Saturday, November 8, 2008

Tuesday Tell All

So I know it's not Tuesday, but a good topic anyway. I checked the Tuesday tell all blog that has ended, but a couple of readers took it upon themselves to keep the weekly fun going. Their most recent question was "Tell us about the last book you read."

The last book I read was "Silent Tears, A Journey of Hope in a Chinese orphanage" by Kay Bratt. It is her journal of her experience of living in China and her volunteerism in the Chinese Welfare Services (orphanages). I know that a great many families adopting from China have read and are reading this book and there will be many different opinions, but here is my take:

I have never read a book that had me so riveted to the story. I could not put it down. I'm not sure if it was because I am adopting from China or if the story was just that compelling. She talks about her move to China for her husband's new job. She talks about the change and how difficult it is in China. Once her life seems to smooth out a bit she starts to volunteer at a Chinese orphanage.

At first it is all she can do to return to the orphanage the next day. The things she sees the first day in the orphanage make her sad and disgusted at the way the babies are treated. The story moves on to describe how she tries to help the babies by giving them extra time to eat, rubbing their backs, talking with them and comforting them. She starts to notice some change in the babies. Some of the babies she is able to help, even finding them an adoptive home. Other babies die, some suffer pain and agony. She gets move involved trying to get people to donate money for special surgeries in which the babies will die without them. She sees many heartwarming and courageous children which often gives her hope, but she has very painful experiences that leave her thinking that she won't go back to the orphanage the next day.

Knowing that my child is coming from China makes this story all the more real to me. I know that things have changed for the better in China, but I also know how poor and desperate some orphanages are. I will never know if my baby will be subjected to the treatment that was talked about in this book. All I can do is hope and pray. Pray my child doesn't suffer as much, isn't as cold and that she doesn't go without food. My most fervent wish is that my daughter doesn't cry silent tears as most of the children do.

An excerpt from the journal:

November 4, 2003

"When I arrived today and headed for my special baby, Squirt, I found his little bed empty and all his blankets gone. A dreadful feeling washed over me. I didn't want to ask; I was afraid to know and I was afraid not to know. My hands began to shake. I glanced around and caught the workers turning from me. I could tell from their downcast, guilty expressions that it was bad news. My eyes finally met Xiao Annie's and then I knew. She made the sign over her eyes to indicate someone had died.

I stumbled over to the small stools we sit on while holding the babies. My legs lost all strength as I lowered myself and covered my face with my hands. Mercifully, no one tried to patronize me by attempting words of comfort. I was in shock. I couldn't understand. Three days ago, Squirt had been fine; he was not sick, and he was eating with a hearty appetite. I was certain he was going to make it. Every time I fed him, I stared into his eyes and willed him to survive. Sure, he looked like a shriveled up old man, but it seemed his hunger to live was sustaining him and helping him to become stronger each week.

Squirt is gone. He never had the chance to get well and to have a family. I can't stop thinking of his last moments. I wasn't there for him.

I wasn't there. I did not get to hold him as he left this world. He had to die alone. I wasn't there. I can't do this anymore.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tales from the "Rat Children" Series

So....I'm what I call at "rat child." My family (sister's) completely know and understand what this means and now so does the hubs. I can easily call myself a "rat" child and have no problem whatsoever with it. Let me explain. I grew up in the late 70's and 80's. I did not have what you would call an "overprotective" mom. Mom was an English/Literature teacher and taught school until she started having us. I know mom had read ton's and ton's of children's literature as she had many of those books out for us to read. They had wild, romantic, whimsical stories of child play and imagination and fanciful things. Mom wanted us to grow up just like that...taking in the world and delighting in our imaginations. She wanted us to have adventures just like Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn and Alice in Wonderful. Little did she know what that turned into...

We did have adventures, many, many adventures. I'm just not sure that they were exactly as she had pictured them. I, being the eldest of 4 girls always had something on my mind. Some purpose to our play, and I was perfectly please to invoke the rights of my age and command my sisters to be actors in my...ahem...well thought out adventures.

So back to the "rat child" description. I use the term "rat child" to describe me, so don't take offense if you were this type of child as well. You can choose not to call yourself any names, and that is just fine with me. A "rat child" is a kid that is pretty much told to go outside, entertain yourself and come back for lunch and return for dinner. We found all kinds of adventures through the stuff we found and had available to us outdoors. (Not in the winter mind you, but during spring, summer and part of fall.)

Here is the first of many of my "rat stories" to come.

I'll call this one "Swimming Pool Slime"

It was a sunny day during a month and a year I don't remember. We (my two younger sister's) and I were all hot and put on our swimming suits. Maybe it was too early in the year to have a little swimming pool or maybe we just didn't have one. I don't remember and it really doesn't matter anyway. My little sis's Lori and Karen wanted to go for a swim. We were tired of just turning on the hose (because I mostly held the hose the most and would squirt them down over and over again). I always had a great time playing with the hose...I don't know why they didn't.

Anyway it was the day after garbage day and I suddenly had a great idea. I grabbed our metal garbage cans and drug them into the back yard. I pulled the hose as far as it would go and started to fill the trash cans up with water. By the time the trash can's had filled up almost all the way the water was actually getting warm because the can's had been sitting in the sun and they were now blistering hot. When the task was done. I picked up my younger sister Karen and plopped her in one of the cans. Lori was old enough that she got into her can without help. As they were sitting in the warm water I came closer and I saw things floating in the cans...old paper, some vegetable peelings etc. Then came the stink. We all knew that the garbage cans held garbage but for some reason that never came into play in my thoughts. When I smelled the stink and saw the garbage I grabbed my nose and ran. I remember looking back over my shoulder and seeing my two sisters in the garbage cans up to their arms and neck with this look of horror frozen on their faces. I'm sorry about this part, but I just can't seem to remember what happened after that. All I know is that they still talk about this today and I always hear my name being tossed about as being the mean older sister. I might have actually felt bad at the time I did it, but now we all laugh and laugh at the stuff I got them to do as well as the fact that they did it every time.

That's all for now, but tune in as more of the "rat child" stories will be discussed.