This is Charlotte. She is 21 years old and is about 4 feet tall. Most days are the same for Charlotte. She wakes up and goes to spend her day in the room across the hall. In this room, she’ll eat her meals, go to the bathroom, and just sit. She spends long parts of the day sitting on a bucket or children’s portable potty, because her bladder has never learned how to hold in her pee. She cannot speak, but she can make sounds and she can also hear what is being said around her. Sometimes she seems to comprehend what is being said, but at other times she seems not to. Walking is also a daily struggle for her. She is unable to fully use her knees, so she needs support while walking. When we come to visit she greatly enjoys someone helping her to take a walk outside of the room.
When taking a look into Charlotte’s eyes, you can tell there is a world going on in there. It makes one wonder at what her thoughts might be. She sometimes laughs at her reflection in the mirror and has a look of dismay when the children in the room make a mess. If she could speak, what would she say? How much is she aware of? How much does she understand? She is often overlooked. Being 21 in a room filled with children much younger than herself, she tends to be one of the last people noticed in the room.
She loves any opportunity to get a breath of fresh air. When I first started coming to the orphanage, one of the members of our team (sometimes me, sometimes others), would help her walk around the facilities and a little outside. She would get the biggest smile on her face to just be out of that room! Over the past couple of months, we have begun helping her use a walker. There was a walker already available for her, but the nannies hadn’t taken it out because they said she had not shown much interest in it before. We discovered this was due to her lack of training on how to use the walker. Within the first attempt of teaching her how to use it, she was able to go down the halls! She had difficulty going straight and turning where she wanted, but after only a few more tries she had it! She has begun being able to lower herself down to the toilet and is working on getting up on her own. There is a small ramp to go outside. At the moment, this ramp is a bit scary for her, but her motivation to enjoy the outdoors has pushed her to try. We are helping her work on ways to get up and down in a way that is comfortable for her. Her smile is now even bigger, when we come to visit! We are hoping the nannies will continue to help her use the walker when we are not there. The ability to just go where she wants, is such a big gift for her.
The part of her story that is the hardest for me is to think, how could her life have been different if she had had intervention at a younger age? Would she be able to speak? Would she be able to walk unassisted? Would she be able to feed herself and not spend hours upon hours on the toilet? These are questions that we will never know the answer to. Unfortunately, we cannot go back in time. Our hope is to continue to help her grow in independence. All we can do at this point is help her quality of life to greatly increase.
There are many children we serve in this orphanage who need intervention. People to come in to spend time helping them grow in communication skills, play, fine motor skills, and many other areas. The earlier a child can receive intervention the better their lives will be. They will have more opportunities for a life of their choosing. They will be better understood by those around them, especially the nannies that work with them every day. With such high ratios of children to nanny, the nannies are not able to provide this high level of care. They are doing what they can to take care of each child’s physical needs. These children are surviving not thriving. Charlotte has been left in a state of survival. Hope Station’s heart is to see these precious ones receive the care they need to thrive. Our goal is to help these nannies find ways to provide for these children’s needs in all areas. They are the ones that can be daily champions for each child in the orphanage.
Upon meeting Lincoln, we had an immediate connection. My husband and I fell in love with him from the first meeting. Every visit would begin with a 10-minute cuddle session with me, and a followed playtime with my husband. We have both loved building a relationship with this little guy. Whenever we would walk into the room, Lincoln knew who we were. He would reach for me right away and look jealous if I picked up another baby before picking him up.
A big part of me wanted to bring him home as our son, but we did not have peace about bringing him home. We then began praying God would provide a family for him soon! We could see every time we came his little spirit grew sadder. It broke my heart every time we had to leave. He would look up at me and give me a cry as I left the room. His crying became more and more frantic. He had a harder time laughing and smiling. Whenever we did get a sweet laugh from his lips we cherished the sound. With all this going on, we hoped a family would soon come.
Lincoln came to the orphanage carrying a sickness he had been given by his mother. He had syphilis. We aren’t sure what happened to his parents, but we know his syphilis was a big part of him coming to the orphanage. There is a cure for babies born with syphilis, but the treatment is expensive and many families are not able to afford this type of treatment. Lincoln would be bound to the orphanage until his treatment was finished.
Thankfully, that treatment came to an end in these past months. He is now a healthy boy and has no signs of further damage from the syphilis. With the completion of his treatment, a wonderful surprise came this month! A local Chinese family will be welcoming Lincoln into their home!
The day we found out, we entered the baby room as we normally do and began interacting with the babies in the room. Then a group of people with the orphanage director came to the doorway. A woman came in and headed straight to Lincoln. She reached out to pick him up and he lifted his arms to allow her to do so. We soon found out that this woman and her husband were adopting Lincoln. They both spent a lot of time with him that day, and I could see Lincoln was very happy! He is only 1, so I don’t know how aware he is about the world around him. Since, meeting this couple though, Lincoln has been a happier child. It’s as if, he knows he is about to finally go home!
Lincoln will go to his new home very soon. His parents are still going through the final steps, but they have been officially matched to him. Please be praying for Lincoln and this family. Pray that he enters into his new routine with ease. Pray that he can quickly bond to both his new mom and dad. Please lift up this entire family, that they can come to know Him and know His love for them.
Children that grow up in orphanages go through enormous challenges. They often suffer from language delays, attachments disorders, and a host of many other struggles. There are children who fold under the struggle and there are others who come out victorious. Just over a year old, Noah has already gone through heart surgery and abandonment, a little soul who has already experienced so much hardship. His tiny chest bears a large scar. How do you expect his personality to be at this point? Guarded? Closed off to the world? Will he be able to rise to the challenges around him or fold under the pressure?
When I met Noah, I was surprised by his joy and determination for life. I met Noah last November, when he still couldn’t crawl. That didn’t seem to slow him down any. He could move around the floor quicker than the older boys running across the floor. When he began to crawl, man was he everywhere! He was in all of the drawers and any space he could fit into. He also has a contagious giggle. A belly tickle can fill the room with his sweet laughter. He is always ready to play and interact with any of the adults in our team.
Stephanie (Rommen) Li
"Every child needs to be loved in gigantic quantities and with unbelievable quality."