My Asian Kid - Washington, DC — Resources

This is a web site of resources in the Washington, DC area (including nearby Maryland and Virginia) for families who have children adopted from Asia.

Asian Cultural Mentoring Program - Bamboo Sprouts

buddahWe are excited to announce the 2016-2017 Bamboo Sprouts Program at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Bamboo Sprouts is a monthly cultural mentoring program for transracial Asian adoptees in which medical students host hands-on activities with young adoptees through two-hour sessions held at the medical school. Each session focuses on a theme that incorporates elements of Asian culture, such as language and arts, cuisine, sports, festivals, and arts.

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The Emperor's Nightingale - A Review

Prince Bao and the Mechanical BirdI attended the press opening and reception of The Emperor’s Nightingale, a children’s play, playing at Adventure Theater in Glen Echo, April 22 through May 30. They gave me three tickets for helping promote it. (I’m guessing I already did that with my last post.)

The story is adapted from a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale.

The Setting

The Emperor’s Nightingale takes place in China in 1723 during the Qing (pronounced like ‘Ching’) Dynasty. At this time, China was a large and powerful empire covering over 8 million square miles and made up of 300 million people. The Emperor lived in a palace that was called The Forbidden City because only his family and government officials were allowed inside.

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Asian Events for Asian Pacific Heritage Month

two photos

I had two people contact me to help promote some events that deal with Asian culture and Asian Pacific Heritage Month. I thought I would highlight them here as we are coming up on Asian Pacific Heritage Month. One is a children's play with set in China during the Qing Dynasty. The other is an award-winning documentary film which is part of the DC Asian Pacific American Film Festival.

So I am helping promote Adventure Theater's play for all ages "The Emperor's Nightingale" and the APA Film Festival documentary "Reunification". Read Blog...

A Family Guide to Lunar New Year Events 2016

Lion Dancers

Some of this is a repeat of my 2015 post, but I have updated it to refer to 2016 events and added more here and there.

As I write this I have 30 events listed on my Lunar New Year events page, and there are more I know about that I’m waiting for additional information.
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Lunar New Year Lesson Plan - 2nd Grade

dragonWhen I started writing this lesson plan, I had decided to change books this year, and I wrote a review of some of my considerations. But then when I checked with the teacher, she said I was welcome to do a presentation, but she had to check with the principal.

I said I needed 40 minutes for a presentation and 20 minutes for eating. The principal said I could have 30 minutes. And I was scheduled before lunch, so I could not go over. I guess in public school, there is nothing more important than learning what is on the curriculum. Read Blog

Fall Events

I've updated my events page to include fall events.

Korus Korean Festival, Vietnamese Mid Autumn Moon Festival, Heritage India and Montgomery County celebration of all cultures.

Smithsonian Has Asian Themed Summer Art Camps
in July and August

The Smithsonian Freer and Sackler Galleries have a couple of Asian themed summer camps and studio open houses this summer. Open houses are on Saturdays, so you can participate with your child. The camps are Monday - Friday and give your child a whole week of experiences. Camps are for ages 8 - 14.

July Events

ImaginAsia: Open Studio Saturdays
Freer and Sackler Galleries
Saturdays, July 11 and July 18
12 – 4 pm

This summer, visitors of all ages are invited to experience Peacock Room REMIX: Darren Waterston’s Filthy Lucre. Discover the exhibition with a gallery guide or on a family-friendly tour (held at 12 pm and 2 pm). Return to the ImaginAsia classroom to experiment with a variety of art materials, solve creative challenges, and collaborate with friends and family.

Summer Art Camp – Adventures in Anime and Manga
Freer and Sackler Galleries
Monday–Friday, July 27–31
9 am–3 pm daily

Trace the origins of manga drawing and anime films through the Freer and Sackler collections of Japanese art. Learn to draw and develop your own characters. Discover the tricks to creating the illusion of three-dimensionality and apply them to your own art.

August Events

Summer Art Camp - Fold, Roll, Stitch: Exploring Bookmaking
Freer and Sackler Galleries
Monday–Friday, August 3–7
9 am–3 pm daily

Make your own book as you learn about different writing styles and book formats across Asia. Experiment with Arabic calligraphy and Chinese pictographs, work with papyrus and vellum, and create scrolls and special book covers.

ImaginAsia: Open Studio Saturdays
Freer and Sackler Galleries
Saturdays, August 08 and August 15
12 – 4 pm

This summer, visitors of all ages are invited to experience Peacock Room REMIX: Darren Waterston’s Filthy Lucre. Discover the exhibition with a gallery guide or on a family-friendly tour (held at 12 pm and 2 pm). Return to the ImaginAsia classroom to experiment with a variety of art materials, solve creative challenges, and collaborate with friends and family.

Celebrating Asian Heritage At School

2014 Display

My child’s school has only about 7% Asians. Unlike Black History Month and Hispanic Heritage Month, our school does not have enough families to make a core and have an evening program celebrating Asian Heritage. But I still want to celebrate Asian heritage at his school. You can read about how I became Asian Culture Chair at my son’s school here.

The first year, my son’s kindergarten teacher volunteered to get a group together to plan events for Asian Pacific Heritage Month. I wrote about that here. She left teaching for a year or so and the next year no one volunteered to step up and organize something. So without school help, our celebration was smaller. Read Blog

Making a Chinese Dragon for the Dragon Dance

dragon danceThere are two kinds of dances you find at Lunar New Year. The first is the Lion Dance, which is two people and a head that looks nothing like a lion. You can see a quick video of a lion dance here.

The second dance is the dragon dance which is much less common, in my experience, than the lion dance. The dragon dance is done with many people holding poles that hold up the dragon. There may be 5 – 21 people dancing the dragon dance. And the dragon chases the sun, which is held by the smiling Buddha. I have seen this dance at the Chinatown Parade and also at a performance at Fair Oaks Mall during their two week celebration of Chinese New Year. But it takes a lot of people, and a lot of practice and coordination to do the dance. Not to mention the costume is very expensive. It is this dragon dance costume which I made for my son’s second grade class. I wanted something simple to make; I did not make a complicated costume to be held up with poles. I followed the instructions from Chinese New Year for Kids, by Cindy Roberts. It is this dragon that I made. There is a great YouTube video of a much more complicated dragon. I did not make that one. It looks great, but she has several teenagers helping create this costume.

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Lunar New Year: Which Events to Take the Family To

Lion Dance costume So you see my list of Lunar New Year Events for 2015, but which one is the one for your family?

Here are some suggestions for where to go to celebrate Lunar New Year, which is known as both Chinese New Year and Tet (Vietnam). Chinese New Year and Tet are the same thing. So you will see events called “Chinese New Year” and others called “Tet Celebration”. They are different communities celebrating the same holiday.

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Making Chinese New Year Firecracker Decorations

Chinese FirecrackersI really wanted some of the fake firecrackers that are hung up at Lunar New Year. And I’ve seen them in Vietnamese shops and at festivals. The big ones look like they are made out of toilet paper rolls, but cost $60. Although they do have lights and sounds. And the little ones cost about $20 and are still made out of cardboard. I guess if I were in Vietnam, I could get them for a song, but here I have to pay a top price.

So since I didn’t want the small ones and I was not going to pay $60, last year I decided to save some toilet paper rolls with the idea that I might make my own. I saved 21 toilet paper rolls, but I ended up making two separate firecracker strands with 10 and 11 rolls. Except for buying an upholstery needle for the project, I used only stuff I already had on hand. So the cost of the project was $3.00. Read Blog

Books for Lunar New Year - Second Grade Considerations

books for Lunar New YearI have been doing Lunar New Year presentations in my child’s class since he was a two year old in preschool. From ages 2 – 6, I have always read the same two books, “Bringing in the New Year“, by Grace Lin and “Lanterns and Firecrakers: A Chinese New Year Story“, by Jonny Zucker and Jan Barger Cohen.

But for second grade, I am going to change the books. So I have five books under consideration. This blog reviews the five books which made my final cut.

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Biking the Monuments with My Child

View from Lincoln MemorialOK, this is not about adoption and not about Asian culture.  The only tiny connection I can make is that there were a lot of international tourists (many Asian) on the National Mall the day we did this tour.  But I am writing it to encourage other families to bike the mall. It is so much easier to bike it than to walk between all the places.

I wanted to take my child (now 7) to see some of the monuments on the western part of the National Mall.  He has been asking to see the Lincoln Memorial and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.  But I was sure he would enjoy a couple of memorials which are close by.
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An Adoption Family Secret

Japanese dollAdoption affects families in different ways and sometimes it is unexpected.

It is only as an adoptive parent that I am thinking about how adoption has been in my family for decades. It is not something I thought about much growing up, but something that has inserted itself here and there.

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Celebrating Asian-Pacific Heritage Month (May)

dancerI wrote about some of the events in and around the Washington, DC area which celebrate cultures and Asian culture in paricular. I have been to some of them, but not all.

There are quite a few which you can bike to and what better thing to do on a nice May day.

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Lunar New Year Events - Review

Two LionsI have been to many Lunar New Year events at this point. Here is my impression about some of the events listed on my Lunar New Year Events page.

In the blog I review the following events, most I have been to, but even a couple I have not been to:

*I reviewed these even though I have not been to them.

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Getting Ready for Lunar New Year: Making Lots of Paper Lantern Kits

Paper LanternAs part of my presentation of Lunar New Year at my child's class, I have the teacher make paper lanterns with the class a couple days before I do the presentation.  But I also supply the teacher with the "lantern kits" so it doesn't make too much work for her or for the kids.

This is a lesson on how to make lots of lantern kits quickly.  I make the number of students in the class plus one prototype.  I also supply the handles and the sponge stamps for decorating.  I deliver all of the kits  in a cardboard portfolio I made out of a large box.

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Cultural Arts Assemblies in Schools

Most schools have a PTA which allocates money for cultural arts assemblies. I did not realize this last year until I became the Asian Culture Chair at my son’s school. And then I found out there are dozens of performers in the area who perform at schools.

Last spring I contacted the committee chairs of the Cultural Arts and Assemblies committee and offered up my money for next school year (this year now) if I could persuade the committee to have an Asian performer. They were agreeable to it (yeah!). One of the co-chairs had a child graduating from elementary school and the one who still had a child in school asked me if I would like to be on the committee. Yes, Yes, that sounds great. So for this school season I am now Co-Chairman of the Cultural Arts and Assemblies Committee. And my co-chair has a child graduating in May 2014, so I will need to find another parent interested in cultural arts to do this with me. I’m not sure I like the idea of making decisions to spend money on cultural arts without a co-chair to help decide on acts to hire.

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A Spooky Scary Birthday Party - Halloween in June

House of ZombiesI try to keep my posts related to adoption or Asian culture, but I am straying from that for this post because of the love of a certain Halloween obsessed boy. I spent an incredible amount of time and energy to create a birthday party for this not so little boy and I thought I would write about it.

Danny had been saying he has wanted a haunted house in the backyard for a couple of years. He wanted to invite his friends over at Halloween and lead them through his haunted house. Well it didn't happen at Halloween, but in June instead.

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Mid-Autumn Moon Festival - Trung Thu Festival

Thanking the MoonThe date of the Mid Autumn Moon Festival for 2013, is September 19. That is the date of the full harvest moon for September. I’ve done a little reading on this festival, and it looks like it is celebrated primarily by Chinese and Vietnamese, but also a couple other places like Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau. So it is not as widely celebrated as Lunar New Year.

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First Celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month – Elementary School

Asian Books from My LibraryI wrote a couple months ago about how I ended up volunteering to be the Asian Culture Chair at my child’s school in February of this year.

Our school celebrated Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (May) for the first time in recent history (maybe ever). A group of teachers along with our PTA Asian-Pacific Culture Chair (me) met in April to come up with strategies on how to celebrate the month. The teachers and staff members were a wealth of ideas; the PTA is only involved in having money to spend on Asian cultural activities and wanting to start a yearly celebration. But all the credit should go to the teachers and staff who implemented the ideas.
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Let's Celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (May)

Fiesta Asia @ Silver Spring

I have a list of events in the DC are to find ways to celebrate APAHM. I have 22 days of events listed, although some of these events are over a couple of days, so there are not actually 22 events.

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Blog to Book - a memory book for my child

nanny and childIt has been almost 5.5 years since I wrote a blog which encompassed our trip to Vietnam to adopt our son, Danny. I started a private blog a couple of days before we left and wrote it from all the hotels we stayed in, in Vietnam and then wrote one last post after we returned.

It was my first attempt at blogging and it was a last minute adventure. Five and a half years ago, people were still adopting from Vietnam. We met families from our agency who were waiting and somehow through word of mouth we got invited to read private and public blogs from adoptive parents as they traveled to Vietnam to adopt their child.

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Promoting Asian Culture at School

my book collectionDanny started Kindergarten in the fall and a couple of people involved with the PTA asked me to be the Asian American Liaison for the PTA. I just didn’t think that a white person would be welcomed to be the liaison for Asian parents at school, so I declined. For one thing, Asians don’t all speak the same language and no one person can speak for all Asian cultures. I thought it was a job better suited for an Asian person. They have a African American Outreach Coordinator and an Hispanic Outreach and although I don’t know the people, I think they are probably African American and Hispanic respectively.

But things changed when I went to the February PTA meeting. They were approving changes to the budget and I was looking at the line item for promoting Asian culture. They had allowed $400 and since there was no one identified to chair the committee, they took away the money from that committee to use it elsewhere. Read Blog.

Imagination Stage's Anime Momotaro - Now Playing

Momotaro and his motherI first read the Washington Post headline of their review for Anime Momotaro and decided immediately I wanted to see this play at Imagination Stage. Then I read the whole review and was sure I had to see it. It is a Japanese Folktale, entitled “Anime Momotaro” which is translated to “The Peach Boy”; it has been adapted to the stage in the style of the Japanese cartoon style “anime”. Imagination Stage is a theater for children in Bethesda. Read Blog

Our First Multicultural Home Lunar New Year Celebration

dinner tableLast year, after celebrating Lunar New Year (Tet actually) at Eden Center in Falls Church, VA, Danny asked what we were going to have (at home) for Lunar New Year Dinner. I guess at age 4 and after having read "Bringing In the New Year" for a couple years he expected us to have dinner just like the books, with family and dumplings. We actually had not celebrated at home at that point. We went to Lunar New Year's festivals, celebrations with our adoption group, celebrations with our adoption agency, Lion Dances, the Parade in Chinatown, and presentations in preschool, but we had not celebrated at home. Read Blog.

Lunar / Chinese New Year / Tet Lesson Plan for K-1 Grades

chinese zodiacI have written a long lesson plan for teaching Lunar New Year / Tet to children in kindergarten and first grade. I used my original lesson plan for preschool and expanded it for early elementary school. I would love to hear back from readers who used it as a basis for their own teaching and what you added to it or changed about it. I want to learn so I can change my own lesson plan as I give it over the years. Read Blog.

Graveyards, Halloween and Adoption

November is National Adoption Month. Halloween just passed, and graveyards are always associated with Halloween. So how are these three things related?

Cyclops Jack-o-lanternIn our family, there is a direct link between graveyards and adoption. We don’t have any information on Danny’s birth family, so it is not that kind of direct link. Danny loves Halloween. He loves (sort of) ghosts, zombies, vampires, skeletons and graveyards, as long as they are not too scary. This is not so different from other five year old boys.

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Insiders and Outsiders

Lion DancerOur family has been going to Vietnamese festivals since Danny was about two. There is Thrung Thu Festival (the Autumn Moon Festival), various Lunar New Year celebrations and this year there was the first Viet Fest. We attend Chinese events, too. We try to expose Danny to Vietnamese culture in America. But the more we go to these events, the more it makes me realize that we are and always will be outsiders.

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A Mother's Day Pre-K Spa

presenting a giftMother’s Day started early this year. At Danny’s morning preschool, they had a Mother’s Day Spa on the Thursday before Mothers Day. It was held from 12:15-1:15 pm. Normally Danny goes to his special needs preschool at 12:25, so he does not spend the last hour of his morning preschool with his classmates, but instead takes a bus to go to his special needs preschool, where class meets in the afternoon and he receives therapy from a few different therapists.

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Celebrating Lunar New Year - Part 2

We did so much for Lunar Year this year; I decided to divide it into 2 posts.

Joker Buddha MaskDanny actually attends two preschools a day! Yes, it is what his family has decided is best for him and it seems to be working. In the morning he attends a preschool for typical children and does the morning activities, eats lunch and then gets on a school bus (provided by Montgomery County Public Schools) and heads over to his afternoon preschool, which is a collaborative pre-K for 4 year olds with physical disabilities and their typical peers. Danny is one of the special needs kids.

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Celebrating Lunar New Year - Part 1

Lion DancerThis year was our biggest Lunar New Year so far. First of all, at 4, Danny no longer has an afternoon nap, which means lots of events which were not feasible at age 3 were quite feasible at age 4. We started going to the Lion Dance performances at Montgomery County libraries when Danny was 20 months. That year he got his picture in the Silver Spring Gazette while watching the Lion Dance performed by the Chinese Youth Club.

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2012 Lunar New Year Events Calendar is Here

Year of the Dragon

Chinese DragonSo far I have 24 events, although some are multiple weekends of the same event. Am I missing some? Please contact me. There is an ongoing event at Lakeforest Mall in Gaithersburg and other events at Fair Oaks Mall in Fairfax and Francis Scott Key Mall in Frederick. There are Tet Celebrations, put on by different Vietnamese organizations. There are a couple of big Chinese Festivals. Montgomery County Libraries has always had a dozen or more Lion Dances or other celebrations in their libraries. Budget cuts has reduced that number. There are some listed, but there may be more. Some branches have put their celebration on the events calendar, but the library system as a whole is concentrating their efforts with the events listed in the Check Us Out brochure (page 5). For some reason they have not added those events to the online calendar as of Jan 4, 2012. And of course there is the Chinese New Year Parade in downtown Washington, DC. This year I have added some events in Frederick and Baltimore. So there are lots of places and dates to celebrate the Year of the Dragon.

Preparing for Lunar New Year

Lion DancersLunar New Year comes early next year; it is on January 23, 2012. If you want to do a presentation at your child’s school on Lunar New Year, then now is the time to get it together.

I’ve been collecting stuff from Vietnam and China for use at Lunar New Year for the last couple of years. In January of 2008, we were in Vietnam right before Tet (Vietnamese Lunar New Year). The streets were all decorated with lanterns, the Lion Dancers were practicing in the park. There were shops which sold signs and lanterns and whatever else one needs for Tet.

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Shopping for Asian Stuff

Chinese FoodI thought I would write about shopping since I just updated the "Shopping" page of to include some local places to shop for Asian stuff. It is far from complete and I’d love to hear from readers about your favorite place to find Asian stuff.

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Finding Resources for Your Child

Where do you find find resources for your family about Asian culture? Before my son came home from the orphanage, I started shopping for books about Vietnam, Vietnamese families, holidays and cooking.

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Mid-Autumn Moon Festival

Thanking the Moon - book cover I just got this book from Amazon. Grace Lin does beautiful illustrations and simple writing in her children's books of Asian holidays and culture. "Thanking the Moon: Celebrating the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival" explains in simple language about the traditions of the holiday. I also love her book "Bringing in the New Year".

September is the month to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. It is a popular holiday celebrated around the full moon in the eight month of the Chinese Lunar calendar. This year the full moon is on September 12, 2011.

It is a harvest festival celebrated by the Chinese, Vietnamese and Koreans. So far I have found three celebrations for this holiday in the Washington, DC area. In the evening of Friday September 9, there is a celebration in Downtown Silver Spring, MD -- on Ellsworth Dr. This celebration is now on for Friday September 23, 2011 in downtown Silver Spring. The Moon Festival in Downtown Silver Spring was cancelled again, they will announce a new date soon. This is the only celebration which is actually in the evening. On Sunday September 11, in the afternoon there is celebration in Arlington. This is put on by a consortium of Vietnamese groups. On Sunday September 17, in the afternoon and early evening there is a festival put on by Eden Center, a shopping center of Vietnamese stores in Falls Church, VA. Check the Events page for more detailed information about these events.

Moon Cakes are served during the festival. You can probably buy moon cakes at your local Chinese or Vietnamese store. I'm still looking for a moon cake mold, so I can make my own moon cakes. Many of the recipes call for different seed pastes with an egg yolk inside each cake. I think I would prefer a chocolate moon cake, maybe with chocolate or cream filling, but have not been able to hunt down a mold.

Learn more about the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival from Wikipedia.

Culture Camp Part 2 - About Culture Camp

So what do you do at culture camp?

Most of the families had been to culture camp before. One of the reasons families go to culture camp is to connect with other families and for their kids to connect with other kids also adopted from Vietnam. I loved looking at all the different license plates in the parking lot.

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Culture Camp Part 1 - Demographics and First Impressions

Danny and our family had our first experience at Vietnamese Culture Camp. We considered going last year, but decided to wait until Danny turned four to go to camp. And Danny turned four a few weeks ago.

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Reflecting on Mother's Day

I had lots of time to reflect about mothers on Mother’s Day this year. I spent a good deal of the day painting redwood stain onto a fort/ swingset which we bought used from craigslist. Because this was a playset which spent 5 years taken apart on the ground, we had to replace many of the boards. My husband and son spent much of the day together sawing and drilling and fastening screws, while I was away on the driveway painting the roof of this huge fort. And even when I was in the yard with everyone, painting the structure, I was separated by wet paint.

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Welcome Blogger Bonnie Gardner

Thanks to Bonnie for blogging about her Asian Kid on MyAsianKidDC Blog. Bonnie Gardner is mom to Owen, age 4, adopted from Binh Thuan, Vietnam, in August 2008. She, Owen, and Owen's dad live in Northern Virginia, where they spend as much time outdoors as possible. Bonnie is a media specialist for a large nonprofit in DC and often makes a white-knuckle drive to Owen's preschool minutes before it closes. Follow her on Facebook or on Twitter @Bbgardner.

Get Updates of News and Events on Facebook

A reader emailed inquiring about getting email updates about events on my calendar. I said I don't do email updates. I thought about it and decided to create a facebook page where I post events, both upcoming and recently posted and if I find it, news. You can also post your own news and events on the page. Just go to the page and "Like" it. Sorry no like button from this web page yet. I may get around to it.

MyAsianKidDC on Facebook

Adoption and Asian Events

There are a couple conferences on adoption coming up and several Asian events too. Check out the Events page for more information.

I continue to search for news and events related to both adoption and Asian Americans. If you know of a news item or event, please contact me and let me know so I can post it.

Finding Your Family Support Group

In response to the article from A Parent In Silver Spring blog and the Wheaton Patch, the place to find your Parent/Family/Mom group is this page. It got a little buried when I expanded the Adoption information section. The group I started is for young children from Asia and is called DC-Metro-Playgroup-FCVCA (Families with Children from Vietnam, China, Asia). I wrote more about Famliy Groups on this blog entry.