Sunday, May 31, 2015

NDNorth: Coming Alive

Chad is the newest addition to our project. He arrived into our care in January and is such a fun little guy to have in the room. When Chad first arrived, and started opening up, he was loud. There was a song in his heart and it was a loud one, a squeaky one, and a hilarious one. Now that Chad feels more comfortable in his environment, he's starting to show signs of attachment with his nannies, and doesn't need to stimulate himself all of the time. 

Chad was being silly on the floor, but not really interacting with anyone in particular. He seemed to be in his own little world, until...

... until his nanny picked him up to give him a little massage and help him practice sitting and holding his head up.

He came alive. He looked like a different child. It was then crystal clear that, even though Chad's development has been slow, he is making emotional progress. He may not be learning many new things, but he has learned one thing... and that is that his nanny loves him, and that he's safe in her lap.

There are lots of kinds of progress... I think that this one is our favorite. 

Friday, May 29, 2015

A New Day, New Hope

How does the reality of volunteering at New Day compare to expectations? A special guest post from a recent volunteer gives some insights...

The expectations I had for New Day and what I actually experienced there were vastly different. Traveling from America to China gave me a lot of time to think about what my time there would be like. I imagined we would interact with children, but that it would be in a limited capacity. I also imagined the kids would be sad or anti-social thus making it difficult to play with or teach them. Once I arrived at the New Day site we received a brief tour followed by orientation. We saw a video detailing a lot of the kids here and some of their background stories, which were all sad and filled with surgery and abandonment.

I imagine the parents who abandoned the kids with severe medical conditions could not afford treatment and thought it was hopeless.  After listening to the stories of the children and hearing about examinations or surgeries the doctors said the same thing too, that the child was hopeless. This set a somber mood and made me question if I could even be of service to the children.

The mood did lift however, as the video went on every kid in there overcame their situation whether it be through surgery or a miracle.  Once the video ended we were assigned an age group and tasked to play with the kids. Much to my surprise they were all smiling, laughing, and playing. That day I was assigned to help with the babies, which was scary because they cry and poop. They were all easy to care for and as happy as could be. I quickly grew attached and started to enjoy my time with them.

The following day I was assigned to help with toddlers, which again was scary because they eat boogers and climb things. As soon as I walked in the room they were all playing and filled with life and laughter. I noticed it was much more than that however; they were also filled with hope. Interacting and looking into the eyes of every kid here you can see hope. Despite the conditions they were born into, despite their parents giving up, despite doctors branding them as hopeless, they over came and exhibit a hope like you have never seen before.

I was expecting to teach them but walked away learning more than I ever did in any class room. Babies who experienced blood transfusions smiled and laughed. Kids who had major surgery now ran and played. Most importantly, kids who were deemed hopeless now exuded hope. I am very grateful for my time here and will carry their hope on with me no matter where I go.

This post was written by Jake, a recent volunteer.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

NDSouth: I Hope You Dance

We love to dance here at New Day South!

If you happen to visit us one day, you might just hear our Ayis singing...

...and our toddlers, like Noelle here, dancing!

Then if you happen to visit our babies in our babies apartment...

...I guarantee you'll hear music there too!

...and babies like Chloe here swaying and clapping to the music!

This is Chloe's 'go to move' here ~ the head dip and swing!

She does it every time, and boy can this girl dance!

"And when you get the choice to sit out or dance...
I hope you Dance" ~ Garth Brooks

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Another Kiss From Natalie

Click here to see the original kiss from just ten months ago - hasn't she changed?!
Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Therapy Tuesday: Adam's Determination

This is not a 'doing therapy sessions in the therapy room' post.  This is a 'look what Adam can do as a result of many Occupational Therapy sessions' post!

He was so determined to help Lukas to put on his (new) sandals.  As most parents will know, these kind of sandals, which require threading the straps through the metal loop on the side, are not the easiest for young children to put on by themselves.  They are also not the easiest for Adam for to put on, but he wasn't going to let that stop him...

His patience is incredible.  Lukas waits, semi-patiently, on (Adam's) scooter-board, while Adam just keeps on working, and eventually gets the job done.

You probably noticed...the sandals are on the wrong feet!  Never mind, it's the thought, and the effort, that counts.  Good job, Adam.
Monday, May 25, 2015

Charlotte, Charlotte and More Charlotte

All of the kids here at New Day Foster Home are utterly adorable, and it's not difficult to find cute pictures of them to post on this blog, our Facebook page and Instagram.  Sometimes though, a child is just so photogenic that it's impossible to cope with the never-ending supply of amazing pictures that GanLu takes of them.

Would anyone object to a whole post-full of stunning Charlotte photographs?

No, we thought not!

Now for YOUR challenge - can you choose a favorite?!  Answers in the 'comments' section...

1. The 'serious, gazing at the camera' one?

2. The 'huge smile, disappearing eyes' one?

3. The 'brave-heart scar peeking out' one?

4. The 'what will they dress me up in next?!' one?

5. Or this one?

6. The 'beginning to learn to walk' one?

7. Or this 'born to wear a crown' pic of our Princess Charlotte?

Tough choice, huh?
Sunday, May 24, 2015

NDNorth: Learning how to Dance!

For children with special needs, sometimes the simplest things are a little more challenging. Things like eating, playing with toys, and even dancing take a bit more work.

Our kiddos have been working super hard these days, and one of the new things that they have learned how to do is to dance. Now, all we have to do is turn on some fun music and say, "Come on, Kristiana, let's dance!" and then, well... just look at her!

(psst... you'll also see another thing that Kristiana can do now, which is wipe her nose with a tissue. She's pretty proud of all of her new accomplishments.)


Emerson can dance too! He got a bit shy when he saw the camera, but you can see his arms waving around in the first part of the video. Stephanie thought that the two of them were hilarious.

Aren't they impressive?

Friday, May 22, 2015

When Ben Met Olivia

Olivia recently moved from the baby room to live downstairs with the big kids.  These pictures capture the moment when she was introduced to Ben, and we think you'll agree that they are beyond adorable!

Neither of them quite knew what to think...

Olivia was in awe!

Snuggles already?!

"Her skin is so soft..."

So there you go, Olivia.  You've made a new friend already!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

NDSouth: Oh, The Places You'll Go

Well, if you recall from last week's post...

...we shared that Chloe had taken her 1st steps!

However, the excited did not stop there!

We weren't expecting it at all, but Evelyn all of a sudden stood up...

...and with a huge smile on her face reached out for her Ayi...

...and took her 1st tentative step.

Well if you thought we were clapping and cheering before when it was Chloe...

...we were shouting and praising when it was both girls!

Evelyn we are SO proud of you and all your milestones!

“You're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So... get on your way!” 
― Dr. SeussOh, The Places You'll Go!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Backyard Beauty

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Transformation Tuesday: Lukas

Lukas arrived at New Day Foster Home almost exactly two years ago, just two months before his first birthday.  This is what he looked like then...

Adorable, right?  He definitely still had that squishy-baby look.

These past two years, Lukas has been doing a great job of growing up, while still retaining his 'adorable-ness'.

Finding cute pictures of him to post has not been a problem at all, especially when he's with Annabel (which is...everyday).

Okay Annabel, we get it...enough cute pictures of Lukas!

In all seriousness, a 'Transformation Tuesday' post doesn't necessarily mean that a child is going to be leaving to join their forever family soon.  These posts can simply be an opportunity to celebrate some beautiful transformations that we're seeing.  However, sometimes a 'Transformation Tuesday' post is the last time you'll get to see a child on this blog.  The rest of their transformation, from abandoned orphan to beloved son, will take place in their new life, and it will be even more beautiful.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Sweet Friends: Hannah and Rosie

Did you know that Rosie and Hannah arrived at New Day on the same day?  That day was just over SIX years ago, and these girls have now been here longer than any of the other kids.

They are less than nine months apart in age.  Hannah turned 7 this January, and Rosie's birthday is at the end of September.  They both have neurological issues, but Rosie's more serious delays mean that she still attends the morning preschool class, while Hannah is in the backyard school.

Both girls have been matched with their own forever families and we hope that they will be able to join them before too long.  For now, though, they are very sweet together.  It looks like Rosie really admires her 'jie jie' Hannah, doesn't it?

Sunday, May 17, 2015

NDNorth: Special Mamas

 A few weeks ago we decided to take advantage of the "New Year, Fresh Start" mentality and make some changes in the structure of our activity room. This is the room where seven of our older children spend most of their time, and in an attempt to make it more home-like, we moved the sofa from the children's bedroom into their playroom. They really only use their bedroom for sleeping, so having the sofa in there really wasn't necessary. 

We are always trying to think of ways to make the room more home-like. It's one of the questions that we ask ourseleves all of the time, "Can we make this more like a home than it is now?"

Kristiana and Stephanie were in their standers while we moved the sofa, as it was their regularly scheduled standing time (from 8:30-9:30am). They watched the action while playing with some cause-and-effect toys. 

After the sofa was moved, Brian had a meeting with the nannies. He encouraged them, and challenged them.

"The children you are caring for are not like other children, they are different, which makes them special! It means that you must also care for them differently than you might normal children, and this makes each one of you a special mama; and not just special, but very capable, because you must learn many things in order to help the kids."

"Your most important role is not as a teacher, nor is it that you can work as a therapist... your most important role is being a mama. And because you are mamas for special needs children, you are very special mamas."

"The three most important things that you, as special mamas, must help the children understand is:

1) I am loved
2) I am safe
3) I can do it.

This is all that we are asking of you."

"If a child is never given love, they will begin to believe, 'no one could love me.' If they never feel safe when they are this young, then when they grow up they will have trouble believing that they could ever be. If they do not believe, 'I can do it!' then they never will. 

You are here to tell them the truth, and then to teach them to believe it."

Since the training, we have seen a lovely transformation in both the nanny's dedication to their work, and also in the children's development and in their spirits. Before the training, our nannies were indeed doing incredible and hard work, but since then it's like something has clicked. Teach them that they are loved. Help them feel safe. Remind them that they can do it. The most important lessons that any mother can teach, and that a child can ever learn.

Love grows here.