Saturday, March 31, 2007

Celebrating Multiculturalism!

Last week, we celebrated multiculturalism in Newfoundland & Labrador. One of the events was a 3-day Multicultural Fair, open to the general public for one day, and then to elementary and junior high school students for 2 days. It was the 8th year for the fair, which has been growing every year.

This year was the first for NLFAM- Newfoundland & Labrador Families Adopting Multiculturally- to have a booth at the Fair. I've attached are a few pictures of members on "opening day".

I was on the booth last Tuesday- and it was a hoot! You never know what kids will ask you. One little boy asked me where my kid was from. I told him that we have a little boy who is living in China, and that we hope to be able to bring him home by August. Then he said, "Well. Do you have a picture of him?"!!! Of course I did...
I was happy to show him and he seemed happy to see it!

It is so wonderful to see the growth and celebration of multiculturalism in this province. As recent as 10 years ago or so, it was so much rarer to see very many non-white families in a lot of places in the province, much alone multicultural or transracial families! Currently, there are growing numbers of international students at the university, and the provincial government has just announced a strategy for attracting and retaining immigrants in the province. It's all good.

Carcassonne, anyone?

So, our little family really enjoys playing Board Games together. We're big fans of the games in the Cranium series- like Cranium Cadoo, Cranium WhooNu, etc.- since kids ranging in ages from about 5 to 105 can play these together. Something for everyone.

Last week, our oldest child turned 10. A whole decade old. Unbelievable. She moved into her own room and is absolutely revelling in her "independence"! Our younger daughter is now almost 8- and I think what is getting her through being left in their room by her older sister is the fact that we promised we'd get her a set of bunk beds, so she can "share" with her little brother when we get him. In reality, since we are lucky enough to have 4 bedrooms, "little brother" can have his own room, once things settle down, but I think they'll both appreciate the company for at least a little while!

But I digress...

Given the growing maturity of the kids, I thought that maybe we'd branch out in our board game collection and the game "Carcassonne" was recommended to me by a colleague. Her adult daughter and husband are big fans, but she said that younger children could certainly play and understand the basic rules and strategies.

If you've never heard of it, Carcassonne is a German tile-laying game, named for the medieval city in southern France. The idea is to build cities, fields, and roads by strategically laying tiles and collecting points once a feature is completed. You also collect points by placing "followers" or "meeples" (as they're known in Europe) on various features. The meeples can be farmers, thieves, knights, or monks, depending on where they are placed (for example, a monk is a meeple who is placed on a cloister!).

So, I'm now just reading the rules booklet and trying to figure out the scoring. I'm getting lost on the Farmer scoring at the end of the game- which, as I understand it, might determine who wins! Any Carcassone experts out there?

Monday, March 26, 2007

Alberta Continued...

This is some recent news from the Alberta Children's Services concerning the adoption of children with medical needs.

You can read it for yourself at:

International Adoption Program (March 2007)

Alberta recognizes the important role adoptive families play and their
commitment to enrich their lives, along with their communities,
through international adoptions.

International adoptions are changing on an ongoing basis.
Increasingly, countries are introducing international adoption
programs that encourage parents from other parts of the world to adopt
children with very complex medical conditions. These types of adoption
requests are relatively new to Alberta. It is important Alberta
families have the information they need to make informed decisions
when considering international adoptions of children with very complex
medical conditions.

To ensure these types of requests are handled in a transparent and
consistent manner, Alberta Children's Services will work with key
stakeholders and other Alberta government ministries to develop a
policy that will guide the process of accepting international
referrals. While this policy is under development, international
applications will be accepted and processed, and referrals of children
with very complex medical conditions will be reviewed on a
case-by-case basis. Children's Services will consult with Alberta
medical experts prior to making decisions related to these adoption
requests. International adoption families are encouraged to work with
Children's Services' staff during this time.

For families wishing to adopt a child from another country who does
not have complex medical needs, it is business as usual, and these
families will see no change.

The Alberta government invites Albertans to provide their input on
this very important issue by emailing CS.communications @


SO... what do they mean by "very complex medical conditions"???

HIV/AIDS? Heart defects? Any medical condition that MAY be associated with a genetic syndrome (because there are MANY of those- most of which are ruled out after proper genetic testing)?

There needs to be a lot of clarity here with respect to what ACS is "thinking". It seems that advocates of Waiting Children may have won the first battle, but the war continues.

Please encourage ACS to follow the lead of families who wish to adopt children with known medical needs. As long as families are educated about a medical need and truly realize the implications that a medical need may have on their lives, they need to be SUPPORTED, not patronized and treated with suspicion!

I wouldn't worry about needing to be Albertan to comment. They should know that their review is being watched around the world.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Alberta Backs Down!

Alberta Children's Services has stated that their decision of almost 2 weeks ago to consider children in China's Waiting Child Program as "medically fragile" and to halt the acceptance of their referrals was only a "misunderstanding"!

So, about 20 Albertan families spent a week believing that their dossiers were suspended, and that they might have to consider other adoption options, since they were warned that this suspension could last indefinitely.

Some "misunderstanding".

In the interim, phone calls were made, e-mails and letters began to flow into the Minister, and guess what? When the media called the ACS asking for a comment, they denied that any files or referrals had been suspended. A day or so later, the families were contacted and the "misunderstanding" scenario was given. I am not sure if an apology was offered with it or not.

So... the bright side of things is that these families can expect to have no further problems with their provincial adoption authority with respect to adopting a child with minor and/or correctable medical needs. This is also a great example of how stupid bureaucratic decisions can be influenced by a little public pressure...

Oh yes, the "pen" is a powerful tool. And so is the internet. Many, many thanks to people from all over North America who took the time to answer our call for help and who wrote or e-mailed in support!!! We couldn't have done it without you.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Quick! Do Something!

I know from my blog statistics that there are quite a few people who lurk without commenting on the blog- which I do on other people's blogs as well. But, I'm hoping that some of you will de-lurk long enough to respond to the situation in Alberta, Canada.

I've posted about it below, in "An Ill Wind Blowing". Briefly, Alberta Children's Services has decided to place a halt on referrals for all children being adopted internationally who have medical needs. They, in fact, have prejudicially used the term "medically fragile" to describe these children in a post on their website on March 9. Interestingly, that post (under "What's New") has been removed- in anticipation, perhaps, of a public backlash?

At any rate, their underlying rationale for refusing the referrals of children with medical needs appears to be concern for the provincial health care resources that these kids will use! Because we all know how poor and underfunded Alberta's healthcare system is. NOT!!!! (For those of you not Canadian, Alberta is our oil-rich province which is wealthier by far than most other provinces in Canada.) So, there is some irony that this is happening there of all places.

We (Canadian Waiting Children families) are trying to mount a response to what we believe is an ill-conceived and discriminatory action, starting with a letter-writing campaign. It would be fantastic if you could help us, by sending a letter to the Minister of Alberta Children's Services, The Honourable Janis Tarchuk at:

#228 Legislature Building
10800 - 97 Avenue
Edmonton, AB
Canada T5K 2B6

Or by e-mailing her at: banff.cochrane @ (remove spaces)

If you can, please cc your e-mail to Children's Services at:
cs.communications @ (remove spaces)

Here is a quote that the keynote speaker at a recent conference on "Women in Academia" offered for inspiration (if anyone knows who originally said it, I'd be very happy for you to tell me!):

"Small insurrections multiplied by many participants make change happen..."


Saturday, March 10, 2007

An ILL Wind Blowing...

Well, winter is not over yet in Canada, for sure. And we've just learned that there is an ill wind blowing from the West, threatening to create a major stormfront right across the country.

Enough with the lousy metaphors- here's what's just happened:

The ministry of the Province of Alberta responsible for adoption, Alberta Children's Services, has just announced that they are refusing to accept referrals for "medically fragile" children being adopted internationally. At least until they have "policies and procedures" in place. HUH?

They have included all children from China's Waiting Child Program in this category of "medically fragile" (HUH?HUH?- or maybe DUH!). Anyone familiar with the WCP knows that the last thing most of these kids are is "fragile". The vast majority of WCP referrals are for children who have minor, correctable medical needs that will not be of long-term consequence or affect their quality of life in any way. Conditions like cleft lip or cleft palate- which may or may not have already been surgically corrected, a minor heart defect- that likely only needs periodic monitoring by a specialist, orthopedic issues- like missing fingers or toes that may even require NO treatment! Hardly "medically fragile"!

As for "policies and procedures", Alberta and all other provinces in Canada already have these implemented for international adoption. Such "policies and procedures" should be the same for children being adopted internationally, whether they have a known medical need or not!!

This action by the Alberta government cannot be construed as anything other than discrimination against transnationally-adopted children who have a physical or medical need that has already been identified! Let's not forget for a moment that there are many children adopted each year, domestically and internationally, who have UNIDENTIFIED medical needs. Does the ACS need new "policies and procedures" for these children as well?

IT is clear that this move by Alberta is based on some xenophobic rationale that internationally-adopted children with medical needs are using provincial health care resources that they don't deserve access to. Hmmm... sounds like systemic discrimination to me. And the start of a slippery slope that we really don't want to go down.

Oh no, winter is not over, friends. And beware, this storm might start in Alberta, but we're all going to need to "batten down the hatches", right across the country.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Blog Burnout?

Lots of exciting things have been going on here, since we've been able to send our LOI for our son, but I'm also really trying to put a push on at work to try to get ahead of things a little before I get to take parental leave. Which is taking away from my blogging time! Also, I think I'm experiencing "blog burnout"- after only about 3 or 4 months- how pathetic.

When I started this blog it was as an outlet for some of my pent-up creative energy, and to keep a record of sorts concerning our adoption experience. Right now, my creative energy is being used up by my professional writing (boring-ish journal articles), and what I have left should be going into my scrapbooking or my 100 Good Wishes Quilt, but that isn't happening either! Anyone else experience this kind of creative dry spell?

For those of you who want to follow a local family that is in China right now, check out the blog "Journey to Maggie" on the left. Lisa & Brent have had Maggie for 3 days now, and is she ever a sweetie!! They are one of the 5 families from our area that have been able to travel together to get their daughters- all of whom are from the same orphanage in Hunan.

I'll try to keep up the blog with at least a post per week... but, baby, I'm feeling the burn, just like the motorcycle man!