Sunday, August 30, 2009

Too Much Culture?

I just read an interesting article published in the Boston Globe by Mei-Ling Hopgood, author of Lucky Girl here. In the article titled “Another country, not my own”, Hopgood discusses whether interracial families can be pushing too much culture. She says:

Yet I worry that some parents are now taking things too far: Going to extremes to idealize the native culture might be as damaging to an adoptee as ignoring it. Asian-American activists have for decades fought the idea that you are born with a culture - that if you look Asian, you must eat with chopsticks, wear different clothing, speak a different language; that you are different and thereby less American. Parents, to some extent, are asking children to conform to those expectations. And without adequate acknowledgement of the reality that actually is - their experience in America - I suspect that children might have an even harder time figuring out where they belong.

She goes on to say:

But focusing on a museum view of culture can ignore - or become a way to ignore - the reality of life as a racial minority in America.

And finally:

This is a danger, I think, in presenting the birth country and family in an overly romantic way, and in raising a child’s expectations that they will and should fit in. Adoptees can end up feeling bad not only because they don’t fit in, but because they disappoint their parents.

How much culture are you giving your children? Is it more than the “museum view of culture”? Are there better ways to celebrate who they are and also help them deal with racism as an Asian American? Do you also share other cultures with you children?

Karen Maunu

Hope and Healing for Children in Need

Friday, August 28, 2009

Photo of the Week - Baby Ruby

This baby is Ruby, a precious gem, and she is absolutely precious! She was found abandoned in a cardboard box and wrapped in a blanket. Along with her was a package of formula, a small bottle and a birth note stating the date of her birth—obviously someone loved this child very much. Ruby is healthy except for the teratoma she has at the base of her spine. This needs to be removed as soon as possible. Currently, she is waiting on our website for funding and will be moved for surgery as soon as her funding is received. Please keep baby Ruby in your thoughts and prayers!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Living a Life of Kindness

Today I was driving in my car listening to the radio, and the host was asking people for little ways to bring sunshine into another person’s life. The people who phoned in had such great ideas that I decided to look for a list as a reminder of how easy it is to add kindness to your daily life.

Here’s a list I found of 100 ways to spread cheer. Let us know your favorites or what special little things you do personally to be a love letter to the world.

• Call an old friend, just to say you are thinking of them.
• Hold the door open for people at a store.
• Invite someone to have lunch.
• Compliment someone on his or her appearance.
• Ask a coworker for their opinion on a project.
• Bring cookies to share at work.
• Let someone cut in during rush hour traffic.
• Leave a waitress or waiter an extra few dollars with your tip.
• Tell a cashier to have a nice day.
• Call your parents.
• Let someone know you miss them.
• Treat someone to a movie.
• Let a person know you really appreciate them.
• Visit a retirement center.
• Take a child to the zoo.
• Fill up your spouse's car with gas.
• Surprise someone with a small gift.
• Leave a thank-you note for the cleaning staff at work.
• Write a letter to a distant relative.
• Tell someone you thought about them the other day.
• Put a quarter in a stranger's parking meter before the time expires.
• Bake a cake or cookies for a neighbor.
• Send someone flowers to where they work.
• Invite a friend to have coffee.
• Recommend a good book to someone.
• Donate clothing to a charity.
• Offer an elderly person a ride to where they need to go.
• Bag your own groceries at the checkout counter.
• Give blood.
• Offer free baby-sitting to a friend who's really busy or just needs a break.
• Help your neighbor rake leaves or shovel snow.
• Offer your seat to someone when there aren't any left.
• Help someone with a heavy load.
• Ask to see a store's manager and comment on the great service.
• Give your place in line at the grocery store to someone who has only a few items.
• Hug someone in your family for no reason.
• Wave to a child in the car next to you.
• Send a thank-you note to your doctor.
• Repeat something nice you heard about someone else.
• Leave a joke on someone's answering machine.
• Be a mentor or coach to someone.
• Forgive a loan.
• Fill up the copier machine with paper after you're done using it.
• Tell someone you believe in them.
• Share your umbrella on a rainy day.
• Welcome new neighbors with flowers or a plant.
• Offer to watch a friend's home while they're away.
• Ask someone if they need you to pick up anything while you're out shopping.
• Ask a child to play a board game, and let them win.
• Ask an elderly person to tell you about the good old days.
• During bad weather, plan an indoor picnic with the family.
• Buy someone a goldfish and bowl.
• Compliment someone on their cooking and politely ask for a second helping.
• Dance with someone who hasn't been asked.
• Tell someone you mentioned them in your prayers.
• Give children's clothes to another family when your kids outgrow them.
• Deliver extra vegetables from your garden to the whole neighborhood.
• Call someone just to say, I love you.
• Call someone's attention to a rainbow or beautiful sunset.
• Invite someone to go bowling.
• Figure out someone's half-birthday by adding 182 days, and give them a cake.
• Ask someone about their children.
• Tell someone which quality you like most about them.
• Brush the snow off of the car next to yours.
• Return your shopping cart to the front of the store.
• Encourage someone's dream, no matter how big or small it is.
• Pay for a stranger's cup of coffee without them knowing it.
• Leave a love letter where your partner will find it.
• Ask an older person for their advice.
• Offer to take care of someone's pet while they're away.
• Tell a child you're proud of them.
• Visit a sick person, or send them a care package.
• Join a Big Brother or Sister program.
• Leave a piece of candy on a coworker's desk.
• Bring your child to work with you for the afternoon.
• Give someone a recording of their favorite music.
• Email a friend some information about a topic they are especially interested in.
• Give someone a homemade gift.
• Write a poem for someone.
• Bake some cookies for your local fire or police department.
• Organize a neighborhood cleanup and have a barbecue afterwards.
• Help a child build a birdhouse or similar project.
• Check in on an old person, just to see if they're okay.
• Ask for the recipe after you eat over at someone's house.
• Personally welcome a new employee at work and offer to take them out for lunch.
• While in a car, ask everyone to buckle up because they are important to you.
• Let someone else eat the last slice of cake or pizza.
• Stop and buy a drink from a kid's lemonade stand.
• Forgive someone when they apologize.
• Wave to someone looking for a parking space when you're about to leave a shopping center.
• Send a copy of an old photograph to a childhood friend.
• Leave a pint of your spouse's favorite flavor of ice cream in the freezer with a bow on it.
• Do a household chore that is usually done by someone else in the family.
• Be especially happy for someone when they tell you their good news.
• Compliment a coworker on their role in a successful project.
• Give your spouse a spontaneous back rub at the end of the day.
• Serve someone in your family breakfast in bed.
• Ask someone if they've lost weight.
• Make a donation to a charity in someone's honor.
• Take a child to a ballgame.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Identity - Who Am I?

Over the last two weeks we have celebrated two different milestones with our daughters. One of my daughters celebrated her family day and the other celebrated her birthday. These two milestones have spurred many discussions about birth parents, China, their orphanages, and adoption. They are at a point in their cognitive development that our discussions have incredible depth.

Wanting to understand and help my daughters deal with these issues, I began a search for articles on identity. I found a really interesting article called “Anticipated Times of Identity Sensitivity” here. Looking back on our most intense discussions on birthparents, adoption and family, I can fit these conversations into one of these categories. This list will be helpful to me in the future as other discussions come up.

In addition to this list, I found one of the most complete blog articles on issues surrounding Adopted Asian Americans here. This article is really long but covers many topics including historical/sociological background, questions on legal status of orphans, how adoptive parents deal with racial differences, and cultural and identity issues faced by Asian adoptees. I found this article extremely insightful on so many levels. I was happy to read the statement saying that “research is emerging that suggests that Asian Americans who straddle diverse sets of cultures are happier and report less stress and anxiety when they create their own definitions for fitting in and actively shaping their own identity…”

Have you found certain times that your children deal with identity issues? How have you handled them? How are you dealing with your children’s racial differences? Do you see yourself parenting your children to be “normal” but white centered? Are you educating your children on Asian American issues?

Karen Maunu

Hope and Healing for Children in Need

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Happy Birthday LWB!

We must never underestimate the importance of one moment, one word, one deed in the life of another human being. – Erwin McManus

This week, LWB is celebrating our sixth anniversary of helping children in China. When I close my eyes and think of all the children whose lives we have touched, all the volunteers who have given their time, all the supporters who have donated essential funds, all the families who have opened their hearts to adoption…..I am filled with both awe and the deepest gratitude.

The reality is that six years ago, I didn’t have a clue about what was involved with running a charity in another country. I didn’t know what it took to open a school, or start a foster care program, or set up a medical mission. I knew nothing about 990s, or foreign relations, or negotiating hospital contracts. All I knew was that I had walked into an orphanage in 2003 and had my heart broken by the number of children living in such need. All I knew was that my own life was blessed with the joy of family and love, while millions of children around the world were living as orphans. And once I realized the enormity of what being orphaned really meant to a child, there was no way to go back to life as I had known it. And so my friends and I stepped out in faith to make a difference in their lives and never could have dreamed of where we would be today.

While I can now say that I do know about running a company, building a healing home, arranging for surgeries, and the hazards of trying to send a container ship to China (don’t do it), my heart feels the exact same way it did on the day I walked into my first orphanage. Today, while I open my full pantry, while I snuggle with my kids to read them a story, while I wake up feeling that life is filled with possibilities…..children are being abandoned, children are going hungry, children are waking up sick and alone. But what I have learned with absolute certainty over the last six years is that we can help them. We can change their future, by reaching out with action to show them just how important their lives are. I believe nothing is impossible when love is involved.

So thank you, on behalf of everyone at LWB, for helping us over the last six years to change the lives of thousands of children in need. We have known great joys, deep sadness, real frustrations, true miracles. I know our lives have been changed as much as the children’s. It is my hope that until every child around the world has at least one person who believes in them, that LWB can continue doing its small part to change the lives of those in China. As Martin Luther King, Jr once wisely said, “take the first step in faith, even if you never get to see the whole staircase.” Until every child knows love, we’ll just keep climbing.

Amy Eldridge
Executive Director

Photo of the Week - Happy 1st Birthday Landri!

First birthdays are always so much fun! In our Anhui Cleft Healing Homes, they are no different. Landri just celebrated her first birthday with cake and presents. What a first year she has had, the traditional ones including crawling and walking, but Landri was also fortunate to have her cleft lip repaired. Now she has the most beautiful smile (buried underneath that icing). Hopefully her second birthday will be spent with her own family!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Role Models

Experts in transracial adoption frequently tell adoptive parents that one of the most important things they can do is to surround their children with people from their same racial heritage. We are told to find role models, so that our children are not growing up completely separated from their birth culture.

I want this for both of my children, as I agree it is very important. However, recently I was speaking with a friend about how to exactly go about doing this, especially in our town which is predominantly white. We both admitted that it feels somehow “wrong” to be actively searching out Asian people to befriend based on their race. My friend said that she understood completely that her daughter needs Chinese people in her life, but she still felt uncomfortable with the thought of walking up to a stranger simply because they are Asian and saying, “hi, do you want to be my friend?”

So my question for those of you who have successfully done this is HOW did you do it? Were there local resources you used to help find mentors? Were the people you approached understanding about what you were hoping for? Have you used college communities to search for role models? Thanks for any and all advice you can share.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Lucky Girl

I just finished reading Lucky Girl by Mei-Ling Hopgood and really enjoyed it. As an adoptive parent, reading experiences of adult adoptees helps me gain the adoptee’s perspective.

It is the memoir of a Taiwanese girl adopted at 8 months old (in 1974) by a family in Michigan who went on to adopt two sons from Korea. She is contacted through the hospital that arranged her adoption to tell her that her birth family wants to contact her. She
has 6 biological sisters and a brother adopted by the birth parents, 5 sisters live with the birth family, the other sister was adopted by a family in Switzerland.

The story is of her multiple trips to Taiwan and getting to know her birth family and Swiss sister. Her Korean brothers also get to go back to Korea.

All in all, it is an interesting insight into the mind of an adoptee. She doesn't seem to have the longing for her birth family as some adoptees do, but finds the similarities and differences with her sisters self affirming. She credits her comfort in her adoptive family to the fact that adoption was always considered a fact of who she was and never hidden or disrespected.

If you’ve read this book, what part of her experience made an impact with you?

Nancy Williams

Nancy Williams is the Human Resources Assoicate Director for Love Without Boundaries. She lives in Cleveland, OH area with her husband, Reese, and two daughters, Elizabeth age 7, and Sarah, age 5, both adopted from Guangdong Province.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Photo of the Week - School Fun!

Children everywhere love going to Preschool and Kindergarten. It is no different to the children in our orphanage Believe in Me Schools. We are so grateful to Hope's Heart Foundation for helping to make the Jinjiang, Fujian orphanage school a reality. Everyday, children get to experience the wonder of school. Don't you just love the joy on their faces?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Back to School Anxiety

My kids have all been talking about school starting. As much as they are so excited to go back, there is also some anxiety related to the start of school every year. This year is no exception.

I found a couple of great articles that have some great ideas on how to ease the transition into school. The first one is here by Dr. Daniel Klein. He has some great ideas, including talking about back to school fears, creating a calendar, visiting the classroom and teacher, talking to your child about friendships, and beginning the back to school routine early.

With adopted children, back to school anxiety can be especially hard, especially when trauma is involved. Anxiety can be increased, especially during life transitions. This wonderful article by Becky Wilson link discusses these issues and gives some great suggestions. Taking your child’s anxiety seriously, communicating with your child’s teacher and openly talking about fears are the suggestions that this article gives.

What has your family done to make the school transition in the fall go more smoothly?

Karen Maunu

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Primal Wounds?

When a child joins a family through adoption, there is much joy surrounding this event. With each of our daughters’ adoptions, I can’t think about these events without getting teary eyed. What a gift our family was given on these days. We are so lucky to be able to parent these exceptional children.

Earlier this summer, I heard a great sermon on adoption at church. The summary of the sermon was that adoption is a joyous and wonderful event, but to get to that point, some sort of hurt was caused for the adoption to occur. As a Christian, this is adoption into Christ’s family through his crucifixtion, in terms of adoption in our world, it was the event that led to the point that adoption was the best answer.

This past week, I read one of the most heart-wrenching letters. It was a letter from an adult woman to her birth mother on her abandonment here. As I read this letter, I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of letter my own children might regarding their circumstances. The hurt that this woman felt really touched me deeply.

How much do you talk with your children about their life before they joined you? Do you evern mention the reasons or possible reasons for the events that happened before they joined you? How do you feel about the "primal wound" idea that children who are placed for adoption have an inner hurt that might be with them always? What can we do as adoptive parents to help our children come to the best terms with their adoption?

Karen Maunu

Friday, August 7, 2009

Photo of the Week - Casting Time!

This is beautiful Janie. She has club feet, but is getting casting using the Ponseti method. We have sent her to the new casting facility at an Orphan's Wish in Guilin. Here she is having her feet slowly straightened. Don't you just love that smile?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Starting July 1,2009, the US Consular General in China issued new rules regarding TB testing of all immigrants, including newly adopted children. The new rules can be viewed here.

We have learned of a family in Guangzhou dealing with these new rules, doing all we can to help this family. You can read their story on their blog.

Did you know of these new rules? Are they fair? Are the risks with a child with active TB worth splitting up a new family? We would love your thoughts.