Saturday, November 17, 2007

Jane Liedtke in Town

Tonight I got to meet Jane Liedtke in person and hear her speak! She is something of a rock star to me because she started and runs (with a village of help I am sure) a great organization called Our Chinese Daughters Foundation. She also moderates a number of Yahoo groups including a popular one where she will answer questions about China (AskJaneChina). You would have to check their website to see the scope of what they do. Primarily they run heritage tours to China, provide opportunities for cultural education to our children and support Chinese charities. She's been living in Beijing, but is back in the States for awhile.

While there, I also did some major Christmas shopping for myself! Aside from jewelry, I bought OCDF's new publications. Jane is actually in Texas attending a conference of foreign language teachers since they provide publications and items to facilitate teaching Chinese culture.

Lately I've been dreaming about the OCDF heritage tours. The goal of a good heritage tour is for our adopted children fall in love with their birth country. For the first time, I understood just how strongly she feels that children be between 6-8 years old for this first trip. Much younger and they won't remember enough and you'll need to return. A little older and they may struggle to emotionally transition so some of the trip is "wasted" as they need time to open up to the experience of learning about a foreign culture.

Even though Lyvi would be too young for the kind of experience this group offers, I am still ready to go back myself and to take Jonathan, Lindsay and Dylan. I want China to be a real place for them, too. We could take more than one trip to China if we moved to Singapore, but I'll have to figure out what kind of China experience we are looking for at this time in Lyvi's life. I do know that I want to try and keep up a relationship of some sort with her orphanage and foster mom so a visit to Shanggao would be on my wish list. Jane did reassure me that even if we don't go for another four to six years, that her foster mom will remember her, which is important to me!

Some of Jane's stories changed my vision of what might have happened to Lyvia as she shared some amazing stories about families finding their child's birth parents during the heritage trips. Almost more amazing were the stories about families who could have found birth parents, but chose not to. It is unfathomable to me that you can choose to adopt a child, but not seize the opportunity to fill in the gaps of their story by connecting to their birth family. Even if you couldn't handle the situation, at least let someone gather information to share with your child one day. There is a black hole of knowledge in China that is even darker than in closed domestic adoptions. Here, children may not know their family, but they will probably know where they were born and the reasons their family felt they could not raise them. Generally there are records that can be accessed later in life. My heart breaks for all children who only have a few scraps of information about themselves. I would do anything to verify for Lyvi why her family could not raise her and discover the story around her relinquishment.

Now we are back to Singapore dreams so that some of my China dreams can come true!


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