When she arrived at the orphanage as a newborn, she was given the name Anjing (“Sunshine Girl”) even though she wasn’t expected to live, let alone beam with laughter and love.
But her OneSky-trained nanny vowed to care for Anjing as if she were already a Sunshine Girl, not a tiny, broken baby who had been abandoned in a hospital corridor because of a severe birth defect. That nanny was the first of several OneSky-trained caregivers who led her to the bittersweet days this December when she said goodbye to her preschool teachers, foster mom, dad and siblings and opened her heart to her adoptive family.
“Anjing will be adopted by a Chinese-American couple very soon,” the orphanage director told OneSky foster mom Chen Yanqing one morning. It was news that pierced her heart. Mama Chen was thrilled for Anjing, but tears welled in her eyes as she thought of the day her beloved child would become another mother’s beloved child. She wiped away her tears quickly, but Anjing seemed to sense her pain and her joy. After her bath that evening, Anjing blurted out, “Mama, I like you!” and hugged her tight. Then, as if to assure her mom her now big girl of four years old would be fine after she left, she said: “Let me put on my clothes myself today!”
In preschool, Anjing loves the toy kitchen where she can be a good mom, just like Mama Chen. After she “cooks”, she puts the “food” into different “bowls” and shares it with her “kids.” When she asks, “Who wants a spoon?” her friends raise their hands and she carefully serves the “meal” that they “eat” ravenously.
Like Mama Chen, Anjing’s preschool teacher Li Lingyu wants to prepare Anjing to meet her new family.
Teacher Li: “You’re going to see your American Baba and Mama. Are you happy?”
Teacher Li: “When you go to America what will you miss the most?”
Anjing: “Miss mom and dad, Nana and teacher.”
Teacher Li: “What will you do when you miss them?”
Anjing: “Make a phone call.”
Teacher Li: “How do you make a phone call?”
Anjing: “Like this!” placing her right hand near her ear. “Hello, I want to speak to Nana!” Nana comes to Anjing and passes the ball she’s playing with to her. Anjing catches the ball and gives it back.
Teacher Li: “Nana, will you kiss Anjing when she leaves us?” Nana hasn’t learned to speak, but she approaches her best friend and sister, kisses her on her cheeks, and gives her a hug.
Though her doctors cautioned that Anjing might never sit up, stand or walk on her own, Anjing has mastered sitting and standing and teacher Li is helping her work on walking.
Anjing: “Teacher, I want to walk!”
Teacher Li: “Okay, let’s try to touch the ground with your feet first. Use your whole strength to touch the ground! I’m holding your waist, and don’t be afraid, I’m here behind you and will get you anytime. Ready? Go!” Anjing tries very hard to bend her one knee to walk one step. “Great, do you want to try another step?”
Anjing nodding, “Yes!”
Teacher Li: “Does it feel good to touch the ground with your feet?”
Anjing: “Good!” and she tries another step.
At home, Anjing’s dad Jiang is also trying to prepare himself and his daughter for her departure. Anjing is a daddy’s girl, who greets every night when he comes home late from a long day at work. “Hug” she says sweetly and her dad’s stress disappears thanks to that little magical word. Jiang decides to organize a final family outing at a nearby park so Anjing can explore nature with her pink-rimmed magnifying glass. “Baba, I want to observe the leaves.” Jiang picks up a leaf and places it under the magnifying glass. “Leaf, I found you!” says Anjing, “Green leaf.” She looks at her dad, who squats down and asks, “Will you miss me, Anjing?” “Yes, I will!”
The day Anjing will meet her new family finally arrives. Before he leaves for work, Anjing’s Dad kisses his sleeping daughter for the last time, her brother Miaosheng gives Anjing his last hug before he goes to school, her sister Xiangdie combs her hair gently, and Nana pats Anjing’s shoulder as if to wish her the best of luck. Mama Chen asks Anjing to pick out her favorite photos in their family album, organizes the progress reports written by her OneSky caregivers, and carefully packs them and her orthopedic shoes and favorite panda in her new pink bag, along with this note: “Anjing likes to eat eggs, chicken, and fruit; please massage her feet after a foot bath every night; please make sure she wears her orthopedic shoes every night.” “Anjing, show this note to your baba and mama when you see them, Okay?” Anjing nods.
Then it’s time for the drive to the adoption center accompanied by Teacher Li. During the trip, Anjing whispers in Li’s ear, “Teacher, I’ll tell you a secret.”
Teacher Li whispers back: “Tell me what is it. I won’t tell anyone.”
Anjing: “I’m wearing a new pair of socks!”
Teacher Li: “Oh, really? What color are they?”
Anjing: “Pink. Animals on them, meow, meow.”
Teacher Li: “Are they cats?”
Anjing softly: “Yes, cats.”
Teacher Li: “Who gave them to you?”
Anjing says proudly, raising her voice a bit: “My new mom!” Then she laughs happily and snuggles close to teacher Li.
Teacher Li: “Where do they live?”
Anjing: “Home.” She takes out the album her adoptive mom sent to her and turns to the picture of her future house. “This is my mom and this is my dad, two brothers, sister.”
Teacher Li: “Wow, you will have three siblings!”
When Anjing and Li arrive, her new family is waiting. Her big sister touches Anjing’s face, kisses her and pats her gently on the shoulder. Her big brothers can’t take their eyes off Anjing, but hold back. “Come on, hug your new sister,” mom urges. They approach Anjing, hug her quickly, step back shyly and giggle.
Anjing’s mom notices a gift wrapped in Christmas paper in her lap. “Who gave this to you?” she asks?
Anjing: “My teachers!”
Teacher Li: “Now, Anjing, you can open your gift,” With her mom’s help, Anjing opens the box. “Wow, a lollipop, a red watch and a pearl necklace, Anjing, do you like these gifts?”
As Anjing grows up, the memory of receiving the gifts and the faces of those who cared for her will fade as she is enveloped in the love of her new family. But the gift of unconditional love she received from her caregivers in China, which enabled Anjing to thrive despite the daunting physical and emotional challenges of her youngest years and readied her to embrace the love of her new family, will endure.
By Karen Han
Yes, I want to support OneSky’s work for once forgotten children like Anjing.