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Carol and Ken’s Adoption Story

It was 1995. Hillary Clinton, then First Lady, was attending an international women’s conference in Beijing, China. News coverage of her trip included stories on many aspects of life in China—including video of orphanages filled with infants and children. Because China’s population-control policy allows each family only one child and because of a culturally ingrained belief that families need sons to carry on the family line and care for aging parents, the children were mostly girls. Some appeared to be receiving minimal care, and the sad little faces that peered into the camera clutched at our hearts. So began the adventure that brought two beautiful Chinese-born daughters into our family.

We contacted St. Mary’s Services because of an announcement I had seen some time before in a fitness center newsletter: “Adopt a healthy child from China.” Our first phone call to St. Mary’s was encouraging, and soon we were beginning a home study and starting the daunting task of compiling our dossier for China. When complete, this thick packet documented nearly every facet of our lives. Fortunately, St. Mary’s guided us step by step through the process. We chose an international agency from those suggested to us by St. Mary’s. And we worked very hard to make family and friends understand why we were making adoption plans.

Several months after shipping our completed dossier off to China, we received a tiny photo and a brief description of a four-year-old girl. Approximately one year from the time our dossier was received, we traveled to China with an eager group of adoptive parents. When little Ma ShenLu toddled into the hotel conference room where our group had assembled to complete adoption paperwork, we were both joyful and intimidated. She took one look at us and screamed! Fortunately, her fear was short-lived.

Two years later we were back in China to meet Xiao Cui, a chatty, precocious six-year-old whose beautiful strawberry blonde hair belies her Chinese ancestry. As a person with albinism, she was considered a “special needs” child, and so her adoption took only a few months.

Today our daughters are teens, doing well in high school and planning for college. Being an ethnically diverse family has not always been easy, but we have never regretted our decision to adopt children of another race/culture. From the time our daughters arrived in the United States, we did all we could to give them the opportunity to learn more about China and all things Chinese. The effort was not always successful, but after a return visit to China last summer when they were ages 16 and 15, they now seem eager to embrace both their Chinese heritage and their American life experience.

We are extremely grateful to St. Mary’s and the two international adoption agencies that helped bring these wonderful girls into our lives.

“After attending informational meetings with four other agencies, it was a no-brainer that St. Mary’s would provide us with the personal attention and care that a life changing event needs.”

– Pat & Jennifer, St. Mary’s Adoptive Family