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We tend with heart to
orphanage needs and foster a
community for children adopted from Fuling, China

Fuling Orphanage Therapy
& Special Education Training

Our Therapy Teams work closely with the caring orphanage staff.

Your donation makes this crucial care possible for the kids!

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Learning Is Possible Each Day and In All Sorts of Ways
Day 1. 

Our first day working at the orphanage was intense and inspiring. 

In just one short year, since our last site visit and the first intensive occupational and physical therapy training provided by our Pacific University therapists, the orphanage has developed a new special needs classroom and therapy program for the children with disabilities! 

As we did our first walk-through to check on the children, the energy of the preschoolers and their delight in the special needs class was magnetic for us. We peeked into their classroom, and the 11 little students waved from their learning table, happy and delighted to say hello. Their teacher, Ms. Ran, is obviously adored by the children.  

Our first day was all about observation and planning in collaboration with the orphanage's staff, doctor and new special education teacher.  Three of the orphanage caregivers who are studying therapy methods spent the week prior to our visit at a hospital in the larger city of Chongqing attending training sessions offered by the Pacific University therapists and special education professor.  This week they will expand what they have learned and put their new skills into practice.  Our collective goal is to help the children grow more independent.  In some cases, early intervention may also make them eligible for adoption.

It is impossible not to dream big for most of these kids, who show such remarkable progress with the right attention and support. 

One example is mealtimes. Last year many older children were still being spoon fed by staff, while sitting on the floor, but this year it's another story!  Check out this little lunch crew.   

Eating together after a morning's work in the preschool classroom is another big step toward developing crucial motor and social skills.  The children obviously have fun together too.

As the team moved on to observe children in other rooms, the tough road ahead for many of the kids became more apparent.  Some have disabilities that are difficult to identify, while others struggle with a range of challenges like cerebral palsy and Down syndrome.  More than one will need our help to communicate and become mobile. Each child is unique in her or his disability as well as personality, so creativity and skill on the part of their caregivers will be key to creating a good learning environment for each of them.

Recently 20 new children with profound disabilities arrived at the orphanage.  There are now more than 60 children living there, ranging in age from newborn to about ten years old. 

During the last hour of our first day, we gathered once more around the orphanage conference table and collectively refined a plan for the week. Each day will begin with training sessions for First Hugs and orphanage staff on how to best hold, feed and educate kids with special needs so they can reach their full potential and take part in the world. 

In the Photo Room

This little guy (don't be fooled by the shirt) loves the Photo Room at the orphanage.  This special place features shelf after shelf of photo albums of children adopted from the orphanage and now living in 15 countries.  Proud parents, including FKI board member and parent Kathlene Postma (left) sends in albums of childen adopted from Fuling. Orphanage staff are delighted to receive and display photos of the children they once cared for. 

Adoptees on return visits are excited to find pictures of themselves and their Fuling friends here.  It's a lovely bridge between their first months or years in China and their lives after joining their families. 

Our little friend in this photo is a waiting child.  He is clever, quick and interested in everything.  His only disability is scoliosis of the spine.  We hope a lucky family chooses him soon.  Then one day he can visit the orphanage and find his own smiling face among the other adopted kids.

Making Your Way in the World.  You Can Do It!
Day 2

Training begins! Today's session with the caregivers and senior orphanage staff focused on how to lift, position and physically move children with disabilities so they can grow stronger and more independent.

For the babies, being helped to lie on their sides and to have proper support at the same time means a chance for more normal development, and for those with special needs, such as this little one in the photo, the ability to experience more eye contact and strengthen muscles. 

Babies spending too much time on their backs in their cribs is a constant problem at orphanages.  While the little ones at the Fuling orphanage get lots of floor time where they can practice rolling over, sitting up, and playing with the First Hugs aunties, their sleep and rest time is also an important part of their day and a precious opportunity to help them learn. 

For older children who have difficulty walking, such as this little guy (in the photo to the left), the way in which caregivers assist him in moving and standing can actually help him build muscles and brain power.  

Pacific University’s team of professionals led group training and one-on-one sessions with staff focusing on effective  ways to position kids' feet, limbs and torso so they can pull themselves to standing and, in the process, learn to shift themselves from their beds to walkers or chairs. This is another step forward in getting where they want to go. 

By giving verbal and facial cues to the child that indicate, "Let's stand now" and then giving the child time to begin to move himself, the caregiver is teaching him how to take part in his day and make his own decisions.

Children in institutional care need as many opportunities as possible to make their own choices and to share in daily activities with the people who care for them. Eventually, with enough practice and strength building, some of these kids will learn to move themselves. 

Look what Yang Yang can do!

After the morning training session, the occupational and physical therapy professors from Pacific U observed the staff at work with the children, stopping to give pointers and hear their concerns.  Every child at the orphanage--from the newborns without special needs to the "big kids" with a range of challenges--needs to be seen as an individual with her or his own unique potential. 

In the one-on-one consults, the therapists and special education specialist stressed the need to observe each child and to look for ways to draw her or him into learning and taking joy in the process. Nancy Cicirello (on right in photo), Physical Therapist, provided the training and coached the staff to slow down and learn from the children.

It's impossible not to fall in love with these wonderful kids. By the end of the second day, the team is succumbing to their charms.  With just a little time and attention, the kids started to shine for us. 

It was a warm summer day in this orphanage, located in mountains near the Yangtze River.  The team happily sweated it out alongside the orphanage staff in this important, rewarding work.

Mark of Love

Health for the children has been a priority for the orphanage staff for the past 11 years, or from the very first day the Fuling Social Welfare Institute started taking in children.

This visiting adoptee, Sofie (Fu De Hui), was given a welcome hug by Wu Ping, an orphanage nurse.  She pointed out to Sofie the small vaccination scar on her upper arm, given to Sofie when she was an infant living at the orphanage.  Wu Ping explained that she has vaccinated most all the children in their care over the years. Protecting them from childhood diseases is critical, especially with so many children living in close proximity.

Wu Ping explained to Sofie that she has always been careful that the vaccinations not to leave an unattractive scar on "their own Fuling children." 

Eating Well is Fundamental
Day 3

Today is all about how to best feed the children, especially the more vulnerable babies.  Over one third of the tiny ones in FKI's First Hugs program have cleft palates. 

These infants were abandoned largely because the cost for corrective surgeries, about $2000, is beyond their birth families' means.  There is also a need to help birth families understand how correctable this condition actually is.

This morning the First Hugs aunties and senior staff attended the training on how to best negotiate all those hungry babies with cleft palates.   

Sandra Pelham Foster (OT and Feeding Specialist, at left) showed the staff techniques they can apply and answered their questions.

Because the baby's lip is open and in most cases the roof of the mouth as well, feeding these children must be done with skill and patience.  If the child is not held properly, formula can flow into the nose and the lungs, creating respiratory and other problems.

The right bottle and nipple are also important so the child gets the proper amount of food.

Later the aunties and most of the team practiced the new techniques during feeding times. Giving the child time to eat is important. Some of the babies with cleft palates feed very slowly because they cannot suck.

Fortunately, the orphanage provides the initial surgery to repair each child’s lip, improving their ability to create suction when they feed.  Most of these babies will be adopted internationally, and their parents and physicians in their new home countries will help them get subsequent surgeries.  It's vital they have a strong, nutritious start at the orphanage, were they will live for the first year or two of their lives. 

Foster Brothers

Fuling Kids International has partnered with the orphanage staff to create loving foster homes.  Our dream for every child at the orphanage is a family they can call their own.  When a child is not adopted by age two, often because of a disability, the orphanage staff works to help them find a foster family.  FKI currently sponsors 20 children living in foster families.  These two cuties were in our First Hugs program at the orphange and recently joined their new foster family.  Members of our therapy team visited them at home in order to consult with their foster mom on how to enhance their learning.

At another foster home, Sandra Rogers (OT) helped this little guy work on his sensory integration while his foster brother looked on.  Team members also provided his foster parents with tips on how to help him build social skills. 

For Children Playtime Is Key
Day 4

Up for today:  How to help children of all ages and abilities use toys and playtime to best learn on a number of levels.  

Sandra Rogers (OT) and Chris Macfarlane (Special Education) sat down with orphanage staff and a 10- month-old from the baby room to give a training session on the ways in which kids use their hands and eyes to build their motor skills as well as their knowledge of their environment. 

Using toys recently donated by Fuling adoptees and those brought especially for this trip, they taught orphanage caregivers fun and clever ways to incorporate touch, feel, and reaching into everyday tasks and floor time.

One challenge for the orphanage is to have enough of the right kinds of toys for every age level.  Toys also need to be changed out regularly so kids get new information and learn new skills.  Donations in this area are always welcome! Toys children can use in a group, like kitchen sets with plates and cups, are also useful and help the children begin to hone life skills as they grow older.

Later in the day, Chris and Sandra helped Ms Ran, the special education teacher, build more circle, singing and story time into the kid's daily activities.   

The story of the "Three Little Pigs" was especially entertaining for the kids.  First Chris would tell a part of the story, then our translator would whisper it to Ms. Ran, who told it in Chinese while utilizing fun hand gestures.  The children loved it!  By copying the gestures, children learn to anticipate what's coming next and become part of the storytelling themselves.  

Chris also coached the teacher to build more small group work into her instruction.  By the end of the day, Ms. Ran had created several small group learning tasks, and the kids were already trying them out.

The First Hugs aunties were quick to use the blocks and durable stacking cups in bright colors. These promote hand and eye coordination and sequential ordering.  Of course it was highly entertaining for the kids to knock them over each time!

Learning from the Kids Early in Their Careers

Five of the specialists accompanying us on this training are professors at Pacific University's School of Health Professions and College of Education.  Taking part in this highly collaborative effort are three of their students, who will soon launch into their own careers in Occupational and Physical Therapy.

While enhancing their own understanding of children in institutional care, they also made significant contributions to improving care for the children, including organizing a year seminar specifically on the Fuling orphanage, designing a helpful booklet on raising children with autism for foster parents in Fuling (Ashley Culver, OT), assisting in creating a communication booklet for kids with no or limited speech (Mandy Littlewood, OT), and providing backup of all kinds (Ashleigh Stroud, PT).  They also tended babies and toddlers and changed baby diapers so orphanage staff could attend the trainings.

Look How Far We've Come
Day 5

Today, our last day at the orphanage for this training visit, the team fanned out to check on the progress of staff and children. 

The children have been inspiring for all of us in their determination to thrive and the strides they have made since our visit last year.  Ai Ai, who Nancy Cicirello and Sandra Rogers coached on our last training visit, has turned into an active smiling little girl with a range of life skills, all taught to her by aunties trained by the Pacific U therapists. 

Ai Ai is also thriving in the new preschool!  Next up for her is a wheel chair just her size so she can expand her world by pushing herself around the orphanage's pretty gardens and playgrounds. There are a number of places she would like to go.  At least three of the children could use new wheel chairs right this moment.  The team has begun brainstorming ways to help make that possible.

We all gathered in the conference room for a final, intense meeting in which orphanage staff, visiting therapists, and the FKI board members spoke frankly about what was accomplished this visit (a lot!) and future goals for the children and the general learning environment at the orphanage. 

The wide range of ages, personalities, and delays among the children means the staff have their work cut out for them.  But the copious notes they took and their willingness to try these new methods speaks volumes.  Their concern for the children is obvious. 

 Along with providing practical ways to improve the children's lives and potential, the team also reinforced the need for caregivers to listen and observe each child in order to figure out how she or he can best be coached and loved.

For the closing ceremony, we awarded the First Hugs caregivers certificates for attending the training sessions and to honor their great and kind work with the children.  Yang Pei Fen (far left), who keeps records for FKI and helps coordinate foster care and the nurture programs, holds the certificates of the aunties who could not attend this final meeting. (The staff rotates in order to cover longer shifts with the children at night).

Saying goodbye to the kids is never easy for our visiting team.  The more fragile children can be the most difficult to let go of.  They need all the love they can get.  We worry about them, but their will to survive and the careing staff inspires us to keep working on their behalf.

Julianne Briggs (FKI) kept slipping back to hold this child who arrived at the orphanage with a heart condition.  He loved to keep his fingers wound in her curly hair

It has been our privilege to be part of the kids' world and get to know them.  We say thank you again to the Fuling Orphanage staff for their warmth and numerous joint efforts with Fuling Kids International during the last 10 years.  We extend a deep thank you  to the faculty and staff at Pacific University in Oregon (USA) for sharing their resources and expertise in order to improve the lives of children without families. 

The future is brighter for these precious kids because of this caring and collaborative network.


You can help expand the world for these kids!  Your donation will be directed to more staff training, school supplies and therapy.

Please specify "Special Needs" in your donation

The Team

The American team members meet up in China.
Representing Fuling Kids International are board members Julianne Briggs and Kathlene Postma

Pacific University's Health Professions and College of Education faculty, including Nancy Cicirello (Physical Therapy), Sandra Rogers (Occupational Therapy), Sandra Pelham Foster (Occupational Therapy), and Chris Macfarlane (Special Education).  Recent graduates of Pacific's OT program Mandy Littlewood and Ashley Culver, and PT-in-training Ashleigh Stroud.

The Fuling Social Welfare Institute
staff working closely with the team for this session include Dr. Zha, pediatric specialist; Wu Ping and Xia Xue, therapy assistants; Ran Ran, special education teacher; and Yang Pei Fen, the new director of the FKI sponsored First Hugs and Foster Care programs.


Fuling Kids is All-Volunteer Staffed!

Board of Directors

Love Has
No Borders

Fuling Kids International is a not-for-profit association of families and friends devoted to children adopted from Fuling and their first home in China.  Fu families live in the United States, Canada, Australia, China, Sweden, France, Spain, Ireland, England, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and Iceland.

You can help expand the world for these kids!

Please specify "Special Needs" in your donation

Fuling Kids International founders Julianne Briggs (left) and Kathlene Postma (middle) with Yang Pei Shu (former orphanage director, middle) and Director Chen (right). FKI and the Fuling Orphanage are celebrating their 10th year of partnership. 

This little guy wakes each day in one of the orphanage's famous blue cribs.

Sandra Rogers (OT) coaches a a delightful preschooler with dwarfism.  We hope this outgoing girl is adopted soon!

Sharing a blanket.

Julianne Briggs (FKI) rocking and holding babies.

Dr. Zha, the orphanage's pediatric physician, knows each child. She works with this fragile boy almost daily.

Sandra Pelham Foster (OT) looks closely at this child's cleft palate in order to find the best way to help her eat.

Last year it was hard for the team to get this seven-year-old to respond to us. By this year she has made developmental strides and is always ready to smile. She reminds us building trust takes time.

Learning to stand.

Ashleigh Stroud (PT-in-training) with Little Miss Charming from the baby room.

Nancy Cicirello (PT) and a First Hugs auntie work with a child.

Hmmmm. Yes, I do like preschool.

Mandy Littlewood (OT) with a rambunctious friend.

Nap time? Who needs sleep? I'm ready to play.

Ashley Culver (OT) does floor time with the little ones.

I am watching you.

Nancy Cicirello (PT) shows how babies like circle time, too.  This demanding audience was happy.

Chris Macfarlane (Special Education) with Mr. Sweet and Cuddly.

Boppy pillows provide support for the itty bitty babies' heads and are helpful after feeding for little ones with cleft palates.

Kathlene Postma (FKI) with a gentle toddler who wanted to be cuddled.  It was hard to put her down.

I like hugs, too. And I have a favorite auntie who likes to spoil me.

One of the big kids with cerebral palsy thought the toys we brought were neat. He tried a doll bottle out on one of our resting translators during a break.

Mandy Littlewood (OT) takes her turn at floor time in the infant room.

A consult with orphanage staff and Sandra Pelham Foster (OT) on a little boy with cerebral palsy.

My turn to be picked up. How can you resist?

A page from the Communication Book that will help kids who have trouble expressing themselves. They can point and be understood. Chris Macfarlane (Special Education) designed this one especially for the kids at the orphanage.

Yang Pei Fen, Huang Yan and Dr. Zha pore over the photos of Fuling international adoptees who donated toys for this training session.  All three women helped care for these children when they lived at the orphanage.

Sandra Rogers (OT) advises Dr. Zha on how to use therapeutic equipment.

Visiting Fuling adoptee Sofie (Fu De Hui) kept babies busy each training day. We appreciated her assistance.  The babies liked seeing her face.



Fuling Kids International  Love Has No Borders

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