Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Sugar and spice and everything nice...

I know I promised an update with pictures a couple of days ago, but Sunday the boys left for church camp headed to Lake Forest Ranch, and for the past several days have been having problems with our Internet connection, and problems with getting the pictures to send via email. I can't thank Moya enough for persevering through the difficulties and taking the time to continue trying to email the pictures of our sweet Annabella until we got them all! Saturday I was blessed enough to have an opportunity to speak with Moya, a social worker in CO who, along with her 9 year old daughter, had recently visited Annabella's orphanage, and had interacted with Annabella in the Lily Orphan are Center, (LOCC.)

For those of you who have not heard the details of our adoption, let me explain the significance of the LOCC. Our adoption agency, CCAI, (Chinese Children Adoption International,) has helped to set up special rooms in the most impoverished orphanages in China called LOCC. These rooms are staffed with caretakers called "nannies" who have had training on taking care of children with special needs. These nannies, care for the children who have the most severe special needs, and many of these are cleft lip cleft palate kids. CL/CP kids require special feeding and often are under nourished because in a normal orphanage setting there just isn't the personal level of care that is required to help these kids to eat. These rooms provide an atmosphere that is more like a daycare than an orphanage There are bright colors painted on the wall, toys of all types, including ones that light up and make music, and toys that help with motor skill development like puzzles, stacking rings, and blocks. This might sound simple, but the normal orphan in China, does not see a toy, especially one that uses any type of batteries. Toys that light up and make sound, and even a simple stuffed animal will scare children who have never seen such things. A typical orphan stays in their crib all day, only to be taken out, if they are lucky, to be placed into a highchair or walker, (that doesn't move,) to be fed.
This blog post will tear you to pieces, it is a REAL look into international orphans and their plight. Be warned, it is raw, real, true, uncut, and hard to read without being affected.

Annabella has had a completely different beginning than a typical orphan from China because of the LOCC. She has grown up only spending bed and nap time in her crib. She has had music played for her, and sung to her. She has had access to all types of toys, and has been able to learn how to interact with other children and manipulate toys, and gained social skills through these interactions. Because of the life she has had, we can expect her not to be as behind socially, emotionally, physically, and developmentally as the typical orphan. These kids usually have formed bonds with their nannies, and other children in their room, and as such, have an easier time forming bonds with adoptive families. They have experienced feeding themselves, playing with toys of all sizes, and have been able to develop both gross and fine motor skills. They have interacted with the children and nannies and have learned how to behave socially. We are so blessed and know that the hand of God was all over choosing Annabella for us! We have had our share of experience with special needs, having twins born two months premature, but we had been told to prepare for the worst possible scenario in adopting. We had been told we could receive a child that was delayed 4-6 months for every year they spent in an orphanage. That babies at one year old may not even be able to roll over, much less sit up, or hold their heads up. The mere thought of climbing that mountain was so incredibly daunting for us, and we questioned how we would be able to handle such obstacles, and still find time for our three other children, and for each other. God knew just what He was doing though when he matched us up with our daughter. We will still have some delays and things we will have to work on, but on the whole, our daughter is in the BEST possible environment, and has such a head start!

Moya was visiting the LOCC because of a similar program she is involved with that also sets up special care rooms within orphanages and staffs them with knowledgeable people who provide a better standard of care. She shared with me the story of the time she and her daughter spent in the LOCC, and how Annabella had stood out to them. When they went in, the children were seated on stools along one wall. It was their music time and the nanny was "directing" them with hand motions through each song. Annabella was the only one who was mimicking the hand motions that her nanny was making! Moya's daughter had originally attempted to sit along the wall closer to the children, but many were upset by this close "stranger" so she had moved across the room to sit. She crossed her legs as she sat, and soon noticed that Annabella had also crossed her legs. She then crossed them the opposite direction and Annabella quickly followed suit, so she began to stomp her feet, and Annabella did too! After a while, Annabella got up from her stool and went and had a conversation with her nanny. After the conversation, she slowly began to inch closer to Moya's daughter and eventually sat close to her. Every couple of minutes she would jump up and run back to her stool, and then slowly creep back over to Moya's daughter. During the hour they spent in the LOCC, Annabella was the only child who got up from her stool, the only one who interacted on such a level with them, and the only one who was mimicking things around her! Can you imagine how wonderful this story will be to share with her as she grows older? What a gift to have had the opportunity to talk with Moya, and to have this piece of history to share with our daughter! Here are some of the pictures she was able to share with us.
Our beautiful baby girl

Clean up time! (And look at the cutie sitting next to Annabella's stack of stools!)

We've been told she is always helping out and "mothering" the other kids in her room
Hand motions to the songs

More motions, notice the other two kids seem so unaffected?

Playing with Moya's daughter

My sweet Annabella

1 comment:

  1. I am a freind of Moya's and we traveld together to work on our orphan program in March. it was then that we visited LOCC and meet your Annabell. As I type this she, and the other children in her room, are the cover photo for my i-pad. It is always exciting for us to find the familes of the kids we meet and share what we know of the kids. Anaabell is a hoot!!! She will definately be keeping up with her big brothers...probably running the whole show. Look out!!!