World Mom, To-wen Tseng, is on @BabyCenter again!

World Mom, To-wen Tseng, is on @BabyCenter again!

To-wen Tseng Head Shot

As part of World Moms Blog’s collaboration with BabyCenter’s Mission Motherhood™, our World Moms are writing posts on maternal health around the world. In today’s post, To-wen Tseng shares a story from China about a mother-to-be who had to search for a hospital that would let her breastfeed her baby.

 

“Seven years ago when Jane Wang was preparing for the birth of her first child in Beijing, she came across a very unexpected obstacle.

During a hospital prenatal interview, she asked about the breastfeeding arrangements for after the baby was born. The staff simply told her, ‘You don’t have to breastfeed. The hospital will arrange high-quality infant formula for your baby.'”

Please read the full post, “Moms in Chinese hospitals told not to breastfeed their babies?” over at BabyCenter’s Mission Motherhood™!

World Moms Blog

World Moms Blog is an award winning website which writes from over 30 countries on the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Over 70 international contributors share their stories from around the globe, bonded by the common thread of motherhood and wanting a better world for their children. World Moms Blog was listed by Forbes Woman as one of the "Best 100 Websites for Women 2012 & 2013" and also called a "must read" by the NY Times Motherlode in 2013. Our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan, was awarded the BlogHer International Activist Award in 2013.

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USA: China’s One-Child Policy, America’s “Anchor Baby” Controversy

USA: China’s One-Child Policy, America’s “Anchor Baby” Controversy

To-Wen One Child Policy 600

In response to China’s latest announcement on their one-child policy and the incident of a Taiwanese woman giving birth on a China Airlines flight to the U.S., Taiwan’s National Education Radio recently invited me to talk about America’s “anchor baby” controversy on their morning talk show.

An “anchor baby” is a child that born to a noncitizen mother in a country which has birthright citizenship. The term is especially offensive when viewed as providing an advantage to family members seeking to secure citizenship or legal residency.

Offensive or not, anchor babies do exist. According to the Department of State, noncitizen mothers gave birth to 35,000 babies in the U.S. last year, and 30,000 of them were born to Chinese women who traveled to the U.S. for the sole purpose of giving birth (Chinese language link).

And this, of course, has a lot to do with China’s one-child policy. For several decades, the only way for a Chinese couple to have a second child, is to give birth outside of China in a country which has birthright citizenship.

Taiwanese, though not under the one-child policy, like to have their babies born in the U.S. for a “potentially better future” for the children. It is reported that last year about 300 Taiwanese woman traveled to the U.S. just to have their babies born here.

Now, a recently announced rule allowing couples to have two children will be officially adopted on the first day of next year in China, and some Chinese couples have canceled their plan of giving birth in the U.S.

For example, a girlfriend of mine from Nanjing is pregnant with her second child, due next May. She was planning to come to the U.S. to give birth here, but she changed her birth plan after the China’s National Health and Family-Planning Association made the announcement that it was ending the one-child policy, which was instituted in the late 1970s.

She told me that many mothers from her QQ (Chinese Facebook) group “Giving Birth in America” also changed their mind about giving birth in the U.S., since the announcement.

This is good news. In fact, it is very risky for these Chinese women to travel to the U.S. and give birth here. The high demand of giving birth to an American baby among Chinese mothers has led to the illegal operation of “maternity tourism” in California, New York, and other areas where Chinese-Americans have settled.

The maternity tourism service providers arrange for the Chinese mothers to enter the U.S. on tourist visas and hide them in apartment homes, or so called “maternity centers,” while waiting to give birth. This practice is often associated with visa fraud, conspiracy, and other crimes in which women were helped to fabricate documents for visa applications and coached to falsely claim that they were traveling to the U.S. for tourism.

I followed the maternity tourism story for years as a journalist. The stories that occur in the “maternity centers” can be scary. Some of the “maternity centers” are very popular, so popular that the service providers want all the mothers to give birth and leave as soon as possible. This is so they can arrange more maternity trips for more mothers. The centers often give drugs that induce labor to the mothers, and the drugs can be harmful to the babies. Earlier this year when the Federal government raided maternity tourism in California, hundreds of mothers with little big bumps or tiny babies were throw into the street. It was horrible.

Many mothers knowingly came to the U.S. in full awareness of the risks. It’s hard to understand why they would be willing to risk their health and the the babies’ well-being. Let’s wish the trend will slowly die down with the end of China’s one-child policy.

A report I did on maternity tourism back in 2012, way before the main-stream media noticed the trend. (Chinese with English subtitles):

This is an original post to World Mom Blog by World Mom, To-wen Tseng of California, USA .

To-Wen Tseng

Former TV reporter turned freelance journalist, children's book writer in wee hours, nursing mom by passion. To-wen blogs at I'd rather be breastfeeding. She can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.

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USA: The Mother on a Refugee Boat

USA: The Mother on a Refugee Boat

HumanityWashedAshore

I have a story about being a mother and a refugee.

It was 1949, in the middle of Chinese civil war. A mother trying to escape from the war-torn China got on a refugee boat in Guangzhou with her 3-year-old and 1-year-old.

The boat was sailing to Kaohsiung. Soon after they left the port, the two children started to cry. People on the boat were afraid that the kids crying would attract the communist navy searching for refugees on the sea, and were going to throw the kids into the sea.

The mother fought against those people with all her strength, promising that she would stop the children crying. She took off her blouse, put the two kids under her arms, one on each side, and then put her nipples into the kids’ mouths. Comforted by their mother’s breasts, the children calmed down. The mother kept nursing her children until they arrived in Kaohsiung safely two days later.

The mother in the story was my grandmother. Those two children were my father and my uncle.

I heard the story from my grandmother when I was a little girl. It’s been such a long time that I almost forgot about it, or I never really paid attention to it. I was too young to understand what being a mom, or being a refugee is really like.

Then the #HumanityWashedAshore image of a 3-year-old Syrian boy lay dead on the beach shocked the world. It is reported the boy, Aylan, drowned with his mother and 5-year-old brother on a short run from Turkey to the Greek Island of Kos.

The image shocked me, too. I thought of my 2-year-old, more than that I thought of my grandma. For the first time, I tried to imagine what it really was like for a 20-year-old young mother to get on an over-loaded refugee boat with two toddlers and to continue to breastfeed them for two days in the middle of the sea to flee from violence, oppression and poverty. How hard, or how dangerous it could be? My grandma said, “we could have died.” Now I knew she was serious.

Aylan was not one person. Three more children died last night trying to cross that TWO MILES to safety.

Aylan could be my dad, or my uncle, or any of us. War was never very far away from us. It’s often just one generation or two miles away.

Aylan’s father told The Telegraph, “let this be the last.” I hope so but highly doubt it. History repeats itself. When will we ever learn?

Read more: Things we can do to help. Now.

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by To-wen Tseng of California, USA. 

Photo credit to Europe Says OXI.

To-Wen Tseng

Former TV reporter turned freelance journalist, children's book writer in wee hours, nursing mom by passion. To-wen blogs at I'd rather be breastfeeding. She can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.

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TAIWAN: Where Breastfeeding is Protected, but not yet Normalized

TAIWAN: Where Breastfeeding is Protected, but not yet Normalized

I recently met with a Huffington Post columnist at Howard Plaza Hotel in Taipei. She is writing a book that tells the story of how culture has influenced the breastfeeding controversy. She asked me what is it like to breastfeed in Taiwan.

I thought carefully when answering her question. Today’s Taiwan seems to be a very breastfeeding friendly society: Taiwanese government adopted International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitute in 1992 and then started to promote Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative in 1998. Today, there are nursing rooms literary everywhere in Taiwan. From big cities to small towns, nursing rooms can be found in government buildings, in shopping malls, in libraries, in banks, in metro stations, in parks, and in restaurants. (more…)

To-Wen Tseng

Former TV reporter turned freelance journalist, children's book writer in wee hours, nursing mom by passion. To-wen blogs at I'd rather be breastfeeding. She can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.

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Happy Chinese New Year!

Happy Chinese New Year!

hong baoSolar year, 2015—celebrated in most of the Western world— is small potatoes  compared to its lunar counterpart starting today: The Year of the Goat, 4713.

Today, in many countries across Asia, people are celebrating Chinese New Year [CNY]. It marks the first day of the lunar year, which begins with the second new moon after the Winter Solstice.

CNY is the most important holiday for Chinese people world-wide and is celebrated in countries with significant Chinese populations (Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia and Mauritius).

Even right here in America, in ways both big and small, Chinese families are celebrating the Year of the Goat too.

My husband, a first generation Chinese-American, brought his  Chinese culture into our home and together we have established our own family traditions.

Both our 8 and 5 year old children attend Chinese Language School so our celebrations typically begin there. This year, each of our kids performed in a class skit—one doing a New Year’s song and the other both a song and dance.

Their Chinese school rents out a local auditorium and the celebration goes on for four hours, complete with traditional paper decorations, red lanterns and Chinese snacks of spring rolls, scallion pancakes and fortune cookies (the latter of which I’m pretty sure is a wholly American invention).

And though the four-hour Chinese school celebration feels long and drawn out, it’s nothing compared to the 15-day celebration going on over in Asia.

We live just outside of Boston, a city boasting a large Chinatown. If we’re really motivated, we can fight the crowds and view Lion Dancers, firecrackers in the street and dine on authentic Chinese fare surrounded by thousands of people.

This year, however, our city is buried under record amounts of snow (96.7in/2.5m) so we won’t be making any such pilgrimage.

Sometimes we have friends over and make homemade wontons, a symbolic food representing a pouch of coins, or Hot Pot. Other years we just make sure we eat some kind of Chinese food (either at home or in a restaurant).

We also make sure we always give our kids Hong Bao, little, red envelopes filled with “lucky” money. Since our kids don’t get an allowance, this feels special to them. We never give them very much because it’s the gesture that counts but if they happen to be lucky enough to visit their great-grandmother around Chinese New Year,   they might get upwards of $50.

I know these little traditions are modest compared to mainland China but we hope that in our small way we are instilling in our children a some sense of the deep culture they are part of.

恭禧發財 

Gong Xi Fa Cai!

How do you hold on to your cultural heritage? What are some traditions you’ve incorporated into your own family?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog from our managing editor and mother of two in Boston, Massachusetts, Kyla P’an.

The image used in this post was taken by the author.

Kyla P'an (USA)

Kyla was born in suburban Philadelphia but tried not to let that stifle her deep desire to see the world. Her travels have included: three months on the European rails, three years studying and working in Japan, and nine months taking the slow road back from Japan to the US when she was done. Kyla took all of her Japanese knowledge and language ability and threw it right out the window when she met her Chinese-American husband in 2000. In addition to her work as Managing Editor of World Moms Bog, Kyla is a freelance writer, copy editor, triathlete and blogger. She and her husband reside outside of Boston, Massachusetts, where they are raising two spunky kids (ages 8 and 5), two frisky cats, a snail, a fish and a snake. You can read more about Kyla’s outlook on the world and motherhood on her personal blog, Growing Muses.

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CHINA: Feng Jianmei and the Forced Abortion Issue

CHINA: Feng Jianmei and the Forced Abortion Issue

 

Warning: Link to graphic photos in this post.

Living in China, I often find myself standing up for this country, giving my temporary home the benefit of the doubt. Mass poverty? Yes, but economic and social development take time. Corruption? Oh yeah, but what government doesn’t have its scandals? Human rights abuses? Undeniable, but the ‘bad guys’ are only a small fraction of the population.  China often gets beat up and bullied by the media, but I often remind myself of how far and quickly that China has come.

But sometimes, things go too far. I cannot ignore them, I cannot stand up for China or defend its actions.

A few weeks ago, news broke about the story of a young woman named Feng Jianmei. Feng was seven months pregnant with her second child- a big no-no under China’s One Child Policy. Feng and her husband were required to pay a hefty fine for violating the Policy; the fine actually only amounted to about USD$6000, but it was an unfathomable sum for them, almost an entire year’s income.

Unable to pay the fine, at seven months pregnant, Feng was forced to have an abortion. (more…)

Mamasgotwanderlust (China)

You could say that Taryn has travel in her blood: a South African-born Canadian, Taryn has lived in Toronto, Vancouver, and Indiana, and has travelled extensively to Iceland, Israel, Italy, India, and a few places that don't begin with the letter I. After a brief stint as a travel guide writer, where she realized that her dream job was actually a lot of work for not much pay, she gave in to the lure of a steady job (and pay cheque) and settled in Canada's beautiful capital, Ottawa.

In 2010, she embarked on her biggest adventure when her daughter Charlotte was born. A few months later, her hubby J. accepted a work assignment in Russia, and the family moved to Moscow. In 2011, Taryn accepted a work assignment of her own in Beijing, China where she currently lives. While excited about the opportunity to live in the world's biggest up-and-coming country (and to practice herMandarin skills), moving to China has meant leaving J. behind in Russia while he finishes up his work assignment before moving to Beijing this summer.

In the meantime, Taryn juggles career-dom, living in a foreign culture, and being a temporary single-mom to a spunky toddler. Taryn is also the blogger behind Mama's Got Wanderlust, where she writes about her adventures in travelling, parenting, and living abroad.

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