Today we celebrate Nini's 8th birthday. I wanted to share a little about her early years. A friend of mine texted me about a post she had found while looking at Half the Sky's facebook site. They are an organization in China that cares for orphans. I eagerly went to the posts, and what I read broke my heart, and helped explain parts of Nini's difficult life. These post are from December of 2012 (we adopted Nini in May 2013). The last post is from her foster parents perspective.
A HOLIDAY TALE FROM HALF THE SKY - The story of Nini, Part 1
Four years ago, on a wintry day, a baby girl was bundled up and abandoned on a quiet street in Harbin, a city in China's far north. The temperature outside was 20 below. When the police brought her to the orphanage, the baby, about 6 months old, was near frozen and barely alive.
The orphanage staff discovered that the child also had hydrocephalus -- more commonly known as water-on-the-brain. Her head was swollen to almost twice normal size. She received no medical treatment. She was placed in a crib in a room with all the other babies who had special needs. She was given food and kept clean. That was it. She never left her bed. Sometimes children like this would survive. Often they would not. Maybe it was just as well. What future could there be for a child nobody wanted?
Later that year, Half the Sky established a Children's Center at the Harbin Institution. Little NiNi -- for that was the name they gave her -- was assigned a Nanny. And even though everyone assumed that NiNi was retarded and unable to learn, Nanny Wang followed her Half the Sky training and treated NiNi like her very own child.
Nanny Wang wrote: "When I first met NiNi, she stared at me with her big eyes and was afraid. She did not want me to touch her. When I played games with her, she would not play because she was afraid of me."
A HOLIDAY TALE FROM HALF THE SKY - The story of Nini, Part 2
Little NiNi, a child born with hydrocephalus, came to the Harbin orphanage before Half the Sky began its programs. She was left alone in her bed for days on end. She languished.
But happily, a few months later, Half the Sky arrived, and NiNi entered our Infant Nurture Program.
"Over time," her HTS nanny said, "I noticed that she would touch the toys with her hands. Then after some more time, she let me hold her."
With her nanny's patient efforts, NiNi learned to sit up, then to walk a bit. She began to smile, but there was a sadness about her.
When she was finally ready to enter our Half the Sky Preschool, her new teacher asked if there would possibly be a place for NiNi in the Family Village. There was! Her new mother said: "When I first saw NiNi, she could not speak or walk steadily. She would sit for a long time, her eyes glazed over. My husband and I were determined to do our best to help our child get well no matter how hard it would be."
A HOLIDAY TALE FROM HALF THE SKY - The story of Nini, Part 3