Archive for September, 2016
In yesterday’s blog, I asked the girls questions about how they were told about their upcoming adoption and what they thought adoption was. I also asked them two more questions that I saved for today. What kept them going and did anyone treat them special?
Jasmine’s story is so complex and full of pain and trauma that is beyond anything any child should have to endure. She has allowed me to share, and she herself has shared on her blog – Flower That Blooms, some of the least traumatic events that have happened to her. If you have read any of her story, just let that soak in for awhile – these are the least traumatic events. If you have been moved by her stories, just remember there is so much more that she has endured, things that bring tears to my eyes just thinking about them, her body holds the scars of that abuse and even more so her heart, and still she is a light in the world.
What kept her going? When the nannies were offering to help her die on numerous occasions, why didn’t she take that path? She sat alone in a corner all day long. She wasn’t allowed to join the kids for meals or school because those happened on a different floor. She was ridiculed and made to feel like a burden. So when her time was running out and she didn’t think a family was coming and she knew the horror of what was to come, why didn’t she end her life?
She told me she never chose that path because she felt a presence that she couldn’t explain. She felt like her life had purpose, that there was something she was supposed to do. She never understood it, but she knew she should not take her life. I have been told by someone who met Jasmine while she was in the orphanage that there was a light about her, that she exuded something good.
This just blows my mind. I’m not sure I would have been that strong. I’m not sure I would have kept my cheerful, hopeful personality facing all those adversities.
Did anyone have compassion for you? She told me that she remembers a better time with her grandma before she was unable to move. Things were better when she was younger, she could still sit unassisted and still move a bit. As her ability to move slowly faded, she became more of a “burden”. At the age of 5, she was left alone while everyone went to work. She was moved to the alleyway when family gatherings happened because no one wanted to be bothered by the child who was “cursed” with a disability. She was allowed to go to school for a little while until everyone complained about her being there. She was spit on and shunned by everyone. She remembers a little girl who moved in next door who stopped in to talk to her in the alleyway sometimes. When this little girl’s parents realized she was talking to “the cripple”, they moved (or at least that was what Jasmine was told). These are the stories she shares and yet still she is still compassionate and filled with joy.
She says no one in the orphanage was kind to her. Whenever anyone lifted her they complained about how heavy she was and what a burden it was to care for her. Whenever anyone brought her her meal, they complained about bringing food from another floor and having to go out of their way for her. When others visited the orphanage, the nannies were charming in front of the guests. Those days were special and good, because for a little while she would be treated kindly. She wishes she could tell stories of someone who truly made her feel special, but she isn’t able to.
Jasmine has lived through unthinkable trauma and yet she is a compassionate fighter who wants more than anything to change the lives for other children in need. She was able to live through the worst and hope for the best, for this reason and 1,000 more she will forever by my hero.
I asked Elyse the same questions. What kept her going? She says she was happy in foster care because she didn’t know any better. She thought she was treated well in China until she came here and felt the true love of a family and even the acceptance and compassion of complete strangers. The realization that she was treated so badly for so many years has been difficult and the anger is palpable.
Elyse’s “love language” is touch. A hug and kiss and snuggle and Elyse is in her happy place. She didn’t have that in China – quite the opposite. Harsh words and harsh physical contact. She thought she deserved it.
She said she kept going because that is “just what life was”. That is all she ever knew and it seemed okay at the time. The little ones kept her going. She said she enjoyed feeding and caring for the little kids, especially the babies and toddlers. While older kids were allowed to play outside on the playground, she played inside with the little children. Caring for the little ones gave her life purpose and kept her going.
Did anyone treat you special? She said her foster grandma loved her. She knows that now although she was angry at her after she first came home to us and realized that her grandma didn’t protect her from the abuse that was happening. She has now come to grips with those feelings. She knows that her grandma probably did the best she could, in the position she was in, and tried to show love.
The orphanage was different. Elyse was a burden. She was told this over and over again. No one wanted to change her. No one wanted to help her move. No one was truly kind. They just did their jobs and let her know how hard it was to care for her. Elyse says there were a couple girls that she was friends with and together they tried to make life more bearable.
Elyse says she loves life. I can see that about Elyse. She is a fighter. She is outspoken. She is full of love and has a bright spirit. Elyse knows what is right and fights for it. She is competitive and full of drive. She wants to change the world as much as Jasmine does but in her own way. She will always be my hero for her feisty, spunky, full of love ways.
JJ is still pretty quiet and I am very careful to not push her for answers she is not ready to give. I gave her the option of doing this with Jasmine and Elyse. She asked Elyse and Jasmine why they did it. Elyse and Jasmine both told her that the reason they decided to blog was that it would let others know what it was like for them as orphans. JJ said she wanted to help to.
What kept you going? She said nothing did. I told her that I had seen pictures of her smiling when she was very little. I asked her what changed. The last pictures we got of her were so sad. You could see the sadness in her eyes. I asked her why she was so sad and her soft whisper brought me to my knees. She looked me in the eyes and said, “I almost gived up mama!”
JJ was separated from everyone. She was in the hospital side of the orphanage. She had no friends. She wasn’t allowed to go anywhere. She wasn’t allowed a wheelchair. She was isolated, alone, and afraid. I told her I saw pictures of her at a table with other kids and she confirmed what Jasmine said – that it was all show for when people visited. She lived for those days.
Was anyone kind to her? She said no one was. I can believe it because when they handed her off to us on the day we visited the orphanage, their comments made Dan and I cringe. It was like they were happy to be getting rid of her and relived to not do her cares anymore. It was awful. JJ was so sad.
She said they often told her she was bad. They would “forget” to feed her. They said she was smelly and none of the adults wanted to be around her.
JJ is tough. She stands up for what she believes in. You should see her now. I am so proud of my little girl for fighting and holding on until we got there. She deserves a super hero cape of her own.
There are many people who tell me this wasn’t the reality for their children in the orphanage. I say thank goodness. But this is my girls’ reality. I know there is a pecking order in these orphanages. Even among the children if you can not walk, you are looked down upon. If you are incontinent, it adds a whole other layer of disgust from others. There are many factors – province, directors, nannies, disability, the list goes on and on. We are sharing their story to show one side of what happens. To open eyes and to help others understand that an institution is not a family. It never will be family. Children need families.
“A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” – Christopher Reeve
Maybe your home could use a superhero too! 🙂
A friend asked me if the girls had ever talked about what they were told before being adopted, what they thought adoption would be like, and how they feel about it now. The girls often talk about how they felt before being adopted, how they felt when we met in China, how they felt when they first came home, and how they feel now, but I’ve never put in my blog. I am going to pose these questions to Jasmine, age 17 – adopted at age 14, Elyse, age 10 – adopted at age 9, Jessica, age 8 – adopted age 8 and write their answers below.
What were you told by the nannies about adoption before you were adopted?
Jasmine – Adoption means you get a daddy and a mama. They won’t do anything for you. They will tell you to do lots of hard stuff like cooking, cleaning, dig dirt. You have to be very good. If you are not good, then they will sell you. The other people will buy you and you will have to do even harder work or they will send you back to China. If you come back to China, they will treat you like a pig because you are so fat and covered with hair.
Elyse – The nannies said that Americans have so much money. They will give you whatever you want. They told me it would be great and I should be happy to get to go to America where everyone has lots of stuff.
Jessica – The nannies say I will have so much money and my parents can buy me so many toys and stuff that I want.
What did you think adoption/having a family would be like?
Jasmine – I had a grandma who cared for me until I was 8. I sort of knew what a family meant. I thought I would work hard for the family and maybe they would love me a little bit and be proud of me just a little bit because I helped them. I just wanted to have a family so I didn’t have to just sit with old people in an institution.
Elyse – I was in foster care so I knew what it was like having a family. I thought the people would like me and I would work hard for them. I thought that the family could help me be able to walk. The nannies tell me that if I can walk and have babies, then maybe someone will love me and I will have great worth. Before when I see people come to adopt children, I saw great love but I am not really sure what love is but I think that is what I see.
Jessica – I don’t know what family is. I was scared because I don’t know what family means but I really want a mama and daddy. (When I asked her how she knew what a mama and daddy were, she said that she didn’t know. It was much like a story that she hoped was true. Elyse said she meant a fairytale.)
When and how did they tell you that you had a family coming to adopt you?
Jasmine – The boss came in one day and he said “You have a family adopting you. They really like you. In a couple months, they will come get you.” The nannies all cheered because they wouldn’t have to take care of me any more. They drank beer and celebrated by eating really good food because I would be leaving. The big kids and the nannies laughed and said, “You are so fat. We should cook you and eat you.” I was upstairs by myself and they took a picture of the party and brought it up to me. I almost cried but I was just happy that I had a family coming to get me. I had almost given up that anyone would come. Anything had to be better than this. The nannies often offered to help me die. I didn’t want to die. Family had to be better.
Elyse – The helper of the boss said that I had a family come in a couple days, but it was a very long time that I wait. She said you will have good family. She showed me pictures. She said there is a lot of people in your family. Other people say it must be an orphanage or a foster home that I am going to. After I get home, it was a long time before I realized my family was a family and not a foster home.
Jessica – A girl who is the boss of everything tells me that I have a family coming. They said that she was so happy that I can go to America. They were happy that they don’t have to take care of me anymore because I am not good girl and do stuff that is not good and they are tired of taking care of me.
What did the caregivers say the day you got adopted?
Jasmine – The nannies said I had to be very good or mama and daddy would send me back. The nannies told me that mama and daddy wouldn’t want me when they saw I couldn’t walk so I had to be extra good. They told me that if I didn’t get adopted that I would go to the old people place where I can’t have wheelchair. I would just have to sit on the floor with the crazy old people. No one would feed me and I would die.
Elyse – They told me that today is the day you can meet your family. You will get to walk when you get to America. They tell me that I have to call them. One girl said that the family would be good to me. I was very scared. I kept wondering what this family be like.
Jessica – They got all my stuff together and they said I was going goodbye. They told me they would see me later. I was very, very scared.
What did you think when you first met your mom and dad?
Jasmine – Daddy is so tall and mama has curly, yellow hair. Mama is so pretty. I had never seen American people. Mama and daddy were so nice. They acted like they cared about me. They let me pick what I wanted to eat. I had KFC and Coke. I couldn’t believe they let me pick my food. They let me have two glasses of pop. I wonder why they be so good to me?
It was so funny to be hugged. I don’t know what a hug is. Mama took my arms and put them around her. I really, really liked to be hugged but it was weird at first. Mama and daddy said over and over again, “WoAiNi”. In China you only say, “I love you” if you are dating or married, but mama and daddy say it over and over again. Mama and daddy seem so happy to be with me. I can hardly believe it.
Elyse – (Dad wasn’t able to travel on this trip.) I thought my mama was Stephanie’s mom. When I found out that she wasn’t grandma but mama I was upset because I don’t want an overweight mama. (Elyse is crying as she says this because it upsets her so that she judged me by China standards.) In China I was told that being overweight was bad and we made fun of people who were fat. Mama hug me and say “WoAiNi” and I don’t understand what those things are. I don’t know love but mama show me love. By the night, I wanted mama to sleep with me because I was scared to be by myself.
Jessica – I thought daddy was so tall. I was so afraid. Mama held me and I like it but I am was afraid to like it. I don’t remember some stuff because I was so afraid.
What did you think about America when you first got here?
Jasmine – Americans eat really weird food like burritos and sandwiches. They use a fork and knife to eat their food. I only use chopstick in China. But I like to use a fork because it is so easy. I can drink as much as I want. In China, I can only have two little glasses of water a day because the nannies don’t want to take me to the bathroom, but in America I can drink more.
I never knew people could drive. It was so weird to drive around in the car. I thought the only people who had cars drove taxi. Mama and daddy had change in the front of their car in the cupholder so I thought daddy was a taxi driver, but I didn’t understand because daddy said he was a doctor.
Elyse – There is so much food and I have lots of sisters and brothers. I have lots of clothes and toys. In orphanage, I never get to pick my clothes but now I have my own. I liked most of the food and I was so happy that they have corn, fish and lots of fruit. I came home right at Christmas time and it was crazy. I don’t know what Christmas means. It was fun with family and presents and laughing. Daddy let me fall asleep on his lap. Daddy tell me that Christmas is about God’s birthday. I didn’t understand what God means. Family treat me really good and I am really happy and I really like it.
Jessica – I do not like America food. I like the house. I did not want to be around anyone except Grace and Elyse in my room. I was so scared all the time. Everyone is so much bigger than me. I feel like I don’t deserve stuff or that people will not like me.
What do you think about adoption now?
Jasmine (home 3 1/2 years) – I think adoption is a great thing. I like my big family. I have a really big family and lots of people to love me. Having a big family is fun. We can have big parties. I am so happy that I was adopted. Everything the nannies told me before being adopted was a lie. Now I can live my life and figure out my purpose. I want to help many, many kids get adopted.
Elyse (home 1 1/2 years) – I like adoption. I wish all kids could get adopted and see how it feels to be loved. Before I meet my sisters and brothers I don’t know what it will be like but I am so happy that I have family to play with and have a mommy and daddy. Family is so very good. I think family treat me really good. They always hug me and kiss me. I can not walk but they tell me I can do anything. I wish I could tell all kids to not be scared about adoption. It is a very good thing. I hope people will understand how scared the kids are.
Jessica (home 6 months) – I like family. I like be loved. I like that no one tells me I’m smelly or bad or that they don’t want to help me. Mama never be mad that she has to help with my tube or pick me up or help change me. Mama never say I am smelly. Mama and daddy say I am beautiful and smart and sweet. I like the way I feel inside when mama and daddy hug me. I like that mama carry me places. Adoption is good.
- Chinese Children Adoption International
- Hats for Gracie
- Love Without Boundaries
- New Hope Foundation China
- Show Hope
- China 2013
- China 2014
- China 2016
- Congenital Heart Defect
- Evangeline Faith
- Family Life
- Food for Thought Friday
- Jasmine (Shuang Shuang)
- Jasmine's Dream
- Lainey Rae
- Love Without Boundaries
- Making a difference
- Muscular Dystrophy
- Orphan Care
- Thoughts to ponder