I've always considered paperweights to be completely useless objects. I have 3 or 4 on my desk at Texas Wesleyan -- all given as awards or commemorations, and all useless dust-catchers. What's the point of such an object in our central-heat-and-air world? Well, being in China has given me a new appreciation for the simple paperweight! I work in my law school office with my door and window open to create a cooling cross-breeze (my office door opens to an outdoor courtyard). I'm forever scrambling to find something to weigh down my papers before the wind sends them skittering across my office.
So for adoptive parents trying to come up with ideas for gifts to bring to China for Civil Affairs officials and notaries, I'd highly recommend paperweights. I bet they have to deal with even more papers than I do, and I'm quite sure they are doing it with open windows most of the time. Paperweights are small and easily transportable, and they don't have to weigh much to do their job. And I'm sure you can find them with local flavor -- if nothing else, buy flat river rocks and paint the state flower on them! I wish I'd thought of it before my adoption trips . . .