We left the hotel at 8 AM this morning and took a 3 1/2 hour bus ride to Yang Xi to visit the orphanage where Mia has spent the 8 months of her life and to find her "finding spot".
Brad called the bus ride "horrendous". I would call it a cultural experience. First of all the shocks were out in the front of the bus we took. So the ride was very "bumpy" to say the least. Up, down, squeak. Up, down, squeak. So I sat up front so that I wouldn't get car sick. I find China fascinating. There are SO many people. In America we have groupings of housing areas. There are the rich areas, the subdivisions for middle class, and the old worn down housing for lower income families. But not here. In a one mile stretch you will encounter nice apartments, followed by shabby apartments, followed by shacks, but in no order - just all jumbled up together. And the sequence repeats. Again, and again, and again. The drive to Yang Xi was mostly on the expressway - all paved. We did see lots of water buffalo out in the fields. Also, we saw many farmers in the customary Chinese field worker round hat - out working and irrigating their fields. It was like the scene out of Mulan where they march past the filed workers.
When we arrived at the orphanage, the director and assistant came out to meet us. They ushered us into a meeting room with an oval table that had a pile of some kind of native fruit and bananas in front of each seat. Our guide showed us how to peel this fruit to try it I wasn't too crazy about the kind I tried. Kinda jelly like texture. Mom loved whatever she tried. Macy loved the bananas. I am guessing it was safe for us to eat b/c our guide directed us to eat! :) The standard is supposed to be: "Any fruit you can peel is safe to eat while in China."
We then went upstairs to the baby room. This room only had babies that are "referral" age (of age to be matched with an adoptive family). There were 18 babies in the room. All of them were in a stainless steel looking crib with a smooth board in the bottom of it. You will remember from my earlier posts that it is very customary for people in this area to sleep on mats or boards b/c of the humidity. Several of the babies had large sores on their heads like Mia did. Our group has speculated that these are from either rubbing their heads against the boards repeatedly and causing sores that in turn get infected....or bug bites that have gotten infected. We really are not sure. I was able to post to my Yang Xi Yahoo group that we would be going - and that if there were any parents that had been matched with a baby from there - that I would try and take pictures. 5 parents responded before we left. It was so wonderful to take pics of 5 of the babies for their new families. I would have loved to have had something like this while I was waiting on Mia. It was also wonderful to know that these 5 babies had a "forever family" they were about to go to. All of the babies in the room were between 4 months and 3 years old. There is also an infant room with tiny babies - but we are not allowed to visit this room. Since this orphanage has only been established for 5 years - the oldest child there is under 5 years old.
One observation is that the nannies were VERY loving and VERY friendly. They knew every baby by name. They all addressed Mia by her name "Zhen Zhen" (pronounced 'Jen Jen'). Several of them tried to get Mia to go to them, but she wouldn't...she held onto Mama! But all of the nannies shook their heads yes in approval and said "Mama". I think they are very pleased to see that she has bonded with me already. That made me feel good! :)
One of the babies in our group cried every time they took her into the baby room. And she continued to cry for the next 2 hours. I think it traumatized her parents too. It was really hard to think that your baby was crying b/c she thought that she had to go back there. Mia was very happy the whole time - as long as I was holding her.
The director and head nanny boarded the bus with us to take us to lunch and to help us find our "finding spots". We had lunch at an authentic Chinese restaurant in the town. No KFC or McDonald's here. I think their population is around 50,000 - a small town for China. Especially considering Beijing is 16 mil and Guangzhou is 10 mil. We all sat at a large round table in an air-conditioned room of the restaurant (thank you God!). The nannies were acting like it was freezing in there and I was rejoicing for air! Of course we had the spinning round thing in the middle so that we could eat our meal family style. There was fried pork similar to sweet and sour chicken, strips of beef with peppers, a plate full of onion and garlic and cashews, and a few other things. Then they brought us each a bowl of fried rice. The best we have had since being in China. Also, they brought out a pan of fried steamed rolls with a dip that tasted like glaze for donuts. MMmmmnn...good. I had 3!
We then headed out to find the places where each of our girls was abandoned and found. Mia was left in front of a group of street front vendors. I think specifically it was a restaurant. As we looked at the spot - it was an overwhelming feeling. We got back on the bus to go on to someone else's spot - and tears began to stream down my face. What circumstances left this beautiful baby girl on the street 8 months ago? There are so many people in China with many different takes on this child abandonment issue. Was her birth mother in agony at having to leave her baby girl? Did her husband bring the baby against her will? Did she leave her feeling that she didn't have a choice? Did she leave her in hopes of having another baby that might be the longed for boy for the family name? Was she an unwed mother? The pain of what she may have felt overwhelmed me. And then the thought that such pain has brought forth so much joy for our lives. It is b/c of this abandonment that we are here - but what if we had not obeyed God's leading to come and get this girl? What if we had said no? You can't know how this broke my heart. She is already a part of us. A part of us that God left incomplete has been completed by Mia Grace entering our family. I already can not imagine our lives without her. But what if we had said no? I can't bear to think about it.
As I held her close on the bus, kissed her spiky little hair on top of her head, and my tears stained my shirt - I thanked God for choosing me to be her mother. People say - what a lucky baby that you would go and get her from that life. But I think - No - what lucky and blessed people we are - that God would choose us to be her parents. Why us? WE are so lucky. WE are so blessed. We are so blessed that God has chosen both Macy and Mia to be our daughters. I am humbled that God chose me to the mother of these beautiful and wonderful girls.