Sunday, April 30, 2023

Meet Baby Yu

We first met baby Yu in March 2023. Little Yu was abandoned next to a trash can. The finder called the police, and she was sent to the local hospital for observation. She weighed only four and a half pounds and appeared to have been born prematurely. She was also diagnosed with a heart murmur and a brain injury (cerebral hemorrhage), so the orphanage asked if we could help her.

Yu seemed to be stable when she came to our home, but her nannies knew that she would still benefit immensely from skin to skin kangaroo time. She is an alert little one and has a very inquisitive gaze. Yu loves to be held and only cries if she is not in the nanny’s arms. Of course, we are making sure to give her all the love, cuddles and nurturing she would have received from her own family.

We are hopeful that Yu will recover from her rough start and not show any ongoing effects from the cerebral hemorrhage. We will be following up with specialists over the coming months, just to make sure there are no other issues that could affect her in the future. Thank you for being there for Yu. Your support allows us to say “yes” whenever an orphanage asks us to help a child in need.

Friday, March 31, 2023

Qi - Thriving and Growing

Baby Qi, came to our orphan care project last year in October.  Qi had been abandoned in north central China and taken to a local orphanage.  She was diagnosed with a brain injury, so the orphanage asked if we could help her.

Little Qi’s vital signs were somewhat unstable when she arrived at our home, so the first thing our staff did was arrange for her to have skin-to-skin kangaroo time.  She needed a little bit of supplemental oxygen at first, but it wasn’t long before she was feeding well and didn’t need oxygen anymore.  Qi’s nannies made sure to give her all the love, cuddles and nurturing she would have received from her own family.

Today, Qi is a happy, healthy 6-month-old who shows no signs of brain damage or other developmental delays.  This month, she travelled to Beijing to meet with specialists, to make sure there are no other issues that could affect her in the future.  We are enjoying watching her grow and learn.  Her bright, sunny personality brings joy to all who care for her. 

Thank you for being there for Qi.  


Sunday, March 12, 2023

A Day to Remember

Recently, a group of firefighters visited one of our homes in north-central China, where they gave the kids an experience they will never forget. 

As soon as the fire engine pulled up at our children's home, the kids ran out to see what was going on. They were greeted by a group of firefighters who were happy to be there and eager to show the kids what their job entails. 

The firefighters took the children on a tour of the fire engine, showing them the different parts and explaining their functions. They talked about the importance of keeping the engine clean and well-maintained to ensure it was always ready to respond to emergencies. The kids were also able to sit in the driver's seat and pretend to drive the fire engine, a dream come true for many of them. 



Next, they got some hands-on experience with the hose. They showed the children how to hold it, aim it, and control the water pressure. The children had a blast spraying the water and seeing how far the water could reach. 



The children invited the firefighters to their classroom where the firefighters enjoyed playing with the children.



For most of the children, this was the first time seeing a fire engine up close and they were thrilled to explore it!  The visit turned out to be one of those unforgettable experiences for both the children and the firefighters. We are so thankful for these community heroes for giving their time. 


Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Ling - Empowered through Education

Meet Ling! Ling came to our orphan care project two years ago in 2020 when she was seven. Ling had been born with a cleft lip and palate, which we can guess is the reason that she was abandoned as an infant. After surgery to repair those, she then spent the next seven years growing up in an institution. The orphanage enrolled her in the local school system when it was time for her to start first grade.

Unfortunately, Ling did not do well in school. She felt ostracized by the other children, who ridiculed her repaired cleft lip. In addition, she had never attended any preschool or kindergarten program, so she was very behind the other students. To make matters worse, she did not have a family support system to ensure her homework was completed, to work with her to catch up academically and help her deal with these emotional challenges. It was just a few months after Ling started school that her orphanage, realizing that things were going badly, asked if she could join our family model of care project.

We can’t undo the trauma that has happened, but we are working hard to ensure that Ling knows what it means to be part of a family and receive unconditional love from a consistent caregiver. She is developing close relationships with her foster mom and sisters. Best of all, she now has the support she needs to excel in school. She studies very hard and is growing in confidence. Ling loves to read and is a good storyteller.

Thank you for being there for Ling. Not only are you making a difference in her life - your support helps us reach out to other children who continue to suffer unintentional harm due to institutional care. Our orphan care programs, working within the government run orphanages, strive to create systems of care that prevent additional trauma to children who have been abandoned and are living in orphanages.

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Baby Qi

Meet Qi! Qi was abandoned in spring 2022 in a northern province. Routine screening showed that she had a congenital syphilis infection (transmitted from her mother before she was born), so she was admitted to a local hospital for treatment. After she was cleared for discharge she transferred to our home.

Little Qi has captured the hearts of all she meets with her cheerful personality and bright, inquisitive outlook. To see her now, you would never guess she had such a rough start! She loves the ever popular “where’s your… naming game”, where her nannies point to a body part and say its name. Now she can even point to her nose or ears when her nanny says “nose” or “ears”! Her very latest accomplishment is taking a few steps on her own, much to the delight of her devoted caregivers.

Her recent follow-up showed that she is still testing positive from her previous infection, which should have cleared with the initial treatment. So we are making plans to transfer her to Beijing so that she can consult with the specialists about her unique situation. Fortunately, the lifting of lockdowns will make that a lot easier, but we’ll have to wait until after the upcoming Chinese New Year holiday.


We don’t know what the future holds for little Qi, but we hope that she will someday join a family of her own. Until then, her Little Flower “family” will be there every step of the way, advocating for her needs and loving her for the very special, unique person that she is.  

Sunday, January 8, 2023

Overcoming Adversity with Family

Here's an update from Rebekah on Mao Mao, who did “age-out” of the system without getting adopted, but her Little Flower family has been with her all the way. 

Mao Mao was born with spina bifida and had been living in an orphanage in Shanxi province.  She joined one of our group homes when we first launched the project in 2005, when she was 8 years old. Today, she is 25 years old and works in our Beijing office as our bookkeeper.

Rebekah: What do you remember about those first days at Little Flower?

Mao Mao: I don’t remember exactly how old I was when I first came to Little Flower... at some point, I came to Beijing for surgery and from there I went straight to Brent and Serena’s (founders of Little Flower) home for about 2 years. I don’t know exactly how it happened but my life changed when I joined Little Flower. 

Mao Mao during her time at Brent & Serena's home

I remember one day, Brent introduced us to two sets of group home parents. We spent some time getting to know them. Afterwards, Brent talked with us to find out which set of parents we liked and would like to live with. This was a big decision. My mom looked friendly and was plump. But I was scared of my dad. He wore sunglasses the day I met him. I talked with my friend, who was also going to join a home with me, and we decided to pick my mom and dad together.

Rebekah: Please share a memory you have growing up in your group home?

Mao Mao: In those first years, I remember celebrating Chinese New Year together with all the other group homes families. It was such a lively and special time – all the parents cooked, the children played together. We received hóngbāo  (red packets with a monetary gift traditionally given during holidays and special occasions) and we watched fireworks together. So many good memories.

Rebekah: What about your education? Where did you go to school?

Mao Mao: Initially, we were homeschooled. Then, from 4th grade onwards I went to school. I went to a few different schools including a private school and then a public school. Eventually, I enrolled in a vocational school.

Mao Mao (center) with friends from accounting school

Rebekah:How did you decide on your career?

Mao Mao: My parents had a big influence on my career choice. They helped me think through my options and interests. Due to my medical history, it’s important for me to be able to sit during the work day. As a bookkeeper, I can sit and work on my laptop easily. In 2018, I needed to do an internship for my degree and asked Li Ayi (our accountant) if she could be my mentor. It was a great opportunity for me as I could learn from someone I respect and also continue to be part of the project I benefited from. I graduated in 2019 and took up a full time position in the Beijing office. 

At the Beijing office

Rebekah: What do you like about your job?

Mao Mao: I like learning about the rules and regulations we need to follow in accounting and making sure that we comply. I am detail oriented and like breaking down my task into smaller steps. This way of thinking also helps me with my daily life outside of work. If there is a problem, I use this style of thinking to break down the issue and think of each step.

Rebekah: Where are you living now?

Mao Mao: I live with my dad (Mao Mao’s mom passed away in 2020). I am the only “child” from the group home that still lives at home. I am still in touch with all my other siblings from the home, even the ones who got adopted and now live in the US. I meet up with the ones that are still in China regularly and they still come over for the holidays. 

Mao Mao with her dad in 2005

Mao Mao with her dad in 2022

Rebekah: Outside of work, what do you like doing in your free time?

Mao Mao: I like spending time with my family. Watching television, eating, going out. Doing all of these things with my family. 

With her dad and siblings during the National Day holiday in October 2022

Rebekah: What are your hopes for the future?

Mao Mao: I love to learn and want to continue to learn about doing public welfare here in China. I want to help more people and become better at what I do.

At a park with current children at the Beijing Medical Home

Rebekah: Lastly, any other thoughts you would like to share?  

Mao Mao: I am so thankful to have my family. A family is so important. When you need to make a decision, you have parents and siblings to help you.  It’s very different to living in an orphanage, as often there isn’t one specific person caring for you. But a family looks after you.

I am very thankful to Serena and Brent and Little Flower. They will look for what you need and help you fix your problems. I think that if you don’t have a family, life is difficult.

As with Mao Mao's dad, each of our foster parents has come to realize that this is more than a “job” caring for children.  It is a vocation, a calling… one of the hardest and yet most beautiful and rewarding "careers" anyone can imagine.     And we have seen over and over again, the impact of being part of a family does truly last a lifetime!  Thank you to all of our supporters who made this possible for Mao Mao, and who continue to do so for each of the children currently in our family model of care.