Today, Storyteller leader, Kelly Raudenbush, shares a wonderful project that many of our adoptive families had the opportunity to participate in before serving at one of our orphanage partners in Shaanxi. If you haven’t been following this series of posts, be sure to read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 which leads us up to today’s post.
It is easy to forget how staff at the orphanages, where we serve and partner, truly miss the children they have grown to love over the months of years of caring for them. Our recent team had the privilege to see just how much the directors and staff remember each child and truly long to know more about their new stories…their adoption stories. The words below will truly warm your heart and give you a new perspective of the staff that are left behind once a child leaves the orphanage…
It was a 100-page labor of love. For months, I had been collecting the updates and, in the end, 50 families contributed to it. I had asked them for their son or daughter’s Chinese name and the name they go by now, a referral picture or a picture from their adoption trip, a handful of current pictures, and a few sentences of an update. I took all of those and put them together in one place, in the form of a hardback book of redemptive stories, to present to the director of adoptions, a man who could be seen in many of those adoption day pictures.
When the orphanage directors hosted a feast for the team, I presented gifts for all 12 of the orphanage directors…
He literally spent several minutes looking at every page. He would look at the oldest picture of the child, covering up his or her name to quiz himself and then say it aloud.
He knew every. single. child. in. that. book.
Not only could he name them all correctly, he clearly knew details about each one.
He had marks on his hands. Are they still there?
She was so active! Is she naughty for her parents?
Is her heart all healed now? She needed a serious surgery we couldn’t give her.
I didn’t have most of the answers, but I offered what I could. Every piece of information I could give was clearly treasured as if every word of news was a gift to him.
He told me that he has “short love,” that he only gets to love them for a short time but that he knows he is doing a good job when he sees their pictures and knows they have “happy lives” and “a future.” He keeps the update books in his office and he has the children’s pictures prominently displayed so that they are the first thing he sees when he walks into the room so that he “remembers why this job is so good.” He explained that many Chinese people do not understand foreign adoption. Some do not “think it is good” and “have many questions about it.” When they come to the orphanage, he takes them in his office and shows them the update books and shows them the pictures and says, “you cannot argue with these pictures. Look at their happiness. Look at all the good.”
In between his words to me, all passing through my translator, he spoke gently to the boys who he had invited to join us for dinner. The older boy has a family (yay!), one we got to introduce to him through pictures for the first time only the day before. He’s a little scared about being adopted, but he knows it’s the best thing for him and that it’s going to be good. The younger boy’s file will be available soon, and he’s a lot more scared. The day before when I spoke with him, he was digging his heels in a little and wasn’t willing yet to believe it was the best idea. So, the directors brought them to dinner on their own accord, knowing that time spent with us would be good for them.
Look at this boy’s smile. Look at this boy’s family. Oh, and look at this one too. Look how happy he is. See this child? This could be you.
By the time the last page was turned, the young boy spoke and the directors both nodded and laughed.
What did he just say? Somebody tell me what he just said.
Okay, I want to be adopted. But, I want to live near CG. Can I live near him?
I knew the updates were a good idea. I had seen on previous trips how much they blessed the staff. I had watched as ayis crowded around the book. I had seen one run quickly away for tissues and to hide her tears. I had heard their joyful laughter when they saw the pictures of a child they had loved looking older, wearing nice clothes, riding a bike, sitting on a horse, holding the hands of their American parents. What I HAD NOT seen before was how the staff had used the updates to education Chinese people on what international adoption is and how the staff had used the updates to nurture children, to help them understand what adoption looks like and to help them prepare emotionally for the overwhelming change that adoption is for them.
Those 50 families–my own family included–hoped the ayis who cared for their child would enjoy seeing the pictures and reading the English words. But, the impact they made by contributing to that book was multiplied exponentially and we got to see just a glimpse of it.
We hope that you are enjoying this blog series written by the team leader from our recent team that served in Shaanxi, China.
These teams recently assessed a large number of children who will be arriving at America World in the upcoming months. They may have met your son or daughter!
If you are interesting in learning more about adoption from China, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us by phone at 800.429.3369. We would love to share more with you about our China program. Children in Shaanxi are in need of a forever family-- are you ready to take that next step?