Xiao Long is now 12 years old. He was born with a cleft palate and was abandoned by his birth parents when he was just one. He was placed into institutional care, but after six months, a foster placement had been arranged for him. He has been living with this same foster family now for over 10 years. Throughout that time, Care for Children have given training and support to his foster parents and to the staff at the child welfare institution where he used to live, many of whom have now been trained to become family placement workers.
When Xiao Long was first placed into his new family he was wary, cold and withdrawn. He seldom smiled, cried, spoke or played. He was defensive and angry, deeply distrustful of everybody.
His new mum was very patient and sensitive, and she became good at reading his signals. She quickly figured out how to tell when he was hungry, distressed or sick. She spent all her time and energy looking after him even when she herself was ill in hospital. She was always there for him. Eventually, Xiao Long began to open up, turning to his foster mum whenever he was upset.
Xiao Long’s foster mum truly treasures him – he is the apple of her eye. The first time his foster mum heard Xiao Long call her "mum”, her heart swelled. She knew that all the hard work had been worth it. A strong bond has now formed between them.
Today Xiao Long attends his community’s local primary school. He has a great interest in drawing and is very talented at it, and his foster family have recognised this. The child welfare institution where he used to live has also recognised that children like Xiao Long, who have had difficult starts in life, may need additional support through to adulthood. With Care for Children’s guidance, the institution has developed a strong family placement programme that continues to support Xiao Long’s foster family, and even helps to provide a private art teacher to cultivate Xiao Long's talents. These classes have greatly increased his confidence and passion.
Now, whenever his classmates come to see him, he takes out his drawings and will show them to all his friends. His foster family is incredibly proud of him, and has displayed all his drawings on the walls around their home. This gives Xiao Long an enormous sense of belonging.
At school Xiao Long is well liked by his teachers and peers, and he is really helpful, even acting as the head teacher’s "little assistant”. When he grows up he wants to work in the field of fine arts.