The nature of our school is very changeable ... that's because children come and go ...
Many of our youngest children will be chosen for adoption. That means that loved children leave us and new children join us to be loved. Even some of our older children have their paperwork processed for adoption (based on their needs and personal views).
One of the roles of our school (and our Eagles Wings Foster Homes) is to prepare children for adoption. Once matched, we take this role very seriously. Obviously children are not advised about their family too early ... things sometimes go wrong, and our kids have faced enough trauma in their young lives ... but we do begin to talk about things like different countries, different foods, different languages and aeroplanes.
Once things are finalised, and we have a travel date set, we do our best to make contact with adoptive families. We arrange time to open 'packages' from waiting families and take special care to compile photos and records of their time with us. Sometimes our children have been with us for years, sometimes a few months, but we do our best to share what we know.
One of the biggest joys I have is to make contact with families prior to travel. Sometimes, it takes months .... sometimes, it can be a matter of hours. It is so nice to be able to chat with families about their waiting child ... to give them an insight into what their lives are like as they wait to go home. As Director of Education, it is a honour to be able to help parents to begin thinking about decisions regarding educational needs before they even meet their child. At times, we are able to arrange skype sessions with waiting families to 'meet' their child. This allows the child to become familiar with the faces and voices of those who have loved them from afar and are soon to travel to take them home. This isn't always possible, but it's great when it does happen.
Earlier this year, I was able to 'facetime' a mama and baba in their hotel room on the morning that they were to pick up their son. It was such a pleasure to be able to describe what would be happening for him as they waited ...
Last year, I sat beside a little boy as he 'met' his parents, older brother and two pet dogs for the first time via skype. We hadn't been able to locate his parents prior to adoption but when his 'Gotcha Day' was delayed at the last minute, we made a desperate plea and found them.
Last weekend, as my husband lay in hospital recovering after brain surgery, I was excited to share with him the news that I had made contact with the family of a five year old girl who will travel in June, a family who is reviewing the file of a three year old girl and the family who is considering the file of another three year old girl in our school. Answering questions and making these children 'real' to families makes this job really special.
Last night, I despaired as the 'Gotcha date' for one of our younger girls grew closer and I hadn't been able to locate her parents ... they will collect her in just over two weeks ... I hit social media and within hours, they made contact with me ... they will skype with her on Monday morning China time ... the internet is a wonderful tool at times.
Another wonder of social media and email is the ability to keep in touch with many of our Eaglets as they fly the nest. Our children are much loved ... whether they are from our Eagles Wings Foster Homes or from our school, Xi Wang Le Yuan ... when they go home, we miss them. Our 'left behind' children think of them often and delight in hearing about their new lives. Our ayis and teachers grieve for them and we pray for them. Again, this isn't always possible ... but it's exciting when it is!
Many of our children won't be adopted ... their files may not be prepared (for various reasons and out of our hands), they may have already 'aged out', they may have chosen not to be adopted, their special needs are just too high for families to commit ... where possible, children are fostered locally or adopted locally ... where possible, we locate birth families and rejoice in being able to support their reunion ... and more recently, we have been able to assist families to stay together and educate their child while they continue to live at home. For those who stay with us, they are family already ... they are so loved ... they are already home.