Saturday, December 20, 2014

NDSouth: Jie Jie Inspiration

Sometimes you happen to be in the right place at the right time....

As was the case today, when I walked into the Foster Home and saw this!

Noelle is walking!

Over and over again, into the loving arms of her Ayi ~

Who knew learning to walk was SO much FUN!

But if that wasn't enough to get everyone in the Foster Home excited ~

Polly was SO excited that she got up.....

All by herself.....

And did this!

I think seeing Noelle take her steps....

And hearing all the laughter and shouts of encouragement, got Little Miss Polly excited to try it herself!

Mei Mei like Jie Jie ~

Friday, December 19, 2014

Our Amazing Lindsay

Last month was National Adoption Month and you may have read a number of articles and blog posts on the subject of adoption.  You probably won't have read anything quite as honest, heart-wrenching and beautiful as this one though.  Lindsay lives here with her family and, when she's not doing her schoolwork, volunteers in the Foster Home.  She is a talented photographer and the pictures of the Foster Home children in this post are all hers.

For me, the hardest struggle about being adopted was self-acceptance.  I lived in a place where other kids looked like their parents, and I couldn't help but feel a little odd and left out. I couldn’t help but wonder about my birth family or what I was like as a baby.  All the things that normal kids knew about themselves, I didn't.  It seemed impossible to be proud of my past and to accept myself, but coming back to China has changed that. 
I was adopted from Henan province when I was six years old.  My mom says that I was really fast at dropping my Chinese and picking up English, probably because the only memories I had from living in the orphanage were nightmares, and I wanted nothing more to do with them.  I tried to lose my native language and everything that went with it.  Of course, I wasn't completely successful at mentally erasing the first six years of my life; some things are impossible to forget no matter how hard you try. It was especially tough to adjust to my new life the first year, and I drove my mom crazy several times.

My first two years of school in America, I had a love-hate relationship about China, adoption, and my past.  I remember being so amused at my classmates’ expression when I told them I was born half way across the world, and when they asked me if I could say anything in Chinese, I would count from 1-100 with pride.  However, if they asked anything about what it was like or what I remember, I would just shrug. 

In second grade though, that love-hate relationship turned into complete hate.  We were in Social Studies and I forget the details, but somehow we got to talking about China.  Then a boy, Ross, asked the teacher, “Since Lindsay was adopted from China, does that mean her real parents didn't love her?” I wanted to smack him and tell him he was wrong and it was none of his business anyway, but all I ended up doing was crying because deep down, I wondered the same thing.  After that, I never willingly told anybody I was adopted, and if they asked, I would tell the truth, but then change the subject.  I guess I was afraid they would assume the same thing as Ross, so I lost the little pride I had in China.

When my mom asked my opinion about going back to China and serving the orphans there, I don't know what I was thinking (or if I was at all), but I said I was willing to go.  Maybe I wanted to get out of America, where nobody seemed to understand anything about orphans or adoption, maybe I was ready for an adventure, or maybe it was really God leading me, but whatever made me agree, I'm glad I did. 

I can't decide if coming back to China at first made it easier or harder to accept my past. It sometimes hurt to be back, but at the same time, it was eye opening.  It hurt because being so close to my old orphanage brought back some of the memories I tried to forget.  I also thought more of my birth parents because I was so close, but so far from them: they could have been on that same bus I was riding, and I would have never known.  More often, I thought of what I looked like as a baby, my real birthday, my birth family and what they might be like.  I thought about how much I don't know about my past and who I was, so it was hard to accept myself.

However, at the same time, it was also easier to accept myself because our work put my problem into perspective.  While I was thinking how unfair my life was, there's one little kid who will never walk, one who won't ever be able talk, and one who just aged out of adoption completely, and yet they could still smile and play.  It made me feel less alone in the world because these kids probably also wondered about their own family: I had a bond with the kids we worked with because I was like them.  On the other hand, while I had a family, my own things, and everything we tend to take for granted, these kids didn't, and it made me realize how lucky I really was.  Those kids put my situation into perspective, and I'll never forget the day when I felt more sad for one of them than I did for myself. 

It was a hard process, but I finally learned that in the big picture, all the tears, struggles, worries actually made me stronger.  They taught me to be thankful for who I am and how far I've come.  For me, self-acceptance doesn't mean you never get sad about your past, but when you do, you know you'll be alright.  It doesn't mean that you never wish you could change your history; it means you can believe that no matter where you came from, God still has a wonderful plan for your future.

Then...Lindsay with her Mom and big sister (and foster parents).

And now...Lindsay with Selah in the Foster Home.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

NDSouth: From Crawling to Walking

Anna has been very busy perfecting her crawl!

She joyfully can maneuver herself from one corner of the Foster Home to the other easily!

She is very proud of herself as you can see.

She loves to crawl!

And we know what comes after crawling, don't we.

You guessed it!


Who knew learning to walk was this much fun!

Learning something new has never looked more fun!

 Go Anna go!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Transformation Tuesday: Iris

Have you read the amazing story of Iris' early days?  How she survived cardiac pulmonary edema, and made it though major heart surgery despite being teeny-tiny, malnourished, and having a collapsed lung?

This is what her hospital room looked like, so many wires, monitors and tubes...

...and this is what she looked like - frail, desperately thin, her hair coarse and orange due to malnutrition.

Once she was able to come home to New Day, at the start of this year, we began pouring love into her (along with plenty of doses of medication and vitamins).

This is Iris, belatedly 'modelling' her Christmas gifts.  Packages of gifts are always wonderful, but top of her Christmas list last year was #1 survival, followed closely by #2 gaining some weight, and #3 experiencing love and the tender care of her New Day mamas...

What a beautiful difference almost one year on!  Iris, seeing your transformation fills our hearts with gladness, and we can't wait to watch you tear the wrapping off your gifts this year.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Our Amazing Foster Families

As part of our series of 'everything you every wanted to know about...' posts (so far we've covered names and adoption), we thought it would be fun to address the topic of foster families.

Why does New Day Foster Home send some children to live in foster families?

No institution is a substitute for a family of one's own.  While a forever family is what every child truly needs, we believe that a caring foster family is the ideal place for them to grow up while they wait for adoption.  Foster families give the children the opportunity to experience the love of a family.  A practical advantage of moving children out of the Foster Home is that it frees up beds so that we can take in more children with serious medical needs.

How do you chose which children are going to move out to live with foster families?
We wait until a child no longer needs daily medical care.  Foster parents bring the children back to New Day for check-ups, therapy and preschool.

How do you help children make the move from the Foster Home to a foster family?
Once the decision has been made that a child will be going to live with a particular foster family, the foster mama will spend a week getting to know the child here during the daytime. That way, when the day comes for them to go to their new home, they will be going with someone that they already know.

Who are the foster parents?  How are they supervised?

Most of our foster parents are older, retired couples who have the time and patience to provide the one-on-one attention our children need to thrive.  We employ a full-time 'foster family manager'. Wangshu is the gentleman that you see in the Facebook pictures 'handing over' a child to their new foster parents, and he does a great job providing training and supervision.  You can see pictures of all our foster parents here.

Isn't it hard on the child (and the foster parents) when the children leave to be adopted?

Last year we published a post about attachment;
"These children know how to attach to someone.  They know how to trust and this is the best gift that we could ever give them."
Foster families teach the children about what it means to be part of a family, which is such an important lesson to start to learn.
Yes, it is hard on the foster parents when their precious charges leave.  They grieve and they miss them.  Usually though, they take in another child, and continue to pour their love into a new little life.
You can read the perspective of a foster mama here, and we think that you will agree that our foster families are amazing.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

NDNorth: Will Stand For Cake

Oh, sweet, squishy Timothy! Our little miracle baby is growing bigger and stronger and we decided that it was time for him to get his turn in the stander each day. Timothy is a warrior, but that doesn't mean he always likes to work hard. Nanny Anna knew just what to do, though, for his first standing session. Cake. 

Cake was being served in the orphanage for another occasion, and Anna wisely served Timothy his portion during his first official standing session. Not bad!

Standing isn't too hard, is it, buddy?

The next day, Timothy tried the stander out again. Oooh, look! I'm in the cake spot again!

Wait!? This isn't cake. These are toys. Mama - cake please!

As Timothy grows stronger and and more stable in the stander, he hopefully won't need a sweet bribe anymore. But until then, as far as Timothy's concerned, therapy is a lot of fun as long as it involves cake!