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My wife Jeannette gets her props

My wife does volunteer work holding informational meetings for families thinking about adopting from China. A reporter from the Chicago Tribune was writing about international adoption and sat in on Jeannette’s seminar. Consequently, our family got some non-Freakonomics airtime. The whole article is here, but you have to register to read it. I’ve excerpted the high points below.

Worth the wait

By Kathryn Masterson
Published March 8, 2006

When Cathy Troyer talks to families about adopting children from Ethiopia, they sometimes tell the Rogers Park mom they got the idea from Angelina Jolie.

“That’s great,” Troyer said. “There’s a million orphans in Ethiopia. Here’s one woman who had a great platform. The world is full of children who need families.”

Most foreign children adopted by Americans come from China, which has a centralized governmental system for foreign adoptions.

Jeannette and Steven Levitt of Hyde Park have adopted two daughters from China. The Levitts decided to adopt after their first child, Andrew, died shortly after his first birthday.

“In our grief, we were looking at ways to rebuild our family and bring some hope back into our lives,” Jeannette Levitt said.

Steven Levitt, the University of Chicago economist who wrote the book “Freakanomics,” traveled to China in early 2001 to adopt their daughter, Amanda. Jeannette, who had recently given birth to their daughter, Olivia, stayed behind.

At a recent meeting for prospective adoptive parents, Steven Levitt described the connection he felt with Amanda, who was almost 1, as instant. In the two weeks he was in China, the connection was stronger than he had ever felt with another human being, he said.

The Levitts have continued to build their family. They had a biological son, Nicholas, and then traveled to China to adopt another daughter, Sophie.

After a “flawless” experience with Amanda, Sophie’s introduction to her family went differently. She cried for three days, forcing Jeannette, who was scheduled to return home early to care for the couple’s other children, to consider staying in China with the baby while Steven left.

“It was so bad we were making contingency plans because he almost couldn’t take it,” Jeannette said.

After three days of crying, Sophie cracked a smile, and things began to get easier. The Levitts later discovered Sophie had an intestinal parasite, which may have caused her initial distress.

“With biological children or children adopted from anywhere, there’s always a risk,” Jeannette Levitt said. “But you decide you’re gong to do it, and you’re going to love your children, no matter what.”