prayers for forgotten children

The time now, as I begin this post is 12:09 pm. It will be hours before I post this..I have to write when my motherly duties (which, by the way, I am so grateful to be able to do again now that my back is feeling a great deal better) will spare me a few moments. Again, it is 12:09 pm, Trinitee got up this morning at 8:30..since then she has had cheddar cheese grits (with real bacon bits in them..just the way she likes) a large glass of milk, a pack of grilled cheese Lance crackers, a juice box, and a string cheese. Like clockwork, we normally eat lunch at noon but on Saturdays Jonathan gets off work at on Saturdays we snack a little after breakfast and wait until he gets home to eat lunch. Without failure, every Saturday, regardless of the snacks she has had, “mommy I’m starving” is what I hear shortly after the clock strikes 12..and today, just a few minutes ago, it was her saying those exact words that sparked my mind to write this.

Throughout the day, i usually spend my free time roaming the internet for articles and for things i feel are worth the few moments of “me” time that i get. Most of the time i end up on websites that drive me into a mad what degree these things upset me is pointless because no matter what i do..i cant force people to agree or to wake up and take notice. These websites, Jonathan says, have turned his wife into a conspiracy theorist. (Ha..he knew what he was getting into before he married me) Sometimes i try to be normal and do normal things like play games or search around on ebay (how is a girl with no extra money supposed to look on ebay?…i am not capable of “window shopping” without morphing into this “woe is me” jealous person) ive even tried to start a pintrest thing. None of my “normal” endeavors are ever successfull..i always feel like im wasting precious time and short-changing my brain by investing in things that just don’t matter. So…i end up reading articles about fluoride or about the corruption that drips from planned parenthood and other things that i cant change..things that just upset me..things that, according to the authors, only Ron Paul can stop..unfortunatly the probability of most of these things changing is the same as Ron Paul actually becoming president (media black-balled ) so i get all fired up and it usually fizzles out half an hour or so after i get in bed and finally calm myself down enough to sleep. I have sent emails and made phone calls to senators from time to time but, im not an idiot, i know this doesnt do anything. In the perfect manner of this dark earth, yesterday i stumbled upon an article that i cannot article that, after reading it, has made me come to the conclusion that i will never be the same.

I was only 10 when these things happened..I was off in my peachy little world of no worries and lisa frank trapper-keepers..I had no clue of what it feels like to love a child, or how precious a childs worth is. I know that there are many who do remember this when it happened..something that makes the soul ache, to such severity, is not easily forgotten. I attempt to really understand what makes this world go ’round..I try, with shallow results usually, to really understand politics,…i always come up short, even still, with my limited political knowledge, I can see how this matter should (17 years later) still be a relevent concern.

The article I read was about the 1995 documentary called, “The Dying Rooms.”  Three British film makers, over the course of two years, posed as orphanage workers (with hidden cameras) in several chinese state-run facilities. The footage is shocking, to say the least, I was sick after watching it. It all seems too monstrous to be reality. Here are some exerts from the article:

Mei-ming has lain this way for 10 days now: tied up in urine-soaked blankets, scabs of dried mucus growing across her eyes, her face shrinking to a skull, malnutrition slowly shrivelling her two-year old body. The orphanage staff call her room the “dying room”, and they have abandoned here for the very same reasons her parents abandoned her shortly after she was born. She is a girl.

When Mei-ming dies four days later,it will be of sheer neglect. Afterward, the orphanage will deny she ever existed. She will be just another invisible victim of the collision between China’s one-child policy and its traditional preference for male heirs. She is one of perhaps 15 million female babies who have disappeared from China’s demograph

Two years ago, the South China Morning Post gave the world evidence of dying rooms at Nanning orphanage, in the Guangxi autonomous region. Staff and regular visitors freely admitted that 90 percent of the 50 to 60 baby girls who arrived at the orphanage each month would end their lives there. Nanning orhanage was then overhauled, and the dying rooms there ceased to exist. Sadly, though, the British team’s harrowing report suggests that attitudes toward baby girls so prevalent at Nanning two years ago are rife elsewhere.

To proect those who helped the team gain access to orphanages and whom Blewett interviewed, the documentary does not riamc any of the orphanages In one, a dozen or so baby girls sit on bamboo benches in the middle of a courtyard. Their wrists and ankles are tied to the armrests and legs of the bench. A row of plastic buckets is lined up beneath holes in their seats to catch their urine and excrement. The children will not be moved again until night, when they will be lifted out and tied to their beds.

“They had no stimulation, nothing to play with, no one to touch them,” says Blewett. In one scene, a handicapped older boy walks up to one of the girls tied to a bench and begins head-butting her relentlessly. The girl doesn’t move or make a sound. Such is the lack of stimulation for the children that few of them will ever learn to speak. An endless rocking is the only exercise, the only stimulation, the only pleasure in their lives.

An official of the orphanage tells Blewett that last year, the orphanage had some 400 inmates. They were kept five to a bed in one airless room. The summer temperatures soared to around 100 degrees. In a couple of weeks, 20 percent of the babies died. “If 80 children died last summer, there should be 320 left,” Blewett says to one of the assistants, “but there don’t appear to be more than a couple of dozen children here. Where are the others?” The girl replies; “They disappear. If I ask where they go, I am just told they die. That’s all. I am afraid to ask any more.” 

Brutal neglect is the common theme of many of the orphanage scenes. In one sequence, a lame child sits on a bench near the orphanage pharmacy. It is full of medicines, but none of the staff can be bothered to administer them. The child rocks listlessly back and forth. The camera focuses on her vacant face, trails down her skinny body, and settles on her leg. It is swollen with gangrene. The worst orphanage, the home of Mei-ming, was in Guangdong, one of the richest provinces in China. When the documentary team arrived,there were no children to be seen or heard. Then from under one of the blankets laid over a cot. there was the sound of crying. Lifting the blanket and unwrapping a tied bundle of cloth, Blewett found a baby girl. The last layer of her swaddling was a plastic bag filled with urine and feces. The next cot was the same, and the next and the next. Many of the children had deep lesions where the string they were tied with had cut into their bodies. One child, described by staff as “normal,” was suffering from vitamin B and C deficiencies, acute liver failure, and severe impetigo on her scalp. All the non-handicapped children were girls.

After the documentary aired there was an uproar that spread across the aired in 26 different countries and won several awards even an American Emmy. Chinese officials flat out denied any existence of such “dying rooms,”   (it is spoken about here) they stated that the documentary was a complete fabrication, even though, if you watch it (warning: its tough to handle) it is hard to imagine how such a thing could have been faked. There are also damning reports from the chinese physician Zhang Shuyun, who fled the country with evidence she had collected between 1988 and 1993 proving the rumors of systematic abuse and fatal neglect to be true. Here is a bit from an article that speaks of  Zhang Shuyun’s findings..

The evidence of barbaric behaviour came from detailed official records smuggled out of the country by a doctor, Zhang Shuyun: she worked at the Shanghai Children’s Welfare Institute from 1988 to 1993, and escaped from China last March. Numerous case studies document deliberate starvation, torture and sexual assault over many years. The records indicate that between 1986 and 1992 at this one Shanghai institution alone, more than 1,000 children died unnatural deaths.  

Only after The Dying Rooms thrust these deplorable exterminations into the world spotlight did things start to improve in these state funded orphanages..well at least things improved at the orphanages we are allowed to know about. One report states..

 From 1999 to 2004, the numbers of child welfare homes and residents almost doubled.. Another change during this period is that the central government enacted policies regarding the right to protection for children and social welfare for orphans and children with disabilities, such as, the enactment of the Law of Adoption and the establishment of guidelines for work with orphans and children with disabilities by the central government. Recent efforts have been on promoting relative caring and foster homes supplemental to child welfare homes.

An orphanage in Wuhu, in eastern China’s Anhui province in Aug. 2009.

As you see in the picture above, the conditions in this orphanage have greatly improved from the earlier circumstances where sometimes six infants would be crammed in one rusty crib. Things look so much gives you a sense of hope and relief…until you look to the far right of this picture and see the infant laying there who is nothing but skin and bone. It is wonderful that these  babies are being fed and that their basic needs are being met, however, many studies have proven that babies desperately need to be touched and loved to thrive..even to the point that some infants can lose the will to live because they are not nurtured. it rips my heart apart to think of babies..just like my priceless baby..who dont have anyone to love them. Thankfully adoption has given many of these unwanted children a life where they are wanted.. where they are loved.

Im sure it seems that i have gone on and on about this..but really, what I have written is only the tip of the iceberg. Some are probably thinking right now..why the heck would somebody write about this..that was 17 years ago! Well my response is..why the heck would i not write about this!

Why i am writing this..why i think it still matters, is simple, even for me to understand.(that means pretty simple) You gotta remember that china is a communist country. We see what they allow..what they want us to see. The same force that was in charge while all the documented abuse took place..they are still in charge today. Most recently with the Chen Guangcheng story, the world has been exposed to the gut wrenching stories of the women who are kidnapped and forced to have abortions, many times in their ninth month of pregnancy..the black veil of communism has parted enough for us to see the callous faces of these men..these men who tie women down during labor and wait for the baby to be born..these men who take a newly delivered baby and throw it into a bucket of water like worthless trash.. while gasping for breath in a cold bucket of water, the first and last sound these beautiful babies will  hear is their mother crying helplessly for the baby she never got to touch..all because, to these men, life means nothing. Thank goodness for the millions of good people living in China and for the outside influence that, to some degree, holds the Communist Party of China accountable.. without them, I am afraid to think of how these sweet children would be treated..because to Hu Jintao and the Communist Party of China, these orphans are illegal.. these blameless children are guilty of breaking the law before they are even born.

Let me just requote something from an above article..

Two years ago, the South China Morning Post gave the world evidence of dying rooms at Nanning orphanage, in the Guangxi autonomous region. Staff and regular visitors freely admitted that 90 percent of the 50 to 60 baby girls who arrived at the orphanage each month would end their lives there. Nanning orhanage was then overhauled, and the dying rooms there ceased to exist. Sadly, though, the British team’s harrowing report suggests that attitudes toward baby girls so prevalent at Nanning two years ago are rife elsewhere.

As this shows, these deplorable acts were first exposed in 1993..two years later when this was published nothing had changed. The orphanage in question was reformed but nothing was done to help the innocent life trapped in any of the other institutions. My only prayer is that, in the places kept from the world, history is not being repeated. According to China Daily and ministry statistics there are currently 100,000 abandoned children (mostly girls) living in chinese orphanages. For a country with 1.3 billion people (and, not to mention, a strict population control policy and, especially in rural areas, a strong cultural tradition that values only male heirs) i find it almost impossible to believe that calculation. The Mystery of China’s Orphans, A 2007 piece from The New York Times reaffirms my suspicions..

 According to a U.S. State Department report released last week, American citizens adopted 6,493 children from China in 2006, a decline of 18 percent from the previous year’s total of 7,906. And yet,over a month ago, The New York Times reported that China had prepared strict new criteria for foreign adoption applications because the country claimed it lacked “available” babies to meet the “spike” in demand.

China has always limited foreign adoptions, and it does not publish reliable statistics on the number of children in its orphanages. So how is one to know whether the decrease in adoptions reflects a lack of supply or a lack of demand?

In the week following the report on the new guidelines, more than one bewildered person said to me, “But I thought there were lots of babies in orphanages in China!” My response was to helplessly reply, “So did I.” My understanding of this was based not on conjecture, but on having been to China twice to adopt, having seen orphanages with my own eyes, and on research and other eyewitness accounts. Many hundreds and perhaps thousands of orphanages operate in China, most of them full of girls.

According to a February 2005 report in the Weekend Standard, a Chinese business newspaper, demographers in China found a ratio of 117 boys per 100 girls under the age of 5 in the 2000 census. Thanks to China’s one-child policy, put into effect in 1979 in order to curb population growth, and a strong cultural preference for male children, this gender gap could result in as many as 60 million “missing” girls from the population by the end of the decade.

And what happened to these girls? According to the International Planned Parenthood Federation (a term that takes on a whole new meaning when referring to China), there are about 7 million abortions in China per year, 70 percent of which are estimated to be of females. That adds up to around 5 million per year, or 50 million by the end of the decade; so where are the other 10 million girls? If even 10 percent end up in orphanages — well, you do the math.

The issue of abandoned and institutionalized children remains a taboo subject in China, a problem the government does not even acknowledge exists.

China has announced the lifting of restrictions for foreign journalists in preparation for the 2008 Olympics. Perhaps this will allow reporters to look for answers to some basic questions: How many children are there in institutions in China? Why do visitors need approval to visit orphanages? Why are only certain orphanages allowed to participate in the international adoption program, and what is going on in the ones that are not?

So what am I supposed to do? How are my tears going to infiltrate the hearts of those in charge. After reading these things.. my spirit was badly broken..thankfully, Trinitee and Rory were at my moms so they didnt witness my sadness. I seriously had a small mental break..crying and screaming at God..asking him how He could let things happen like this. God wasnt too upset by my screams..he never gave me that answer I was looking for..but a sudden peace flooded my soul, and I was reminded that every one of those “forgotten” children were now in the loving arms of matter how unwanted or unloved they were heaven they are held..they are touched..they are priceless.

Today is the first time i have thought about these little children in quite sometime. Usually when Trinitee tells me she is starving I just laugh it off and tell her she’s being silly because she has had plenty to eat. I mean, she’s a child..her precious little mind is set on the schedule that I have put her on..I can’t get upset with her for being over dramatic or naively ungrateful. But today was different…Today when she told me how starving she was..the images of those little girls from The Dying Room flooded my mind.. I immediately started crying. She looked up at me, her eyes full of love..she hugged me..”whats wrong mommy?” I explained to her that she doesnt need to say she’s starving anymore..i told her how blessed she was..that there are children who really are starving. She asked me..”what is starving” i tried to explain it the best i could..telling her that some children are so hungry they die. This may seem extreme to some..but I want to raise her to know the truth. I found a picture on my phone of a child who was truly starving..and i showed it to her…”this is what starving means,” i said. She picked up my phone and held it close..almost as if she was trying to look into the child’s soul. A few more silent seconds she put the phone down I noticed the tears that quietly fell down her sweet little face. She looked at me and said, “im not starving, mommy.” I held her in my arms for a minute before she popped her head up and said, “lets pray for that little girl.”  In our little living room, we held hands and trinitee prayed for that little girl. Her prayer was simple..but so pure..i know the Lord heard Trinitee’s prayer because I felt his presence fill our little living room as she prayed today. We may not be able to win all the battles of this world..but we can pray. We may not be able to save all the innocent little children in China..or all the neglected children across this planet..but Trinitee reminded me today that WE CAN PRAY. We have a God who listens to our prayers..we have a God who is mighty. If any of you have actually read to this point (i know this is way too long..but i cant help myself) please stop and pray…pray for all the innocent children who are alone in this world. Im not sure why I felt the need to write this..but hopefully, God will place a fire inside your soul like he did in mine.


2 thoughts on “prayers for forgotten children

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