Wednesday, February 28, 2007

A Mother with "Double Love"

We are so fortunate to have one very special foster mom in our Guilin Foster Care Program. She has provided a loving home for 11 orphaned children over the past several years, with ten of her foster children being twins! She is such an incredible, women who always wanted to have more children. She is known as the mother with “double love” because of her love for her twins. She recalls when the first set of twins left home. “I cried all night. My heart was so broken”, she says. But with incredible strength she returned to the orphanage only a short time later to ask for another child. There has been a steady stream of twins in her home over the past years. These children are so fortunate to have this wonderfully dedicated foster mother who has such a gift for caring for these children. What a true blessing she is to our program!

LeeAnn Mill

Guilin Foster Care Coordinator

Copyright (c) 2007 Love Without Boundaries

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Believe In Me Too School Visit

The children in the Believe In Me Too School are happy and working hard. This preschool day looks a lot like other preschool days around the world.

Snack Time

Work Time

Free Time

Monday, February 26, 2007

Giving Girls

A wonderful group of preteen girls from Sylvania OH have made a difference for a little baby boy named Zhi. These girls, who are all members of a Pioneer Club at their church, have made it their goal to raise every penny for this child’s cleft surgery. Every one of these girls has worked hard. One young lady raised money by doing extra work around the house and donating half of her birthday money, two girls shoveled snow for money, and three girls took a fund can around during their “coffee time” at church to ask for donations. In fact these girls were so enthusiastic with their fundraising, that they have already raised $35 towards another child’s surgery! Their teacher hopes that through this experience that each of catch the vision for helping people, one at a time.

We are so thankful to each one of these girls. This little boy will soon have a new smile because of their generous spirit.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Love's Journey

When LWB first came up with the idea of compiling a series of books on the China adoption experience, we were hoping to raise enough funds to help "a few kids". I can admit now that we knew absolutely NOTHING about publishing a book, and yet we were bound and determined that we were going to learn. A wonderful group of volunteers was organized, and they began to create a book that could be a lasting keepsake for parents around the world. A dedicated team of men and women worked for months to put it all together, and it was with a very deep gulp that we signed a contract to publish 3000 books.

Just this week, we realized that we have less than 20 Love's Journey books left. I had to ask myself how many I thought we should keep for historical purposes, as it will never be reprinted. The amazing thing to me is that this book was so much more than just ink on paper. This book saved lives, and started foster care programs, and helped to build schools. To date, Love's Journey has raised over $100,000 which all went directly to impact the lives of orphaned children in China. We affectionately dubbed many of our kids who needed surgery as "book babies", and each time I would get a letter from someone who was writing to say how much they loved the book, I would smile thinking about the kids it had helped.

Our graphic designer is now hard at work on the second volume of Love's Journey. Over 4000 submissions came in for this next volume. Here is a sample of what the second book will look like.LJ2 is going to be yet another beautiful coffee table style book, with even more stories and essays from parents, children, foster parents, and orphanage workers. This time we are going to take an even bigger leap of faith and print 5000 copies. I can't wait to meet our next group of "book babies". We'll let you know when the second volume is available!

Amy Eldridge

Cleft Bottle Baby

This is Sheng, another one of our cleft sweeties in the nutrition program. We first heard about Sheng a year ago, when he was just two months old. Due to his cleft lip and palate, he wasn't gaining any weight at all, and we were afraid he might not survive the winter. So Sheng was moved into foster care where he received a premium formula and cleft bottles. Cleft bottles are vital to little ones with cleft palate, because they cannot create the suction needed to nurse from a regular bottle. Cleft bottles are made of a soft plastic that allows a caregiver to assist the baby's efforts with a gentle squeeze.

Cleft bottles and good formula made a world of difference for Sheng. He has now tripled his weight, and was able to have his lip repaired in November, during our cleft mission trip to Anhui Province. Isn't he a beautiful boy?

Thank you to everyone who has donated to our Cleft Bottle Fund. With your donations we help children like Sheng every day, providing these special bottles that are not available in China. This is a gift that truly saves lives!

Learn More Here

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

More than just a family.....

When finding a foster family for a child, sometimes we are able to find the perfect match. For one child in our Guilin Foster Care Program, it was just that. Louts is a sweet little boy who loved the trees and flowers at the orphanage. He always wanted to go outside and would talk to the plants and make sure everything was taken well care of. When he was inside playing, his favorite thing to do was to listen to stories about animals.

So when it came time to place him with a foster family, he told everyone he wanted to live on a farm with a family. He got just that!! Now this adorable little boy spends everyday enjoying the beautiful countryside of Guilin with his wonderful foster family. Every morning he wakes up and goes outside to feed the ducks around their home. He spends most of his day with his foster day who adores him, working side by side on their farm. We are so thankful for his sponsor who is allowing this little boy to not only receive the love of a family, but to truly live his dream!!

LeeAnn Mill

Guilin Foster Care Coordinator

Copyright (c) 2007 Love Without Boundaries

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Their Toes are Warmer

An interesting request came from the teachers of the Believe In Me Too School this winter. They wanted the children to have slippers to wear in the classroom. What a great idea! Not only do the children’s feet stay warm, but the class stays clean too.

China is well known for adorable children’s shoes, and slippers are no exception. With winter here, we all feel a little warmer knowing that these students are keeping their toes warm too.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Happy Hao!

When we first received the picture of little Hao, I knew I wanted to do something to put a smile on his face. He looked like a healthy little boy in all ways but one. Hao was missing part of a leg.

Missing his left leg made it very hard for him to walk and play like little boys should. His orphanage wanted to help him so that he could do all of the things that typical three year old little boys should do. They wanted him to be fitted for a prosthetic leg and the local children’s hospital had a great orthopedic department that could help him. They asked us if we could please help raise the money to help this little boy.

Thanks to a generous sponsor, Hao’s dream came true. On Hao’s special day, he went to the hospital to be fitted for his new leg. His ayi and the doctor measured and fitted the leg so that it was just the right size. In no time, he was standing and walking, feeling so proud!

Look at that smile on his face…….it says it all!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Magic of Smiles

I once read a wonderful quote that goes something like this:

“Everyone smiles in the same language”.

Isn’t that so true?

Yesterday I spent a few hours going through some of my old videos from China, and it was a true walk down memory lane to go back and watch some of my first visits to orphanages four years ago. Each video starts out pretty much the same, with babies and toddlers looking very solemn at the strange lady who looks so different than their aunties. Each child seems to have that “don’t come any closer” look on their face in the beginning. But then my trusty backpack magically produces bubbles and twisty balloons, and you can just see all the eyes widen, the curiosity begin, and then the pure sunshine come into the room as the children start SMILING. I could only laugh when I heard myself trying to talk to the children in English while they were trying to talk back to me in Mandarin. None of us had any idea what the other was saying, and yet the one thing that we both understood completely was our smiles. Children understand the beauty of a smile almost from their very first day on this earth.

I love going into the infant rooms and picking up a baby who will lock her eyes onto mine. I love staring into their eyes, and cooing and doing all the soft baby talk every momma instinctively knows. Those are special times to me, especially when that wonderful moment happens when a baby breaks into a smile. I absolutely love those moments, because the happiness on a baby’s face when they realize someone is really looking at them is a joy that just can’t be beat. A baby’s smile might last just a few seconds, but its ability to fill my heart with true warmth lasts so much longer than that.

All of us at LWB want to bring healing, education, and good nutrition to orphanages who want assistance, but we also cherish those times that we can bring real JOY as well. There is nothing quite like the sound of a toddler’s giggle or the sight of a beautiful little child with their eyes crinkled in a smile. What a priceless gift to one's heart that is.

Amy Eldridge

Chunky Monkeys!

Just look at these little darlings from one of our nutrition programs, they are SO cute!!!

In our nutrition programs we send three different levels of formula, as our fabulous models are here to demonstrate: Level 1 is for the newborns, Level 2 is for babies 6-12 months, and Level 3 is for toddlers one year and older. The babies will tell you it's delicious! We also like to send a good vitamin and iron-fortified cereal for the babies, and that is really what packs on the pounds!

The weather may be cold, but these kids are well-padded, inside and out!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Shunyi Foster Care Visit

Visiting the foster families was the highlight of my trip--aside from adopting my son! Each family we visited was so excited to show off their children. The foster families were so warm and welcoming. It was clear that they enjoyed having the children in their homes. It was so apparent that these kids brightened up each home and family that they were with. You could see the light and purpose shining in the eyes of the foster parents as they told of any new milestones the children had made that month. The joy and life that the children exuded was contagious!

One of the foster mom's had her kids scrubbed and pretty--they had bows in their hair and their best clothes on. The house was spotless and the foster mom had a huge smile on her face the whole time we visited. Her mother's heart shone through as she demonstrated to her children how to share the stickers that we had brought. She beamed with joy and pride as she told us what they liked to do, to eat...what they had learned that month.

Then there were the sweet children, some of whom cried when I came near. The older girls were more willing to play with me--especially when they saw that I had presents! One of them plastered herself with the stickers I had brought and then began covering her stuffed Pooh bear with them. There were several of the children who allowed me to hold them, much to my delight.

I sponsor one of the baby girls, and she cuddled with me until I had to reluctantly put her down to go visit the next family. My twelve year old son accompanied me and had a blast playing toy cars with several of the little boys we visited.

It is obvious that the children are benefiting so much from the opportunity to be in a family. After visiting the families, I'm not sure who is benefiting the most--the parents or the children! The parents have rays of sunshine dropped into their homes by way of these precious kids.

Shunyi Foster Care Visit by Karin Prunty – December 2006

Copyright (c) 2007 Love Without Boundaries

Monday, February 12, 2007

A Gift For Yi

Last summer, a friend of ours went to China to visit her daughters’ orphanages. During this visit, she was able to visit some foster homes. In one of these foster homes, she was struck by one little two year old girl – “the girl in pink”. She just couldn’t keep her mind off of this little girl who “just radiates intelligence and strength”. She knew that this little girl needed help, as she was sure that she wasn’t able to walk. Her eyes watched intently on everything that was going on.

For three months, she searched for this little girl’s name. A friend who lived in this city, tried to find out who this child was. A successful meeting with the orphanage director yielded the child’s name and an agreement that we could help this child. I will not forget the day we learned her name, Yi, and the fact that she was very smart, but that she had cerebral palsy.

We arranged for her to be sent for intensive PT, so that we might be able to improve her body’s strength. Our hope is that some day she will take a step and have her file submitted for adoption. She is currently learning to sit on her own and she can almost do it. She can also stretch her hands and reach and hold things. She also surprised everyone when she said “E” (hungry) and now she can also say “Ayi” (auntie). We are so excited that she has learned so much, but she still has a ways to go.

This last week, our friend who searched for this child, celebrated her birthday. She did this in two ways. She raised more money to help this child by asking all of her friends and family to donate in honor of her birthday for this child. And she sent a package to this little girl – a pink doll of her very own. The joy on this child’s face was the very best gift of all.

Friday, February 09, 2007

The Joy of Play

When I first started visiting the Shantou orphanage four years ago, it appeared to be a “city bound” institution, meaning that it was right in the middle of a very busy commercial area without a blade of grass in sight. The aunties didn’t want the children to play out in the front because there was a very busy road with lots of cars and trucks speeding by, so the orphanage had made a small concrete area downstairs where they put a metal swingset. Each day the kids would go down to this area and try to crowd onto the one airplane swing. I had seen up to three kids on the swing at one time! The one thing about swinging on concrete, however, is that it isn’t very forgiving when you slip. I have more than one photo of a beautiful child with an enormous goose egg after face planting to the ground. I knew the orphanage was trying their best to give the kids a place to play, but each time I would visit I would look out at the busy traffic and wonder how in the world we could do an outside play area that would be safe.

One day we were looking out from the third floor when we saw a nice patch of green grass behind the orphanage. When I asked who owned it, I was surprised to learn that the orphanage did, but that there was no way to get to it without walking all around the busy city block and coming up the rear. There was no way the aunties could do that with toddlers and so it had never been used for the kids. After talking with officials there, however, I learned that only one huge brick wall stood between the orphanage and that plot of grass. Working in partnership with Civil Affairs, we came up with a proposal to finally give the kids an outdoor place to play. The city government agreed to tear down the wall and fence the grassy area, and LWB agreed to provide a playground for the children. I always love when we can work together to do a great project for the kids.

Just this past week, the playground officially “opened for business”. The aunties said when the children were first led out to the grass, many of them were shy and just stood staring. But it only took a few moments for them to watch the older kids having fun running and playing for them to join in. Now I have heard they are “true pros” at play! Finally the children have a safe place to slide, swing, and laugh together. Thanks to everyone who brought the joy of play to the kids in Shantou. Their smiles say it all!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Prize Inside the Cereal: Qing!

This is Qing, a darling little girl who lives at an orphanage that we help support in Henan Province. She came to the orphanage with a very large spinal tumor, and a very small everything-else!

After having surgery, Qing was placed into foster care, but she was slow to gain weight and strength. Concerned about Qing's progress, our foster care monitor asked if we couldn't send a little extra rice cereal in addition to the formula Qing was already receiving.

As it turns out, Qing LOVES cereal! In just three months, she has already plumped up so much...she would be hard to recognize if it weren't for that sweet little smile and sparkling eyes!

With the continued love of her foster mama and a little luck, that beautiful face may be gracing somebody's family portrait some day. Wouldn't that be something?

Jan Champoux
Nutrition Director

Monday, February 05, 2007

A Home For Li

A Home for Li

We have been helping an adorable little boy for the last year. He had spina bifida as a baby, and had to have one leg amputated recently. We found a great temporary foster home for this beautiful little boy to recover in, but we knew that we would need to find a permanent place for him, where he could get some schooling and be fitted with a prosthetic leg. PHF offered to accept Li into their House of Love, and so then the question of how he would get from Guangxi to Beijing arose. He loved his foster grandma so much, but she was unable to travel with him, and we knew that this transition would be hard for him.

Thankfully, we were able to find a volunteer to help us transfer Li to Beijing. One of our friends living in China, Lisa, had gone to visit Li while he was in the hospital and has a real passion for Li’s orphanage. She has helped with nanny training, sending cards to the kids, and she will soon be sending a PT team to his orphanage. We knew that she would be the perfect person to help Li through the grief of leaving his foster grandma.

On Friday, Lisa flew down to Guangxi province and met Li and his foster grandma. His grandma had been talking to Li about going to Beijing for weeks, and she said that he was very excited to get to go to school and meet new friends, but of course he was nervous about leaving her. We love this picture of Li and his grandmother as they headed off to the airport. Li did very well with everything until it was time to say goodbye. As his foster grandma was leaving, he started to yell and cry out, “Grandma”. Lisa bent down on her knees on the floor with him. She talked quietly to him and he listened to her. She told him we all love him and want the best for him. She said that his Nainai (the foster grandma) would always love him. Li took Lisa’s hand and walked bravely through security and onto the next adventure of his first airplane ride. He enjoyed riding on the plane and eating the plane food. He drew pictures and was very sweet to everyone he met. This little boy was so very brave.

When they arrived in Beijing, they traveled to his new home and he met some of the Ayis. They immediately welcomed him and gave him some dinner after his long journey. The other kids in the house had just had bath time and were walking around on the way to bed. Li kept looking at them and he was interested in meeting all of the other kids. He was very tired, so Lisa said goodnight to him and told him that she would come back in the morning to see him. Already she could see that he liked the colors and lights and warmth of the place.

When Lisa went back on Saturday morning, he seemed to already feel right at home. He was enjoying playtime with the other kids. He already seemed very comfortable with the aunties and was very talkative. Li told Lisa that he had slept very well, that he loved his new home, and that he really liked the other kids there.

All of us at LWB are so thankful that Li will soon have a new leg, and we all hope that 2007 will be the year he is chosen by a family who will love him FOREVER.

Karen Maunu
Medical Director

Copyright (c) 2007 Love Without Boundaries