International Adoption Families Maintain Close Connections

Summerside Reunion

Marilyn Shinyei
Founder, Adoption Options
Retired

In February 2007 I had the unexpected joy of accompanying 12 families to China for the adoption of their baby girls (or in one case a 13-year-old girl). This came about because two of the families were from Edmonton and AO had done their homestudies. So the international facilitator, Yulin Deng at Families Outreach International in Ottawa, called to invite me. It was a wonderful trip, a highlight of my 24 years with Adoption Options and filled with lasting memories — being in the room with the families waiting for the foster parents to come in with the babies, the babies' arrival dressed in heavily quilted snowsuits on a very warm day, and the amazing good nature of all the families as they struggled with a brand new little stranger, a foreign country, immigration hoops, and the long trip home.

As well I fondly remember my own delighted exploration of China — being the only Caucasian on the streets of Nanchang and greeted with smiles and hellos from many people, eating in funny little shops there (in Beijing, Yulin took us for amazing group meals most nights sampling many different cuisines of China),  walking on the Great Wall, visiting the Forbidden City and so much more. Just look at these happy faces on our last evening in China! 

Over the intervening years, one of the Edmonton families has kindly stayed in touch, sending me a Christmas card every year with a picture of their children. So again this year I received an unexpected invite. The families, who have stayed in close touch and had small reunions whenever they could, were planning a reunion on PEI. Since I lived so close, would I like to come? Would I ever!

Seven of the 12 families spent several days together at Summerside, PEI in August. Two of them are PEI residents. The others travelled from BC, AB, SK and ON. Many made a real Maritime sojourn out of it. I took my 8-year-old granddaughter with me, first to Charlottetown to see the Anne of Green Gables musical then to Summerside for just 24 hours. Once again I was so impressed by these families. They enfolded Maeve and me into the group easily. The children played happily together all day. The adults seamlessly organized lunch for 30 of us at a nearby restaurant, picked up food for supper back at the motel, visited and shared stories. Just like in China there was no discord. I was really impressed with the bond that the adults clearly had with each other and the girls' bond was even stronger. It seems that 3 of the girls were fostered together for their first year of life.  It was wonderful to see that the frailest of the babies was a healthy, strapping 10-year-old and the most petite baby is now a terrific dancer and gymnast and still petite! I also heard the funniest homestudy story ever!

This photo is of the group on the red sands of Cavendish Beach. It requires a little explanation. Three families returned to China and adopted subsequent siblings, seen here as the two smallest girls and the one boy. The tallest girl was a 3-year-old returning to China in 2007 with her family who was adopting a second girl.

Marilyn Shinyei
Founder, Adoption Options
Retired