Ever since I was in high school and watched a documentary about Romanian orphans, I knew I wanted to adopt a child. When my husband and I had been married about five years, we decided to start a family and international adoption was our first method of choice! After considering all the different countries that were open to international adoption, we settled on China.
While not necessarily hard, the international adoption process is quite involved and lengthy. For more information about how it works, consult the U.S. Department of State and reference their Intercountry Adoption website.
The short story is that after gathering a mountain of paperwork which had to be notarized, certified and authenticated, it was compiled into our official adoption dossier and submitted by our adoption agency to the Chinese Center for Adoption Affairs (CCAA) in Beijing. There, it was logged into the CCAA database. Finally, after a multitude of months of waiting, we received the referral of our daughter. We saw her face for the first time in a grainy black and white picture that was emailed to us by our agency. Two months later we were on way to Wuhan, China to become a family of three! On October 30, 2006 we became the happy, if somewhat overwhelmed, first-time parents to a the best little 11 month old daughter anyone could ever have hoped for! My husband and I will always agree that this is THE BEST decision we have ever made in our lives.
I’m a librarian by profession so naturally I passed the time while we were waiting, waiting, waiting by researching and reading everything I could get my hands on regarding China and Chinese adoption. And in the years since then I’ve also been reading everything I can find regarding trans-cultural and international adoption issues. So, just in case anyone out there reading this is in the process of adopting or is considering this most wonderful route to starting (or growing) your own family and you want to know more, I’ve compiled here some of the resources that I found the most helpful.
Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother by Xinran
From Booklist – “A gut-wrenching account of Chinese women forced to give up their daughters in the 1980s and 1990s because of China’s one child policy.”
Wanting a Daughter, Needing a Son: Abandonment, Adoption and Orphanage Care in China by Kay Ann Johnson
From the book – “Kay Johnson has done groundbreaking research on abandonment and adoption in China. In this book, Johnson untangles the complex interactions between these social practices and the government’s population policies. She also documents the many unintended consequences, including the overcrowding of orphanages that led China to begin international adoptions.”
The Lost Daughters of China: Adopted Girls, Their Journey to America, and the Search for a Missing Past by Karin Evans
From the book – “This book has served as an invaluable guide for thousands of readers as they navigated the process of adopting from China. Many of the first girls to be adopted from China are now in the teens (China only opened its doors to adoption in the 1990s), and this edition includes accounts of their experiences growing up in the US and, in some cases, of returning to China in search of their roots.”
Mother Bridge of Love by Xinran
This book shares its name with a London-based organization dedicated to promoting greater understanding of Chinese life and culture among adoptive families in the West. The text, credited to an anonymous adoptive mother, takes the form of a series of heartfelt, parallel musings about two women “who never knew each other” but who are central to a sprightly Chinese girl. “The first one gave you life; the second taught you to live it…. One found a home for you that she could not provide, the other prayed for a child; her hope was not denied.”
When You Were Born in China: A Memory Book for Children Adopted from China by Sara K. Dorow
A moving photo-essay that provides a child’s eye look at Chinese adoptions, helping to explain some of the whys and hows that have brought these children to their new families.