Oh, Coco...you stole my heart. Coco has quite the mysterious background. She came to Starfish a couple weeks before we arrived, right before her 2nd birthday. As I mentioned before, she couldn't sit up when she came. Amanda said that she would fall back immediately after being sat up. By the time we arrived, she was holding her own bottle with both hands. Both of her hands have movement but one isn't on your normal wrist. I'm not sure what the medical term for it is. She also came with some mystery scars and they aren't quite sure what surgeries they came from. I do know that she had a colostomy surgery, which causes her to have horrible diaper rashes. (and I mean horrible...the worst I've seen.)
We are not sure what Coco has been doing in the orphanages for the past two years, but you can't help but think that she spent a majority (or all) of her time laying in bed with little interaction with people. To see her improve so quickly makes this seem like one of the only likely scenarios. While we were at Starfish, she started sitting up better in her high chair and pretty much holding herself up. Although it scared her in the beginning, they started sitting her on the floor for a little bit and we found she could hold herself up there and became quite happy playing on the floor. Before long, she was looking through her books and playing with toys while sitting on the floor! We also started playing with her "other" hand...the one that is basically on a shorter arm and lacking a wrist. (I hope I am not slaughtering her medical conditions here!) It has movement but she wasn't using it. We started playing with her fingers and putting toys in that hand and within a day, she was grabbing toys with it and turning pages of her books with it. Our last experiment was to teach her a new greeting. Coco has this adorable signature greeting that everyone at Starfish knows. It is similar to the sound one says when someone calls their name (huh?) but with more of a mmm to it. Adorable. But we thought we would try a wave. So every time someone would walk into the isolation room, we would go through a big back and forth "hi" session, complete with us waving to her and us waving her arm. A day later, she held her arm up a little longer after someone waved for her. The next day, she wiggled her fingers when her arm was raised. I wouldn't be surprised if she is waving like crazy now. Her learning curve is amazing and I just can't help but wonder where she would be at now if she hadn't spent the last 2 years being neglected. Don't worry, Coco...you have an army that is going to help you catch up. (and love you to bits and pieces all along the way.)
And on that note...it was so encouraging to see the many, many volunteers that come through Starfish. I can't blame them as I can't think of a better way to spend a vacation. But bigger than all of the traveling volunteers were the local Chinese that come volunteer rather regularly. I see their attachment to the babies at Starfish and their concern with the plight of these sweet babies to be a gigantic sign of hope for generations to come. We also got to meet some wonderful volunteers that got to stay much longer than we did and got to see many more miracles than we did. Jealous? Yeah, just a little.
ps: Keep your eyes open. I know of a certain thirteen year old that is working like crazy to open a special etsy shop pretty soon. Shopping with 100% of the proceeds going to Starfish sounds like guilt free shopping to me, don't you think?