“Ever since my parents got me from China, I’ve had a special blanket and a stuffed dog,” said 9-year-old, Lianne Raymond.
She takes them nearly everywhere, but once when the family went to Connecticut, the pink blanket was mistakenly left behind. Her mother, Patricia (Patty) Raymond, searched until she found another one, though eventually, they did get the original blanket back. Now, Lianne has two, “Blankie No. 1” and “Blankie No. 2.”
The Raymonds had never discussed adoption, but both Ronald (Ron) and Patty, husband and wife, had considered it.
An Edinboro University journalism professor, Dr. Ron Raymond can’t remember whether it was a book he read or a documentary he watched, but somehow he became aware of the number of girls who were being abandoned or aborted in China because of the one child policy.
“It really weighed on me, but it was like many of the things you encounter in life where you think: ‘that’s a horrible situation’ or ‘that’s unfortunate, but what can I do about it?’” he said.
His life went on as usual until he began reading “Season of Life” by Pulitzer Prize winner, Jeffrey Marx.
Marx wrote this New York Times bestseller after he encountered an old friend, Joe Ehrmann, a former NFL player and a volunteer high school football coach. Ehrmann focused on teaching the players principles and life lessons that could be used both on and off the field. Empathy is among the values discussed in the book.
“[He says] about how at the end of your life, everybody should find something that’s bigger than themselves,” Raymond said.
“It’s kind of weird, but even at that moment, I knew what I was supposed to do.”
So he approached his wife about it.
Her response was not what Ron expected, saying simply “Okay.” She was completely supportive of the idea.
“He didn’t know when I was a teenager I read a book about the one child policy,” she said. “I really wanted to adopt; I’ve always wanted to.”
However, the couple already had three children, two daughters and a son, and wanted to ensure that they were also on-board with this plan.
“I don’t think it would’ve happened if the three children hadn’t been completely supportive of it,” Ron Raymond said. “They have welcomed her from the moment we got her picture as a full-fledged 110 percent Raymond.”
The oldest daughter, Stephanie Raymond, didn’t know much about adoption when her parents approached her about this, but, just like her mother, she had no reservations about it.
“So, we began the process with the hope of just making a difference for one person,” Ron Raymond said, “and the reality of it is that she’s impacted us far more than we ever have her.”
Over eight years after the adoption took place on July 8, 2007, he can’t stop smiling when talking about Lianne.
“She’s amazing,” he said. “She just has so many incredible qualities, and I’m just absolutely thrilled to be her dad. It’s the greatest blessing ever.”
Lianne Raymond is energetic, talkative and fun-loving, according to her mother.
She likes playing with her Barbie dolls and the family’s two dogs, Peppermint and Twinkle. Some evenings she takes ballet classes, something she became interested in because her sister, Stephanie, had done so when she was young.
She’s a third grade student who enjoys her classes, especially math and social studies, but she wants to be a baker when she grows up. During the Albion Fair, she entered a cupcake in a contest and was excited when she received a first place ribbon.
Sometimes whenever it’s time to go to bed, Ron races Lianne to her room.
He jumps under the covers and lies still. She knows her dad isn’t sleeping, but she plays along. “This bed is so lumpy!” she says, jabbing her elbow into her dad’s back hoping to get a reaction.
“She’s got a great sense of humor,” Ron Raymond said. “There isn’t a day that goes by where she doesn’t say or do something that makes me laugh.”
Ron Raymond calls her GG, short for “Giggle Girl.” When Lianne starts laughing, she can’t stop.
The adoption process was long, but Ron and Patty say it was well worth it. It took years for the Raymonds, but they did all the paperwork as quickly as they could, even driving to New York City instead of mailing a paper that needed signed.
“We spent a lot of that time preparing our household and trying to make sure that we dotted every ‘i’ and crossed every ‘t’ on the paperwork,” Ron Raymond said. “We were told that if there were any mistakes at all it could be rejected, sent back and delay the process significantly.”
Patty Raymond recalls having all the paperwork spread out across the floor as she went through every page ensuring it was all complete.
And it went well. Soon they got a phone call saying there was a little girl for them.
Until they made the trip to China, the Raymonds had two pictures.
“Probably the biggest challenge is the amount of time it takes because your heart is set,” Ron Raymond said. “Even after we received her photos and biography, you still had to wait what seemed like forever before you could actually make the trip.”
When the day finally came, Ron, Patty, their three children and Patty’s father stood waiting with others who were also adopting. It was important to the couple that the entire family be present when meeting their new daughter.
Lianne was one of the first babies brought into the room. Both Ron and Patty recognized her immediately.
“The only thing I can equate it to is the birth of my other children,” he said. “[It’s] just so miraculous that you are adding to your family in that moment... I don’t do it justice in trying to describe it; it was absolutely amazing.”
Patty’s father came along largely because he was going to film and take pictures, but when Lianne arrived, he became so excited that he forgot to record it. About a minute later after realizing, he began to do so.
She never cried, even though so many of the other children in the room did. Instead she reached up to touch her parents’ faces.
“She’s 100 percent my daughter, just like the biological ones,” Ron Raymond said. “She just arrived a different way.”
They picked the name “Lianne” after looking through Chinese names. Ron found the name “Lian” and thought if he added an “n” and an “e” it would be perfect, especially since one of her sisters is named Linnae. It’s spelled with the same letters.
They kept her Chinese name, Zi Jin, as her middle name though.
Stephanie Raymond only lived at home with Lianne for a short period of time, but the adoption changed her life so much so that she now works as the China Regional Coordinator at Holt International in Eugene, Oregon.
“My parents adopted Li the summer before I started college, so the experience was influential in determining my choice of major and my graduate studies,” she said. “It was important to me to learn as much as I could about adoption generally and more specifically about adoption in China, so I could be a resource for Li as she gets older.”
The 20-year age gap and the distance between them makes their relationship different than that of most sisters, but the two are close nonetheless. Stephanie Raymond has lived in Oregon for the past five years, but they talk on the phone and she visits as often as possible. Lianne has already been to Oregon three times.
“I remember when I came home for Christmas when Li was two,” Stephanie Raymond said. “She was so excited to see me that she took nearly every toy out of her room to show to me minutes after I arrived home.”
Likewise, Ron and Patty Raymond can’t imagine their lives without Lianne. They wouldn’t have any more children at home.
“We are so blessed to have her,” Ron Raymond said. “She’s given us far more than anything we could ever give to her.”
Tracy Geibel is the Campus Life Editor of The Spectator. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org