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'She's a bundle of joy'
Family grows by one after trip overseas

by Kim Fickett
Landmark reporter

For most newly expecting parents, the anticipation of their new bundle of joy is nine months and a trip to the local hospital. For Joe and Roberta Carroll of Platte City, their anticipation took 1 1/2 years and a trip across the ocean to arrive at the new family member that would grace their lives.

The Carroll's along with their 7-year-old daughter Samantha, recently returned to Platte City with their 11-month-old Chinese daughter, Stephanie.

After having some difficulty with their conception of Samantha, the Carroll's discussed the possibility of an adoption following a discussion Roberta had with a co-worker.

The co-worker calmed fears the Carroll's were having about being too old for a domestic adoption. Instead, they learned that one option was an international adoption, where age is consider an asset to the adoption not a potential liability.

"In China, older parents are seen as more stable and more mature than some younger parents may be," said Roberta. "Their main concern is giving the child a good education."

Once the decision was made to pursue the international adoption, the Carroll's contacted Children's Hope International regional office in Kansas City.

The Carroll's stated they were required to complete all of the necessary dossier materials which included a homestudy by a social worker, submitted a petition to adopt by the INS, pass a criminal background check, attend a physical examination and provide marriage and birth certificates for verification. Once the necessary requirements were met, the Carroll's had a 14-month wait until they received final word from the adoption agency.

"Since China only allows 5,000 adoptions per year, originally it only took eight months for an adoption to be completed," said Joe. "Because Spain and Canada began taking part in the adoption process, the time frame has started taking longer."

During their wait, the Carroll's tried to become familiar with the conditions in China and the orphan situation in the country. In a book entitled, "Lost Daughters of China", written by a journalist who did extensive research during the adoption of her Chinese daughter, the author writes about the number of girls abandoned in China and the reasonings behind the abandonment.

Like the Carroll's daughter, Stephanie, who was abandoned outside the gates of an orphanage at approximately three-weeks-old, the majority of girls placed in that position far outweighs the number of boys.

While there are only a few boys that get abandoned, the main reason is due to physical conditions. In the more remote areas of China, the birth of a boy is more accepted and preferred than that of a daughter. According to their traditions, the birth of a son means that they will be the ones to care of the parents when they get older.

Roberta stated that there are many reasons for abandonment of girls in China such as financial reasons, pressure from the in-laws to have a son, and if the mother is unwed.

One of the other main reasons for abandonment is due to the family size limitations set by the Chinese government. If the child is the families second, they will be forced to abort the child because the limitation is set to only one child per family in most remote areas.

"Because 22 percent of the world's population is in China, their government is trying to limit the countries population," explained Joe. "I know they're trying to do a good thing, but the means in which they're trying to achieve it is wrong."

A trip to the post office on Dec. 21, turned out to be one of the family's most memorable moments. The Carroll's received two pictures of Stephanie, along with medical background information, a brief personality article and an adoption contract.

"It was a great Christmas present," stated Joe.

On Feb. 14, the Carroll's along with Samantha left Kansas City for BeJing with four other families from the Kansas City area.
After traveling to BeJing and learning the history of the city, the Carroll's traveled to NanChang where they were united with Stephanie for the first time. "It was such a happy and joyous moment for us," said Roberta.
After traveling to China, the Carroll's stated they got a whole new appreciation for the United States of America.

Because they were adopting a child from China, the Carroll's got a chance to see how the families in the remote villages of China live. "Their homes are made of dirt floors, with very little furniture, and most of the huts have eight or nine families living in one home," explained Joe. "The slums look like paradise compared to what they're living in."

"If she wouldn't have been adopted she would of had two options. Either at the age of 16, she would have went to work in the rice fields or she would have went back to work at the orphanage," said Roberta.

According to Roberta, they intend to provide her with all of the opportunities presented to each of us everyday.

"I want to see that she's getting a great education, a better home environment, a stable family life, see that she's given and provided the same opportunities as the male gender, and that Stephanie is provided all the freedoms we take for granted everyday," said Roberta.

During their time in China, Stephanie became an American citizen at a swearing in ceremony at Guangzhou before traveling back to Platte City.

"She's got the most beautiful smile. She's like a precious China doll," stated Roberta. "Samantha was our first blessing and now Stephanie is another blessing to our family. She's a bundle of joy."