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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Silent Tears: A Journey of Hope in a Chinese Orphanage by Kay Bratt – A Book Review

Silent Tears     Kay_Bratt_122012_2_zpsfe9004d8-1_zpseca57b02 photo Kay_Bratt_122012_2_zpsfe9004d8-1_zpseca57b02-1_zps1c42dfe1.jpg

      Silent Tears: A Journey of Hope in a Chinese Orphanage by Kay Bratt – A Book Review
     God led me to this piece of non-fiction years ago, long before I retired from teaching, long before I started blogging and posting book reviews.  God began then preparing my heart for the little girl who will be joining our family within the next eighteen months to two years.  Kay Bratt dedicated her book to China’s Orphans; stating, “You are not forgotten.”  Indeed they are not. Biological parents in China, for a variety of reasons, have made the heart wrenching decision to leave their children, and in the words of our soon-to-be granddaughter’s new parents, “There’s a lot we don’t know about our daughter, but we do know this: She has been left to be found, and our love will find her wherever she is.”  There are many parents out there whose love has led them to find their son or daughter wherever they were, and many who are being led by God to that wonderful discovery.
     In 2002 the author’s husband was transferred to China.  She immediately set three goals for herself: to learn to speak Mandarin, to volunteer in an orphanage, and to chronicle her time overseas by keeping a journal.  Once in Shengxi, and personally experiencing the day to day life of the orphans there, Kay began a volunteer group supported by friends and family stateside. This book is a collection of her journal entries during her four years in China.
     When Kay first arrived in Shengxi, volunteers were not readily welcomed in the orphanage.  A lady named Ann was the only volunteer at the time, and she laid the groundwork for Kay’s volunteering.  Without her, Kay may never have been able to reach her second goal.  The condition of the children, the living environment, and the lack of human contact was deeply depressing.  Kay’s description of the treatment of the children is vivid, and incomprehensible to most of us living in America.  While reading this book causes the reader great sadness, it is not meant for us to close our eyes and hearts to human suffering.  The reader can hold onto the portion of the title of the text: A Journey of Hope. Kay and her corp of volunteers did indeed slowly, and over time, bring hope to the Shengxi orphanage. The volunteers realized that change needed to occur little by little, move to fast and they would be told not to return.  
     Kay introduces us, her readers, to several specific children.  It is impossible not to get emotionally involved with their stories, driven to read on and discover their fates. Squirt a baby boy who stubbornly hung on to life for as long as he could.  Xiao Feng, a small girl with a beautiful smile and a missing hand. Two year old Jin Ji, a favorite of the ayis. Yue Hua longing for the comfort of human touch and understanding. Hei Mei with a minor heart condition, dimples and a sunny disposition. Xiao Gou twice abandoned.    
     A model of God’s love, compassion and mercy, Kay expresses an understanding of the ayis, the workers responsible for the children’s care.  By looking for ways to show them appreciation and to make their jobs easier rather than criticizing and arguing with them, Kay won their confidence and respect, building relationships one visit at a time.  This resulted in greater opportunities to impact the children’s lives and eventually changes in how the ayis treated the children. 
     Kay ends her book with letters that she has received by some of those who have been touched by her story, some who have gone on to adopt.  These letters are testaments to the power of the testimony contained in these pages, be they paper or electronic.  Whether you plan to adopt, love children, or just love a touching story, you will find inspiration and hope while reading Silent Tears. 
     If you want to learn more about what happens to children who age out of “the system” in China, you may want to visit http://www.brownwingfamily.com/2013/05/what-happens-to-orphans-if-they-are-not.html.
     If you want to know more about Kay Bratt’s continuing advocacy for children, you can visit www.kaybratt.com. If you want to know more about our son and daughter-in-law’s journey into adopting through China, you can keep up with their story at https://becomingafamilyof5.wordpress.com/ or http://www.gofundme.com/babycastenir.

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