Xiao Man’s Bio Video

Spunky, delightful, energetic, dramatic, joyful, cuddly, sweet…there are so many words that can be used to describe Xiao Man. When she came to the orphanage a couple of years ago, it was heartbreaking to see her grieve the loss of her family and the world she had known. However, this resilient little girl has adjusted beautifully, and recovered her happy spirit.

Stylin in the hood

This sweetheart LOVES to perform! Whether she’s delivering an impromptu “speech,” dancing to the music, or singing karaoke before her adoring fans, she is rarely happier than when she has a platform and an audience. She also enjoys being “big sister” to the smaller children, and they love and trust her. Despite her extroverted personality, she also loves curling up in a lap and snuggling in for a nice nap.

Sweetly Sleeping

Please watch her video and get to know this delightful little girl. Her extra 21st chromosome must contain a special dose of personality and fun, because she is over the top wonderful. Won’t you pray for a family for this sweetheart, and consider whether that family might be yours? Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions you might have. :)



Xiao Wen’s Bio Video

We’re not supposed to have favorites at the orphanage, but my sister, Hope, definitely has had a special relationship with Xiao Wen since he first came. It’s so sweet to see the two of them together– her tenderly caring for him, and him smiling and snuggling responsively.


Actually, very few of us think of him as “Xiao Wen,” because we nicknamed him “Yoda” almost as soon as we saw him. It’s impossible not to imagine a baby Yoda when we see his adorable ears and beaming smile.

Content Joyful


Watch Xiao Wen’s video, and fall in love with his happy, responsive personality, as we have. The force of love is strong in this one. Needs a family he does! :) Perhaps it’s yours? Please pray that God would provide someone to love Xiao Wen forever. He’s so deserving of a family of his very own! Please contact me if you have any questions about this precious boy.

Xiao Ming’s Bio Video

Smiles have a way of transforming faces, of brightening the dreariest days and filling them with sunshine. Xiao Ming has the kind of grin that shines so happily that we’ll do almost any silly thing just to see it spread across his face.

image IMG_0251

His delighted giggle, brought on by having raspberries blown beneath his ear, or being swung upside down, matches his sweet smile. How wonderful it would be to see that smile bloom in the loving care of a family!


Please watch Xiao Ming’s video, and get to know this special child. Pray for him. Feel free to fall in love with his grin, as we have! :) If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me, and I’d be glad to answer them. Wouldn’t you love to see this beaming face around your dinner table?

Reach out and Touch Someone

Touch is something we often take for granted. Hug a friend in greeting. Hold hands as we pray. Rock a little one to sleep. Lean against each other for warmth or support. As members of a family, or a friend group, we usually have as much physical affection as we want (some of us more than we want, although I’ve yet to reach that point :) ).

Cuddle Time

Orphans have the same need for touch that we do, but sadly far less access to it. Caregivers are busy keeping them fed, clean, and safe. Their hands are often too full to hold the small fingers reaching out to them. So whenever the children have the opportunity to cuddle, they take advantage of it.

Content to be Loved

I Love Jie Jie!

The closer they can snuggle, the more they can nestle against us, the better they like it.

Satisfied in her Arms

Don't let me go, okay?

Sometimes there aren’t enough laps to go around, so they make the most of the laps available.

Lap-full of Lovin'

Other times even therapy is welcomed, as long as loving arms are part of the package.

Helping HandI love therapy, if I get time with you!

Naptime is never quite as sweet as when it can be taken resting against a loved one.

Sweetly Sleeping Naptime Snuggles

And of course hugs and kisses are the very best things of all!

Hugs are the best! Kissing Tiny Toes

Thankfully, they always have their “brothers and sisters” at the orphanage to love and support them…

Friends Forever

…but we know that’s not the same as a family. As wonderful as friends are, they cannot replace the safe and loving arms of a mommy and daddy, which is what these children really want. Truly, it’s the same thing we want, which is why God promises in Deuteronomy 33:27 “The eternal God is a dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”

Safe and Sound

Are we willing to do that? Are we willing to open our hearts and arms to one more child, and touch their lives forever? Can we put aside the comfortable known, in order to embrace the sweet unknown that is these little lives?

Happy to be Held

I pray that one day each of these children would know the secure love and affection that comes from having a forever family. They will give just as much love (if not more) than they receive.

First John 4:19 says, “We love because He first loved us.” Will you love one of these little ones?

The Many Faces of Xiao Wen

How we love this expressive, happy little boy! Each face seems sweeter than the last. Here’s a peek into some of our favorites:













Don’t you  just want to snuggle him? You can! Contact me at joydexter@pearlriverdiaries.com to find out how. :)

Dong Dong’s Bio Video

For several years now I’ve wanted to have bio videos made for the orphans, to help you get to know them better. Their fun personalities and sweet character come through so much more clearly on film than through pictures or words. Recently, God answered prayers by bringing a new couple to our volunteer group, one of whom just “happened” to be a filmographer. When he broached the idea of making videos for each child, I eagerly accepted. As you will see, he did a beautiful job. This video on Dong Dong is the first in what we hope to be a series of short films letting you meet some of our precious kiddos.

A couple of years ago, I posted this article about Dong Dong– http://pearlriverdiaries.com/advocacy/?p=236. Though he’s paper ready and his file has been on China’s Waiting Child List, no family has yet come forward to make this treasure their own.

DongDong with his eggs 4

Let me tell you about Dong Dong. Spend a day with him, as we do when we go to the orphanage. When we drive up, he’s usually waiting in the parking lot, greeting us joyously with “JieJie! GeGe! (Big sister! Big brother!), and giving us hearty hugs. Grabbing our bag with one hand to carry it upstairs, he’ll hold our hand with the other, and happily climb the stairs with us to his domain.

Throughout the day, Dong Dong is never far from one of his buddies. He’ll often have his arm around one of their shoulders as they go about their business. Because he’s a “big brother” at the orphanage, he is a leader in play. Their sometimes rambunctious fun can alternate between wrestling, acting out elaborately imagined scenes, dancing to peppy Cantonese music, playing chase, building blocks, singing karaoke, and playing ball.

With his fun-loving personality comes a very sweet and helpful side. When we give the children baths, he’s often right there to help rinse the tubs, hand us new cloths, dump out the old water, and draw up a fresh tub. He delights in being given something productive to do, and we can see the pride on his face when we commend him for his hard work.

Dong Dong is also a great cuddler. We all enjoy his impulsive, warm hugs throughout the day. In the afternoon, he often has quiet times when he just wants to curl up on our lap and rest his head on our chest. At times he’ll be so contented and relaxed that he’ll just fall asleep. Those are precious moments, indeed.

Please, watch this video and see for yourself what a sweetheart Dong Dong is. Though he has definitely made a place for himself at the orphanage, he would thrive so much more in a loving family. Dong Dong’s time to be adopted is running out. In just a few short years he’ll be fourteen, and forever unable to be adopted. Would you please join me in praying that God would bring a family to adopt Dong Dong? Perhaps that family might even be yours. Feel free to fall in love with him while you watch. Please also don’t hesitate to share this post with a friend or forum you think might be a good fit for him.

We love Dong Dong, and hope that after you watch this video you will, too! :) Contact me at joydexter@pearlriverdiaries.com if you have any questions.

Si Hai- Love in Action

Each child who comes to the orphanage has their own set of hurts or difficulties. Especially with the older children, it’s often heartbreaking to watch them go through the stages of grief, adjust, and heal from the pain of abandonment. Children deal with it in their own ways.

When Si Hai (Four Seas) came in June, I was surprised by the way he handled  the adjustment. He wasn’t angry, despondent, or afraid. He just poured out love on the people around him.

If a child wants to be pushed in their chair or vehicle, Si Hai is right there, propelling them around the room with a smile.

If we’re helping a child, he wants to lend a hand, too.

And if someone needs a hugs (even if they don’t realize it), he’s absolutely there to give them a squeeze.

I’ve been astounded by this boys sweetness and unselfishness. These two pictures capture just a hint of his character. It’s as though he sees Hope loving on Xiao Shi…

…and then is so happy that the baby is getting snuggles that he can barely contain his joy.

Joy…Si Hai just exudes it.

Sometimes things can get a little rough, but his responses are just priceless. I’ve seen kids snatch toys from him or even push him, and he just shakes himself off, goes over, and gives them a big hug. At one point, I turned to the other volunteers and said, “Have any of you ever seen this child sin? Seriously, I know he’s not perfect, but he’s just so sweet!” Because of his kind reactions, he seems to have a good relationship with every child in the orphanage. Even some of the rougher ones can be found walking arm and arm with Si Hai, or coming over to get one of his hugs. His tenderness definitely has a softening influence.

Truly, this is a precious child. Look at his little face, just glowing with happiness…

…though sometimes he’s just as serious and earnest as can be.

When he’s helping or cooperating, he’s especially intent…

…doing his best to please the person with whom he’s working or playing.

This video captures just a bit of his joyful exuberance. Though it’s just cell phone quality, hopefully you can see his cute personality shining through, and fall in love with him as we have (sorry, I can’t figure out how to imbed it, so you’ll have to click on the link)- Si Hai, the Dancing King

I just love this kid. Loving, giving, peacemaking, joyful, kind…these are just a few of the words I’d use to describe Si Hai.

Any family would be unimaginably blessed to have this little guy join them. He’s about 6 years old, and gets along beautifully with older or younger children (even babies). Would you please join me in praying for a family for Si Hai, and search your hearts to see if that family might be yours? Please feel free to share this post with others, and don’t hesitate to contact me in the comments section or through email to learn more.

Have you had your hug today?




Egg-citing Day!

Since Orphan Camp is coming up next week, I figured I’d better go ahead and post about Easter so we can at least keep up with the big events. Way to stay on top of things,  Joy (haha)! :)

Easter has always been a simple, but fun holiday for us at the orphanage. Since the Good News is God’s focus for the holiday, we think it should be ours, as well. Though the kids are young, they’re never too young to hear this story. We have found Resurrection Eggs to be a very effective means of sharing Easter. Cathy did a fantastic job! Every egg has a small token of the resurrection story inside of it, such as a donkey to indicate his triumphant entry into Jerusalem, coins to show His betrayal, nails in the shape of a cross, and then an empty egg at the end to symbolize the empty tomb. The children were mesmerized by the story, and wanted to touch each piece. Xiao Man here was showing us that she knew how Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. She’s such a smart girl. I just love her heart.

After the story time, we were ready for the Easter egg hunt. You have never seen excitement until you have seen the children go after those eggs! First we “hide” them outside (with varying degrees of difficulty)… …and then we set the children loose to find them. Every child gets to go, even if they can’t actively participate. Some of them like A Yu… …and A Buo, just enjoy the sun and breeze on their faces… …others, like Wu Fu (Five Blessings), stared in fascination at the proceeds… …while Gang Gang was a bit more hands-on in his play. AnAn couldn’t participate in quite the same way, because of his blindness, but he liked exploring the eggs with his hands and tasting the treats inside. Ah, the treats inside. My, how those children loved finding all that yummy candy! Xixi was feeling quite smug about his haul… …while A Bai celebrated every egg… …and Xiao Man was mostly interested in noshing candy.

Dong Dong, on the other hand, generously gave most of his candy away, and spent most of his time carefully arranging his colorful eggs. For at least half an hour, he was completely engrossed, making sure that every egg was un-nested… …taken apart… …and methodically arranged in rows. He was nothing if not thorough in his pursuit of order.

A couple of the children had no desire to hunt eggs at all, but were much more excited to be pushed around by their “big brothers” in their cars. The preferred speeds were fast… …and faster! :)

Out of all the children’s reactions and pictures, this one was the hardest won and most satisfying- Xiao Xiong (Little Hero) was left at the orphanage this winter, and has been (very understandably) grieving deeply ever since. Because he speaks a dialect that none of the orphanage staff, nor any of our volunteers speak or can identify, his frantic communication cannot be understood. Even when being cuddled or played with, he is almost always grave and solemn. You can imagine how excited we were to see his sweet, shy smile break out over his face as he broke open the egg and discovered the sweet treat inside.  Definitely the best surprise of the day!

Every holiday like Easter or Christmas, I think of all that Jesus sacrificed so that I can be adopted from my broken, grieving, hopeless life; made His child; and given joyous life eternal, filled with forgiveness, hope and peace. I look at children like Little Hero, with his hurting heart and deep need for love, and I see myself before Jesus made me His own. When all the trappings and traditions of these holidays are stripped away, there is His heart for adoption. Do you share His heart? Do you look at Little Hero, Dong Dong, Gang Gang, Xiao Man, and others, and see broken hearts worthy of love and redemption? If so, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I would love to help you learn more about the process of adopting one of these precious children as your own.

Bennett- Our Little Miracle Man

Meet Bennett!

Have you ever seen anyone so sweet?

Bennett is an easy going 12 month old boy with Down Syndrome.   He has a ready smile which causes anyone near him to become instantly smitten.

He loves being around people and enjoys “participating” in conversations.

Bennett is extremely expressive and has an even-keeled demeanor. He is currently being fostered by a Christian American woman.

When we met Bennett, he was a very sick little boy. Praise the Lord, when he was 11 months old, he had surgery to repair 3 congenital heart defects (ASV, VDA, and PDA) that were causing pulmonary hypertension.

Since his surgery, his growth, energy and eating habits have been incredible.  We see how the timing of Bennett’s surgery was in God’s perfect plan.  The testimony of Ben’s life will forever bring Glory to his Faithful Father.

Bennett’s heart is strong and he does not have any residual lung issues from the pulmonary hypertension. He has no thyroid problems, or other health concerns.




As you can see, this little boy is so incredibly fun and playful.  He loves being outdoors and exploring new sights, textures and sounds.

God has used Bennett’s life to show others His love and faithfulness.  I believe the right family will see Bennett’s face, and say, “Here’s the child we’ve waited for”.

Is it you?  This little treasure will bless your socks off!  Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions.


Happy Day

Orphanage Day is a highlight of our week, but more importantly, it’s a highlight of the children’s week. When our van drives into the courtyard, they are waiting eagerly- calling out “JieJie! GeGe! (Big sister! Big brother!)” running to give us hugs, taking us by the hands and pulling us up the stairs for a day of love and fun.

My, how these children love to be loved! Whether they’re being tickled….

…playing ball…

…doing therapy…

…playing together with toys…

…or just being held…

(which is maybe their favorite part)

…these sweethearts thoroughly enjoy every moment of one-on-one attention.

Look at their happy faces…

…gaze into their eyes…

…bask in their shining smiles…

…and imagine what it would be like for each of them to have a family of their own and receive this kind of love and personal attention every day.

Each one of these darling children is waiting for a family.

Created in God’s image, each one of them is valuable and precious is His sight.

Are they precious in ours?

Please continue to pray fervently with us that the God who puts the lonely into families would provide a family for each one of these orphans- homes where Jesus is loved and His Word is taught.

What a day that will be for these children, when they have a home of their own and every day is better than Orphanage Day! :)