I thought I'd answer (in no particular order) some of the questions we get asked most frequently. If you have a question that isn't on the list, leave it in a comment.
Updated: I have some more posts where I answer other FAQs, so check them out as well.
Glimmers of Joy and Signs of Hope
Where are you serving?
We're working at a foster home for special needs orphans in China. We don't publicly post the name of the organization on our blog, just due to general sensitivity issues in China. If you want to know, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we'll tell you by email.
What do you do?
Though we work at a foster home, we aren't foster parents. (i.e. - We're not responsible for raising children.) We both wear several "hats." Jacob manages our organization's IT Network and works with volunteer services. Carrie works mostly on PR-type projects for the foster home and does a lot of writing.
How can I help?
So glad you asked. There are lots of ways... so many that I made a dedicated blog post to answer just that question! You can help either the foster home or us personally. (We're volunteers and rely on others for our support.)
What did you do in the states?
Well, one thing we didn't do is go to seminary... which seems to be a "prerequisite" that when uncompleted holds many people back from this life-choice. That issue is worthy of a whole other posting, but at any rate... Jacob was an electrical engineer and Carrie was an international adoption caseworker. Neither of us saw ourselves as the type of people who would up and do something crazy like this.
How did you know you should go?
Let's get one thing straight -- we are not saints. We are not super-holy, and we aren't Mother Teresas-in-training. For us it started with a trip to China 2 years ago. We worked in a government orphanage, and it forever altered our perception of what was important in our lives. We went back the following year with another group; that trip sort of confirmed it... over the course of those 2 years, the desire to come increased. At first it was a "that would be cool if" thing, and then it was a "what if we really did it" thing, and finally it was an "if we don't do it, we'll always regret it" thing. It slowly changed from a far-fetched dream to a reality, and it is hard to pinpoint an exact time when we made the decision. It just sort of happened...
Who wanted to move to China?
We both did. It was really a choice we made together. Neither one of us would have had the courage to do it independently, most likely, and both of us wanted to come. And, on many days, both of us want to go home. But, that's just the reality of this life.
Are you paid?
All foreign foster home workers are volunteers. Because of Jacob's position with another part of our organization, they provide us with housing. However, this does not cover all of our expenses. The rest of our needs are met by individuals who have decided that they want to support our work. If someone wants to donate to us personally, we can provide them with a copy of our budget.
What else does your organization do?
It is a little known fact that in addition to the foster home, our organization has an oral English school, and a factory that makes lots of little trinkets, magnets, and other things that you could find at your local Christian bookstore. (And, unlike some things you'll find in your local Christian bookstore, they weren't made by 13-year-olds working 12 hours a day/29 days a month in an unventilated factory! Nifty, huh?!)
How long will you stay in China?
We don't know. Until we think it is time to leave!
Are you going to adopt?
Most likely! But we aren't 30 yet, so China isn't an option for now... and for obvious reasons, it would be our first choice.
How long have you lived in China?
We moved here in October of 2007.
Don't know... why not? We often say that if our first trip had been to India, that's probably where we would have gone. (Note to Our Moms: You can praise the Lord we didn't go to Papau New Guinea in 2005!! Bet they don't have Skype there...) It is funny, because it wasn't someplace either of us imagined liking or even wanting to go; everything sort of just happened -- maybe it was a divine plan. :)
Can we come see you?
Probably so! We have lots of visitors. When you come, you can volunteer at the foster home. If you are interested in something like that, e-mail us. However, we reserve the right to claim at least one of your suitcases for food that we crave from home. You don't really need 2 full suitcases of stuff anyway. (-;
Do you have a western style toilet?
Yes! In our apartment! Actually, our apartment is pretty comfortable. We live on the 3rd floor in a very typical/non-descript Chinese apartment complex. Nothing fancy, but certainly more than adequate. Sometimes we have shower-envy... as in, if you have a shower stall, we envy you. But that's getting better for the most part.
What's been the hardest part of living overseas?
Generally speaking it would probably be coming to terms with who we really are. We had "mental pictures" of ourselves that were a bit (understatement) more flattering than reality. We thought we were progressive, adaptable, humble, accepting, and not very consumeristic, among other things. In one way or another, this experience has blown our cover in every area. For us, living here has truly been a refiner's fire -- which isn't usually pleasant. There's also a lot of things about living in a place where you are always an outsider that isn't easy, but usually that proves to be a good learning experience and very eye-opening.
Can we adopt one of the kids we see on your blog?
Generally speaking, no. The CCAA (Chinese government agency responsible for adoptions) has a policy against pre-identified adoptions, which is what it would be if you saw a child on our blog and tried to adopt him/her. Sometimes, the government makes exceptions if a family wants to adopt a child who has a difficult special need or a child who would be difficult to place for some other reason. What I always try to encourage people to do is try to look at our kids as representative of all the other children in orphanages... children who don't have the advantage of lots of fun photo opps and no cute outfits. Though it is more difficult to see their personalities, they need families just as much as our kids do. And, so far the foster home hasn't had a child who wasn't adopted, so our kids do get families!
Can we send you something in the mail?
Yes! It is fun to get cards, letters, etc. in the mail! And, since we're close to Beijing, it is reliable as well. E-mail us for our address. We really like mail.
More questions? Remember - you can leave a comment with a question, and we'll try to answer them!