Though Anjing was unlucky to be born with a severe birth defect that led to her abandonment in a hospital corridor, she blossomed under the care of her OneSky “Mamas.”
Anjing’s nannies and preschool teachers at the orphanage and the Chunhui China Care Home where she recuperated from medical treatment to straighten her misshapen legs and hands, celebrated every milestone on her journey to becoming their much beloved “Sunshine Girl.”
But until she entered OneSky’s Loving Family program, which creates families for children with special needs who are unlikely to be adopted, at the age of three, Anjing had never known what it meant to have a mom, dad, sisters and a brother of her own.
At first, Anjing was overwhelmed living in her new family of Cantonese speakers after spending a year in Mandarin-speaking Beijing. Anjing’s mom, Chen Yanqing, doesn’t speak Mandarin well, but she tried hard to learn as much as she could from OneSky’s family mentor and she made sure to speak slowly and gently. When Anjing pointed at the mosquito netting in her new home, a renovated apartment on orphanage grounds, a puzzle for a child who had spent a year in the cooler north, Chen told her, “It stops mosquitoes from biting my little girl.” Anjing nodded and said, “mosquito.”
Still, at night Anjing would weep uncontrollably. Chen suspected Anjing was missing her CCCH nanny, Liu Xiali, so with the help of OneSky’s family mentor, she connected with her online. Nanny Liu told her about Anjing’s favorite foods and her favorite “love me-love you” game, which Chen starting playing with her.
Anjing’s siblings helped too. Big brother Miaosheng, who is 12, would wipe away Anjing’s tears and pat her back. Big sister Xiangdie, who is 10, would gently hold Anjing’s hands and tell her not to cry. And big sister, Nana, who is 5 years old and not yet able to talk, would touch Anjing’s face and do her best to provide comfort by humming. All that doting over their baby sister would end with the four children laughing uproariously!
It took only two weeks for Anjing to blend completely into the routines of her new family. Anjing and her sisters love leafing through family albums, laughing and pointing at their own photos. “Haha, Anjing, having meals, Nana, crying!”
Every night, Mama Chen massages Anjing’s legs and feet while reading stories, which distracts her from the pain of the massages that are crucial for her post-op recovery.
Anjing and her siblings eagerly listen for their dad Jiang Zexin’s footsteps when he comes home from work after his long commute so they can rush him at the door. Now Anjing’s favorite game is her dad raising her up in the air after she runs headlong into him. One night, Chen found a spot of mud on Jiang’s pants that she brushed away. The next day, Anjing and her siblings copied their Mom by brushing away every speck of dirt from their dad’s pants.
Weekday mornings, Mama Chen gets up early and prepares breakfast for everyone. Then Miaosheng sets off for community school, Xiangdie for a special education class, and Nana and Anjing for their OneSky preschool class. Anjing sits in her wheelchair and Nana pushes her down the stairs to get to the class. When school is over, Anjing and Nana quietly wait for their mom to pick them up.
Mama Chen, who has two grown biological sons, is thrilled that she finally has daughters because she loves dressing them up and doing their hair. She braids Anjing’s hair while letting Anjing look at herself in the mirror. “Anjing, I’m going to comb your hair and braid it later. Look at yourself in the mirror. Aren’t you beautiful with braids?” Mama compliments her with a smile. “Beautiful! Braids!” Anjing repeats. When her Mama is not around, Anjing combs her sister Nana’s hair and Nana gives Anjing a kiss of thanks. In her preschool class, Anjing likes playing in the play house where, just like her mom, she picks up a toy hair dryer and a mirror and blow dries her own hair.
On the day of a party to celebrate three years of OneSky’s Infant Nurture, Preschool, and Loving Family programs at the Huazhou orphanage, Anjing’s mom got up early to make sure her children were dressed in their finest. She helped Anjing put on a white dress and don bunny ears. To match the festive atmosphere, she even helped Anjing put on some lipstick. Anjing appreciated her new look in the mirror and turned around to see her Mom smiling. “Anjing, there will be a party together with your friends. And there will be cake, fruits, snacks and you will be dancing and singing together.” Then her mom asked, “Are you happy?” With a big smile, Anjing, now a Sunshine Girl with a Mom of her own said, “Happy.”