From China with love

Updated: 2013-09-27 11:38

By Li Na (China Daily)

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Though faced with more stringent requirements to adopt a child from China, one thing hasn't changed for Canadian couples: developing in the child a knowledge of their culture and pride of their heritage, reports Li Na from Toronto

It's summer time. Ella, Madeline and Elisabeth - three Chinese girls dressed in Chinese costumes - are performing a fan dance accompanied by beautiful folk music at the Chinese Culture Centre in Toronto. The girls win warm applause from the audience, who are mostly parents and friends, and mostly non-Chinese.

It is hard to imagine that just seven years ago, these three beautiful girls were living in an orphanage in Hunan, central China.

"We don't know their biological parents, nothing," said Christina Fisher, Ella's adoptive mother and a family doctor.

 From China with love

Elisabeth (left), Ella (center) and friends show off their fan dance techniques at the Chinese Cultural Centre in Toronto. Li Na / China Daily


It took seemingly endless paper work, three years and C$20,000 for Christina and her husband to apply and get through the adoption process.

Not all prospective adoptive families are as lucky as Christina. With improving economic conditions in China, the number of children being abandoned to orphanages is decreasing and domestic adoption rates are on the rise. As a result, the wait time for a match of a non-special needs child is steadily increasing and it's expected to get worse.

Christina and her husband Joe began thinking about adoption in 2003, and China and Chinese children were already on their radar. They had always been deeply interested in Chinese culture, food and traditions.

"I think most people try to have their own children and when they encounter difficulties, they decide to adopt children," Christina said. "I just wanted a Chinese girl."

Christina first learned about Ella through the Open Arms to International Adoption (OAIA), a not-for-profit organization founded by adoptive families to help and support prospective adoptive families, one of only four in Ontario. As a licensed agency under Ontario's Inter-country Adoption Act of 2000, it is also accredited by the China Centre of Adoption Affairs in Beijing.

There was lots of paperwork, both Chinese and Canadian, said Christina. "You have to send them different forms and get their approval, then wait and send more forms and get approved," she said.

To complete an adoption, prospective families must first win approval from Ontario's Ministry of Community, Family and Children's Services, a process that includes a home inspection conducted by a social worker. The agency helps a family complete its dossier so that it meets Chinese and Canadian government requirements. Once the family's dossier is complete, it is delivered to the China Centre for Adoption in Beijing.

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