Friday, June 27, 2008

Becca's Standing!

You may remember that Becca was scheduled to leave the home and enter foster care a few weeks ago--she and Kyle were supposed to leave the same week that John and Ben left. Her perspective foster family is not yet ready to welcome her into their home, so she's still at the cleft home for a little longer. I was looking through the most recent pictures from the home, and came across these incredible pictures of her STANDING UP!

Becca with Paddy's daughter

"Hello, and Good-bye!"

Looks like she's ready to walk on off the couch!
Here comes trouble!

It's amazing to look back on how far she has come in just four months. When she first arrived at the home, she could barely hold up her head. It has been a joy to watch her grow stronger, learn to sit up, and then learn to stand!

We are so thankful for the generosity of all of our sponsors whose donations help make these milestones happen. We look forward to the day when all children will know the love and support of a forever family, but until that day comes, we are so grateful for your support which enables us to provide these children with the care and attention they so desperately need, and deserve.

Jenna is ready for her new smile!

We received word this week that Jenna has moved to Anhui Children's Hospital for her lip repair. We pray for a smooth and successful surgery, and a quick and easy recovery! We look forward to seeing her new smile shortly.

Jenna resting peacefully in the hospital before surgery.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

More graduates!

John and Ben have graduated from the home and moved into foster care! Our house manager, Zhang Ming, wrote a wonderful play-by-play of the day they left for foster care, which I think explains our mix of emotions very well. Please read his account of the day:

Two children were picked up back to [their home town]. We thought there would be four babies going to be moved direct to foster care, but we were told that one foster family is not ready yet to accept our children. So we only have Jun and Bao sent back. Bing and Kang are scheduled to be sent back in a couple of days this week.

Thinking that four post surgery children [all from the same orphanage] were leaving, our cleft home nannies had their last hugs and pictures with the babies. We also had a group picture of all our babies from this orphanage together.

These four children were scheduled to be sent back.

Ben, Kyle, Becca, John

[This orphanage] has the most cleft babies in our home. We have altogether 6 babies at one time accounting for half of the total numbers!

John questions, "You doesn't seem to be one of my mums. Who are you?"

"No, I don't want to part with my mums at cleft home.

I want to stay here. Why choose me first?"

Ben comments, "I don't want to go, either."

One more picture before we part.

One more hug! and one more hug for my wife and son!

One more kiss. Goodbye and take care!

Good trip, Ben!

Good trip, John!

We all love you!

With tears!

Zhang Ming

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day!

Father’s Day: a day set aside in the U.S. to honor and celebrate fathers with gifts and cook outs. Gifts that can never come close to the significance that fathers play in their children’s lives. Perhaps a new tie, socks, or gifts like my husband often gets - gifts that the children would like to play with their dad. Like a motor boat to race in the pool, or a new Wii game system that quickly becomes the “kids” present. But isn’t that what fatherhood is all about? Sacrificing for the good of your children? Of course it’s not a sacrifice without rewards – the love of a child for their father often cannot be measured or matched.

Today we’d like to honor all the unsung heroes in our foster care program; the fathers who lavish affection and attention on our 300 plus children in foster care. These men are a vital part of our foster care program and play important roles in the lives of our foster children.

I’d like to tell you about two fathers who are very important in the lives of 12 children now in our Anhui Cleft Healing Home. Zhang Ming manages our cleft healing home along with his brother-in-law Paddy. Both of these men have families of their own but spend countless hours at our home. Paddy has a delightful teenage daughter and Zhang Ming has a very handsome little boy. These children spend many hours at the home along with their mothers (one of whom works in the home as well). They are probably there in part to play with the babies and also to see their fathers!

Zhang Ming spends many hours working for the children that LWB serves, not only in our cleft healing home but also throughout Anhui. He keeps our home running smoothly; hiring nannies, arranging for surgeries, ordering formula. He is also the only English speaker in our home so he is the one we communicate with and who translates the wonderful reports our Cleft Healing Home sponsors receive monthly. He is the man behind the camera taking the many great pictures we have of the children’s lives. As we all know, if you are taking the pictures, you usually aren’t in them! So while we don’t have many pictures of him interacting with the babies, I can assure you he is a huge part of their lives.
Zhang Ming

Paddy is our driver and Zhang Ming’s right hand man. He is a soft spoken, quiet man who loves to play with the babies. It’s obvious from the pictures that the babies love him as well! On this Father’s Day, we’d like to thank all of the fathers who dedicate themselves selflessly to children who will not be theirs forever, but who clearly own a part of their hearts!

Friday, June 13, 2008

We have our first graduate!

Graduations can be bitter sweet, especially for the parents involved. Having just gone through three of my own this year, I know! The goal that you’ve been eagerly anticipating is finally reached, and then you turn the page to a new chapter. Shannon was one of the first two babies to arrive at our home, a mere three months ago. Look at the change in her! She has always been a sweetheart, but now she has a cute little rosebud smile to go along with her personality.

Shannon at the beginning of March...and a week ago!

She is off to her new foster family in Dingyuan now. We are sad to see her leave, but know we must let her go. She’s graduated, we’ve done our job in the home to bring her to this moment, but it’s not easy to say goodbye. Here is what our home manager said in his email this morning:

Shannon was sent back to Dingyuan today. We all hugged her and parted with mixed feelings. She is our precious. We love her and feel bad sending her away, however we also feel happy for her, for she is going to have a new life with a new look. Here are the photos taken this morning.

Speaking of photos…just like at any graduation there were a million taken of Shannon! I think everyone wanted to have a picture to remember her by. Here are just a fraction of the pictures I have .

Shannon and Zhang Ming

Shannon and two of her nannies.

Shannon saying good-bye to Paddy

While we are on the subject of graduations, I’d like to share my stateside graduates with you too!

Brian beginning life in the “real world” after graduation from law school.

Caitlin finishing her college career and beginning seminary in the fall

Kevin, moving on to elementary school and

the big yellow bus with his brother and sister!

Graduation is a time of moving forward, for the graduate it’s an exciting time of life. We rejoice with Shannon as she begins the next chapter of her life in her new foster family. She is still being cared for by LWB, so we know she’ll be in good hands! Congratulations Shannon and best wishes for a happy future!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Jack: Our future musician...or super hero!

Like many parents, the nannies enjoy watching the little ones sleep (probably partly because they're quiet...but also because they're cute!) They say that when Jack's asleep, he often shoots his hands up randomly into the air. The nannies say that “his gesture looks like a symphony conductor holding his hands up to indicate the end of the playing, or like a superman’s flying pose”.

They think he is having beautiful dreams—and we hope that he is.

Or…maybe he IS a budding symphony conductor!

Like the other babies, Jack has become more demanding the longer he resides in the cleft home. This makes work a little more challenging for our nannies, but we love to hear that our babies are becoming more demanding because we know it means they are learning that they can voice their needs, and their needs will be met. We are so thankful for our wonderful nannies who meet the needs (and wants!) of these babies day after day after day.

...and the not so quiet one...

At first, the nannies thought Dawn and Nick might have similar personalities because they come from the same orphanage...but they quickly learned that that is not the case! If you remember, Dawn is similar to Wren in that she is very calm, quiet, and low-key. Her friend, Nick, on the other hand, is anything but quiet!

Doesn't he look nice and peaceful?

The nannies have concluded that Nick might just like crying. Even when he is full, has a clean diaper, and should not be tired...he opens his mouth wide and cries loudly. Zhang Ming says “Crying is a good exercise, but he seems to have gone too far”.


The nannies say “He may come from a different planet…it might take time for him to get used to the environment here”. Don't worry Nick, we'll give you all the time you need to get used to your new environment. We certainly hope you'll be happy soon. You need all the energy you can get to help you grow big and strong so you can have surgery. Cheer up, little one!

The "twin" quiet ones of the house

I was reading through the most recent reports, and I couldn't help but notice the number of similarities between Wren and one of our new arrivals, Dawn. If you remember, Wren is one of our smaller babies who has been at the cleft home since our opening in March. Dawn is younger and arrived just a few weeks ago.

You be the judge:

Wren is a quiet, sweet, observer in the house. She is taking her sweet time in gaining weight, but isn’t causing the nannies much trouble in the mean time. When she’s feeling well and is hungry, she likes to eat a lot! She’ll wake up in the middle of the night to be fed, but won’t even open her eyes to eat. She just drinks her bottle and then goes back to sleep.

Wren just appears as happy as can be! We also know that she really likes to play with her fingers (and chew them, apparently!)

Wren doesn’t care too much for toys, but likes to be spoken to, and likes to play with her fingers. When other babies are fussy, she looks at them quietly and seems to be asking “Why are you crying?” She loves her fact, they usually put her right to sleep!

Like Wren, Dawn continues to become prettier and healthier as time passes, and is a really pleasant baby to be around. She is very quiet…so quiet that sometimes when the nannies are busy playing with the other babies, they forget that she's in the room!

Wren's listening very intently for something...
Here she is...just hanging out. She looks very dainty
and lady-like to me in this picture.

The nannies say that Dawn is often found gazing at her fingers “as if she was appreciating a piece of art”. We think she’s a valuable, beautiful piece of art too!

Of course, Wren and Dawn are not actually twins, but I just think they have very similar personalities. And, with such pleasant demeanors, I know the nannies are more than happy to have two very similar babies.