A Day for Writers 2019 - Presenters and Registration form

Sylva, NC, August 24, 2019,

C. Hope Clark, Joseph Bathanti, David Joy, Karen Holmes, Carol Crawford, Pat Vestal, Katie Winkler, Meagan Lucas

9:00 - 4:30, fee includes lunch, coffee, drinks and pastries
Copy registration form and mail with check or money order to:
NCWN-West, % Glenda Beall,
PO Box 843, Hayesville, NC 28904

Register online at www.ncwriters.org before August 19.

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A Day for Writers 2019

A Day for Writers 2019 Registration Form

Showing posts with label China. Show all posts
Showing posts with label China. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

From China With Love

By JC Walkup
Photo: Polly McDowell and her adoped granddaughter, Mia

Lorraine and Steve Griffith of Asheville had an empty nest. Echos of their departed brood didn’t fill their hearts and they couldn’t put their arms around memories. The Lost Daughters of China, a book by Karin Evans, started them on a journey to end their emptiness. Girl babies in China are viewed as burdens not as blessings.
“For parents, having a son was simply the age-old Chinese version of a modern social security system.” –The Lost Daughters of China” by Karin Evans. This social attitude coupled with the government policy of limiting families to two children each implemented in 1980 resulted in baby girls available for adoption by the thousands. One of those, Tian Michelle-Meng, would fill the hole in the Griffith’s life.

It was eleven months from the time they made the first application until they were handed their beautiful baby girl in Kunming, China.
Polly McDowell of Waynesville says that her son, Patrick’s and daughter-in-law, Sherri’s adoption experience was similar to Steve and Loraine’s. Polly is the grandmother of a lovely, bright seven and a half year old Chinese girl named Mia Katherine McDowell. “Being a grandmother is a matter of the heart, not of biology,” says Polly. Sherri heard about the plight of China’s girls from her co-workers at Mission Hospital in Asheville who also went through the adoption process. Polly feels that there has been a tug all her life toward things Chinese. At six years old her mother took her to Asheville to a movie theatre where they had balcony seats. Because a cousin once told her that if you dig deep enough, you will reach China, she looked at all the people below the balcony and thought they must be in China. That thread of interest in things Chinese grew with her into adulthood. Her house holds many things Chinese that she has gathered throughout her life. When her son announced that they were adopting a girl from China, Polly’s first thought was, “I’ll be a Chinese grandmother!”
The hurdles to application, interviews, fees and final certifications were hurdles cleared one by tedious one. A snag for Steve and Loraine was his occupation as ‘writer’. His visa was red flagged and the Chinese government stopped the creeping progression toward adoption. Eventually, they were able to reach a compromise. After he agreed to sign an agreement not to write about his experiences in China, officialdom allowed the process to restart. Two weeks before their planned departure date, they were informed that in addition to the thousands in fees already paid, they would need an additional $3,000.00 in ‘gift’ and travel money! Steve sold his CD collection to friends as one of the ways they met this unexpected requirement.
Loraine, Steve’s wife, kept a ‘blog’ – an online diary of their experiences to share with friends. Through pictures and words she showed the beauty of China and the build up of excitement toward the moment they had Tian in their arms through the journey home and of their adjustments to each other. The Griffiths traveled for 24 hours with three other couples to the city of Kunming to complete the adoption process. They were delivered to their hotel and told they had an hour to recover from their jet lag and freshen up before the arrival of their baby. Dream- about-to-be-reality charged them with adrenalin. In just over an hour eleven month old Tian was in their arms. There she became Steve and Loraine’s daughter but she was not yet an American citizen. For that they flew to Guangzhou for a swearing in ceremony in the American Consulate that made her an American citizen.
The process has changed significantly in the past five years. When Karin Evans wrote her book about the adoptions of thousands of China’s daughters, the prospective parents did not always receive even pictures of the child. Vital statistics were often sketchy. The time from application to receiving the daughter chosen by the Chinese adoption agency was about two years, now it is one year or less. Unchanged are the costs, the extensive interviews and careful scrutiny used to match children to parents. The identity and background of birth parents is still not available.

Severe overpopulation drove the government to enforce a law passed in 1980 against more than two children per household. Heavy fines are imposed on parents who break the law. Because children traditionally support their elders, the desire is for a son who can provide better care for his mother and father in their old age. This attitude is not as pervasive in the cities now, but in the countryside it is still prevalent. Ironically, there are legal penalties as well as social censures for abandoning unwanted baby girls. Loraine Griffith prefers the term ‘exposure’ to abandonment since it connotes knowledge in the mother that the baby will be found and cared. Commonly, the babies are left close to busy intersections. An ad in the newspaper is run for three months before the baby is officially available for adoption. Steve and Loraine actually saw the ad place for Tian. They explained to their facilitator that they wanted to locate the spot where Tian was exposed. It was a busy area. Lorrraine says of it, “Our daughter was found at the gate of a poor, impoverished neighborhood….It was such a busy place. She wasn’t hidden; she was left to be found…It was this visit to the finding place that made the whole life story of Tian real to me. She didn’t begin at the civil affairs office on ‘gotcha day’. Tian’s story began on February 15 (2004) when she was born and then left to be found…I am so thankful that God knew where she was that February day and that He knew where we were in the adoption process and then He finished the work on our Forever Family day, January 26th, 2005.”
In the same book Mrs. Evans points out that the suicide rate among Chinese women is the highest in the world. Their position in society is still not on a par with Western women but it is improving. Someday the Chinese may come to regret their liberal foreign adoption policies. On the other hand, there are many beloved daughters there but few receive the education and opportunities that boys are offered. Susan Lantis from Alabama accepted a position as an English instructor at the university level in China. She said in a phone interview that her classes were comprised of mostly males, but that the few girls who were there were bright and worked at high levels.
How do the Chinese people feel about American adoptions of their daughters? Lorraine noticed that people stared and talked about them wherever they went so asked that question of their Chinese facilitator, Xiu Lan, who answered, “…There is great shame in abandoning your child and most people cannot understand why people would do it. This is our shame, but the children are so beautiful the people can’t stop looking. And the people are extremely happy that the exposed babies will have a good life.”
In a country where women were not permitted to own property until 1950 and many thousands can still remember the Cultural Revolution that dislocated many families and produced a generation that never saw the inside of a classroom, there will be progress for those exposed to foreign lands and different attitudes. Only time will tell what the influence these adopted children will have on their home country.

JC Walkup is an active published writer who lives in Canton, NC. Her articles and short stories have appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines. She is a member of Mountain Writers in Waynesville, NC