Monday, January 01, 2007

Looking back at 2006

You might not know, but I spend most of my time at home with the babies. I am so sure that it comes as no big surprise. So you can imagine just how stunned I am at the fact that the story of what happens in my house seems to have spread far and wide. I get letters from people in Australia, Cyprus, Portugal, Holland, Canada, Japan and South Africa. That does not even include the majority of mail that I get from the US.

I thought I would write and tell you about some of the wonderful things that have happened this year. I think that the power of one to combine with others to form a force to be reckoned with, has been made so clear to me. I am so grateful for people who have been moved to help the babies in anyway they can and so I thought I would share some stories with you.

• The thought that two of my babies now have families of their own is so wonderful. Laura Joan and Amanda are living lives with a mom and a dad and siblings. We are still waiting for Nina and Jonas' families to come and get them which means that I achieved one of the goals I made for 2006. For people who have not adopted, you have no idea the amount of time, effort and patience that is required to go the distance. I am so grateful for all the families who decide to expand their families by adoption and I have so much respect for them. To Bonnie and Andy for the courage to try again.
• Jeannie Butler, has walked most of this road with me. I met her a few weeks after I started the foster home and what a blessing she has been to me and the babies. She has been the one who has made the babies look good. She has sent so many boxes to us, filled with the most beautiful clothes and things I did not even know I needed. She does that not only for me but for eight other orphanages! So if you ever know anyone traveling to China and would like to help Jeannie has a box for you to drop off at a post office here.
• In October 2006, I was rather desperate to get money together for the three heart surgeries I wanted to do in Hangzhou. I needed US$4000 and I asked everyone to donate US$10 a piece. I was so thrilled to hear that the amount rose to a whopping US$10 000. Not only did we finish those three surgeries, but there is still enough left to do more. I loved hearing the individual stories of sending money. Julia, a student, had been a volunteer her and after she went back to the US she contacted her family and friends and raised funds without me knowing it. When the time came, she made a sizable contribution to the heart fund. It was especially sweet because Benjamin is her favorite and he got the first stage of his heart surgery done.
• As you might know Conny came to visit us. She lives on one of the Canary Islands off the cost of Spain, called Tenerife ( It is a miracle that she found me. She was in Beijing studying Chinese and a friend of hers had a friend in Xian who had seen me on TV. I get this call from a Chinese woman and she asks if Conny can come and volunteer. Conny fell in love with the babies almost immediately. After she spent a few weeks here with me, she went home and quietly started her fundraising project. She was so nervous because she had never done anything like this before. She made Christmas cards, had a car boot (trunk for those who did not understand) sale, organized a walk and went to her daughter's school. From time to time she would write and tell me about what was going on and in spite of her reservations, she did a fabulous job and raised a substantial amount of money, more than 4000 Euros. So here is my thanks to all the people of Tenerife who have been so willing to open up the hearts to the babies.
• Joanne comes from Ireland and had been coming quiet regularly to help with the babies while she was teaching in Xian. I knew that after some traveling around India and Thailand she was going to be home for Christmas. I got a call to say she asked people in her church to donate and that way she raised more than 1700 pounds.
• We have been the focus of two eagle scout projects. Earlier in the year Trey helped to make scrapbooks for the babies and a huge scrapbook of all of them as a record for the foster home. What a labor intensive job that was!!! I have given his scrapbooks to both adoptive families. More recently Richard decided to collect clothing from his neighborhood to send to us for his project. He single handed quadrupled our library and double our shoe collection and added some clothes to our selection and the boxes are still coming. The babies need a wardrobe mistress!
• What would I do without the desire and willingness of medical staff to share their skills and their time? I am so incredibly grateful to them for coming to China and helping the babies. My favorite man in China: Dr Li whom I trust so much, I have put four babies hearts in his hands and will add more this year and Dr Tan in the SICU who takes such excellent care of them post op. To the Children of China Pediatric foundation ( ) who did Jonas and Laura surgeries and Love with out Boundaries ( ) who repaired Michael, Gabriel and Sarah lips and who were the ones who introduced me to Dr Li and still help me with anything that I need. These foundations have so many goals but they do transform children's lives and to help make life more fair for abandoned babies in China. To Julia who did so much in trying to get Susan operation organized. You all have my utmost respect and gratitude!!!
• Thank you to Hands of Hope Medical Foundation who have been so helpful in forwarding 100% of the donations made in the US and making sure you got tax certificates and thank you letters.
• To all the people who donated so much scrapbook supplies and making scrapbooks because they agree that keeping a life history for the babies is vital for their future well being. Thank you Creating Keepsakes for featuring us in one of their issues (2006 Special Issue Our Top Ten.)
• I am surrounded by so many volunteers who so willing share their time. It makes my job so much easier and allows me to be able to expose the babies to so much love. The volunteers are made up of families and singles, Chinese and foreigners and when the doorbell rings I do not know who is one the other side of the door. Volunteers who ask for nothing in return and but for an opportunity to love the babies. I cannot go without thanking Kay and by extension Will, who did more than I could ever have asked. They dealt with some really tough issues and I am so grateful to have you. To Laura Shang who made this foster home possible and who works with the Big O and helps me navigate the maze of government regulations and thus allows the babies to get adopted. She is a bridge between the two of us and that is often a really difficult task.
• Being in China makes it difficult to always communicate effectively, but I am so grateful for the nannies and watching them love the children as if they were their own is a marvelous thing to see. They have mourned with me and laughed with me this past year. They have also gone through the bittersweet experience of adoption and is as eager as I am to know what is happening with the babies in the US. They are so willing to spend extra time at the hospital taking care of the babies often sleeping there.
• I am so impressed with people who came to visit and then went home and made donations like Jerry and Portia, Amy and Mike. To the Wright family children in the US who decided to forgo their presents so that their Mom and Dad could celebrate Christmas with the babies in China . To a letter I got from Beth who jumped at the chance when her husband offered to help a cleft surgery. To the boxes sent by Collette, Margo, Nan, Rosalbo. To Sarah, Nina and Betty who brought so many more things that I asked for from the US for us. To all the families who are so willingly help me when I go on a medical trip the Wootans, Lambs, Wadleys and the Schaumann's. To Angel who is getting busy collecting donations right now. There are so many stories so share that and I have mentioned just a few. You are my all my ambassadors as you share with others the experiences that you have had and help spread the story of the babies.

I love the contributions large and small that people make. The boxes that arrive with gifts, the donations and the time that is spent, that combine together to help me take care of the babies. I love the letters that I get with stories of creating new families, letters of encouragement and offers of help. I am so blessed to get this opportunity to make a difference in the life of a child. This is not a job for the weak and those who scare easily. It was taken more effort, tenacity and intelligence that I could ever have imagined. It has made me grow in areas that I never thought possible.....medical, fundraising, accounting and marketing to name a few. The need to find each babies way of being taken care of and soothed. Add to that the ability to watch a video over and over and over again and still be able to sing the song with enthusiasm!!!

In spite of all of that, I get to watch miracles on a daily basis. I get to see how love can make a difference because people love God and their fellowman, so they willingly share the bounties that they have been given of time, skills and money with these children. I can tell you that I know that Heavenly Father is so aware of what the babies needs and He meets those needs through people like you. Thank you for being moved into action!

With love, laughter and gratitude,
Amanda and the 14 opportunities to love under my roof, with the promise of more in 2007


Hou Lei said...

Conny,my best international friend,has a big heart.She did the hard jobs on her charity walk,and make a happiness to the chinese babies.I love her more every day.

catbertie said...

May you continue to be blessed during 2007. May the babies have great health- and you too!! It's a privledge to pray for you daily.....

The Carmodys said...

Wow - you've had quite the year. Isn't it amazing how God works? He is awesome! Happy New Year - may God continue to bless you and those precious little ones in your care.


Mom-of-5 said...

What a great year. Here's to 2007 being just as amazing !

Beth said...

Thank you for all the work you do and for blessing us all. We love you in Texas! Beth, Dave and Grace