Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Adoptive parents more in tune than bio?

China needs to read this! However, I wish that they would have taken the time to include all adoptive families - including those headed by single parents. I have long believed that we are more in tune with our kids - we want them, we are invested, and from a resource standpoint we have to work harder to make our families. Frankly, I do think it is ridiculous that single or same-sex parents are not as capable as a "traditional" family, which quite frankly, exists only in the minds of those stuck in 1950's "Leave it to Beaver" re-runs....

NEW YORK - Adoptive parents invest more time and financial resources in their children than biological parents, according to a new national study challenging arguments that have been used to oppose same-sex marriage and gay adoption.

The study, published in the new issue of the American Sociological Review, found that couples who adopt spend more money on their children and invest more time on such activities as reading to them, eating together and talking with them about their problems.

“One of the reasons adoptive parents invest more is that they really want children, and they go to extraordinary means to have them,” Indiana University sociologist Brian Powell, one of the study’s three co-authors, said in a telephone interview Monday.

“Adoptive parents face a culture where, to many other people, adoption is not real parenthood,” Powell said. “What they’re trying to do is compensate. ... They recognize the barriers they face, and it sets the stage for them to be better parents.”

Powell and his colleagues examined data from 13,000 households with first-graders in the family. The data was part of a detailed survey called the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education and other agencies.

The researchers said 161 families in the survey were headed by two adoptive parents, and they rated better overall than families with biological parents on an array of criteria — including helping with homework, parental involvement in school, exposure to cultural activities and family attendance at religious services. The only category in which adoptive parents fared worse was the frequency of talking with parents of other children.

Alternative families may excel at parentingThe researchers noted that adoptive couples, in general, were older and wealthier than biological parents, but said the adoptive parents still had an advantage — albeit smaller — when the data was reanalyzed to account for income inequality.

In particular, the researchers said, adoptive parents had a pronounced edge over single-parent and stepparent families.

The researchers said their findings call into question the long-standing argument that children are best off with their biological parents. Such arguments were included in state Supreme Court rulings last year in New York and Washington that upheld laws against same-sex marriage.

The researchers said gay and lesbian parents may react to discrimination by taking extra, compensatory steps to promote their children’s welfare.

“Ironically, the same social context that creates struggles for these alternative families may also set the stage for them to excel in some measures of parenting,” the study concluded.

Different benefitsAn opponent of same-sex marriage, Peter Sprigg of the conservative Family Research Counsel, noted that the study focused on male/female adoptive couples, not on same-sex couples, and he questioned whether it shed any new light on adoptive parenting by gays.

Sprigg, the research council’s vice president for policy, said he warmly supports adoption, but believes it is best undertaken by married, heterosexual couples.

Adam Pertman, executive director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, welcomed the study’s findings, but cautioned against possibly exaggerated interpretations of it.

“It’s an affirmation that there are all sorts of families that are good for kids,” he said. “Adoptive parents aren’t less good or better. They just bring different benefits to the table. In terms of how families are formed, it should be a level playing field.”

The study was funded by the National Science Foundation, the Spencer Foundation and the American Educational Research Association. Powell’s co-authors were Laura Hamilton, a doctoral student at Indiana University, and Simon Cheng, a sociology professor at the University of Connecticut.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Hope for girls with autismlike disease

You can find the full text of the article here. A good friends daughter has Rett's, and this is welcome news indeed...

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

More on birthparents and international adoption

Started to look at Rainbow Kids, one of my favorite online adoption magazines, and what should appear, but an article on birthparents in international adoption. You can see it here.

Finding Birthparents in China

So, there has been a flurry of attention over the broadcast of a Dutch family who met a contact in China who helped to locate their daughters birth parents. A local TV show, called "Spoorloos" went to China and actually met the birth parents - and filmed the whole thing. You can view the video here. Just click on the orange box that says "bekijk" and it will launch the video. Of course, it's all in Dutch... so thanks to my friend Carel, here is an overview:

Apparently their daughter, Eline, started to ask questions why she looked different and who her "real" birth parents are, why they gave her away etc.

Her birth parents abandoned her as they didn't have the money to care for her (they already had a son - 17 and a daughter - 12). The camera team got in contact with a woman from the same region who offered to look for the birth parents. Her name is Joslyn and works for IBM and offered to go to the local press to start searching for Eline's birth parents (Newspaper etc.)It wasn't just luck.

"Spoorloos" traveled all the way to the province and to the village Eline was born. They finally found the parents (farmers). And they were willing to talk. Eline was their 3rd child. With the birth of their second child they were fined by the authorities, and are still not able to pay the fine. They were afraid that with the birth of their 3rd child they would receive an ever bigger fine.

To be 100% sure these people are the birth parents they did a DNA Test. And the results are positive. The Dutch family will travel to China in 2007 to meet the birth parents.

In addition, one of the webgroups that I'm a member of posted a translation. Here is what I have from that, starting at about the 30 minute mark in the program:

starts at 0:27:35
[designates location]
A-Father = Adoptive Father
A-Mother = Adoptive Mother
B-Father = Birth Father
B-Mother = Birth Mother
[in church] A church in Noord-Holland (province), a couple of weeks ago. We meet Eline. Eline is an altar girl and searching for her Chinese parents. For a couple of years now she has been asking her Dutch parents about her roots. Eline was born in the surroundings of Chongqing.

[Chongqing] Here she was abandoned shortly after her birth. The first months of her life she stayed with a Chinese foster family.

[garden] Then she is adopted by a Dutch couple. Eline grows up with Anneli. Anneli is 7 years old and she is from another part of China. She is also a foundling.

[dinner] The children form a family with their mother Wilma and their father Jim, who also has Asian blood.

A-Father: It's not very obvious that they are adoptive children in our case, so they mingle in and don't arouse questions of the public. Now and then there is a remark: you are Chinese, well, that's right.
Interviewer: Eline is now 10 years old, what kind of child is she?
A-Mother: She's a delightful child. On one hand she is a little insecure. She is a child who asks many questions about the past, about the why, why couldn't I stay there, why did I have to go, but on the other hand, she is avery inquisitive child, also a cautious person, but she does embrace people. That is very good; when she gives herself then she gives herself 100%.
[church] The two children are very content, but Eline repeatedly asks questions abouther past.
Interviewer: What kind of questions does she have?
A-Mother: Why did I have to go? Where are they? I don't have a picture of them, what will they look like? Did they love me? Why wasn't I allowed to stay there?
Interviewer: And she asked those questions of you?
A-Mother: Yes, mainly of me.
Interviewer: And what was your answer then?
A-Mother: I have always said: sweetheart, if you had stayed there, then they would have loved you enormously, because I can't imagine that they wouldn't have loved you. But we also explained to her that they could only have one child there and that the chances are that she has more brothers or sisters. Or that her parents were poor and if they have several children, it would not have been possible for you to stay with them.
Interviewer: How does she react to that?
A-Mother: She does understand, but you have been relinquished. It remains difficult. It is an answer, but deep in your heart you just want to be wanted.
[violin] Voiceover: Indirectly Jim and Wilma gain contact with a Chinese woman who comes from Chongqing, where Eline was abandoned. She spontaneously offers tos earch for the biological parents of Eline.
Interviewer: When this search succeeds, then one day you could come face to face with her Chinese parents. What will you say to them then?
A-Father: That's difficult. For one that we are happy that Eline is with us.There are some things that you can see from Eline, she's quite small, you have seen that, you will probably recognise that in her Chinese parents as well. And then we will see how the conversation develops. Then you have to start building a contact. What we will ask, we will decide at the time.These are the kind of things, you want to know what kind of people they are,to get an idea of how they live and for the rest we have to see how it develops.
A-Mother: And I think that I would say what a beautiful daughter they have.That they have a child to be very proud of.
Interviewer: Because?
A-Mother: Just how she is as a human being. How she is socially. You don't see that with all children.
Interviewer: When Eline was abandoned they left a note with her. You gavet hat to us. Could you read it to us?
A-Father: That's right, this is a photocopy of the original note. It's a translation by the way, it said.. (English)..
Eline: Hello mummy, where are you? Who are you? What's your name? Why did you leave me somewhere? Do you think I'm sweet? I miss you, do you miss me too? Greetings, Eline Kuiper, bye, I will miss you, bye, bye, I will stop, bye.

[violin/ballet] [Chongqing] Voiceover: We are in Chongqing, 2000 kilometre from Beijing. In Chongqing and the surroundings 32 million people live. Because of the neon lighting Chongqing looks like a modern western city at night. By daylight we meet Jocelyn. She was born and raised here and works as a project manager with IBM. Jocelyn managed to get the local media to pay attention to the story of Eline. A local journalist even wrote several articles about it. He did research and a couple of months ago he called Jocelyn with an amazing report.

[rural area] In these surroundings, far from the city, the journalist contacted a farmer and his wife. The man and woman claim that they are the father and mother of Eline. The farming couple is willing to talk to us, but not in their own surroundings.

[city] To abandon a child is of course a big taboo and that's why they would rather not be seen in their own surroundings with a camera team from the West.We invite the man and the woman to come to the centre of Chongqing. Here it doesn't attract so much attention if they have contact with us. We meet in a big hotel where there are a lot of Western businessmen. Father Wen and mother Ming have two children: a daughter of 17 years old anda daughter of 12 years old, Lu. She also comes. We go to a room on the top floor of the hotel. Here Wen and Ming can tell their story without disturbance.

B-Father: The child was born at home. And I cut the umbilical cord myself.
Interviewer: You didn't go to the hospital?
B-Father: No.
Interviewer: And there was also no family?
B-Father: No, none.
Interviewer: You did it all yourself?
B-Father: Yes. When I saw the baby girl, I found her to be very sweet. She had long fingers and long toes. And she looked around immediately. So Icould see her eyes. I bundled her up in cloths very well. We didn't want other people to know that she was born. We wanted to keep her for a while before relinquishing her.
[restaurant] Voiceover: The baby is the third child for this couple. After getting their second child, Lu, they had to pay a big fine a couple of years before, which they have still not been able to pay fully. Wen and Ming know that another fine is waiting for them. A fine that they can't possibly pay with their small income.
B-Mother: We wanted the child to find good fortune. We were not able to raise her. But in our heart we did want the child.
Interviewer: You abandoned the child at the police station?
B-Mother: Yes.
Interviewer: Did you see anyone picking the child up?
B-Mother: Yes, that's why we waited.
Interviewer: You didn't walk away immediately?
B-Mother: No.
Interviewer: Didn't anyone see you then?
B-Mother: No.
Interviewer: Were you alone, or together?
B-Mother: Together.We put her in a basket with a note with her birth date and some milk powder.
Interviewer: What kind of basket did you have?
B-Mother: A regular basket.We wrapped her things and clothing. And also a bottle of milk. We had to walk to the city. There was no bus. It was far and I had pain in my legs. I didn't know it was that far. But we didn't have much choice. We could hardly abandon her in our own village. Everybody knows us there. I remember that we walked to that place. I remember which place it was.

[rural area] Voiceover: Father Wen is willing to take us to the place where the baby was abandoned. We follow the road they walked ten years ago. It is hours of driving on dirt roads. We end up in a place that looks very different from the modern looking Chongqing. In the suburbs the locals go about their daily activities. There is hardly any traffic. Here and there products are being sold. Chinese people who seem to have nothing to do, give in to another pass time: gambling.We drive to the centre. At the father's request we film as inconspicuously as possible.Then we reach the police station where the child was abandoned. Father Wen asks us to stay seated in the car. We are at the spot where Eline was possibly abandoned 10 years ago. But are these really her biological parents whom we have found? The answer to that question comes from Amsterdam.

Voiceover In this laboratory a DNA test has been carried out at request. The saliva of the Chinese couple is thoroughly analysed and compared with the saliva of Eline. From the results of this research, it will become apparent whether Eline is indeed the first Chinese foundling who can be put in touch with her biological parents. The research will take a couple of weeks.

[violin] The result of the research is known now. The story of father Wen and mother Ming is true. They are the biological parents of Eline.

B-Mother: What happiness! It's really a miracle that she ended up there.
B-Father: She is beautiful. She must have fallen on her feet.We must be very grateful to her parents for what they have done. I just hope that Eline does not blame us. I feel terribly guilty.
B-Mother: I hope we will be forgiven. I really hope that.
A-Mother: I have always told her the story as they are telling it themselves now. My feelings always told me that it was this way.
Interviewer: They feel guilty.
A-Mother: They don't have to. They couldn't have done anything else I think.
Interviewer: They are also grateful to you.
A-Mother: They also don't have to be.
A-Father: We now have a beautiful daughter.
A-Mother: What is gratitude? Do the children have to be thankful to us? That they ended up here? Maybe she rather would have stayed there. But you can't turn back time. And we are trying to give her a future here.
Interviewer: They see that too, don't they?
A-Mother: Yes.
Eline: I miss you so, I really do. But I really have to stop now, because I have to go to sleep now. I would have had to do the same if I had stayed with you. Bye bye, and good night. Greetings, Eline.

[text] In the meantime Eline and her sister have watched the images from China.They understood what had happened.The Chinese parents want to meet Eline and her Dutch family very much. Jim and Wilma are planning to go to China with the children this year.

And, I have now found out there is a YG dedicated to searching for birthparents...


Well, my paperwork is still at the Chinese Consulate being authenticated. That is where the Chinese make sure that the Secretary of State seals on the documents are valid. The SoS seals validate that the notary seals on the documents are valid. The Notary seals validate that I was actually the person making my signature. I love process.

But - since my paperwork is still there, it won't be in China before Chinese New Year. This is a huge set back. That means that they may receive my dossier in the next 1-2 weeks, but they won't log it in with a LID (Log In Date) until 2-4 weeks after they receive it - and that could be as late as mid-March. Which means that I won't be travelling in May as we had hoped. I hopefully will travel in June - but it could be as late as July!!! YIKES! This is a huge disappointment, but there isn't much we can do about it all... I'm just going to roll with this one.