No one could have prepared me for these feeling. No one could have possibly explained how visiting the orphanages where your daughters spent their lives previous to you would change me. Not just change me….gnaw at me…scream at me….wake me up in the middle of the night with a tears in my eyes. The simplest word to describe it is guilt. Here we are back in America living a life that is like heaven compared to those circumstances, and it seems all of us take it for granted. We don’t appreciate how beautiful, extravagant, fruitful, dare I say easy our lives are. We don’t have to worry where our next meal will come from. We know what meat tastes like. Our diet isn’t limited to what is the cheapest, quickest and easiest to prepare, or what someone has donated to us. We know what it feels like to have a family’s unconditional love, support, and bond. We have heat in our homes in the winter and air conditioning in the summer. Our children have toys, clothes, and beds that our theirs. Every child is given an education. We have huge lavish gala’s to celebrate and raise funds for people with Down syndrome, so they can be the best people they can be. Here we can be anything we truly want to be.
For children without a family, there life is covered in a thick haze of grey, and it is hard to see the sun both literally and figuratively. There is no heat or air conditioning in the orphanages. That is a luxury they can not afford. Meals are made for more than 600 children, and must be done so cost effectively and quickly. What few toys there are belong to everyone. Cribs are shared with 1 or 2 other children. Clothes are community property, and most have been donated. Education is something only a few may receive. In Elle’s orphanage there were six floors. We were only able to see one floor. We were told by our guide that the other floors had “unadoptable children”. I asked what would make someone unadoptable because surely everyone deserved the right to have a family and a home. She said those were the children with Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, etc. It is almost impossible to find families for them especially if they are boys. I cried after seeing Elle’s sleeping room, and she was deemed worthy of a chance. Can you imagine what those floors would have looked like? I shutter at the thought. Then there are those that have minor special needs or healthy, and have never been adopted. They will forever have the title of an orphan. A social stigma that will haunt them even once they are able to leave the walls of the orphanage.Once they leave the orphanage the government tells them who and what they will continue to be. Many will become cheap labor in factories, and work 12-14 hour days 7 days a week for the rest of there life.
These children have become silenced, voiceless people. Their only real hope is for someone to open there hearts and their homes, and call them their daughter or son. I am haunted by the faces of the other children I saw in the orphanage. Their sad eyes looking up at us begging to be held, to be loved, to be saved, to be someone, to have a voice. I am guilt ridden by the fact that I took my two beautiful daughters out, and turned my back on all of them still there. How do I continue my life “as usual” when I have seen this level of injustice in the world? These children don’t want perfection. They want to matter. They want to be loved. They want a family. It really is that simple. So what am I to do? Sell everything, and move to China? Do I start a non-profit here that will help fund these orphanages? Maybe I can start a GiGi’s Playhouse in China.;) None of those things seem to really solve the problem. I guess I will continue to tell my story. I will hold my daughters high for the world to see. I will show people that they can do this. I will keep sharing the progress my girls are making. I will ask people to once again to look into their hearts, and find a place for one of these children.
Here we are outside of Mae’s orphanage in Kaifeng.
This is one of the two sleeping rooms we saw in Elle’s orphanage in Luoyang.
Here are two incubators with 4 babies that we saw in Kaifeng orphanage. The smallest baby was so tiny. I would say 2 pounds. These nannies were not only taking care of 35-40 0-2 year olds, but also these tiny babies. Clearly they should be in a hospital NICU, and not an orphanage. I don’t know how these nannies even begin to try to meet all of these kiddos needs.