Monday, March 19, 2012

Day of answers, closure, a new chapter

This the first day after signing on to be a part of our family started with breakfast.  We came to the breakfast area, selected a table, and each proceeded to get their drinks, fruit, main dishes.  After a bit I, at some point I said to Tian, where is Jiejun?  She said I don't know.  I asked her to go see. She came back with him following holding two plates of eggs. You think wow and then double wow when he proceeds to hand one to me and one to his sister.  Watching out for us.

First breakfast delivered by my son to me

Tian's breakfast given by Jiejun

Shortly after breakfast the van arrived to take us to the orphanage located in the Nanhai District of Foshan about 20 miles west of our hotel.  Sights along the way.

The video ends as we approach the SWI compound.  Pulling in, getting out of the van, we go up the wet walk, since we had showers that morning - nearly 30 days with rain, drizzle and no sun.  Into the building entryway Tian immediately crosses to the far side and looks out the other side at a little building out back which she refers to as the dog house.  It is in fact a building about 20 feet by 30 feet.  She said that is where they put the old dead people.  Our guide says no.  However, later in talking to the director, yes it is in fact what they do there.  I did not take a picture but it was an interesting fact from Tian's past.

Meanwhile Jiejun has already bounded up the two flights of steps to take us into the orphanage proper.  So we joined him at the top of the stairs where a locked scissor type door greeted us.  There a cleaning person opened the gate so we could enter the reception area.

The room has a wall with pictures of the director and the various nannies on one wall, with wooden chairs in the area in front of it.  To the right a small play area for toddlers.  The floor there wet as well - slippery.  The humidity very high, windows open, yet a tinge of coolness.  Moving to our left turn to go down a short hallway, the right side a bulletin board encased in glass with pictures of children, different events, changed out from time to time. I tried unsuccessfully to take two or three pictures with glump as a result.  Turning right we pass the former office of the director and enter a new office for her kitty corner from the previous one.  There we deposit the gifts for the nannies and leave a box of chocolates for the director of the orphanage and also for the director of the SWI.  There we wait while a couple of locals come in to inquire about adoption.

We are presented with a sheaf of papers, his awards from school.  I see his finding ad on a photocopy page.  I proceed to ask her about the children of three waiting families.  She makes note of these names.  Then I move on to names of children and their families who send their greetings to the director, as in do you remember them?  I hit a certain name and the director's face lights up and she gestures as we leave her office quickly following to see the family's photo hanging on the wall opposite the bulletin board previously mentioned.  She is proud to show off this family who adopted many years ago.

Next we moved to see actual children past the play portion of the entrance hall, we pass the nursery, the quarantine room, two rooms with younger children.  We enter a room with several children from post toddler to older children.  We meet only those who are not in school.  Our son mixes well with these children he knows and brings out gifts for his friends - candy and other things.  One gift is given to the director for later as the child is in school that day.

I see Downs syndrome children among those there.  I see a boy I'm sure I 'know'.  At some point I ask about him and he is in fact a boy that I have a picture of from 2009.  When I asked about him in 2011, I was told, he would not be good for you, he is ADHD.  I asked today, how old is he?  The reply, 13 or 14.  I see so much personality in him, knowing that likely it is too late for him, my heart hurts for him and thus I have to look away, yet glance at him again from time to time, seeing in him the same personality displayed in my new son - a zest for life.  Each stolen glance, knowing I know him, pierces my heart anew.  I know and it hurts but for the others I move on albeit reluctantly leaving him to his world.

Next three babies are brought in, children whom I had asked to see, going to families in the United States, one in a week or so.  What joy to have that knowledge for these beautiful children -

Before we depart this room the nannies gather most of the children together for a picture with the director and their visitors.  Next we moved by one room full of children sitting on tiny chairs to greet those of the nursing staff and see babies in isolation with colds and other sicknesses.  They are wrapped in large blankets somewhat like a blanket too big for a crib so it is wadded up around them, but very warm looking.  There are about six children there.  A chart on the wall indicates there are 123 children in the orphanage.  Since Tian was rarely sick, she did not really remember the doctor.  We did talk of the time Tian broke her wrist and how stubborn she was to get a cast on.  Sounds about right.

Moving back to the director's office briefly we talk of the area where Tian's room was - completely forgetting to ask where Jiejun's room used for a different purpose.  We spoke of the floor upstairs out of sight where the severe needs children are kept in isolation.  I wish we could have seen but we did not.

We then left the orphanage proper.  On the way to our van, Tian asked about a nurse who worked in the opposite building, for next to the orphanage is an rehab facility where children from the surrounding area come for such services, their families residing there during such therapy (reminds me of the Ronald McDonald houses in the USA).  Unfortunately the lady was not at work that day.

We entered our van and then proceeded down the route from the orphanage that both Tian and Jiejun had taken to get to their school some distance away.  Tian attended this school and walked this route for two years while Jiejun did it for the first grade only.

Arriving at the school gate, a double iron gate, I looked through to see the school we had seen from an Internet  photograph in 2008. I would have been happy to shoot photographs through the gate.  However, the director, Ms. Tang, opened the gate and we walked through.  To the left was the guard's abode which reminded me of an old service station.  The whole area looked like a hodge podge of buildings seemingly out of place with each other.  Most likely in their lifetimes they have served many purposes.  To our right there were large swings and parallel bars. Tian got permission and went over and played there briefly while we observed.  The window in the lower right corner was Jiejun's classroom.  According to him, Tian's was two groups of windows to the left.  The taller structure in the second photo is the new addition added after Tian was there.

Jiejun, Tang, Tian
Luo Village school

Leaving there, we proceeded down the hill from the school turning right.  To our left on a level probably 20 feet below the road surface was a large area filled with various sorts of plants - a large garden area.  Tian suddenly exclaimed, I remember this area - this is where we would catch frogs.

Moving on we arrived here - the former Luo Village police station.  This was Jiejun's finding place.  As we paused here, the director used her cell phone to call a number and had Jiejun speak on the phone.  He was speaking to the officer who found him in 2007.

While this conversation was going on I was speaking with the guide.  I asked what sort of questions they would have asked him upon finding him.  She said they would have asked where his parents / caregivers were, where he lived, how old he was, what his name was.  After he got off the phone she asked him these questions.  Apparently he was able to tell them his age and name.  She asked him if he remembered his original name.  He said yes he did and gave that to our still my heart.  His original name - bright fire.

We paused for lunch with the director, met the director of the Civil Affairs Office of Nanhai.  While waiting for lunch to appear, we were presented with pictures of the past for both Tian and Jiejun and for Jiejun a DVD made for Chinese New Year in 2011.  The boy dresses up well.  Those pictures will have to wait to be posted, since I have no scanner in China.

It was a wonderful dinner - wherein I found out where the dragon gets its fire - some green product that blew the roof of my mouth out, made my eyes water, hotter than anything I've had before.  Of course that brought laughter from our Chinese hosts.

At the end of dinner, Tian presented Tang with a hand knit scarf that she had made for her in the weeks before we left our USA home.

Leaving dinner, Tang, the director and others wishing us well, we moved on to fulfill my quest sought in 2008, 2010 and finally fulfilled this day in 2012, Tian's finding place.  She was found inside the East Gate of Pingzhou Park.  This is the East Gate.

Looking down the street to the right - the gate being where the street turns.

then to the left

Inside the gate

Next we journeyed back to the city, viewing some huge girders, structures to hold up a new high speed rail connecting Foshan and Guangzhou.

Returning to the China Hotel we walked a short distance and then under the street to come to Liu Hua Park that we had first visited in 2010.  This time with the other members of our travel group.

This bridge, built hundreds of years ago is the only original surviving structure.

Children of three families:
Child 1 and 3, new sisters, previously best friends;
Child 2 and 6, new sisters;
Children 1, 2 and 3 - friends from same orphanage
Child 4 - Jiejun; Child 5 - Tian

Two candid shots of Jiejun and Tian

We left the park shortly after this shot to meet another family for supper, with plans already laid down.  This day held yet another surprise - as this day like Gotcha Day became a day like no other.


  1. Tim - as an adoptive dad I SO get the things you learned this day - even an original name - such success...and another daughter able to see where she started her journey home - closure even to a certain degree....

    And I'm moved to think that no matter how much or how well we KNOW our kids - we'll never really know the feeling in their hearts as they see the place that they were found and started their journey....

    But still - such satisfaction - after all this time - HOORAH

    Great joy for you guys - hugs - aus and co.

  2. We have a picture of that bridge, too! :) I'm enjoying reading/seeing your journey. Hope Tian is feeling better.

  3. I'm completely speechless! What an incredible day for the three of you!!! God bless, Tim!

  4. Great blog Tim. You have down a wonderful job of documenting for your family and your waiting friends. LOVED the trip back......