Posts Tagged ‘Taiwan’

It is hard to believe one year ago this week we were in Taiwan meeting our youngest son. Where does the time go? The last year has been full of a sweet memories, new challenges and adventures as a family of six. I have to say our littlest guy is the most active of our four children. When we met him at the orphanage, at 9 1/2 months of age, he could not sit up for more than a few seconds before toppling over. It was not long before he tackled the sitting “milestone”. Then he was crawling and climbing…yikes! He was climbing everything a few months before he started walking, including the kitchen table and stairs. Obstacles are no trouble; baby gates a necessity but not always effective. He is always watching and learning. He can open some baby gates and is strong enough to push doors open (even doors you would think are too heavy for a guy his size). It is amazing to think how far he has come in the last year. He makes friends wherever we go. He recently learned to blow kisses and by doing so, charms everyone around him. His “dimply” smile and toothy grin can brighten anyone’s day. We are just beginning to see his personality emerge. I look forward to seeing all that God is going to do in his life. Our youngest son has a unique determination I know is a gift from God.

Here are a few photos from our day in Taiwan a year ago….clockwise from top left: feeding him his first bottle; our boy asleep in the hotel crib the first night; our first moments with him at St. Lucy’s Center (orphanage) in Tainan; proud daddy holding his son; happy boy playing in hotel room; as we left the orphanage in a cab, our little guy fell fast asleep in my arms; and sitting on the plaza in front of Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei.

I just finished reading Deborah Fallows’ Dreaming in Chinese. I am just fascinated with the Chinese culture, and her book addressed some of the issues I had encountered during our time in Taiwan. For instance, some of the Mandarin phrases seem too blunt, but what may seem rude to me is not all considered rude in China (and I assume, Taiwan as well). For instance, ‘Bú yào’ was a phrase we used frequently during our time in Taiwan. It means ‘don’t want’ and is typically used to say you are not interested in something, or to turn down food or other offers. It would seem more appropriate to me to say, ‘no, thank you.’ However, this is an acceptable and standard way to turn down an offer. She goes on to say that she learned the Chinese find Westerners use ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ too often and that to them, the overuse of using those phrases may be considered impolite:

“My Chinese friends say…we use way too many of them for Chinese taste. A Chinese linguist, Kaidi Zhan, says that using a please as in “Please pass the salt” actually has the opposite effect of politeness here in China. The Chinese way of being polite to each other with words is to shorten the social distance between you. And saying please serves to insert a kind of buffer or space that says, in effect, that we need some formality between us here.” – Excerpt from Dreaming in Chinese

I probably said ‘xiexie’ (thank you) a thousand times while we were in Taiwan. No one seemed offended…and many seemed appreciative we even attempted to speak the language.

Another chapter talks about the evolution to a national language in China and the use of simplified characters instead of traditional characters. She said the changeover to simplified characters in the People’s Republic of China was part of an effort under Chairman Mao Zedong to improve literacy rates. I did not realize that some characters in Mandarin may require up to 20 strokes to write. One of the issues with choosing a national language was the different dialects and accents spoken in China. However, the written language is the same so everyone can read the same characters. This is apparently the reason the Chinese news broadcasts always have the captioning on the screen – even if you cannot understand what the news anchor’s dialect or accent, most people can read the characters. (Taiwan uses the traditional characters, not the simplified characters.)

Fallows and her husband were living in China during the horrific earthquake in 2008 in Sichuan. It was interesting to hear her perspective of the event as she observed changes in the way the Chinese media reported on the rescue efforts in the week following the tragedy:

“There was something unusual about the TV programming and the TV language during early coverage of the earthquake. The programming was ragged and unpolished, and the language was unrehearsed and plainspoken, more like normal street chatter. This was a far cry from the usual carefully scrubbed and scrutinized productions, with their official jargon and heavy words. Everyone agreed, at least at the beginning, that the government was allowing ‘unprecedented transparency’ in media coverage.” – Excerpt from Dreaming in Chinese

This book, while not about Taiwan, was fascinating to read. It definitely helped me understand and appreciate some of the cultural differences.

A “white” Christmas in Taiwan

Posted: December 23, 2011 in Taiwan
Tags: , , ,

There will be a “white” Christmas in Tainan, Taiwan this year. As part of an effort to promote tourism in Tainan (former home to our two youngest sons), the city is hosting a White Christmas Festival. The festival features a Christmas tree made entirely of salt – 40 tonnes of salt! – sitting atop more salt to make it appear like a snowy patch. Since the daytime temperatures in Tainan average in the mid-70s right now, a truly white Christmas is very unlikely. The event organizers used salt for the tree and snow effect because Tainan used to be the hub of salt production for Taiwan. Salt apparently is more than just a food enhancer for some Taiwanese, as explained by event organizer Chang Cheng-yuan:

“From a traditional perspective, salt is used to drive away evil spirits and misfortunes and is also a symbol of blessing,” Chang added.

Tainan was once home to the Qigu Salt Pans, which were the largest in Taiwan and produced about 60 percent of the country’s salt.

However, the 338-year history of salt production in Taiwan came to an end in 2002 after the salt fields closed, as the local salt industry was unable to compete with cheap imported salt, the director said.

Chang said visitors to the festival could enjoy a variety of salt products, including salt coffee, salt eggs and creative works of art made of salt, and could even make their own salt at an old salt field.To read the full article in the Taipei Times, click here: http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2011/12/23/2003521435

I am excited to watch as four families we have “met” online prepare to travel to Taiwan in the next few weeks to be united with their sons and daughters. What a journey these families have been on for the past several months/years!

Terry and her family began the journey to adopt from Taiwan back in 2007. They were finally matched with a little boy earlier this year, and received the final decree for their son’s adoption last week.

Jennifer’s adoption journey also began several years ago. Earlier this year, I learned they had been matched with a sweet baby girl in Taiwan. She and her husband are leaving on Thursday to bring their daughter home.

The other families do not have public blogs for me to share with you. Each family’s story is unique and it is amazing to see how God has answered prayers and orchestrated the details of each child’s adoption. I know I will cry tears of joy when the children are united with the families who have been waiting so long to bring them home. I will be praying for each family, for good health as they travel and for all the final details to go smoothly and there be no delays in obtaining their child’s visa to come home.

I don’t want to end this post without saying something about the birth families. I will also be praying for them – I cannot begin to imagine the pain and emotions the birth families of these children experience as they say goodbye. I am forever grateful our sons’ birth mom chose life for them, and placed them for adoption. I think about her often and I am thankful for the few moments we had with her at the orphanage. I will always treasure that time with her.

Adoption stories make me cry. . .it is so wonderful to see children united with their forever families. It is an amazing picture of how God has adopted me into his family for eternity. I am often asked about our boys’ adoptions and have people tell me they would love to adopt. Oh, how I wish everyone who said that would take action and adopt.

Our agency, For Every Child (FEC), announced earlier this week they have several children waiting in Taiwan for families. Some of the adoption fees have been reduced for these children with the hope it will help these older children be united with permanent, loving families. Do you have room in your heart and home to welcome a child?

The children are listed on the adoption advocacy website, Rainbowkids.com. I’ve listed each child’s ID code below with a brief description – for more information, you can either register on the Rainbow Kids website, then search for “For Every Child” under agency in the Waiting Child listings, or you can contact FEC’s executive director, Laura Trinnaman, at laura@foreverychild.org

– P3003CY: A 13-year-old boy, currently living with a foster family, is qualified for an FEC Older Child Placement scholarship.

– P3005CI: A 10-year-old girl is also awaiting her forever family. She qualifies for a FEC grant to help reduce some of her adoption expenses.

– P3001LWH: A waiting 7-year-old boy spent four weeks in the United States last summer to experience life with an American family. He has received a $4,000 grant towards his adoption expenses.

– P3004WI: Another child who participated in the summer hosting program, a 7-year-old girl, is hoping to be united with her forever family. “Due to physical abuse as a young infant and toddler, [P3004WI] has received early intervention services for developmental delays and suspected CP in one leg. She has made great improvement and is on track developmentally.”

– P3002PY: A six-year-old boy is also waiting for a family to call his own. He has recently been given a $4,000 grant to help reduce the expenses for his adoption.

I am so happy we answered God’s calling for our family to adopt – we have been blessed in so many ways. It’s my hope and prayer these children will be united with their families soon.