Local family recalls adoption process
Allen and April Strauch knew early in their marriage that they would not be able to have biological children. Without much hesitation, they decided that adoption was the way to go for them.
Although the Strauchs knew they would be adopting children, they weren’t sure where they should adopt from. Then, one morning at their church service, they recalled listening to Paul Hatmaker speak to the congregation. He was a spokesperson for Living Hope Adoption Agency.
Living Hope’s main adoption site at that time was in China. Shortly after they heard Hatmaker speak, the Strauchs were drawn to adopt from China. “China is by far the largest place for foreign adoptions,” said Allen.
At that time in the early 2000s, over 100,000 babies were abandoned each year in China. Children were abandoned frequently due to China’s one child policy. The Strauchs also remembered being told that only one in ten babies would survive in Chinese orphanages. That means at least 90,000 babies would die each year.
There were some minor drawbacks in the adoption process. April recalled that “Allen had to be 29 before we could start the paperwork, so we waited and called on his 29th birthday.” They also remember that the terrorist attacks in September 2001 happened only three months before they were supposed to pick up their first baby.
After the paperwork was finished, the Strauchs adopted two girls from China. Once in 2001 and again in 2005. Typically the adoption process takes around six years to complete each time, but it took them only two years each time from the beginning of the paperwork until they got to meet their little girls for the first time.
You Yi was adopted from the Hunan province in 2001 and renamed Lily Strauch, and Tong Min You was adopted from the Jaingxi province in 2005 and renamed Rayelle Strauch. They were both brought home shortly after their first birthdays.
The flight to China took about 14 hours each time. They flew from the U.S. to the city of Guangzhou, where the U.S. consulate is located.
Allen remembers that there were more time delays on their 2001 trip. “It took 37 hours from the time we left home until we made it to the hotel.” Also, when picking up Rayelle in 2005, they realized that she had pneumonia and they had to call a respiratory specialist to check on her at their hotel.
At first, the Strauchs were concerned about what people would think when they returned home. They live in a predominantly Caucasian area and didn’t know how people would react to white parents with Asian babies. Allen says, “I don’t know why, but when it came down to it, people were more accepting.”
Lily is now 16 years old and Rayelle is 13 years old. When asked how being adopted has affected her, Lily said, “I never really thought about being Chinese until more recently… a lot of people aren’t as privileged to live in a community as accepting as ours.” The Strauchs are a normal American family with two Chinese-American daughters. April also said, “We were always open and talked to our girls about [adoption].” They wanted to make sure Lily and Rayelle felt comfortable asking questions and knew where they were from.
A few funny thoughts popped into their heads too. “I’m Chinese, but I can’t speak Chinese,” said Lily. “It just feels weird.” The family also recalled that when the girls were younger they got treated like royalty at Chinese restaurants. “I remember them giving us bags of candy to take home,” said Lily.
Lily admits that she is the sister who asks more questions. She has always been more curious, and Rayelle follows her lead. Lily is also interested in going back to China at least once. She wants to tour the place she once called home.