It is always a little weird celebrating Christmas in China, but in many ways it highlights the very simple message in such a profound way. I cannot celebrate this time of year in the most traditional way, but having the children has to be the sweetest message that there is to share as we celebrate the birth of Christ. It is such a great example of how the spirit of Christmas is around all through the year. There is no way that I could EVER have managed the babies on my own and so my gifts are given throughout the year as so many combine their efforts, talents and time to help take care of the babies. I am grateful for the many who so generously donate their money which enables us at Starfish to do our best to save babies lives. I have said this before and I will say it again: I appreciate you all for trusting me enough to send your hard earned dollars across the world. I absolutely love knowing that when I see a need, I have the financial backing to bring a baby to Starfish and offer so much hope for the future. I would be heartbroken if we were unable to help. So, you can see that I get to see Faith in action as we follow the admonition to take care of the orphans.
This year we celebrated our fourth anniversary. It was a wild year! We doubled our numbers (24 to 48!), and started another apartment. You have no idea how scary that was. I was not sure that we would have enough money for all of that, but knew that 9 little people needed help in the worst way. Talk about having faith...stepping into the unknown! Not only did we get enough financial support for them in 3 months, the donations were enough for ALL the children on the first floor! It was a huge change going from one apartment to two and we became busier that before. I had not thought that was possible. My days start early and are so crazy. I subscribe to the motto: Early to bed, early to rise, work like hell and advertise.
This year we did 23 surgeries. The best part of that is that we only paid for two cleft lip surgeries from Starfish funds. The rest were all donated. I am so grateful to all the medical volunteers and the medical staff at the hospitals in China for their help. The babies receive excellent care and I am so grateful for that. This year I have not traveled much with the babies to the hospitals as in previous years, but now have a nanny that goes with them. I have stayed at the foster home more helping to keep the boat afloat.
We also have seven adoptions this year, bringing the total to 23. Two babies went to France and five to the US. We have another two babies who are matched and whom we expect to be adopted in January 2010, starting the year off with a bang. In the meantime, we are working on many dossiers for adoption. Ten files are at the CCAA and another 21 are at the orphanage, and then there are another 13 at the foster home. I imagine that we will have many adoptions in 2010. We miss the babies, but is does allow the opportunity to bring more babies to Starfish. We are always happy to see how they thrive with their new families and what ambassadors they become for what we do at Starfish.
Before the end of this year we are going to take care of baby number 100 and 101. They are in Hong Kong undergoing Spina Bifida surgery and will return to Starfish soon. I am honored to have had the opportunity to take care of all of the babies. It is impossible to save every one, and there are some really sad times here at the foster home. All of it is part and parcel of the experience and of life. I know there are so many people who pray for us and I can tell you how much I "feel" those prayers!
I am looking forward to many new projects in 2010. The biggest and most important to me will be finding a hospital where we can do surgeries. There are some medical teams that want to come to Xian and help the babies and I am so eager to help facilitate this. I am going to be traveling again this coming year and already have two trips organized. The first will be to Holland, the land of my forefathers, in March for a fundraiser and the second to New York in June. I have been joking that more than 300 years ago the Dutch went to South Africa as settlers and I am doing my best to repay them by sending our little Starfish settlers over there. It is about time I pay them back.
I appreciate your support and your love. I consider myself extremely blessed, and even though this is a great responsibility, I do not want to be doing anything else. Thank you for helping me to live my dream as I thought it would be impossible to open a foster home in China. I guess I still had to learn the life lesson that with God nothing is impossible.
Life, Love and Laughter,
Starfish Children's Services
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