Chinese-American fund aims to help adoptees reconnect with roots

Huang Hai (left) and Li Jun are founders of the USino Angels Alliance Foundation. Photos: China Press
Chinese children adopted by American parents inevitably face an identity crisis, trying to figure out their Chinese origins and how they ended up in a culturally different world. Now one of them has embarked on a bumpy road to help the adoptees overcome the psychological hurdle.

Joel Poncz or Li Jun in Chinese, was among the first group of Children adopted by American families in the 1990s. In recent years, he went back to China in hopes of finding his birth parents, but failed due to a lack of record in the Chinese orphanage.

Growing up in a new environment is daunting psychologically. Not only does adoption bring with it a new lifestyle, new culture, new way of thinking, but also a set of adversities associated with the new changes such as racism, loss of self-confidence, and the pressure to conform. Adoptees may question their own identity, and also the adoption itself, Li said.

The 28-year-old has established the USino Angels Alliance Foundation, trying to help adopted Chinese children overcome those obstacles and issues they encounter while growing up.

This foundation will provide services in Chinese language and culture acquisition, arrange trips to China to reconnect with their roots, and help Chinese adoptees gain international work experience by providing job and internship opportunities.

Over 80,000 adopted Chinese children are living with the American families, the fund’s co-founder Huang Hai said.

Since 1991, when China officially opened its doors to international adoption, around 120,000 Chinese children have been adopted by families from 17 countries.

Li Jun and Huanghai are on a caravan tour to publicize their ideas and raise funds.

Setting off from Seattle in December, Li and Huang are on a caravan tour across the cities in western America to publicize their ideas and raise funds by selling coffee beans donated by a Chinese sponsor.

They travelled 2,000 km before arriving in Los Angeles this week. The body odor in the caravan spoke volumes of their frugal trip, which they did at their own cost.

“We take a bath once a week, we have to save and scrimp on everything,” Li told the China Press.

“The journey has been going well,” said Li. “We want to encourage more adopted Chinese to learn about China and to be part of China-US exchanges.”

“The adoptees’ common aspiration is to repay both China and the US. We can remove misunderstandings and strengthen the bilateral ties,” Li added.

In June, the foundation will select ten adopted children for a 12-day visit to Beijing, Shanghai, Yunnan and Hong Kong, Li added.

Li was adopted by Rita and Louis Poncz living in Seattle when he was six years old. His memory of China of that time is no more than a bridge in his hometown Suzhou, Jiangsu province.

Li recalled that life in America got off to a poor start as the language barrier separated him from peers when he was admitted into a local private school.

But Rita, with a Chinese-English dictionary in hand, helped him weather the storm and encouraged Li to find his birth parents when he grew up.

“My foster parents don’t shun the topic,” said Li, who first thought of finding out his Chinese origins when he was nine.

The Poncz’s another adopted Chinese son Li Xiang had the luck of having a reunion with his Chinese parents in Jiangsu.

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