Beautiful Waiting Children Available

All these children dream of a family and home of their own
I was fortunate to meet a group of incredible children on my last trip to China and Taiwan. They are all just waiting for a family to call their own.
Miao Miao, age 5, is a sweet girl who is wearing an orange sweater. She had a small mark on her forehead at birth which has faded. She is a little shy and quiet. She enjoys running games and really likes to play in a ride on toy car that moves forward as you twist. She has been living in foster care for three years. She is in kindergarten and enjoys school.
Da Da, age 8, was a sweet, confident, handsome boy who has been living in foster care for almost 5 years. He has a slightly wet sound to his speech and a shortened uvula. He is in his second year of school and achieves high grades, especially in English.  He was a funny boy with a good sense of humor. He told me he likes chasing games and transformers. He did not like Asian poems he has to recite and memorize in school and then he recited one shook his head and said see. He was looking for my agreement about how terrible the poem was.
Pin Pin, age 7, is a sweet boy who came right from school to meet with me. He wore his green school uniform and was very handsome with a big smile. He had surgery for gastrochesis as a child but has no trouble with his stomach now. He is in first grade and told me that English and math were his least favorite subjects.  I asked him to draw a picture and he drew a police car and described it to me as he drew.
You You, age 7, came from school in a bright yellow uniform. He has a deformity of his (R) hand and thumb. He spoke confidently and described what he could and could not do with his hand. He could use this hand to assist and pinch objects between his middle and ring finger to hold them. He was able to string beads and play with blocks. He gets top scores in his classes at school. He drew me a picture of a tower and then drew fruit in the tower. He asked me what it looked like to see if I could guess correctly. A smart, sweet, confident boy.
Xun Xun, age 4, lives in the orphanage and has a spinal deformity.  When he speaks, he uses simple, two word sentences. He can also count 1 – 10.  There has been a question of possible strabismus as well. When given a crayon he was able to scribble on paper. He was also able to put on his shoes and preferred to keep his shoes on when not leave the playing on a mat. He was able to throw the ball but did not catch.
Qing Qing, age 4, is a pretty girl who has congenital hip dislocation and bilateral club feet. She has had surgery for both.  She walked stiffly with a little waddle and had trouble sitting down on the play mat.  She takes care of all her own self care activities and attends preschool in the orphanage. She likes to look pretty, likes having her hair done and is attached to her caregivers. Her caregivers told me she was a good observer and liked new things. She sang a song for me.

And I met these two remarkable boys in Taiwan:

Hong Hong, age 10, is a sweet boy who had on a red checked shirt. He had just come back from School when I met him. He is very well coordinated and his favorite thing in School is Gymnastics. He drew a beautiful picture for me with animee- like characters. He wrote some English words for me. His caregiver says he dislikes cleaning up and likes to play pillow fights with the three other boys in his room. He is a sweet boy whose eyes just sparkled.

Fan Fan is a sweet 8 year old boy who followed all my directions. When I asked him to draw a picture he had trouble getting started. When he spoke he used a very soft voice but caregiver told me he speaks more loudly with his friends. He is in a room with three other boys. He makes friends easily. His favorite color is blue and he loves to watch cartoons. He is a handsome boy who loves to play.
For more information on Gladney’s Asia Waiting Child programs click here
Click on Photolist (photolist link- to learn more about the children that are available for adoption through Gladney.

Sorry everyone, I was unable to blog for the last several days in china. 

I've had a chance to reflect on what an incredible day we had at the foster care station.  I loved meeting all of the children.  It is over whelming to reach out and touch the hand of a child who is waiting for a forever family.  All these children are cared for and most came with a caring foster parent, foster grandparent or foster aunt.  Those who didn't, came directly from school in their school uniforms( so cute)with officials from the foster care station.  They'll smiled, laughed and were ever so cute.  The other thing that was great about this day was meeting children who are matched with families.  These children are bright, articulate and just beautiful. To hear more about these children register for the Gladney asia waiting children's webnair on Dec 1st.

Once Gongzhan and I got on our flight, we flew 3 hours to Harbin.  This is in very northeastern China.  We arrived there around 10 pm. We were met by Rocky and Susan.  Rocky would help facilitate travel/photography for the next several days, Susan is an official in the province with the CCCWA. We stayed in an older Russian inspired hotel that was very beautiful.  The next morning we were met by Susan who took us to see a center for the treatment of cerebral palsy.  There was some very good treatment going on.  There was also a nice mix of Easter and western treatment going on. I was impressed and would have liked to have more time there.

After this, we took the van for a trip to Jiamusi social welfare institute which is about 3 and a half hours outside of Harbin - very close to the Russian border.  It is a large orphanage that is clean, newly refurbished and the children I saw were very well cared for.  They have many new rehabilitation rooms and are beginning to build a rehab program.  I was able to greet many children and work briefly with some really cute boys.

Following our time in the orphanage we had a meeting with the officials, orphanage director, and staff.  This group was so welcoming we really felt connected to them.  We left the orphanage in Jiamusi and checked into a beautiful hotel where we were treated to a banquet by a provincial official.  What a beautiful welcome - the food was great!

The next morning I was off to the airport for a flight to Beijing.  I was a little nervous about the Jiamusi airport thinking it was so small.  I was convinced it would be a 6 passenger propeller plane.  If everyone does not know, I am afraid of flying and it's a miracle I fly to china.  The plane ended up being a jet and I got to Beijing fine.  Checked into a familiar hotel and spent the afternoon shopping. Off to bed by 8 then to the airport the next morning at 5:00 am.
What a whirlwind the last three days.  Continue to follow my blog in the next few weeks for more info, reflections and china updates.  Don't forget the webnair either.

Also, it is national adoption month.  Support, think of and pay tribute to everyone in this process. Birth mothers, foster families, adoption case workers, orphanage caregivers and all the children waiting for forever families.  They are in my heart today and always.

Peace, Pat

I forgot to update you all on Edna.  Edna Gladney traveled to Harbin and rode in the van with us to Jiamusi.  You can see her picture at the airports in pudong with gongzhan and Jiamusi with me.  It was edna's choice to stay in china. She skipped the return journey home with me.  More children to see, more orphanages to visit.  Truly living out her reputation.  You go Edna!

Gladney Partnership Children in Foster Care

I spent today evaluating Gladney partnership children from the Shanghai Children's Home Foster Care Center.  These children are available for adoption through Gladney.

In the morning, I saw four children who were in TERRIFIC shape.  They had minor to no issues at all.  One very bright, confident, and handsome boy spoke to me a few words in English! He was friendly and engaging and so full of love! 

In the afternoon, I evaluated two more children who had minor issues.  One boy had an issue with his stomach as a baby, but that issue has resolved, so he has no medical issues now.  The other child has a deformity of his wrist and hand on one side.  He was very capable and had a lovely personality.  They were both friendly and so, so sweet.

Many waiting orphans have very minor or no issues at all.  They are healthy- physically, emotionally, and intellectually.  I feel honored to work collaboratively with Gladney and the Shanghai Children's Home to find forever families for these children.  We want people to know that there are boys available for adoption as well as girls from China.  Many of these boys are smart, sweet, and just waiting for a home.

More partnership updates tomorrow,
Peace, Pat

Lots of Love and a Busy Day at Shanghai Children's Home


Today, I joyfully returned to the Shanghai Children's Home (SCH) - for the 5th time!  I have grown so attached to the children and staff here.  They are a second family.
Most of today, I trained SCH caregivers and rehabilitation staff.  I was graciously received by Sonya, Roy and Valen.  I am happy to say that I had a great day!  In the morning, I evaluated children with a variety of needs and presented ideas and methods for treatment.  In the afternoon, I worked intensely with caregivers in charge of caring for orphans with cerebral palsy (CP).  
Once again, I was impressed with the caregivers, particularly those in charge of children with CP.  Children with CP usually respond very well to proper intervention.  The caregivers at SCH really love these kids and had so many insightful questions and ideas.  I demonstrated techniques that improve positioning, breathing, and movement so that these children have an improved quality of life, and the caregivers an easier job.  
I worked a long time with a beautiful boy with severe CP.  He was very difficult to position and without proper positioning, it is difficult for children with CP to move at all.  His caregiver, however, was bright and eager to learn.  She quickly learned how to set his body into good alignment and...... in 1 ,2 3, she positioned him without my help so that he could lift his head up and say "goodbye" to us.  
Children like this boy will unlikely find a forever family to call his own.  But helping children learn to sit up, so that they can see people face to face and view the world, brings them out of darkness and into some light.  
As our day came to a close, I was blessed to observe a beautiful expression of love between two waiting children.  A boy with only mild issues shared his cookie with the boy who had severe cerebral palsy.  

What a great day!
Getting ready to evaluate partnership children.  More to come soon.



More Adventures with Edna

 Gongzhan and Edna on the high speed train

On Saturday morning Gongzhan, Edna and I traveled to TaiChung via high speed train.  This is no easy job considering the amount of luggage we had.  I am sending you some photos of Edna on the train.  The trip to Taichung, which is in the center of Taiwan, only took an hour.  The train runs thru mountains, fields and cities.  In the midst of mountains, remote areas, or cities we could see very beautiful temples.  Taichung is a large city.  Not like new york, but still large.  
We checked into our hotel and then were off to a quick lunch and meeting with the officials from the New Hope program.  They are very gracious.  I gave a presentation and Gongzhan did much work on the program with them. Everyone had a great time taking pictures with Edna.  She was an honored guest. 
It is clear that Gongzhan is very well respected. Traveling with him is an honor.  The officials from New Hope hosted us for dinner at a restaurant that specialized in seafood.  We saw fish lips, frogs, kidneys from who knows what animal, and lastly crocodile jaws.  I was good with everything but the crocodile.

Gongzhan, Edna, and New Hope Staff
The next day I was off to Shanghai.  On my way to the airport, my facilitator, Mr. Yeh decided I needed more sightseeing, so on the way to the airport, he stopped at the Grand Palace Hotel, host to Madame Chiang Kai-shek  Kai Sheck.  We also visited the Tomb of the Martyrs. I thought Mr. Yeh was great. 
I arrived in Shanghai without a problem but Edna got stopped for a security scan.  They were quite inquisitive about her.  I explained we are celebrating 125 years at the Gladney Center and it's Adoption month. They just shook their heads and let us through.  I was met at the airport by Roy from Shanghai Children's Home.  Edna and I both received a gracious welcome.  The last time I saw Roy was in NYC.  

Tomorrow I begin evaluating the partnership children from the Shanghai Children's Home.  I can't wait to see the kids.


Travels with Edna and a Great Day at Chengyi Orphanage

Gongzhan, Edna, and I made it to Taipei!

As part of Gladney's 125th Anniversary Celebration, Gladney staff, families, and volunteers are taking life size cutouts of Edna Gladney wherever they go.  When I arrived at JFK, Gongzhan was there - with Edna!

 Note Edna's stylish rain gear.

Edna enjoyed the airport. They let her thru security because they said she was not much to scan as she is a cardboard cutout.  We arrived in Tokyo aprox 14 hours later.  Good flight, but due to limited seating Edna was stuck in the overhead bin.  She did not mind the bin except during turbulence.  

Here is Gongzhan and Edna in Tokyo airport.  
 Edna looks refreshed , Gongzhan not so much. We had a moment when we realized Edna did not have a passport or visa.  She cleared security easily.  

Here were are in the hotel after a good nights sleep. 
 Here is Edna and Mr. Yeh our facilitator. We lost Edna for a while today because we forgot she was in the trunk.

 Here is Edna at the Chengyi orphanage. 

Today we visited the Chengyi orphanage in Taipei.  The director and staff welcomed us graciously.  It is clear they care deeply about all the children under their care.  There are older children without issues as well as special needs children for whom we will try to find forever families.  
I met two boys at Chengyi today and they were so great!  One boy is eight and is supposed to have trouble focusing.  He was well connected, he followed all my directions.  He was the sweetest boy whose focus was excellent when working with me.  He was such a beautiful spirit!  The second boy is ten and had been diagnosed with ADHD, but he no longer needs medication.  He has been at the orphanage over 4 years, goes to school, and is an excellent student.  He was a delight! 
Each boy drew me a picture and the older boy identified the things on his picture in English words because he is already learning English in school.  He was so sweet and his eyes sparkled. 
These two boys are happy and playful and so need forever families.  I wanted to take them both home with me.  They are just out there waiting for a family to love them and say they matter.  For right now they matter to me and I will think of them here dreaming of their forever families.   

More tomorrow, 

The Magic of Adoption

Less than 24 hours to go before I leave for China.  I was shocked today when we lost power for the first time since the storm.  Of course it was right after I put all my extra clothes into wash.  I had several minutes of anxiety and then remembered how many people have been without power since Saturday.  Needless to say the power is now back on and clothes are drying.

Today I am reflecting on something Janet Fink (Superkids founder) once said to me.  She said she did not want to miss out on the magic of adopting.  I think there is an amazing magic of a child that is grown in your heart.  Of that child finding his or her way to you, the parent.  Also, the magic of this new person you get to meet who will be part of the center of your family.  I think of the parents and the children as two glimmering lights on opposites of the world, waiting to unite.  I am uniquely lucky to be part of the process that brings these lights together.  I have been lucky to meet some of the parents who are adopting children from the partnership program.  I feel very lucky to be assisting in this process.  How happy and lucky can I be to meet all these wonderful children and so many great families! I can just feel the magic.


Our Mission

I am thinking a lot about what my mission is in China and Taiwan this trip.  Every time I travel it is with a great deal of hope and thoughtfulness about the future.  I meet many children when I am in China.  I meet a large number of children with minor disabilities.  Many of their issues are not really considered disabilities here in the USA.  They don't effect how the kids will live nor will they make life harder in the long term.  These are the children who are part of the partnership program with the Shanghai Children's Home. Our goal with the partnership children is to help them find their forever families.  We speak to prospective parents and try to give them an idea of what the children are like.

There are many other children that I get to meet and work with who have serious  medical issues.  These children will probably not find forever families.  My goal with these children is to make them feel special and loved - to assist in their rehabilitation and with any special needs they have.  I think about these children when I get in bed at night.

Today, let's think about all the children in orphanages, not just in China, but around the world.  Let's send all the positive energy we can to all these children.  I hope they can know that in some way, there are people who love them.


More than 1,000 Steps

This journey will be more than 1000 steps.  Much more.  I am leaving with Gongzhan Wu (Gladney VP and director of the Asia Program) on Wednesday, Nov. 2nd and the latest itinerary reads like this.

NY to Tokyo               6737 miles
Tokyo to Taipei           1330 miles
Taipei to Shanghai      427 miles
Shanghai to Harbin     1041 miles
Harbin to Jiamushi      3.5 hours by car (mileage? maybe 150 miles)  

That would make 9685 miles one way.
Returning I go from:
                            Jiamushi to Harbin              150 miles(roughly)
                            Harbin to Beijing                  659 miles               
                            Beijing to Tokyo                   1307 miles
                            Tokyo to Home                    6737 miles  
That makes 8853 miles on the return trip.
Total 18,538 miles in all.  I cannot believe it.  The distance around the earth at the equator is 24,901 miles so I will not equal that.  If I started at JFK and went 18,538 miles to the west I would fly more than half way around the world and end up somewhere in Italy.  Please pass the spaghetti.  But then again didn't spaghetti come from China?     

 Although this will be an exciting but arduous journey it is for an important purpose.  To help children find their forever families, and for those children who will never find forever families to provide whatever comfort, caring and joy we can offer to them and to their caregivers.  I am the lucky one.  I will be meeting so many amazing children in all these cities.  I cannot wait for this journey to begin.  Wish I could go tonight.  The only problem is my suitcase is not packed.  Better wait till Wednesday. 
Pat Marcus

Preparation Begins

Even the longest journey begins with but one step.  I am about to begin a journey of many steps.  It will be from NYC to Tokyo to TaiPei, TaiPei to Shanghai China and Shanghai to Jiamusi.  I will be traveling with Gongzhan Wu who is in charge of the Asia program at Gladney.  Our purpose is to bring information about our waiting children program to Taiwan.  We will then be in Shanghai to meet more Gladney designated children from the Shanghai Childrens Home, spend time with the rehabilitation staff and the children in the orphanage.    We will then fly to Northern China to speak with caregivers and staff in an orphanage there.  All in ten days.

That will be many steps.  Many new faces, new opportunities to get to know the wonderful children and make a difference.  As a volunteer for Superkids my goal is to make a difference in the lives of children who are waiting for forever families and those who will never find their own special family.  I feel so lucky to be part of this program.

Every day from now to Nov 2,  I will be packing, preparing and eagerly anticipating this trip.  Hope I have enough room in my suitcase for all I want to bring.  Will keep you all updated.



Dear internet friends and followers,
I am now back home in the lovely USA. Truth be told I have been here over a week. I apologize greatly for the abruptness of this post- but the return was a well maneuvered, full Hood family surprise for my mom’s birthday.  Obviously, there could be no alluding to this date prior to my departure. The result of all this trickery was absolutely priceless. I have never seen that level of shock in my mom’s eyes or heard her shriek like that in my glorious 29 years of life.
The following will thus be one last bloggy attempt to give a semblance of verbal expression to an experience that is utterly impossible to sum up in words alone.  I will use mastercard to help me.  I hope it’s not copy written:

2 Cameras
52 braces (ankle foot orthotics)
Wearing the same backpack full of cloths for 8 months
1 debit card
14 airplane tickets
1 cell phone
6 orphanages
Innumerable bus rides
4 jars of “imported” peanut butter
9342 pictures
1 12X12 box of souvenirs
3 new Colombia mothers
1 pediatric walker
13 hours of video
47 blog posts
5 visitors/best friends coming to see me
0 Malaria pills (despite the fact I carried a huge vat of them throughout my entire trip… waiting for the moment they became necessary)
3 horseback rides
1 salsa lesson
2 lice infestations
Closing my eyes and smiling all the way down to my stomach with memories of thousands of amazing kids…. priceless
Giving me something to fight for…..   priceless
Being inspired almost everyday….. priceless
Thank you for accompanying me on this priceless journey.  A few of my favorite photos to sign off:

Thanks again for all the support, shout-outs, emails, visits and well wishes of those of you who silently followed along.  Thank you so much!!! Chao…. hasta luego.

Return Visit to Shanghai Children's Home

Return Visit to Shanghai Children’s Home – May/June 2011

Following on the heels of Gladney’s March visit to the Shanghai Children’s Home by two child development specialists from the NY area,  we are pleased that in May and June we were able to visit once again in furtherance of the Waiting Child Partnership between the Shanghai Children’s Home and Gladney Center.   This most recent trip brought Gongzhan Wu (Gladney VP & Managing Director) and Lindsay Hatcher (Gladney social worker) to Shanghai for 2 days.  On this visit Gongzhan and Lindsay were able to gather additional information and photos on some of the children already matched with their adoptive families.  In addition, they were able to meet and interact with some of the children who will be assigned to Gladney and available for adoption in the upcoming months.  Please REGISTER now for next week’s webinar if you are interested in learning more about Gladney’s waiting child program and our most recent visit to China.


Mango Hunting

There is an activity here at the aldea in Costa Rica that is a novelty to me.  The daily (sometimes tri-daily) mango hunt.  It appears I have arrived to sunny Costa Rica just in time for mango season.  I love mangos… or at least I thought that I did.  That was until I became witness to the vest and fervor with which these kids of all ages hunt and subsequently eat mangos.  As Maura mentioned “you don’t have to worry about them going hungry, that is nice.”  Yes it is nice, they have ’round the clock snacks… if they are savvy enough to get them.
As far as I can tell, there are three methods to hunt a mango:
1. “Easter egg style”– this is where you just walk around and look for them in the grass. And there are tons. The risk in this method lies in the fact that the vast majority are malo (bad).  The are either obviously bad and smushed with bugs flying all around them.  Or, what I consider to be the scarier alternative, surprisingly bad. I have been witness to a few kids who have sunk there teeth into a “ground mango” and immediately spit and made a huge scene– bad mango. This is typically the method adopted by the littlest ones, or at least the less coordinated ones.  Because at a certain level you move on to advanced hunting.

Ground Mangos

Method 2: The chuck– basically you find whatever you can lying around. This may be another mango, a soccer ball, or a huge stick etc.  It seems to me they like using the big sticks… that way they can adopt kind of a sidearm sling thing.  And these kids can pick out a target like nothing I have ever seen before.  I will be walking through park area with on (personally not paying any attention to the trees) and the kid will stop me, point and tell me “look, there is a ripe mango” and after they describe exactly where it is to my non-mango-hunting-eyes, I see it. There it is, gleaming in the sun… amongst the other 30 that are around it, not quite yet ripe.  Kind of like this.

Can you spot the ripe mango?....

Once the target is elected it is not uncommon to see three or four kids throwing said gigantic branches into trees.  Shockingly, I have only seen one injury to date as one little boy had a stick drop from the sky and land on his head. I was nervous… but its been a week and he told me today that his head has totally healed (and sure enough, the knot that I had seen a week earlier was almost gone).

The side-sling chuck

The jump chuck

Even the little ones understand the thrill of the hunt.

Bringing the big boys a stick that she found.... to hunt her some mangos

Method 3:  The climb–This for me seems to me to be the most “skilled” method. As there are only about 3 or 4 teenage boys who I have ever seen attempt it.  Yep, you guessed it.  They scale the trees… and I mean high. This is also the one method that seems to be forbidden, a punishable act here in the aldea. But every now and then when they think no one is looking (or maybe no one is looking)  you can spot someone up in the tree.

Method 3: the climb

I am not joking when I say this is the absolute number on activity right now.  And it is what is on everyone’s mind… especially those that tend to perseverate on things.  Sometimes the promise of a mango following a job well done is the only way that we get through a hard therapy session.  But perhaps my most favorite mango story to date surrounds on of my most favorite kids here.  I say kid, but he is actually on of the older teenagers in the aldea.  He is 17-years-old… but is more like an adorable, loving, sweet, funny 5-year-old in a 17-year-old body.  We were working with him last week and he could not get mangos off his brain.  He just kept talking about them, honestly every 30 seconds he would bring up mangos again… no matter how hard we tried to change the subject.  His main obsession was the fact that he wanted to “climb the tree to get that mango”.  Like I said, he was talking about the one ripe mango that he some how spotted in the tree.  On mango that was literally 50 feet off the ground.  And he is not a tree climber.
But he talked about that mango. About how if we would just let him get up from the table he would climb that tree and get that mango…. and don’t worry he said, he would come right back.  There was not a shadow of a doubt in this child’s mind.  That mango was his… if we would just get out-of-the-way.  He was certain. That kind of certainty, to me, really is kind of beautiful.  From my (oh so mature) adult eyes, I knew it was an utter and complete impossibility that he could even get 5 feet of the ground in that tree.  For me it was all about the doubt.  For him, the sure success and capability.
Well, we finally finished.  And he marched right up to that tree.  Grabbed a hold with two hands, and dug his toe in.  Hopped up on the other foot to houst himself up. Attempt 1- no go. 2,3.  Then he turned to me, did this adorable little giggle thing that he does. Shook his head and said “nope” and of he went.  Never mentioning the mango again.

Dang I love these kids.

Mmmm.... mangos

Notice the fellow in the swing... he has a mango too

I think she likes mangos too

I'm Starting With the Man in the Mirror

No message could have been any clearer, if you want to make the world a better place….

You should teach kids in an orphanage the dance steps to Michael Jackson’s Thriller (and others)!!

More fantastic visitors have come and gone. Two OTs from Philadelphia, Maura and Nicole, were here with me all last week.  They are two awesome therapists who I met when I slept on their couch last fall when I observed in the CHOP international adoption clinic. Love them!!  And well, Maura is perhaps the biggest Michael Jackson fan I have met in a while (rivaled by a few of the boys at Arther Gough–the home we are working with here in Costa Rica).  Thus, amongst doing over 15 evaluations… we managed to squeeze in a few song/dance sessions.

It was really cool to have the expertise of occupational therapists this week.  We worked together to evaluate the 15+ kids that I am going to be working with during my time here.  We were able to really look at the whole child and come up with some great treatment ideas that I am very excited about.  And the kids absolutely adored them.  I mean totally infatuated and enamored.   I am pretty sure this is the first of many many trips like this for these girls– they are definitely lifers.   They left with some great pictures and even better stories/memories. Here’s a few:

Nicole, Maura and the crew

The awesome toys they brought... pure therapy of course

I think that we may actually see one or the both of them back very soon to adopt this sibling set (that is if they did not already sneak them in their suitcases)

Yay therapy

Evaluation time... hard at work.

 Thank you guys so much for coming! Thanks for everything you did in this VERY short week and all your help in the future.

More soon

Shanghai Children's Home

Now that we are back from China, I thought everyone might like to know a little more about what it is like to be in the Shanghai Children's Home.

The Shanghai Children’s Home (SCH) is in the Hong Qiao area of Shanghai. There is a large gate and a reception area when you arrive at the orphanage. The first area you enter is the administration building. You walk into a glass lobby with a large conference room to the left. We have had many meetings in this conference room with the directors of the orphanage.  Many of the families adopting children from SCH start in this room and see a short film about the orphanage. We saw this film on our first trip to Shanghai. This building houses mostly offices and administrative space.

The next building is the rehabilitation center. The first floor has a gym, with mats on the floor for treatment, offices and private treatment rooms. On the second and third floors are a small sensory gym, a school for children with autism and more treatment rooms and areas for a program for the deaf. There are also classrooms for training and offices for the staff.

The orphanage itself is housed in a separate building. There are actually 4 areas separated into “gardens”. There is the rose garden, jasmine garden and I think 2 more gardens. Each “garden” contains more than 10 rooms of children. Each room will have about 20 children. They sleep in safe cribs with nice linens and cute teddy bears. Days are spent in walkers, chairs, wooden fenced areas with mats for tummy time or in the activity rooms. Outside there are landscaped paths, a fountain, a stream and many bridges and statues.

The orphanage itself is clean and the children are well cared for. We saw kids in clean clothes, well fed and happy. Bed laundry and clothes were clean. All the care is good. There is a medical staff there with nurses and doctors who see to the needs of the sick children. Some children are sent to the rehab center for treatment. They may go daily or 2 – 3 times per week.

The grounds at The Shanghai Children’s home are beautiful. I will attach some pictures for everyone to see the buildings. The staff is happy and always pleasant. They enjoy working with the children. I am always amazed that the administrative staff know the children well enough to tell you their stories. There was a young man, Stephan, who helped us with translation at SCH. When we were in the orphanage, he picked up a little boy and carried him around with us. Stephan told us that he just loved this little boy unfortunately, has blood cancer and will be receiving chemotherapy.

While families are waiting for their children that are in the Shanghai Childrens Home they can know that the caregivers and everyone at the orphanage is looking out for their welfare.


It takes a village…

16 05 2011
Week one in Costa Rica: done and done.  What a big change it has been to be here…. I mean pretty much in. Such a big change in fact, that the only way to fully and truly explain it to you all is the tried and true list form.
1. In Colombia we had 3 locks on the door. (that was in addition to the guards with guns outside the apartment complex). In Costa Rica we still have a guard (no gun, but he does have a machete that I think he uses in place of a weed-wacker), but we leave the doors wide open most of the time (I don’t even have a key to the place).
2. In Colombia the exchange rate for money was 1,850 pesos per dollar. In Costa Rica it is 510 colones per dollar. Therefore 5,000 Colombian pesos was like $3 and 5,000 colones is like $6. And that is totally throwing me for a loop.  The small coins that were worth less than a quarter in Colombia (that accumulated in my backpack like pennies at home) are now worth $1 (and my bad habits of misplacing/hording/disregarding this change could become a real money drain.)
3. In Colombia I was one of 3 people who was outside jogging (and wearing running shorts).  In Costa Rica you see Ticos and Americans alike– running, walking, jogging, etc. at all times of the day… in running shorts shorter than mine (men and women).
4. In Colombia I had to travel over an hour to the orphanage but the grocery store/malls/metro/etc. was just across the street. In Costa Rica I can walk to the orphanage but the grocery store is a car ride ot bus ride away.
5. In Colombia the only fastfood restaurants and chains that I remember seeing were: dominos, mcdonalds and an occassional subway.  In Costa Rica I even saw a Walmart today (enough said).
6.  The orphanage that I am working at is unlike any that I have been to before.  It takes a village to raise a child…. and this place has really brought that philosophy home.  It is actually called an Aldea (which means village), it consists of 8 casitas (little houses for those of you not so spanishly inclined) in which 5-12 kids live.  The caregivers, called tias (that means aunts) live there too. Thats right, they live there.  There are always at least 2 in each house. They live there 24/7 and work 11 days then get 3 days off. They are responsible for all the typical mom stuff– they take kids to drs appointments, cook, (don’t have to clean though because there are other auxiliary staff to do that– brilliant idea in my opinion in that it frees them up to actually spend time the with kids), help with homework, deal with behavioral issues and so on and so on. Each of the casitas are totally self-sufficient with a kitchen, living room, bedrooms, bathrooms- a real deal family home.
And this layout really makes the whole vibe totally different. It feels like a neighborhood. You see all the kids play outside together in the playground, basketball courts, swimming pool, open space between the houses. Then at meal-times they all “run home” to their respective houses and eat.  They just seem more adjusted, comfortable, protected.  And this is a challenging population. Over 50% of the kids here have moderate to severe delays (cognitive, physical, speech etc.) and other medical conditions requiring extra care.  But because of the structure, the involvement and commitment of the staff and tias, this place really seems to be working.
It has already been a great learning experience for me to see this alternative organizational framework.  I am sure there will be LOTS of stories and updates.  Sadly, this blog post will not be accompanied by photos because I seem to have accidentally lost my camera (I believe it is sitting in one of the over 6000 red taxis of San Jose).  Dang, almost made it the whole trip without a really-dumb-absent-minded-keely-moment. But it appears it has arrived.  So until I make it to the mall (see #4) or Walmart (see#5) I will give you all some well deserved visuals of this beautiful country.
That is definitely the one thing the two places have in common: beautiful, green, sunny, tree-y, mountain-y, flower filled, gorgeous countries.  I am excited for lots of exploring.

Asia Webinar - Boys from China Available Too

Xiang Xiang is a little boy with a spinal deformity.
Dong Dong is a little boy with albinism.
Ya Ya is a little boy with post operative CHD.
Most (but not all!) children adopted through the “standard” China program are little girls – but did you know that there are many little boys with mild to moderate special needs available for adoption from China?  On the shared database there are currently 1110 profiles of boys (as compared to 416 girl profiles).
Gladney’s upcoming Asia Waiting Child Webinar will be focusing on adopting boys!   The Webinar is on Wednesday, May 11th at 1pm EST, be sure to register today!
Boys available for adoption are all ages!  1-3 years old; 4-7 years old; and 8+.  If you can imagine these little guys growing up through these stages and want to be a home and family for a waiting child who happens to be a boy – please let us know!