Sunday, July 19, 2009

Starfish Foster Home Connection

You may have noticed the Starfish Foster Home widget I added to my blog last week. I have asked my friend, Branda, to share her connection with the foster home. After you read her story, click on the widget title so you can see the amazing work that is being done and the sweet faces that are in need of a home.

While Michael and I were waiting for our referral from China, we (okay I) did a lot of surfing on the internet. I was fascinated with reading other parents blogs about their “Gotcha” day, their time in China, and any opinion or story I could find on China. My friend Julia sent me a link to the Chinese Starfish blog and I began reading. This lady is KNOWN throughout the adoption community. Well, fast forward to November 2007 in Xi’an China. It is customary to “get” your children at the Civil Affairs office of your child’s particular province. We were surprised when we landed in Xi’an on Sunday and were told to be expecting our son in less than 2 hours at our hotel and a day early!! YIKES!! We were so scared, nervous, know all of those same feelings right before you give birth. We went down to the lobby of the hotel and there was our baby waiting for us. The orphanage directors said here he is and it is time to eat. No bottle, no formula (China’s bottle and formula are very different) and no idea what to feed our little one. We tried to get him to eat many, many times. We held him this way and that way to no avail. We even let Kaden and Madeline try to feed him just to get him to eat but nothing worked. The next morning he still would not take our formula and our son was weak and hungry. By the time we met at the Civil Affairs office to finalize the adoption, he had gone a full 24 hours without eating. There were several families getting their children that day and the office was a little crazy. Several of the toddlers were screaming and crying about these strange people called mama and dada. A lady walked over to us and asked us how things were going. I told her our son wouldn’t eat and I didn’t know what to do. How silly does that sound coming from someone who has two kids already? She turned to one of her nannies and within a minute there was a hot steaming bottle waiting for our son. When I say hot I mean HOT!! John would sweat after each bottle because it is customary in China to give babies hot bottles. (If you went a boiled a pot of water, poured it in a cup and drank it THAT would be how hot it was. Many babies in the orphanages get burned because the water is so hot. ) We gave him the bottle and he gulped it down in less than 5 minutes and fell fast asleep. She became my new best friend in an instant ;) She handed me her phone number and her name and once I recognized who it was I about fell over. Here she was, the Chinese Starfish lady!!!Okay so maybe I was a little goofy over the whole situation but I wasn’t about to let an opportunity pass like this. I called her once we made it back to our hotel and asked her if I could come visit her foster home. She was so sweet to say yes and offer to take us around Xi’an and show us the city. We did end up in her foster home and it was crazy chaos but it was so full of love and lots of hands to hold those sweet babies and toddlers. She offered us anything to help make our stay better and even let me cook enchiladas in her tiny kitchen to soothe the kid’s homesickness. Since we left 1 ½ years ago we have kept in touch via Skype and email. Since bringing John home I have always wanted to go back to China. The longer John is in our life the more I desire to go back to help the little ones that have been left behind. The ones who will
never have a mother to hold them, to sing to them or to rub their little faces at night. The ones who watch all of their friends get adopted and wonder why doesn’t anyone want me? Can you imagine that? I can try but it doesn’t come close to how these children feel. Since Amanda’s orphanage is not run by the government (or funded) she takes any and all volunteers to help. There are people from all over the world that visit her foster home and stays for weeks to several months to help out around the orphanage. Just recently she added a cleft healing home specifically for children born with cleft lip/ cleft palate. This is the most common birth defect in China due to their diets being poor in certain nutrients. Being born with a cleft palate or lip is almost an instant guarantee you will end up in an orphanage. The vast majority of families do not have the money to pay for their child to have their palate or lip repaired and to have a child with a birth defect is considered a bad thing. Almost all babies born with any sort of birth defect, cleft lip, palate, club foot, birthmark,
spina bifida, congenital heart disease, ear malformations, and so on are abandoned. These babies are the ones Amanda goes looking for. She visits the Xi’an city orphanage which houses 500-600 children and smaller surrounding orphanages looking for the worst of the worst babies to bring them to her home and give them life saving surgery and prepare the paperwork for them to be adopted. Amanda works tirelessly for these children. So I am going back to help. Really in any way I can. If I need to wash clothes or cook meals for a week then that is what I will do. My friend Julia and I are raising funds for surgeries for the babies. Amanda said she has one little girl that has a big surgery coming up and she is scrambling to find the funds right now. The more money she has, the more babies she can bring to her foster home and the more surgeries she can fund to save lives. The healthier the children, the greater the chance of being adopted and brought home to a mom and dad to love them forever. Can you imagine?


  1. Thanks so much for sharing that awesome story, Keelie. I love it. If you haven't been able to, read George Mueller's biography. It's similar in his work with Orphans as you may already know....a fabulous and challenging bio. Blessings and the Christmas in July theme you have going!

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