Sunday, June 30, 2013

The People on the Bus

Chalk is just about the best outdoor activity, don't you think? You really can't go wrong with chalk and bubbles.

We noticed Colton drawing something much bigger than himself.

"What are you drawing, Colton?"

"I draw bus!" he said in perfect English, emphasizing the "b" in "bus!"

"And who is that you're drawing inside of the bus?"

"Wendy. And me."


Here's the almost finished product. Can you see long-haired Wendy and a skinny little Colton in the corner of his bus?


Guess who was also drawing a bus? Here's Wendy's version.


She was really busy filling the boxes in her bus with letters. What was she writing?


Names! Can you read the names that she wrote on her bus? If you look closely you should be able to make out "Philip" and "William" and over in the top corner she's written "Julia Grace"... with the letters in a different order, of course.


Good bus-drawing, kids!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

NDSouth: Pure Sweetness

We think Matthew is just precious. We really don't even have words to describe these pictures. Do you?


Matthew has a long road ahead of him. He has been with us 9 months, arriving when he was just a few days old. Matthew has already had two surgeries and has at least two more to go.


Each and every child is a gift and so very precious. These pictures could probably be described as "pure sweetness." Don't you agree?

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Truth About Esther

The word around town is that Esther is a "diva."


We're not quite sure what that means.


All we know is that Esther is adorable, gentle, and sometimes really sassy.


She's tiny in stature but her personality is huge.


Because of her ENT defects Esther has trouble talking. But she never fails to make her wishes known.


So does that make her a 'diva'? I don't know... what do you think?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

NDSouth: Playing Nicely

Sally and Sadie are great friends. They have an awful lot in common. They are from the same orphanage, arrived in our care at the same time, and are only a few months apart in age. 


Aren't they just precious together?


Just like any family with several children, our children are learning what it means to place nicely with one another. Sally is really getting the hang of it. She just loves her big sister, Sadie.


These two sweeties couldn't be any cuter. They are such happy babies and are learning what it means to be sisters.


They truly love each other, just as sisters should.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Forever Home: Making New Friends


Late one night after the little girls had gone to bed, two new little ones were born into the Forever Home family.  Naturally, when they awoke the next morning and we told them about them, they rushed to the cage to see the new additions.  



Zoe, who was terribly afraid of our dog and any other animal when she first arrived, has now warmed up a bit to various animals.  It has taken a little while but, as you can see, she has now decided all animals aren't as scary as she once thought.  The babies are now two weeks old and doing wonderfully!

One Happy Baby

...because sometimes you just need to giggle.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Baby Signing Time!

It's been said that teaching children sign language at an early age not only allows them to communicate and decreases frustration between children and parents, but that it also aids in brain development and helps children become more verbal younger! Who would have thought?

We had some Baby Signing DVDs that were donated a while ago, and have recently been pulling them out on occasion for the babies to watch. They don't watch TV, so it seemed like a special, educational treat that they would enjoy.

Annabel is one of the youngest members of our little group, but boy does she love to show off! This little girl can sign "more" like a pro, wave bye-bye, blow kisses, clap her hands and whenever we watch the DVDs she starts waving her hands all around, trying to imitate the signs.


Anna Rose is quieter than Annabel, but that doesn't mean that she can't sign! Can you see her fingers forming the "more" sign?


No pushing buttons, Annabel!


After letting the CCU babies watch for a while, we brought the DVD player into the baby room. It's mostly for Lena's sake. She's already two and non-verbal except for her lovely singing voice, so we thought that some signing would be good for her. Ethan was entranced.



Do you do signing with your babies?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

NDSouth: All Gone

Several of our children are at the age where they are starting to use their imagination. Marshall found a pretend sippy cup recently and thought it was real. Once he realized that there was nothing in it, he decided that it was still fun to play with and "pretend" that there was water or juice in it. 


He tipped his head farther and farther back trying to get all the liquid out.


Hmmm.... must be all gone, Marshall.


Oh well... it's fun to pretend! We are so happy that you are using your imagination, Marshall!


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Party in the Playroom

What do you do when the big kids leave for a field-trip and the only ones left in the playroom are Rachel, Rebecca, Isaac, Julia Grace and Lydia? Why, you throw a party, of course!


Thanks to a care package that Julia Grace received today, there were new balls to play with. Most of the children tried to hold as many as they could at one time... Julia Grace just tried to eat hers.


Also in Julia Grace's package was a CD of children's songs. We put it on. Lydia danced.


We had no idea that Miss Lydia was such a dance-loving girl. She rocked and swayed and clapped and giggled and we couldn't wipe the smiles off of our face watching her.



Isaac loves to dance, but every time he'd start a ball would roll out of his hands. Clapping was especially hard.


How do you clap when your hands are full of balls?


 The nannies thought that the children were so cute dancing and playing with the balls, that they lined them up.


...and then we took a video.

NDSouth: Stickers

In Preschool we have a sticker chart for good behavior. This is probably the favorite time of day for the children. At the end of class, each child is allowed to choose one sticker and put it on their name. Once in a while they are also allowed to pick a sticker to wear. 

The other day, their teacher placed the ladybug stickers on their shirts. However, the kids apparently had other ideas as to the best place for a sticker. A few minutes later, this is what we found...

Sammy apparently likes to wear his sticker on his forehead.


And Asa prefers it on his head.


When their teacher moved the stickers back to their shirts, they turned right around and placed them back in their preferred spots. We decided it didn't really matter where they wanted to wear them.

Cooper was the only one who wore his sticker in the correct place, but of course we didn't snap a picture.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Forever Home: Fun Times


Zoe and Camilla, foster sisters, have become quite close these days.  They do everything together and you'll often hear them running to and fro, and lots of giggling!




Today they played outside for a time just after picking Zoe up from preschool.  Camilla often wonders where Zoe disappears to when she leaves each morning, but doesn't complain though. She has everyone's attention all to herself--and she likes that!  Though, she is quite happy when her playmate returns just before lunch!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Sisterly Love

Melinda was sitting on the bench outside with her nanny when Lucy came up and sat down next to her.

If you've ever met Lucy in real life then you know that she is an affectionate little girl. She loves to give visitors big hugs and if she really likes you, she may just smack a kiss on your cheek.

None of this affection is spared her little sister, Melinda, who is also her room-mate. After sitting down next to Melinda, Lucy quickly wrapped her arm around Melinda's neck.


I'm such a good big sister! 


And I just love you SO much, Melinda!


 You love me too, right?


Want another kiss?


Lucy and Melinda's nanny, whose English name is also Lucy, loves her little girls and is so proud of the soft and caring spirits that they are developing. It's exciting to watch these girls not only start reaching their potential, but blossom in the process.



And we'll take a kiss any time, Lucy. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Attachment for the Orphan

Whole scholarly articles have been written on the topic of attachment. Studies have been done to see how important attachment is in a child's life. In the thirteenth century Emperor Fredrick II did an experiment to see what language fifty children would begin using if they were never cuddled or talked to. His experiment failed because every single one of the fifty children died.

In general, forming bonds of attachment is almost an impossible thing for the orphan living in an institution. The nannies and orphanage staff try hard to provide each of the 8-20 children in their care with their daily needs, keeping them clean and warm and fed. After that they can spend their free time talking to and cuddling with the babies. Would you have any free time if you were caring for even eight special needs infats?

It's a hard, back-breaking sort of job for caregivers. Here at New Day our ratio is one nanny for every three children. In our Critical Care unit the ratio is 1:2. And guess what we get to see on a regular basis?

Attachment.

It's harder for some children than for others. Sometimes they've been through so much in the months and years before they came to us that attaching is a long and hard process. But we've set it up so that the children have the best opportunity they can  to form some bonds. Our shifts are set up so that each bedroom of three children has their very own two "mamas" who work alternating days. This is the mama who feeds them, dresses them, changes their diapers and gives them a bath. Every other day the mamas switch places, but every other day they come right back to care for "their" children. Some of the older children here know the shifts pretty well, and so if Tuesday's mama works on Wednesday too, they'll ask "what's my other mama doing today?"

When children are attached, they are bound to go through what is called a "stranger-anxiety phase." This is the phase in a child's life where they will have absolutely nothing to do with anyone but their mama or close caregiver. Stranger anxiety is healthy, it's a good thing.

We have some children who have been going through some phases of their own recently. It can get tricky when you have a whole team of caregivers, medical staff, managers, therapists and volunteers who all want to cuddle, but it's a really, really good thing.

Annabel has gone through a phase where she would have nothing to do with anyone but the four mamas who rotate in and out of the CCU. She knows love and she knows that her mama gives the best lovin' there is.


Alea is still in the midst of her "phase." And her favorite nanny is Cora. If Cora's working, Alea will have nothing to do with anyone. Cora is her mama to wipe her nose and cuddle her when she's not feeling well.

 

It's into Cora's arms that she falls into when she's being especially silly, because Alea knows that she's safe with her mama.


For the past few months Hudson would burst into tears whenever he saw anyone who wasn't his foster mama. The poor guy had a rough time at therapy every day, but recently he seems to have come out of his shell and he's a new little boy. He has a ready smile for everyone and happily waves "bye-bye" and blows kisses. Dare we say that he has "attached"?


 
Of course, there are ramifications with attachment for these children. They are not attaching with their forever mamas. Alea is matched with a family and will hopefully be leaving this summer. What will happen when she has to leave the woman whom she thinks is "her" mama and go with a stranger? What about Hudson, after he's finally discovered that it's okay to leave his foster mama's arms for therapy because he knows that she will always come back for him?

There's a lot of information out there about attachment. I'm sure that there are many differing opinions. For us personally, we have seen the positive results for children who were able to attach to someone special while they were still here in China. The transition on adoption day was harder and more tear-full, but in the end, the children are more emotionally stable and healthy. 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.

Question:
As an adoptive parent, how has the attachment period gone? How much do you think the child's situation pre-gotcha day has effected their emotional health today?