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The next chapter: Seven girls adopted from China heading off to college

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — In an odyssey from orphanages in Asia to parents and prosperity, these young ladies are doing well.

In 1998, seven girls adopted from China arrived in Albuquerque with their new family members. The Journal covered part of that arrival, and followed up on six of the girls in 2000, when they were all around 3 years old. During the years, many of the girls stayed close, playing sports and volunteering together.

Now, at age 18, the young women are all grown-up and off to college.

Catching up

Jenna McClanahan, who played varsity tennis all four years of high school, is headed for New Mexico State University. She’s undecided on a major, but wants to explore the medical field because her parents are physical therapists.

She enjoys occasional baking, and playing soccer. It was through soccer that she reconnected with fellow adoptee Miya Alexander over the past year.

Back in 2000, McClanahan’s mother described her as shy but assertive, a description McClanahan says is still accurate.

Emma O’Connell’s mother described her daughter 15 years ago as being scientifically inquisitive, which holds true as O’Connell is off to Georgetown and considering a major in biology.

At age 3, O’Connell refused to wear matching socks, a fashion statement she says she’s since outgrown. Not only great at pairing socks, O’Connell is also proficient at pairing words – the speech and debate enthusiast took first place in Original Oratory for state championships.

Miya Alexander will be attending the University of New Mexico this fall. She’s not sure what she wants to major in, but is leaning toward Asian studies or business.

Alexander has been working for the City of Albuquerque’s Therapeutic Recreation Program, and learning Chinese. Her mother described her at age 3 as very independent, and Alexander says it’s as true now as it was then.

Mia Carlson is headed for the University of San Francisco. She will be majoring in International Studies and minoring in Criminal Justice, but admits that could change.

Described in 2000 as loving to sing, Carlson says these days she mainly reserves her singing for the car and shower. She is very much into art and fashion, and has enjoyed her internship with an Albuquerque law office.

Maya Wormwood likes exercise in the form of soccer and cross-country running, which should be easier at sea level when she attends Seattle University to major in Nursing or a Pre-Med Biology track.

She also likes to read, hang out with friends, and volunteer at the Ronald McDonald house with Carlson, O’Connell and Sarah Blount.

Sarah Blount, who was adopted at the same time as the others but not mentioned in the 2000 article, will be majoring in Biology at San Diego State University.

She loves playing and watching sports, writing sports journalism, and mentoring at University of New Mexico Hospital. Blount and the young ladies mentioned above frequently go hiking together.

Open communication

When asked about advice they might have for adopted kids, or adoptive parents, the young women all had similar answers.

They agreed adopted kids should be raised with the knowledge that they’re adopted, and not have information withheld.

Knowing other kids who were adopted provides someone to relate to, even though birth parents are rarely a topic of discussion for them.

McClanahan wants to adopt children someday, and Kailee Wells advises parents to allow adopted kids to come to them with questions as they arise.

O’Connell says not to be afraid to tell people about adopting or being adopted, and Alexander wants to educate people that putting kids up for adoption isn’t abandonment, or something to make fun of, adding that love is not exclusive to genetics.

“I love being adopted,” Carlson says. “It opens up your perspective on a lot of things.”


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