Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Vivian's past

In early November a team of therapists (from the organization TEAMworks), who specialize in caring for special needs orphans, traveled to China to work for a week in Vivian's orphanage.  Their goal was to help the children there (in particular the special needs children) and train the nannies to better provide for these children.  They were able to spend several days working with and changing the lives of the sweet children living in Vivian's orphanage.

I was lucky enough to make contact with one of the women in this group prior to their trip.  She reached out to me when she found my blog while researching the orphanage. We connected immediately (she has also adopted a little girl from China) and she understood my interest in their trip.  As you may remember, Rob and I were not allowed inside Vivian's orphanage, nor were we given much information at all about her life there, so we were hoping their trip could fill in some gaps for us and for Vivian.

What we found out did help explain some things about Vivian.

What we found out has also been extremely hard to hear and digest. 

For instance, we learned that there are approximately 35-40 kids in the orphanage (ranging in age from 8 months to 19 years old).  There are 2 nannies that work each shift -- one does the cooking and laundry leaving ONE to look after the 35+ kids. 

The TEAMworks group reported that the orphanage is very quiet, saying you could hear a pin drop at any hour of the day.  The nannies are just not talking to the kids, and the kids are not crying because they learn early on that no one comes if they do.  {This explains why Vivian came to us with little to no speech}

Perhaps one of the hardest thing to hear was that the children are taken out of their cribs one hour in the morning and one hour at night.  They spend the other 22 hours of their day in their cribs (including meals).  Yes, you read that correctly, they spend the other 22 hours of the day in their cribs.  {This also explains why Vivian came to us very weak and, at age 33 months, barely able to walk}

It has been really hard for me to process this information. It shouldn't be a surprise ... we were educated about what orphanage life is like through our parent training and have heard many stories from other adoptive parents.  Yet, somehow hearing it from people who were actually there makes it very real.  I can't yet put into words how it makes me feel, it is just too hard. 

On a positive note these therapists (who I consider angels on earth) were able to accomplish some wonderful things during their visit. They were able to sit kids up in wheelchairs who had never sat up before,

 and give children who had never had the opportunity to feed themselves a chance to do that.

 They were able to put bedding, wedges and mirrors in what were once empty cribs

We saw this room below in a video that was sent to us before we got Vivian.  In the video, the room was almost completely empty.  Apparently it was rarely used.  The TEAMworks ladies were able to get the children out of their cribs and into this room and fill it with mats and toys, encouraging the nannies to continue to bring the children in here to play,
and they were able to love on these sweet kids in a way that no adult ever has. 

 The TEAMworks team trained the nannies and gave them strategies to better care for these children.  Apparently the nannies were very receptive to these ideas.  They were also able to identify a few children in desperate need of immediate medical attention and urge the orphanage to seek help for them.  One is this sweet girl who has an unrepaired heart condition that is wearing her little body out.
 And one is this little boy who has hycrocephalous
And maybe the most touching story of the week was they were able to get this 19 year old girl to walk for the first time!!! It is heartbreaking to think she has spent her entire 19 years in this building.  These ladies fell head over heels in love with her and really wanted to bring her home with them!


The trip went so well that this group has been invited to come back again.   How wonderful for these children!!!  These women really are an amazing group who made a huge difference in the lives of these children. 

I want to leave you with some final images of the beautiful children living in Vivian's orphanage.  For those of you who donated toys when Rob and I went to China, and for those who donated through my blog to the adoption agency (A Helping Hand) partnering with this orphanage, and those who donated to the TEAMworks auction items, these are the kids who benefited, and will continue to benefit, from your generosity.  To my knowledge, only 6 of these children have the proper paperwork completed  to be adopted.  The rest are stuck for now.  I know that AHH adoption agency is working to process the paperwork on more of these children. We will continue to hope and pray that each of them will one day find their own family. These were Vivian's friends.  She shares a bond with them, and so we do also.  We are connected to them.  We cannot forget about them.



And now, knowing what we know about Vivian's life before us, we squeeze her a little tighter, spoil her a little more, and stand even more in awe of her strength.  Our hearts hurt for all that she had to endure and for all the love and attention she missed out on, but she is home now and for that, we are incredibly grateful.
*For more information on TEAMworks, please visit their website at www.teamworks.org, or visit them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/teamworksteam.  They will be posting ways you can help them raise money for their trip back to China.
*For more information on A Helping Hand adoption agency visit http://ahelpinghandadoption.org, to donate to their partnership with this orphanage, visit https://hhaa.ejoinme.org/?tabid=472600.


  1. wow, I saw that first hand on my trip to China as well with Pearl River. I came home changed and with a better understanding of my girls and what they endured. I "get" why they need to control all that is around them now....sigh....it is all so big isn't it??? Sweet Vivian, so thankful she has her sweet family now!!!

  2. Oh this is so so sad. I can't even wrap my head around it. So thankful Our girls are home. Truly shows how very brave they are.

  3. Don't you just want to bring a couple of those children home! Those two little girls are so adorable at the bottom. What a blessing that organization has provided for these children. Breaks my heart to hear stories like these. We will not be able to go into our agency. While I don't think our is as bad as Vivians I have a feeling we would find similar circumstances if we were allowed to go in! Thank you for sharing! Kelleyn

  4. I came upon your blog and started reading it and my heart is breaking for our sweet orphans. We are in the process of adopting from china and the more I learn the harder it is for me to comprehend what my little is going through right now. If you have any advice on how to get through the next 1 1/2 with out falling apart please let me know. I just wish it didnt take so long and that I could save them all. How did you shield your heart from the sadness that comes with this process. If you feel comfortable with emailing me that would be so great. Mother of 3 right now and waiting for our dossier to be complete. Thanks for your sweet blog jensentrisha@hotmail.com Trisha linford slc utah