Family begins their new life in Kent

Theresa Edwards

After 19 long months parents Max Grubb and Shana Steinhouse finally welcome their new baby home

Shana Steinhouse holds her adopted daughter Sophie outside the Music and Speech building. Sophie is adapting to American culture well with her McDonald’s backpack. Grubb and Steinhouse plan on taking a trip to China when Sophie is 9 years old so she can

Credit: Jason Hall

Shana Steinhouse’s eyes swelled up with tears as she recalled the day she brought her daughter home from China. At nine months old, Yue Dongna (which means “beautiful girl in winter” in Mandarin) became Sophia “Sophie” Rachel Nana Grubb – an official U.S. citizen.

“When we touched down, we exploded just clapping and yelling because our (child) automatically became (a) United States citizen if both parents were traveling,” said Jane “Shana” Steinhouse, a self-employed massage therapist.

She and her husband Max Grubb, an assistant journalism professor at Kent State, spent 19 months dealing with frustrations and waiting for their daughter.

Numerous questionnaires about the couple’s personal life, documents being transferred overseas and a Chinese SARS outbreak slowed the adoption process.

Picture perfect

The long-awaited referral came to Steinhouse and Grubb on Aug. 4, 2003. Here, the adoption agency e-mailed pictures and sent information about Sophia by FedEx.

“When you first see the e-mail picture, you fall in love with the child,” Grubb said. They sent the e-mail picture to all of their family, he added.

The couple accepted the referral and after 37 hours of flight in October 2003, they arrived at the capitol of Hunan Province to pick up their new child.

The adoption agency usually takes six to seven families to China in a group, but because SARS delayed the process, 19 families flew together in their group.

They spent 18 days in China visiting Beijing, completing paperwork at the U.S. Consulate to get Sophia’s visa, learning more about the Chinese culture and shopping.

Grubb said they bought different gifts for Sophia each year, to celebrate her adoption day, until she turns 16. One was a string of pearls, a gift that Grubb said is a tradition for his and his wife’s families.


Adoption Day is the day the adoption is finalized through the Chinese government. It’s also the day after “Gotcha” Day, when the parents receive their children from the orphanages.

On “Gotcha” Day, Oct. 13, 2003, different orphanages came to meet the parents at different times. There were three groups and Grubb was anxious to see his daughter.

“(We were) just waiting and waiting. The hotel elevator doors would open up, and it would just be somebody coming out on that floor,” he said.

When the children from their group came to meet them, Sophia and her new parents were the first to be announced.

“All of a sudden, you’ve got your daughter,” he said. “You have this beautiful human being, and you know that she’s a part of your family.”

A lucky baby

People would stop Grubb and Steinhouse on the street and question why American parents had a Chinese baby. After explaining how and why they adopted her, the couple received comments.

“People would say to us ‘lucky baby, lucky baby,'” Steinhouse said.

Grubb made a different observation about the Chinese culture.

“They’re very open about coming up to you and if they don’t think you’re taking care of your child, they’ll tell you,” he said.

Steinhouse doesn’t see this as negative, but, she did receive criticism.

“We got scolded on the street because Sophie sucked her thumb,” she said.

Sophia also had to pass a medical examination before she could leave the country. Steinhouse and Grubb had to take an oath promising they would be good parents to her and take good care of her.

While in China, they also bought Sophia dresses she could use to dress up for Chinese cultural events they attend through the Akron-Canton chapter of Families with Children from China.

Through this group, the family will celebrate major Chinese holidays, take Chinese language courses and Sophia can meet other children who were adopted from China and have someone to relate to.

Grubb said Steinhouse already successfully taught Sophia to say “thank you” and “you’re welcome” in Chinese.

It’s challenging, but he also said, “We’re trying to do as much of that as we can.”

He said they want to take Sophia back to China to visit when she’s about 9 years old so she can remember the visit. But that’s if they don’t adopt another Chinese child first, which he and Steinhouse are considering.

Grubb and Steinhouse already explained to Sophia that her Chinese parents couldn’t keep her, but love her very much.

In preparation for the adoption, through a hosting program, they became friends with a lot of Chinese students from Southern Illinois University. One student in particular became fond of the family and was concerned for Steinhouse and Grubb.

Steinhouse said he cautioned them and told them to check the baby before they brought her back and make sure everything was OK.

Steinhouse acknowledged the caution, but said there wasn’t a guarantee in a regular pregnancy and asked why this should be any different. There’s no guarantee the child will be healthy.

“I’ve bonded with this picture that’s been on my refrigerator for two months. I’m not going to not take this child,” she said.

Worth the wait

There are a lot of days when Grubb will come home to visit Sophia on his break from classes and when he goes to leave, Sophia will say, “Daddy, where you goin?'” He will tell her he’s going to work, and if he doesn’t have pens in his shirt pocket she will respond, “Where’s your pens, Daddy?” because she knows he usually has pens in his pocket when he works.

An adoption of this sort could cost a minimum of $15,000, Steinhouse and Grubb said. They did not want to disclose the cost they spent because they’ve received comments that Steinhouse feels are rude.

“People have said really rude things to me like how much did she cost you, and how much did you buy her for?” she said.

Overall though, Grubb is pleased with their decision to adopt.

“She’s a real blessing and we’ve received more from her, probably more than we’ve given her,” Grubb said. “I would just say that it’s a very beautiful experience, and it still is.”

Contact features correspondent Theresa Edwards at [email protected].