Saturday, March 30, 2013

Friday, March 29, 2012

Today was our last day at the orphanage. It was a short day as the director invited us to a fancy lunch with the local director of Civil Affairs and some other Civil Affairs officials ( our first one since we got here ... Hurrah... Lunch at the orphanage was always awesome!!).

I broke out the bows for some of the babies. Oh my! Could they be any cuter? We played with the kids and took care of some last minute consultations with Qi Rui, the head nanny in Gracie's Room/First Hugs. We are so very pleased with the dramatic changes in the room since last year; not just the obvious cosmetic changes but the care and love the kids are receiving... And oh, how it shows. They are just blossoming!!

But some important basic points needed to be addressed. Like changing the kids on a changing table (to be built or bought) and washing hands frequently (the ayis). 
On Thursday the Director brought in some journalist from the local paper, XinXiang Daily, and we were featured in the Friday paper!! 
 Earlier in the week we had visited other rooms in the orphanage where there were children. It was for all of us, a very emotional experience. In the newborn room, we saw two babies who were in obvious distress. One was a preemie like a baby already in Gracie's Room and one had heart disease and was very blue. We asked for them to be transferred to Gracie's Room where they can get extra care. We were told the preemie also had spina bifida and we were told they would be transferred to our project.
 Sadly, on Friday we were told the preemie had died on Thursday night. Life is so very fragile. 
  We left "our babies" on Friday at lunchtime with tears in our eyes but hope
 in knowing they were receiving much better care. And some will soon be with families. We have increased the partnership with the orphanage and will be working with them to advocate more for the adoption of specific children.

We had an interesting experience (political) with the orphanage that I will share in the next post. So different than anything we would experience in US or Canada. 

Moya, Krista and Cathy

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Thursday, March 27, 2013

I forgot to mention we were mini-celebrities yesterday! The local paper came and interviewed us. We will post a picture of the story when it appears in the XinXiang Daily. Most interesting question asked: What are the big differences between the orphanages in the United States vs the orphanages in China....No wonder people wonder why we adopt from China...if we have our own orphanages....

Today started with a bang.... we drove into the orphanage and there was the young lady who has been translating for us all week. She was right at the orphanage gate with an ambulance. And there was baby who had just been abandoned. There was a cart in the back of the van with the baby inside. The baby was about 8-9 months old and they thought he had CP.  He looked healthy to us. We got in the van and gave him a little love. We looked at what he was left with: his clothes, shoes, a hat and a baby bottle. He had been left at a hospital. After we saw him, he was taken to a different hospital where the orphanage has a special room where abandoned babies are taken, their blood tested and their health, checked out.  They return to the orphanage after a few days. This was emotional for us all as moms to children who had been abandoned. We were grateful the orphanage shared this with us.

We spent hours and hours with the kids today just playing with them and feeding them.  The preemie took 60 ml and three hours later, 40 ml of milk. And then she was awake for almost 15 minutes. By far, the longest she has had her eyes open.

Moya broke out the bunny ears she had bought at Target and some of the kids modeled them. We also connected the DVD player we had bought and put on some kids shows. They love to dance ( And we sang along to Wheels on the Bus in English while the tv show sang it in Chinese!!)

Our last hour was spent visiting kids outside of First Hugs/ Gracie's Room and giving the older kids toys (thanks Mary Hughes for the toys).  It does not take much to brighten the kids' day!! We also visited some older kids in the computer room.

One of the pics below- the little one with the black eye- she fell out of bed- is a sweetie who will be adopted domestically. The police brought her in b/c a family had bought her. The trafficing of children is so very sad. And the price they pay, so high.

We have identified some needs to use the $1000 plus made from the Longaberger Basket party hosted by Cathy Reilly. Melissa DeSimone donated all of her commissions to Gracie's Room/ First Hugs. Thanks, Melissa!!) We are thinking double strollers and baby scale so far!!

You will see a picture below of a cleft baby who just loves the blanket you sent, Barbara Bennett!! They are very popular!!

Leave a comment. We would love to hear from you.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Posted out of order!!
Our second day at Gracie's Room/First Hugs was even better that the first! We got to know the children even better. It is such a beautiful thing to meet the children who are described in our quarterly reports and discover how special each and every one is.

As it would be impossible to relate to you all the things we witness over an eight hour day in Gracie's Room/First Hugs, I will just share some of the highlights.

Krista got some valuable information from a friend on preemies ( Thanks Roz!) and Moya wore the baby we call "bella" for much of the day. The baby drank just over an ounce from the bottle when she was fed but boy she has a strong sucking ability. She is indeed a fighter and we are pulling hard for her.

One little boy who has been our project for quite some is Chun Quan. He turned 3 years old last week and has been in Gracie's Room since he was just a month old. He loves electronic toys and the books we brought. He will crawl over to smaller babies and pull their blankets up over them. He has spina bifida and we were told he has no use of his legs and is incontinent. But today and yesterday, we witnessed him tell the ayis when he needed to go to the bathroom. Yes! Chun Quan is not incontinent! And today, we brought in a push toy that Krista bought. And we witnessed a miracle. It was a privilege to watch that little boy, who scoots around the room, half crawling, pull himself up and walk, moving one leg, then the other, all around the two rooms. And after a while, he was exhausted but he would not stop. He was seeing the world from a whole new perspective!  We cannot wait to follow up and get him what he needs to walk. And to get his file to Beijing. We know there is a family out there somewhere for this funny, bright boy!

Xing Guang is a sweet little boy who will be two in a few months. He is quite the spirited child. Watch out, Xing Guang's family!! He will be adopted soon. Xing Guang will climb in and out of his crib; he scales the shelves of the cupboards looking for crackers, and he waved and said "bye bye" as we left. He is a bundle of energy and just delightful!!

In the midst of all the joy we experienced today, there was sadness. We are missing a very sweet child who we met and learned to love last year. Special condolences to our friend Angela who travelled with us last year and who especially loved Yu Ye.  We received a report on YuYe in January but did not see her when we arrived yesterday. We asked and were told she had died suddenly of an unexpected illness. We miss YuYe. She was loved.

Tomorrow, our dear friend and official report translator ( volunteer), William, will accompany us to Gracie's Room. He was our translator for our trip last year. Tonight we enjoyed a wonderful hot pot with William and his girlfriend, Linda.

Hope you enjoy our pictures.

Moya, Cathy and Krista

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Today started out with a shopping expedition. We were looking for a music player for the First Hugs room. A quick trip to Wal-Mart and we met with success. Our friend William, who translates our quarterly reports and was our translator for our visit last year, joined us in Gracie's Room for the day.

Our little preemie baby is doing so well! QiRui, our Gracie's Room. First Hugs supervisor, said that our wee one drank 50 ml of milk yesterday whereas before that, the most she drank before that was 30 ml. And this afternoon when Moya fed her, she drank almost 30 ml. Patience and wearing her in a sling is really helping.

A little boy we are calling Christopher is quite the bruiser!!He is one healthy looking little fella. He has a cleft palate but no cleft lip. He had quite a messy diaper this afternoon and after Krista pointed it out to QiFei, it was bath time! The kids are bathed in a sink in the "milk room" donated by the Lange family whose daughter Lily was adopted from XinXiang last year. There is a powerful heating lamp above the sink so the kiddoes stay warm while being bathed.See the picture for our beautiful Christopher enjoying his bath.

After our lunch, ( we are enjoying all our lunches at the orphanage and they are so amazing. Today's favorites: pork buns, broccoli and garlic, eggs with tomato, and lotus root and pork. So yummy!!) we explored the orphanage a bit. We found the room with little, little in the beginning of the name ( Yes, Moya can read that character but only because it is part of her daughter's name!!). There were 11 babies in the room for teh "little littles", many who were severely disabled. Krista spotted a preemie who had spina bifida. She was worried if he stayed there without special care, he might not survive. Meanwhile Moya was trying to stop a very blue baby from crying. This little one obviously had a heart issue. A short conversation later and we had approval to move these two babies to our First Hugs Room. We will have two more kids then normal but we know some children will be adopted soon and we know these teenies need us!!

We also saw some other rooms in the orphanage with older disabled kids and later saw some older toddlers playing outside at the playset. They were just loving the trampoline. Great to see joy in the midst of the orphanage.

Moya and Krista met with the director, along with Fei Fei - the woman in charge of adoptions at the orphanage -as translator. It was a very productive meeting. We discussed some changes we wanted to see- simple things like a diaper changing location, washing hands after changing babies, germ awareness, and installing a mirrored half wall with bar as we have in our other locations. We were satisfied that this relationship will continue to grow and we will continue to see great improvements in the care provided. I think we have said before that the difference in what we see now compared to one year ago is striking. But we will continue to work together to improve things.

Moya, Krista and Cathy

Monday, March 25, 2013

Orphanage Visit

Monday, March 24, 2013

Well, we are here! This morning we went to the orphanage. We were met by Fei Fei who now manages all the adoptions and the handles the babies and their paperwork when they are abandoned. She is delightful and speaks great English. Bonus for us.

We met with the director and then were brought to Gracie's room. We met our new manager who also speaks great English. Her name is Qi Rui. The difference between the old Gracie's Room/ First Hugs in the old orphanage and our new space is just breathtaking. The space is bright and airy and clean! the children were being well cared for. They obviously had a great relationship with their ayis or caregivers. There was so much affection, love and playfulness.

We were delighted that four of the children had been adopted domestically and there is one beautiful little girl who will go to a local family next month. And we have a few new children in the program for a total of 16 children! Mant still need sponsors.

Several of the children go to "rehab" for several hours during the morning and afternoon. There is one little baby who is just one month old and is a preemie. She slept almost the while day and is just 3 lbs. I held her for much of the time. 

All in all, pictures peak volumes so I am attaching a few. More tomorrow.

Moya, Cathy and Krista

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Sunday, March 24, 2013
It's that time of year again! Krista- our Gracie's Room director-,  Cathy - our treasurer and Gracie's mom- and me- Moya, executive director of Dianjiang Kids- are back in Henan province.  We would love for you to follow along on our journey as we visit the children and staff of our Gracie's Room/First Hugs project at XinXiang in Henan province in China.

When we visited last year, we were convinced things had to change. This Gracie's Room /First Hugs project was not what we wanted it to be. It was too tough for our kids to be in Gracie's Room/First Hugs with our nannies special care and love for eight hours a day and then have to go back to the general orphanage population. We spoke with the orphanage director and we all agreed things had to change.

By the fall, the orphanage had moved to a beautiful new building and property. The orphanage helped us to hire a new manager for our Gracie's Room/First Hugs project who spoke English as well as Chinese so we could have better communication. We will introduce you to her later this week. We also hired new nannies/ayis. They receievd special training to understand child development and will continue to get new training.

So now our wonderful kiddoes are in a 24 hour a day program. They always get special love and attention. This week we will be visiting with the kids on loving on them. We will be learning how the new Gracie's Room is working and we will be offering our ideas  and training for activities during the day. We would love for you to follow along.

We arrived in Zhengzhou, Henan's capital, Friday night after a 30 plus hour day of travel. Today we made our way to Wal Mart and bought some board books for the kids. Tomorrow we head out to XinXiang for the week. We look forward to sharing with you!!