Chinese Canadian Margaret MacNeil won gold in the women’s 100-meter butterfly event at the Tokyo Olympics. She is one of several elite athletes who have won international competitions for their countries after being adopted from China as young children. This has brought the plight of China’s orphans to the attention of social media in China. In this article, Territory (Jingjie) interviewed a Chinese Christian woman who left a corporate job to care for disabled orphans. Because of length, we are posting it in two parts. You can read part one here; this is part two.
Behind the Olympic Halo, Hundreds of Handicapped Orphans Were Adopted from Here (Continued)
I’m Glad We Accepted the Boy.
You must have experienced a lot of God’s leading over the years, right?
I have experienced miracles almost every day. Once, an orphanage called me and asked if I could accept a boy with a terminal kidney disease. Even the hospitals refused to accept him. I knew that kidney disease is a bottomless pit, and our agency was too small to take care of him. So, I asked them to try some larger organizations, and call me back only if they couldn’t find anyone. Later, they called me again because none of the organizations could accept the boy. I was very hesitant, because we only had 20,000 Yuan at the time, and 20,000 was next to nothing when considering a child with kidney disease. We all shrank at the thought of this bottomless pit.
As I thought about it, my heart ached for him. Why not give it a shot since we still had 20,000 anyway? I agreed to accept the boy at around 4:00 in the afternoon, and by 11:00 that evening they had sent the boy, worried that I would change my mind in the morning. At 4:00 in the morning the next day, I went to the Children’s Hospital of Peking University and asked them to start treatment for the boy. His swelling decreased and was soon released from the hospital.
This boy is named Nehemiah. Tests revealed that in addition to kidney disease, he also had some genital problems, and we scheduled another operation. At that time another boy named Ezekiel, who came from the same orphanage as Nehemiah, recovered following some treatments.
Later, some [Christian] brothers and sisters from abroad came to visit the children. One of the sisters learned of Ezekiel’s situation and wanted to adopt him. After returning to the United States, she told her family about this idea, and both her husband and mother-in-law supported her. In fact, this family was not rich. That sister washed cars for a living and her husband stayed home to take care of the children. Realizing that they could not pay for the adoption, the mother started to raise funds by drawing pictures of Ezekiel on her nails, and they told others that they wanted to bring their own son home. Their children also helped raise funds, saving up penny by penny. When the mother finally collected enough money and came to China to bring Ezekiel back to the United States, it was exactly one day before Ezekiel’s 14th birthday. According to adoption law, a child can be adopted only before the age of 14.
Ezekiel and Nehemiah grew up together in the same orphanage. After Ezekiel went to the United States, he said to his mom, “Mom, Nehemiah is still in China. Can we find him a home too?” This woman was moved by Ezekiel’s willingness to share his thoughts and ask for help from others. So, she started to search for a home for Nehemiah. It was difficult to find a home, especially for a child with kidney disease, and yet, she found one.
During the process of adoption, Nehemiah’s disease deteriorated, and he started dialysis every other day. We were all afraid that he might not live much longer. The adoptive family still travelled to China, but when they saw how weak Nehemiah was, the father sent me a message, saying that they could not face this situation. However, I encouraged them to get Nehemiah a kidney transplant, though it was difficult to have such a surgery in China. Our children here are all like Nehemiah—they cannot survive if no one participates in their lives. The father did not respond to my message. But the next day. He quietly went to sign papers and completed the processe, then immediately returned to the United States with Nehemiah. That was in 2018, and Nehemiah was also 14 years old.
What happened to Nehemiah later?
This father stopped contacting me after returning to the United States. During that time, I often had dreams and was afraid in my dreams. My co-workers did not dare to mention Nehemiah again because they were afraid to hear bad news. This went on until this year, when one day Ezekiel contacted me, and I asked him about Nehemiah. He said that he had a video call with Nehemiah and knew that Nehemiah was in the hospital. Someone donated a kidney to him after their death, and Nehemiah’s body did not reject it following the transplant. I was very happy to hear it. Even today, I am still grateful. Although we only had 20,000 Yuan at the time, I’m glad we accepted Nehemiah and I’m glad I encouraged his father to adopt him.
God Values What’s in Our Hearts.
You took care of Nehemiah from when he was 8 years old until he was 14. You must have spent a lot of money on this boy with a kidney disease?
Between all the treatments, we had to spend almost 10,000 Yuan a day. Our agency is small, but the staff is very stable. Though the children come and go, the aunties basically have not changed. All seven aunties who we are with us now have persevered with us from the start, which is a rare thing. Since the establishment of the agency, there has been an older sister in Christ who works as our accountant, and another lawyer sister in Christ who supervises the accounts. Our financial principle is that, including myself, all co-workers do not accept personal donations, and all funds are directly deposited to the agency’s accounts. These two loyal sisters have undertaken a lot of financial management tasks and gradually everyone is getting to trust us more and more.
Just now I saw an auntie holding a child, caressing him and saying: “God, please find a home for these children!” Are these aunties all Christians?
Most of them are Christians. They are not highly educated and could not provide a good educational environment for the children, but they all truly love these children from their hearts and work very hard. I could not carry on without their support. If I worked hard outside all the time, but these children were left without any aunties to love them, then it would hardly be worth it! Just recently, I have been trying to find some training courses about how to raise children for our aunties. A couple years ago, I wanted the children to experience the warmth of a home. And seeing how hard the aunties worked, I wanted to give them a vacation. So, I looked for some host families to take care of our children for about two weeks. Most of them were Christian families, and so far, about ten children have been adopted because of the hosting. Among these families, there is one in a rural area. They make a living by growing grapes, selling pesticides and seeds. One year they were responsible for taking care of Jeremiah over Spring Festival, and when they sent him back afterwards, they asked me if they could adopt him. They said that although their family is not rich, their two children have already gone to university. They are in good health, and it would be difficult to go out for missions. So, they want to serve God by raising a child and bringing him to God. There was another foster family where the mother had breast cancer. When her condition became serious, she dared not adopt a child because she was worried that the child would lose his mother. However, after her health stabilized, she came to adopt the child. Every adoptive family has a story. So far, more than one hundred children have been adopted.
Have there been any adoptive family who regrated it and abandoned the child again?
So far, no! We are very strict when it comes to choosing the families.
In the media, we read that there are some orphanages that treat children as assets, and that it takes enough children to attract funds.
The biggest fear of people is the fear of money. This is also my biggest challenge. People would easily come to believe that it is the children that raise an agency rather than an agency raising children. That the agency would not survive without children. Once, someone contacted us with a large contribution. They asked the number of children in our agency. I told them we currently had three. They said that it was too few, that they wanted to make a bigger impact, and could I please introduce them to a bigger agency? So, I introduced them to a larger agency with more children.
What is the main source of your funds? Does the church support you?
Our funds are mainly from the multinational company where I used to work. It is a listed company. When I left the company, my colleagues knew that I would be taking care of orphans with disabilities. They invited me back to the company to raise funds. In the first few years, the company has been helping us, hosting fund raisers for us every year. I don’t allow the children to attend the fundraisings. I hope that they will be protected and respected from an early age and will not be placed in the public eye. So, at the fundraising events, only my colleagues and I introduce what we do. We have raised millions over the years, and the children have been aided one by one.
So far, there has been basically no church participation. If any churches invite us to share our needs in the future, I am eager to go. There are all kinds of people in our volunteer group. They tell people about us, and people who trust us will come to support us. I used to reject serving with people of different faiths, but God gradually opened my heart. One of our volunteers was previously a devout Buddhist, who also worked in a multinational company. After spending many years with us, he came to respect our faith. This year he has become a believer and will be baptized next week. He has invited me to witness his baptism.
What are your plans for the future?
I really don’t plan too much. I just want to do well the things God has entrusted to me! Someday, if there are no children needing our help, we would stop working here and each seek our own job. You would feel discouraged if you planned for the future every day. Why not trust in God? After all, the whole universe belongs to him. When we really serve others for God’s sake, God will bless us.
Two years ago, we had to feed some of seriously ill and weak children breast milk. So our co-workers went to various subway stations to bring back breast milk donated by others. This year, we re-adjusted the diet according to the children’s situation, hoping to ensure that the children have six or seven kinds of greens with meat for each meal. For children who cannot eat, we mash up the food and feed them. After a few months, three children who never opened their mouths have also begun to eat. I believe that as long as you love faithfully, God will definitely take care of you because what God values most is our heart!
Original article: 奥运光环背后，百名残障孤儿从这里被收养, by Territory (Jingjie), no longer available.
Translated, edited, and reposted with permission.
Image credit: Walking in Yellow by Totomaru via Flickr.
Are you enjoying a cup of good coffee or fragrant tea while reading the latest ChinaSource post? Consider donating the cost of that “cuppa” to support our content so we can continue to serve you with the latest on Christianity in China.