May 28, 2003 - Go Erie: Philippines RPCV Dianne Tyler adopts Chinese Child

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Philippines: Peace Corps Philippines: The Peace Corps in the Philippines: May 28, 2003 - Go Erie: Philippines RPCV Dianne Tyler adopts Chinese Child

By Admin1 (admin) on Thursday, May 29, 2003 - 10:52 am: Edit Post

Philippines RPCV Dianne Tyler adopts Chinese Child

Read and comment on this story from Go Erie on Philippines RPCV Dianne Tyler who has adopted a Chinese child. She began furnishing the bedroom for her ssecond adopted daughter in February. She stopped two weeks ago, frustrated and heartbroken, when China suspended foreign adoptions because of SARS. The delay is indefinite, and the decision has thrust thousands of prospective adoptive parents like Tyler into limbo. Read the story at:

Hope on hold*

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Hope on hold

Hope Holben adopted her daughter Mari Zhen Lucas Holben, 2, from a Chinese orphanage in 2001. She has arranged to adopt a second child. (Erie Times-News photo by Janet B. Campbell)
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By Gerry Weiss

She keeps the door closed. It's too painful to leave it open, with all those reminders inside.

The wooden crib, the Dr. Seuss books and stuffed animals, the mint-green wallpaper with bears and ducks and lambs.

Dianne Tyler began furnishing the bedroom for her soon-to-be adopted daughter in February.

She stopped two weeks ago, frustrated and heartbroken, when China suspended foreign adoptions because of SARS.

The delay is indefinite, and the decision has thrust thousands of prospective adoptive parents like Tyler into limbo.

Tyler, of southeast Millcreek, and her husband, Don, had planned on flying to China in June to pick up their baby a girl, per their request, between seven months and 18 months.

The couple chose to adopt because of infertility and began filling out paperwork 17 months ago.

"You get so close, so excited about it, and it's still not within reach," said Dianne Tyler, 36. "There's still lingering hope that my daughter is coming, but we have no idea when. We have no idea about any of it now."

On May 15, the China Center of Adoption Affairs in Beijing temporarily stopped sending documents to adoptive parents authorizing them to come to China because of the widespread havoc and death caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome.

Local and national adoption officials believe the suspension will be short-lived and will end soon, likely this summer.

"We think it's not as bad as it sounds," said Julie George, the regional coordinator for Adoptions From The Heart. The nationwide agency, which assists in domestic and international adoptions, is the only adoption agency locally that works directly with the Chinese government.

"But no, we don't know when it will end. And we know that has a lot of people very concerned."

Deborah and Greg Fahy, parents of two biological sons, ages 8 and 3, decided years ago they would adopt a girl for their third child.

When the Erie couple met as Peace Corps volunteers in the Philippines, they saw thousands of "unloved and unwanted" children roaming the streets.

"There's so much need," said Deborah Fahy, whose husband was adopted. "We're so privileged in this country, taking so much for granted. We wanted to make a difference to a child who knows of no such privileges."

The Fahys expected to fly to China to finish the adoption process.

"(SARS) has us scared," she said. "Somewhere over there is a child destined to be ours, and we worry about her. We don't know her name, we don't know what she looks like, but we still worry."

China first opened its doors to international adoption in 1992, and the country's adoption program now is described as the fastest growing and most successful in the world. Chinese adoptions usually take from 14 to 18 months to complete, at a cost to parents of $10,000 to $20,000. Domestic adoptions often take years, if completed at all, and the costs can sometimes be double the price of Chinese adoptions.

There also is little risk that the Chinese birth mother will change her mind. China strictly enforces its one-child-per-family policy. Parents who break these regulations are fined and jailed.

It is also illegal in China to openly give up a child to an orphanage, which is why many Chinese children are abandoned at birth. Such was the case with Mari, now 2, who was adopted in August 2001 by Girard nurse Hope Holben.

Mari was an infant when she was left on the front steps of an orphanage in southcentral China. Holben adopted the baby at age 13 months, and the addition changed her life.

"It's the greatest feeling in the world. No one should be allowed to have this much fun," said Holben, 46, a single mother who works at Saint Vincent Health Center. "I've never been happier in my life than being a mom."

Holben was so fulfilled by the experience that she decided to adopt again. She was scheduled to fly to China in August and bring home another baby girl.

But her plans are on hold.

"This is a travel delay, not an adoption delay. And we have to keep that in mind," Holben said. "I know the waiting is difficult, especially on first-time adopters. When it's your first time, you fear that it won't work out, and that your baby is not coming. We just need to be patient and let time take care of this.

"Don't worry too much, dear friends. Your baby is coming."

GERRY WEISS can be reached at 725-5557, 870-1884 or by e-mail.

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