Sunday, December 31, 2006

Reflections at the end of the year...

So, it's the last day of 2006, and a new year starts at midnight. I'm not typically the type of person to make new year's resolutions, or to get nostalgic over the passing of time, but I can't help but look forward to this coming year with some hope & excitement!

Sometime during this coming year, assuming all goes as planned, we'll be completing our family with a son. This the first time I've ever said that our family will be "complete" when we get our son from China. In the past, I've always thought that "4" is a nice even number of kids to have, and I've dreamt about adopting again in the future when we finally get through our current adoption. But, at this point, I just don't think I have it in me. We've been at this for just about 2 years, and, if we were not adopting from the WCP, we'd probably have almost as long to wait before bringing home our baby. Since we are with the WCP, its almost certain that we'll get him this year (like I'm ready NOW!!!), so I consider us very lucky.

And then there is all the hubbabaloo about the changing IA regulations in China. I believe that we'd be fortunate enough to still qualify for a 4th child, but I wonder if the process is not going to become more difficult in the future. Some people are pointing to the "on-line" system for Waiting Children that is supposed to open to all countries in February as evidence that the procedures for this program will become quicker. I guess that will be a wait-and-see kind of thing.

Anyways, I'm probably getting ahead of myself, as usual. We'll wait and see how the next year goes and then I'll have to decide if we're supposed to have another child! Oh ya, my husband gets some input, too ;)!

I wish everyone a happy and healthy 2007, filled with big & small blessings!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

More on China's New "Rules"

Anyone who reads adoption blogs and websites knows there has been much consternation over the new foreign adoption regulations that China has just announced. According to some adoption agencies quoted in the press, these new guidelines (effective May 2007) will reduce the number of qualified applicants by 25-50%.

A poll posted by the "Rumour Queen" has been taken by almost 2000 people within the last week. Of those who voted, about 41% do not qualify to adopt a child under the new rules.

Even though this poll is what we like to call a non-random sample (made up of people interested in Chinese adoption who also participate in forums like the RQ's website), it does indicate that there will be a significant impact of these new regulations on the lives of many people. But it remains to be seen whether the new rules will reduce the number of China adoption applications significantly- at least in the long term, once the dust has settled over the next year or so.

To make things more interesting, Chinese officials have recently been quoted in the China Daily ( describing the new rules as temporary, and stating that they are not meant to prohibit "less qualified applicants" from adopting, but will give priority to the "more qualified".

So, who knows what the story will be in a year from now? In international adoption, things can change on a dime. But the new regulations have made for a bittersweet holiday season for a lot of people, it seems.

Oh, if you are interested in seeing the new regulations as posted by the Rumour Queen, go here:

Sunday, December 24, 2006

I hope that everyone has a wonderful holiday season, whether you celebrate Christmas or not!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

China's New Adoption Rules

Anyone in the process of adopting from China is probably well aware that the China Centre for Adoption Affairs (or CCAA, the central agency responsible for all adoptions carried out in China) has "verbally" released new adoption regulations, most of which will be effective on May 1, 2007. While they have yet to officially publish the new rules, they have contacted the adoption agencies with which they work, and the word is getting out. For a quick take on the changes, see the BBC news article at:

Probably the biggest change will be that single parents will no longer be able to adopt from China, at least in a practical sense. So, agencies are looking to other countries in which single parents may find their children. There are also changes in financial status requirements and parental health requirements which will limit the number of families who will be able to adopt Chinese children.

It is interesting to wonder why the CCAA is tightening up their rules at this time. Obviously, they take their responsibility of finding families for children in their care extremely seriously, and we all should be grateful for that. As well, people are suggesting that an increase in Chinese domestic adoptions and a decrease in the number of children that are available for adoption has a lot to do with this.

Both of these trends are fantastic news for Chinese children and their families. I truly believe that if a child can be placed in a stable, permanent, and loving home in his or her country, then that should be the first choice. International adoption should be the second choice, which kicks in when there are more children in need of families than can be placed domestically.

As for a decrease in the number of available children... this is really something that I'd like to know more about. Without question, child abandonment appears to be decreasing in some regions/provinces in China- particularly in more urban areas. And it will probably continue to decrease, especially since families are being encouraged to raise daughters to help deal with the impending "female shortage" in the future (traditionally, families relied on sons, and with the famous "One Child Policy", daughters were typically the ones placed in orphanages). But given the shear size of the population, and the fact that there are so many orphanages (reportedly, many of which do not even participate in the international adoption program), it makes one wonder if there is a real decrease in the number of China's orphans... or if the decrease is mostly in the number of children that get channeled into the international adoption stream.

Given the rapid social and economic changes in China, there is little doubt that the face of Chinese adoption will change as well. We'll all just have to stay tuned.

Monday, December 18, 2006

There'll be much mistletoeing and hearts will be glowing...

…It’s the most wonderful time of the year!!!

Warning: the following commentary is brought to you by a mother who has not finished Christmas shopping.

I truly love Christmas.

I think it is because I am an idealist, even an optimist, and I believe that the Christmas season allows people to be more generous and just a bit more concerned about their fellow human beings.

It’s my theory that this, in part, is due to a change in network television programming. Seriously!

Here’s the thing: compared to other times of the year, there are more pro-social television programs on (at least during prime time) over the Christmas season. Meaning that more people are watching “positive” programming and less of the usual crime/punishment/dark side of humanity stuff. Which probably has an effect on our collective ability to be a little more generous, a little more tolerant…

Think I’m eating too many roasted chestnuts? Well, consider this: in a child development study from 1975, children who were shown a prosocial TV show actually “helped” more than kids who were shown other programs. And what was this TV show? Lassie, of course!

(“What’s that girl? Timmy’s ratings fell down a well?” Oh well. We lost Lassie but gained a purple dinosaur- hokey, yes, but oh so pro-social!)

So, do Christmas TV specials depicting our favorite characters being a little kinder and gentler actually rub off on us? They certainly can’t hurt.

But there is little doubt that Christmas has been bringing out the better side of humanity long before the invention of the cathode ray tube. Dickens confirms this for us in “A Christmas Carol” (written in 1842) when Ebenezer Scrooge’s nephew says of Christmas…

“(it’s)…the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys…”

Obviously, my TV-based theory is skating on thin ice. Speaking of ice… maybe those former-Olympian figure skating specials have something to do with it…

No, not even the thoughts of needing to spend 5 hours shopping tomorrow will dampen my Christmas spirit. And if I find that the Mall is not exactly a refuge of good will and sisterly love, I’m sure there will be a nice holiday family special on tomorrow night!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

An Adoption-Awareness Fast

Mary-Frances Scully is a mother living in St. John’s who is very concerned about the state of adoption in Canada.

Adoption is close to her heart. She was adopted as a newborn in Ireland, and one of her sons came into her family through adoption from Thailand.

It was when she began her son’s adoption process that Mary-Frances realized that there are elements about adoption in Canada that make no sense. In October 2000, Mary-Frances and her husband applied to the provincial authorities to adopt a child. Since Mary-France’s husband is Vietnamese, and they had recently returned from a trip to Vietnam during which they visited several orphanages, they wished to adopt a little boy from there. About 6 months later, when they had completed a required pre-adoption course, adoption from Vietnam to Canada was no longer possible, since there was a federal ban in place. They decided that it would be wonderful if they could adopt a Canadian boy of Eurasian heritage, and they searched for an adoption agency that could help them. They found that there were simply no programs to apply to.

Since adoption in Canada is regulated by the provinces/territories, it is next to impossible to adopt from outside your own province, except by direct placement (i.e., if a birth family wishes to place their child specifically with you). Domestic adoption in Newfoundland & Labrador was not an option for Mary-Frances’ family- the average wait for a healthy infant is 12 years, and there are maximum age limits for parents that apply.

In the end, Mary-Frances and her family decided to work with an agency in BC, which helped them find their son in Thailand. Their application was sent to Thailand in Fall 2002, they received a referral in May 2003, and they traveled to bring their 2-year-old son home in June 2004. In July 2006, the family traveled to Ottawa to sign official adoption papers from Thailand, and their son’s adoption was finalized in November, 2006- a journey of more than 5 long years!

This is a story with a happy ending, but there is no doubt that the process of adopting a child SHOULD be much quicker! To raise awareness about the challenges faced by families trying to adopt, Mary-Frances held a “Fast-a-Thon” for three days over the past 2 weeks, which, through sponsorships, also helped raise some money for our local volunteer support group “Newfoundland and Labrador Families Adopting Multiculturally” (NLFAM).

As a pediatric specialist (hematology), Mary-Frances wants the public to be aware that the Canadian Paediatric Society has recently released a position paper on transracial adoption. In brief, they conclude that when parents are sensitive to their child’s cultural background and help their child cope with issues around racism, the outcome of adoption is usually extremely positive. More information on this report is available here:

Also important to families who are adopting internationally is Bill C-14, which, if passed, will grant adopted children automatic citizenship upon finalization of the adoption. More detail can be found here:

One of the big questions that Mary-Frances’ story raises, though, is: why it is so much easier (well, relatively!) to adopt a child from another country than to adopt one from Canada? Although there are clearly not as many children legally available for adoption in Canada as there are in other countries, why is there not an effort being made to remove “provincial barriers” and find more children living in temporary care safe, loving and permanent homes?

All children, no matter their country of birth, have a right to this. When bureaucratic “rules” deny them this, something is drastically wrong with the system.

Thank you, Mary-Frances, for publicly telling your family’s story to help us remember these issues. Thank you for your example, and for your unending support of the miracle that is adoption.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Waiting for Santa...

We just got home from the annual "China Adoption" Christmas Party. It was our second year attending.

Last year, we had only been in the process of adopting for about one year. We were on a wait list to start our province's preadoption education course and homestudy, and we knew that we were no where near to being referred our child. But, we wanted to go to the party to meet other families with children from China, and to put faces to names of people who are active in our local "internet-connected" adoption community. As well, we wanted our daughters, who were then aged 6 & 8, to meet the kids that they would probably be interacting with for a long time to come.

This year, we're a bona fide "waiting family". Our dossier is done, our provincial approval complete, and we're simply waiting for China to send us the proposal for our child. Our girls had a good time with the kids around their ages that they now know a bit better, and we saw 3 new little faces who were still living in China when we were at the party last year.

That's really the best part for me right now... seeing all of these beautiful children and knowing that the process *does* work and, after all the effort and time, our child will come home...hopefully, in time for next year's Christmas party!

I count myself so lucky to have such a supportive adoption community in this province. I know that not everyone needs the same level of social support, but I can honestly say that I don't know if I'd still be sane without it. I am very grateful to all those who have "been-there-done-that" and have always been willing to share their experience and advice. Even after having completed their own families, many parents have been willing to put themselves "out there" to help the families following behind navigate through the often turbulent waters of adoption!

In my next post, I'll tell you more about one of these very generous people.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

What's It Like to Live in An Orphanage? Part 2

I am clearly not qualified to answer that question. There may be some readers who are, but I'm pretty sure that you can only truly understand orphanage life if you've experienced it first hand.

Many adoptive parents gain some insight into what it was like for their child to live in an orphanage when they arrive in their child's birth country to "get" her or him. Arriving with their North American (or Westernized) set of sensibilities, a visit to their child's orphanage can be a shock. I was recently speaking with one mother who still cannot forget the friction marks on her daughter's wrists from being tied to her crib. Cruel? By our standard, yes. But if you are a Nanny responsible for caring for many infants, how many options do you have to keep one from tumbling out of her crib? The reality of orphanage life is that there are many babies, many preschoolers, many children... and caring for them all adequately is very hard.

The realization that something could be done by ordinary people to help children be cared for "better" prompted Jenny Bowen, an adoptive Mom, to start the not-for-profit organization "Half the Sky". Please go to their website ( if you are not familiar with their work and see what a difference providing additional, trained nannies and improvements in facilites can make to children living in an orphanage! The Half the Sky programs are based on solid scientific and educational theory- but the banner on their home page says it all; it is a quote from Meng Zi , circa 300BC...

"All the children who are loved and held will know how to love others... Spread these virtues in the world. Nothing more need be done."

Happily, the Half the Sky programs are spreading throughout China, and they are placing more resources into building "villages" for foster families- housing complexes where qualified foster parents can live and provide a temporary family for children who would otherwise be in an orphanage setting. What a concept! So simple, yet so innovative and making such a difference to children who cannot live with their birth families! I cannot say enough about the work of this organization.

One of the other charitable organizations doing AMAZING work in China is "Love Without Boundaries" ( This volunteer group provides funding for nutrition, education, foster care and medical treatment for orphans. Many surgeries for cleft lip/palate, heart defects, and other medical conditions are performed with the financial backing of LWB. Read their blog ( and see what a difference this group makes in the lives of children every day.

China Care ( is yet one more group making a difference. One of their really interesting programs is a Volunteer placement program, in which young (and not-so-young!) people can work in one of the group's children's homes and really use their time and talents to care for children. A volunteer with this group has a blog which I just think is fanatastic (; it is often hard to read, since she brings the children she cares for (most with medical conditions) into your heart through her blog- and, sadly, some of these children die. But, especially for parents of a "Waiting Child", it is an amazing look at how many of our children will have experienced their early days of life.

I hope that when we finally get to China, we will be able to visit our child's orphanage and/or meet his foster parents. Until then, I'll follow along with the stories of other children and the people caring for them.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

What Is It Like to Live in an Orphange? Part 1

One of the things that most parents who are adopting internationally think about is the life that their children had before being brought home.

It is clear that children are not meant to be raised in orphanages. Even in orphanages that have the best and most loving "nannies", there is very often just not enough attention to go around. Hopefully, there is enough formula and enough food. But these things merely sustain life. To be truly nourished, babies need to be held, to be soothed, to be loved.

Every infant requires at least one person in their world who will (try to) meet his or her every need. And while it is a blessing that in some orphanges the nannies really care about their charges, there is simply no substitute for a parent, or two, who is committed to loving a child and who can provide the one-on-one interaction that is so necessary for a child's physical and mental health. The research is very clear on this (like we needed science to figure this out!).

That is why I just cannot buy into the "cultural genocide" arguments sometimes raised against international adoption. If you are not familiar with this flavour of argument, it goes something like this: international adoption should not be permitted because it involves (typically economically-advantaged white people)removing children from their cultures and countries, and, in the long run, both the child and the culture will suffer.

If you think such an argument is too esoteric to be worth worrying about, consider this: ostensively, it was used to strong-arm Romania to close its international adoption program in order for it to be accepted into the EU. It is the argument still being put forward by the likes of Baroness Emma Nicholson (of the UK), who is a staunch opponent of international adoption. Her influence may yet cause other countries that want EU membership to close their intercountry adoption programs.

So, when adoption from an orphanage is not an option for many children, who really suffers? Their culture?

I wonder if the Baroness can look into the eyes of children who have never known a mother's touch and tell them that it was "all for the better"?

I think not.

Monday, December 4, 2006

Hello... it's China Calling...

So, I've been considering for a while whether or not to start a blog as we get nearer to having our 3rd child join our family. There are, of course, pros and cons to blogging... as well as most other things in life, I guess.

My two major concerns with blogging have to do with:
1) the privacy of my children- they are not old enough to give me informed consent to blab the details of their private lives all over the internet; &
2) who am I, really, to think that anyone would be interested enough in what I have to say to read my blog!?! Not that I am all that self-effacing, but anyone who writes a blog has to have a bit of an ego to think that it's worth reading, right?

Obviously, after weighing these pros and cons, I've decided to blog, since I figured that I could do lots to protect my children's privacy by simply not talking about some things, and if no one reads the blog, then that's not *really* a problem, is it?

Once having decided to take the plunge into the blog pool, the next thing I had to come up with was a snappy name or title. I've been mulling that one over for a couple of days, when, driving with my husband today, I asked for his cell phone to check for messages on our answering machine. He said, "What are you doing- seeing if China called?" (tongue-in-cheek, of course).

That was it... the name for the blog... China Calling! Because, in fact, I *was* checking to see if China had called, so to speak. Actually, China will not call us, but our adoption agency will... sometime... maybe even within the next couple of months... with news about the little boy, our son, who is waiting for us in China. We don't know his name yet, and we don't know where he lives, but I know that he is meant to be with us and we with him.

We have applied to the Chinese Centre of Adoption Affairs (CCAA) to adopt a boy, up to 2 years old, with a congenital heart defect. The name of the program that we are adopting through is the "Waiting Child Program"- referring to the fact that there are children in Social Welfare Institutes (orphanages) and in foster care with medical conditions (many either already corrected or correctable) that are "ready and waiting" to be placed in a forever family.

Sadly, the birth families of these children are often not able to raise them because medical care in China is VERY, very costly. So, a child with a medical condition, such as a heart defect or cleft lip/palate (two of the most common medical conditions of Waiting Children), born to a working or middle-class family in China, has little hope for receiving any necessary medical treatment if he or she remains in the birth family. As well, there may be social stigmas attached to children with certain medical conditions in China, and birth parents can face a lot of pressure to relinquish their child and try again for a healthier one. Remember that China has a "One-Child Policy"... which is actually less strict in some provinces but often requires families to pay the government hefty fees for having additional children.

These sort of social and economic factors often conspire to result in children, those with medical needs and often those without, finding themselves living outside their birth families in SWIs or foster care. Some of these children are permitted to be adopted by families in other countries who have proved to the CCAA that they are committed to the child and will raise him or her as if he/she had entered the family by birth.

A family's journey to a child living in another country is not always an easy one- there are MANY blogs that will testify to that! But it is a journey worth recording, and a journey worth reflecting on... and I think that's the main reason why I decided to go ahead with this blog.

So, by now you know that my blog entries are just going to be TOO LONG and probably too boring for the casual "blog surfer"! So be it- this is my diary of how my family is bushwacking through new (to us) adoption territory! You're very welcome to drop in, see how we're doing, and even comment on some of the issues that international adoption raises for me personally. I look forward to "meeting" you!