Because Stephe asked, here's a picture of the doll I won at the East Meets West Conference this weekend. The dolls were brought from China by foster parents that spoke at the conference. (I got to practice "hearing" Mandarin to see if I could pick out words). They had fostered a five year old little girl there from when she was 10 days old, until she was adopted at 11 months. What a blessing it is for the little girl and her Mom to be able to meet and have a relationship with these foster parents. The Mom is actually the first agency representative I spoke with at an informational meeting in September 2005. She has three daughters from China and gave a talk at the conference on incorporating the Chinese culture into life in the US. She spoke of having a "treasure box" filled with items unique to your child's province (tea set, silk, embroidery), the clothes she was wearing the day you met her, chinese language books and music. She encouraged folks to learn some words in Chinese and how to cook some Chinese food. She cautioned people about going overboard, but to find a happy balance with the two cultures.
The kepnote speaker was Dr. Ira Chasnoff, a professor of clinical pediatrics at the University of Illinois in Chicago. He gave a wonderful talk on the biology of fetal alcohol syndrome and the biology behind attachment and bonding. His most recent book, Risk and Promise: a Handbook for Parents Adopting a Child from Overseas, outlines the potential risk factors as well as protective factors involved in adopting a child overseas.
I also met Paul Consbruck, an attorney in Jacksonville that handles domestication of foreign adoptions in Florida. He spoke at the conference on preadoption legal items to have in place (travel/medical evac insurance, healthcare for child, will, life insurance) prior to travel and the post-adoption steps. The adoption is considered final in China, but to ease future paperwork in the US, it is highly recommended to have the adoption recognized in the state of Florida in order to obtain a Florida Certificate of Foreign Birth. This will make obtaining the social security card and passport much easier. Paul and his wife have one daughter from China and are waiting for their second. He also gave me some tips on diving/resorts in the Turks and Caicos Islands!
The conference was informative and fun (and much larger than I imagined it would be). I'm glad I made the decision to go and would highly recommend attending one if you are in the process or have already adopted.