Baby Qi was abandoned as a newborn baby. After months of being carried in the womb of her biological mother, she was born prematurely and then abandoned.
Around the same time, Chelsie got a phone call asking her if she would go to an orphanage to help pick up two preemie children and bring them to the Dew Drops Little Flower Beijing home. Chelsie had been volunteering with Little Flower for a while and such requests were usual. She had helped transport other children on overnight trains to Beijing. She said yes. She didn't know it at that time, but that yes had such a big impact on her life.
Chelsie ended up being Qi's primary caregiver for a few months. As a NICU nurse, Chelsie knew how to monitor Qi's heart, help her when she had difficulty breathing, and help her with feeding. Hours of skin on skin kangaroo care built a strong bond between these two.
And as time went by, we saw lots of small changes in Qi as she grew! Around 8 months later, Chelsie returned to the U.S. to start a travelling nurse position.
Meanwhile, under the continuous love and care of the Dew Drops nannies, Qi kept growing. She is now 22 months old, walking (or rather running around), and saying a few words. She is our bundle of joy!
Chelsie is now back in China again, not to volunteer with us for another year, but instead to adopt Qi! Qi's story like all of the children in our care started in a place of pain. Her pain will remain with her in some form through her life, but she is starting a new part of her story today-- with her own forever family! Sometimes when life unfolds, beauty, hope, and joy pours out to cover the brokenness and pain. We are so happy for Chelsie and Little Qi and can't wait to see the rest of their story unfold!
As we enter September, I have taken some time to reflect back on my summer here with the kids. While it looked much different than the summers I am used to, there is one thing that connects this summer to all the other- spending time outside!
The children and ayis both enjoy getting outside. We go for walks, play on the playground, explore the garden, or have afternoon snack picnic style under the canopy. While the older children tend to go to the playground and the garden, the little ones usually stick with wagon rides and playing in the canopy area. Any spot brings its fair share of special moments. It is so cute to see a new walker step off the mat and onto the grass for the first time. Some love the feeling of the grass between their toes, while others move back to familiarity quick. I have loved watching the older kids become more confident in themselves on the playground, climbing faster and higher than the last.
No matter where we are outside, the children never fail to find a treasure. Most days, they will collect leaves, flowers, and sticks. The treasure gets more exciting on days they go to the garden. The ayis will help them collect small apples from the trees, a sunflower full of seeds, and different herbs to take in for cooking. The kids are proud of each of their treasures. They will show me their loot with a huge smile.
One of the great things about taking the children outside is that every age can enjoy it. The crawling babies feel the grass, the toddlers have space to go from walking to running, and the older children explore. Often multiple groups of children from different Dew Drops rooms will be outside at once and play together. The little watch the older children run around and play. This also makes for a great singing time as the older children often help the younger ones with the motions.
Spending time outside with the kids this summer has been so fun! I’ve loved seeing them learn and explore the world around them.
During the month of July, we were fortunate to host two previous volunteers, April and Claire, once again. April is a physical therapist based in Chicago, USA and Claire is a physical therapist based in Toronto, Canada. We knew with both their vast experiences and knowledge, this short trip would be immensely beneficial for all the children and caregivers at the Dew Drops Little Flower homes. And, we were right!
Since April and Claire both had previously volunteered with us, they knew some of the children and were greeted enthusiastically when they arrived. They were amazed by these children’s growth and progress since their last visits.
After spending some time meeting the nannies and children, April and Claire started their one-on-one consults with specific children. After an assessment of the child’s current levels, they identified some goals for each child to assist with their development. They gave us some practical suggestions for each child based on the child’s needs. Some examples included better feeding positions and further promotion of mobility and function.
Some of the children, April and Claire worked with included You, Yue, Hang, and Yan.
We are so thankful for these two amazing volunteers and all the time, energy and love they have shared with us. We already see the benefits of their time with us and can’t wait to see them again!
One of the most tender practices done by the staff and volunteers here at the Dew Drops Little Flower homes is kangaroo care. When a premature baby arrives in our care, after the initial checkup, a caregiver will remove the baby’s clothes and place the child inside one of the caregiver’s shirts. The baby will cozy up and typically fall asleep. The practice gets its name from the pouch like atmosphere created by the shirt or blanket placed over the baby’s back similar to the pouch on a mama kangaroo.
Multiple research studies have been done regarding kangaroo care and they all agree on its benefits. The practice helps stabilize the baby’s heart rate, regulate their breathing, improve oxygen saturation, and more! The direct skin-to-skin contact will help regulate the baby’s body temperature allowing them to save their calories and grow. Some NICU’s in the US will have the mother or father do kangaroo care a few hours each day when the child is staying there to help the baby reap the benefits and give the parent and child a chance to do some bonding*.
I got the chance to do kangaroo care when little Xin came to us. He was tiny, a little less than 5lbs. He was recovering from his first GI surgery and just needed some love. When Lily came in and asked if I would like to do Kangaroo Care with him, I was so excited! I got comfortable on the bed and then they brought him in. We got him all cozied up in my shirt and he fell asleep right away. Xin has a small heart defect and was struggling with his oxygen saturation levels when he first arrived. We did kangaroo care for about an hour and kept an eye on his levels but saw that he really just needed to be on oxygen for a while.
This time spent with Xin was precious. It made me slow down and think about each of the children in our care. The moments we spend with them matter. While it isn’t possible to sit down and give them each an hour of undivided attention, what we do with the moments we have is worth a lot. This experience has made me more intentional with the moments I have. Now I give extra attention to the child who runs or crawls over to sit in my lap, or the child who typically plays themselves. They need something and even if I don’t know exactly what that is, I have something to give. Giving them a hug and spending even just a minute to focus specifically on them is easy to do, but also easy to forget when there are other kiddos running and playing around me. I am choosing each day to be intentional with my moments. Every child deserves direct attention and love, it is our choice to spend the time to give it.
Recently, the older children in the Dew Drops Little Flower Inner Mongolia home, spent some time in class coloring “baskets” and reading Dr. Seuss’ Oh, the Places You’ll Go! Our Education Specialist volunteer, LeighAnn, created a balloon for each child and strung the baskets they colored onto them. They look so cute! Ran, Jie, Fei, Lei, and Cheng participated in this activity first and loved getting to pick their colors and design. Once they were done, it was the remaining children’s turn to make their own creations. It is so fun to watch the children pick their favorite colors and to see what they draw.
During nap time the next day, LeighAnn hung up all the balloons in the playroom. When the kiddos woke up, they were so excited to see their craft up on the wall! A few of them pointed out their own and then asked LeighAnn whose was whose.
It was so sweet when Jie ran into the room. Right after he saw the balloons, he turned to LeighAnn and yelled, “Xièxiè (thank you), LeighAnn!” and ran to give her a big hug! He loved seeing everyone’s creation.
Have you ever experienced a time when you are lonely or sad and a hug instantly changed your mood? Touch can bring about powerful emotion and is the first sensory system developed in a human being. Even newborn babies have a highly developed sense of touch.
When a baby is crying, the embrace by a caregiver brings instant warmth and comfort to the baby. Unique pathways are developed in the baby’s brain that teaches the baby about the warm touch by a loved caregiver to meet his/her needs. The child feels secure as he/she senses the touch of a caregiver. Massage is a great tool to help a baby relax and to build positive and loving parent-child bonding and communication. And as a child grows older, research shows that massage can still be used to increase confidence, emotional health, and concentration levels.
The children at Dew Drops come to us from state-run orphanages throughout China. They were abandoned at a young age and were born with complex medical needs. So just because they don’t have biological parents, does it mean that they miss out on the much needed comfort and touch every baby deserves? Of course not!
These small babies, no matter what congenital birth defect they have, can all experience the warm touch and massage of loving caregivers at Dew Drops. Even our little “butterfly baby” Ping, enjoys these special interactions with his caregiver. The smiling faces of the children, the raised small hands, or the fact that the baby sleeps well after a massage are all encouraging signs to the caregivers that their contact and interaction with each child is making a difference.
These older children, born with different medical needs, also enjoy the benefits of massage. The difference here is that the massage is focused on the back, head and arms. There are also different benefits and methods for massage between child and child, adult and child or even group massage sessions. For older children, massage teaches them about respect and encourages positive communication.