Friday, November 18, 2011

Beginnings and endings...

...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.

17 comments:

Courtney said...

I can't imagine how hard it must be to be so far from home and exhausted. Praying for safe travels.

Kim said...

Your post is not jumbled. It is wonderful,and sweet, and sad. Makes me cry. Great that you did get to visit the orphanage and take photos. Jillian obviously does not want to go back there. I feel so bad for the person traveling alone with twins!! Would be hard enough with one. I too am praying for you guys.

Kellyann said...

While the activities of this day were deeply emotional and somewhat unsettling you will never regret going, seeing, smelling and experiencing where Jillian spent a large portion of her little life thus far.

The Byrd's Nest said...

This was not jumbled at all...it was straight out of your heart. I cannot imagine the emotions running through their little minds when they see those people that took care of them again. Was Lia okay? Maybe she is just tired in this picture:) Praying for all of you and how wonderful to have an e-mail for a connection!

Allison said...

I couldn't wait to get home today to see what awesomeness you had to share :) I hope that we can meet Jillian sometime when you are here for a visit. (I must meet her because as I sit here crying as I read your post, Greg has told me that we are too old to adopt a little cutie like her! "smile"). Loving every minute of your journey!

Diane said...

Your post is wonderful and very telling. As I was reading it, I kept thinking what a great job you did at communicating the reality of adoption, the sadness as well as the beauty. It's wonderful to see the pictures of the orphanage and heartbreaking too. Just the knowledge that our sweet girl waiting in China has spent all of her thirteen years in an orphanage watching other children's families come and go just breaks my heart.
Thanks for this post. It really is beautiful. Praying for your sweet family!

Linda said...

I too agree - your post is not jumbled....I am captivated by every word....You are such a strong person - I can't imagine visiting the orpanage without completely falling apart....You are so blessed to finally have Jillian as part of your family now...and she is so blessed as well :) Praying for greatness for the rest of your journey....

Life with Kaishon said...

This made me cry and cry. So happy for you all. Praying for a smooth transition.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Kate...I know we only "met" through that recent email, but you have me in tears here. Your kindness & compassion was exactly what that other mom needed. What an emotional day for your whole family. Sending you hugs. Really big hugs.
The other Kate & Jillian

Jewels of My Heart said...

I honestly can't imagine visiting the orphanage where my children were living... the emotions.... In January I will be visiting an orphanage for the first time in Russia and believe the emotions that I will experience will be overwhelming as I look at those sweet little faces and love on them. I think this post was very well written friend.
Thank You Jesus that precious little Jillian is Orphaned NO More!
God's speed home...
Daleea

Laurie said...

I'm so glad you were able to visit the orphanage. We also did that on our 2nd trip, and it meant so much to me to see where our son lived for almost 2 years of his life. A very emotional day indeed... one I'll never forget. Love how Jillian remained in Daddy's arms, content to be at the orphanage but not wanting to stay! In my opinion, that means your 1st week has been a huge success in bonding!

Heather said...

I love this post. Real. The stuff. Thank you for sharing from that private place we rarely go to. Praying the Lord gives you all the strength to finish strong. So thankful you were able to be in the place where your baby girl was loved and cherished while she waited for you. I wish you could have scooped up that precious boy and brought him to us...I will never close the door to hoping the Lord has another for our family. I know the woman you encountered was blessed by your gentle spirit, Kate. Hoping that she also finishes strong and is soon home with her family complete.

Praying tonight brings rest and peacefulness.

With love,
Heather

Suzy said...

xie xie da shu, I think she's saying thank you in Chinese & then da shu is her attempt at thank you in English. My daughter pronounced thank you as "dane shoe" for the longest time. So, she's probably catching on beautifully! I haven't run a marathon (yet), but I've heard you've just got to keep moving even if you slow down to make it across the finish line. You've got this!

Don and Lisa Osborn said...

Kate~

First of all, a big hug. I know the exhaustion, the emotion...I'm still recovering from it or living it.

The visit was one that leaves an indelible image in your mind but one you won't regret. I am glad you had the opportunity.

Praying for God to sustain you these next few days.

Love~
Lisa

Marla-Dee said...

Wow, this was a tough one! In tears thinking of how you all had to endure such an emotional day.

Sending lots of hugs and prayers your way!

xo

Jennifer said...

Just read this post...missed it somehow! I am so glad you were able to visit Jillian's orphanage.

Jen

Bridget said...

Just catching up Kate. So glad you were able to visit Jillian's orphanage.it is definitely one of the most memorable moments of our trip last year. That being said it was also one of the most emotional. I will say I am so glad I went and a year later it is something Kit and I talk about. I went alone but she seems so happy that I saw her "old house" in China. I show her the pictures and she tells me all about where ahe slept, went to school and points out her little buddies. I'm glad she and I have something to share regarding her past. You will be thankful that you were able to go as well. Continue to keep you in my thoughts and prayers.