Young Chinese arrivals pure joy for Canadian families 2010-05-31 23:53:32

by Al Campbell

VANCOUVER, May 31 (Xinhua) — As the world gets ready to mark International Children’s Day this Tuesday, the occasion will be a truly special time for those families who have indeed become a family through the adoption of a child.

In Canada, a large country physically but tiny in terms of population, about 34 million people, many childless couples have become a family through the adoption process. For many years, China has been the number one source for Canadians adopting a child.

According to figures from Statistics Canada, in 2006, the last Canadian census year, there were 1,871 international adoptions the year previous, with China providing 973 children. Haiti was a distant second, followed by South Korea, the United States and Russia.

In 2005, 370 Chinese children were adopted by families in the province of Ontario, followed by Quebec with 347 and British Columbia with 104.

Cathy Loptson, Family Services of Greater Vancouver Adoption Agency’s program manager-administrator, said while China has long been the favored place for couples looking overseas to adopt, she expected the numbers to be drastically reduced when the results of the next census are released next year.

Citing Statistics Canada figures showing that 68 Chinese children were adopted by British Columbia couples between April 2007 and March 2008, she said the figures would likely to drop further with China’s growing affluence and the fact that more Chinese couples were adopting domestically.

Regardless of the wait to receive a child and the increasingly limited supply, Loptson said China remained the top source for couples looking to adopt because of its procedures for inter- country adoption were very organized.

“Usually what families have said, and certainly from an adoption agency perspective, the country (China) itself is very stable and there never seemed to really be any concerns that the program would close or open on an irregular basis. Whereas some countries historically were affected by political unrest, sometimes natural disasters or the infrastructure wasn’t in place, ” she said.

“China seems to have all of those procedures in place and adoptions from China went relatively smoothly. People knew exactly what they needed to do and what they needed to send off to China with their (adoption) dossier. It was very organized, very predictable and that’s why it was so popular with families.”

While families may have to wait up to five years or longer now to adopt a Chinese child, Susan Cumberland and her husband waited 16 months to adopt daughter Leung Rai-ann in 2002. Today, the girl is 10 years old, while younger sister Alana, the Vancouver couple’ s biological child, is eight.

The couple adopted Rai-ann at one year old after she had been found left on the steps of a government building in Guangdong province’s Yandong County when she was less than a week old.

Cumberland, a high-school teacher who runs a tutor referral business from her house in Burnaby, a neighboring city to Vancouver proper, said it had always been her dream since she was a child to adopt two children, one from Asia and another from Africa, as well as having two children of her own.

“Then I had to find a man who wanted the same things but my husband seemed to be on the same page. However, we got Rai-Ann from China, then we got Alana and I thought this is a lot more work than I expected, so two is enough.”

Cumberland said while Rai-ann has brought great joy to her life, the 18 months of waiting to get a child was “hard to watch” as “other people were getting pregnant and having babies”.

“The paperwork is a lot easier than giving birth, now that I have done that,” she said with a laugh. “But yeah, there is a lot of paperwork.”

“We asked for a boy or a girl, but 99 per cent of the time you get a girl. In our group there were no boys. The 15 of us who went over everyone got a girl. There were hundreds of other people adopting at the same time at the hotel from different parts of the world and we did see some boys, but very few.”

Rai-ann, a lively child who plays piano, practices gymnastics and occasionally works as a part-time actor, said the family would be going to China in 2012, giving her a chance to explore her roots.

“I’m a dragon and that’s going to be the Year of the Dragon. We are going to visit my adoption place and we’re going to get to help out with the babies and hold them. I hear that it takes a few planes to get there.”

Rai-ann and her sister also studied Mandarin last year, but admit without the practice they have forgotten half of what they learnt.

“I can say a few words like ‘zai jen’, ‘nei ho ma’ and if someone says ‘nei hao ma’ to you, you would reply ‘wo hen hao’. Then there is pu tao, a grape, and xi gua, watermelon.”

“There is also ‘mei mei’, meaning little sister, and ‘dee dee’ meaning little brother,” chimes in little sister Alana.

“It’s sort of hard to learn because we can’t really read it, but we can speak it a little,” Rai-ann adds.

Loptson said couples wanting to adopt a Chinese child should be prepared to wait and expect to pay about 25,000 to 30,000 Canadian dollars for the privilege. This included agency fees in both countries, travel for two to China, hotels, a home study, preparing of the dossier and liaising with the China Center for Adoption Affairs.

“There’s a website out there called Rumor Queen and it’s all about (couples) trying to predict when they are going to get a proposal. It may take five, six, seven or eight year.”

One couple who have been waiting nearly four years is Laura and Bruce Kagetsu. In March the professional couple, both Vancouver real estate agents, received a proposal for a one-year- old boy that they could pick up in Nanning, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, in June. Bruce Kagetsu said despite the wait, there was never any disappointment.

“It wasn’t disappointment. You knew eventually (you were going to get a child), you just didn’t know when, that was the frustrating part. You just have to go on with your life, life goes on. They keep you informed with e-mails and updates, but because of Beijing and the Olympics that slowed things down big time,” said the Japanese-Canadian.

“Of course we’re excited. It’s a healthy baby because we had doctor’s reports and everything and it’s all good. We’re counting down the days until we go to Nanning.”