China Brings Happiness to Carson Teachers

Carson City teacher Annette Hodorowicz owes a debt to ABC news anchor Peter Jennings.

So do Marie Simonson and Cathi Adams.

Four years ago, Jennings reported on Americans who adopt Chinese baby girls, telling viewers to contact their state senator if they were interested.

"The thing that hit me was he said older single people, male or female, can adopt," said Hodorowicz, who was 45 and divorced at the time.

"I thought, here I am, in a capital city - I could do this. I felt like God was talking to me."

She contacted Sen. Richard Bryan's office, where aide Tom Baker took on the project. Hodorowicz filled out the paperwork and sent it in. She didn't hear anything for almost two years.

Unknown to Hodorowicz, China had become inundated with requests for adoption and had started regulating the procedure, requiring Americans to go through an agency. Baker picked up the paper trail, and Hodorowicz, working through a Chinese agency based in New York City, flew to Nanjing in southern China and brought back back 14-month-old Faithann.

She also brought back inspiration for Simonson and Adams, two fellow teachers and friends.

"We're all teachers, we love kids, and we all had hoped to be moms, but it didn't happen," said Hodorowicz.

Simonson and Adams ended up retracing Hodorowicz's route, where each adopted a baby of her own. Two years after her first trip, Hodorowicz went back to adopt a second daughter, Ann Ji.

"We're raising them as cousins," said Hodorowicz, whose parents are both dead.

Simonson's parents are serving as communal grandparents for the girls. "It helps to have the three-way support system. We fill in for each other," she said.

The adoptions are handled through the Chinese Center for Adoption Affairs, which gets the paperwork from the agencies and then combs through each dossier, examining photos and information about the prospective parents. It then decides which child will go with which parent.

Prospective parents meet their children either at the hotel or in a restricted area of the orphanage itself, which in China serves as a home for the dispossessed of all ages, from babies to seniors.

Adams laughs as she recalls how she was matched with her baby.

"I'm what you'd call a large lady," she said. "CCAA paired me with the biggest little girl, for her age, that they had." She is the proud mother of 2-year-old Ginny Mei.

Simonson, of petite build, was handed tiny Lisarah, now 2 1/2. Warned by the Chinese caretakers to expect a cranky baby, the two bonded immediately.

"She crawled right over to me," said Simonson.

How infants make their way to the orphanage is indicative of the double bind China finds itself in as it grapples with a patriarchal culture coupled with a massive population.

Lisara was left in the town square when she was 2 months old, with a note that carefully listed her birth date, her immunization shots, and ended with, "If you have a loving heart, please raise my child."

Faithann was two days old when she was found on a city street. Ann Ji has a similar story. Ginny Mei was dropped off at the door of the orphanage.

"Babies are found in train stations, bus stations, places where people will find them and bring them in," said Adams. "At the orphanage we used, there were still 100 babies waiting to be adopted."

Although many of the children are true orphans, Chinese daughters are still being abandoned in favor of their brothers.

"Boys are the parents' social security," said Adams. "A son won't marry out of the family and will be there to help run the family farm and care for the parents in their old age."

Yet all three prospective moms saw the Chinese demonstrate their love for children over and over.

"We'd go into a restaurant, and the waitress would take the baby and walk around with it," said Simonson. "It's not that their birth parents don't love them."

Locals would come up to them on the street and tentatively ask whether the child was a boy or a girl. When they heard the answer, big smiles would break out, conveying gratitude that the daughters of China were finding homes.

Hodorowicz brushes away tears when she tells about the time she encountered a Chinese man locally.

"He was trying to say, in his broken English, 'Thank you for taking one of our daughters.' I wanted to tell him - and I did - 'Thank you. You don't know what your country is doing for me.'"

Hodorowicz encourages people who want to find out more about adopting in China to contact her through the Nevada Appeal.


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