The U.S. has adopted the most Chinese children in the world. Between 2009 and 2015, U.S. families adopted a total of 18,384 Chinese children. Among the adopted children, 80 percent were disabled. Most of them have their own children, yet they are willing to raise orphaned Chinese children and treat them as their own.
If you think that an adopted Chinese child is very lucky, the general response from the adopting parents is: “We are the lucky ones to have this wonderful child. It’s a gift!”
These caring parents make an effort to keep connected with traditional Chinese culture. On February 17, many families with adopted Chinese children joined the 2018 Iowa Chinese New Year celebration. Jeff, Gail, and Helen Siegel, a family of 3, dressed up in bright red Chinese costumes, were among the guests.
The Siegels decided to adopt a Chinese child in 2006. They eventually waited for 7 years until October 2013, when they were informed a suitable child was found. Three months later, they flew to China and happily met 13-month-old Helen in an orphanage.
Jeff explained that adopting a Chinese child was a long and complicated process. It involved maintaining close contacts with the adoption service center and clarifying the status of the child with the U.S. immigration service. Regardless of the tedious work, everything went through accordingly. He felt fortunate to have had Helen, who has brought the couple great joy.
The Siegels have paid a lot of attention to traditional Chinese culture since they decided to adopt a Chinese child. Helen’s bright red cheongsam was specifically purchased by Jeff and Gail, and is the right costume for celebrating the Chinese New Year.
In order to teach Helen Chinese and maintain her Chinese roots, Gail has also learned Chinese from videos and books. Helping Helen learn about her culture through its customs and language is the best gift of love that Jeff and Gail could give to their daughter.
Translated by Jean Chen and edited by Melody Zhen