While in Kaifeng, we were able to visit all of the foster families. The first night we made home visits, and the parents were so kind to allow us to keep visiting even when it was quite dark as we arrived late from Anhui. As I walked down the dirt alleyways in the village, I thought to myself how fortunate I was to be able to see such snapshots of daily life in China. I always try to remember every detail I can so that I can share it with my own children, as I want them to have the clearest picture possible in their minds of their birthcountry.
In every home we visited, we were met by beaming foster parents who couldn't wait to show off their child. The first mom we visited became a foster parent after hearing about it from her friends who were fostering. They had cared for a little girl for the last two years, and she was recently adopted. I asked if they were going to take another foster child and was told they were not, because the pain of having to say goodbye to her was still too deep. As I was told this, I realized exactly what we are asking our foster parents to do. We are asking them to love a child completely, to care for them as their own child....and then to let them go. What an amazing sacrifice they make when a child is adopted. Like so many things in life....it is a complicated situation, but this was the trip that cemented in my mind that these wonderful parents are making such a sacrifice to their own hearts to say goodbye. They say goodbye hoping that the child they love will have the absolute best life possible. What a gift.
Two of the moms in our program are caring for little boys with Down Syndrome, and both of the boys are thriving in their care. The second mom we visited had her little boy dressed up so cute. He clasped his hands together and bowed to us saying "Xie Xie ayi" when presented with new shoes. His mom was so proud that she had taught him what all the animals say, and we got to hear his impressions of a cat, a cow, a dog and we were also treated to his cute little wiggle dance.
The next morning we visited with all the remaining families. Two years ago, we had written the story of Hercules, an extra tiny little baby with cleft who survived being failure to thrive when the orphanage staff, LWB volunteers, and the Hope Healing Home all came together at Chinese New Year to get him the assistance he needed. I was so excited to be able to see Hercules again, but he was a little less than excited to see me as you can tell from his picture. :-) He was running EVERYWHERE and did not want to take the time to visit with a stranger until he realized that we might have treats. Whether he wanted to see me or not...I was overjoyed to see this baby who had beaten the odds. He will always have an extra special place in my heart.
As we greeted each family, we were able to pass out new shoes and coats to each child, and one little girl looked shyly up at us and said, "I had been dreaming of new shoes." Everywhere we looked there were fat, happy babies with their cheeks hanging over their coats and with smiles from ear to ear or energetic toddlers and children running every which way. What a wonderful day. What a fabulous reminder that foster care can change a child's life in the absolute best way possible. Thank you again to everyone who sponsors a child in this way.