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International Adoption - China

Why I Chose China

by Debi Strong of ChinaSprout

 

UPDATE: After reading my original article, "Why We Chose China," I had to chuckle a bit. All the information is true, but as I look back now to that time, and to the first two post-adoption years, 2000 and 2001, I have to admit that they were years colored by sleep-deprivation and frustration. At the time that I wrote that article, my husband and I were still running on fumes and believing that at any moment everything would be wonderful again. But it took awhile, to be honest (don't worry...there's still a very happy ending).

When we first brought Xiaoxiao home, we noticed that she did not seem to know how to eat. She could only drink from a bottle. At 10 months old that was unusual, since all the other kids we saw around that age were eating everything in sight, e.g. Cheerios, scrambled egg bits, peas, baby food, etc. Soon enough we realized that she had no idea how to process food from the front of her mouth to the back, which meant that everything we tried to feed her was either gagged up or projectile vomited across the room!! (If you want all the gory details, I wrote an article in Adoption Today magazine about this issue, its causes and solutions, in 2001.) Also, she didn't sleep at night, and due to problems with a variety of respiratory viruses, culminating in pneumonia, the situation did not improve (we couldn't let her cry herself to sleep because it made her sicker...). For a very long time, we were all walking zombies and, as my older daughter has commented, we were grouchy and mean!

However, to make a long story short, by late 2001, she was eating just fine, much healthier, and finally learning to sleep through the night, and as a result we were a much happier family. Since then, it has only gotten better! So here's the happy continuation, as opposed to the ending, of our story:

In September, 2001, we moved to a small town in northwest Montana to get away from the resort mentality of Vail, Colorado. We wanted to raise Xiaoxiao in a smaller community that felt more like "family" than "superglitz." I had done some research before we moved to make sure that she would not be the only Chinese child in the area, and was pleased to find that the county we were moving to had over 60 Chinese adoptees at that time (now there are over 100, and more families are in the international adoption process right now). So the area is becoming increasingly diverse, and we have only encountered positive attitudes with respect to adoption.

Right now, Xiaoxiao is finishing up a stellar year at kindergarten. She is a very dedicated gymnastics student, spends most of her free time at home creating fantastic art projects, loves nature (especially bugs and butterflies), and is incredibly joy-filled. And she eats and sleeps very well! We are SO proud of her, and she has truly been adopted by the entire town! Everywhere we go, someone says, "Hi Xiaoxiao!" It's a very nice feeling.

[As a note: we had originally named her Brenna Xiaoxiao, figuring that around adolescence she would probably choose to use her Chinese given name. But as soon as she could talk well enough to express her opinion, which was pretty early on, she made it clear that she preferred to be called Xiaoxiao. Although it's a constant challenge to get people to pronounce it correctly (we tell them, "Show-show, as in 'shower'..."), it's a small price to pay for her happiness, and I am proud that she feels strong enough already to be proud of being unique! And as of late, she has decided to write her name on her schoolwork in Chinese, which I had taught her some time ago. Luckily, she has a teacher who thinks this is marvelous and doesn't mind at all.]

I am still doing my best to keep her aware of Chinese culture and teach her some Mandarin, through videos, CD-roms, and a few local Chinese friends. However, I am finding that in order for her to really learn Mandarin, I am going to have to find a solution outside of the area, e.g. language camps, travel, and the like. I am still determined that Xiaoxiao be truly comfortable in both cultures and languages if it is at all possible (wish me luck!!). We are also considering that this may be the year for our first return trip to China, as she has been increasingly insistent about checking out her country of origin ("When exactly are we going to visit China?" has become a new mantra...).

So that's the update, for now. Adoption from China continues to be the best thing my husband and I have ever done. We are blessed with an incredibly wonderful child who brings new adventures, different perspectives, and lots of surprises into our lives on a regular basis. We are grateful for every bit!

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Debi Strong is the editor of ChinaSprout. ChinaSprout offers the broadest and most diverse selection of Chinese educational and cultural products on the Internet.


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