Living Hope International values and advocates family model orphan care to provide the orphaned children with family like care. In the small family setting, children can enjoy love from the house parents and experience family life. For more than 20 years, Living Hope International provides more than housing and food, but also education, medical, and spiritual care to the orphaned children. Our goal is to offer love, opportunity and hope to the children in need, and give them the tools they need to become educated, mature and independent adults.
In Fuzhou Living Hope Children’s Home (LHCH), there are three family units raising 11 children. There are also those over 16-year-old who are away for study and return to LHCH on weekends and holidays. The three couples live with the children in LHCH all year round, day and night. Recently, LHCH house parents had a sincere discussion on challenges they face in their work. The biggest challenge for them is neither how to take care of the children, nor the hard work, but how to position themselves in building relationship with the children. What role are they playing in the children’s life? Parent, nurse, or teacher? Maybe all of these. The house parents stated that they put their hearts to the children as biological parents do. Some house parents shared when the children make mistakes, they always feel hesitated to discipline them like biological parents. They reported the younger children who came to LHCH’s care at 2 or 3 years old do regard them as parents, while many older children become rebellious once being disciplined, because they know that house parents are not their “real” parents.
Another big challenge is when house parents see children leave. Many children at Fuzhou LHCH were rescued from trafficking, and are not cleared for adoption according to the Chinese government’s policy. That is to say, these children cannot be adopted. In order to best help these unadoptable children, LHCH provide them with family like care—with small family units and longer-term committed house parents. However sometimes the government decided to place the children into local foster homes, so the children have to leave LHCH. When this happened, house parents always felt sad to see them leave. What they can do is to sincerely pray children are placed with a suitable long-term family, if a forever family is not possible.