In a Grocery Store A Quarterly Newsletter on FOI Adoptions from China Fall 2001
Beth VanSickle of Paris, Ontario, adopted Emilee in November 1998. She travelled in a group of 16 families who keep in touch
through a monthly newsletter that each family prepares in turn.
She gave us permission to publish her June 20001 newsletter here.
he other day, in a grocery store, we saw a We made an emergency flight to Vancouver in
little Chinese girl shopping with her mom. February to visit my dying nephew one last time, so
Emilee and this little girl were quite Emilee had her first plane ride that she remembers.
interested in each other and a lot of staring She didn’t mind and she was very cooperative, but she
was happening on both sides. Finally I said to Emilee likes to sleep in her own bed, so she doesn’t want to China Adoption
‘why, She’s Chinese like you are.’ Emilee replied ‘Yes, try to do that again any time soon.
but I’m not that Chinese!’ So our girls start their lives – Sometime in the last year, I printed off some pictures
Chinese but not that Chinese. is a publication
of Emilee’s orphanage from the Lanxi website, and e- of
The time has flown by, hasn’t it. The last two and a half mailed the woman who had posted them. Turns out
years a flurry of all the sweetness of life – sticky jam she was in China two or three weeks before we were
and adopted her 18 month old from the same Outreach
kisses, training wheels, dozens of trips to the park,
Calillou and Arthur videos, a little helper for cooking, a orphanage we did (Lanxi). She had sent a camera International
sleepy warm body cuddling with me in a rocking chair. ahead and had actual pictures of her daughter in the Ottawa ON
I am in awe of how children grow and change, and orphanage – I got copies and I’m sure Lianna is in (613)789-
develop their own personalities, blended with aspects some of them. It was one of those spooky moments 8677
of ours. My Emilee is much tidier than her mommy. when you realize that there are ties out there for our foi@ottawa
She has a keenly developed sense of humour and she is girls to dozens of others, not just our group. com
an excellent negotiator.
We watched the video
She has not worn we took while in
more than 3 dresses Chine, and Emilee
Issue No 17
in public since she was so interested in
turned 2 last year herself as a baby. It Printed
(dashed are my was very cool to see December 2001
dreams of making fril- the babies arriving
ly dresses for my again – it happened
grateful daughter!) We so fast, and our lives
have a great selection have been forever
of T-shirts, shorts, It's generally ac-
changed by those
jeans and sweatshirts cepted that folding
moments in time.
– shades of China – began sometime in the
every day it’s a lay-
She says to me, ‘I’m first century AD in China,
ered look with one or
going to live with you where people discovered the
two of each item. She
forever, except if enjoyment of folding paper into
went through a phase
you’re very bad, I’ll go various shapes and forms. Many of the
of wearing 3 T-shirts
live with Lala (Linda) early methods have survived to this day as basic folding shapes and moves.
or Mary Joan (another
and peeling them off
good friend). Some seven hundred years after its start in China, the art became popular in Japan where it melded with
Seven of the families get together for the third adoption anniversary.
Emilee, Lianna, Tian, Susannah & Emilee’s sister, Sophie the culture and religion at the time. Soon the Shinto religion integrated various “origami” (“ori” means
out the day. Kyra, Kayleigh & Emma
So I’ll try to be very, folding, “gami” means paper) shapes and creations in their ceremonies where they remain until this day.
Emilee loves to sing, and we do so all the time – “Origami” became the popular term by which Europeans came to refer to oriental paper folding.
songs she’s learned and ones she’s “adapted” to fit
Linda and her family are well. She sends her hellos, too. In times past paper was expensive and rare, so paper folding was a hobby for the rich. As paper became
the activities of the moment. She has friends of all cheap and available, more people began to enjoy paper
ages everywhere she goes. We got a “class picture” I have seen some of you this past year, but not often folding as an art form and as a craft.
from the preschool she attends two mornings a enough. There’s a play group that meets once a month in
week (it’s a the school where I work – I’m so lucky!) Cambridge (20 minutes away) but we’ve only been once – The photo above shows a pair of elaborate paper folded
And she could name all but one of the other 23 something’s always come up! We’ll keep trying! swans of a type that might be used as decorations for a
students and teachers. She’s cautious – she wedding (swans are thought to mate for life).
Please come and visit Emilee and I in the prettiest little
watches an activity for a long time before she joins town in Ontario! Zhu Peijun, who many of you have met in Beijing,
in, but then she’s wholehearted in her participation. volunteered to fold enough cranes to satisfy the
Recently she has started talking about having to do Until then, take care, and may your lives be filled with love
distribution of this issue of the newsletter. The crane is the
her “homework” – usually drawing circles and lines and laughter.
same figure you might have folded yourself in grade
Beth and Emilee
on copious amounts of paper. school.
Journey to Our Children Double Trouble The Children’s Stories
Patti & Robert McGhie of Oakville, ON adopted Lily on the
October trip. Patti offered her reflections on her trip to
On Sunday, October 7, our large group, comprising
singles and couples, including those who had
Jim Beattie and Eunice Dong of Toronto split from
the main group and travelled to Wuhan to receive
their twin daughters
As Eunice and I reflect on our recent
Wuhan trip to receive our phenomenal twin
There were six children on this trip. We asked the older
children to give us their impressions of the trip. Two stories
were contributed by
Liia, 11, of Oshawa, who travelled with her parents, Judy &
Alan Tamm, and by,
Abel (16) & Marline (11) who accompanied their parents,
Val & Jerry Penner of Winkler, MB.
adopted before and those who had embarked on daughters, Madison Margaret (Da Shuang) Liia’s story
this amazing journey for the first time, as well as at and Chynna Mei (Xiao Shuang), we can’t
least six children and other assorted family help but smile with complete joy and total I thought China was really interesting. The people in
members, arrived at the Gloria Hotel in Nanchang. the group were nice. While we were in China I had
Chynna relief that the sheer overwhelming nature of
Tara bought a lot of stuff. I bought a silk shirt, an art set,
It was misty and close to dinnertime; the hotel the trip was so successfully completed. candy and two purses.
lobby was spectacular, with sky murals overhead This wonderful journey and its expected
and marble everywhere we looked, but we were so emotional roller coaster truly came to Mostly every morning we would have to get up early to
excited, we could barely eat, or devote much fruition in mid August when Bob Stevens of get breakfast and to make it to the lobby of the hotel so
attention to admiring the facilities. Fifteen babies that we could go sightseeing. Near the beginning of
Monday, 26 November, 2001 FOI informed us that our proposal from the
and their foster mothers were on their way to the our trip in Shanghai we went and saw Shanghai
CCAA had arrived and we were indeed Theadora harbour during the day and night. Then, a few days
Timmins Families Turn to China for hotel to be united with their forever families that Madison offered twin daughters! What a shock...be after when we got to Beijing we went to Silk Alley, the
Adoption of 'Polar Panda' Kids evening! We had navigated the complex sea of careful what you ask for! Within the week Temple of Heaven, the Summer Palace, the Great Wall
Charlotte and Clark [MacFarlane] … who adopted their paperwork, achieved the seemingly impossible and our social worker Michael Blugerman and the Lama Temple. Last, but not least, some of the
first child, Hannah, from China more than two years go survived the long wait with our sanity intact. We presented us with our proposals. This was other things we did were go grocery shopping, and go
… [and who are ] … hoping to travel to China again in had even shaken off the jet lag as anticipation of the point at which we instantly fell head to many different restaurants for lunch and dinner.
the spring … join at least 10 other families in Timmins what was to come overflowed and energized us. over heels in love with our girls, all this Sarah The food was really good! I got to try a lot of different
who have adopted children from China. The families We planted ourselves in the doorways of our
belong to a group called the Polar Panda Club. The club from some 4”x 6” pictures. foods, from sweet bread to Chinese French fries!
rooms and made casual conversation with our Willow
started in the home of Joan Francis and her husband The timeframe between acceptance of our Also I happened to make five new friends. Their names
Brad Fennuk, who have adopted three girls from China.
neighbours, listening for the unmistakable sound
proposals and our travel to China was a are Marline, Abel, Issac, Shelley, and Shunli. When we
Their daughters are Clara, 5, Carolyn, 3, and Risa, 16 of elevator doors and baby pandemonium. When
wonderful yet exhausting whirlwind. The were in Beijing, at the hotel many nights I would go
months. those first long-awaited cries drifted down the swimming with Marline in the hotel’s pool.
halls, we rushed out of our rooms, eager for the pinnacle of the trip occurred on Monday, Faith
There are currently 13 children from China adopted into October 8th, 2001, when Xiao Shuang But the most exciting moment during our trip was
first glimpses of those beautiful faces. The
the local families. Another three children from China are Meng, and Da Shuang Meng, eleven getting my sister Mei Li. Yulin, the lady who was with
moment had arrived at last! Our children were
expected … [soon]. Penole us for most of the sightseeing, told us to come to the
placed in our arms and we had the chance to speak months old, 12.5 and 13lbs, respectively,
The Polar Panda Club has been meeting for at least the elevators on our floor, and all the people from the
to their foster mothers, with Shirley our translator, were lovingly placed in our arms. In our
last three years, Francis said. "With Timmins being a orphanages delivered the babies to each family.
present. The joy was indescribable. We marveled anticipation of this moment Eunice and I
small town, we got to know each other quickly. Polar had expected it would be emotionally Jada It turned out to be a really fun, exciting and interesting
Panda welcomes any [adoptive] families … not
at how well the babies had been matched with each
charged. What we had not expected was trip going overseas, all the way to China!
exclusively families with children from China. The and every one of us and at the way the bonding
group's focus is to look into shared cultural issues such and closeness began to develop. What resilient the sense of calm we both felt! Everything Abel & Marline’s story
as the Chinese culture and Chinese food. "From the and amazing children! felt so wonderful almost like a pre-ordained
Xian In 1991, we, Abel and Marline, were adopted from Haiti
children's point of view, we feel very strongly that we moment. Our state of com-plete physical
For the next three days, we visited the official by Jerry and Val Penner. Now, in October, 2001 we got
want them to understand and appreciate their shared and emotional exhaustion was totally
government offices to finalize the paperwork, Bethany to go to China and adopt Bethany Joy, our sister. We
cultural identity and this is certainly the best way that we eradicated with one loving glimpse of our met really nice people on the way. They were all very
think to promote the common heritage. We want them to shopped at the porcelain store for spectacular two bundles of joy. The memories of excited to get their babies.
know there are other children out there just like them figurines and vases, experienced awe as we toured endless planning and tiresome paperwork,
who were born in China but grew up in Canada and that the Pavilion and Cultural Museum and were In China we noticed that most people were very
and the hurry up and wait syndrome were curious. They would come up to our group and ask a
they are available to each other later on for friendship entertained by the children at the daycare center Xiang gone. All our efforts were so worth it! lot of questions.
and support. The group is just as important for the we visited. The Chinese people were wonderful,
parents. We share a bond in the fact that we have gone Mei Li
and friendly—admiring our children, or scolding us The trip to Wuhan in many ways paralleled We liked climbing the Great Wall, seeing all the sights
through the adoption experience.” most trips abroad, with the obvious and finding out how the Chinese people lived. The food
unabashedly, but kindly, for the way in which they
were dressed. Yulin, her brother, and our guide exception! Following the FOI packing list, in Nanchang was really awesome. We found out that
Shirley, took excellent care of us—counting researching on the internet, having lots of Bethany loves to eat everything, especially
tolerance (not my strength) and not leaving watermelon.
baggage, telling us where to shop for water, food
and clothing, taking us to fabulous restaurants and Marin your common sense at home were key. The We met Shelly and Shunli, both 5 yrs old, who were
making sure we were everywhere we should be at success of the trip was highly co-related to Alyssa adopted 4 yrs ago from China. They were a lot of fun. I,
the right time. We were so very fortunate to have flexibility, pre-planning and to the excellent Abel Penner, was adopted when I was barely 6 yrs old.
advice and resources of FOI. Our facilitator My parents remember me saying that I wanted to get
them with us as our long journey reached its
adopted. Bethany wasn’t very happy to see us in the
ultimate conclusion. China is truly a different Yulin’s sister, Yufen, was indispensable
beginning but now we’re home and she’s really happy.
world, but we will be linked to it and to each other and our ability to actually enjoy the sights
forever, because of the lovely children who and tours available on the trip was totally We thought that the whole adoption experience was
Sarah Alison extremely interesting and we’d like to do it again
brought us there. due to their collective efforts.