birthparents
because they can neither keep the child, nor make an adoption plan for the child, so most are forced to leave their child
anonymously. Birthmothers typically leave their baby girl in a conspicuous public place where they know she’ll be found
and cared for, like the a busy public market or the gate of an orphanage. Some birthmothers leave a note of the child’s
birth date with possibly a little more information and a brief reason why the child has been left. But, for many there is
no birth record or history to be traced. The orphanage will determine how old they believe the child to be and give him/her
a birth date and name.
There are about 1,000 orphan facilities in China, and only 250 are licensed for international adoption. This means they
(the licensed facilities) have income from adoption fees that allow them to provide a relatively good environment for the
children. According to everything we have read, the children receive relatively good care and love from the orphanage staff.
Although many orphanages are short of resources and cannot give each child adequate personal attention, the caregivers - called
nannies - do become quite attached to the children. Because of the love and care received in most of the orphanages, babies
from China, in general, are not showing significant attachment problems. Furthermore, the health of the Chinese adoptive children
is predominantly good. They may be malnourished, and some may be somewhat delayed in their gross motor skills, but these issues
are usually easily and quickly rectified after a short time with their families. There are organizations such as “Half
the Sky Foundation” that are training orphanage staff about child development and the importance of nurturing (esp.
physical contact) to help children develop physically and emotionally healthy. In the last few years, due to the efforts of
these organizations, many of these orphanages have beautiful play rooms where the children play and receive much physical
interaction with their nannies. Despite the strides made in updating and educating orphanages, there is, of course, a natural
concern about the emotional and physical safety of any child who has spent up to a year or more in any orphanage. Yet, we
know that this is what God has called us to do and He will give us the strength and resources to deal with any issues that
may arise (which most times are few or none). Please join with us, as I know many of you have already, in praying for the
health and safety of Miyah and all children without homes.
The saddest part of this story are the remaining (750) orphanages who have little resources (because they do not get any
income from international adoption) and are unable to provide basic services like nutrition, medical care, education, or even
heat for the lost children in their care who most likely will never leave. At the end of this letter I have listed information
for organizations if you’re interested in finding out how you can help these children left in the orphanages.
Chinese Foster Care
Some of the orphanages’ children are in foster care, which is usually better for the child’s care but heart-rending
at separation because the foster mother and father are typically devoted and attached to the child.
We do not get to choose which child we will adopt, but as many adoptive parents can attest, the match is always a miracle.
Just like having a biological child, there are no guarantees our child will look a certain way or be completely healthy. We
do however, have some choices in adoption. We have requested a healthy baby girl between 0-12 months of age. We expect our
daughter to be between 6-14 months (or even slightly older) at the time of referral.
When we get our referral we will be excited to share the news with you all. What we will receive will be the name (given
by the orphanage), one or more photos of our daughter, her birth date, weight, height, some medical information, and possibly
general information about her personality and interests (sounds like a personal ad). Sometimes the children will have what
is referred to as an orphanage haircut. With so many children to care for and to keep lice at a minimum, the orphanages will
oftentimes keep the hair very short or on occasion, shaved. And many times referral photos show a small child
bundled in as many as six layers of clothing, making it difficult to really see the size of the child. Though we don’t
care whether the child is beautiful or somewhat homely (if that‘s possible!), we will be thrilled to finally put a face
to our dreams and to see the little one God has chosen for us.
Our family will travel to China for about two weeks (we‘ve decided that the whole family will go). We will first
travel to Beijing for a couple of days to meet our guide and the rest of our travel group. There we will visit
the Great Wall, Forbidden City, and Tiananmen Square. Next we will fly to the area near our daughter’s orphanage,
usually in the provincial city, where adoption paperwork is processed. Normally, on the first or second day in the province the
children are brought to the adopting parents at their hotel. Once the adoption paperwork is processed in the local province,
we will travel to Guangzhou (AKA Canton) just north of Hong Kong, for medical exams, completion of the child’s passport,
and submission of application for the child’s visa into the U.S. at the U.S. Consulate. Upon receipt of the visa and
passport, we will return home.
Attitude of the Chinese Toward American Adoptive Parents
All reports from those who have made the trip are the same. The Chinese people are quite friendly, and when they learn
that you have adopted a Chinese child, they react with great delight and believe the babies are extremely fortunate. One of
the things the people say in English is “Lucky baby”. But we know we are the ones who are blessed!
When We Return
Because children will naturally attach to those who take care of them and meet their needs, many adopted children go through
a grieving period due to the loss of their caretaker. This grieving indicates a healthy ability to attach and attaching is
an important social/emotional issue. We know of few problems with children (especially young children) bonding to their adoptive
parents, although the amount of time it takes varies; usually the child warms up to his/her parents over a couple of days
and bonds in a short period. It still may take a while for her to feel and know that we are her family. Because we will be
sensitive to this issue, it will be important for us to have family time and wait to do a lot of traveling and visiting until
we feel well adjusted as a family. It’s important for us to remember that she will most likely never have been outside
of the orphanage and the sights, sounds, and all the people who look different (her world virtually turned upside down) may
be overwhelming to her the first week or so. Therefore, we ask that you understand if she is shy and reluctant to be passed
around....after a short period of adjustment she’ll transition into being a normal kid.
Being Open about Her Adoption
Through our actions and love we’ll have to teach her that we are her real parents and that she is our real daughter
and that Matthew and Megan are her real siblings. Talking often about the fact that she is adopted and telling her things
such as, “I’m so glad we adopted you” and “I love your beautiful dark eyes and black hair” from
the time she is tiny, will help her to always know that there is nothing wrong with being adopted or looking different than
her other family members. This way, she will not have an abrupt revelation of her adoption that may make her feel awkward
or betrayed. We feel like honesty is the best policy, though we realize many issues will need to be handled delicately.
Her Birthparents and “Abandonment”
We will teach our daughter to honor her birthparents in China. Although we will know nothing about them or the circumstances
of the abandonment, it is likely that giving her up was extremely difficult. It can be easy to be judgmental of anyone who
abandons a child, but the circumstances in China are different than we can imagine and we will give them the benefit of the
doubt. We will probably choose to tell her that her birth mother could not care for her, so she left her ________ so someone
could find her and bring her to the orphanage where she would be cared for until we could bring her home.
Honoring Her Chinese Culture
There have been some important lessons to be learned from the previous decades of adoptive parents and children. One of
these lessons comes from the (now adult) children adopted from Korea in the 1950s. At that time it was more important for
adoptees to assimilate or “fit in” rather than keep a connection to their birth culture. Many times in defending
the “realness” of their family, these adoptive parents tried to pretend they were like everyone else and denied
any differences, leaving a great feeling of loss and confusion for the Korean adoptees. Today most people feel it is important
to embrace the differences that exist in an intercultural family. It’s a very complex issue; as one family therapist
put it, “Adoption itself carries a primal kind of loss. Add the loss of original country and culture, and you can see
the magnitude of the problem.”
It is our desire to provide our daughter with as much opportunity to honor her heritage and pursue any interest she may
have of her culture. It is likely she won’t be terribly interested in Chinese culture until she is older and more mature
and less focused on “fitting in”. Cultivating respect for her culture and offering as much information as possible
during her childhood is our way of keeping that door open should she someday choose to step through.
Our greatest desire is that our daughter will know other families and children that look like her and that we can find
the balance between celebrating that she is a normal American kid and honoring and celebrating her heritage. We have met many
families who have or are adopting from China through groups such as Families with Children from China (FCC) which has a local chapter in our area and the Children’s Hope International (CHI-our adoption agency) support groups and we have been blessed to find a family who lives around the corner in our subdivision
who is also adopting a daughter from China this year. We’ve already received a wealth of information through several
Chinese adoption email groups, one with 12,000 families all at different stages of adoption and many who’ve been through
the process several times.
Dealing with Comments from Others
One of the most important things we will deal with in public is responding to remarks by strangers who are interested,
curious, intrusive, or even rude. It is enlightening to hear those with Chinese daughters tell stories about the comments
they receive. We will all have to learn how to respond to comments, most of which are kind, but some of which may be inappropriate.
We don’t want to be among the oversensitive, and more important than our personal feelings when people express comments
in our daughter’s hearing, is responding in a way that helps her develop a positive self-image.
Here’s a sample of some of the more insensitive comments our e-mail friends have received in front of their child:
Stranger to crying Chinese child: “You’d better stop crying or you’ll get sent back where you came from.”
“Why did you adopt her from China when there are so many kids right here who need parents?”
“Why would you want to adopt from a Communist country?”
“How much did you pay for her?”
“Do you know who her real parents are?” “That isn’t her real sister/brother is it?”
(when people don’t realize adoption makes a real family...we will be her real parents, real siblings)
“Isn’t it terrible how they throw away their girls?”
There’s so much more we could share with you but I fear we’ve told you more than enough
already. If you have any questions, are interested in adoption, or know of anyone interested in adoption, we would love to
help in any way we can. I don’t believe that God has called us all to adopt, but I do know that He has called
us ALL to help orphans in every way we are able. James 1:27 says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and
faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
The mandate is clear and yet many people don‘t know what they can do. There are many organizations that work with orphans
and I have listed some of them below. I have also listed some resources for anyone who would like to read more about adoption
and/or specifically, Chinese adoption. Feel free to click on the links below to find out more.
Thank you so much for your time....I know it turned into more of a book than a letter and I apologize. If you ever have
a question we’ve overlooked, be sure to ask us. We greatly value and appreciate your support.
Patrick, Cindy, Matthew, and Megan
email us at email@example.com
You can help by:
-Praying for orphans.
-Participating in missions trips to orphanages.
-Providing financial support to organizations that minister to orphans.
-Volunteering with local state agencies to mentor children in the state foster care system.
-Volunteering at a crisis pregnancy center.
-Donating time, gifts, and talents to adoption agencies, counseling centers, or state foster care agencies.
-Helping organize an orphans’ ministry at your local church.