On October 31, 2015, six advocates and three Madison Adoption Associates staff, headed to Beijing to be a part of the Ambassadors of Hope Program through China Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption (CCCWA).
Madison Adoption Associates was one of three United States agencies invited to participate in this new program which focused on meeting children in need of families, spending time getting to know them, and then returning to the US to advocate for these children in need of permanent homes.
Our itinerary during the one-week stay included:
- Day 1 – an initial trip to the Great Wall of Badaling, the most preserved and visited section of the Great Wall of China for some sightseeing and to adjust to the time difference. This trip was only for visiting Ambassadors and Staff.
- Day 2 – a grand opening ceremony where the children involved in the program performed songs, poems and dances for the visitors and were then matched one-on-one with an Ambassador for the remainder of the week. That afternoon following lunch with our advocate children, we had an opportunity to interact with the children as they did arts and crafts. We also had dinner with them prior to saying goodnight. Our children ranged in age from 18 months to 10 years and had medical issues including cerebral palsy, Joubert Syndrome, deformed limbs/joints, hydrocephalus and a heart issue.
- Day 3 – all Ambassadors and their advocate children, along with orphanage caregivers, boarded the bus to visit the Beijing Zoo. A wonderful day for us all, as it was the first visit for all of us…Ambassadors and children alike. We visited the cats, birds, elephants and of course the prized pandas. Once again we were able to spend the entire day including lunch and dinner, getting to know the children, playing with them and learning about their personalities.
- Day 4 – we once again boarded a bus to visit a shopping mall…a first for the children. We had lunch at a local pizza shop and during the afternoon Madison staff and advocates were able to evaluate three additional children who did not participate in the program, but also need families.
- Day 5 – we all gathered for a farewell party and celebration of our friendship and left a bit of our hearts there with the children. It was sad to say goodbye to our new friends, however, we told them that we would be returning to the US to find a forever families for them as we hugged them tightly for the last time. That afternoon we visited the Olympic Village and shopped and dined at a local mall.
- Day 6 – Prior to our trip for home, we visited the Hutong District that was built during the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), and then did some last minute shopping for souvenirs in the local market.
We traveled not knowing what to expect as this was the first Ambassador of Hope Program. We had a schedule of events; however it was very brief. Would the children understand who we were and why we were there? Will they think we are their new parents? Would we be able to communicate with them as they knew little English and we knew little Chinese? What kinds of things would we do together? Will they be afraid? How will they feel and what would they think when they return to their orphanage after we leave? All these things were going through our heads as we made the 11-hour flight to Beijing.
On the way back to the US, however, all we could think about was how and what we could do to find a family for these beautiful children. How could we relay the depth and warmth of these little ones to others who might be looking to adopt. What will make the difference?
During our visit we had much support from our Beijing MAA staff, our translator, CCCWA staff and orphanage caregivers. Every minute we were with the children we had additional support to help with their care and to answer questions.
In looking back on the week, it was a very expensive venture for families and agencies with the cost for travel and time away from home and families.
In addition, CCCWA also invested much with hotel stays, transportation and food for all three agencies, orphanage staff and the 20-25 children who participated, in addition to staff time away from the orphanage.
How do you determine success…if one child is adopted…if half of the children are adopted? We hope to make this venture a success and find families for all the children wo participated in the Ambassadors of Hope Program!