China, Orphanage, Orphans, Philip Hayden Foundation, Service Work, Shepherd's Field Children's Village, Tim Baker, Travel, Volunteering
Spending two days at Shepherd’s Field Children’s Village outside Beijing was a highlight of our trip. Shepherd’s Field is an orphanage offering loving care, education, and necessary medical attention to special needs orphans until they are placed with a permanent home through adoption. The history of the organization is quite remarkable. You can read more about it at: http://www.chinaorphans.org/aboutus.php
Better yet…not all of the details are shared on their website so go to China, visit the orphanage (they welcome visitors!), and while you are there ask Tim Baker (pictured below with my dad and I) to tell you the whole story himself. I think I cried about five times while he spoke to our group!
In their own words “Approximately 95% of the orphans in our care are special needs children, most of whom were abandoned by their parents because they were born “broken”. Our philosophy is to take in these so-called “broken” children and transform their hopelessness into beautiful stories of redemption and love.”
The group we were travelling with brought supplies for the orphanage, purchased more upon arrival, and left with plans for fundraising towards meeting even more of the orphans needs. The last time this same high school came (2 years ago) they were able to raise $30,000 USD to send back.
I have stalled on writing this post because it’s always hard to return from service or missions oriented trips and find an effective way to share what the experience was like. Even harder to articulate is the impact it has on your heart. As I look back over the photos I am reminded of the same verse that ran through my head as I played with the children and observed our high school kids immerse themselves in this experience. Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” There are many people whose lives we only get to see small glimpses whether it’s a two day visit to an orphanage or 11 days of travel with 40 high school students, teachers, and parents. We don’t get to see the whole picture. But one thing is certain: God’s plans for us are never boring. “It is all so wonderful that even the angels are eagerly watching these things happen.” 1 Peter 1:12. It would be fun to see the whole picture unfold but I’ll settle for sharing the glimpse I was given:
Amity. She has had the first of several necessary heart surgeries and she’s an absolute doll:
Robert. He likes bubbles and is quite the charmer! Once he figures out something makes you laugh he is happy to provide a repeat performance and will ham it up for an audience!Liam. He also has a heart condition and is a little snuggler.The chubby cheek award goes to this little guy!Contagious giggles!Horsey Rides!
And lots of other playtime, snuggles, and walks:
Some of the students joined in on an English lesson taking place the second morning:
Bullet with Phillip who had a successful surgery since the last time Bullet and my dad were at the orphanage:
Before coming to China the high school students took lessons on balloon making. Balloons, bracelet making, bubbles, and bouncy balls occupied one of our afternoons at the village:
Kennedy’s priceless smile! He loves singing children’s songs in English. I wish I could post the video of his singing on here but I don’t have video capability on my blog!
This is Grady. He recently had surgery for polio induced Scoliosis and is on total bedrest for 6 months as his back heals.
Grady had a family from Ohio that wanted to adopt him. They sent in all their paperwork and waited for the final word. But Grady’s paperwork was not processed immediately and by the time the appropriate officials pulled the papers for review it was 3 days passed Grady’s 16th birthday. China does not allow children 16 or older to be adopted.
Shepherd’s Field pursued getting an exception to that rule given the circumstances but the decision was passed around from department to department between various government agencies, none of whom were willing to take responsibility for making the final decision. Six months later, Grady had to be told that he would not be adopted as he had anticipated. Tim did, however, assure him that he DOES have a family…all of those working at the orphanage are his family and he will ALWAYS have a home at Shepherd’s Field.
Grady’s story highlights the question: What happens to special needs orphans in China who age-out of the program? If they are not fortunate enough to live at Shepherd’s Field they are shut away in a warehouse out of the public eye without hope or a future. Shepherd’s Field’s current undertaking is building a 30,000 square foot building that will act as both a dormitory and school for special needs orphans over the age of 16. There they will be given vocational training. They will be given hope and a future. Here is a photo of the building’s progress: If you would like to donate to the building fund, sponsor a child, or donate toward’s a child’s medical needs, feel free to check out the website. 🙂
I know it’s never the same as experiencing something yourself but I hope this post can help you get a sense for how special and beautiful these children are! We were blessed to have the time that we did with them.
I think it’s so easy to look at the staggering numbers – 210 million orphans worldwide! – and get overwhelmed by the enormity of the need that we forget that each of those number are people, God’s creation, with hopes and dreams and personality and identity. You and I both know this 🙂 Thanks for reminding all of us that God knows each of us intimately and that *every* kids deserves a loving home and family.
Annika Li said:
I met Grady this past summer (2013) and it was really nice getting to know him! He’s such a smart, wonderful kid and becoming friends with him was just awesome!
Awww, that’s great! Thanks so much for your comment! My dad will be there again in about a month. It’s always fun to get updates on the kids. 🙂