While traveling in China recently, I took the opportunity to take a side trip to meet a very special boy. Ifan had been part of the Love Without Boundaries foster care program since he was a baby.
He lived with a wonderful foster family and was particularly close to his foster father. They would work in the courtyard garden and look at cars together.
Ifan really loved visiting the neighbors in the small community in which they lived. Then one year ago, his orphanage recalled all the children back to the institution, and Ifan lost the security of living with the family he loved.
I have had the joy of adopting a boy who also benefited from LWB’s care, so meeting Ifan took on significance for me not only as an LWB volunteer but also as an adoptive mother. While my son is home, at twelve years and ten months old Ifan quite simply is running out of time to have a family of his own. I’d love to share a bit about meeting Ifan in hopes that he finds his family.
But first, I don’t want you to miss two things: that Ifan has a $20,000 grant, and that there are many videos from our visit the end of this post.
When we arrived, we headed inside the orphanage to find a place we could spread out the toys we brought for Ifan.
Ifan’s adoption file has not been updated since he was five, and those who’ve read the file had told me it frustrated them so much as it paints a picture of a child with extreme cognitive delays who perhaps couldn’t interact with us. We honestly didn’t know what to expect.
When Ifan arrived in the room, we started with a popular magnetic shape toy. Ifan deftly opened the package and went right to work! First, he built a structure from his own imagination and told us that it was a castle. Then he got out the booklet that came with the toy and built one of the pictures he saw, exactly as depicted, including the “slide” which he is finishing in the picture below. He pointed to the picture of the design he built to let me know that he had completed it as if he was saying “see, easy!”
While he assembled his creations, we talked to Ifan about his favorite things. Ifan said his favorite sport was volleyball and showed us how he bumps the ball. His favorite food was snacks, soup, and fruit, such as watermelon and bananas. As he answered our questions, his interaction with us was very appropriate for an almost-teen. When he was younger, Ifan had surgery on his club foot. Ifan said that he did not remember the surgery and that his foot did not cause him any pain. He decided to run a lap around the room to show us that he was fine.
Next, we gave Ifan some dominoes. I didn’t expect that he had ever seen the game, and it was interesting to see him think through what to do with the pieces. First, he counted the dots on a few dominos, then decided to find all the numbers in sequence (1, 2, 3…12) and put them in order while saying the numbers out loud in Chinese. When we showed Ifan how to match the number of dots to connect the dominoes, he assembled his own chain of dominoes and communicated back and forth with us about what he was doing.
Ifan then decided it would be more interesting to make a small racetrack out of the dominoes and place the little train pieces on top of the track. He said that the two trains were competing around the racetrack.
Later, we laid out a mosaic sticker book by Melissa & Doug. The object was to match the fifty or so sticker “mosaic pieces” to the proper place on a pattern to make a picture. The stickers were on one page and were all mixed up, and the pattern was on another page. Ifan paged through and chose a zebra, then he started peeling the stickers and placing them in the correct places. I watched as he matched the sticker shape to the right part of the pattern, rotating the shape when needed. My mouth was literally hanging open at this point; he is clearly a very clever boy.
I asked if we could go back outside, as the sun was going down and I wanted to get some pictures of Ifan during the “golden hour”. We had a balloon with us, and Ifan ran and hit the balloon up into the air over and over, seeking to keep it up off the ground. Another volunteer and her family were with us, and Ifan and her son took turns hitting the balloon and clearly enjoyed playing together.
We walked with Ifan to an abandoned swing set next to the canal by the orphanage and he recited a poem for us. His caregiver explained that he was the one who would fix all the toys in the orphanage. I got the impression he enjoyed mechanical challenges, as she said he would sometimes even make new toys out of broken parts.
When it was time to say goodbye to Ifan, it was hard to see him go back into the orphanage. I took some solace in seeing the gentle reassurances his caregiver game him throughout our time together, as she was clearly fond of him.
Ifan needs a loving and committed family, and with Ifan’s $20,000 adoption assistance grant, we hope that finances are less of a barrier for his family to adopt their son.
Videos of our visit with Ifan are located here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/2nmjid6vocnfh05/AADZfmqutqi9dHIM7hQLc5JVa?dl=0&fbclid=IwAR0ktu
For serious inquiries about Ifan, please contact our Adoption Advocacy team at [email protected].
~Jean Gabarra, LWB Volunteer
Love Without Boundaries proudly advocates for adoption but is not an adoption agency. We invite you to contact [email protected] with questions about a child we have featured and encourage you to contact your adoption agency for more information about China’s Waiting Child Program.