Sunday, July 29, 2007

Visitors to ZJ

A ZJ Family is visiting the SWI at this time: Susan, and her daughter Riki. She has given me permission to post an excerpt of her trip blog for you to enjoy. It sounds as if they are having a wonderful time, and Riki's hope to love on all the babies has come true--many days in a row! I'm sure the little ones love to see Riki coming through the door to play with them. As has come to be the custom for recent visitors, the staff has been so wonderfully welcoming to returning families. Enjoy!

We were able to call the orphanage on Thursday afternoon and made our first visit there the next morning. We brought gifts for Director Su and his wife and little girl, Assistant Director Yi and her daughter, and for Elsa, who runs the office and speaks quite good English. When we arrived, Director Su was in a meeting (according to Elsa, it was a boring meeting) so we had a pleasant visit with Elsa and Ms Yi. We were asked what we would like to do and how often we would like to come to the SWI during our stay in ZJ. We were soon asked if we would like to go to Open Arms and play with the babies. Of course, Riki's face lit up! Mine lit up AFTER I saw the room full of active and alert little people that really seemed to be thriving.

The ZKO team has done some amazing work here. The families that receive these blessings will have little opportunity to understand what has been done for them but it is so huge! All of the Aunties were on the floor and seemed to enjoy the babies. The babies were all active, alert, and seemed happy and healthy. And, although a couple of them did cry when I looked at them, most of them were quite easy to engage and bright. After about an hour, it was time for the babies to rest. Elsa, Ms. Yi and I had an opportunity to discuss the rest of my visit and what I was and was not willing to buy. We agreed that we would take the oldest children shopping and to McDonalds on Monday and do the same with the next group on Tuesday. I was asked if we might buy some shoes (and possibly some clothes) for the children that did not go to school and were "Special Needs" and therefore would not go shopping with us. Also, they wanted shoes for the toddlers who were beginning to walk. Of course, I agreed. I also offered to buy fans for the five or six(?) school kids' rooms and asked about the special needs kids and was told that they did not have fans either. I said I thought we should buy fans for their rooms as well. Since I seemed to be such a fan fan, they mentioned that on in between days they did not like to run the AC in the baby rooms because electric was so expensive.

She continues:
Imagine our surprise when the van arrived Saturday morning with a party of 12! to show us around: Director Su with wife and daughter and the two assistant directors with their families plus Elsa and the driver! We really thought this was pretty special and pretty extraordinary. They took us to see some of the local attractions including the magnificent Volcano Lake and Dong Hai Island with fish farm along the causeway and a totally tropical feeling.

It was wonderful to see how they interacted with one another ... they function like one big family and we agreed that they would all be our Zhanjiang family too!

I couldn't have been more proud of Riki. She bonded with the kids and was amazingly gracious all day. At the end of the afternoon she gave everyone a very eloquent "thank you" for giving up their day off and for showing her the Zhanjiang area. She told them that the day was very special and that she would always remember. They all cheered and applauded! (As her reward I took her to Crowne Plaza for brownies and creme puffs!)

It sounds as if they're being such good ambassadors of adoptive ZJ families, all the while enriching Riki's knowledge of her heritage. Some of you donated to help her buy things for the orphanage, and they've been able to buy fans to make sleeping in the bedrooms more bearable for all the kids. Being in the tropics, it's almost unthinkable to go through a hot summer with no air moving. Several more things were purchased, including shoes and school clothing. This is truly going to be an unforgettable trip for everyone involved--especially Riki, and we hope that more of you will be able to visit with your children as well.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

First quarterly Nanny Reports are in!

And they have done such a terrific job!!! It's so obvious by the reports, that these children have wormed their way into their nannies' hearts...and we're confident the reverse is true as well.

Each report names the child, their birthdate, measurements--similar to the referral reports we all got for our children. Then, in addition to the basics, there are sections for them to record their personalities, activity levels, and if they have self-soothing behaviors. There are sections regarding their development in language, emotional/social behaviors, and gross- and fine-motor skills. But my favorite part of the report is where the nanny records her interaction with her child. Below are some excerpts from different reports--enjoy them, as have we!!

"she will lie quietly in Auntie's arms when Auntie holds her and pats her gently"

"if she fails to grasp toys from other kids, she will cry loudly"

"while taking her to the [Open Arms] room, she stops crying because there are so many toys to attract her. She takes toys to Auntie and asks her to play with her."

"she is quiet and wants to be with people. She always wants hugs from Auntie...sometimes cries loudly when leaving the Auntie."

"she loves looking at the fluttering curtain with the butterflies on it"

Several of the kids in the program have limb differences, and will be referred via the Waiting Child program. Just listen to what this special Auntie writes: "this little girl loves massage. She won't move when we do it. She holds up her arm to watch it. It seems she is thinking, 'Why do I only have one arm?'"

"she often overturns other kids, and then lies on them to play, which makes the other children cry" :o)

"she looks through the box of toys until all the toys are emptied from the box. Sometimes she puckers her mouth and nods her head, which looks very cute"

"if you don't pay attention to her, she will pull your clothes and shout, 'hey, hey!'"

"she shows a smiling face every day upon seeing Auntie. Because she can't express with words, she will step heavily on her bed. She will not calm down until Auntie lifts her"

"she claps her hands with the music, and holds on a chair and shakes her bottom to dance"

"she is an active child--she likes moving around and never stops. She throws herself to her Auntie's bosom to play. She uses her foot to kick the crib and make banging noises. The other children watch her doing this and join her." [in the nanny's words: 'they make the entire house sound like an instrumental ensemble'] I think we have us a rabble-rouser! :o)

It sounds like a wonderful cacophony of happy, healthy children...these reports are like Christmas in July, and will someday be a treasure to their adoptive parents. It's wonderful knowing these children are being loved and showered with affection. This will lay that important foundation of trust, which will help them attach more easily to their forever families. Thank you again for your part in creating this wonderful atmosphere for the babies.