Friday, October 31, 2014

Big News

One of our favorite things here in the New Day Foster Home office is hearing that a child has been matched with their forever family.

"Guess what...?  We just heard from x's orphanage, he/she's been matched with a family!"

Lots of happy faces, and GanLu adds an asterisk next to the child's name on the website, then we play 'the asterisk game' on Facebook (which, for the uninitiated, is where everyone goes looking on the website for the new asterisk, which is way more fun than it sounds).

It's always big news.  It's the beginning of a child's journey from orphan to son or daughter.  The journey may take a while, because the adoption process is long and sometimes unpredictable, but at least it has begun.

The arrival of long-awaited-good-news is an extra-big-deal though.  Lucy has been waiting to be matched with a family of her very own for a LONG time, and we've been waiting and hoping with her.

Lucy was left at a local hospital on the day she was born, and came to New Day when she was 15 months old.  That was April 2009, and since then we have seen around 150 children leave us to join their forever families.  Lucy wouldn't have understood when she was very young, but these last few years it's been hard for her.  She's said good-bye to many friends, and wondered when it would be her turn.

When the good news finally arrived, Karen made the most of the opportunity to share it with the staff and volunteers.  Keeping a very straight face, she handed out Kleenex and said she had something important to say.  Everyone tried to figure out what the news might be... There may or may not have been tears, and a happy dance!

We couldn't wait to see Lucy's reaction to the news.  Just before lunch-time, a small crowd gathered in the backyard, where Lucy and her friends were playing.  Amy, the foster home manager, was given the privilege and she crouched down on the grass next to Lucy.  At first the news didn't really seem to sink in...and then it did...and Lucy was off.  She went around to everyone in the backyard, telling them her big news.

"I have a mama and a baba!" she told people, before rushing off to tell the next person.  Some people were told the news more than once, such was her excitement.  It was time to go to the dining hall for lunch, which gave Lucy the opportunity to tell even more people.  She went around telling volunteers, New Day Creations employees, anyone that she could find.  When you've waited so long for your good news, you want to make the most of being able to share it!

We also heard that Lucy's family have chosen a new name for her, Hannah Joy.  Children here are called, for the most part, by their Chinese names, but now that we know that this is the name she'll be called for the rest of her life, we will make sure that she starts to get used to it.  Foreign volunteers will call her by her new name, and it will be used in school time.  A new name for a brand-new season in Lucy/Hannah's life...

Now she doesn't need to wonder and ask "where is my family?".  Instead she can (and surely will) ask "when is MY family coming to get me?", and we can answer that we don't know, but with the reassurance that they WILL be coming.
Thursday, October 30, 2014

NDSouth: Parachutes Away!

With the weather cooling outside, we've been trying to incorporate some outdoor activities into morning preschool. Want to know what we've been up to? We thought you might!

What do you think it is, Hayden?

Naomi, have you ever seen a parachute like this before?

Don't worry Lulu. We promise that this is going to be lots of fun.

See! We told you it would be!

We were right, weren't we Ada?

Chris wasn't completely sure at first either...

...but it didn't take long before he was all smiles about the parachute too.

Naomi really liked sitting on top of the parachute while we all made it go up and down all around her. 

Hayden, on the other hand, preferred to run underneath it when it was his turn.

Yes, we think it is safe to say that the parachute was a hit.

Wouldn't you agree?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: See You Tomorrow, Violet!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Transformation Tuesday: Julianna

Julianna arrived here at New Day Foster Home almost two years ago, when she was a sweet little 15-month-old baby.  She joined a foster family with a number of older girls, and was instantly adored. You can read about Julianna's arrival (back then her English name was Camilla) here.

Julianna came to New Day to have eye surgery.  However, when she had seen doctors here in Beijing the decision was made that, since there was no infection or complications with her eye, it would be better to wait until she was older to have surgery.  Her eye disease doesn't cause her any pain, and she has good vision in her other eye.

What a delight to witness Julianna's transformation from a chubby-cheeked baby into a newly-walking toddler...

...and then a beautiful little girl.

When she turned two last year, she became a preschool student

Today, Julianna is a delightful three-year-old and one day soon...she'll be a daughter.  We'll all (especially her foster-sister Zoe) miss Julianna when she leaves to join her forever family, but we're so glad that we got to be a part of her story.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Again, Again!

So, Iris, what would you like to do?

"Fly up into the air, please"

How was that? Would you like to do it again?

"Oh yes!"

Is it fun, Iris? Another go?

"Yes please, again, again!"

My arms are getting a little tired, Iris...but I'm guessing that you want me to lift you again?

"Again, again!"

*Iris can't actually speak English yet, but you get the idea.
Sunday, October 26, 2014

NDNorth: Big Inspiration

When we first started working with one particular orphanage they were eager for many things. They were eager for supplies, resources, staff, materials, training... and most importantly, inspiration. Running a Children's Welfare Institution is rough work. They never know when a child will arrive, left at the front gate or carried in by a policeman. They have no control over what types of children are admitted into the orphanage, how many arrive during a given time, or how much care the children will require.

It's an overwhelming position to be in.

New Day can do many things. We can supply formula for the littlest babies to ensure that they are receiving proper nutrition. We can weigh and measure the babies each month and help the staff come up with action-plans to help the little ones thrive. We can bring in therapists to train their therapists, we can donate equipment, assessments and orthotics. We can gather donations of warm baby clothes, specialty bottles, developmental toys and books. We can arrange for medical treatment and surgeries. And although we are doing all of the things listed above, none of them is the most important. Not one of them is enough. With just the practical helps we can only do so much.

There is one thing that really ranks above and beyond all of the hands-on ways we help this orphanage, and that is inspiration.

It's hard to put into words just how impactful New Day's inspiration has been on the orphanage. At the same time New Day North was founded near this CWI, the CWI sent some of their staff to New Day's Beijing campus for training.

I still remember clearly one of the nanny managers asking me back in August, "Just send me the links of things that we need to buy. We want to change this place and make it better for the children."

Would they do it? Would they actually make big changes?

They sure did. It had something to do with us encouraging them to get the babies out of their cribs and on the floor or in rockers play. It had something to do with our confused eyes when we asked, "do you have any toys for them?" and the nanny shook her head.

But it had everything to do with inspiration.

The babies used to spend all of their time in old metal cribs, staring up at a dirty ceiling... they spend their days tucked warmly into bouncy seats, looking at colorful walls and toys.

The rooms used to be plain, sunny, yet cold.

Now murals are painted on every wall. It's a way for community artists to give back, and for the orphanage to brighten. Notice the ceiling lights? New Day has fun-shaped lights in the Beijing foster home, and the orphanage was convinced that they needed creative fixtures as well.

Before there was one green ball to play with, and the toddlers spend their days in cribs, fighting over whatever toy somehow appeared. 

Now, preschool happens every day. There are toy-shelves (which look an awfully lot like the ones in the New Day Beijing preschool) and the children have their own chairs with their own pictures taped on the back (exactly what you will find in the BJ preschool!)

Before, the children with cerebral palsy had no options but to stay in bed or lay on the floor. Now they are moved to positioning chairs and the staff try to include them in daily activities.

Before, the staff knew that they were missing something. They knew that there was so much more that they could be doing for the children. Thanks to New Day's big inspiration, big changes have happened in this orphanage.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

ND South: When Thad Looks Your Way...

When Thad first came to us here at New Day South, he was really tiny...

...and sick.

Yet after a much needed surgery and some time in CICU, he came home to us.

And when he first came home, Thad slept a lot...

...but we didn't mind. He had some serious growing to do.

And grown he has!

In just a couple of months time we watched him get bigger and bigger as he became more and more alert, and my oh my, how those cheeks have filled out, haven't they?

We're pretty sure that all it takes is one look from Thad to steal a heart, and just think, it only took him six months to perfect it!

Yes, that's right! Thad is six months old this month...and getting cuter with every passing day.
Friday, October 24, 2014

Unexpected Awakening

Christy, a recent volunteer and adoptive mama, has written this moving blog post following Reese's memorial service.
Reese's memorial service was last week.  A little baby taken from this world so early.  As guests to New Day, we attended the service even though we had not meet this little boy.  I walked into the service thinking we were attending in order honor his life. If I am being honest, I was kinda attending to be polite to our gracious hosts who were obviously distraught over the loss of this little boy.  Little did I know that I would leave the service absolutely wrecked.
Let me step back...As an adoptive mom of two children adopted via the SN process, I am familiar with caring for orphans. I am familiar with almost every need I come across. I know children pass away while waiting for their families. I advocate for these kids and I have consoled grieving adoptive parents after the loss of a child they have never met.  I realize the importance of foster parents - both of my kids have visited their foster parents with me.  My daughter talks of her foster sister, brother, and mother regularly. We are an open adoptive family.  I thought I had my 'adoption awareness' bases covered.  Apparently not.

Ok - back to yesterday -  when I got to Reese's memorial service,  I sat politely in the back of the room. I actually couldn't see the TV but I wanted to leave the prime seats for those that knew Reese.  As it turns out, where I was seated faced Reese's two nannies.  I sat for 45 minutes and watched these two woman become completely wrecked. I watched as they grieved a child.   A child that they loved and cared for after surgeries. In the middle of the service, I had the 'aha' moment that I have somehow missed over the past 4 years. I realized the one important piece of the puzzle I was missing. My daughter's Ayi.

The people who held my daughter the day she was found sick at 3.5 pounds. 

The ones that changed her meconium diapers during those first days of life.

The people that changed infected bandages to ensure my daughter was healed.

The staff who did their best and managed to succeed at keeping my daughter alive.

Those who cared about her enough to give her a chance.

The women who may have grieved when my daughter was finally well enough to get moved to foster care. 

The person who I met briefly the day after gotcha. The person who I kinda brushed off as she tried to say goodbye to my daughter when we left the SWI tour.

How had I missed this?  How had I not realized the importance of these woman? As adoptive parents, I think we too often hear of the nannies being overworked and not giving the 'correct' amount of attention to our kids.  It's the nannies that are blamed when a child is under-fed or not held enough when, in reality, these woman work their butts off and are just put in a tough place.  These woman are the only ones who are in a position to love our kids. They are the only ones our children have to miss them when they leave to be adopted. As adoptive parents, we need to honor these women. Day over day they come to work to care for our kids (who, lets be honest, can be super-needy and annoying at times) and they come back!!  They come back even after they lose a child forever. They are resilient and amazing woman.

I hate that my awakening happened at Reese's memorial. But that is how life is, isn't it? You have to get wrecked in order to see what is right in front of you.  I left the service, fell to the ground and balled my eyes out like a baby. I asked for forgiveness for not recognizing the blessing of my daughter's nannies. I thanked these women from the bottom of my heart and prayed they knew how thankful all of us adoptive parents truly are for the gifts they give us.
Adoptive mamas - hold your kids close tonight and give thanks for an Ayi who loved on your kid.

Thank you, Christy, for sharing your heart and for loving-on the kids here at New Day.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

NDSouth: A Growing Little Grady

Grady has been through so much in the almost one year that he's been alive.

Abandoned at three days old and arriving here at four, he wasn't given much hope to survive.... 

...but that was then...

...and this is now.

At just two and a half months shy of his first birthday, Grady is a happy little boy with a smile that could light up a room.

And he's grown so much over the last few months that it's sometimes hard to remember the tiny, sick little baby he was when he came - especially when he's rolling around the playroom floor looking for a new toy to play with.

He'll stare deep into your eyes if you'll hold him close...

...and he's guaranteed to flash a smile before you leave - especially if you happen to know he's ticklish!

Sweet, sweet Grady, your life is miracle, and as you head toward your first birthday, it's certainly not a miracle that we'll ever forget. They weren't sure that you would make it more than a few days, but here you are, Grady. And hopefully one day soon, you'll have a family to celebrate this miracle with you, too.