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International Adoption in the Ozarks

November is National Adoption Month. The International Adoptive Families of Southwest Missouri is hosting an Adoption Fair Saturday from 9am to 1pm at Ozark Technical Community College. Whether it is international or domestic, more and more families in the Ozarks are choosing to adopt. KSMU's Emily Nash talked with a family who has adopted 2 girls from China, and files this report.

For Sandy and Jeff Frye, adopting a baby girl from China was the best adoption route for them.

"Partly because it was just a feeling we had in our hearts that our baby was in China, and partly because we wanted a real structured and organized adoption process that was the least stressful."

The Frye's adopted Olivia from China when she was 11 months old.

Not long after the Fry's adopted her, they decided to adopt a sister for Olivia named Anna.

But Sandy Frye says Anna and Olivia were born into very different environments in China.

"Anna was 17 months old when we adopted her, and she lived with a foster family, so she experienced life much differently than Olivia lived in an orphanage with a lot of babies."

Jessica Gerard is the President of International Adoptive Families of Southwest Missouri.

She says most international orphanages do not provide the attention and love babies need as they develop.

Therefore, children have a hard time adapting when they are adopted into a new culture.

"The thing about international adoption, is it works best if parents understand that it is a trans cultural and trans racial adoption, that means that these children have needs as far as their heritage is concerned and that they are different from biological children and must get a start of parenting and the therapies that they may needs to make up for their poor beginnings in life, for their losses, for the things they didn't get."

That's why Sandy and Jeff Frye make sure Olivia and Anna are always comfortable with their Chinese and American identities.

Sandy Frye says their family makes it a priority to maintain the girls' Chinese heritage.

"We talk about China a lot, we incorporate the culture as much as we can by going to group functions from the international adoptive families and just in our everyday live. And Olivia goes to Chinese Language Class."

Recently, China has made significant changes regarding their international adoption policy, and Jessica Gerard says that's caused problems for some couples.

"They have decided to make the rules much stricter, they have stopped single parent adoptions, they have raised the number of years you must be married and the amount of income you must have, but the most serious one for Americans which the Chinese underestimate, was that they will not allow anyone who has had any kind of mental illness, including depression, to adopt, so if you have taken anti-depressants for even a short term problem, you re now ineligible."

Gerard says it's best for children to be adopted within their own country.

Sandy says she hopes her girls take advantage of their Chinese heritage.

"Well I hope that they will be strong and proud of who they are and how they have become part of our family and part of the Ozarks and realize that the way they are different is also a way they can become empowered to make changes in society and here in racial issues and also in China. I hope they will become educated and empowered to make things better for girls in generation to come."

The Frye's say they have started the process of adopting a baby brother for Olivia and Anna from Vietnam.

International Adoptive Families is hosting an adoption fair on Saturday from 9 to 1 at Ozarks Technical Community College. The fair will provide information about domestic an international adoption.


  • International Adoptive Families in Southwest Missouri