McAfees will adopt child from China

Wednesday, February 23, 2005
Eric, Seth and Katrina McAfee hold photo of new daughter.

Five years ago, adopting a child was perhaps the farthest thing from Eric and Katrina McAfee's minds.

"There was a time I didn't think I wanted to be married," Katrina said. "I asked our pastor, Kenny Burns, for guidance. We became more active in the church and grew spiritually. Brother Kenny told me, 'Being in love is a choice you make.'"

The couple grew stronger from there, finding the strength they needed to get their relationship back on track.

Now, five years later, the Rector couple and their eight-year old son Seth want to share not only their love, but their lives with a child that has no family.

The McAfees are in the process of adopting a 15-month-old baby girl from China. The child was found abandoned in a paper carton in the city of Zhan Jiang near Hong Kong. Without any family information to go on, the people at the orphanage the baby was taken to named her AiQi Zhan. "Ai" is the Chinese word for "love." "Qi" means "blessings and luck." "Zhan" was taken from the name of the city the child was found in.

Many girls in China are left unclaimed after birth. Families in China are taxed or fined for having more than one child. Many families only want boys so that their family name will continue on. Some American families like the McAfees have been able to help these children by going through the adoption process. However, as the McAfees have found, the process is far from easy.

The total cost of adopting a child from China is in excess of $16,000. The family held a fundraiser to help generate the necessary money, raising $1,100 from the sales of Little Caesar pizza kits and dough. Though they have applied for grants, the family has received no word on their status.

"There's always an expense somewhere," Katrina said. "We've sent letters to our friends and family requesting donations. We hope to receive financial support and blessings. We hope that others will see the need to reach out across the world and help a child reach a family that will love and care for them."

There will be additional costs once the adoption is final. Once a member of the family, Meleia Suzann, the name the McAfees have given the baby, will undergo surgery to repair a cleft lip and pallet. The surgery will help ensure that the child will have the best chance possible at a full life.

Despite all the adversity, the McAfees continue on, facing the challenges before them one at a time. The couple have gone through the required background checks -- local, state and federal. They have been examined physically and had bloodwork done. They have filled out and sent numerous forms including general information sheets and financial statements.

The couple hope to travel to China near mid-May or mid-June. Once in China, the McAfees will spend approximately two weeks going through the required adoption process. They will be introduced to the Chinese culture first-hand. The couple have purchased Chinese dictionaries and are readying themselves for the experience.

"I can't wait to go over there and get her," Eric said. "I'm ready to get her here."

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