Friday, July 5, 2013

Thursday- Orphanage Visit

Thursday was a long day, full or many emotions.  It was a whirlwind of a day too!   We left the hotel shortly after 9 a.m. after having breakfast.  The Tyler family and the three of us traveled with our guide's wife, Alexa- she is also a guide on the side.   It took 2-2.5 hours to get to Bao'an, our son's orphanage.  Not long before we got there, Reid (who is going by Shahao presently) was pulling on the seat belt of the person in front of us.   I asked him to please stop and moved his hand many times.  He kept doing it.  I got pretty firm with him and moved his hand firmly.  He did not like that.  He started crying.   It's unfortunate, but with a kid this age I think you have to show them you are serious and mean business sometimes or they will constantly test you and think they can get away with anything and everything.   That may not have helped set the mood for arriving at the orphanage.  He knew right where we were when we pulled up to the gate and he was very excited to be there.  He didn't cry or wasn't scared.   He actually bolted in before we could get everything out of the van- we had a few heavy bags with gifts for the director, assistant director, Sunshine School, the kids in general, and for the nannies and teachers.  

We went into a room off to the left after we entered and set our gifts down.  There were a few kids in there waiting to meet us, as well as a few staff members. Miss Heidi, who is the director of the Sunshine School for all of the orphanages that have Sunshine School in that area, met us and told us a little bit about Reid.  We found out he had done a few years of pre-school and was graduating kindergarten, getting ready for their 1st grade program in the fall.  She felt he would do best going to kindergarten this year.  He seems pretty well in between to me- more than ready for kindergarten, but likely to be behind in 1st grade.  He is pretty tall so if he goes to kindergarten he will likely be the tallest kid.  He would also be in the same grade as Elijah and Jonah....whew...that's a lot in one grade.   The hard part is- Elijah and Jonah are also July birthdays so he'd be a full year younger than them and in the same grade.   We will have to keep observing and decide what is best shortly after we arrive home/before school starts.   The funny thing is- Evan was so hoping for him to be in the same grade and the same class.  That turned pretty quickly into being in a different class and now he is totally fine with Reid going to kindergarten   They laugh and have fun together, but they sure fight a lot too.    

Top picture: The first room we went into, where we met a couple of the kids.  Bottom picture:  Reid with Miss Heidi- the director of Sunshine Schools in Guangdong province- she knows him as 'Jack.'

The medical area where Reid likely received many of his shots and medications.

We were then introduced to a little boy on our agency's list by the name of Nathan.  He is 10 years old and has beta thalassemia major.  My heart breaks for him because he will be the last child in the orphanage with thalassemia after another little girl goes home next month.   He is in the 3rd grade in public school and gets all high scores- 100s.  He is very sweet and smiley. He greets everyone with a 'hello!'   He is good at studying.  He is small for his age and he currently receives one blood transfusion per month.   His orphanage donation has been completely waived and his agency fees are significantly reduced with Madison.  Our guide says he wants him to find a family so badly that he would even waive his guide fees for a family. 

We then met Thomas- he is the son-to-be of an adoption friend of mine, Melissa.  He was so happy and had such a great smile on his face!   He has very good manners.  He was excited to get a gift from his family and I got pictures of him for his waiting family.

From there we went in the corridor that goes around the inside of the building where the classrooms and sleep rooms are.   The inner part is where the playgound is.  We met Reid's pre-school teacher, kindergarten supervisor, English teacher, and his teacher assistant for the Eagle's class- the top level of kindergarten.  The teacher for the Eagle's class was not there- he was able to talk to her and say goodbye to her on the phone.  He was loved by all those people- it was like he was a celebrity.  I took a picture of him with each of them.  We also got to meet Amanda and Kyle- the director and assistant director for Sunshine School at Bao'an.  They were wonderful people and they told us a lot about all of the kids we met.  

 Tracy/Laura- I guess she goes by both- the 4 and 5 yr old pre-school teacher.

 Holly- the English teacher.

 Leslie- assistant teacher for the Eagle's Kindergarten class.

 Jenna- Kindergarten Supervisor

In Reid's Eagle's Classroom- this was the smallest of the classrooms I saw.   Jack and Denny are now Reid and Mason and are in the hotel with their families. :)   Dawn and Jennifer are sisters and are home!   That just leaves Tyler, Lewis, Edwinn, and I am not sure who Madison is. 

 The director of Sunshine School at Bao'an is Amanda in green and the Assistant Director is Kyle in the white shirt with the black glasses.  They are wonderful people!
Reid talking to his Eagle's teacher, Miss Mandy.  She could not be there that day, but she told him she loved him and that she will miss him and to come back and visit.

 Part of the playground in the center of the campus- open air building.

Outside of one of the classrooms, we met Roy who is on the shared list waiting for a family.   He will be 5 at the end of summer.  He has a lot of personality and is very alert.  He is very communicative and has no delays in that area.  His gross motor skills are very good.  He loves to help other students in his class.   

Next was Tommy, son to be of an adoption friend of mine, Amy.  I got some good pictures of him for his mom!  He has a HUGE smile all the time!  He was very active.

Then came Tony.  Tony is 7 years old and shares a birthday with me.   He is deaf and waiting for a family on the shared list.   He is learning some Chinese Sign Language, but it is very limited.   He is good at writing and reading.  He likes dancing and performing.   He is in 1st grade with a strong group of kids.   He has graduated from the kindergarten program already.  He can get easily frustrated due to the lack of communication- this is very common for deaf children.  He would do so well with a family who signs.

Next up was Peter- an adoption friend of mine's son-to-be.   I didn't realize it at that moment, but the woman who was raving about him and how she likes him so much and takes him to her apartment and out to McDonald's was the orphanage director, Ms. Jiang.  Multiple people there told me that everyone likes Peter.  He is an orphanage favorite.  He is so helpful.  They could not say enough about him.  He even waved at us from the balcony when it was time for us to leave.  I gave him his gift from his family- he was very excited about that.  He is very calm and easy-going.   I got some great pictures of him for his waiting family.

I then met a favorite of mine, Zephira.  She has a family waiting for her so I got some great pictures of her for them.  She is so adorable!  I am so happy she has a family working to bring her home.  

Next was little Sarah.  She is so precious.  She is cute as can be.  She looks very scared- just unsure of everything that is going on and a bit overwhelmed.   She had fallen on her bottom before I got to her to get pictures so that was part of the reason she had some tears in her eyes in the pictures.  Her mom is a mentor to me, as she has the same special need as my son.   She will be coming for her in a matter of week or a month at most.   I got some pictures of her for her mom.

Then came precious Matthew.  He was such a little peanut and oh so cute- the youngest child we met.  I got some pictures for his mom and some of her questions answered.   He is just darling.  She should be leaving very soon to get him as well- likely in August.

From there we met Lewis- he is in the Eagle's class with Reid.   He is waiting for a family and is listed with our agency, Madison.  His orphanage donation will be waived and his agency fees are significantly reduced.   He is very active and has some trouble paying attention.  He will listen to someone close to him or that he knows.  He would do best with stern parents.  He is very polite and greets everyone.  He is one of the only boys left who Reid was friends with and who he shared a room with.   The assistant director of Sunshine School is really hoping I can help him find his family.

We then met Justin who will turn 5 at the end of the summer.  He is in the Rainbows Class,which is a special ed. kindergarten.   He is one of the stronger students in that class and is working on walking on his own.  He usually wears a brace to walk.  He purposely squinted on just about every picture I took of   He is on the shared list and is waiting for a family.

The next boy we met was George who I have also seen advocated for as Bradley.   He is 8 years old and is on the shared list waiting for a family.   He is in the 2nd grade an is one of the stronger students in the class.  He was formerly in Sunshine School, where he learned his letters, some English words, cutting, pasting, matching,etc.  He has some trouble with paying attention.

After this we met a beautiful older girl who has a family working to bring her home.  She loves to sing and dance and she wants to be a pop star!   She was gorgeous! I got some pictures for her mom as well. 

From there we took a group picture of the three families who had adopted from Bao'an.  The fourth chose not to visit the orphanage.   We then went into a room to have lunch with the director and some of the other staff.   There was a lot of food and it was all placed on one of those tables that turns- you grab food as it comes by.   There were not many things Evan and I wanted, as usual.  Reid tried a few more things than us.   The director was not very talkative until someone started asking questions and our guide translated- that was towards the end of the meal.  We were never offered anything to drink.   It was a bit awkward in there.

It was getting close to being time for us to leave.   We were able to quickly meet Gene who is a 9 year old boy waiting on Madison's list.  His orphanage donation has been waived and his agency fees have significantly been reduced.   He is a good reader and loves to ask questions.  He loves to draw fish and does a lot of repetitive drawing.   He can get stuck on something.  The staff was concerned that he may be autistic.  It is hard to tell because it could just be orphanage related.

We also got to meet Edwin.  He is in the Eagle's class with Reid and is 6 years old. He is waiting for a family on the shared list and I am not sure why he is still waiting.  He is very alert, follows along well, is really active, and very much enjoys the music program at school.   He has some trouble with his pronunciation and may need speech therapy.  

Reid was a handful while we were there.   He was really trying to show off, was very loud, and would drop to the ground a number of times.  I think the staff was a bit surprised because I do not think he was like this that often there.  I think he was also getting tired.  He is used to taking a nap from about 12-2 every day.   We had to have someone talk to him about behaving and staying quiet so we could visit the room he slept in- it was the end of nap time and some of the kids were still sleeping.   We used the bathrooms- squatty potties...those are not easy for women.   Then we headed towards the room.  We went in and saw about 10-15 kids on potty chairs all at the same time.  They supposedly sit on the potty chairs for about 20 minutes.   There were a handful of kids still sleeping too.  The room had many little beds all lined up right next to each other and then a cubby for each child on the wall.  We took his name tag off his cubby and saw which bed he slept in- it looked like someone else had already moved into it.  I asked who the older boy was next to him and was told that he was recently found abandoned and that he could hear, but that he did not speak.  Heartbreaking.    There was a smell of urine in the room and it was hard to be in there.  It was even harder to walk out on the kids who would stay there for who knows how long, possibly forever.
 I had to turn my flash off since kids were still sleeping- hence the poor quality.

 Reid's bed.
 The new arrival- Reid was snuggling him and almost woke him up!
 Another sleeper!
 More on the potty chairs.
 The famous yellow crocks.

Lewis waiting for everyone to wake up!

It was time to say goodbye at that point.  We took a few more pictures and learned a few more things.  Reid was found on June 7th, 2008 at almost one year of age- his dob was estimated.   He was diagnosed with his medical condition on August 15th, 2008 and had his first blood transfusion on August 29th, 2008.  He was found in a neighborhood and sent to a local hospital in Bao'an district and then eventually made his way to the orphanage.  He received his blood transfusions at the Shenzhen Children's Hospital.  Shenzhen is a very big city- the fourth biggest in China after Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou.  
 His favorite part of the playground- the swings!

We headed out to the van and waited for the other family to get some pictures of their daughter's finding spot, which was near the orphanage gate.  Reid was not sad to leave- he shed no tears.  He happily waved goodbye and got into the van.   Our driver then spent some time trying to find Reid's finding spot.   It was behind an alley of a community building.  It is so hard to fathom a family having to leave a child of any age, but especially an almost one year old. Imagine how attached and in love with your child you are at that point.   They obviously had learned of his medical need and likely could not afford to get him the care he would  need for the rest of his life.  It is very expensive and insurance is not like it is here in the states.   At that age, I had to wonder if he was even really left there in that alley- he could have wandered there and that is just where someone found him.   How scary that moment had to be for him and how heartbreaking for the family that had to leave him.   I am glad we have pictures of the area where he was found.

 Driving to the finding spot.

 We stopped to ask for help a few times.

 Reid was found behind this building.

 The road in front of the building and the surrounding neighborhood.

 Somewhere back here is where they found him.

 More surroundings pictures.

 The road sign for the road he was found on.

It took 2-2.5 hours to get back to Guangzhou.  Reid fell asleep in the van on my lap and took a pretty good nap.  We arrived in time to grab a quick dinner and then the kids just played while I worked on sending pictures to waiting families- I know how precious those are. We also skyped with Rick and the kids.

All in all it was an exhausting day full of many emotions. 


  1. Wow - amazing how much and many people you got to visit and see!! Looks like you are both doing pretty well - hang tough!! And give yourself a huge pat on the back for another successful day :)

  2. Wow, you got an amazing tour. Thank you for sharing as we didn't get to see many of the areas you have photos of, and I had been wondering some things. Your visit was helpful to ME! Hang in there. It has to be so hard doing this solo. You all look great though!

  3. Thanks for the great read. Stafan and Shepard are the same age too, but it took them awhile after they were home to start really enjoying each other. By the time we got Shepard he was 8 y.o. He was also sick when we got home with infection in his gums, but we didn't know it for a couple of weeks.

  4. I loved reading your post and seeing my Tommy in it. You did see more area than we saw on our tour. We did travel to Longgang also when we visited. It sounds like the families traveling are adopting from Bao'an. reading about Reid's finding location and seeing the photos brought tears to my eyes.