I tried several times to find a way around Blogger being blocked while in China with no success. I tried emailing a blog post but they were returned to me as "undeliverable." I apologize for not being able to post updates although I have to admit that the experience was much more than I had imagined it would be. I got home late last night and am still processing everything and feeling so... ugh, here's another problem with blogging about this experience...there are no words to talk about how the children affected me.
I spent this past week touring the orphanage and foster facilities, the classrooms and therapy centers. I was learning, taking notes, taking pictures, capturing videos of them playing, walking, using a walker or sitting in a wheelchair batting a balloon. I was playing peek-a-boo, asking questions, jumping around like a crazy person to get kids to smile for my camera, asking older children about themselves and trying to capture them in the best light. I was photographing their art work and making videos of them reciting poems or songs. I was handing out treats and toys and giving and receiving hugs (sometimes from little boys who wouldn't let go) and each night from pure physical and emotional exhaustion I cried my eyes out.
I probably wasn't in the best mental state to be blogging so perhaps it was a good thing my VPN didn't work this time. I've been getting a lot of personal emails and just wanted to let you know I'm back and as I get my notes and thoughts together I'll blog more about the trip. Feel free to email me though if you have specific questions at JCandRebecca@Yahoo.com I know a lot of the people that requested to view the blog have hopes of making a trip like this and so I will still go back and give an overview of each day and what we did. This was perhaps a different trip than many of you have in mind though. I volunteered for this trip because I've gotten very active with advocating since bringing our daughter home and I wanted to learn more about the lives of children in an orphanage, meet some children I could advocate for and learn how to help the children who will be left behind. This trip was orchestrated by the adoption agency we used to bring our daughter home last year and was for them a necessary trip to establish a partnership with the orphanage. When the agency posted that they were looking for volunteers to "play with the children" it just seemed like an opportunity that doesn't come around all that often. I am looking forward to advocating for the children who are waiting to be chosen for adoption, and for the children who will be left behind and have needs that will require fundraising. There were two other adoptive mama's on this trip and I know they share many of the same thoughts.
My heart aches because I know how very challenging it's going to be find prospective parents for many of these kids. I need some very special families for some incredibly wonderful children who are smart and funny and so loving, but their physical needs are beyond what most people are hoping for, even those open to many special needs. I've been reading files and looking at pictures and trying to get updates for the past year and a half on kids I wanted to advocate for and now I realize how much harder it will be because now I've met them. I know them. I've hugged them and experienced the the joy of having children who were initially extremely shy open up and smile at me. Reached out and physically touched me. One little girl felt the need to try to protect me by stepping in front of my body when she thought another child was going to throw a (soft squishy) ball at me. I have seen some of the biggest, most genuine smiles imaginable (if you've spent any time with a Down Syndrome child you know what I'm talking about). I have seen the hope and fear in the eyes of older children who want desperately to be adopted like many of their friends.
They want to be adopted.
I want them to be adopted.
There are always going to be risks with older child adoption, but they are still children and deserve to be considered by families who have educated themselves about the risks and want to make the effort anyway. I can't promise you that the kids I met will make an easy transition in to their new homes, but I do know that even though their foster care situations are good, they want more. They want to go to school and not be teased for being an orphan or for living with cognitively disabled children. They want to go home and know that it is permanent.
I need to highlight two of the children we met... I'll call the first Felicity for now although the name may change when the agency starts posting about her... She recently turned 11 and was so incredibly shy the doctors in China labeled her as "severely delayed" because she wouldn't speak to them during her medical exam. The orphanage had to submit her paperwork three times insisting that she is shy with strangers but talkative with her foster family, friends and the orphanage staff. I cannot say she is a normal healthy girl. Although the orphanage director says she is very smart, they think she may have a learning disability as she cannot complete tests in the time allowed. This child avoided us as much as she could the first two times we tried to meet her although she followed us around the orphanage building, obviously very curious. She finally opened up a little on our last day. She approached me while other children were watching the videos I had just made of them rollerblading in the courtyard. I invited her to watch as well and was happily shocked when she not only joined in, but leaned on me so she could see the screen! That's why the second picture below was taken - we were all so surprised! I know it was out of her comfort zone to be that close to me, a stranger, and at that moment I realized she has the longest, most beautiful eye lashes. I must have played the same video ten times for them.
Felicity is the is the last girl in her building her age. She and two of her friends spent several months in Beijing during some renovations at the orphanage and when they returned her two best friends were told they had families coming for them. At this point all of her close girl friends have been adopted and this has caused her to become even more of an introvert. I can only imagine that she wonders, "why not me?" She says she wants to be adopted and I think that's why she made an effort to come out of her shell a little bit for us. She knew we were there to help her find a family.
(Felicity's hands on my leg, touching me, so she can see her pictures and watch the videos I made of her).
The other child that was highlighted is now home with his family so I have removed his info for the family's privacy.
Please email me at JCandRebecca@Yahoo.com for more information.