Red Thread Families
The Red Thread Families (RTF) program provides opportunities for kids adopted from China to make friends who share their heritage and history. It also helps local adoptive families connect and keep their children involved with their birth culture.
The first wave of Chinese adoptees started arriving in Tucson in 1993. Benna Troup, who adopted her oldest daughter, Lily, in 1994, started an informal group that met for the first time for Chinese New Year in 1995. The group, with about eight children, met twice a year.
As the number of adoptees in Tucson grew, Marsha Marsh and Carol Thompson started a formal group in 1999 or 2000 that eventually affiliated with a national group called Families With Children from China. The local chapter chose the name Southern Arizona Families With Children From China (SAFCC)
In 2011, when adoptions from China slowed to a trickle, the group, then led by Rose Veneklasen along with Carol and John Korhonen, made the decision to dissolve its chapter to become instead a program of the Tucson Chinese Cultural Center.
SAFCC events in the early 2000s drew crowds of adoptees and their new families oftentimes far more people than expected. The group organized social gatherings of which included play groups, Kite Festival, and monthly Panda Club events (activities with Asian college students – like University of Arizona’s Alpha Phi Gamma sorority modeling after the “Big Brothers/Big Sisters” philosophy), as well as several larger events throughout the year, mainly Chinese Culture Camp and the ever popular Mid Autumn Moon and Chinese New Year festival celebrations.
Over the past several years, in addition to helping out with larger events at the TCCC, RTF has continued SAFCC’s tradition of hosting educational programs, workshops and panels with strong emphasis on Chinese adoption and culture, as well as bringing in guest authors (Grace Lin, Yin Chang Compestine) and filmmakers (Dr. Changfu Chang) for documentary film screenings / discussion on Chinese adoption related issues.
Adoptive Family Members sold Chinese trinkets and led children’s games created by Red Thread dad John Korhonen at TCCC Chinese New Year celebrations. John Korhonen was also instrumental in creating an indoor miniature Dragon Boat Tournament. New children were welcomed with Red Egg and Ginger Parties, during which each child received a special lacquered Red Egg with their Chinese name carved into it.
By the mid-2000s, tougher restrictions on prospective adoptive parents, an increase in domestic adoptions in China and the Chinese government’s significant slowdown in processing adoptions made wait times soar to 5-10 years or more. As a result, the number of Chinese adoptions plummeted. Most families who stayed in the program switched to the speedier special-needs program and adopt children with issues ranging from very minor to serious.
Adoption of babies from China these days is rare. With more older adoptees coming to Tucson and with our children growing up, Red Thread Families is starting to offer programming for tweens and teens. Recent activities include a cooking class, makeup application seminar and a spa day.