In the Fall of 2008 my husband and I travelled to China to adopt our first child, Sunrise. She was four-years-old at the time. When we visited her orphanage a few days after her adoption the staff told us that she had a best friend, Rainbow, and that the girls were very, very close. The staff showed us Rainbow's Half the Sky Memory Book so that we could see pictures of her. We asked if we could meet Rainbow as we knew our daughter would want to see her and say good-bye. Plus, we hoped to take pictures of the girls together. We were told by the Social Welfare Institute staff, though, that Rainbow was at her foster home. We were puzzled by that since our daughter, Sunrise, had lived at the orphanage her entire life.
While we were still in China we had two disposable cameras developed that we had sent to the SWI staff in care packages to our daughter. They had been kind enough to take pictures of Sunrise with her friends from her HTS preschool class. In almost every picture Sunrise and Rainbow were together. In one they even had their arms around each other hugging. When Sunrise saw the photos in our hotel room in China she would point to the pictures of Rainbow and tell us her name over and over. When we looked closely at the pictures we realized Rainbow had cleft hands and feet.
When we returned home from China I contacted our adoption agency, Great Wall China Adoption, to see what we could do to help Rainbow. They checked the shared list at the time and didn't see her listed. I sent them all the information I had on her including the pictures of her from the disposable cameras. Fortunately, I knew her full name and her general age. Plus, I had pictures of her. They were so kind and agreed to keep an eye out for her. In the meantime, I sent an email to every email address I could find on the Half the Sky website. Since the girls were from a HTS orphanage I thought they might be able to help me.
Half the Sky is the most incredible organization. For those of you who are unfamiliar with them, they are a non-profit organization started ten years ago by adoptive families with children from China. They do all sorts of wonderful things to help orphans in China. Anyway, I got an email back from someone at HTS explaining to me that Rainbow had been placed with a foster family in the HTS Family Village Program. Foster parents in the Family Village Program receive a stipend from HTS and in return they agree to foster up to six children with rather significant special needs until the children reach adulthood. It is a permanent foster program for children that the SWI feels won't be adopted. At that time HTS told me that Rainbow was in a good situation with a loving foster family who she would live with throughout her childhood. However, we still worried about Rainbow's longterm future in China. What would her future hold in China with her special needs and orphan status?
By the time I had figured all of this out, we had been home from China with Sunrise for four or five months. However, not a day had gone by that she hadn't mentioned her friend, Rainbow, back in China. In fact, Rainbow was the only person in China Sunrise ever talked about. We were starting to feel a real connection to this little girl. We were very lucky to become sponsors of Rainbow's foster family through HTS. With sponsorship we knew we were helping Rainbow, albeit in a small way. More importantly, though, we knew we would receive photos and updates about Rainbow and her foster siblings twice a year. When the first pictures arrived Sunrise was thrilled, and we were pleased to see Rainbow smiling and having fun with her foster family. Even though Rainbow had a foster family that loved her, we were still concerned about her future in China. The combination of her orphan status and her special need could make life in China very difficult for her.
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