Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Becoming mother and daughter

Six year ago today, I became a mom and Grace became a daughter and while it usually occurs simultaneously it took us a while to grow into our roles.

I wish I could describe those first moments as magical and fulfilling in all that I had dreamed, but realize I had not really had any REAL ideal of what to expect, even though the process had taken several years to actually happen.

I was prepared to be a mom, I convinced myself, I had taught school, I had been an aunt, I had baby sat, I had worked in the nursery, I was an expert! I did not need parenting classes, I knew well how everyone else had failed and I would be THE ONE to succeed and be the perfect mother, whose maternal instincts would flow immediately and love would be there to make it all work.

And so at the end of a long journey of paperwork, a trip that took days to complete, I was whisked to a building that I am not even sure its purpose or location, as the whole thing is a blur of jet lag and a fine mist that started that morning, making it feel almost magical, and put into a room with another family who were also adopting an older child, and told to wait as my Grace would be brought to me.

I'm not sure who all were in attendance, other than Jana, Gillian, and Darcey, but it felt like all eyes were on me and waiting on my reaction, as they brought this little girl holding this gigantic stuffed dog into me, and while I could recognize her from the pictures, all I could focus on was that gigantic stuffed dog, that was bigger than her, and my first thoughts as a mother were concern on how I could ever get that thing on the airplane and would I have to buy a ticket for it.

And so that maternal instinct did not kick in immediately, as expected, but my usual practical self took over!

I remember she had a ton of doo dads in her hair, lots of necklaces, a shirt with dice made out of glitter (an appropriate shirt for a 6 year old), jeans, and pink shoes.

She was and is the most beautiful child I have ever seen.

While I dealt with paperwork, Jana, Gillian, and Darcey stepped in and a bond was made between she and Gillian that is still so strong and profound that I don't know what I would have done without them.
In a blur we had pictures made, thumbprints made, signatures on all the dotted lines, and then whisked back to our hotel.

Within minutes I learned that all the things I thought had prepared me for motherhood were not necessarily transferable skills, but again, thankfully I had Jana with me to guide and direct me through those initial days.

My Grace, through our enneagram work, has identified herself as a lion and while I first thought she was anything but that, in hindsight, I see her strong character and will are her most basic qualities and what made her survive so we could become mother and daughter and why I love her so much.

Her strong will and mine clashed relentlessly for months afterward and at times it was not a pretty picture. I remember my dad even getting onto her and telling her she was killing me by her actions, but we persevered and she taught me and I taught her and we finally became worked into our roles of mother and daughter.

The name Grace describes her perfectly. She is strong but has a heart full of love and kindness. She is quick to learn new things and doesn't forget anything. She is patient and compassionate, shy, and great with a quick retort at the least expected times that make me bowl over with laughter.

There is so much more, but I want to stop here and attach a request I received this week.

When I become a millionaire or have the brains to figure out how to do this, I will help take care of those children left behind in China. Yes, I know there are children here who need help, so please don't fault me for wanting to help those in China. The difference is profound between what is available here and what is available there.

When a child becomes 14 in a Chinese orphanage, they are no longer eligible for help and pretty much on their own, unless there is a sponsor. I know there are families here who would "foster" these kids, allowing them to get an education that would prepare them to work when they return to China, but right now there are no such arrangements and what happens to them after they are 14 seems like a great unknown. If anyone reads this and can help me even find a foothold or a springboard on an idea of making this happen, I wish you would tell me.

In the meantime, this is one of the organizations that provided help for both Grace and Annabel until I could adopt them, providing funds for their education, their foster care, and other ways.I thought some of you might be interested in a way to help.

Hi, Like the kids here, our sponsored children from several of the Jiangxi orphanages are returning to school and they need your help. We need to pay the schooling costs for our sponsored foster children that attend the school near their foster home instead of the one near their orphanage. The cost is $155 for the year. I hope you can help!

I'm sure you can all appreciate the benefits to these children to be in a loving, attentive foster home instead of in the orphanage. And once they're in school they benefit from having a foster family that will encourage them and help them with their homework, giving them a chance to compete with all the other kids at school that have parents and grandparents focusing their attention on their only child. A child in the orphanage is at a significant disadvantage. The child in foster care also benefits by being in the community and seeing the value of an education and growing up with the expectation that she will someday be an independent adult that can get a job and care for themselves. And hopefully in a school away from the orphanage, surrounded by their
foster family and local community that accepts them, they will not have the stigma associated with being an orphan and can really live a normal life without bullying at school.

But to achieve all this we must pay for their schooling in addition to their foster family stipend and need some new sponsors for this. Here is a list of some children of the children that need a sponsor ($155):
Girl born May 2005, in kindergarten
Girl born June 2002 who has congenital heart disease, in kindergarten
Girl born March 2005 who has congenital heart disease, in kindergarten
Girl born March 2004 who has cleft palate, in kindergarten
girl - 5 y.o. - healthy - kindergarten
girl - 6 y.o. - HepB - primary school
girl - 15 y.o. - left leg deformity - middle school
boy - 3 y.o. - club foot - kindergarten
boy - 3 y.o. - lower extremity deformity - kindergarten
boy - 3 y.o. - healthy - kindergarten
girl - 5 y.o. - Cerebral Palsy - kindergarten
Girl born 11/04 (has Cerebral Palsy) in kindergarten
girl - 4 y.o. - possible autism - kindergarten
girl - 6 y.o. - Cerebral Palsy - kindergarten
boy - 3 y.o. - Cereberal Palsy - kindergarten
girl - 6 y.o. - Cerebral Palsy - kindergarten
NANCHANG this is the city that Grace and Annabel are from
girl - 14 yo - cerebral palsy - special ed school
boy - 15 yo - cataract - special ed school
girl - 15 yo - low IQ - special ed school
girl - 7 yo - cerebral palsy - kindergarten
girl - 10 yo - cerebral palsy - primary school
girl 9 yo - cerebral palsy and epilepsy - kindergarten
girl 10 yo - cerebral palsy and epilepsy - kindergarten
boy - 9 yo - developmental delay - kindergarten
boy - 3 yo - hydrocephalus - kindergarten
girl - 10 yo low IQ - kindergarten
boy - 13 yo - low IQ - special ed school
girl - 7 yo - "malfunction of the brain" - kindergarten
girl - 16 yo - low IQ and hep B - special ed school
girl - 13 yo - middle school
All of the above children need $155 per year. But we also have some older children that need more but this could come from several sponsors if needed so any amount you could donate would be much appreciated. A few of these are:
A girl from Leping, born 10/90, who has had polio and will attend Nanchang Financial College. She needs $994 for the year.
A girl from Nanchang, born Jan 1993 and has hep B, in her first year at Nanchang Women's College. She
is majoring in aviation service and hotel service and when she graduates wants a job as an airline stewardess
or job working in hotel. The cost is $268 per year.
A girl from Nanchang, born Jan 1990, has hep B, also in her first year at Nanchang Women's College.
She is majoring in metro service and administration, planning for a job associated with the subway. The cost is $268 per year.
A girl from Shanggao born 7/95, healthy, who is in high school and needs $315 for the year. (High school is not paid for by the government even though she is living in the orphanage).
Support is provided by donations to Altrusa Foundation which is a 501(c)3 organization in the US that works together with Amity Foundation in China. Altrusa does not take any admin fees out of your donation and Amity Foundation in China charges only a 7% admin fee. The rest of your donation is all going to your
sponsored child's schooling! You can learn more about us at http://www.altrusa.ws/ .
If you'd like to donate by check it should be made out to Altrusa Foundation (tax deductible in the US) and
mailed to me at:
Altrusa Foundation
Attention: Peggy Gurrad
P.O. Box 1354
Longview, WA 98632
You can also donate through PayPal.com (which is a good option for those of you outside the US). But there are fees with PayPal also so please add about 3% for US donations and 4% of those from outside the US.
However it appears that you can choose an option that says this is a gift and then neither you or Altrusa are charged fees.) Using my peggy@gurrad. com e-mail address will take you to the Altrusa Foundation account.
Or if you want to use a credit card let me know. Please consider helping. We have lost many sponsors
because of the bad economy and won't be able to continue helping all these children if we don't find some
more people who can help. And it makes such a big difference. It's thrilling to see some of these kids continue on with school through university or professional school and then get jobs!
Peggy Gurrad
Altrusa Foundation

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