Lost Laowai has an essay by Kay Bratt, an American "trailing spouse" who moved to China in 2003 leaving a corporate job and went on to write about her experiences living in China and working with local orphanages and adopted kids in Silent Tears: A Journey of Hope in a Chinese Orphanage, as well several Asian-inspired novels:
It started out as a few hours a week spent with the children but quickly became a passion that took over and rocked my perspective of my place in this world. Along with hours spent pacing aisles holding feverish infants, and participating in assembly-line bathing, there were heart-wrenching goodbyes whispered to those destined to leave the world too early. I soon found myself leaving the orphanage each day ashamed of the indulged existence I was living when so many had next to nothing.
It was my first initiation into an environment much harder than any I’d ever known, and many devastating moments remain branded in my memory.
Over time I, and the team of women I slowly built up, accomplished a lot in our pledge to improve the lives of the little ones, but even though I’d found something meaningful to do, there were times that I was completely disheartened—a battered and bleeding soul. I remember a day when another child I’d been fighting for had died, and when the news reached me, the usual strong armor I wore fell from me, leaving me broken as I sobbed for hours. We’d fought so hard for little Xin Xin and lost–her life cut short because of miles of bureaucratic red tape. When asked how I got through it all, I can honestly say that it was through a hobby I’d had all my life that I was able to hold back the demons and release the daily pressure cooker of emotions I held.
Writing. It was the through the keystrokes on my keyboard that images I couldn’t speak of came to life again, allowing me to grieve for the precarious truth of institutional life in a third world country. I left China almost five years later, torn between wanting to escape the sad environment I’d immersed myself in and wanting to stay to continue the fight.
Read the rest of the post here.