Monday, April 25, 2016

Featured Volunteer Group: Mazenod College

This past week, Little Flower’s baby home was filled with student volunteers from Mazenod College in Australia. A group of 9 young men, accompanied by two teachers, came to Beijing for a week-long service trip. For most, this was their first trip to China and their first experience with abandoned children. Like many others, they came anxious to help and left deeply impacted by the children they interacted with.

Here are some of the highlights:

Little Rui looks comfy, doesn’t he?

Can you guess how many balls I can hold at one time?

After a fun morning, Lei is fast asleep.

Little Yu was a bit confused with all the tall boys around…he kept looking up instead of at the camera!

Did someone say it is time for lunch?!

We are so grateful to these young men for sharing their time and talents with the little ones at Little Flower.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

April 2016 Featured Child: Jia

This month, we are featuring Jia, a 12-year-old girl from Little Flower’s Group Home #5. She arrived at Little Flower in April 2014 and has been diagnosed with a lower extremity impairment.

Our Group Homes are a place for school age disabled orphans to grow up in a loving family environment and Jia figured this out quickly. Within days of her arrival, Jia started calling her foster-father ‘Baba.’ In the photo below you can see Jia and her foster dad are enjoying some quality father-daughter time together:

Jia is the oldest of five children in her group foster home.  As the oldest child, Jia helps her foster mom around the house and with the younger kids as well.  On weekends when she is not at school, Jia even helps her mom change the younger sibling’s diapers, all without being asked!

Before Jia came to Little Flower (just before she turned 11) she had never attended school.  Now Jia attends the Chunmiao Learning Center.  Her foster mom remembers the day she came home and wrote her name on a piece of paper. Jia was so proud of her accomplishment and so was her mother!  Every day after school, Jia loves to tell her foster mom about everything that happened at school. She follows her mom around the house recounting what every teacher said and what she learned.  Here are some of her accomplishments from school:

Jia is almost 13 now, and it has been wonderful to watch her blossom in her foster family.  Like most girls her age, she loves wearing new clothes and dressing up.  When she was in the orphanage she had to keep her hair cut short, but now it’s grown much longer and she loves to have her mother fix it in braids and other fancy styles.  We are so glad that Jia is part of our group home project, growing strong, healthy and more beautiful every day, able to attend school, and most important, knowing the love of a family.

Friday, March 4, 2016

March 2016 Featured Child: Xiao

For March, our featured child is Xiao. Little Xiao is a real miracle. He was abandoned as a newborn infant in August of 2014 with multiple problems, including a heart defect, anal atresia and spina bifida. Within the first 12 days of his life, he had two intestinal surgeries that both failed. After the second surgery failed, the local surgeons decided to give up.  He was sent to Little Flower for hospice care.

When this beautiful little boy arrived at our home we discussed the various options for treatment.  We could not bring ourselves give up and let him die because of a simple, correctable defect, so we transferred him to Beijing so that surgeons could try to repair the damage from the first two surgeries.   During that surgery he was diagnosed with short bowel syndrome.  We knew that meant a very long road for this little guy, but hoped that he might beat the odds.

Because of the failed surgeries, much of his intestine had been removed; this made it nearly impossible for him to absorb nutrition.  The doctors tried many, many things to help him, including various feeding pumps, numerous types of specialized infant formula (and even donor milk) as well as parenteral nutrition.  He was discharged from the hospital over and over, but repeatedly needed to be re-admitted with dehydration and serious infection.  He was not able to gain any weight and as hard as we were fighting, we just weren’t sure he would be able to pull through. His hospital bills were growing and it was getting harder and harder to raise funds for this little boy whose prognosis was so poor.

Finally, a very special donor agreed to help him and we were able to admit him to the hospital for long term care and specialized feeding. We hoped that if his remaining intestines had a chance to rest for a prolonged period, perhaps they would be able to recover. It took him a few weeks to stabilize, and then slowly he started to gain weight.   When he was 10 months old he had another surgery to close his colostomy.  This little fighter was not going to give up!  However, it still took another 5 months for his intestines to heal enough for him to wean off the parenteral feeding.  Gradually, he began to get his nutrition from his bottle and baby food.

After 10 long months of hospitalization, Xiao returned home a changed boy! He is now very stable and able to eat just like the other babies.   He sits up, crawls, and babbles – he has a lot to say!   He still needs surgery for his spina bifida and possibly for his heart condition, but we are SO glad that his gastrointestinal issues are finally under control.  We are grateful to the doctors who were willing to take a chance on this “hopeless” little guy and worked so hard to provide the medical care that he needed to survive.

Little Xiao’s adoption file has been completed and we are hoping that his family will find him soon.  

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

February 2016 Featured Child : Shun

As February is American Heart Month, we have chosen to highlight one of our heart babies for this month. Little Shun came to us last October as a 3 week old baby. He was born with a complex heart defect and when he first came to us he only weighed 3 lbs. 9 oz. (1610 g). Since he was so tiny, our focus was to stabilize him and help him get big enough for surgery.

Because of his size and his heart defect, little Shun needed tube feedings to help him gain weight. Gradually he was able to take more of his feedings from the bottle and we were able to stop using the feeding tube.

Shun loves all the attention he gets by his caregivers and he loves falling asleep in one of their arms. In just a short time, we started to see Shun get bigger.  He is a great example of how we care for premature babies at the Little Flower infant care home. Premature babies are some of the most fragile babies in our care. They require constant monitoring to help them maintain a stable body temperature, develop healthy lungs, put on weight, and steadily grow stronger day by day.

As more time passed, Shun continued to grow. He now weighs over 10 lbs. (4.57kg). Look at how different he looks below!

Now that Shun is bigger and stable, he is ready for his heart surgery which is planned for later this month. We hope Shun will find his forever family soon.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Special thanks to the volunteer team from Killester College!

Every year we have several Australian student groups come to Little Flower to volunteer. This month we were joined by a group of young women from Killester College.  They were brave enough to leave their warm summer weather and brave the freezing temperatures of northern China!

The volunteer team

Many of them had previous experience taking care of babies. Even the girls who didn’t have a lot of child care experience did an amazing job in our baby home.

A sweet smile warms many hearts.

Look, we found another cool way to have fun!

Little Ke, who often doesn’t feel well due to his chemotherapy treatment, enjoys having someone cuddle him and play with him.

Little Xiao and his friend found a warm, sunny spot to play near the window.


Sweet dreams, little Yu!

Working with abandoned children is always an emotional, life changing experience.  During goodbyes on the last day of service it’s often the volunteers who are the ones shedding tears. All of us at Little Flower are grateful to the Killester girls for sharing their time and talents with our little ones!