So today was the day.... the one I had been dreading yet waiting for... the one where I would understand my daughter's history a bit more clearly. And I have to say that I think it is because of all of your prayers, but it was a WONDERFUL day. It wasn't as hard and emotional as I thought it would be….. rather it was a joyful day with a few hard moments quickly interspersed. The day began bright and early as we had to meet our van and guide at 7 a.m. to begin the 3-hour journey south.
Our van was fully loaded with curtains, reclining seats and lace doilies everywhere :) The children here do not ride in car seats so I held tightly to Mei Sims in my lap. The roads were VERY bumpy even though it was a "highway" and there were several moments where MS and I were both airborne and I breathed a sigh of relief when we landed together back in the seat. We all took naps on the way there and back... as I woke up from one nap, Derek commented "Isn't it funny how they drive so crazy here, yet we are not even worried about a carseat?" To which I informed him, I had been praying the whole time and even woke up praying! The scenery got more and more rustic and we passed a truck filled to the brim with hogs and another one filled with rams.... you never know what you are going to see here.
We had an interesting discussion with our guide Miko on the way there. Do you remember the videos and photos we got of MS on thanksgiving? We found out that Miko was actually the one who met Mei Sims and got all of that for us. You’ll remember that a nanny from the orphanage brought her on a little “trip” to Guangzhou because we had concerns about her health. Miko told us that her trip had to be approved by the civil affairs office because that was not normal procedure. She added that they decided to approve the visit and said that this was the first and last time that they would allow it. Our family would be the one and only exception. I wondered allowed why they would have done that and she told us that the orphanage director had pushed for it only because he met me in the U.S., liked me, and wanted to help me. I knew it had been a big deal but didn’t realize how big until Miko told us. I think it is amazing to see God’s hand in that… that He would allow a “chance” encounter that would result in videos that have actually provided a source of comfort during these first crazy days…. When MS has had a spaced out look, I have had that video as proof that she is in there somewhere…. God knew I would need it and set about a chain of events to provide. I love it.
Our guide described Yangxi as a small town (around 100,000 people) that is a farming community…. Only 3 main roads…. No traffic lights and no taxis. They are building factories there because labor is cheap so there is growth on the horizon. We stopped at their local grocery and bought lots of cloth diapers to give as a gift to the orphanage…. They prefer cloth to disposable…. But the weather here right now is so damp that when they hang them to dry, they cannot dry fast enough so they don’t have enough. We were excited to give them something that could be put to use.
We headed to the orphanage, which was located on a side street in a neighborhood… a pretty nondescript and dirty location. There was gold lettering on the wall by the gate where you enter the facilities. As soon as we pulled in, you could hear nannies from the 1st and 2nd floors hollering out “Mei Mei!” They were so excited to see her…. I immediately strapped her to me to stop anyone from grabbing her from me and confusing her. Our time at Yangxi began and it was nothing like I pictured… I don’t know if I was thinking we’d sit down, have a meeting or what but it was unorganized, a bit chaotic and rushed and a bit awkward. I don’t think they have visitors very often. I was allowed to take photos of the outside, the “playground” which I’m pretty sure is never used, and then I took photos of all the buildings around the orphanage so as to have a snap shot of what MS looked at every day. All the while, MS is quiet but isn't freaking out.... just calmly soaking it in.
We requested to see a couple of babies (whose mother’s I have connected with on the internet)… and in the end they only let us see one. It was such a joy to rub her sweet cheeks and love on her but I desperately wanted to grab her and run away as fast as I could.
When they told us it was time to see her room, they wouldn't allow us to have cameras.... I was trying to figure out a way to sneak photos but it just wasn't going to work. They were very insistent and strict about what they would and would not allow. Her room would be the only room in the building we were allowed to see. There are 2 baby rooms (the orphanage is pretty small) and then an older kid room... I had been told she was in a room with 11 babies but that couldn't be further from the truth. The room can best be described as looking like a hospital room but smelling like a potty. It was bright white with at least 32 small metal beds.... they had blankets/thin mattresses on them for the winter but in the hot weather they are wooden planks. The beds almost look like baby doll beds… very very low siderails. There was precious baby after precious baby in bed after bed…. Row after row.... enough to break your heart. And it was strangely quite for that number of babies… some were asleep but many were laying there simply staring. The saddest part was a mentally challenged boy in a baby bed that had to be 7 years old. I had to look away for fear that I might lose it. Missing from the room? TOYS. I literally did not see a single toy or colorful decoration... it was just so sterile and white and I don't even know how to characterize the smell.... maybe urine with vinegar? Not good for sure. They showed me MS’ bed, which already had a new occupant. The strange thing was that as I looked around and was saddened by what I saw, I could not picture mei sims in there.... I couldn't wrap my brain around the fact that just 5 days ago she was in that room... how is that even possible? Was she really just days ago, laying in her bed all day long without that sparkle in her eyes? Instead of being sad about where she had been, my heart was filled with joy for the little one strapped to me and so full of life. I think God guarded my mind to protect me from dissolving into a puddle of tears on the floor there. Her little friend started to cry as we left so we got to see her one more time... again I almost lost it but bit my lip.... it just didn't seem right that she has to stay there any longer.
There was a ceramic "patio" outside the room where they said they play on pretty days... they bring out exersaucers and there is also a metal railing (kind of like a ballet bar) that the kids can hold onto and practice walking.... No photos allowed but just picture a tile floor with a high wall and a low metal bar running the length of the wall.... I'm realizing that MS probably never saw any of the surrounding buildings that I took photos of. I feel like I also better understand her low muscle tone.... I’m realizing that she spent much of her life lying in the bed... there is just really no room there to play.... especially if it is rainy or cold… there is no playroom in the facility and the bedroom is taken over by the sheer number of beds.
We returned back to the “conference room” and exchanged gifts with the director, vice director and nanny. They gave us some apples and crackers. We got them to write notes to give MS when she is older. We thanked them profusely & asked a few more questions. They told us mei sims had always been quick to laugh and try and get their attention by laughing or smiling. We got them to go look at the police report in her file and give us more details about when she was found... we asked for a copy and they said no... can't hurt to ask, right? But we got invaluable information that is part of her story that I'll keep for us. And that was about it.... as quickly as the visit began it ended.
Showing Mr. Wu photos of his yangxi babies all grown up. He loved it!
Now, the funny part of the visit--- I think they think we are CRAZY!!!!!! I'm fear they may be worrying for MS well-being! First, they did NOT think we had enough clothing on MS and were very very concerned about it. Then, when I went out in the drizzle with her to take photos, they freaked again that I had her out in the rain. Then they saw the bottle I made for her and it was all wrong.... the hole in the top too small (they cut it for me and I cannot believe how big they made it!) and I made it too small (5 ounces rather than 9) and i didn't put enough rice cereal. Then I told them proudly that she had eaten some egg and watermelon... thinking they would be excited for her... nope. They told me I was doing that wrong also….that her tummy needed time to adjust. I felt like an idiot. They ended up giving us more rice cereal to add into her bottle (only derek and I would be at an orphanage, taking their food!!) and then they told me that I'm holding her wrong when I feed her and perhaps that is why she isn't liking bottles.....It's a miracle I have raised three kiddos, right? Derek and I got a good laugh about all of that. Again, I think God provided laughter at what could have been a really hard time...
My overall impression? The orphanage is very poor & has limited resources but I do think they do the best with what they have. It is a very sad place but the nannies make up for it as they exude joy and love for the kids.... you could tell that when they were all calling to MS as we arrived and wanting to touch her or kiss her and when they were concerned for all I was doing “wrong”... you could tell it by the smiles on their faces as they held the ones that needed some extra attention. She was loved and I think that is all I could ask for. As we pulled out, I held her tight... thankful that she was leaving once and for all.
So, next we went to her "finding spot"... where she was abandoned 15 months ago. Again, not what I was expecting. Don't know what I wanted to see.... maybe a park nearby where I could picture her birth mom hiding to watch and make sure she was found? But it was just a fairly busy thoroughfare in front of a sign shop. It was dirty and poor as well. I couldn't bring my mind to picture her laying there on the dirty sidewalk as a newborn.... instead, I stood there feeling such joy that she is found, she is ours and will never be left again.
She was found in front of this store with the blue sign:
Views from her spot:
Cutie even when Daddy makes her cry:
I think this whole scene I described only took about 45 minutes... it was a whirlwind. And then we were back on a 4 hr hour trek (due to a wreck). 7 hours in the car for 45 priceless minutes—so worth it. I don't know what happened to MS but it was as if she breathed a sigh of relief when we left Yangxi … she became so animated and lively... playing games, babbling "da" over and over at us, laughing,etc. (several of other friends here experienced the same burst of personality… on some level they must know.) It continued at dinner tonight with my friend mellary. She was FULL of personality, more than we've seen of her thus far. I will also add that the 6 hours in the car, solidified some bonding and she is very attached to me. She still likes Derek but prefers to love him from afar if I’m around. And it really hurts her feelings if I dare and do something like try to go to the bathroom. ☺ This will be very interesting when I get home.
When we got back to the room that day, she wanted to play on the floor but with me right there. She'd play for 1 minute, reach up and hug me, play for one more minute, reach up and hug me, over and over. It was pure sweetness. I wish you could also see Derek’s face when he looks at her… head over heels in love. Again, pure sweetness.
Today (since this post has taken me 2 days), we had her medical exam. This involved 3 stations: 1. Weighing and measuring (she is 18 lbs) 2. ENT- He squeaked a toy to see if she could hear/ turn her head. Then he played a keyboard and squeaked a toy in another direction… very technical ☺ 3. General Room—the dr. asked me a few random questions and measured her legs and then we were done! But picture maybe 40 adoptive families and kids all in this tight space and children SCREAMING—slightly crazy! The rest of the day we relaxed and visited with my friend. We went back to dinner for the 4th time at an irish pub and now it is time to call it a night. If you are still reading by now, God bless you!!! Lots of details but don’t want to forget a thing!
Waiting for the medicals with the Millers:
Give me back to my mommy!!!
End of a great day at the Pub:
The Campbell 8.
1 week ago