Chinese Officials Still Waiting for a Baby Boom

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Photo by: Ng Han Guan, from yahoo.com

It seems few of China’s young couples are looking to take advantage of the country’s new & looser one-child policy rules.

A few months ago, we blogged about the easing of China’s one-child policy to allow only-child couples to have two children (mainly in cities and not rural areas such as China’s southern Jiangxi Province, where The Invisible Red Thread’s Shumin Zhu lives and where the policy has been more relaxed).

However, statistics released last week point to the fact that few of the country’s young couples are willing to take advantage of China’s looser rules. Zhao Yanpei, a senior official at the National Health and Family Planning Commission, told reporters that despite a predicted baby boom by demographers, the increase has been much lower than expected. With over 2 million births per year anticipated, only 700, 000 couples have submitted applications to have a second child, so far – throwing economic experts concerned over China’s fiscal growth into a frenzy.

Is there a time lag on societal shifts such as this one? Is it too early to tell? Or are Chinese couples simply not as interested in having a second child?

Read more here:

Wall Street Journal 

Bloomberg

Yahoo

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Families with Children from China of Middle Tennessee will be showing The Invisible Red Thread

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Two members of the Families with Children from China of Middle Tennessee organization. Photo from their website http://www.fccmidtn.org.

On November 3rd, the FCC organization of Middle Tennessee will screen our film, “The Invisible Red Thread” at the Bellevue Church of Christ in Nashville.

The non-profit organization, with an aim to serve and support families in all stages of adoption from China, was founded in 2007 and now has around 200 members. Unlike their usual monthly screenings, they’ve decided to gear this event towards an older audience, with parents and children over 13 years old invited to attend.

Organizer Dana Croy told us one of the local FCC families was profiled in the adoption-themed film “Somewhere in Between” and had very positive feedback when screened by the community. With “The Invisible Red Thread” being in the same family of adoption films, she expects the film to be just as well received. next Monday night.

“The Board & myself feel strongly that there are not enough families talking about this stuff. There are many families coming home with their kids, whether it be from China or even from Russia, and they say ‘We’re here now and [the kids] are American or white’. They are not giving enough attention to the questions of identity that these girls and boys need to wrestle with.”

Guests will be watching the film on two 60-inch flat screen TVs suspended on the church walls, and are encouraged to bring dinner or snacks. An open discussion about the film will conclude the evening.

The event is free for members and 5$ at the door for non-members. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. for the meet & greet and brown bag dinner on Monday, November 3, 2014 at the Bellevue Church of Christ (Nashville). Movie begins at 6:30PM, followed by discussion. Contact Dana Croy at fengshuimama@gmail.com for more information.

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Chinese Adoptees Find Shifting Identities

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Chinese-American adoptees Genevieve Norman and Kate Crotty both undertook a recent trip back to China - but their journey led them to two very different destinations. A story about them on NBCnews.com piqued our interest, as we’re always on the lookout for other stories about Chinese adoption. Genevieve & Kate are both Chinese adoptees, now living in Austin, Texas and Cincinnati, Ohio respectively. After feeling more Chinese than American for most of her adult life, Genevieve spent a year studying in Shanghai, only to come away with a very different notion of her cultural identity. Kate had a similar but different experience. She also felt the need to visit China more and more as she got older, but her journey back home left her feeling more Chinese than ever before, and more appreciative and aware of her unique roots.

Watch two short interviews with both the girls and read the full article on NBCnews.com

 

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Ricki’s Promise, a film by Changfu Chang

8.5x11_poster_CFFWhat happens when an 18 year old American girl adopted from China returns to her birthland to spend summer vacation living with her recently discovered biological parents?   That’s the situation of “Ricki’s Promise”, a new feature length documentary. The 84 minute film is set to have its world premiere at the Cincinnati World Film Festival on Saturday, Sept 20 at 3:45 PM.  Directed by prolific producer/ director Changfu Chang, who led the filming in China of 2010 of our own documentary “The Invisible Red Thread”, his latest documentary follows Ricki Mudd, 18, as she returns to China to embark on a journey to understand the past. In a culture now foreign to her, with biological parents she barely knows, Ricki  struggles to unravel her own identity. Meanwhile, her biological parents confront old wounds as they get to know a daughter they last saw nearly two decades earlier Set against the backdrop of culture, Chinese politics, and  larger adoption ethics, this film will soon be widely available for sale. Changfu has a special connection with adoptees and their families, as we got to see when he directed our filming crew in China. We wish him great success with his newest documentary! To learn more about Ricki’s Promise,  visit the film’s official website or check out the trailer below. Click to learn more about the Cincinnati Film Festival’s programming.

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Chinese Heritage Camp in Colorado will screen the Invisible Red Thread

Screen shot 2014-08-25 at 11.28.23 AMUpdate: We heard from organizers that over 200 people had the chance to watch our film, The Invisible Red Thread over the course of the Labour Day weekend. A huge thank you to the Chinese Heritage Camp in Colorado!

From August 29 – September 1, 2014 the Chinese heritage Camp in Fraser, Colorado will screen the Invisible Red Thread at the Snow Mountain Ranch.

About 200 families with children from China attend the Chinese branch of Colorado’s Heritage Camp each year, at the Snow Mountain Ranch in the mountains of Colorado. While the kids take part in a variety of cultural activities like cooking, martial arts, dance classes, and other more common outdoor camp activities like zip lining or white water rafting, parents can attend workshops or play around-the-clock mahjong.

We spoke with the camp’s cultural events and activity organizer, Moiya Smith, about the upcoming screening. She said it’s the weekend’s most anticipated event. “A couple of years ago, we showed our first film and it was so popular that now we are constantly on the look out for films that can help our parents, and that they can share with their kids and discuss.”

The film will show twice, after which there will be a facilitated round table discussion and attendees will also be encouraged to talk amongst themselves afterwards.

Smith says they thought The Invisible Red Thread was a good choice because Shumin and Vivian raise questions that many of their attendees have already asked their parents, or will probably be curious about in the future. “As our kids are getting older, we’re really looking at how they will fit here & how they will fit there [in China]… as Chinese kids in a primarily white society or, at least a mainly white environment. If we’re not scared of these questions, we can really understand and embrace family & cultural heritage & how that fits.”

For more information visit their website or contact the 2014 event directors: Kathy Eason, Ron Fryer, Susie Hale, & Dawn Hinsvark.

 

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SCREENING IN KANSAS: CENTER FOR EAST ASIAN STUDIES ON AUGUST 3RD

Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 10.09.40 AMThis Sunday there will be a special screening of The Invisible Red Thread at The Center for East Asian Studies at Kansas University at the Lawrence Arts Center. It will be followed by a panel discussion, with three specials guests: Sophie Tate (19), Juliana Hacker (19 – who also happens to be Center Outreach Coordinator Randi Hacker’s daughter), and Grace Oliver (19). The three girls are all Chinese adoptees who can relate to the film’s main characters, Vivian and Shumin, and will then share their thoughts and reactions with the crowd.

Although the girl’s don’t know each other, they share a similar experience. The screening of The Invisible Red Thread was actually suggested to Center Outreach Coordinator Randi Hacker by one of the young panelists, Sophie Tate. Sophie is a student at Skidmore college at Saratoga, and as an honors program student she must complete a citizenship project, exploring her culture in a personal way and then writing a paper about her experience. After watching The Invisible Red Thread, Sophie called The Center to ask if they could help her screen the film. Hacker says they happily accepted.

“Not only does it look at the child from Toronto but it also has a great component about contemporary life in China. The girls have all been raised in a similar environment to Vivian’s in Toronto, which is to say indulged and very western. When I saw the film, I came away with the fact that Shumin was way more capable than Vivian… she could provide for her family, she could chop with a big knife…. I want them to come away from the film maybe thinking they should work on their survival skills, or maybe even just come away thinking how lucky they are materialistically. ”

The goal, Hacker adds, is to focus on their experience as adoptees and their feelings of connection with China, which they all feel very strongly about.

Hacker says she expects upwards of about 50 people to attend the event, including many community members who have adoptive children from China. In fact, Hacker adopted her daughter Juliana from China 19 years ago, which is when her love for East Asian culture was born. “When I made the decision to go to China to adopt a baby, I started taking Chinese & getting myself much more involved,” she says. The writer, teacher, and proud parent left her home in New York to move Missouri to take the job at Kansas University, where she now organizes events, conferences, seminars, speakers, classes, festivals, and screenings to promote the CEAS’ mission of advancing knowledge, understanding, and interest for East Asian culture (specifically Japan China, Mongolia, and Korea) in Kansas.

Hacker says the Center for East Asian Studies at Kansas University has one of the broadest reaching outreach programs of any East Asian Studies center in the United States, interacting with over one hundred thousand people through their events, website, Facebook and their highly popular radio show “Postcards from Asia” (first broadcast in 2005 and holding the time slot right before “This American Life”). We’re delighted that The Center has decided to hold this special screening of The Invisible Red Thread.

For more information about the screening, write to us at info@picturethis.ca or contact Randi Hacker, Center for East Asian Studies Outreach Coordinator at 785-864-3832.

 

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China’s New Baby Hatches: A Solution to Abandoned Babies?

Photo from cnn.com

Photo from cnn.com

There were no government sponsored baby hatches at the time that Vivian and Shumin, the two main characters in our documentary, were born in China in the mid 1990s. Vivian was found abandoned as a newborn in front of a hospital while Shumin was given away at 4 months to a family in another town through a mutual friend.

But now China has embraced a new possibility for babies that parents can no longer keep: baby hatches. Equipped with an incubator, an alarm that sounds upon exiting, and a baby bed, parents can anonymously abandon a baby in these rooms knowing that they will be taken care of: welfare staff pick up the baby 10-15 minutes after the alarm sounds.

Baby hatches aren’t a new idea. This kind of arrangement was common in the middle ages and in the 19th century in Europe. Largely forgotten for the past two centuries, hatches have been reintroduced over the past fifteen years in several regions worldwide. The reasons for their use vary from country to country, but nowhere has the process been as quickly embraced by a national government as China. First introduced in 2011, there are currently 32 in use according to the Xinhua News Agency, more than in any other nation except perhaps Poland and Pakistan, where similar services are being run by private or charitable organizations.

China’s need for the baby hatches stems in large part from its One Child Policy. Although the policy has been slightly enlarged in recent years, the majority of families can still only have a maximum of one child. With the strong desire for healthy baby boys, some families feel compelled to give away a physically or mentally disabled child to save the place for a healthy boy or second choice, a healthy girl. In other cases, high medical costs for a child with an incurable disease or a costly curable ailment are the deciding factor. CNN reports the vast majority of children being received at China’s baby hatches come with a range of disabilities and medical conditions, including cerebral palsy, down syndrome, congenital heart disease, club feet and cleft lips.

And what was at first an anonymous practise for parents is now no longer so accessible; the anonymous element of the hatches is starting to erode. Because of the overwhelming number of parents leaving disabled children- as many as 5 a day in some cities – police are now patrolling the hatches and allowing only locals to leave babies who must be under a year old. Parents who have travelled from faraway cities or with older disabled toddlers are being turned away.

The decision to leave a baby, or in some cases, an older child, is never easy. Our documentary clearly outlines the pain a parent giving away a child feels, along with the joy such a child might bring a new adoptive family. And while baby hatches may be a step in the right direction of boosting the survival rate of physically or mentally disabled children, an improved social welfare system for struggling parents would likely greatly decrease the need for these hatches.

Below are links to written and video news stories with more information and personal stories from the baby hatches:

See an NBC news story on China’s baby hatches

See a recent CNN news story on China’s baby hatches:

And another CNN story on a baby hatch overwhelmed:

 

 

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Ricki’s Promise: Dr. Changfu Chang’s Newest Film!

Ricki's Promise teaser photoOne of our collaborators on The Invisible Red Thread, Dr. Changfu Chang, has a new film about Chinese adoption out this November 2014. The film, entitled Ricki’s Promise, follows a young Chinese adoptee named Ricki who has been living in the United States with her adopted family. After receiving a letter from her birth parents many years after being adopted, Ricki visited China for the first time at the age of 12. The emotional fall-out of such an important and confusing reunion was at times overwhelming for Ricki, but she promised to return when she was 18. Now a young adult and more emotionally mature, the film documents Ricki’s return as she takes on the challenge of living with her birth parents in China for two months. She faces a plethora of unexpected challenges… her birth parents’ have divorced and she must live with and forgive the brother who’s birth led to her adoption.

What’s intriguing to us is the fact that Changfu plans to raise the $20,000 needed to finish post-production on the film and release it via Kickstarter, an online crowd sourcing website that encourages people from all over the world to donate to worthy causes in exchange for exclusive gifts or offerings from the fundraisers. So far, after launching the project two days ago, Changfu has already raised $1,705, and he has until the 22 of June to reach his goal. Some of the available “thank you for donating” gifts for donating to Ricki’s Promise are two VIP seats to the films premiere on November 23 in Pennsylvania, an advanced signed DVD copy of Ricki’s Promise with bonus features, and even a dinner with Ricki, her parents, and a member of the film crew.

We wish Changfu the best of luck with this very exciting project and we look forward to seeing the completed film!

Read more about Ricki’s Promise at www.rickispromise.com

To donate to the film, visit their Kickstarter page at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1242140/rickis-promise

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Helping To Make A Special Screening Happen For China Care At Brown University

 

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Recently, Brown University showed our documentary to a room full of parents of children adopted from China. We were proud to work with our educational distributor, McNabb Connolly, to be able to sponsor the screening for this fundraising student group.

The response from the group was enthusiastic! Wrote Stephanie Guang, Family Outreach Coordinator for China Care,  “The parents at China Care absolutely loved the screening. A lot of them had heard very good things about the film but were unable to find a copy – so this was perfect. It prompted a lot of discussion after about bicultural identity and what it means for their kids. Thank you again on behalf of all of ChinaCare for your help!”

China Care Brown was established in 2004 to address the plight of China’s special-needs orphans. The completely student run organization works by raising funds and awareness for the China Care Foundation to help better the lives of orphaned children still in China, particularly those needing surgeries.  Starting in 2011, the completely student run organization now donates to Half the Sky Foundation to continue its mission to fund Chinese orphan surgeries. China Care Brown has donated over $86,000 and has funded 41 orphan surgeries since 2005. In addition, China Care Brown has a strong home component that connects Brown University students with Chinese adoptees in the local Rhode Island and Southern Massachusetts area through cultural programs and activities.

 

If you’d like to screen our film for a special fundraising event for orphans or those in need in China, let us know! We’ll do our best to help make it happen.

 

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Site for Girls Adopted from China to Share Their Stories: International Daughters of China Relaunches Its Website

By Sophia Loffreda

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Ainslie Winter has had this idea brewing in her mind for some time. Herself the mother of two adopted girls from China, she wanted to share a message, via the internet, with Chinese women and men who had given up their daughters for adoption. Very simply, she wanted to let them know that the girls were all right… and not just all right, but thriving. What began as a possible hard cover book, soon blossomed into her newly re-launched blog, International Daughters of China.

The well-organized site is decorated with pink flowers against a green swirly background, welcoming parents and mostly younger girls to explore. Although it has yet to be translated into Mandarin, Ainslie says she already has a translator in the wings and will go about the task once submissions are more numerous. She is also meeting with the Chinese Consulate this spring, to guarantee that her site won’t be blocked by Chinese internet restrictions. If not, the likelihood that birth parents will be able to read the English stories would not be very high.

But the greater issue so far has been getting adopted girls to submit their stories. Ainslie would like the pages to quickly fill up, so that the website can soon be a more publicly known forum for both the inquisitive minds of adopted girls and their birth parents. During the few months between her original launch in September and the re-launch last week, on Chinese New Year, the submissions page was empty apart from a write-up from each of Ainslie’s two daughters Molly and Meigan. Her husband and her friends wanted her to move on. “They said things like ‘It’s alright, it was a nice idea, you tried!’ ”, she told us.

When we spoke to Ainslie two weeks ago, she was still determined to send out the message she had decided on when her website was initially launched. After thinking about the project and her call for submissions over the holidays, she realized that her approach wasn’t quite right. Her lack of participants wasn’t due to a lack of trying (on average, she was emailing about 20 people a day through the organization FCC or Families for Children from China). It was just that the guidelines she initially started off with were “too cumbersome, rigid, too structured”, she says, and perhaps worrisome in terms of privacy. Now, instead of asking for a very specifically structured letter containing the girl’s birthplace, orphanage, baby picture, and Chinese name, friends and family can submit a letter about an adopted Chinese girl, along with a picture (if they so choose). All submissions will be posted on International Daughters of China, whether they are anonymous or not. The stories would ideally only come from the girls themselves, talking about their current interests and lives, but Winter thinks opening the call also to friends and family of adoptees may be a better way to get the ball rolling. It seems to be working- last week she received her first new submission.

As an adopted child (Ainslie and her twin sister were both adopted in Edmonton when they were young), she knows the importance of expressing birth parent curiosity or even just talking about the affect of adoption. “I know that the stuff is inside,” she says, “whether you want to talk about it or not.”

If you or anyone you know have an adoption story to share about a young Chinese girl, contact Ainslie at info@idocgroup.org and check out her new site http://www.idocgroup.org/ !

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