• Mama, you can love more!

    Date: 2013.11.19 | Category: Jasmine (Shuang Shuang) | Tags:

    Those are the words that Jasmine said to me one evening as we were getting ready for bed.  I was curious as to how I could love more and asked her about it.  Jasmine then informed me that “Yes, you can love more sisters.”  This brought a smile to my face and being curious I asked her, “How many more sisters could I love Jasmine?”  Oh, two mei mei and two jie jie mama.  I have room my room.”  I smiled at her, loving her for her big heart and said, “Could we wait until the kids’ surgeries are done Jasmine? Could we take some time and pray about it?”. To which she replied, “Oh yes mama, I pray.”

    This story very accurately shows Jasmine’s heart.  From the moment we got her, it has been almost all smiles.  Her smile lights up the room.  We worried about her because she didn’t seem to be sad about leaving the orphanage.  Shouldn’t she have been sad about leaving her friends? The language barrier makes it difficult to figure out what she was really feeling so we worried we might be missing something.  Jasmine was told by the orphanage workers and even our guides to be a good girl, to not make any problems, to be happy, to not be naughty, etc.  Over and over again people said these words to her.  We actually made it a point to have the guide tell her that no matter what happened we would love her.  No matter how sick she got, no matter how naughty she was, no matter what….we would always love her and she would always have a home.

    While in China, we asked our many different guides to ask her if she had any questions for us.  Over and over again she would shake her head no. Dan and I were curious as to why she didn’t question anything.  We’d ask her if she wanted to know about our house or our family and she would just say “No!”.  It wasn’t until the very last day that she said she had a question.  We knew it was going to be a tough question because as soon as Jasmine asked it our guide started to cry.  Jasmine’s question was “Can anyone take me from my family when we get to America?”  That is the only question she had.  We wondered why she would ask that?  What had happened when she was 7?  Did her family abandon her?  Did an elder family member decide she was cursed, take her, and leave her somewhere?  Did they abandon her for medical reasons?

    Imagine being almost 14 years old, completely unable to care for yourself, and trusting this family, whom you’ve just met, to take you to another country.  I can’t even imagine.  Jasmine had to trust us for everything right from the beginning.  Cassie and I carried her to the restroom.  We had to help her completely with all her cares.   Try to picture that.  One day you are with your friends and all that you have known for the past 6 years and the next day you are in a hotel room with total strangers, trusting them for food and for care.  You can’t just run away if things are bad.  You don’t speak their language.  You spend every moment relying on these strangers.  They carry you every where.  They pick your food.  They dress you.  They bathe you.  You can not even sit up in bed without their help.  You are at their mercy.

    Yet, Jasmine has always had that smile on her face.  Jasmine understands silly which was a good thing.  Cassie and I do silly very well.  We sang in the bathroom.  We danced.  We did whatever we could to make it silly and not uncomfortable.  We used a hodgepodge of Mandarin, English, signs, and over-exaggerated faces and hand movements to communicate.  Yet, she went along with everything. She sang when she could.  She danced. She would just look at you and smile that 100 watt smile.  All the awkward I had feared never came to be.

    Jasmine was extremely quiet.  She didn’t make any loud noises.  She hung her head when we were in public.  Although, I had wanted to take her shopping and out to the park while we were in China, we ended up spending most of our time in the hotel room.  It was just so hard to take her anywhere and not just because things weren’t handicapped accessible.  Many of the people in China look at disabilities as a curse.  They stare.  They come right up into your space and will say things to you.  We would be eating meals and people would just shout stuff at her and she would hang her head.  Whenever we were waiting for the van, we would build a wall of people around her to protect her, people came over and just stared, sometimes for 20 or more minutes and still, she smiled.

    I couldn’t wait to bring her to America where she might be stared at, but people would not treat her like an outcast.  Cassie took her to Village Inn for her first meal out and the lady wanted to know what Jasmine wanted to drink.  The waitress got down at Jasmine’s level and Jasmine lowered her head.  The lady asked her if she wanted water, juice or milk.  Cassie said Jasmine’s face just lit up.  She raised her head and got the biggest smile on her face.  That was the beginning of her understanding that things were going to be different.

    Jasmine shares a room with Gracie.  They have become very good friends.  I find them huddled under the covers at midnight watching Chinese soap operas on You-tube.  They communicate with Google translate, and a hodgepodge of all the other languages used in this house.  Gracie and Jasmine have gotten very good at communicating with each other.  Jasmine has opened up and started sharing things with Gracie.

    Things like:

    My mama and my baba (bio parents) didn’t love me, but my mama and my daddy (Dan and I) love me very much!   On Facebook I posted this story and wrote that her parents didn’t like her.  Dan asked me why I wrote like instead of love.  I thought about it for a long time and realized it was just too hurtful to put those words on paper.  What child should ever believe that their parents don’t love them?  How is that even possible?

    My parents started to not like me when I was about Mei Mei’s age.   When she was a toddler, she understood that her parents had an issue with her for some reason.   She probably started getting clumsy and losing motor skills around that time.  As I’ve said before, it’s hard enough being a girl in China, but being a disabled girl is a bigger issue yet.

    I don’t want to be sick like nana.  We know that Jasmine must understand in her heart that what she has isn’t fixable.   She cries and doesn’t want to be ill like my mom who has spent the last 45 days in the hospital.

    My friends and I used to sneak the little ones into our bed when they were scared at night.  Jasmine shared a room with two of her friends.  We asked about them but they are not available for adoption.  I think this story shows how Jasmine and her two friends were the big sisters of the orphanage caring for the little ones. (On a brighter note, we just received notice that the “little girl in pink” that I wrote about when we traveled to China is now being adopted.)  Jasmine talked of hiding the little ones in her bed when it stormed.  Jasmine is a very good big sister and I know she was loved by many of the little ones in the orphanage.

    My friends and I were often hungry.  We would get food two times a day.

    I shared before the story of how we brought a summer outfit and a fall outfit along with a light coat for every one of the children in Jasmine’s orphanage.  When we showed her, she asked if we could go back to her orphanage and hand out the clothing.  We drove the five hours from our hotel to her orphanage just so she could do this and it was wonderful.  It was like Christmas morning.  Jasmine handed out clothing to all the little kids and she had a great time.

    Jasmine is a sweet, sweet girl.  I keep waiting for those usual teenage behaviors but so far they haven’t shown up.  Jasmine has, however, cried.  I remember thinking that was a huge step forward.  She didn’t feel like she needed to keep up this facade.  She trusted us enough to let her guard down and let her emotions show.

    The times she has cried have broken my heart though.

    She cried, sobbing tears, when we were at her eye appointment.  They were showing her letters on the screen and she was so proud of herself.  All of a sudden, she didn’t know a letter.  They handed her a card with the letter H and three other letters and asked her to point to the right one.  She didn’t know and she cried.  When we asked her why she was upset, she said, “I was scared because I didn’t know the letter.”  I don’t know what has happened in her life that would bring sobbing tears from not knowing a letter but it can’t be good.

    She cried when we took her to get fitted for her wheelchair.  They were discussing needing a tilt mechanism on the chair and the doctor said, “for when she gets worse…”  Jasmine understood that and cried.  I think she knows in her heart that it isn’t going to go away, but I hate taking that dream from her.  How do you explain to this child that she will progressively get worse.  That she will lose more and more motor control.  That someday she will die from this disease.  I hate this.

    We went to China thinking she had a cyst on her back that made her a paraplegic.  We thought we were going to go get a teenager and teach her as much as we could, send her to college and watch her live these big, grand dreams that she couldn’t live in China.  Instead we will slowly watch her die.  I hate that, but I hate the thought of her spending her last days in an institution even more. I hate the thought of her being alone even more.  I’m not angry that we didn’t know her diagnosis because truth be told, I most likely would have said no and Jasmine deserves the love of a family.

    She cried when she told Gracie that her friends are often hungry.  Which brings me to a big part of why I am writing this post.  Love Without Boundaries just started a nutrition program at Jasmine’s orphanage.  We were excited to see this and we have started sending a monthly amount of $100 to help out.  This brought the biggest smile to her face.  Then Gracie asked what if we did the same thing for Jasmine that we did for her during Lent?  What if we could show Jasmine how much she has raised to help her friends?  If Jasmine’s story or her smile has touched your heart, won’t you consider sending any amount to this fund.  We asked LWB set up an account, much like Gracie’s, so she can watch the amount go up.  We want her to feel like she is doing something tangible to help her friends.

    Please won’t you consider helping Jasmine raise money to feed her friends.  Our goal is to match the $100 per month that we have already pledged for a total of $1,200 raised during the next 6 weeks. We have been assured that this would be a huge help to the orphanage.  The links are listed below.  Thank you in advance for praying about this need.

    Jasmine’s Fundraising Event

    or you can donate through PayPal

    PayPal link for Jasmine’s Fundraiser