We’ve been homebound with snow and ice for a few days, and I’ve spent a large part of the day thinking about Meghan’s history, about winter and holidays, about orphans.
* Our little girl came from an orphanage with limited heat, some rooms completely unheated. Last year was record-breakingly cold. I know her orphanage begged the community to donate mittens and hats because of the bitter temperatures. I have no idea how warm she was, how they dressed her, whether she had blankets.
* Meghan is almost 4. This may be her first winter where she’s ever had warm clothes and a warm bed. A heated place to live. Enough food.
* She was hospitalized a year ago with “bad lungs,” which I can only assume means pneumonia. We have such limited knowledge of her medical history (limited knowledge on any of her history, really). She was likely alone most – if not all – of the time she was in the hospital. There’s no way to know for sure, but that’s likely. How does an already understaffed institution spare an employee to go sit in a hospital room? Nobody to advocate for her, nobody to hold her hand, stroke her cheek, kiss her forehead.
* She’s coming down with a little cold today – just some sniffles and lethargy. Her first illness since she’s been home. Care is a “given” here — lots of cuddles, watchful eyes, medicine when needed. With a couple dozen babies in one room with two nannies, what do they do when one gets sick? Many of the orphans in China have special needs. How do you keep illnesses from spreading through an orphanage – how do you protect already compromised children? Even in the most amazing orphan facility in the world, I don’t know how you’d do this.
This time last year, we were celebrating what would be her last Christmas Season without a family. We had what we jokingly called our “Shrine to Meghan” – just a little cabinet in our living room with a digital frame of her three photos, and little gifts we’d been collecting for her. The kids had been making small tokens for her, and there they remained on display in our living room until we left for China. We counted down the “lasts” of her time as an orphan. Last Christmas. Last New Year. Last winter. I’m glad those lasts are behind us, and grateful for all the firsts in our future. Even her first cold, where she can be loved on and comforted.
If it’s on your heart at all, please consider supporting reputable charities that provide care for orphans. Consider supporting those in your state’s foster care system. If it’s on your heart to foster or adopt – look into it! Explore your options, even take that first step. If you have any questions – let me know – I’d be glad to give any information I can, or point you to someone more knowledgeable.
These are some organizations that we’ve worked with:
A Brother’s Love: This organization provided us with a grant that enabled us to bring Meghan home. Supporting them enables ABL to provide grants to other families, and helps to bring children home.
Love Without Boundaries: This organization worked to get Meghan transferred to Maria’s Big House of Hope, where she received life-saving care. You can donate directly to them, or can sponsor a child and help provide surgeries and other necessities. Incredible organization.
Show Hope: This is where Maria’s House of Hope comes from. In addition to working directly with orphans, they also provide grants to families.
New Hope Foundation: I squealed with delight when Meghan’s photo showed up in their online newsletter as a child who’d gone home. I love following this organization and the work they do. They also work with Maria’s House of Hope. The Hills are an incredible couple who have made such a difference in the lives of the “least of these.”