** First published by www.Boxun.com on January 12, 2009, Beijing time **
In the United States when you see a White couple with a child that has black hair and yellow skin, you need not ask as you know that the child was adopted from the Orient. Our friends Bob (Robert) and Anna adopted before 2004 a baby girl Daniella from Sichuan, China. They were deeply impressed with the smartness, sweetness and cuteness of this Chinese daughter. They felt that she was so lovely that they decided to adopt a second daughter as Daniella’s sister for companionship. So, again, they sent in an application to the Ministry of Civil Affairs of the People’s Republic of China through the relevant department of the United States and then waited patiently. They often could not contain their excited mood and told us the joy of being parents again. Daniella also prepared herself well to become an elder sister by saying that her sister Sofia was about to come. Well, even a name was chosen.
During the days of this long waiting, the Bob couple became very anxious and worried because they did not receive any information from the adoption agency. They could not help but asking whether there had been any change of China's adoption policy and why it took so long. They recalled that when Daniella was adopted, they waited for only eight or nine months. Indeed, since 2006, the Chinese Government has adjusted the adoption policy of Chinese children by foreign families and imposed more stringent requirements for the qualifications of the adoption families. People with obesity, older than 50 years of age, and unmarried families do not meet the qualifications for adoption; there is also a new requirement for annual income. So, the review time becomes longer.
At the end of 2007, Anna emailed us Sofia’s photos. Her childlike look was very cute; the pair of big eyes was just like two black jewels embedded in her tender face and that innocent look in her eyes was as if it was waiting for a mother’s embrace. This was the baby girl from Dianjiang Orphanage near Chongqing in the Sichuan Province. American families that adopt Chinese children establish their first impressions and feelings with the children through the photos provided by the Chinese adoption agencies. Before Sofia was taken away to the United States, Bob had already hung the child’s magnified photo on the wall at home. The children room of Daniella was also freshly decorated in the expectation of the arrival of the new family member.
Every time they looked at Sofia’s sweet little face in the photo, the Bob couple could not wait to lovingly get her home. Finally, after the Spring Festival last year, they received a notice to go to China to complete the formalities. The whole family carried a full set of luggage, flew happily to Sichuan and brought back the eight-month-old little Sofia.
Taking this opportunity, they brought the then four-year-old Daniella back to the Liangping Orphanage in Chongqing, her old home before she was adopted. This orphanage turned the visit into a big happy event, because it was the first time that an adopted child who lived abroad returned to the orphanage for a visit. The yard of the orphanage was decorated with lanterns and streamers, and even personnel who had been transferred out of the orphanage came back especially to see this previous orphan who paid the return visit from the other side of the ocean. The lovely and gracious Daniella showed off her Chinese dance, sang many Chinese and foreign songs, which delighted everyone. It was an exciting and spectacular international party.
Bob and Anna have made videos of the two adoption trips to China, which recorded the birth of the two daughters and were filled with joy and passion. When we were invited to their home as guests, we saw a big map of China hanging on the wall of the living room; they had made a special mark at Chongqing in Sichuan as a significant area. When we were watching the videos, Daniella herself became a narrator; she was very familiar with the subject and made the talk very impressive.
Anna with motherly kindness introduced the different characters of her two daughters. In comparison with finicky, self-willed, sensitive Daniella, Sofia seemed kind of easy-going and independent. Anna said affectionately that she could no longer do without these two girls. Bob said he was very lucky to have two daughters, and his life was satisfied. He said this was their life's work. I listened to them and understood tacitly. Oh, yes, when these adopted Chinese girls became Americans, they left the orphanage and entered into the warm family of a different country. From being helped to being loved like princesses, the living conditions underwent huge differences. These children were born in China, but lived in the mainstream society as soon as they entered the United States. At the same time their foreign parents accompanied them and came out tirelessly from the mainstream society to participate in various learning activities, such as Chinese language classes on weekends. They have really given much thought to these matters. Thanks to his insistence, today, Bob very impressively can actually read and write Chinese. It is really not an easy job. Anna then gave up her position at the bank and became a full-time mother who with Sofia sends Daniella to school and picks her up every day.
When Daniella told us in a childish tone that she was from Sichuan and adopted to the United States, I did not know why my heart felt some pain while listening to her. Once I went to their home, Daniella pulled a small toy trunk and told us that she was about to take a flight to Chongqing. She held a piece of paper as the ticket and acted as if she was hailing a taxi, entering into the airport, finding the gate; she was as serious as the real thing. I was surprised to see this while I was next to her. Anna called me to the kitchen and told me that a few days ago, Daniella cried and asked why her own mother did not come to see her, or want her. Anna said emotionally: "We had thought about the problem that the kids would care about their biological parentage, but did not expect it to come so early". Ah, a five-year-old young child already started looking for her roots! In the future, there would be a longer way to go and more difficult questions to answer. These would often test the adoptive family. I thought that fortunately the adoptive parents were open-minded, started from love and respected the child's independent personality and free will; this kind of problems would not daunt a happy adoptive family.
In fact, adoptive families having kids like Daniella and Sofia are far from rare. According to reports, in recent years, the total number of Chinese children adopted by American families exceeds 50,000. The New York area alone has about 10,000. Last May, we went with the whole Bob and Anna family to the Liberty State Park by the side of the Hudson River in New Jersey to participate in the yearly Chinese Culture Day organized specifically for adoptive families. The event had a variety of programs and activities like traditional Chinese folk dancing, calligraphy, arts and crafts displays, story-telling and tug-of-war competitions. American parents were all happy and almost all adopted children were girls. They dolled themselves up and it was like a holiday scene. Among them there were some mothers who held dearly their disabled girls they adopted and participated in various activities. Strolling in the park, I watched the yellow-skinned, black-eyed children enjoying and playing heartily under the sunshine of the early summer. Their loveliness matched brilliantly the affectionate and happy smiling faces of their American parents. When these little children sang Chinese children's songs and danced under the leadership of the teacher, their parents in the audience eagerly clapped their hands to add to the fun. Seeing the scene at that time, I was deeply moved by this true love in the world that knows no borders.
Daniella who loved singing and dancing was also a performer on the stage. Her parents were busily taking pictures of her and videoed her. It just happened that a Xinhua News Agency reporter came for an interview at this time. Anna introduced her two daughters and said how sad their families felt that the Wenchuan earthquake occurred five days before. Sofia was still young and did not understand what had happened. But Daniella looked at the TV screen; seeing the catastrophe of the homeland, she wept sadly. Hearing the story, we were much moved.
Bob and Anna have always been grateful for the tremendous joy brought by the children to the family. They seemed to have endless love and energy. Bob said that they would like to adopt a disabled child, but the queue was very long; he also said that they intended to adopt another child aged 12 or 13. He heard that the orphans in the orphanage would be placed in the community to make a living on their own when they became fifteen years old; this was very dangerous: what if they encountered bad guys or ran into a triad and learned to do bad things? He said that his ability was limited, but the adoption of a child was to help a child. Daniella interrupted on the side saying: "Why not adopt one younger than Sofia and then I will be the big sister." I did not know what the rules required, but I admired their spirit.
Both Bob and Anna are devoted Christians. Recently they told me that their church activities have switched to a Chinese church. They often prepare presentations and strive to speak in Chinese. Naturally they have also made more Chinese friends. Every time we met, Bob often took out the big Chinese-English Dictionary brought back from China and asked many questions trying to understand how to check the difficult words and the precise meanings of the phrases that had special Chinese characteristics. Sometimes it was really not easy to answer them. They fell in love with China and learned Chinese culture not due to professional or business needs, but entirely because of the two daughters from China. They themselves are already half Chinese.
Bless you, the children from China in the American adoption families and the American parents who adopted Chinese orphans!
January 11, 2009
Picture taken on May 17, 2008, the Chinese Cultural Day, in the Liberty State Park, New Jersey