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Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the best age for a child who doesn't live in China to begin
    learning Chinese?


  2. My family is an international family. Some people in my family speak Cantonese. Is it better for my children to learn Cantonese or Mandarin?

  3. I am going to adopt a child from China. Where can I get more information?

  4. I heard that every character in a Chinese name has its own meaning. How should I use these characters when I name my adopted child?

  5. I want to write to the orphanage (or foster family), that was my child's first home. Where can I get a dependable translation service?

  6. Can I get some Chinese culture craft ideas from this site?

  7. I like Chinese food. Can I get some simple recipes from this site?

  8. What kind of money should I bring with me if I travel in China?

  9. Where can I get some cards with simple questions in both English and Chinese to show people in case the interpreter is not available when I travel in China?

  10. How do Chinese families feel about their children dating westerners?



1.  What is the best age for a child who doesn't live in China to begin
learning Chinese?

The general rule for learning a language is the earlier, the better. Many of you know that some Chinese words have no equivalent sound in English and are therefore hard to pronounce. At a young age, children's speech patterns are not fully formed and their minds are more flexible. If one or more family members can speak Chinese, start speaking Chinese around your child as early as possible. If nobody speaks Chinese in the family, expose your child to Chinese speaking people, tapes, and videos or join a Chinese culture playgroup as early as possible. If your child has a good attention span, it is good to begin Chinese language classes between four and five years of age.

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2.  My family is an international family. Some people in my family speak Cantonese. Is it better for my children to learn Cantonese or Mandarin?

China is a vast country and people from different places speak in different dialects, not just Mandarin and Cantonese. The Chinese government chose Mandarin as the official and standard language for China in the early 50s. Mandarin, which is spoken mainly in the north and is easy to learn, is taught in schools all over China, and is used on television, on the radio, and in movies. Increasing numbers of people are able to speak both Mandarin and their local dialect. If one can speak Mandarin, it will be easy to communicate in any province in China including Guangdong (Canton), Hong Kong and Tai Wan, and also in Singapore.

If your child will go to China in the future, and there is a Mandarin class available, you should consider having your child learn Mandarin. A Mandarin-speaking person will be understood anywhere in China, while a Cantonese-speaking person will have difficulties except in Guangdong province and Hong Kong. A person who speaks both Mandarin and Cantonese will have the easiest time traveling and communicating in China.

However if only Cantonese is spoken at home, please just go ahead and use it! Don't miss any chance to speak Chinese, whether it is Mandarin or Cantonese or Toi San dialect or Shanghai dialect. In China, no matter what accent or dialect, everyone reads the same books and newspapers, uses the same written characters, and uses the same grammar and sentence structure. Most early Chinese immigrants were from Guangdong and these Chinese-American families have continued to speak Cantonese for generations. In Chinatowns all over the world there are still Cantonese-speaking communities. Anyone who can speak Cantonese has an advantage in getting a job in the Cantonese speaking communities.

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3.  I am going to adopt a child from China. Where can I get more information?

We are glad that you are going to adopt a Chinese child. The adoption procedure in China is well established, proven, and stable. There are no abrupt changes in fees or paperwork or timetables (SARS was an understandable exception). The children who have been adopted from China are, on the whole, healthy and well cared for.

We recommend the following ways to get reliable information.

  1. Check with friends or acquaintances that have experienced the adoption process in China. They will be able to give you practical advice and help you select a reliable agency.

  2. Search in your local Families with Children from China (FCC) web site. It will have a lot of important information for you.
  3. New England Regional:


    FCCNE - North Shore - Membership includes towns north of the City of Boston. For information, please contact Sharon Way at 978-921-0645 or email: sgway0607@aol.com
    FCCNE\South Shore - Membership includes towns south of the City of Boston. For information, please contact Judy Collins at 781-740-2997 or email: britsmum@aol.com
    FCC Metrowest Regional group: For information on programming, call Rika Smith McNally at 508-650-0374 or email: jmcnally@mit.edu For membership, contact Shelagh Ellman-Pearl at saep@charter.net For newsletter information, contact Roberta Unger at tortoise@acunet.net
    Nashoba FCC - For information contact Jane Mosier at 978-897-3491 or email jmosier@modavi.com

    National Links:


    Northeast

    FCC New York - www.fccny.org
    FCC Baltimore - http://www.fccmaryland.org/
    FCC Capitol Area - www.fwcc.org/Capital/welcome.htm

    Southeast

    FCC Miami - groups.yahoo.com/group/SFLAsiaGroup/
    FCC Orlando - http://www.fcc-cf.org/
    FCC Atlanta - come.to/fcc.atlanta

    Central

    FCC Chicago - www.fccchicago.org
    FCC Indiana - www.mem.tcon.net/users/5010/0134
    FCC Central Ohio - www.centralohiofcc.org
    FCC Milwaukee - www.execpc.com/~shale/fcc.html
    FCC North Texas - www.fccnt.org
    FCC Houston - www.fwcc.org/Houston/welcome.html

    West

    FCC Oregon and SW Washington - www.fcc-oregon.org
    FCC San Francisco - www.fwcc.org/SanFrancisco
    FCC Los Angeles - http://www.socalfcc.org//
    FCC Las Vegas - www.vegas.quik.com/smitty/FCC.html


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4.  I heard that every character in a Chinese name has its own meaning. How should I use these characters when I name my adopted child?

You are right. Every character in a Chinese name has its own meaning. Every China-born child has his\her Chinese name. One of your most important decisions is what part of the Chinese name you will keep for your child after adoption.

  1. Last name and first name:

    I am sure you know the order of a Chinese name: Family name is first; given name is last. Some orphanages give all their children the same last name. While in other orphanages children of the same age, or received by the orphanage in the same year are given the same last name. If you keep only the last name, your child will not have a very unique name. I highly recommend that you choose to keep the first name, which may have one or two characters. The easiest decision is to keep the child's first name, unless the sound makes you feel uncomfortable. We'll talk about that later.


  2. A two-character first name:

    If there are two characters in the first name, you may want to keep both of them or only one of them. You should ask the orphanage or foster caregiver, if a group of children share one of the two characters. If so, you may want to choose the character that is unique to your child. Show a Chinese person the writing of your child's Chinese name, and ask them the meaning of each character. Select the one that is appealing in both meaning and sound.

  3. Some characters in a Chinese name are describing or supporting the main character. For example: "xiao" means little or young. It is usually not a main character in the name. If you choose only one character, you want to avoid the subordinating one. "Xiao Hua", "Xiao Ting", "Xiao Hong", "Xiao Mei" are all beautiful names. You may decide to keep both characters but if you want to keep only one, you don't want to keep "Xiao".

  4. Uncomfortable or misunderstood sounds:

    Some characters have good meanings but may sound strange in English. In this case you can always add subordinating characters like "xiao" (pronounced "shee-ow", and means "little" or "young"), "qiao" (pronounced"chee-ow", and means "clever"), in front of the character or put "mei" (young sister) after the character. Try joining different characters together to see if it sounds better. In deciding on the sound, please check the pronunciation with a Chinese person who speaks good Mandarin.
    Whatever Chinese name you choose, please try saying it out loud many times to make sure you like the sound combined with your child's new English given name and last name! Your child will be hearing that name and you will be saying that name for a lifetime. Make sure it's one you and your child will like.

    If you have any questions please feel free to ask. Yes, it's free!

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5.  I want to write to the orphanage (or foster family) that was my child's first home. Where can I get a dependable translation service?

We have provided translation services since 1999 for families from US, Canada, Australia, France, Netherlands, Ireland, Sweden and China.

"Accuracy, promptness and confidentiality are the principles of our service."

Please click CBK Translation Services to find the rate and how we can work for you.

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6.  Can I get some crafts idea with Chinese culture from this site?
Just Click Chinese culture craft to go to ideas for home and school. If you have any ideas, we'd like to publish them on this site and share them with everybody. Please e-mail your craft idea or mail to:CBK Culture Center, PO Box 2288, Abington, MA 02351.Thank you!

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7.  I like Chinese food; can I get some simple recipes from this site?
Certainly you can. We put on this site both easy-to-cook and authentic Chinese food recipes. New recipes will be added constantly in Chinese Recipes. Here we'd like to show you what staples are commonly found in a Chinese kitchen. Of course you don't need to get all of them.
    Staples for a Chinese Kitchen

  • Soy sauce (light and dark)
  • Vinegar (red and white)
  • Cooking wine
  • Sesame oil
  • Oyster sauce (good for greens)
  • Seasoned soy sauce for seafood (good for steamed fish)
  • Sesame paste (good for salads and cold noodles)
  • Hoisin sauce (good for seafood)
  • Black bean sauce (good for stir-fry dish)
  • Ginger
  • Scallion
  • Garlic
  • Chicken Broth
  • Cooking Oil (vegetable, nut or seed oil)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Sugar
  • Cornstarch
    Chinese also like to keep the following ingredients in their kitchens:

  • Star anise
  • Five-spice powder
  • Wild pepper (or wild pepper oil)
  • Dried hot pepper (or hot pepper pastes or oil)
  • Dried black wood ear (a kind of mushroom)
  • Dried seaweed
  • Dried laver (purple seaweed)
  • Bean thread (a type of rice noodle)
  • Pickles (a big variety)
  • Tomato sauce
  • Tea (black, green or mum)

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8.  What kind of money should I bring with me if I travel in China?

You may bring credit cards, traveler's checks and some cash. Most hotels with three stars or above accept credit cards. Some travel agencies accept traveler's checks. In Beijing, Shanghai, and some other big cities, you will not have many problems using credit cards. However, many stores and restaurants do not accept credit cards or traveler's checks, especially in smaller cities.

You should have Chinese money, the Renminbi (RMB) with you. The major denomination of the RMB is the yuan, abbreviated as "y" in prices of goods and services. Major hotels will cash traveler's checks into yuan. Banks will also cash traveler's checks or change US dollars into RMB. You will need to have your passport with you for these transactions. You MUST keep your receipts for these transactions in order to convert any remaining yuan back into US dollars when you leave China. The exchange rate is changing every day. Itís easy to find the rate online or in a bank in the US before you travel. And you can find the daily rate and all the instructions for money exchanging when you stay in a hotel in China. However, when you get RMB from a $100 or more, it can be bulky to carry. A money belt is a good way to carry your cash. Keep a small amount in your pockets for purchases -- such as water, snacks, or postcards.

In Hong Kong, the local currency is the Hong Kong dollar. The exchange rate for US dollars is approximately the same as for the Renminbi. It is fairly easy to use credit cards and to cash traveler's checks in Hong Kong.

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9.  Where can I get some cards with simple questions in both English and Chinese to show people in case the interpreter is not available when I travel in China?

Don't worry if your interpreter is not with you at all times. Most hotel staff can speak English. Many Chinese young people in the major cities are able to speak simple English; some are very good.

If your computer supports Chinese, you can print the following and bring it with you when traveling in China.

Please contact Ling@chinabornkids.com if you need special help in this area.

    Click Here For the Printable Version of the Following Translations.
  • Can you get me taxi?
  • I need assistance.
  • I need an interpreter.
  • Is there a bank nearby?
  • Where is the clinic (hospital)?
  • Where can we buy traditional Chinese clothes?
  • Where can I find Mandarin dress for children?
  • We'd like to go to a bookstore.
  • This is my (our) adopted daughter.
  • My daughter grew up in the US. She can't speak Chinese.
  • How does it taste?
    Salty
    Sweet
    Spicy
    Sour
  • I do not want pepper in my food.
  • I am allergic to shellfish.
  • No ice, please.
    Ice, please.
  • I feel a little cold.
  • It is hot here.
  • Please show me how to use this.
  • How much?
  • Excuse me, where is the bathroom?
  • Men's room
  • Woman's room

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10.  How do Chinese families feel about their children dating westerners?

China is an old and traditional country. The attitude of people towards the west has changed greatly in the years since there have been more interactions between China and the west. The younger generation generally has been exposed to more influence from all over the world and tends to be more open. The parents may or may not like their children dating a westerner. Some parents prefer that their children marry a Chinese partner to continue their family tradition. Other parents are open to bringing diversity to the family. Each case must be treated individually.

Even if the parents are open to a westerner dating their child there are still cultural traditions that should be observed. Older generations should be treated with the utmost respect and deference. Chinese appreciate small useful gifts. What tea or herb does the grandmother like or need? Don't just go to the mall and buy something expensive that is of no use. Always think about what the older generation needs. This shows that you are thinking of them and not just showing off. When a Chinese family has a child dating a westerner, they have made changes in their views and attitudes. They are learning about western culture. You should make the same effort to change and learn about Chinese culture.

Finally to put it as directly as possible, you should have a job. The position, low or high, is not so important but diligence and hard work is important. Laziness is not a characteristic that any Chinese family will want to add to their family.

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