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Single Parent International Child Adoption

page four



Mixed Neighborhoods Are Best For Foreign Kids

Veterans And Parents Visited Vietnam

Our community and my particular neighborhood has a lot of Asian neighbors in it, but the larger school is predominantly white and my girls tell me that they don't have many dates. They say white boys mostly want to date blond-haired, blue-eyed girls. So, that's kind of a problem. Both my daughters, who are really 16 and 17, are unusual in that they are dancers.

They have been dancing a long time--- one for 10 years and the other for six years. They have done a lot of dancing, auditioning and performing for a variety of theatrical productions; primarily in dance. They don't do many activities at school, although my younger daughter belongs to a dance group there. Their academics are very difficult at this stage, so they really don't have a lot of time to be doing extracurricular things.

Integrated Environments Are Best

This summer my daughters danced with Alvin Ailey, a dance company in Manhattan. Alvin Ailey is primarily black, Hispanic, with some Asians. My girls felt much more comfortable with that group of students/dancers. As a parent, I felt that I was much better received at Alvin Ailey by the other parents than I was at the local dance school in my area where the girls dance during the year. I found much more of an acceptance at Alvin Ailey. Alvin Ailey, as some of you may know, is an African - American dancer who created his own dance group because at the time (and perhaps still today) it was perceived that African Americans, or black dancers, could not be ballerinas because they didn't have the "right" kind of body type. He was determined to create his own company that could offer opportunity for dancers of color.

Families Should Adopt Two Children

It may be best for families contemplating a multi-racial adoption to consider adopting at least two children from the same race or culture. Often when the adoptive child is the only one, let's say, who is of a different race, that really kind of marginalizes the child. I've read many biographies of these children who were the only one in the family. Not only are they adopted, but they are also not white. It really tends to alienate and create issues of identity. If you are going for this sort of adoption, take two, or, if you live in a neighborhood that is very multi-racial, that might do the trick, too. That really wasn't my only reason for adopting two, but it worked out. I think it that was a plus. I wasn't really thinking of the race thing. But when I decided to adopt I thought it would be good to try to adopt a child from the same race as my first daughter. I thought that would be a good thing. It could have been China or some other Asian country.

Important To Visit "Home" Countries

But it also seemed important that the veterans and I and my daughters went to Vietnam recently. We landed in Hanoi and the first thing we did was to meet the girls' families. They live in the Hanoi area. And it made everyone happy to have such a reunion. Then we met with the U.S. Ambassador and had dinner with him.

We did some sight seeing and traveled down the country towards the middle to Da Nang and Cho Ly, where the clinic is. We stopped at the clinic for two days and did volunteer work there and delivered medical supplies. This is a clinic that was established by Americans. It's called the Sharon Lane Clinic, named after an American nurse. She was the only American nurse who died in combat in the Vietnam War. The clinic is funded by these American humanitarians who were also there and provides in-patient and out-patient services for the people in that area. It's a very poor area; they are very understaffed and don't really have the kind of supplies that people and families need, which was part of the reason we went there. We delivered ambulances, which came by boat, and then other medical supplies.

Recent yearly figures for international adoption show Russian children being adopted the most, with 3,816 for last year. China was next, with 3,597, and South Korea third, with 1,654. Vietnam was sixth on the list, with 425 children. A spokesperson for the State Department's Office of Children's Issues said a general estimate of all international child adoptions by American parents was approximately 22,000 per year.



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About the authors: Patricia Lazar is a Professor of Psychology at Rockland County Community College. She returned recently from a second trip to Vietnam.

John Gill teaches writing at a community college on Long Island, New York. He writes about missing children and other family issues.

For more information contact: Department of State Office of Children's Issues SA-29/4th Floor 2201 C Street, N. W. Washington, D. C. 20520 Phone: 202-736-9130. This Office has an International Adoption Booklet.

Timothy Sutfin, Executive Director New Beginnings Family and Children's Services, Inc. 141 Willis Ave. Mineola, N. Y. 11501 Phone: 516-747-2204.

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