ShanShan’s parents became Half the Sky foster parents when she was only sixteen years old.
No longer an only child, ShanShan, as a teenager, had to learn that her parent’s love was no longer focused just on her: “I had to share my mom and dad’s love.”
After a period of adjustment, ShanShan became supportive of her parent’s new work and worked on forging a relationship with her three new siblings. Eventually, ShanShan’s newly expanded family influenced her career choice—she chose orthopedics as her major at a vocational school, became interested in taking care of children with special needs, and started volunteering at the rehab center at the orphanage after graduation. “I realize there are so many children who need help.”
One summer day two years ago, ShanShan’s dad rushed out in heavy rain to buy rain coats because he was afraid his children would not have good ones for school the next day. While he was doing that errand, characteristically for his children, he died of a brain hemorrhage. ShanShan, her mom, and her siblings were devastated by the sudden death of her father, a gentle man who loved every one of his children.
Since her father’s death, ShanShan makes sure she helps her mom take care of her brother and two sisters on the weekends. With her two siblings who have cerebral palsy, ShanShan practices picking up beads and put them into a box with chopsticks. “It is good practice for their fine motor skills and their patience,” says ShanShan. She is also proud of her sister, a sixth grader who is doing well in the local community school. ShanShan helps her sister with homework and boasts of her progress: “She can recite more and more poems and speak some English words.”
With tears in her eyes ShanShan says in the years since her parents decided to become foster parents, she has learned that love is thicker than blood: “We are a big family. They are my brother and sisters. My father would be so happy if he could see how close we have become.”