The Weekly Newspaper serving the citizens of Morenci, Mich., Fayette, Ohio, and surrounding areas.

  • Front.sculpt
    SKEWERS, gumdrops, and marshmallows are all that’s needed to create interesting shapes and designs for Layla McDowell Saturday at Stair District Library’s “Sculptamania!” Open House. The program featuring design games and materials is one part of a larger project funded by a $7,500 Curiosity Creates grant from Disney and the American Library Association. Additional photos are on page 7.
    Morenci marching band members took to the field Friday night dressed for Halloween during the Bulldog’s first playoff game. Morenci fans had a bit of a scare until the fourth quarter when the Bulldogs scored 30 points to leave Lenawee Christian School behind. Whiteford visits Morenci this Friday for the district championship game. From the left is Clayton Borton, Morgan Merillat and James O’Brien.
    DNA PUZZLE—Mitchell Storrs and Wyatt Mohr tackle a puzzle representing the structure of DNA. There’s only one correct way for all the pieces to fit. It’s one of the new materials that can be used in both biology and chemistry classes, said teacher Loretta Cox.
  • Front.tar.wide
    A TRAFFIC control worker stands in the middle of Morenci’s Main Street Tuesday morning, waiting for the next flow of vehicles to be let through from the west. The dusty gravel surface was sealed with a layer of tar, leaving only the application of paint for new striping. The project was completed in conjunction with county road commission work west of Morenci.
  • Front.pull
    JUNIORS Jazmin Smith and Trevor Corkle struggle against a team from the sophomore class Friday during the annual tug of war at the Homecoming Games pep rally. Even the seniors struggled against the sophomores who won the competition. At the main course of the day, the Bulldog football team struggled against Whiteford in a homecoming loss.
    YOUNG soccer players surived a chilly morning Saturday in Morenci’s PTO league. From the left is Emma Cordts, Wayne Corser, Carter and Levi Seitz, Briella York and Drew Joughin. Two more weeks of soccer remain for this season.
  • Front.ropes
    BOWEN BAUMGARTNER of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge constructed by the Tecumseh Boy Scout troop Sunday at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The bridge was one of many challenges, displays and games set up for the annual Youth Jamboree by the Michigan DNR. Additional photos on are the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.homecoming Court
    One of four senior candidates will be crowned the fall homecoming queen during half-time of this week’s Morenci-Whiteford football game. In the back row (left to right) is exchange student Kinga Vidor (her escort will be Caylob Alcock), seniors Alli VanBrandt (escorted by Sam Cool), Larissa Elliott (escorted by Clayton Borton), Samantha Wright (escorted by JJ Elarton) and Justis McCowan (escorted by Austin Gilson), and exchange student Rebecca Rosenberger (escorted by Garrett Smith). Front row freshman court member Allie Kaiser (escorted by Anthony Thomas), sophomore Marlee Blaker (escorted by Nate Elarton) and junior Cheyenne Stone (escorted by Dominick Sell).
  • Front.park.lights
    GETTING READY—Jerad Gleckler pounds nails to secure a string of holiday lights on the side of the Wakefield Park concession stand while other members of the Volunteer Club and others hold them in place. The volunteers showed up Sunday afternoon to string lights at the park. The decorating project will continue this Sunday. Denise Walsh is in charge of the effort this year.

Mike & Dawn Figgins: A pair of China dolls

Written by David Green.

Mike & Dawn Figgins' family grows again 


It takes a lot of patience to become the adoptive parent of a Chinese baby. Several months worth of patience.

But once the connection is made, it’s all worth the long wait.

That was the experience of Mike and Dawn Figgins—twice over. The couple has traveled twice to China to bring back an orphan to their home in Fayette.

figgins Dawn explains that their own child, Mackalyn, was the result of a high-risk pregnancy. They wanted a second child, but not the risk that could easily arise from her own pregnancy.

She read an article in the Toledo Blade about adopting orphans and it piqued her interest.

“It just touched my heart,” she said. “I knew if we were going to do it, it would be the right thing.”

Later, the Figgins saw an item in their church bulletin about Asian children needing homes. They contacted an agency and the application process got underway.

Why a foreign adoption when so many American children need a home?

There are cases in which a child is given up for adoption, but then later tracked down by the biological mother and returned to her through legal action, Mike said. That’s a heart-breaking possibility they’d rather not face. Adopting a child from Asia, he said, pretty much eliminates the possibility that years later someone is going to come knocking on your door to claim their child.

And why China?

That’s just one of those hard-to-explain notions.

“I knew in my heart that was the place,” Dawn said.

There’s no shortage of orphans in the People’s Republic of China. Male babies are still preferred due to the tradition of the male child caring for his parents. It’s a form of social security, Mike said. The country operates under a one-child system as a means of controlling the expanding population. Some families are allowed to have a second child if the first-born is a girl.

Many children are abandoned. The Figgins’ first adopted child, Jillian, was placed at the base of a bridge. The second, Jocelyn, was left at a seafood restaurant.

“Parents typically put them in a place where they’ll be found,” Dawn said. “They want them to be cared for.”

She describes the application process as long and hard. A visit to the federal immigration office in Cleveland. Finger-printing through the FBI. Clearance through the state child protective  services office. Letters of reference. Training in Chinese culture. Home inspection. Proof of income and job security. CPR certification.

The list of requirements is extensive. Some are adoption agency-based, some through the U.S. government and others from the Chinese government.

Every document must be notarized and forwarded on to a county office to approve the notary. Then it moves on to the Ohio Secretary of State to approve the county’s action. The growing dossier moves on to the agency and finally to the Chinese consulate.

If approval is granted by the Chinese government, a photo of the baby is sent, along with minimal medical and developmental information. Next, it’s time for the prospective parents to sign a form stating they accept the child. It’s rare for a rejection, Dawn says.

“Once you see the referral photo, you’re hooked.”

Eventually, final approval comes from China and then you can start making travel arrangements.

“It was 26 months from start to finish,” Mike said about the first adoption, then down to the 14 months the second time around.

The Figgins flew into Beijing and spent a couple of days traveling. The Americans are encouraged to see the country and take photos to show their children as they grow.

With five other families from northwest Ohio, they flew nearly 800 miles south to the orphanage in Changsha, the provincial capital of Hunan. At the orphanage, workers held up photos of the babies to match up the new parents with their child.

“The first time we went,” Mike said, “we had some time to talk to the caregivers at the orphanage. The second time they handed us the babies and they were gone.”

Dawn says she’s glad she wasn’t a first-time parent, because Jocelyn, who was 13 months old, cried for a good share of the first four days.

“I kept telling myself, we don’t look the same, we don’t talk the same, we don’t smell the same, the food is not the same,” Dawn recalls. “I knew it would take me more than four days to adjust.”

There was additional paperwork to be completed by the Chinese government before heading off for more at the American embassy. Finally, the child received a medical checkup before a visa was issued.

An oath is administered for the child to become an American citizen—the status actually took effect at the immigration office at O’Hare Airport in Chicago—and the process was complete. The trip from Fayette to China and back home again took 17 days for Jocelyn, ending April 8.

The adoption process is an emotionally challenging roller coaster ride, Dawn says, but it was an easy decision to go back for the second child.

“We wanted some companionship for Jillian,” Mike said, “and we wanted to bring another child out to give her opportunities she wouldn’t have in her own country.”

The Figgins aim to provide the girls with some cultural heritage of the country they left behind. Traveling in the country gave them a small foundation.

“It gives you a whole new appreciation of their country and what people there go through day by day,” Dawn said. “A lot of them have a pretty tough life.”

There are two youngsters from the Hunan Province who have escaped the orphanage and are settled into a new life in Fayette.

  - May 11, 2005


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