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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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Friday — February 6, 2004


Children adopted
from faraway lands

Valley group gathers to celebrate diversity

"We feel so blessed that we’ve been able to become a family thorough this means. We feel really special."

— Vicki Browne

Express Staff Writer

Adopting a child from another country, especially a child who has a different skin color, religion or culture, requires more than the ordinary commitment. And yet, more than 5,000 children are adopted from China by American families each year.

In the Wood River Valley, there are 11 families as well as approximately four second-home families who have adopted children from Asia. All are part of a local support group.

Members of Wood River Families with Children from Asia congregate at a recent celebration. From left, Nancy Penrose, Lorie Hayes and Vicki Browne. Courtesy photo

Vicki Browne, a recent transplant, joined up with other adoptive parents and formed the group as an off-shoot of Families with Children from China. FCC is a network of parent support groups in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. The group here, while not affiliated with FCC, chose to call itself Wood River Families with Children from Asia.

"We want to expand our scope to children adopted from other Asian countries as well," Browne said. "We’re trying to get connected with others. Our goals are to encourage adoption both international and domestic, and to expand our cultural activities."

The group, which also welcomes Asian families in the valley, celebrated the Lunar New Year Saturday, Jan. 31, at the American Legion Hall in Ketchum. Browne also said they would like to have more educational opportunities, such as sponsoring talks by adoption experts.

"One of the values of having groups like this is to see other families with a similar make up, i.e. multicultural families. Every major metropolitan area has a chapter of FCC," Browne said. "We’re trying to make WRFCA broader. It’s a lot about sharing information."

Browne was very active in Southern California where she was one of the first coordinators of one of the FCC of Orange County. Her daughter, Lexi, is now 7 years old. She was adopted by the Brownes when she was 14 months old.

"A lot of the reasons we went to China is that there are Chinese adoption agencies in the U.S. It’s a very smooth process, which was one of our reasons for going there. In China, 99 percent of the kids adopted are girls.

"Out of the group of eight we went with at the time of adoption, five of the families are planning to go back now that the children are around 8 years old," Browne said.

At the Lunar New Year celebration, more than 50 adults and children attended. The children enjoyed craft activities, the popular dragon dance and a firecracker stomp on bubble wrap.

Children were given traditional red envelopes, which symbolizes good luck. Many families wore traditional Asian clothing. The families also participated in a candle-lighting adoption ceremony honoring the bond between the birth family, the adoptive family and the child.

"The little ones are just excited to be with other kids, but the older ones have a common bond and are aware of that. We’re all proud of the long and very honored cultural society that they come from," Browne said.

Niki Penrose, left, and Lexi Browne participate in a candle ceremony with Alexa, Sandor and Teri Szombathy, who are adopting a daughter from China in March. Courtesy photo

Another organizer of the WRFCA, Nancy Penrose, of Ketchum, has a daughter, Niki, who is also 7 years old. Niki Penrose and Lexi Browne performed a special ceremony with the Szombathy family. The Szombathy family is adopting a girl in March. Families waiting for a child hold white candles with a yellow ribbon. Pink ribbons imply families with other children, and, if there is a boy to be adopted, they have a blue ribbon. China doesn’t put boys up for adoption as a rule, but other Asian countries do.

Also three red candles were lighted to represent each family and child since red is the color of luck in China.

This also refers to an ancient Chinese proverb:

"An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet regardless of time place or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle but it will never break," Browne related.

On the first Thursday of each month WRFCA invites adoptive parents and those interested in international or domestic adoptions to a monthly coffee chat at Tully’s in Ketchum.

"We feel so blessed that we’ve been able to become a family thorough this means. We feel really special," Browne said.


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