Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Mother's Love....a wonderful orphanage...part of Sarah's story

The last time we were at A Mother's Love Orphanage it was one of the most heartbreaking times ever! We had Sarah for several days and decided to meet the foster family at the orphanage. We felt pretty good about how Sarah was doing and thought it was an opportunity that we should not miss. Our visit in 2006 was good, but the visit came to an abrupt end. We had no idea why the director ended our visit without a warning. She pulled Sarah from the arms of her foster father and put her in our arms. Sarah was so upset that she screamed and kicked most of the way back to the hotel. She was screaming and crying. I was attempting to comfort her while I cried. It was one of the most heart-wrenching times ever.



Today, the circumstances were so different! We pulled into the street where AML is located. We first stopped at the original location of AML. The building is extremely run down and obviously is not cared for. Sadly, it sits empty. The orphanage could no longer afford the rent so they moved across the street into an apartment building. I think they have several apartments in the building. The old building is dirty beyond imagination and the courtyard which was once neatly landscaped was full of weeds. The old statue was still there as well.

We walked up towards what looked like a typical old apartment building in China. It was probably five stories high and was simply grey concrete. We were greeted by the Director, the same woman that handed Sarah to me in May of 2006. Her first words were, "Xiao Ning looks exactly the same!" We had a great conversation about Sarah and some of the things that interest her. We also talked about the orphanage. AML once used to take special needs children from around Guangxi Province. Not all orphanages were able to process international adoptions so many children were transferred to AML to be adopted. As time has gone on, the other orphanages began to process their own adoptions and the focus of AML changed. AML currently cares for 11-13 children with developmental disabilities. As many of you may know, this population of people have become near and dear to my heart as I serve on staff with Community Employment Services, a branch of Fairfield County Board of Developmental Disabilities. Most of the children currently at AML have several disabilities, cerebral palsy being one of the main disabilities. Sadly, all were abandoned by their families because of their special needs. These children will never know the love of a forever family, but are loved and cared for by the staff of AML. AML is associated with A Mother's Love out of Hong Kong; a Catholic charity. We took a tour of the facility and found the kids getting ready for lunch. This lunch was slightly different as they were preparing it themselves as part of their training to learn skills to one day live on their own. I have one picture of them preparing lunch, but have decided to not post pictures of the children besides this one photo. I told the Director about my work as a Job Developer for adults with developmental disabilities and she jokingly said I could return to help them look for work in the future. We then went into another room where there were jewelry hanging on the wall underneath the photo of the child that made the jewelry. I was blown away with this, because it was their workshop. It was small room, but much good takes place in this little room. It was a touching experience for me because I love to visit the workshop of Fairfield Industries when I am at work. I have included some of the pictures from this little room, a picture of the jewelry I purchased (most will be going to the women I work with because I know it will have so much meaning to them as it does to me), and a picture of the mission statement of the workshop. Here is what the statements says, "Mother's Love Xin Xiang Workshop. We are the children who living and growing up at Mather's Love. The artware in our workshop are finished with our own hands, it is a stage for us to learn how to be self-supporting, and to find ourselves a new field. When we find ourselves finished a work with a deep concentration, we feel so much love and satisfaction, meanwhile our concentration and functional coordination between eyes and hands can be trained too. We expect more supports and applauds for our beginning. The earning from our sales of work would be helpful for replenishing the materials of the handicrafts and useful for our lives. Welcome to our workshop. Thank you so much for your generous supports and participation and we also hope you can enjoy our handicrafts." I have purchased a lot of things in my three trips to China. I've purchased pearls, jade, artwork, silk, etc. The ten bracelets I purchased today are probably the most valuable of purchases I have ever made from China….no doubt! I am proud of AML and the fact that my little girl has a connection to a place that is doing much good!

After the tour of the facility we went into the director's office where we were given the opportunity to view Sarah's file. We found out MORE information to "her story." Sarah actually came to AML on July 19, 2004 when she was only 12 days old! She stayed in the old facility until she was four months old. It was at that time that she was placed in the home of her foster family. We got to look at a few more pictures and even saw pictures of Tom and I in her file. At this time the director presented both Lily and Sarah with a doll representing one of the minority people groups of Guangxi Province. At the end of our visit we got to talk with one of the newer staff members who is originally from Fujian Province, but lived in New York City for 25 years. I would like to write more about our conversation, but this isn't the time or place. Let's just say that we have MUCH in common with this man!

We ended our visit talking more about Sarah and expressed our gratitude for AML for caring for her until we were able to get her. We then let them know that we will continue to pray for AML and the chilren that make their home there. We then left A Mother's Love. In 2006 it was with kicking and screaming. Today, she skipped down the walkway holding a precious doll.



Old AML
 
Old AML
 
New AML
 
Sarah in front of the sign on AML

Sarah and the Director

Orphanage Kids cooking

Workshop Jewelry

Workshop Mission Statement

Jewelry

Sarah with her doll


Sarah with a photo of her in her younger days. 





5 comments:

  1. Hello, I have been following your journey with interest! I adopted my son from AML in March 2006, your daughter and my son (Jin Zhen Yong) were probably together. He had been there since late 2003 (transferred from another orphanage). I have many photos of a going away party they had for Andrew and your daughter looks familiar. I will see if she is in any of the photos and if she is, I will send them to you.

    Your story of AML and it's present condition has brought me to tears. I didn't get a chance to visit in 2006 because the director (she hasn't changed at all!) thought that my son was grieving too much for his foster family. WE had a very rough hand-over. I still keep in touch with the foster family.

    I am so HAPPY you posted about the kids and their little workshop. I wonder if there is a way I could write to the director and purchase some of the items. My son was in AML's special needs preschool and I am forever grateful for the work they do there.

    Thanks again for the wonderful posts about AML and Nanning. You've given me a precious gift! We are planning a return trip in a year or two.

    Blessings for a safe and happy trip.

    Kelly

    ReplyDelete
  2. Kathy,
    Your pictures brought tears to my eyes! I remember how beautiful the court yard was when we were there. I can't wait to hear about your trip. Let's plan a day after you get home and rested to meet up and share.
    KELLY, from the above post, I don't know how to get in touch with you but my daughter was at ML from 5/05 until we met her on 6/06. Maybe she was also with your son. My email address is Mom24Gr8Kidz@yahoo.com .
    Thank you again Kathy for posting such wonderful and insightful thoughts and for the pictures. I am counting the days until I go back!
    Tina

    ReplyDelete
  3. Such a precious journey you are on:)

    ReplyDelete
  4. I live in Nanning and went to the orphanage today at 256 chang gang road and they moved
    does anyone have a current address. I am looking to help My email is RFOC@MSN.COM
    Thanks
    Bob

    ReplyDelete
  5. My son was adopted from AML in 2004 (Yang LeJian). He was just about to turn 6 years old. I remember "Kit" and my son's foster mom/social worker Dongmei. Sad to hear that they are so much smaller and not at the same location. I'm sure my son will be very sad as well. Thanks for sharing the adventure.
    Toni T.

    ReplyDelete