Group helps Chinese adoptees keep traditions

Theresa Edwards

Lou Anne Gintner, of Cuyahoga Falls, and her daughter Lian Gintner, 8, spend time together after school yesterday. Lou Anne and her husband Lou Gintner adopted Lian when she was 9 months old from China through the Families with Children from China organi

Credit: Steve Schirra

Of all Chinese children waiting to be adopted, 15 percent make it out of the orphanage and find a family.


• The majority of adoptees are girls because they’re less likely to take care of their families, but rather will marry and take care of their in-laws.

• Giving children up in China has less of a cultural bias these days, but instead paternal

grandparents pressure their children to have boys who will carry on the family name.

• China has a strictly enforced single-child policy.

• Adoptive parents generally do not know who the child’s biological parents are.

• Famines make feeding children in China


Source: Lou Anne Gintner, Akron-Canton chapter of Families with Children from China founder

And not all orphanages in China have adoption programs, an adoption liaison from China told Lou Anne Gintner.

Knowing this information, Gintner founded the Akron-Canton chapter of Families with Children from China in January 2003.

“That’s why I work so vigilantly with children adopted from China,” she said.

Through the local chapter of the national Families with Children from China program, Gintner said parents have the opportunity to include Chinese tradition, language and food in their homes so as not to exclude it from their children’s lives.

Each month, the families have a chance to get together and socialize with activities such as rock climbing, swimming and baking pies. Parents have the chance to learn about the culture through Chinese cooking lessons while their children learn the language or take dance classes.

“We think it’s important to have a group that will keep a lot of the Chinese culture into the girls’ lives,” she said. “And also we think it’s good too because this way they get to be with other kids in the same situation as themselves.”

Gintner was part of a Chinese adoption group in Cuyahoga Falls, but she said she didn’t like that the children were usually in daycare while the parents were in the meeting.

She then signed up as a member of the central Ohio chapter about two years before she adopted her daughter Lian Mei (pronounced lee-ann may) who will be 9 years old in July.

“We liked joining the group early because it gave us a lot of insight,” she said.

She liked the Columbus program better because it included activities for the whole family. And after she adopted her daughter, thoughts of a local chapter started coming into play.

“I really had in my mind that that’s the type of group that I would like better,” she said.

But Gintner said the central Ohio chapter is in Columbus and having a local chapter is easier.

“We’re still members there; it’s just we’re living so far away,” she said. “We don’t go to many of the events.”

She had about 20 families who wanted to be involved as soon as it started. The chapter has now grown to about 60 families, 10 potential families and other various families who show up for a couple meetings and decide if it’s for them.

News that the new chapter started up spread by word-of-mouth and about 140 people attended the Chinese New Year celebration in February which become the group’s largest event.

For the last four events, about 80 people have attended each.

“For as young as our group is, I’m impressed that we can get that many people involved,” Gintner said.

Some families are more dedicated than others, but the chapter has seen growth.

“One mom was so brave,” Gintner said. “She had a slumber party for the girls. She had them making the Chinese New Year dumplings.”

She said the group tries to do as much as possible relating to the culture.

“Most of the time, I think the kids are looking at it as ‘are we having a good time?’,” she said.

A lot of times, people will be curious about Lian and sometimes Gintner gets questions such as if her husband is Chinese, she said. But other times, people will simply ask, “May I ask you about your daughter?”

She’s had this happen within her family as well. Her brother-in-law asked her about the adoption she went through and ended up adopting a child himself.

“It’s really a topic that I do enjoy talking about,” she said. “It’s really important to me.”

Contact features reporter Theresa Edwards at [email protected].