How We Celebrate Chinese New Year


Chinese New Year is upon us! February 16th marks the beginning of the Chinese New Year celebrations around the world for 2018. If you are not familiar with Chinese New Year it is an annual festival that’s not only celebrated in China but also by many other nationalities. Some celebrations last as long as 15 days so we wanted to share some special ways to observe this special holiday with your family.

Chinese New Year can be especially meaningful for families who have adopted children from China. It is so vital that adoptive parents find ways to embrace the culture of their home country and celebrate their child’s rich heritage within their home. In order to research some of the best ways to participate in Chinese New Year festivities, I turned to some of our adoptive families to get ideas of special ways they have enjoyed celebrating this time of year with their children.

One adoptive mom, Anne, shared that their church has a big annual Chinese New Year celebration. Many of the people who come wear special Chinese outfits. They decorate the fellowship hall in red and yellow-gold. At last year’s celebration one of the Chinese men in the church made over 700 homemade dumplings! They have a potluck meal in which anyone in the community that wants to come is welcome to come and join in the festivities. She shared the picture below of their special gathering and I could not help but be moved by the beautiful smiles of so many individuals and families who set aside this time to celebrate the rich foods and customs of this Chinese holiday together. I can’t help but think of each child represented and the memories that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives about how special these gatherings were.


Anne also recommended this book, Bringing in the New Year by Grace Lin about a Chinese American family as they prepare for the Lunar New Year. In the book each member of the family lends a hand as they sweep out the dust of the old year, hang decorations, and make dumplings. Then it’s time to put on new clothes and celebrate with family and friends. The book beautifully illustrates the fireworks, lion dancers, shining lanterns, and a dragon parade to help bring in the Lunar New Year.

Another adoptive mom, Penny, shared traditions that they have developed to celebrate Chinese New Year since welcoming three precious children from China into their family. Each year their family sets aside a day to make lanterns to hang around their home. Construction paper or decorated scrapbook paper can be used to make these beautiful and festive lanterns. Here is a link that gives instructions for making lanterns and this is a craft that will be fun for all ages.

Two of Penny’s daughters are pictured below in their traditional silk dresses. We always recommend families picking out traditional Chinese clothes when they travel to China for their adoptions and purchase clothes in various sizes for their children to enjoy as they grow! Having dresses such as these to wear for Chinese New Year celebrations (or any time they wish!) can be such a special gift for adopted children.

In addition, when their kids were younger Penny would go to their classes and read a Chinese New Year book to give her children’s classmates information about the history and customs that make this holiday so special for Chinese families. Here is a link for some great books that teach small children about this special holiday.

And lastly, Penny shared that they save some sparklers from New Years Eve and light those on Chinese New Year as well. Penny shared the following:

I was so impressed to hear from an adoptive mom who wanted to share about one way they are celebrating Chinese New year for the first time after recently bringing their son, Langston, home from China. One custom that Brandy found that they could incorporate was that of hong bao which is an iconic symbol of Chinese New Year. A Chinese red envelope is simply an ornate red pocket of paper the size of an index card that holds money and it’s customary to leave the red envelope with two tangerines by a child’s bedside on New Year’s Eve. Brandy shared that they we worked on making red envelopes to put money in for Langston’s classmates (they shared $1). Langston was so excited about making these special envelopes and about sharing this custom with his new friends.

Another adoptive mom, Amanda, shared that they are hosting their own Chinese New Year celebration at their house for several other families that they know who have also adopted from China. They are having Chinese takeout, doing crafts with the kids with red envelopes, and have planned for some other activities that pertain to Chinese culture.

If you know of other families in your community that would want to celebrate with you but are not sure about preparing a huge meal yourself then why not invite each family to bring one dish from a local Chinese restaurant? What a fantastic (and affordable!) way to celebrate with other families in your community! If you have some helpful articles or ideas you would like to share on this topic, please submit in the comments below!


Here are a few other links with helpful hints about ways to celebrate Chinese New Year within your family and communities:

Clubfoot: Pre-Adoption Assessment of a Child Referral–Part III

young-asian-doctor-filling-out-medical-chartIn the past two blog posts, we discussed what clubfoot is, the types, and the treatments. Certainly what causes clubfoot may impact the type of treatment your child will receive.  So how do you know the severity of clubfoot your child may have?

What treatment, if any, has the child already had in China? What medical services will your child need once here in the US? And how well will your child fare after receiving castings or surgery?

These are all questions you should ask when presented with a referral of a child with clubfoot. At Nightlight, we will answer as many of these questions as possible. Often we may not have all the information on a child, but we can usually get more as it is always our goal to provide our families with all the information present.

Also, you will want to have a child‘s pictures and medical reports sent to an international medical specialist. There are many health care professionals who provide evaluation services as well as post-adoption services once your child is home. Nightlight has an extensive list of health care providers—some who provide assessment services. Contact Michelle@nightlight to send you this list. For a child with clubfoot, you may want someone whose specialty is clubfoot to evaluate your child’s referral pictures and medical report.

Once a physician looks at your child’s record and sees their pictures, the doctor may have more specific questions. This may require our China coordinator to contact the orphanage staff to gather further information– if the information is available. Continue reading

Adjustment, Bonding and Attachment

The following is a guest post by Kerry, who along with her husband Scott adopted their daughter Grace from Ethiopia. Kerry and Scott are friends of Nightlight Christian Adoptions and were gracious to allow us to re-distribute this post, which first appeared on their family blog. This post is important for two reasons: it addresses attachment issues that can arise for children who are adopted very young; and it gives the perspective of a mother who’s experiencing these things right now.

Our daughter Grace is giving hugs. You have to ask for them, and she doesn’t always oblige, but when in the right mood she’ll wrap her little arms around you and squeeze just slightly. I’m sure this is a big deal to any parent but in the adoption world, it’s a huge sign of progressing attachment and we are celebrating.

I don’t claim to know a ton about attachment and bonding, but we have read a fair amount on the subject and tried to prepare ourselves for anything. If you are waiting for your adoption to be completed right now, spend some time reading about attachment. Even babies must learn to attach. They have to learn to see their parents as a special and significant relationship, not just a caregiver.

Again, I’m no expert on this at all; I just thought I’d share our story and how we are still seeing growth in this area 10 months after coming home. Our experience has been measured in subtleties that I wouldn’t even have know about had we not read adoption books. We’ve not had a difficult time with Grace. We’re extremely thankful for that. Nonetheless, it’s an area we still put much work and prayer and try to act deliberately. Continue reading

Ethiopia Adoption: An Adoptive Father Reflects

Rocky and his wife, Suzanne, adopted from Ethiopia through Carolina Hope Christian Adoption Agency, which is now the South Carolina office of Nightlight Christian Adoptions. 

When we decided that we wanted to grow our family, the possibility of adoption almost immediately entered the conversation. I was not the one bringing it up though, my wife was. She had almost always wanted to adopt. I liked the idea of adoption in the abstract, but the thought of doing it while I was still in school was not something that I saw us doing, and I told Suzanne that. She accepted my answer, but was not going to give up completely. She prayed that my heart would change on the issue and continued to bring it up occasionally. At the school that I attend, there are many professors and students who have adopted. Suzanne went to a talk on adoption at the school, and brought me the CD to listen to. I began to consider the possibility of starting the adoption process. This entire time we were hoping that Suzanne would become pregnant.

It did not take long before God changed my heart. Continue reading

Adoption, ethnicity, racism

A few days ago the L.A. Times published an article entitled Thanking her for opening my eyes. The author, Corina Knoll, is ethnically Korean and was adopted as a child by a white family in the U.S.

In the article Knoll reflects on racism in America and how an Iowa school teacher made racism come alive to her white students in the 1960’s. I recommend the piece — but with reservations. For example, the author remarks that being stared at in an all-white town made her uncomfortable. Fair enough. But by itself, that’s not racism. (I’ve been in numerous villages in Cambodia, and everyone always stared at me. They weren’t racist. They just weren’t used to seeing a white face. I’ve had the same experience in big cities in China, so it’s not just a village thing. It’s a cognitive-perceptual thing.)

But my complaints aside, the author highlights some of the real challanges faced by non-whites in America, and anyone thinking about international or transethnic adoption should be pretty serious about what adult adoptees in transethnic families have to say about their experiences.

Outsiders’ views of our family . . .

My husband and I have been adopting transracially for 9 years and have almost forgotten that our large multi-racial family is still an anomaly in the United States. On Christmas Day, our local paper ran an interview about who we are and how we are living. I was amazed at the outpouring of support that the article has generated and saddened as I received the negative as well. But out of those negative comments much good has come. Here are a few of the benefits that I am praying over today.

  • It has been so good for me to hear from the people who think it is wrong for us to adopt Black kids, because it reminds me to pray that God will raise up more Black families who are willing to adopt.
  • It is good for me to be accused of adopting simply for the income generated through adoption subsidies, because it is a common fallacy that profit can be made through adoption, and I need to speak truth about it.
  • It is good for me to be accused of neglecting the children in my home, simply due to the number there are, because it reminds me to look into each one’s eyes every day and affirm them that they are precious and not a burden — that there is not one I would rather not have in my home.
  • It is good for me to be accused of seeking public recognition because I must in all things give Glory and Praise to God who sustains our every breath. What a blessing it was that both the article and slideshow ended with the name of God.
  • It is good for me to have strange men in my house, men of the press, and have nothing to hide. No need to diminish or lessen what we believe. No need to pretend we are living this life for any other reason than obedience.
  • It is good for me to be publically criticized for the obedience of adoption — for it is a criticism not of me but of God who builds our families to reflect His own perfect plan. In the big picture of my life I would rather take the world’s rebuke and God’s praise on any day.

Confession time again – six adoptions doesn’t necessarily make the seventh easier.

DorthyBodewithherchildrenAdoption number seven: it seems like I should be able to manage it in my sleep.  Unfortunately, the truth is that I have spent more time researching grants, evaluating state statutes and exchanging emails with agencies on this adoption that I have on any of the other six. Naively, I would have assumed that things would have gotten easier with this many successful transracial adoptions under our belt, but in fact, now we just have enough experience to see the larger picture rather than the limited one we had with our first adoption — so it’s still an exhausting process.

Some things are easier. I know how to do my own research on legal and local issues on a particular child match; I can see more clearly when our parenting styles and family dynamics won’t fit with a particular agency and then we can choose not to work with them before it becomes an issue. And most of all I don’t have that powerless, desperate feeling Continue reading

The Gospel and Transethnic Adoption

This is a reworked and reformatted article. To read the article, click on the image below, and you will be able to download the article as a PDF.

Transracial adoption: Is God’s leading enough?

Orphan CareIn a post two days ago, Dorothy Bode wrote in answer to those who ask the question, “Am I making a terrible mistake by adopting transracially?”:

The main thing I help them question is their motivations. “Is God building your family or are you trying to do it in spite of Him and in your own strength and wisdom” Outside of God, I think there are mistakes made in adoption plans. With him, I trust there are not.

The same basic question can be changed to cover many different adoption situations — it can apply to children who are older, disabled, in foster care, abused or neglected. If our answer to the question is “Yes, we are following God’s lead and planning in this,” then we can rest in Him because he makes no mistakes.

Although I typically concur with Dorothy’s insights with a hearty yea-and-amen, in this case I felt like saying, “Yes, but…” Continue reading