When Half the Sky was founded in 1998, it was named after the Chinese adage “Women hold up half the sky” because the vast majority of healthy abandoned children were girls. Today, orphanage populations have changed somewhat, but it is still Half the Sky's goal to help orphaned children hold up their half of the sky.
Yes, Half the Sky is committed to bettering the lives of all children who live in China's welfare institutions, regardless of gender.
Orphaned children are entitled to receive basic medical care through their home institution or local hospitals. When needs are more serious and require surgery, help is usually available locally through the Tomorrow Plan, which is administered by the Chinese government. Many of the most complicated cases, requiring complex surgery or multiple treatments, receive pre and post treatment nurturing care through Half the Sky's China Care Home in Beijing. In these instances, Half the Sky's China Care Medical Director arranges and monitors a treatment plan for the child.
Yes. In recent years, the numbers of children in China’s welfare institutions who have physical and developmental special needs have increased dramatically. HTS believes that all children have potential and that children with severe special needs may thrive when they are given the nurturing care that is at the heart of all our work, and when they are integrated into activities with other children.
There is nothing as good for a child as growing up in a permanent loving family, but, for many reasons, large numbers of orphaned children are institutionalized, either for short or for very long periods. Children can’t wait to receive nurturing care. As long as there are children living in institutions, it is imperative that they receive the nurturing they need for healthy development.
Half the Sky’s approach to nurturing the institutionalized child draws from Italy’s Reggio Emilia educational philosophy, which is focused on helping the “whole child” develop a strong sense of self, love of learning, and individual expression; and then it incorporates traditional Chinese methods to best prepare children for success in local community schools.
While a formal evaluation of the effectiveness of HTS programs is underway, our approach has long been guided by documentation that chronicles developmental growth and helps staff plan future activities and strategies for supporting each child. Activities, drawings, and snippets of conversations are regularly documented in print and video reports by teachers and caregivers; older children keep their own journals and comment on their own progress under a mentor’s guidance.
No, Half the Sky is not an adoption agency, and we have nothing to do with the adoption process (though many of our most loyal supporters are adoptive parents!). We suggest that prospective adoptive parents network with other families who have already adopted; one great resource in North America is Families with Children from China, www.fwcc.org. There are other online resources for prospective parents in countries that have an adoption agreement with China, including these:
We will be happy to check to see if we have any progress reports/photos on file for your daughter or son and, if we do, send you the original Chinese and an English translation of the reports. Just download a progress report request form and send it to us after you return from China. We are unable to provide any information about a child in our program or confirm that a child is enrolled in our program before the adoption is finalized.
Half the Sky has no access to orphanage records/medical information about your child. We happily send our progress reports to adoptive families after the adoption is finalized, but because our staff is not medically trained, our progress reports are not medical reports. They are instead short updates (each with a photo) that our caregivers, who are trained to provide nurturing care for institutionalized children, create about the progress of every child in their care several times a year. If you child received medical care at the China Care Home we will provide some medical information and photos.
Our Beijing office will try to track the memory book down, though occasionally there are bureaucratic glitches and the institution is unable to find the original or, in rarer cases, a copy. Please contact us and we will do our best to retrieve your child's memory book.
Sorry, we do not have the resources to translate memory books. If you don't read Chinese and don't know anyone who reads Chinese, we suggest that you check with a local college to find someone who can translate it.
Half the Sky does not collect toys or clothing for orphanages. Our centers are initially well stocked with toys, books and music carefully chosen by our child development experts and when the centers need refurbishing we raise the funds to restock them with the same toys, books and music. You may wish to contact the orphanages directly to see if they have any specific needs. Orphanages often do not accept clothing donations, particularly donations of used clothes. HTS can provide you with a list of the developmental toys and books we use in our centers.
If Half the Sky has a center at your child’s orphanage, you can target a HTS donation of any size to that orphanage. Simply include a note on your donation form. If HTS does not operate a program in your child’s orphanage, we suggest you earmark your donation for the Rainbow Program – a cooperative effort with CCCWA that is enabling HTS to train every child welfare worker In China.