Friday, December 3, 2010

Snow Dogs!

Snow Dogs!
Originally uploaded by china-calling
Two of our dogs: almost 7 month-old Akola and 8 year old Suzy romping in the snow.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Our New Puppy

Ever Endeavor Akola- she's a Eurasier- and ain't she sweet!?!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Possible Changes for China's Waiting Child Program

I just saw this on I wonder if it will be open to Canadians as well? That decision will likely be up to each province.

China Opens New Program!
Special Focus Children Program Begins September 1st
August 01,2010 / Martha Osborne

The following information is what is known at this time about China's new program. This article will be updated as further details are revealed.

On August 17th , the CCAA sent a special notice to all licensed adoption agencies concerning a new program that will begin on September 1st .

The CCAA is creating a new category of waiting children called "Special Focus" children. These are children who have been on the shared waiting child list for more than 2 months. It is unknown whether or not all children who have been on the list for over 2 months will be included, or if only a select number of these children will now be categorized as Special Focus.

What is known is this: Children who receive this special status will have three unique advantages.

First: they may now be assigned to specific agencies, which can then begin concentrated advocacy to find a family for particular children. Individual advocacy for older and special needs children by a single agency has remarkable advantages over the current system . As it is now, over 2,000 children wait on China's Shared List. Children who were listed months ago receive almost no advocacy or inquiries, as new children are added frequently and receive the most attention.

Second: Adoption agencies may take the time to focus on gathering information and background on specific children, to better match the child with a family who is a good fit. Older children and those with special needs have the best outcome in families that are well prepared to parent them.

Third: Families pursuing a Special Focus child will have 6 months (instead of 3 months) to get their dossier into CCAA. This may will enable families to take the appropriate time needed to learn more about a child's medical or other needs, and make a decision without undue pressure to submit documents.

For some experienced families who are thinking of adopting more than one child, the news only gets better. Families pursuing a Special Focus child will be allowed to adopt a second child, either at the same time or within a one year time frame. One of the children must be Special Focus, but the other can be either healthy, Special Focus or a regular special needs child. CCAA emphasized that families need to be well prepared for the adoption of two children or special needs children in general to avoid tragedies.

Marci Siegel-Kittrel of Associated Services for International Adoption, voiced her enthusiasm for the program, This is a great opportunity for children who have waited the longest on the Shared List, but added this caution, We must also focus on the best interest of each child. ASIA will allow families to pursue the adoption of two unrelated children on a case by case basis after the family fulfills some requirements to prepare for the additional challenges of adopting two unrelated children at once or in quick succession.

While several families have requested the opportunity to adopt 2 children at one time, China has officially been against the practice in the past. Over the last few years, the CCAA has unofficially loosened their stance on non-siblings being adopted simultaneously, granting experienced families with the financial ability and support systems in place to do so.

Kelly Rumbaugh, founder of Lady Bugs N Love, came home from China in February of this year with Samantha and Piper. Samantha was just days away from her 14 th birthday, when she would become ineligible for adoption. Piper, age 11 years, has some special needs. Our daughters did not know each other before adoption, Kelly told us, This caused me worry because Samantha did not have any special needs, and Piper did. The truth is, both girls have great attitudes. It hasn't been about adopting two older children at the same time. Honestly, it has been the most challenging because we adopted two children while having 3 toddlers as well.

Kelly's advice to other families considering adopting two at once? I would want to make sure that the family knew that saving money is NOT a reason to adopt two children at once. I would want to make sure that they realize how the dynamics of the family changes when you add a new sibling to the family, let alone two. Any regrets? It is harder than I thought, but no. Every hug, every smile, is worth it. I just think families need to understand that it challenging.

Update: Although part of the Notice sent to agencies indicates that there may be some leniency or relaxing of adoptive family qualifications (could this mean singles may be able to adopt in the future?), there are no clear indications of what this may entail. We wil update our readers as more information is release

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Summer Cookin'

With apologies to vegetarians, here is my organic-humanely-raised-local chicken (from Ellie's Chicken Coop) stuffed with lemons and mint from our organic vegetable co-op (the mint, not the lemons!).

And here is my child voted most likely to follow her mother's domestic inclinations:

She's making a picnic quilt- I'll be sure to post her pictures when she's done!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Baby Items...

Knit for my cousin's little girl, due to arrive in about 6 weeks!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Feel the "Love Without Boundaries"

This US-based charity has been one of my favourite charities for a few years now.

Like several other groups working in China on a fairly large scale, LWB has made such a big impact on the lives of children living in Chinese Social Welfare Institutes. They have developed excellent programming to address needs that simply were not being met, and so many kids have benefited as a result of their work.

Yet, the group is run mostly by parent volunteers, most with children adopted from China, and the scope of their work has not caused them to lose their "personal touch". Here's an example: Recently, Holly, one of the moms of a child adopted from our son's SWI, mounted a fund-raising campaign for the SWI through LWB. Now, this SWI is relatively small and relatively poor, and has not been involved with any of the international charities serving Chinese children. When Holly contacted LWB, she was immediately put in touch with the volunteer who coordinates the Orphanage Assistance Program. This woman was able to contact the SWI and ask the Director what they most needed for the children. It turns out that they needed diapers for the babies and clothing, especially for the older children. All of the funds donated from our families went directly for this- and within a few weeks of having made the donation on-line, we were e-mailed several photos of beautiful children posing in their new clothes, standing next to the hugest pile of diapers I have ever seen! On top of that, we received at least 2 e-mailed and 2 hand-written Thank You cards from different program coordinators at LWB (and, believe me, the donation was not all that large!).

One mom I know who recently returned to China on a homeland visit commented that she was amazed at how much China had changed in the 5 years since she had last been there. She also said that she thought charities like LWB and Half the Sky seem rather out-of-place in this new modern and ever-changing China.

I think she's right on one count, there are many cities and regions of China experiencing a growing wealth and, with that, more means to address basic needs- like life-saving surgeries- for children. But, the fact that these charities are still operating on the ground, providing significant services to children who otherwise would not be helped, tells me that the charitable work there is not finished. Not by a long shot.

Read LWB's May Newsletter on-line by clicking HERE.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Kindergarten Celebration

Our little guy had his Kindergarten concert and celebration this morning! He's off to Grade One next year. How time flies...

Saturday, May 8, 2010

This or That?

I'm sure that most everyone finds themselves making decisions about how to spend time that isn't already allocated to something else - like a job, or doing course work, or bringing the kids to activities that you've spent half a fortune on! I mean, there are things that HAVE to be done, for sure: groceries have to be bought, meals cooked, dishwashers loaded and run, laundry done, cat litter pans cleaned... but then there are the "more optional" activities. In my house, this includes making beds, dusting, and regularly washing the floors- LOL!! Because, let's face it, there are only so many hours in the day (at least for those of us that need 8 hours sleep) and there are only so many things you can do without feeling spread thin enough to evaporate.

Even so, I struggle with guilt about spending time on my "hobbies" - which doesn't seem an adequate word, in fact. The things I love to do, like knitting, sewing/quilting, making scrapbook pages, are more than hobbies- they're outlets for creative energy and they're my "play-time" activities! Having a project (or 2 or 3) always on the back-burner gives me a sense of reassurance that I'll always have something interesting and productive to do. Not that washing the floor is unproductive, of course...

Anyways, it doesn't seem that I'll be acquiring a maid service in the near future, so I guess the internal struggle will continue- not that you'd ever guess by coming into my house.

Do I feel bad about unwashed floors?


How bad do I have to feel to finally wash them?

I guess it depends on what projects I have in the works!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

IA: Both Sides Now

One of the best articles I have ever read about the complexity of international adoption.

Written by Natalie Alcoba and published in The National Post on Friday, April 2, 2010:

Saturday Interview: The cultural boundaries behind international adoption

Read more:

The big, complicated issues that surround the popular practice of adopting a child from one country and raising it in another were slapping Karen Dubinsky in the face as she cradled her new Guatemalan son in her arms.

It was the spring of 2000. Ms. Dubinsky, a history and global development professor at Queen's University in Kingston, Ont., had travelled to the little Central American nation to pick up six-month-old Jordi.

She also happened to read a terrifying story in a newspaper about a Japanese tourist who had been stoned to death by villagers who thought, wrongly, that he was a kidnapper. This was not the only time anxiety over stolen babies led to bloodletting in Guatemala, once famously branded a "child supermarket" for foreigners.

Contrast that with the reaction once she returned home: "That baby is very lucky," Ms. Dubinsky would hear countless times upon starting her new family life.

The professor recalls the juxtaposition of these starkly different interpretations of international adoption -- kidnap versus rescue -- in her new book, Babies Without Borders, a study of adoption and migration across the Americas. She wants to complicate, not join, this emotional tug of war; to urge observers to consider the intrinsic complexities of the long-standing argument between adults about whether children ought to be put on planes and airlifted out of a difficult situation.

"There is a way in which adoption is easier to grasp if you look at it in miniature, the tiny little telescope of the individual case," Ms. Dubinsky said in a telephone interview from her Kingston home this week. "It's usually pretty easy to figure out, and impossible to argue that something good hasn't occurred to the child. If you broaden the lens a little bit and look at the circumstances of the birth mother, that makes it more complicated. And I'm not talking just about stories of babies ripped out of people's arms, I'm talking about the birth mother who makes the ‘voluntary' decision. We all know that is not an easy decision. Nobody gives their kids away if they don't have to."

Now, take in an even bigger picture, enough to see the racial issues, the national issues and the global political economy that contributes to conditions of wealth and scarcity behind adoption files, Ms. Dubinsky argues, and it becomes increasingly clear that the mobility of children across borders does not fit neatly into simple binaries.

"To me that doesn't mean, ‘OK, shut down adoption', because adoption didn't create the big picture," Ms. Dubinsky said. "But I am saying let's stop looking at [just] the child and celebrating the heroic rescue of the parents. Even if that is true in that circumstance, that is not the only thing that's going on."

Babies Without Borders explores the political and cultural boundaries that may be crossed when a child is not raised by a biological parent.

Using Operation Peter Pan, which saw more than 14,000 Cuban children sent to the United States in the early 1960s amid rumours Fidel Castro was planning on indoctrinating them in the Soviet Union, or worse (there are stories of people fearing children would return as tinned meat), Ms. Dubinsky illustrates the "National Baby" -- a child that bears the hopes of a nation on its shoulders, and also represents its fractured self.

The same issues resurfaced in the story of another National Baby, Elian Gonzalez, the Cuban boy who was discovered clinging to a dinghy in the waters off the coast of Florida after a perilous journey his mother did not survive. "When international or foreign policy conflicts are fought through and over the bodies of children," Ms. Dubinsky writes, "the enormous but often unacknowledged symbolic power of children ensures that such conflicts will have a very long life."

When it comes to adoption, a baby is often not just a baby. Americans who learned about Operation Peter Pan were encouraged to "fight communism" by caring for the children who fled it, even as some Cubans viewed it as the snatching of a precious resource. Similarly, the radical practice of placing black babies with white Montreal couples for the first time in the late 1950s was loaded with promises of racial reconciliation, even as the sometimes horrific experiences of aboriginal children assimilated into white homes became "monuments of colonialism."

That two mixed-race adoption ventures in Canada could produce wildly different legacies (although also here, there are shades of grey) "suggests that how one imagines children, race and racial hierarchies is more significant than where."

Creating a multi-racial adopted family domestically was a necessary precursor to adopting internationally, says Ms. Dubinsky, and set the stage for a "climate of rescue."

Events like the 1990 Romanian orphanage scandal caused applications to skyrocket, wrote Ms. Dubinksy, and fuelled the "transnational politics of pity." Then came low-interest adoption loans, airlines that featured special rates for adoption travel, "culture camps" that taught adopted children their heritage, and Hollywood mothers with foreign babes. And with adoption agencies bearing such names as Heart to Heart Adoption or Children's Hope, trading in "the vulnerability and cuteness of waiting children, always pictured isolated, alone, devoid of parents, communities and nations, and waiting for rescue," says Ms. Dubinsky, it is little wonder that many parents, and advocates, view international adoption as a humanitarian effort, citing poverty, malnutrition and poor child welfare systems in sending countries.

"The fantasy of the global cabbage patch", she calls it, filled with children who need help. She notes it is glaring that in the international adoption debate the voices that are seldom heard are those of the birth mother and the child. That is starting to change, as Korean adoptees from the 1950s and '60s share their experiences, and others eventually follow suit.

Ms. Dubinsky's own international adoption story is a happy one. She and her partner Susan Belyea were told by social workers that they might encounter difficulties adopting in Canada as a same-sex couple, so she applied to Guatemala and was paired with Jordi. Throughout her research, she dreaded the possibility of discovering that her agency or lawyer was implicated in shady practices. She never did. "I know that no lines of illegality were crossed," she says. She met her son's birth mother, Hilda. She has a photo of the two saying a tearful goodbye. "You'd cry too if you lost me," Jordi told his mom which, she says, accurately summarizes "the emotions and the politics of adoption."

Read more:

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Becoming the Mother of a Teenager

Yes, its true. My oldest child is days away from official teenage-hood. She will be 13 in just a few days. Wow. This is bigger than was turning 40. The cogs in the wheel of time are cranking along, just as they always have- only I'm more aware of them these days.

What does a just-about-to-turn-13 year old girl want for her birthday?

This (which she got today from her sister and brother):

His name is Moo-Meister.

and this:

She learned to play guitar (using my acoustic) this year through her school's music program. The electric guitar has been on her wish list for several months. It came with an amp... and I hope I don't live to regret that fact! She's been playing piano for about 6 years, and she has an awesome ear, so at least we can expect the sounds coming out of the amp to be pretty good. Yikes.

What can I say? She's a pretty cool kid. She's musical, athletic, and will take on any challenge that interests her.

She also wants to make her own... get this... three-layer birthday cake for her party next Saturday! We've made a visit to Bulk Barn already to see what size pans we could rent, and she's decided to use both fondant and buttercream icing on the top. Here's the idea for the top layer:

SO, given that I am *not* anyway talented with cake decorating, this should be an interesting experience. My neighbour up the street is a professional cake decorator, so if we run into trouble, I can use the "call-a-friend" lifeline!

I'm really delighted and profoundly grateful that I have this child, becoming a young woman, who is so willing to take risks and just do things without hesitation.

The child teaches the parent, indeed.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Attention Scrapbookers! New Link

Here is a neat little blog that was recently started:

Check it out- and learn how to enter to win a "goody bag"!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

I made a YouTube video!

OK- so its not rocket science, but its the first time I've tried to put anything on YouTube.

This is a video clip taken by one of my students, showing me and my long-time field buddy and friend doing something we love; seabird field work on a rocky island in the northeastern Atlantic Ocean.

We catch the murres as part of a long-term, on-going research program to investigate factors that influence their reproductive success. After capture, the birds are banded, they are weighed and measured, and then we take a blood sample from them for DNA and hormonal analyses. They're set free after that, and it usually takes only a few minutes before they show up at their nest site on the rocky ledges. I'm sure its not all that much fun for the individual birds while they're being handled, but no one seems worse-off because of it. We've been catching murres for over 10 years now, and have long-term data on murres that we've come to know well over the years- lucky for us, murres use the same nest site every year.

There is no sound, because we wanted a clip to show in presentations and talk over. If you'd like to hear Common Murres, and what it sounds like to work in a seabird colony, click HERE. You'll be able to download a podcast from with recordings of murres from Tatoosh Island, off the coast of Washington state, USA.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Beyond Disturbing- Child Trafficking in China Article

This article recently appeared in the LA Times:

Read the related articles links, too.

Unbelievable. Not that I doubt the veracity of these stories... but unbelievable.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Republic of Doyle! Part 2

So, did you see it? NO!?! That's OK- you can watch the first episode online here.

What do you think?

I thought this: very entertaining, St. John's looks fantastic (what day last summer did they take those panoramics!?!), Sean McGinley needs a little more work on the townie accent (otherwise he's awesome), the interaction between Jake and the lady constable was too predictable, who knew Sean Majumder can actually keep a straight face?, the sets were really great, and this show has a lot of potential. OK....I have to say that Allan Hawco as Jake Doyle is pretty hot in a way that most women hate to acknowledge ;)

I'd like to know what non-Newfoundlanders think about it. I haven't looked for any CFA reviews yet. But it seems to me that this is NOT the kind of Newfoundland show that caters mainly to the sensibilities of people who come from here, unlike some others have in recent years. SO, I'm hoping it has broad appeal across the country. Time will tell, I guess.

Good work, people! I, for one, will be rushing the kids to bed and tuning in next Wednesday.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Republic of Doyle!

It starts tonight-the new CBC show called "Republic of Doyle". It's all filmed in St. John's, with a lot of Newfoundlanders as cast and crew. (In fact, my nephew will appear later in the season as an extra- he was cast as "hot guy in bar"- LOL!)
Check it out- 9:00 pm... 9:30 in Newfoundland.