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
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
|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
Rebekah: Please share a memory you have growing up in your
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
Rebekah: What about your education? Where did you go to
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
|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
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.