Friday, December 07, 2007

First Friday 12-7-07

Michael Writing...

Tonight we had our monthly First Friday gathering, a support group for those interested in, participating in, or living with the joy of international adoption.

About 10 months ago we started having dinner before the meetings with our friend Karen Ladman, whose husband was, at the time, in Kuwait serving in the U.S. Army. We started sending out emails to other friends and picking a new restaurant each month. Tonight we met at La Dolce Vida, a new Italian bistro located about 2 miles from the church where First Fridays are held and tonight we had about 15 people for dinner! My how we've grown.

We were joined by the Ladman's (Bruce is back), The Perry's (with Sheridan), The Hoffmans, The Nolan's, and I apologize for not knowing all the last names, but Donna with her boys and new addition Shelby (just back from China), and Lenah with her mom and grandmom, so 18 people actually!

This may have been the best First Friday we have attended. We enjoyed socializing for about 45 minutes before the Chapman's began the program. During this time I got to meet the newest natural member of the group, Sophia Radicci, who is precious! Dan introduced Carole, who is one of the praise team singers at North Metro Church. She played the keyboard and sang three songs before leading us in an acapela series of chorus of "O Come Let Us Adore Him." She also told us that while growing up in Macon, GA, the black kids liked to learn and sing French Christmas Carols and then asked us if we were really THAT gullible.

Our guest speaker this month was a very special lady named Amy Eldredge. Amy is an adoptive mom from Oklahoma who has found herself creating and leading a special ministry called Love Without Boundaries. In the past 5-6 years she has probably been to China more times than anyone not in politics.

Love Without Boundaries is dedicated to four key areas of service for Chinese orphans. These areas are medical, nutrition, education, and fostering. You can learn about the ministry at www.lovewithoutboundaries.com.

They send teams to China to perform surgical and medical procedures absolutely for free, especially repairs to cleft lips and cleft palates. They have also done trips to remove tumors and treat cancers. The stories she shared were amazing. Apparently the benefits of foster parenting versus orphanage care are having a great impact. Amy described orphanages where there is no glass in the windows and only plastic sheeting for doors, orphanages with no heating systems, orphanages with mold covering the walls because they regularly flood, and other horrific situations.

The stories that struck me the most have to do with the facts and reasons behind the abandonment of these babies. It is really not an exclusive result of the one-child policy. There are decisions being made for families by the parents of the parents of the babies. When a child is born, the mother is given thirty days of seclusion with the baby to transfer their che and bring luck to the baby and the family. Amy described a situation where a child needed a cleft repair. The baby was too small to treat safely as it was under 10 pounds weight. The mother pleaded with the LWB team, but there was nothing they could do. The mom explained it was her 28th day, and if the baby was not healed, her mother-in-law would make her abandon the baby. With nothing else available, they gave the mother $500 and told her to go and hide, and try to have the baby treated when its weight was up.

I have not been moved by such an experience in a very long time. There is no shame in crying in public, especially when you are exposed to the dramatic needs of those less fortunate than the rest of us, those who don't have the fortune to have been born in the United States. It's times like this that I know we are doing the correct thing in seeking our daughter in China.

9 comments:

Eric & Heather said...

What a moving evening! I always end up with tears!

Count us in on the next dinner!

Kim said...

Wonderful entry summarizing the evening. I know many tears were shed this month.

redmaryjanes said...

Very very touching. I have such respect for Love Without Boundaries. It is such a different culture in China, one that I do not understand and am trying to respect. But I too agree that we are in the right place to be waiting for China.

Mark, Rebecca and Sophia said...

It was a great evening. I am sorry that we hardly got a chance to talk.

You've summarized it well. We were quite moved as well.

The Straight's said...

Thanks for recapping the evening so well. I look forward to seeing you both every month :)

Janet said...

Oh, I would have been crying too. How moving!

Margaret Miracle said...

what a wonderful experience. we live in such a remote area that we can't get to a waiting families meeting. wish we lived closer to atlanta!!! i am so glad you have so much support

Love and Smiles said...

There are Chinese here in the states that are dealing with a different issue but one that breaks my heart as well. There are Chinese students here (married couples) that have a child and the grandparents come and take the child back to China at about three months or so! I too struggle to understand and respect the culture.

Love and Smiles said...

I am so thankful you all have found such a great support system.

First Friday group, thanks for supporting my friends as they travel this wonderful journey!!