We’re excited to share about our recent visit to China, where WACAP staff traveled last month after being invited by the China Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption to partner with an orphanage and help find families for the children in its care. In recent years, the CCCWA has requested WACAP’s participation in several orphanage partnerships and efforts specially serving children most in need of families. Last month, WACAP staff were privileged to be able to meet one-on-one with children within this orphanage who are waiting for families to call their own.
Right now, the orphanage is preparing information about these children, which WACAP will share with interested families when we receive it … but you can see the pictures of many of the kids we met in the slideshow to the left. And you can learn about this very special trip to China from Lindsey Chandler of WACAP’s China Team, who met with these children and returned with not only their videos and photos, but with a promise and story for each child.
“Meeting the Children” by Lindsey Chandler
Several weeks ago I traveled to an orphanage in central China to see children who need families. We were headed to an orphanage with many children whose adoption paperwork wasn’t prepared, so they hadn’t yet been able to be matched with families. We brought a doctor to examine each child and help get the paperwork started so that hopefully more children might find forever families.
We arrived at a large gated complex, walked through quiet empty halls, and after spending some time in a waiting room, were taken up to the children’s quarters. As we walked into the hallway, a toddler boy with albinism ran out one of the doors and took off down the hall on chubby legs, only to get chased back in, giggling, by his nanny. Doors all down the hall led into dormitory style rooms, bright and cheerful, some full of children playing, others empty while the kids were on the playground outside. We set up in an empty room, and just a minute later the nanny brought in the first child, a baby girl less than a year old. She sucked determinedly on a rattle, despite her unrepaired cleft lip and palate, and gazed around at us quietly. We saw several babies that day, many with unrepaired cleft lip and palates, but we still saw many smiles.
The next day we saw more babies and toddlers, including the boy with albinism we had seen in the hallway the first day, though he was far too invested in his rice crispy treat to acknowledge our presence. We also saw some older children, and it was there that we began to see personalities shine. The one who really stole my heart was “Jackson.” He was one of only three children who were available for adoption from this orphanage before we traveled, since his paperwork was prepared a few years ago. At that time, he had had surgery to repair the meningocele he was born with, a form of spina bifida. Unfortunately, when the orphanage first prepared his file it seemed that the surgery had left his legs paralyzed. We had seen a couple updates in the past few years, and it sounded as though he was improving, so I was very eager to see how he was doing. My heart leapt when they called his name, and I saw a face I recognized from photographs as he walked in on his own power, without even a walker to assist him.
Through physical therapy and the orphanage’s rehabilitation center, he had gained back much of the movement in his legs, and only a limp remained. Throughout the interview he seemed a bit shy, but when he looked at me and I smiled to encourage him, his face broke out in a beautiful, toothless smile back. Talking with him, I didn’t see a boy with spina bifida; I saw a boy who loves his writing lessons, is not so fond of dancing, who likes playing with balloons and whose favorite snack is candy. In short, a boy very much like any other six-year-old boy, but desperately in need of a family to love him forever.
On our last day we were able to tour the rehabilitation center at the orphanage. Their building was built only two years ago, and the time and money invested in it is part of the reason they’ve gotten behind on preparing children’s files for adoption. It seems like a worthwhile investment though, as the rehabilitation center is an incredible resource for these kids. It has rooms for physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and even a language lab for children who receive cochlear implants. The great thing is that it serves not only the children in the institute, but those in the community as well. Since many children with special needs are abandoned because their families can’t afford to care for them, hopefully providing this resource will allow more kids to stay with their birth parents. I’m now happily back in the WACAP office, ready to find families for these children who so desperately need them!