Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Special Gift

A few months after returning home from China, my aunt and uncle came to visit from New Jersey. When they got into town, my aunt called and told me they had a little gift for Vivian.  I was expecting maybe a new outfit or a doll, so I was very surprised when I was given this

This is a cradle that my aunt and my mom played with when they were young.  As you can see, it has suffered some "wear and tear" over the years.  You can't get the rail on one side to pull up all the way and there are dents and scratches on it.

I love it.  For so many reasons.  She called it a "little gift".

 I call it a "treasure".

My mom and my aunt are as close as two sisters can be.  I love watching my two girls play with this cradle and when I watch them I try to imagine my mom and my aunt doing the same.  

I often wonder what Kate and Vivian's relationship will be like as they grow up.  I wonder what kind of sisters they will be.  I can only hope they will be there for each other like the two sisters that played with this many, many years ago.

When my other kids were born, they all ended up with things that had been "passed down" in the family.  Baby clothes, baptism outfits, cribs, furniture, recipes, etc.  They all have things that, at some point, belonged to a grandparent or aunt or uncle.  That is part of being in a family.  You pass things around.  It ties you to each other and to generations past and generations to come.

For Vivian, the day she entered her orphanage she lost all ties to her birth family.  For orphans in China, this is the reality.  It is such a HUGE loss.

That is why it was so special to me that my aunt gave this gift to Vivian. The day my aunt gave this to me, we loaded it into my car and I thanked and hugged her.  And then I got in and drove away and I was suddenly overcome with emotion and I just cried.  I cried at the reminder of all Vivian has lost. But mostly,  I cried because it hit me that my child had just been given a family heirloom, so to speak.  A symbol of the fact that she is a part of our family now, our entire family.  She has a place to belong.

I by no means see myself, or my family as "better" than her birth family.  That is not what I am saying.  I do, however, think our family is a "better" option than life in a orphanage.  

The girls, at this age, don't really get the significance of this gift.  To them, the cradle is just another toy they play with for a little while and then move on.

But one day I think they will appreciate its' significance.

The other really cool thing about this cradle is that it carries reminders of my grandpa on it.  Tape and wire that he fastened on with his own hands years ago still remain.  Marks and reminders of him.

Signs of love, in my opinion.  I can relate to the joy it must have brought him to watch his daughters playing together with this.  

I wish my grandpa could have known my children.  I wish they could have known him.  I have to laugh when I think about what his reaction would have been to the news that he was getting a Chinese great granddaughter.  He wasn't exactly the most politically correct person, if you know what I mean, so I can only imagine some of the comments he may have had!

I don't know what he would've thought at first, but I do know that if he had been able to meet Vivian, he would have adored her (and all of his great grandchildren).  

Vivian and her great grandfather, they actually have some things in common. They both had to leave their birth country at a young age to find their life in America.  

Being the only Chinese-American in our family (at this point), I am sure there will be times Vivian will feel alone with that. But I hope in those times she can remember that she is not the first person in our family history that was not born in America.  Rob and I's roots trace back to several different countries.  We are here today because of distant relatives who were immigrants to this country.

I think she could learn a good lesson from my grandpa.  My grandpa came to America from Ireland when he was 11 years old.  Although he physically left Ireland behind, it never left his heart.  He was so proud to be an Irishman.  He was able to hold on to that part of who he was while also feeling so proud and grateful to be an American.  

I want Vivian to be proud to be an American citizen.  But, I also want her to be proud of being Chinese.  She comes from an amazing culture full of amazing people and I so hope she has many chances in her life to go back.  I hope she always holds it in her heart.  

The other thing they have in common, my grandpa and my daughter:  America is a better place with them in it. It is a better place because of Vivian and my grandpa and so many others who have journeyed from far away to live in the land of the free.  

Thanks Aunt Ro, for giving Vivian a special tie to our family.  It means so much to me.

“Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.”  
― Franklin D. Roosevelt

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


I have neglected my blog for most of the summer, but I am back with some very  amazing updates.  If you've been following me for a while, you may remember that when I returned from China I wrote this post about an adoption agency (A Helping Hand, which is now Nightlight Christian adoptions) that was given a partnership with Vivian's orphanage.  I asked for donations to this partnership and many of you told me you donated (THANK YOU! THANK YOU!).  I am thrilled to be able to show you today some of the amazing ways Nightlight has used the money they have raised to make a HUGE difference in the lives of these kids.

One of the first things they were able to do was to get the adoption files of many of the children prepared.  Not only have many of the children had their files prepared, but several have found families!!  In that post I mentioned earlier, you may remember this sweet face.  This was one of Vivian's friends.  I am so excited to share that she now has  family and I can report she is home and thriving!

Here is the picture of Emma we got from our guide the day we visited the orphanage. Such sad eyes.

And here is Emma with her mom and dad in China

And now home with her family.   Look at this transformation!  Isn't she such a doll??!!

And meet Ava.  Here is Ava when she was living in the orphanage

Ava meeting her mom in China.  This picture melts my heart.

Warming up to her dad in China

And now home and happy!  Another amazing transformation!!  I love what love can do.

You may also remember this face from my past post.

Another one of Vivian's friends.  I happened to see her picture listed  a few months ago with an organization that works with children in this province trying to place them in foster homes.  She was in need of sponsors, so Rob and I signed up to sponsor her and she is now out of the orphanage and living with a foster family.  Through the updates we have received, we can see she is growing, gaining weight and doing great.  And the best news of all is her foster family is working to adopt her!

Nightlight was also able to help this sweet girl that was struggling with a heart defect that needed immediate attention. Nightlight arranged for and funded her heart surgery.  She has gone from incredibly sick to smiling!!

They were also able to help this little boy, Robert, who needed immediate medical attention due to his hydrocephalus.

Nightlight arranged for Robert to be moved to amazing group foster home where he is getting incredible care and was even able to celebrate his first birthday.

(You can read several posts on Robert here if you are interested.)

I think one of the images that has stuck with me the most from when these women visited the orphanage was this one.

This is Timothy.  The team found him in a separate room from the other children, isolated and extremely malnourished.  He stole everyone's heart when he responded so positively to getting some much needed love and attention

Thanks to Nightlight, Timothy has also been moved to a better environment and looks to be thriving there.

Nightlight pleaded with the orphanage to file Timothy's adoption papers and guess what happened when they did:  he has a family that has stepped forward for him!!!  

The last piece of good news I have to report is that a physical therapist, April, from Nightlight is going to be working part-time in the orphanage for the next 4 months.  Each month she will spend 10 days at the orphanage, loving on the children and doing her best to train nannies and lend a hand in the care-taking of the children. You can read more about April's trip here and, if interested, follow her blog while she is in China here.  I know I will be following closely.

I am so excited and touched by all of the amazing things that have happened for these kids since Nightlight got involved.  We feel such a connection to these sweet children.  I want to thank all of my friends and blog readers who donated to this partnership.  You have helped to make an INCREDIBLE difference in these orphan's lives.

Finally, I can't close without asking again for donations to Nightlight to continue their work in Vivian's orphanage. I do know that since Vivian has left there have been a number of new arrivals.  

The need for help will only continue.  I have been back and forth this summer about whether or not to continue this blog (still working that out), but while I do still have it I feel a sense of responsibility to do what I can for these kids.  If you would consider taking a minute or two to donate ANY amount, I would be so very appreciative.  I hope what you have read today will show you that your donation will CHANGE AN ORPHAN'S LIFE.  (this money is also being used to fund April's work in the orphanage).

To donate, click here.  

My very favorite book about Chinese adoption is a book by Jeff Gammage titled, "China Ghosts: My Daughter's Journey to America, My Passage to Fatherhood".  If you are an adoptive parent and you have not read it, go buy it now.  It is so incredibly touching.  At one point he talks about things that the adoption agencies don't tell you as parents.  He goes on to say what he would write if he were to write a brochure for would-be parents.  I want to include it here because this is why I am writing this post:
"Don't think you're going to walk into an over-crowded orphanage, take one child out, and be the same person when you sit down to breakfast the next morning.  You won't be. It's too cruel a lottery.  And your participation in it will mark you.  It would say:  from now on, wherever you may go and whatever you may do, the faces of the children left behind will come to you.  It would say:  when you travel to China, you think you're bringing home one little girl.  Only later do you realize that a host of spectators have moved in.  You think you are tying your fate to the life of a single child.  You find out that you have been inextricably bound to the lives of dozens of others.  And that there is little you can offer those children besides prayers." 
I am hoping that by posting this here I can offer the children still living in Vivian's orphanage maybe a bit more than prayers.