...I'm convinced this trip to China is made of them.Ups and downs...highs and lows. I feel like the whole trip is a marathon...and we are sort of at the point where we would like to hit that runner's high thankyouverymuch. I continue to fight the desire to wake at 4 am...and am ready to crash by 7 pm. I see the weariness in my travel group's faces...and I know I mirror that. This morning, my heart ached when an experienced mom OF TWINS no less, traveling without her husband and children, dealing with a very sick little girl...stopped to ask me if I thought everything was alright with her daughter. She had tears in her eyes as she told me that her baby girl spent a good deal of time banging her head on the crib mattress at bedtime...and was also slapping her from time to time. While no expert...I was able to relate my experiences with Lia...and I could honestly tell her that it WILL get better. There is just no way around the heartache that invariably comes with this journey...the worry, the what-ifs, the anger at the injustice of it all...and finally the hope and conviction that we ARE doing the right thing...and that it really will be alright.
We spent an easy morning shopping at a nearby mall. Jillian has been very attached to her shoes. Our attempts to lure her with shiny new ones have been met with no interest. We bought her a new pair of Chinese shoes today at the mall. The salesgirl talked to her in Chinese and she allowed us to measure her feet...but so far the new shoes are still in the box.
This afternoon we visited Jillian's orphanage. The trip out of the city took about 25 minutes. The weather was rainy and gloomy for the first time since our arrival...and I found myself glad to have everyone with me.
When we arrived, we were met by the director. She told us the children in Jillian's classroom were just cleaning up from a birthday party. We waited a few minutes before we were able to go upstairs and see the room where Jillian has been attending pre-school. Most of the children at the orphanage actually live with foster families in apartments near the facility. They come for the day at the orphanage...having class in the morning, lunch, nap and then an afternoon class. We got to meet the nannies who were in teh birthday photos we received the week before we traveled. They were so glad to see Jillian...and she seemed glad to see them as well. She stayed securely in Jim's arms...but smiled a lot.
Next we saw the sleeping quarters where Jillian slept...before she was in foster care...and for the weeks leading up to our travel as they returned her to the orphanage in preparation for us (not our choice). The room was extremely neat and clean...but it was still very emotional to see SO MANY little beds. This was the only time Jillian became visibly upset too...shaking her head no when Jim started to walk in the room. He just stayed in the hall with her and she was okay with that.
Finally...we got to see the children from Jillian's class. They had just finished school for the day and were all seated in a room, watching tv and having a snack. This was teh most emotional portion of our visit. While all of the children seemed happy and well cared for...it was difficult to imagine that some of them might never know the love of a forever family. One little boy with a bilateral (repaired) cleft lip ran right up to us and said, "hi". Honestly...it took every fiber of self restraint not to pick him up and run out of there.
We finished our rather short visit by giving the director the donations we carried for the orphanage. She seemed very thankful and she was visibly emotional when she told us that Jillian "was very cute and I love her very much". Jim asked if she had an e-mail address and she gave it to us. She asked us to send photos and let her know how Jillian is doing. I am so happy to have this connection to Jillian's early years.
Again...I know this post is all over the place and jumbled. I just want to get my thoughts down now so I don't forget them. It was an extremely emotional day for us...but it also seemed that Jillian undertood that she is one of us now. We saw a marked difference in her personality after the visit. Our attempts to teach her english words has backfired and she is now insisting we say xie xie da-shu (???) when she hands us something. One other thing we learned yesterday is that Jillian's foster mother is Cantonese...so Jillian speaks a mixture of Mandarin and Contonese. Our guide for the visit yesterday told us that...which is probably why our other guide has not understood some of the words she is saying.
It was a difficult day...but I am so glad we were able to have the opportunity to visit Guangzhou City SWI. We will not doubt reflect on this visit a lot in the coming years.
The names of the children who stay in this room. Jillian's is the first name.
These are the children who were in school with Jillian. The older girl is back from Foster Care because her family is coming this week to meet her for their adoption.
The director with our family.