Adoptee Trip Reflections 2017
Adoptee Facilitator One Sky / China’s Children International Summer Volunteer Trip 2017
It surprised me to see how fast the time flew while on this trip. I was a bit nervous knowing that my position on this program was different, and because I had such special experience last year I couldn’t even imagine another trip being just as good as or better than the first. But, as always, I went into the experience open-minded.
The first morning we all met in the lobby, introduced ourselves and walked over to the Chunhui China Care Home. We were all engaging in small talk and honestly, were unsure about how to act or what to say to each other. Once, arrived in the home, Maya and I reassured and introduced the home to the rest of the girls in the group. We told them that it will be an emotional roller-coaster with these children, but the best thing that we can contribute is our love and support. We changed and walked up stairs and scattered into different rooms. We rejoined for lunch and sat around a round table, in silence. This was our first official meal together, as a group, as a family. It was a bit uncomfortable, but there was also a sense of an unspoken sense of comfort because we, as adoptees, did not have to explain our story to each other. Maya and I started a discussion, but we both had the goal of not having the discussions “forced”, we wanted them to come naturally with each other. We knew that the girls were not going to open up right away, and that with time we will become more comfortable, but we just wanted to provide the type out a template of the discussions that we were about to experience throughout the program. After explaining the reasons why the program is discussion based, the energy in the room changed.
All people are individual. For this trip, some girls opened up right away, and for some it took a few days, but by the end of the trip, it felt like we all have known each other for years. Together, we were honest and true. We all brought together different ideas and experiences, but then found a common ground within the differences that we had. We were able to relate and process with each other’s ideas, preconceived notions about adoption and our blended identity. We made each other feel safe and not alone. As a group we are able to understand each other at a level that nobody else can. We make each other feel fully accepted, we do not feel different with each other and we were able to feel a tremendous sense of comfort.
This trip provided me and others with insight on where we came from, how we identify and a perspective on life that at least for me have not seen.
I feel humbled that I was able to lead a beautiful group of 7 adoptees from around the world. The friendships made on this trip last a lifetime, a lifetime full of understanding, love and pride.
By the end of the program we all wished we could stay together, and be together and not go home. But we all promised each other, that we, each and every one of us, are always a phone call away, a text and a flight away. As a community and family, we stand by each other every second of the day, seven days a week.
Thank you girls for making this experience unforgettable, and one that I think about everyday. Thank you for being honest, thank you for being yourselves.
Adoptee Facilitator One Sky / China’s Children International Summer Volunteer Trip 2017
The time I have spent in China not only with the children at the China Care Home but also with all of the other adoptees has been incredible and I’m so grateful I was able to co-facilitate this trip because I think it is a life-changing and memorable experience.
The China Care Home is an incredibly special place, filled with love, smiles and laughter. It is a place where children from all over can receive surgeries that otherwise would not be funded by their orphanages. The Care Home is not an orphanage but rather a place the children can stay pre- and post- surgery.
During this trip’s session there were around 30 or so children staying at the Care Home with several children off at different hospitals to receive their surgeries. The children staying at the Care Home range in age; the youngest being a few months old to the oldest who was 11.
In this adoptee trip there were 9 young women ages 16-22 including myself. The purpose of this trip was to allow adoptees to volunteer with the children at the China Care Home and have discussions about certain aspects of adoption and how it affects our daily lives. All of these young women were adopted from various provinces within China and currently live all around the United States and myself from New Zealand.
The moment I walked into the pre-schoolers’ room they were busy playing hide and seek, and so I soon joined in to play and that’s when I first saw her. She was wearing this camouflage shirt with green pants, and a cheeky smile on her face. I knew we were going to become great friends.
Ke Xin was a friendly girl, that very quickly took a liking to me like I had towards her and we were together from then on. Our friendship only blossomed from then on. Over the next few days I saw the routine the teachers had in place for the children in preschool.
During the morning classes they would have introductions to the day and do roll call by having the student of the week sing a song with the teacher asking where each child was. “Ke Xin, Ke Xin where are you” and she would point at herself and say “I’m right here, I’m right here” Then they would have story time where they were able to read their books or the teacher would read one to them. Then it was activity time which was mostly going outside to the playground near the China Care Home.
Ke Xin loved to go outside and was fascinated with the bugs she saw. She would go over to the dirt areas or bush, find them and pick them up by their antennae and carry them around showing them to the teacher and the other children. One day there was a beetle that had been squished and was dead. There were a lot of ants surrounding it and she was intrigued watching them carefully and asking her teacher many questions about what had happened.
The other children loved to go on the merry-go-round so while Ke Xin was off bug hunting I would sometimes join the other children and push them on the merry-go-round. Sometimes she’d run over and want to join too. They liked to go fast and it made them laugh and smile so much. If it wasn’t going fast enough one of the boys would ask me to push it faster. It was definitely a favorite among most of the children.
After being outside the children would come in line up outside of the bathroom and wash their hands. Once everyone had washed their hands would they head back into the classroom to wait patiently for their snack. Usually this was slices of peach although one day it was a tomato but they all enjoyed it regardless of what it was. Then it was time to have a drink, clean up and read a book or do some crafts before the children were dismissed from class and would head back to their rooms with their nannies and have a nap.
Being 4 years old Ke Xin liked to be independent and show off to her teachers about her abilities. The kids would be working on crafts sticking beads or the shells of peanuts on a picture the teacher had drawn for them and she would say “老师，老师！你看，你看我”(Teacher, teacher, look at me) as she stuck the beads onto the picture. They would praise her and if I tried to help she would tell me off saying “我自己来！”(I can do it myself!) pushing my hands away.
The afternoon classes were very similar to the morning classes except if it was hot outside sometimes they would stay inside instead and play games or with toys. One of the toys they had was a robot that could sing, dance and move around. This was a favorite among the children at preschool. They were fully entertained by this “magic” that a toy could move by itself. Although a few were scared of the toy they refused to leave the room because they were still curious about the robot.
On day 4 when I walked into the preschool classroom I noticed a boy that had joined the class that hadn’t been there the first few days. I asked if he was new but turns out he had just come back from having some check ups and scans at the hospital and his name was Zi Ping.
The first few minutes I could tell he was a bit of an obnoxious little boy. Zi Ping was sitting with the 11-year-old in the room and would play fight with him when they were supposed to be sitting down quietly and listening to the teachers. They were told off several times and had to be separated from each other. He was told to sit next to me and the next few minutes he still wasn’t listening to the teacher but instead watching me instead, while picking his nose which was a terrible habit of his.
Over the rest of the week, he also took a liking to me like Ke Xin and would come over and sit on my lap when he was supposed to be sitting in his chair, or try and bring a book over for me to read which unfortunately I couldn’t read as it was the one book they had that didn’t have the pinyin over the characters so I had to encourage him to read another book.
When it was the weekend and there were no classes I went up to the room I knew Ke Xin stayed in and low and behold Zi Ping was also in that room. There was also another little girl I met in that room called Wei Wei. She was only 1 and a bit and such an adorable and calm little girl that I instantly fell in love with. She would crawl across the mat playing with toys, sit upright and move around to the music the Nannies had playing and they would tell her to dance.
However, I didn’t get to play with her very long as that day Ke Xin and Zi Ping were being troublemakers and were fighting over who would get to play with a certain set of toys so I went over to help out. Zi Ping finally gave up trying to get Ke Xin to share with him though and when the Nannies or I asked her to share with him she wouldn’t listen. So Zi Ping came over and sat down on my lap, he was the calmest I’d ever seen him but he kept getting up at times to do or look at something then come back and sit back down on my lap.
Ke Xin was suddenly not interested in the toys and wasn’t too happy that he was sitting on my lap so she came over to sit down on me too. She would stand on my leg though and I would pull her down so that she was sitting and there was less weight on me. But being the cheeky little girl she is she would try to stand on me over and over. To the point that the two of them were told off by their Nannies for both being on me because they were both older than the other children in the room and heavier and I couldn’t move with both of them on me.
From that moment on I had two fellow friends Ke Xin and Zi Ping, and when one was busy doing something the other would come play with me. Although the two themselves weren’t the best of friends they were reasonably civil to each other but at times they were both cheeky. And that was how I met both of these beautiful and charming children no matter how obnoxious they could be at times.
All of the kids at the Care Home have a soft spot in my heart. This has been my third time back to the China Care Home and I have treasured each and every experience. I loved playing and spending time with the children and it was incredible seeing their smiles, hearing their laughs and voices. I hope everything turns out well for all of the children at the China Care Home, they deserve the best.
The close friendships I have made with the other 6 wonderful young women will always be with me and I know we will stay in touch. This has been an incredible experience that has each time taught me a lot about myself and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute I spent with the adoptees and the children at the China Care Home.