Parents who adopt Chinese children get language aid

Updated: 2015-01-12 14:29

By HUA SHENGDUN in Washington(China Daily USA)

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Nine-year-old Liu Weijie was adopted by a Chinese-American couple five years ago.

However, the couple, Liu Yingqin and Liu Rongrong, didn't speak Chinese much at home and fo und it hard to communicate with the little boy in his native language.

That’s when they found out about the Cultural Language Arts Programs and Services (CLAPS), which off ers lessons in culture and language to children adopted from China, and to their parents.

"We create an opportunity for the families with similar backgrounds to learn the Chinese language and exchange their stories," said Liu Wenying, founder and director of the CLAPS program.

She said those parents who adopted Chinese children may not be fully understood by mainstream American families, thus the ideal of CLAPS is “to foster the understanding of the Chinese language and culture” for those families in the Metropolitan Washington area.

American families have adopted more than 85,000 Chinese children since China loosened its adoption laws in 1991, and most of the children are younger than 10, according to the US State Department.

More than 2,300 children were adopted from China in 2013, accounting for 30 percent of the total adoptions that year. More than half of them are girls.

The Chinese Culture and Community Service Center, a nonprofit membership organization that serves the Chinese community at large, founded the CLAPS program in 2003 to help children shape their Chinese identifi cation.

Accommodating five to 15 students in each class, the program teaches non-Chinese speaking families every Saturday to speak Mandarin in cultural arts and crafts activities and learn the basic concepts of Chinese language and culture in a semi-immersion environment.

It also offers a culture series for adults interested in China.

A topic-oriented lecture is present in English for a glimpse of Chinese perspectives on life, philosophy and the cultural differences between China and the West.

The most common countries for international adoption by parents in the US for fi scal year 2012 were China, Ethiopia and Russia.

Yang Sheng in Washington contributed to this story.

                                                                                              (China Daily USA 01/12/2015 page2)