Our Superkids team has been connecting over the past few days. We are discussing our upcoming trip and preparations, what we hope to accomplish and how can we make the greatest difference. One thing I hope to convey is that every child is such a gift, a small, special, wonderful spirit waiting for us to see their uniqueness.
I attended the CAFO Conference recently and Stephen Ucembe, who had grown up in an orphanage spoke about what it was like when visitors came. They were immediately drawn to those he called, "the cute kids". He said, “those of us who were not as "cute" were seldom held or paid attention to”. Breaks our hearts! When we meet children with medical needs, skin disease or other physical issues, we go to those kids first. If we hold one child in a room, we try to hold them all. Everyone gets a chance with the bubbles, or the light up ball. They will not be excluded or forgotten. The kids with the most issues get their turn first. We know these children are less likely to find forever families. We hold them closely in our hearts, hoping with them, for their future forever family.
I am seeing a change in parents’ hearts. Speaking with waiting Moms and Dads recently, they want to know more about a child's personality than their medical need. Are they sweet, happy, active, spunky?
What is our attitude? It's very simple. We love them all. They are special and full of promise and beauty here in the orphanage and when they find their forever families.
As I prepare for our upcoming China trip, I am once again working on simple Chinese phrases and characters. I have been doing this for a while and have not been too successful. My husband sent me a lecture from TED talks. I love the online talks from TED, brief lectures on something that you may know nothing about. There is such a wide variety that you can always find something you are interested in. So, this one is about the road to literacy, fluency, reading simple characters and how it begins. I really enjoyed it and wanted to share it with you.
Erin has been a great advocate for waiting children and we are so happy she will be joining us this summer.
“My name is Erin Martin. I am married to Keith and together we parent and homeschool our five children. I have had a heart for adoption for as long as I can remember and can recall stating when I was a young girl that I was going to have a huge family with children from all over the world! The experience of adopting our two youngest children has had a profound impact on our family. We have seen firsthand how love and care can change a child’s life!
I believe that every child deserves a family and that is why I am so excited about the opportunity to join the Superkids summer trip to China. When we adopted our youngest daughter in 2012, we benefited from the evaluations done by Superkids volunteers. We were able to speak with Pat Marcus while we were reviewing our daughter’s file. We later received videos and pictures of our daughter and were able to send pictures of our family to her so that she was better prepared to meet us.
As an advocate for waiting children, I view this trip as an opportunity to be a voice for the children who have no voice, and hands and eyes for the parents who are waiting to welcome a child. I believe that through the efforts of our team, many children can be united with their forever families and many families can be blessed with a wonderful child to call their own!”
We will be posting daily while in China on the Superkids blog, Erin's blog (www.martinsinchina1.blogspot.com) and Darla's blog (wrages.blogspot.com). We are linking our blogs so you can follow our trip preparation. You can donate to the Superkids team on this blog or on Erin's blog using the donate button.
Recently, I spoke about Superkids to a group of children adopted from China. They were part Families of China Children (FCC) Westchester County, New York. I had an hour or so to talk and another hour for the kids to try out my therapy toys and then we did an arts and crafts project together. During my talk, I mentioned waiting children and got a great question from one of the kids. A sweet little girl said to me, "what are they waiting for?". “Hmm and umm”, were my articulate responses. Then I took a breath and said, "their forever families!". This really made me think about waiting children, how the term came to be used for orphan children and what it means. Those of us who travel in country are the ones chronicling the journey of these children. We meet them, and see them once or twice before they go home with a Mom and Dad. Until “gotcha” day we refer to them as waiting children.
A few thoughts on this: they wait for everything. Wait for a caregiver to tell them it's time to get up, wait for breakfast, wait for a diaper to be changed. They wait to be fed, wait for a drink, wait to get washed up, wait for a turn to play with a toy; waiting in every aspect of their life. Responses are not immediate for the children in orphanages. They get used to needs not being met immediately. Most of all they wait for Love; that one Mom and Dad that belongs to them. The people that will Love them unconditionally, forever – a family! All of this is beyond comprehension as they wait in the orphanage. They do not know what it feels like to be in a family. Their lives are a succession of caregivers and different rooms as they grow.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, a family waits. A child is growing in their heart. They wait too.
So, who is good at waiting? No one! Do we show patience in any aspect of our lives? Personally, I am a most impatient person. “Do it now, get it done, just keep at it” are my mantras. While I persevere, I keep hope alive that all my efforts will make a change. I think in many ways that is what waiting children do. Once while visiting with a child in foster care outside of Shanghai, a child who was six going on seven asked me, why did it take so long and why wasn't her family coming to China to get her yet? “Hmmm, umm”, I told her that it would be soon and took a picture for her waiting family. Both waiting for each other, both hopeful. Every child I meet in China is hopeful, as is every family in the process of adopting. It is a quality of the human spirit, to strive forward into the unknown, to wish for what we may not even understand.
Last night, I saw the movie Stuck, in New York City. It really chronicles the difficulties in the process of adopting. It is about how parents and kiddos who wait are both stuck in this process. The movie really got me thinking about waiting, patience and perseverance and the incredible resilience of the human spirit. See the movie, think about waiting children, waiting parents and the whole process of adoption. While thinking, explore what you can commit to to make a positive change. We can all do something!
Superkids is proud to welcome Darla Wrage, MD to the team. We are so happy to have her accompany us to China on our upcoming trip. She brings wonderful skills to assess and improve the quality of life for all the kiddos we meet.
My name is Dr. Darla Wrage and I am thrilled to be a part of the Superkids summer trip. I am a wife, mom of four (soon to be 5) and pediatrician. Kids fill my day, and I love it! I have been practicing medicine for 16 years, and I consider it a privilege to work with families, observing their children grow and develop. I currently practice in Medford, Wisconsin. I have had a heart for adoption for over 13 years. Being a child advocate, I firmly believe that children need a forever family to love and care for them. In 2011, my husband and I brought home our daughter from China. We are currently in the process of adopting our 7 year old son from China and hoping to travel this fall.
During our adoption journey, I recall how we would read and re-read every detail that was written about our future daughter. We never got tired of watching the 17 second video clip or scanning blog posts to see if we could see her in the background of someone else’s pictures. We treasured each piece of information as we tried to develop a picture of her. We know the feeling of receiving a translated Chinese medical summary...and wondering...how accurate is this? What does THAT mean?!
I see my work with Superkids as an opportunity to be the eyes that see, the hands that touch, and the ears that hear these kids so that I can relay my perspective (as a pediatrician AND an adoptive mom!) to families. Will this effort remove all of the uncertainty of an adoption? Absolutely not! But I believe the families will be better equipped to make decisions.
I am excited to evaluate kids in the hopes of connecting them to their forever families. In addition, the opportunity to work with the orphanage staff to ensure the best care possible for these children will hopefully have far reaching effects - changing the children’s life experiences every day that they remain in the care of the CCCWA.