As the holidays are here and the year is drawing to a close, I reflect on all the trips to China we have completed. We are trying to sum up changes we have made over he past years. In 2007 when we first started going to China, I was amazed at how many children could be in an orphanage. I was heart broken for some of our little ones. I saw so many waiting children with special needs and yet potential adoptive parents, Social workers and the whole adoption community were only talking about the girls in the healthy infant program. My heart broke each night for the kids with special needs. How would they ever find families who would love them? I saw much more fear of special needs in those days.
As the times changed and China moved into more of a waiting child program, many of these children with special have found forever families. In fact I am amazed at the change in attitude about special needs. Not only with amazing adoptive parents being open to many more special needs but also change in attitudes toward special needs in China as well. It just goes to show what role education can play in making changes.
On my first trips to the orphanages I noticed children with limb differences or their hand or arm had their sleeves rolled down covering the arm. I shared through our translator the story of a friend I knew with a limb difference. She went on to become a doctor. I asked the nannies to roll up the sleeves of their children with upper extremity limb differences. I told them this would help the children learn to use both arms and help them do more things for themselves. The nannies were willing to try. I have seen a big change in the care of these children. They are encouraged to use both hands and arms. They side with the difference is no longer hidden under their sleeve. I have had an older boy explain his limb difference to me and show me both hands and arms pointing and clearly explaining. Accepting his body as it is. Navigating me through the differences without sadness. It is just how he is. Perfect in all aspects to me and I think to him too! Its education about you being different yet still able to lead a wonderful and live a productive life that made this change.
All these things make my heart sing. More kids finding homes, children more accepted with special needs. A true change in attitude here and in China! Attitudes change and we grow and explore new challenges education plays such a pivotal role. We are so grateful for these changes.
Lastly I want to leave you with a final thought.
Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world- Nelson Mandela
Here are some pictures of children with limb differences for you to reflect on.