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The Youngest Immigrants: Adopted Children - 2002-04-18


English Feature #7-34267 Broadcast November 13, 2000

Last year Americans adopted over sixteen thousand orphans from other countries. Most came from Russia. The second largest number of adoptees were from China. Today on New American Voices two Chinese girls and their adoptive mother talk about the experience.

"My name is Jayne. I am 15 years old, and I'm born in China."

Jayne Taomei Forslind is the oldest of six children adopted in China by Steve and Carol Forslind of Nashua, in the New England state of New Hampshire.

"I live in China in a city named Nanjing, I live in an orphanage. I was being adopted when I was like 11 and a half, almost 12."

Jayne was not the first child the Forslinds adopted. Carol Forslind first went to China in 1995 with her biological son, - one of her four grown children - who was adopting a Chinese baby. She fell in love with a four-year-old girl in an orphanage in Nanjing, and started adoption proceedings. The process took three months, and had to follow fairly stringent requirements set up by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, or INS, as well as China.

"The adoption agency we used had everything written out, exactly how we needed to do it. We needed to get clearance from INS, we needed to be approved by INS, we needed police checks, we needed home studies. In America you can't adopt a child if you have committed a felony, and they wanted to check to be sure that you're going to be good parents, and that you're not taking a child for illegal reasons."

The first adoption was such a success, says Carol Forslind, that each year after that she went back to the orphanage in Nanjing for another child. She now has five girls and one boy, ranging in age from eight to fifteen.

Mrs. Forslind says the children have had little problem adjusting to life in America.

"The biggest issues we've had, mostly with the older children, have been food issues. They don't like American food, because they're older, so we eat a lot of Chinese food. I've learned how to cook differently."

None of the children knew English when they arrived. Fifteen-year-old Jayne says the adjustment to school was not altogether easy, although she learned English pretty fast.

"The school was kind of a little different. The people, like some people make fun of me because I'm different. When I came nobody speak Chinese, so I used to hear English a lot, and in school there's a program called ESL, which is English as a Second Language, I go there every day, so they teach me English, and I got better and better..."

The children's mother is concerned that they not lose their connection with their native language and culture.

"I had to learn Chinese because I want them to keep… The older children were literate, are literate, in Chinese, and I wanted them to keep their language, and so I go to Chinese school, too."

The things which the children appreciate most about life in New Hampshire, says Mrs. Forslind, are the small, mundane things of everyday American life.

"We live in a house, so that we have a big yard, which they love. They get the school bus to go to school, they don't have to walk to school, they thought that was pretty cool. They all have bicycles, and just generally, just enjoy everything about life in a family."

Fifteen-year-old Jayne remembers what impressed her most when she first arrived in New Hampshire.

"I have a family, and I see, like, people different from what I am. The people were different, and the buildings, and I, like, see the sun every day, because in China we have bad pollution, so you really don't see sun all day."

Jayne's fourteen-year-old sister, Melody Yuanyuan Forslind, who was adopted two years ago, talks about her first impression of America.

"I love it. Like when I come, the houses and everything is like all new and really nice. And I have sisters, and in China I really don't, just other people I hang out with."

Carol Forslind says she has had no problems with the children she adopted.

"They're awesome children. They're wonderful children. They work very hard. You know, we all pitch in, we all work together to do things. They have a whole different outlook on life. They don't take anything for granted. They work very hard in school. They just do what they're supposed to do. It's really nice."

The appreciation is mutual. Jayne says about her new family, simply -

"They're really nice people. And I love 'em."

Next week in this program you'll meet a family from the state of Washington, on America's west coast, who just six months ago adopted a nine-year-old girl from Ethiopia.

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