13-year-old Steamboat Springs girl adopted from China to visit first home | SteamboatToday.com
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13-year-old Steamboat Springs girl adopted from China to visit first home

Teresa Ristow
Zofia Stroman, center, was adopted from China as a toddler by parents Larry and Tara Stroman in 2005. Now a seventh-grader at Steamboat Springs Middle School, Zofia and her family will travel to China on a heritage trip in June.
Courtesy Photo

Giving back

In preparation for May, when the family plans to cash in their hefty coin jar at Yampa Valley Bank, the Stromans are inviting the community to learn Zofia’s story and give back to the Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

The family’s coin jar will be on display at the bank, and for a $1 donation to the Alzheimer’s fundraiser, people can make guesses for how much money is in the Stroman jar, with the closest guess winning a cash prize.

Tara Stroman said her father battled severe dementia and lived in an assisted living community in Iowa until his death in 2001.

“Watching someone forget, that was heartbreaking,” Stroman said.

First place in the contest will be 25 percent of the donations collected for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s with the remaining 75 percent of the funds donated to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Steamboat Springs will host its Walk to End Alzheimer’s Saturday, Aug. 26 at Casey’s Pond.

Stroman said her goal is to raise $500 to help fund ongoing education programs and support for those living with dementia and their families, legislative advocacy and research.

See Tara Stroman's page on the Walk to End Alzheimer's here.

— Zofia Xinghao Stroman doesn’t remember the place where she was born or the social welfare center where she spent the first 22 months of her life.

She was too young to remember the Chinese social workers who cared for her during an era when Chinese population control measures led to people leaving female babies or second children in high traffic areas to be brought to orphanages.

Giving back

In preparation for May, when the family plans to cash in their hefty coin jar at Yampa Valley Bank, the Stromans are inviting the community to learn Zofia’s story and give back to the Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

The family’s coin jar will be on display at the bank, and for a $1 donation to the Alzheimer’s fundraiser, people can make guesses for how much money is in the Stroman jar, with the closest guess winning a cash prize.

Tara Stroman said her father battled severe dementia and lived in an assisted living community in Iowa until his death in 2001.

“Watching someone forget, that was heartbreaking,” Stroman said.

First place in the contest will be 25 percent of the donations collected for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s with the remaining 75 percent of the funds donated to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Steamboat Springs will host its Walk to End Alzheimer’s Saturday, Aug. 26 at Casey’s Pond.

Stroman said her goal is to raise $500 to help fund ongoing education programs and support for those living with dementia and their families, legislative advocacy and research.

See Tara Stroman’s page on the Walk to End Alzheimer’s here.

What the Steamboat Springs Middle School student does remember is a pleasant childhood growing up in Routt County with her parents, Tara and Larry Stroman.

Now 13, Zofia enjoys cheerleading, and her favorite subject in school is writing.

“She is an American girl 100 percent,” said Tara Stroman. “She is not seen as a Chinese person.”

While Zofia doesn’t have firsthand memories of the beginning of her life in China, she does have a memory book with photos and mementos from those months.

The book includes a newspaper clipping announcing when Zofia was found at six days old in a busy market, a place known to adoption workers as the “finding spot.” And there are photos from the ceremony nearly two years later in 2005, when the Stromans formally adopted Zofia, working through the Denver office of Chinese Children Adoption International.

Now in seventh grade, Zofia’s parents believe she’s ready to form a deeper understanding of the place she came from, and together, the family is taking a heritage trip to China this June.

Zofia will see the social welfare center where she lived the first two years of her life, see the “finding place,” visit Chinese landmarks and maybe hold a baby panda.

“I think it’s good to know your history, just for yourself,” Larry Stroman said. “To go there and actually see it.”

Zofia said she’s looking forward to seeing the orphanage and wants to volunteer while she’s there.

“I think it will be cool to go back and see where it was,” Zofia said Wednesday.

She’s also particularly excited about the prospect of meeting a panda.

The family has saved bit by bit for the trip over the last 12 years, placing spare change and bills into a large coin jar now heavier than 30 pounds.

The Stromans own the Silver Lining jewelry store in Torian Plum Plaza, and Tara Stroman also works the front desk at Casey’s Pond. But without saving up and making the heritage trip a priority, the family wouldn’t have been able to afford it, Tara Stroman said.

“It all came together,” she said. “Now is the time.”

Challenges in China

Tara Stroman said Zofia is one of about 20 adopted Chinese children living in Steamboat Springs.

Though they could have had a child of their own, the Stromans chose to adopt a toddler from China in their 40s after traveling through Asia and gaining an understanding of the number of children up for adoption worldwide.

“There’s kids everywhere in this world that need homes,” Tara Stroman said.

In China in particular, many babies were given up by families who already had the allowed one child, or by those that wanted a boy rather than a girl to support the family in the future.

Babies were left in busy areas where they would be quickly found.

“I can’t imagine the heartache the families had to go through,” Tara Stroman said.

In 2015, the government announced the phasing out of the policy, first introduced in 1979, and now all families are allowed to have two children.

Also on the family’s heritage trip will be other children adopted from China who now live not just in the United States, but all over the world.

Zofia and her parents leave Steamboat Springs for their trip in early June and will spend time in Beijing and Hong Kong, in addition to visiting Guilin, the city where Zofia was found.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email tristow@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow


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