Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Changsha Advocacy Camp Day One!!


After a day of travel (where I lost my cell phone on the plane :( ) and a little exploration we got up bright and early to visit the children in Changsha.  Our hotel was very close to the orphanage, but that doesn’t mean it was an easy journey!  They are building out the subway more and some of that construction has taken up the sidewalk that used to be there.  We walked in the bike/moped lane, carefully dodging bikes, mopeds, & a few wayward cars.  China never gets old and always keeps me on my toes!!  In fact, I may have had a run-in with a moped on the way back to the hotel!  We decided to term it a “gentle caress”. J

We got to the orphanage and were introduced to the new international adoption director and the director of the orphanage.  The director is pretty new and is making a lot of improvements she was eager to show us.  She took us over to the rehabilitation center and gave us a tour of the facility, explaining some of the rooms they have and what they are used for.  She talked about the importance of getting her staff trained to use some of the high tech equipment they have recently received and explained some staff will travel to Shanghai to be trained soon.  Gladney’s representative talked to her about the potential of sending over a few to the states for more training or to send a training team to them.  This is the beauty of agency partnerships with orphanages.  It allows the agency to truly partner with the orphanage to help better serve the children in their care.  I know some people have gotten frustrated over orphanage partnerships and how difficult it can make adopting a specific child, so it was great to see the other side and see how these partnerships are making a difference for children in the orphanages.  I know as an adoptive parent who has had to switch agencies because Laila was a partnership orphanage child, it softened me a little to the sometimes hard line adoptive families are given by agencies.  We met some beautiful children and learned about the strides they have made since beginning rehabilitation.

 


We also got to see a new initiative Changsha has started to meet the needs of not just orphans with autism, but also children in the community with autism.  They have a facility where the children are taught and cared for.  This is huge because it gives a family who is afraid they can’t care for their child an avenue for helping their child while keeping their child in the family, reducing their likelihood of abandonment.

Next we headed over to play with the kids!  This group was older kids, age 4-10.  It started off with a few boys and their music teacher.  They sang songs and taught us the motions.  Then it was time for some one on one play!  First a few kids came in, then a few more, then some more and before we knew it we had a room full of chaos and fun!

 


This boy is just plain awesome!!  His name is Lawrence and I think he will be on Gladney’s list very soon.  He’s a little small for his age, but so funny and smart! 
We had a blast with him!!  And he is available for adoption with Gladney right now!
http://superkidscharity.blogspot.com/2015/12/lawrence.html


And sweet Lance started off painfully shy, but I made it my goal to bring him out of his shell!  Judging by that cute smile with the bubbles, I’d say mission accomplished!

  


The boy on the left is Luke.  I think everyone on the advocacy team loved him!! He was so much fun!!  He also played a song by ear after one of our advocates played it a few times for him.  Such an awesome kid!!

After lunch we played with a smaller group that included some of the boys from the morning out on the playground.  It was nice to move into a different environment to see how they were outside vs inside with a ton of kids to compete with for attention.  The afternoon brought a few new faces as well!

 
And that silly little cutie in the blue shirt?? He's so much fun!!  He will be available for adoption with Gladney very soon!


This little cutie girl had me working overtime!  Zoe was VERY attached to her ayis and not at all interested in being my friend at first.  Candy helped break down the wall, but when she started talking to me in Chinese and realized I couldn’t understand her- she gave up on me! Haha!!  She went over to an older couple sitting at a picnic table and chatted with them instead while they gave her chips! ;)  Isn't she beautiful???

 

What an awesome day!!  This trip has been busy, busy, busy.  We go from a full day of play to dinner (which in Hunan province means spicy and sooooo delicious) to a team meeting to share about the kids personalities with the superkids team who will try to find them families.  There’s been a few that our advocates have fallen for as well!  Can’t wait to see these kids get families.
As this day came to a close, I couldn’t believe that the trip was already rapidly coming to a close.  We only had one day left and then we would be heading home.  I pray that as we learn about these precious children we can break down some of the walls people have toward older child adoption, including myself honestly.  These are just regular kids.  Sure, they come from a different background and they’ve experienced trauma but that is not what defines them.  After spending this time with these older kids, I can see more than ever that they are just regular kids in need of a family.  In China, a child ages out of adoption eligibility on their 14th birthday.  At that point they will never be adopted, never have the support of a family, never get the opportunity to be an aunt or an uncle, and unfortunately they will walk out into life completely unprepared for what awaits.  The fate of children who age out is sad and scary and I just can’t imagine one of these awesome boys having to fight that fight all alone.  I will readily admit that while I loved the idea of older child adoption, I also found it downright scary but now I see how amazing it is too.  These kids are great kids.  They are great kids who need someone to tell them "Yes, I will be your mom and love you forever." 

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