Back to Where She Once Belonged Part I
All Adoption Stories
Back to Where She Once Belonged, Part III: The Orphanage
I still dream at night about the babies and children we saw at Alenah’s Home.
Tucked snugly away amongst a series of other traditional Beijing hutong houses, sunny, well-scrubbed and cozy Alenah’s is home to about 20 orphaned babies and children with special medical needs.
There’s the baby girl with big, serious eyes and a rosebud mouth. She has a congenital heart condition and needs surgery, and all she wants is for someone to hold her and sing to her. (Juliet did — for about three hours!)
And then there’s the six-year-old boy who is paralyzed from the waist down from a previous surgery to repair the meningocele he was born with. Certain that others will reject him, this clever boy puts up a defensive front whenever approached. But if you show him you are really interested in him, he opens up like the sun coming out from behind the clouds.
These children and more come to Alenah’s from orphanages and other sites throughout China to receive expert medical care available in the capital city.
But just as badly as they need medical care (surgeries, medicine, therapy), they need love — and lots of it. And they get it at the home, which is staffed by 14 gentle, caring “ayis” (the Chinese word for “auntie” or “caregiver”) and a series of loving volunteers.
Alenah’s is run by Children’s Hope International, the wonderful adoption agency that brought Juliet into our lives. (CHI is headquartered in St. Louis in the US and in Beijing in China.) Melody Zhang (Zhang Wen) is the director of Alenah’s and of the Beijing Office of Children’s Hope there. Deeply committed to children’s rights, Melody and her team at Alenah’s have managed to care for more than 70 of these children since the home opened in 2004, and 20 of them have been adopted.
Juliet and I fell in love with the children there and are looking for ways to help them. We would love to be able to return next summer and spend a few weeks helping the caretakers.
Check back tomorrow as Lisa and Juliet share with with us Juliet's return to her orphanage, Changshu Social Welfare Institute.
More about Alenah's Home on RainbowKids:
Back to Where She Once Belonged blog post first appeared in the blog Don't We Look Alike? Straight Talk from Mother and Daughter by Adoption, July 2013
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