Monday, November 30, 2015

Adoption Awareness Month Guest Post: Love It Forward

Presenting the last of this month's special guest posts to celebrate Adoption Awareness Month!  The timing and so many things about this are amazing 'coincidences'.  It arrived by email headed as a 'Thanksgiving love it forward blog post', and links in beautifully with our #GivingTuesday appeal.  'Miracle Mark' and his almost-namesake Marcus, share a November birthday and a scary medical diagnosis.  Mark is now a beloved son named Markie, and his mom has written about their decision to sponsor Marcus, as he waits for his liver-transplant and a forever family.

Souls are wonderous. How they began is perhaps our most curious human question.  Why they began is perhaps our most curious spiritual question.  That answer for me has been revealed through love.  His name is Markie Jing; my Tong Tong, my son.

I am profoundly grateful that our souls found each other in the most unexpected way - and at the most unexpected time.  It was and will always be a miracle to me, which is perfectly fitting since he was referred to so affectionately as Miracle Mark when he began his early and dramatic healing journey at New Day.   Of course, healing of any sort is no small thing.  It is monumental actually, and requires acts of deep faith, perseverance, and love.  Always love.

MJZ (as I often call him) is a beacon of hope to me.  I often pray and think about his sweet heart and mind and body, and his humanity.  As his mother and kindred soul, I know I must nurture his humanity so that he will always know his own.  It is my privilege to help him make sense of his life narrative, now and across time.  Our stories tell us who we are, who we wish to be.  And, our acts of kindness manifest that story in the best of ways, in this world here and now.  

That's why our family has chosen to love it forward and sponsor another child at New Day.  A child named Marcus.  Precious Marcus, who awaits a life-saving liver transplant, much like Markie just a little over two years ago.  Precious Marcus, who is beginning his early and dramatic healing journey at New Day, much like Markie just a little over two and a half years ago.  Precious Marcus, who was born into this world on November 5th one year ago, exactly like Markie just a little over three years ago.  Precious Marcus.  Markie and I love you, and we stand with you as you take one healing step at a time.

Love mends.  Love lifts.  Love endures.  Always.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

NDNorth: Look What We Can Do!

Emerson, Kristiana, and Stephanie have been working hard lately and they wanted to show everyone what they can do Emerson has been working on turning pages all by himself. This is one of his favorite books, so as you can see, he's very motivated to see all the colors, pictures, and numbers on the next page!

Kristiana has been working on putting blocks away in their  container. You're so fast, Kristiana!

Stephanie has also been working on putting blocks away. Listen to her say, "Yay" every time she gets one in. You have good reason to be proud of yourself, Stephanie!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Thankfulness and Pie (and Something Bittersweet)

Thanksgiving is an all-American holiday, but in this little corner of China, it ranks alongside Christmas and Chinese New Year.  We gather together - staff, nannies, foster-parents, volunteers and precious children - to eat the traditional foods, the kids wearing the fun paper-hats that they made in preschool. We may not all know the story of the first Thanksgiving, but we all know what it is to be thankful.

All of this thankfulness and sweetness, and back in the office an email is waiting.  The 'bio' for our newest little one, Zhi Jin, who just arrived this morning and hasn't been given an English name yet.  It's already translated from Mandarin into English, just needs a little 'polishing' before it's ready to be put onto the website.

Every new arrival is bittersweet; sweet that we have an adorable new baby to get to know and to love, alongside the sorrow of abandonment and loss.  Reading and working on the bios for newly arrived children is painful.  To read the story of how they came to be here at New Day; how old they were when they were abandoned, where they were found, their medical hurts your heart.

Zhi Jin was born on April 15, 2015 with heart disease. She was abandoned near to the orphanage on November 15, 2015, in a paper box. Someone found her and reported it to the local police. When the police could not find her parents they brought her to the orphanage. She is very aware of what is going on, and it broke people's hearts when she kept crying and looking for her mother. Zhi Jin came to New Day Foster Home on November 27, 2015, and we can't wait to see her grow and blossom.

When you're writing, or reading this, it's not easy to see the reasons to be thankful, but they are there nonetheless.  We are thankful that Zhi Jin is here now; that she will be able to have the surgery that she needs, that she will be loved and well-cared for.  We are thankful that we will get to see her grow and blossom and start to heal.  This start to her story is heart-breaking, but we are thankful that she has hope.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

NDSouth: Abigail's Time

Abigail was born in early May with a very serious ‘abdominal wall defect.’   The doctors in her rural birth city gave her no hope of survival, but thankfully her orphanage director knew to call us for help (see our prior post Abigail Waits for more of her story.)  

After coming to our care on her 2nd day of life, she then spent the next 11 weeks in NICU while the doctors worked to keep her alive and stabilize her internal systems.  Then in mid-July she was released from the hospital to her new home at New Day South.  The doctors said at that point all we could do was wait - wait for her little body to heal and develop to the point where a surgical solution could be possible. (Sometimes children with Abigail’s problem are not able to have surgery until after their first year of life.)

Abigail had to stay in our critical care room away from the other children and visitors, and she was unable to move around as other babies due to her condition.  Yet in spite of these limitations, she was always happy and responsive, and she quickly endeared herself to all of us at the foster home.

Then in early November, a visiting team of surgical specialists from the US examined her case and decided that she was ready - Abigail's time had come.  She was admitted to the hospital the very next day - it all happened so quickly!  The initial surgery was successful, but the following days were a bit tense as all waited to see how her little body would respond and adjust to the trauma of such a major surgery.

Finally, just a few days before Thanksgiving we received the wonderful news that she was doing well enough to be released from ICU to the general ward!  When visiting her a few nights ago, we even saw glimpses of her former smile beginning to return.

Abigail has more challenges ahead and will require additional surgical procedures.  Other complications can develop making follow-up care especially important for children born with her condition.  But on this Thanksgiving day, we are all so thankful that she has come this far on her journey to life, health and family. 

(We are still in need of monthly sponsors for Abigail and donations towards the cost of her surgery and hospital care.  For one-time gifts to our medical fund, visit our Giving Tuesday page.)

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Ready for Thanksgiving

NDNorth: Workout Buddies

Ruby and Isaiah just got some new positioning chairs! After a little work of adjusting their new chairs to fit them, they were both quite happy!

Isaiah waves for the camera.

And Ruby is happy that she can sit at the table with Leon and Paul while they eat lunch.

These two are working hard and getting stronger each day! Sitting, standing,'s all a part of their daily workout routine.

But,even though it's hard work, they are happy to have each other for moral support. Good job today! Keep up the good work!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

#Giving Tuesday 2015: Join the Celebration

We have a day for giving thanks.  We have two for getting deals.  Now, we have #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back.  On Tuesday 1 December 2015, charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will be coming together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give. 
- from the GivingTuesday website.

Like last year, our most-pressing need is for contributions to our Medical & Surgical Fund.

Almost three-year-old Jesse (formerly known as 'Chris') has been through a lot in his short life.  He was found, abandoned, in a hospital when he was just a week old.  He would have been diagnosed with GI issues and also a heart defect.  He'd had a successful first GI surgery, but we can only assume that his birth-parents lacked the funds that it would take to pay for the further surgeries that their boy was going to need.  He was taken to the local orphanage, and then came into the care of New Day South when he was 6 weeks old.

Jesse's medical needs became too complex for our smaller facility at New Day South to handle, so he came to New Day Beijing at the start of 2013, when he was one year old.  He had two GI surgeries that year.

This year, Jesse has had four surgeries in 10 months, the most recent being an operation to repair an incisional hernia that developed after the urological surgery that he had at the end of October.  He also had urological surgeries in January and April.

The financial burden that was too heavy for his birth-family, and his orphanage, to carry now rests on us.  It's a burden that we are honored to carry; Jesse's life is precious.  But we need your help.

Jesse actually doesn't hold the current record for the most surgeries in the shortest period of time. Connie has been through four surgeries between the start of April and the start of August!  She had surgery to stop the tumor in her kidney from growing, then a second surgery a week later to remove the tumor (along with the kidney).  She then had port-a-cath surgery in preparation for the many rounds of chemotherapy that were to come.  In August she had emergency GI surgery to deal with an intestinal blockage that was almost fatal.  Her chemotherapy treatments are ongoing.

This has been an unusually busy year for the staff at New Day South.  Five of their last seven babies have been emergency calls requiring immediate surgery.  And all so little - arriving at an average 4.5 days old!  With infants that young, we don't know what range of physical conditions will ultimately present or if we will have adequate financial resource to help.  We simply know that if we don't say "yes", these children in all likelihood will not survive.

Abigail, for example, arrived on her 2nd day of life with a large abdominal wall defect (see "Abigail Waits").  She spent the next 11 weeks of her life in NICU while the doctors worked to keep her alive and stabilize her body's systems.  Finally she was sent home simply to wait - her body not yet big enough or strong enough for the necessary surgical repair.  Then just a few weeks ago, a visiting team of surgical specialists from the US examined her case and decided that it was time. The initial surgery was successful, but she remains in the hospital now while her little body heals and tries to adjust to such a major restructuring of her internal organs.

More recently, Marsha arrived - just 4 days old.  Her condition is very similar to that of our little Marshall a few year's back.  Marsha was quickly admitted to the hospital with surgery soon after.  She then spent the next 4 weeks in NICU where she could only have intravenous nutrition while her little insides healed.  She is now in the special care room at New Day South, very frail and thin but able to take nutrition and starting to grow.  Both Abigail's and Marsha's hospital costs remain unfunded.

Up at New Day North, little Ruby had had quite a year. Earlier this year she was struggling - unable to gain weight, hardly keeping anything down, and her smiles were becoming less frequent as her sleep suffered and her little body just wore down. In May, the surgeons in Beijing came up with a plan that we all hoped would give Ruby a chance to grow and thrive. Her recovery after the surgery was slow and hard, but now - six months later, Ruby is doing so much better. Back in May, at 17 months old, she only weighed 11.7lbs. Now, at 23 months old, Ruby has grown into a much-more-healthy 20.5lbs. She's starting to sleep better and her smiles are coming back. Back in May, when Ruby had surgery, we didn't have time to raise all of the funds needed for her operation, but we went ahead with the operation because she really couldn't wait. 

Clara entered the New Day North program in October of 2014. Only about five months old at the time and recently abandoned, Clara was seriously ill. She was diagnosed with Down Syndrome and multiple congenital heart defects. She was also very malnourished, only weighing about 8 ½ lbs, and her heart defects caused her to turn blue when she cried. Clara was back and forth to the hospital, struggling with pneumonia, heart failure... stabilizing, then deteriorating again. Clara finally had heart surgery in February, and after a roller coaster recovery, came home in May. Clara is still a fragile little one, and when she gets sick it gets bad quickly. But she is doing so much better - her life is precious, and her nannies adore her. Clara's heart surgery has also not yet been fully funded.

All of these life-saving surgeries, and the hospital stays, and the medication, and the check-ups...they all cost money.  All three New Day locations have Medical & Surgical Funds that are drawn on to pay the bills for our precious charges' care. These funds need to be healthy so that we can continue to take in children with challenging, complicated and expensive medical diagnoses.

Here is an opportunity for you to "be part of a global celebration of a new tradition of generosity":

Click here to make a donation to the New Day Beijing Medical & Surgical Fund.

Click here to make a donation to the New Day South Medical & Surgical Fund.
Click here to make a donation to the New Day North Medical & Surgical Fund.

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Superstars of the Backyard School

It has been my absolute joy to be the English teacher for the backyard school for the last 4 months. We have truly gotten up to some crazy things in the last 4 months and I have grown to love these three kids with all my heart.

Let me introduce you to our stars

This is Adam – 

He is the provider of jokes and made up songs.  Without fail he will ask for ‘appo’ (apple) for snack time and request ‘fola’ (toilet) right in the middle of said snack time.  His favorite color is ‘oran-gee’ (orange) and his favorite tasks are ‘cut-cut’ (coloring and then cutting out his picture) and ‘yellow’(lego).  His facial expressions are priceless and his generosity is unmatched.  He has improved leaps and bounds in the time I have been here, growing in confidence in writing, coloring, cutting and communicating in English.  Adam is loyal and relentless in his affections for you.  I have seen him persevere in difficult situations and hold his head high when he is down.  His beautiful spirit is not one that hits you in the face but one that creeps up on you unexpectedly, before you know it you are in love!!  He is full of joyful chatter, funny faces and cuddles.  Adventure will always be before him as his character is one of curiosity and determination.  He is going to great things – I have no doubt!

This is Enya –

Don’t let her delicate demeanor fool you, this girl has got GRIT!  She loves a good giggle and will ALWAYS prefer rough-and-tumble play over cuddle time.  Her ability to concentrate for hours floors me and I know will serve her well in the future.  She has a peacemaker’s spirit and is always giving up her toys to stop arguments between the boys.  Oh boys!
Enya’s favorite color, like many girls her age, is pink. Whilst she enjoys coloring and drawing, her preferred activity is building with Lego.  Enya provides us with many golden moments of physical comedy, as her eagerness causes her to be a little clumsy at times but this well-humored little girl is ALWAYS able to laugh it off, catching us all up in giggles too. This beautiful little one has picked up lots of useful English words such as ‘yellow leaf’, ‘red leaf’, ‘green leaf’, ‘tree’, ‘table’ and ‘chair’!  She is able to count up to 30 and works really hard to pronounce words correctly, usually succeeding in three or four tries.  She will be such a precious addition to any family.

This is Hudson –

If I was to describe this little one in one word it would be ‘cheeky’...oh, and ‘monkey’. Hudson has a calling for mischief and with the large dose of cuteness that has been given to him, he is able to achieve most of his mischievous goals using cuteness to defeat his opposition –namely me.  Hudson is also the most loving and joyful little boy I know.  He is quick to love, cuddle and kiss.  He wins the hearts of all who meet him and gets us all caught up in his cheeky plans.  His favorite color is ‘purpo’ (purple) and he has a disdain for oranges, though tangerines are okay!  He LOVES playing on the swing outside and enjoys being swung to dizzying heights.  He has taught me the Chinese words for ‘faster’ ‘higher’ and ‘more’!  Hudson also enjoys being chased around on the little cars and is able to persuade nearly all he approaches that this would be a fun game for them too!  His view on the world encourages me to see the fun in everything and to get others to experience it too. Hudson deserves all the best things and all the love in the world as he exudes love to all who met him.

I have received much more than I could have ever imagined from these little ones.  Their passion and determination for life has moved and humbled me.  I have been so privilege to have been let in on their jokes and their thoughts, to have shared in their happiness and their sadness.  Each day as I say goodbye and my heart breaks as Adam asks me if I am coming back, I am reminded that there is One who never says goodbye and is always with them.  That there is a heavenly Father who is always near to them, who knows them much deeper than any foster mum, nanny, staff worker or volunteer.  He knows their thoughts before they think them, their mischievous plans before they execute them, their need for security and protection.  He knows and he provides them with what they need in abundance. His faithfulness to these three has been so clearly demonstrated to me in my short time here.  He is the one who fights their corner and makes impossible things possible.

This post was written by Anna, volunteer Backyard School teacher from England.
Sunday, November 22, 2015

NDNorth: Leon and Paul

Leon and Paul have become great friends since Paul moved into our room. They love to play and explore together – whether it’s in the kitchen, playing with blocks, or playing in the ball pit, they have a fun time wherever they go!

They spend so much time together that they are starting to pick up habits from each other. We caught them sleeping in almost the exact same position during nap time, even though they were laid down on their backs facing the opposite direction. These two are too cute! 

Because they are so close in age, they are also pushing each other to develop and grow. If Paul can say “baba,” then Leon wants to learn to say it too. If Leon can stack three blocks, then Paul  will want to try it too (or, to keep things interesting, he might also try and knock over the stack that Leon just made). Just the other day, Leon took his first few steps! Watching Leon practice walking has made Paul want to practice his standing and walking too. Nothing wrong with a little healthy competition!

Keep working hard little friends. Your friendship is so much fun to watch as it blossoms and grows. You add lots joy and fun to our room!
Friday, November 20, 2015

Adoption Awareness Month Guest Post: Adopting Children With Down Syndrome

We are delighted to publish another special Guest Post in celebration of Adoption Month!
Amy, mama of New Day graduate Cora Jo, has written about her family's journey adopting two girls with Down Syndrome.

I have read many times and have heard it said by many speakers that each adoption journey begins from loss.  Either loss that the adoptive parents or family has experienced, or most definitely loss that the adopted child has experienced having become an orphan for one of many different reasons. Our journey to adoption began in this way as well.  My husband and I and our 4 biological children experienced the loss of 2 sweet boys to stillbirth in 2005 and in 2007.  I desperately wanted to see our family grow again, but biologically this was no longer an option.  

The desire to adopt was one that I had always had, but with 4 biological children, it was not one my husband could see at first.  In his mind we were already well past the typical family size of 2.5 children, and perhaps this was the way our family was intended to stay.  Over time, I began to share information I had been gathering and listening to with my husband, all the while praying about the possibility of adoption for our family.  In the winter of 2008, he agreed to attend an adoption class with me and was open to the idea of our family growing again.   It was in this class that our hearts and eyes were first opened to the real plight of the orphan and our calling to be a part of it.  For our family this meant stepping forward in the adoption process in September of 2009.  Our family would be forever changed from this point on.

As is a part of each adoption journey and home study process, we were asked early on to look at a list of medical/special needs and mark those that our family might be comfortable with.  This was a hard task for my husband and I, knowing that with each of our 4 pregnancies, we were not the ones that decided medically or otherwise how our children would come to be.  We were both especially tender to the child there was no waiting list for, and the one that was made exactly like God had planned for our family.  We decided that we would leave the paper without any marked options, and we would be open to the child we felt we were being led to pursue.  

Just after this, we were presented with a profile from our agency of a sweet baby girl in Taiwan that was 3 years old.  She had dark, almond shaped eyes, shiny black hair, a sweet smile that took over her face and a diagnosis of Down Syndrome.  This was not anything that we had considered before, nothing that either of us knew much about, and nothing that we felt skilled to take on. However, we had determined early on that we would go where we were led and trust that the door would be closed if the child was not meant to be ours.  No doors closed during this period of time, in fact, the opposite plainly happened as we were confirmed in several ways that the diagnosis of Down Syndrome was God's plan for our family.  In December we officially applied to adopt this beautiful little girl.

After waiting a month to hear back from our agency, the call finally came.  We were not being chosen for this sweet girl we had already began to love.  However, a 6 month old baby girl, with the same diagnosis of Down Syndrome, was just released from the hospital and had been placed in the orphanage our agency had a partnership with, and we were being asked to consider adopting her.  Right away we knew this was our daughter, and we said yes.  We had seen no pictures and had no information about her other than she had been born at 24 weeks weighing 1 pound, had received surgery to repair a heart defect, and was a tiny little nugget.  Our journey to Chloe Maekayleigh Cogswell began that day.

In September of 2010, just over a year from the date we had started our adoption journey we traveled to Taipei, Taiwan to bring our daughter home.  And after almost 4 ½ years of having her home with us, we were once again beginning the adoption process, this time to China where our daughter was living at New Day Foster Home.  Having had our eyes opened to the beauty of a child with Down Syndrome we knew that this child, previously known to her foster home as Melinda, was our daughter.  We traveled to China last March, and have been home with our daughter Cora Jo Cogswell for 7 months.

Neither of our adoption journeys were easy ones.  The financial needs to such a process were great.  We were a one income family for both adoptions, with no savings to speak of nor any assets to sell to put toward the cost of our processes.  Each time our processes were taken care of completely through fundraising, grants, loans or gifts from family and friends.  Both journeys required an enormous amount of time and paperwork, and the paperwork required was very different for the two countries and adoptions.  The change that each adoption brought to our family was great, and at times was very stressful.  Each child came to us with their own medical and health needs, emotional needs and grief to walk with them through.  Both girls were in very different living situations before coming to us, which made the bonding needs of each of them vastly different.  And though these and other aspects of adopting can be very difficult, our family is forever changed and blessed by the adoptions of both of our daughters.  

We have each learned what it means to really sacrifice, to put the needs of others before our own.  We have grown to have such an appreciation for the grief and sacrifice of 2 birth mothers, both of which we are forever grateful for.  Because of the diagnosis that both of our girls have, we have been taught the joy of lingering longer in moments we were far to busy to relax in before bringing them home.  We see joy in what we may have considered little accomplishments before, because our girls work hard for everything they do.  We have walked grief and healing with our girls and come to understand compassion like we had not known prior to adoption.  We have experienced the blessing of coming together as a family in a way I do not think we would have without these sweet girls being placed in our family.  

November is a time to celebrate for our family, as it is National Adoption Month.  A month to recognize something that we are eternally grateful for, grown and changed by.  
Thursday, November 19, 2015

NDSouth: Ruth's 1st Steps!

It all starts with a little trust...

...a sprinkling of courage...

...and a dash of adventure...

...and with that you get a HUGE milestone accomplished!

And if you happen to have your camera...

...and your sitting in just the right corner... get hugged by our newest walker!
Congratualtions Ruth!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Adam & Jellyfish

NDNorth: Samuel's Smile

Samuel has been in our program for temporary medical care since July, but this past October, he moved up to our room permanently. Our nannies have been drawn to Samuel's charming personality from the beginning. He is a dashing fellow and smiles whenever anyone looks at him. He is also a huge fan of being tickled and hugged!

Although Samuel has been sick recently, he still has a big smile on his face. We hope that with a little love and tender care he will grow stronger and healthier each day.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Transformation Tuesday: Lily

Less than a year ago, the day after Christmas, a sweet baby girl arrived at New Day Foster Home...

She was then six months old, and she needed heart surgery.

In April she was able to have the surgery that she needed, and today she is an active, charming toddler, busy having fun and winning hearts.

One of our volunteers, Hannah, has been spending time with Lily every day since the start of September, and this is what she had to say about her:

She has begun to walk and move around and is looking so grown-up!  She can say lots of new words and has the best laugh you will ever hear.  She loves to build blocks and stack up anything you put in front of her.  She loves to see and touch everything, like all the different colors and all the soft coats. She is great at using signs to communicate and she plays great in the playroom.  Lily has been such a joy to have around a and such a sweet addition to my life.  I am so excited for all that she will do and be in her life.  A precious little girl! - Hannah

Yes, this is a Transformation Tuesday post because we believe that Lily will be leaving us soon!  Hers will be a domestic adoption and the process is a little different to international adoptions, which is why we haven't been able to put an asterisk next to her name on our website.  We are so happy that Lily will be transformed from an orphan to a daughter, and soon!