The sexual abuse of an 8-year-old adopted Chinese girl that lasted for four years in the state of Washington in the United States was a tragedy.
Justice was done last Thursday when Donna Marie Whisenhunt, the girl's mother, was sentenced to 16 years in prison. Her father, Eddy Tony Whisenhunt, received 18 years last month.
The crime has appalled both Chinese and Americans. The website of the Olympian, a newspaper based in Washington state, was left with plenty of messages condemning the couple and hailing the punishment. Some demand that the penalty be more severe.
Indignation at the couple was understandable. However, this was an isolated case and should by no means alter people's perception of those with children adopted from China.
I have known many of them over the years. In my mind, each of them deserves a medal, or at least a thank-you note, for helping change those children's lives. These children, mostly girls abandoned by their parents and some with special needs, such as a cleft palate, would otherwise grow up in orphanages had they not been adopted by the American parents.
"I want to thank you on behalf of 1.3 billion Chinese" were the words in my mouth when I first met those families in Minnesota 12 years ago.
It was a sunny weekend when a group of the families were having an outing in a beautiful house overlooking the Mississippi River, where people were kayaking in the waterway and biking on the riverbank trail.
Outside the century-old white house, some 10 Chinese girls were playing in the sand, on the slide or with toys. They eventually jumped into the swimming pool frolicking with their Caucasian parents.
Doug, who owned the house, was an airline pilot. He didn't seem to agree at all after I mustered up enough encourage to say thank you.
"Ellie (their adopted Chinese girl) was the best gift we have received in our lives, and we want to thank the Chinese people for giving us that gift," said Doug, probably the shiest guy I have ever met.
I was deeply moved. In contrast to those living in Chinese orphanages, Ellie lived like a princess. A year later I met Doug again. This time he came to China to adopt his second daughter in Changsha, Hunan province.
Doug is just one of many wonderful American parents I know with adopted children from China.
"My children are the most important and worthwhile things in my life. I have been blessed to be able to parent them," Kathryn Bauermeister told me on the phone on Sunday. Her four daughters are all from China.
Having worked for an adoption agency for over 15 years, Kathryn knows that many American families love to adopt children from China, and many special-needs children from China will also find loving families in the US.
I met Kathryn and her first Chinese daughter Emily 12 years ago in a park in St Paul, Minnesota, after she found my information in a local newspaper report.
She is an amazing woman who came to China time and again to adopt her second, third and then the fourth child just 10 month ago. Every time she came, she brought duffle bags of toys and clothing for the orphanages.
While we talked on the phone on Sunday afternoon when the temperature soared in the Midwestern city, the daughters were roller-skating, playing soccer or with their toys outdoors.
Kathryn's goal in life is pure and simple: To help change the life of these Chinese girls. "Raising them to be loving, sensitive, successful adults is my goal" she said.
She has done this and so have many of the great number of American parents with children from China. Last year alone, 3,000 Chinese children were adopted by US families.
(China Daily 03/16/2010 page8)