LOCAL AGENCY HAS UNITED COUPLES, CHINESE CHILDREN

Date: 1997-12-19

Evansville Courier, The (IN)
Author: TERESA J. KRAMER, Courier staff writer

Six-year-old Katherine Hai Mei flew into her new hometown on Thursday night.

Her parents, Carla and Phil Cyphers of Evansville, are among the roughly 120 couples in just two years to adopt a Chinese-born child from Families Thru International Adoption.

The nonprofit agency, begun by local attorney Keith Wallace, is facilitating an increasing number of overseas adoptions. Most of the parents are Indiana residents.

Last year, the agency managed about 30 adoptions of Chinese children. This year, the agency has completed 92 Chinese adoptions, said Assistant Director Sue Hull.

"Nine more are traveling to China in January," Ms. Hull.

This year, the agency began managing adoptions of Russian children, joining 16 Russian children with U.S. families, Ms. Hull said.

The agency has become the largest international adoption agency in Indiana, although Ms. Hull cautioned that she and Wallace don't want it to get too big.

She's working with officials in Guatemala, and expects to be able to manage the adoptions of 10 Guatemalan children within four months, she said.

Vietnam is a possibility as well. The agency has been working about a year on making connections there, she said.

Although most couples prefer to adopt infants, more and more are adopting older children, who typically are more difficult to place, Ms. Hull said. The Cyphers are a good example.

The Cyphers both work at Whirlpool Corp. He has children from a previous marriage.

Chinese regulations say a couple must adopt a special needs child unless the man and woman have no other children and their ages are from 35 to 45, she said.

China only began strictly enforcing that regulation in mid-1996, Ms. Hull said.

Katherine is classified as a special-needs child because she lost a foot, although she can walk fine with a prosthesis, Ms. Hull said. The 6-year-old's Chinese name was HaiMei, so the Cyphers kept that as her middle name.

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