Hi everyone, my name is Joy Clendenning, I do not have any adopted children. You might be asking, why are you here then?
Here is my story.
I am from Xi’an, China and came to the United States in 2010. I met my husband in China while I was in college, he was a missionary. I came here right after I graduated from college and we got married in October 2010. In the following four years, we had our first daughter Esther in 2012, our second daughter Naomi in 2014, then our son Harrison in 2015. During this time, I have worked as a Chinese teacher in the school district.
I have to say, life in the United States had been a hard transition for me, coming from a big extended family in China (not the direct family because of the one child policy) where everyone lived close to each other, everything was close, a city of over 10 million population; to a small city/town of 40,000 people where you will have to drive wherever you go. It was a big shock for me, so I had always been looking for anything related to my culture. For example, helping American students learn Chinese, promoting Chinese culture by participating in cultural festivals, offering to teach Chinese in all levels (from elementary to college/adults), reaching out to other schools, and teaching my own children Chinese.
In 2014, as the only Chinese teacher in town, I was asked to translate a memory book for an American family, my kids’ pediatrician, who adopted a little Chinese girl. I was surprised, shocked, and excited when asked. I had no idea, in such a small city, that there are Chinese children who are adopted by American families… I thought this was something that only happens in NY or LA. I started working on the translation of the memory book right away.
As I was working on the translation, my eyes were full of tears thinking of her, thinking of myself, who shares the same culture and background with her, and how blessed this little girl is. Though she was abandoned in China, now she has her permanent family in America. Every time I see her (we went to the same church for a while), I feel like I have the click with her, knowing her background, knowing her culture, knowing her birth language, I just can’t help but love her. I try to speak Chinese to her, inviting her to come to Chinese story time that I host in my house, etc. Then I helped with another family (Chris, who asked me to share my story) with their little boy’s memory book. Then another family with their adoption process.
After helping with so many families in town, I feel like I should do something to reach out to those who might need help but don’t know where to get help, as adoption can be hard with the language and culture barrier. I can do something about those. That’s what inspired me to start a Chinese language school where I do cooking lessons so I can teach American moms to make real Chinese food for their adopted kids, story time in Chinese for the kids, and private Chinese lessons. So far, I have had around 8 adopted Chinese kids came to my story time, 6 American moms who came to my cooking class, and a 12 year old adopted Chinese girl who is taking private lesson with me.
You need a village to raise kids, you also need a village to raise adopted kids. I am so glad to see how websites like No Hands But Others are getting families and kids together to help each other, I will try any way I can to help with other adopted families and children, feel free to contact me through the links below.