It is the morning of September 13th and with it comes an important day to be celebrated in my life. Six years ago I got six babies delivered to my apartment and Starfish Foster Home was born. It has been an experience that has defined my life and has brought to me a legacy of life, love and laughter. As life often is, it has also been filled with pain, incredible struggles and frustration. It takes a lot of commitment not to run when the going gets tough. I have had to learn to absorb the pain and not take offense. I have learned that the struggles make me wise and it helps to me learn how to do things better. So far there has only been one day so far that I could not get out of bed. I lay there for about 3 hours, plotting my escape. I had the perfect plan and place and then I thought about the babies and what was going to happen to them. I thought about taking them with me and realized that would not work. Finally, I got up and went back to work. Giving up is not an option.
I stand as a witness of miracles and what can happen when good people get together help these helpless children. I am so often moved by the generosity of those who donate. The teenagers who give part of their pocket money. The businessmen who give sizable donations. There are those who contribute their time and share their talents. The volunteers who love the babies so much and who help them by spending so much time with them. I am so grateful to the nannies who pour so much of themselves into the well being of the babies. I do not want to take credit for what happens here, I too am just a part of the whole process. I love the synergy of all these combined efforts that result in happy babies living all over the world.
Where there is great LOVE
There are great MIRACLES.
I love hearing from the adoptive families who send updates of our alumni. So many of them are starting preschool and kindergarten. I have heard of little reunions. Just this morning a I heard about three of the Starfish babies getting together over the summer in Europe. I love hearing how their lives are going and how they are progressing. Some families have adopted again and others want a shot at a second Starfish baby. I love learning stories of how Starfish still features in their daily lives. Cute stories of Starfish clothing, Rebecca going to school with her Starfish shirt and her sister Emma also wanting one. Stories of Lily who in an imaginary play session with her mom, talked about living down the road from us.
As especially wonderful and truly amazing return visit made by Jet and her husband Henk with Norah (Rachel) and her older brother Robin. It was so wonderful for the long time nannies to see this and for Xiao Liu who beamed the whole time (She was Norah's nanny). I was so moved by the whole experience of sacrifices the family made to get back to China. The kids ran into the foster home and they were so comfortable being with us. There were so many poignant moments. For me one of the best was the fact that Norah and Robin had such an instant connection with the babies. Robin who has a missing ear bonded with Leo who had two missing ears. Norah who has an incredible ability to focus (she colored for two hours straight) bonded with Grace. Grace is hard to feed and most adults cannot do it and yet Norah sat with her and fed her 2oz of milk. When the nipple came out and Grace did not want to drink she patiently waited for her, gently encouraging her until she drank again. That took about 45 minutes, just so inspiring for a girl who celebrated her 5th birthday with us. In the picture you can see Grace staring at her. I loved the image of one generation helping another generation of Starfish babies. The other thing too, Norah was such a hard baby to take care of when she was young, just like Grace. It amazed me that Norah knew exactly what to do.
The cycle of babies arriving and get healthy, getting surgery and being adopted continue. I have often joked that I wanted to be one of those heroes who saves a plane full of people in an hour. That is not my lot in life. We are all in a 24/7 grind. It is a day after day effort to save the babies and to keep them safe until their parents come. I feel the pressure to take on more babies as the Big O has ballooned from 450 children in 2005 to about 800 now. I wish I could do more to help but there has not been enough donations to do that. The Xian orphanage has started to pay a 600RMB (=/- US$100) monthly stipend towards the children we take care of and for that I am very grateful.
Looking forward to the next year: In a few days we will have a medical team from Australia, to do surgeries for 20 babies. In April 2012, the Dutch medical team will be back for the third year. My flight to the US was rescheduled and I am now leaving October 15 and will be in Utah and Colorado. We are looking forward to adoption about six children before the end of the year, which will include our world famous Jack. He has been at Starfish for 4 of the last 6 years. We are going to miss him very much but I cannot tell you how ready he is to be with a family of his own. As I type this he is singing Happy Birthday to you on the top of his lungs and it sort of reverberates through the enclosed courtyard, echoing everywhere. He has used this as his own private concert stage and the others have learned from him to sing there too.
I am so grateful for the part you have played in help me with the babies. There is no way that I could have done it on my own. I love the power that I have to do what I think is necessary to save the babies lives. What an honor for me to have.
Life, love and laughter,
We are currently preparing for a medical team from Australia to do a medical trip starting September 26th and help 20 babies with cleft lip and palate surgeries.
Starfish Children's Services