Thursday, December 13, 2007

December 13, 2006- Visiting Chenzhou SWI!

“I prayed for this child and the Lord has granted me what I asked of Him.”
1 Samuel 1:27

Today we went to AnnaClaire’s orphanage, Chenzhou SWI (chin joe social welfare institute) but we’ll begin from the morning…

AnnaClaire slept SO well last night! We had to wake her up just after 7 so that we could have her fed and ready to leave for Chenzhou at 8. When we woke her up, she was sleeping on her hairbrush! She is the cutest thing. Mommy picked her up and there were no tears. We changed her into her Hanna Anderson playdress/daydress that looks so cute on her! She was such a happy baby! Mom fed her and she ate her usual (congee, watermelon, banana, and steamed egg.) She didn’t eat a ton. Amy met us in the breakfast place and we left a bit before 8:30. Mom fed AnnaClaire a bottle in the car and she drank it all! She then went to Daddy. Shortly after, she was sound asleep! It was so cool driving. I felt like we experienced “real” China. The streets outside of Changsha were so interesting with people slicing fish, selling produce and then there were pigs, chickens, roosters, and dogs all over. AnnaClaire slept the first 2 hours until Will had to go to the bathroom so bad that we had to stop on the side of the road. AnnaClaire woke up when there was no more movement to keep her asleep! She stayed awake until we got there 2 hours later. I fed her Cheerios and she was so happy to eat them. She ate the whole thing of them! For all of you coming soon, definitely bring Cheerios. They are a pain to bring, but they don’t have them here. The countryside was so beautiful! It was so nice to be out of the city. It seems like all cities look the same. It was also nice to be outside of the hotel room which AnnaClaire hates! We got to the city of Chenzhou and we stopped for lunch. It was raining. A man greeted us at the car with a HUGE umbrella. The umbrella fit all 7 (us 5, Amy, and the driver) under it without getting anyone wet. We walked in and upstairs. All the tables were in their own private rooms! It was really cool. It was by far the best meal we’ve had yet! There were peanuts, beef, chicken, pork, “awesome” (that was the only name Amy knew for it. It’s a veggie), delicious spring rolls, and yummy rice. It was SO good. I walked around with AnnaClaire and she let me hold her and didn’t cry! I put her on the ground and she walked as long as I held on. She was adorable! The waitress’ would stand in the room the entire time and were all over AnnaClaire. They said she was a very stylish baby! They also could tell she was a local! The whole meal (for 6) came to the equivalent of $16! And it was the best mean we’ve had yet! After lunch, we went to the orphanage. The orphanage is the middle of Chenzhou, not what I expected! There is a little ally leading up to it. The man let us in and we drove up. A few workers greeted us with umbrellas and brought us to a room where we presented the clothes (for babys) and candy (for older children) we’d gotten for them. They told us all about Chenzhou. The doctor, a nanny, and I think the gatekeeper were all there. I had the name of a little girl I wanted to check on for her family. I showed them the name (it was written in English but the Chinese name) and they knew exactly who I was talking about! That made me happy that they know each child by name! The orphanage is not what I expected! It was a flight of stairs with 2 doors on each story. One door leads into a playroom and the other into a baby’s room. First they brought us to a playroom. It had about 4 different playrooms inside the one. I noticed the colorful thing that is in the backround of AC’s referral pictures! There was no one in the playrooms. We then went across to the room of the baby we were checking on. There were 5-6 babies about 10-18 months old. They were all in walkers and were all SO cute. We tried to touch them all and they cooed with delight. They love any attention we could give them! A nanny was handing a few of them chocolate mints… I took a few pictures of the little one. They wouldn’t let me take pictures of anyone else and literally moved all the walkers aside so I wouldn’t get any other babies in the picture. I thought that was interesting. We then went to the room were AnnaClaire was. The first room had about 6 babies in it, all in walkers. I noticed one was banging a plastic tennis (not exactly tennis) racquet on the tray of her walker. There are very few toys. All the nannies were so happy to see AnnaClaire! The babies were too. I think they liked having visitors. We cooed with them and they loved the attention. There was one little girl who AnnaClaire went up and hugged. We were later asking the nannies questions and they said this little girl was AnnaClaire’s best friend at the orphanage. She was SO cute. She looked about 17 or 18 months old. She was very shy and although I was allowed to take her picture with AnnaClaire, she did not want her picture taken. I did get a cute shot of the 2 of them hugging their nanny. I was really happy that the nannies told us AnnaClaire's best friend is being adopted next month! All the nannies said AnnaClaire was naughty. Amy said the Chinese meaning of naughty isn’t the same as the American meaning. She said that to them, naughty means active. The caregiver with her on gotcha had also said she was “naughty”. The doctor (who was giving a tour of the orphanage) said AnnaClaire could walk. HuiHui showed off her skills to us but I’d still call her new to the whole walking thing. She kept falling. It was really cute! The nanny complained about the way AnnaClaire was dressed. She was buttoning her sweater, pulling down her pants, etc. And then get this… AnnaClaire was wearing Robeez and the nanny said she needed hard soled shoes because she was “walking all over”! I don’t know about that! Mom asked when she starting walking and they said this month! She can hardly even walk on her own! I think Robeez are just fine! The nannies said she knew 2 words. One of the “ba”, we had been wondering about. She ALWAYS says “ba”, especially when she is happy. We had asked Amy and Amy said that it was another way of saying “baba”. Well Amy told us today that the nanny said that “ba” is something they were teaching the kids. It means “air kiss”! AnnaClaire is now always rubbing her lips and saying “ba!” It’s so cute! The other word they said she knows is something to the effect of “tzo” which means go (which explains why AC loves it outside!) They said she’s been talking since age 10 months but I’d call it more baby talk not words. We got to see AnnaClaire’s crib too. It was one of 6 and the mattress was very soft. There was a quilt on the crib which made me feel good. Her crib was nearest to the door. We went back into her playroom and stayed there awhile talking to the children and nannies. AnnaClaire was walking with one of her nannies and there was a toy she wouldn’t let go of. Well, when we left she still wouldn’t let go. She finally did with a tear or two. The nanny saw this and told us to keep the toy. This toy is now up there with the hairbrush! I was a little disappointed that they only took us to AnnaClaire’s room and another baby room and no where else, but I still think it was very worth it to go to the orphanage. It was a great experience! We also got to go to the orphanage gate were AnnaClaire was found on 10/28/05. A lot of people were walking by and looking at our sweet girl. We snapped a couple of pictures. It was very special to be able to be where our girl was found! For anyone who is unsure to visit the orphanage, it is so worth it! It was a 4 hour drive there, a 4 hour drive home, a 1.5 hour lunch, and an hour at the orphanage, but we so enjoyed it. It was one of the highlights of the trip. It was so nice to be in AnnaClaire’s birth town and to see where she has lived for the past 13 months. I have to say, she made it easy on us that she slept 2 hours on the way there and 2 hours on the way back and while not sleeping she was happily playing, eating and looking out the window, but we had a lot of fun and I wouldn’t trade this day for anything! Did I mention I was THIS close to using a squatty? It was one at the orphanage and it was the absolute nastiest I had seen yet. I just couldn’t do it. It meant holding it for a 4 hour car ride, but I made it and I still have 0 times use of the squatty potty on my record;)
Oh yea, we almost got in a car wreck! THE DRIVING IS CRAZY HERE! BEWARE!!!
When we were driving back, we passed a SuperWalmart. Will carried AnnaClaire to the hotel room for a second. Dad and Will decided to walk to the SuperWalmart and Mom and I decided to try staying with AnnaClaire again. We went down to the hotel buffet for dinner again so we could get AnnaClaire steamed egg. We got her plate of food but she was not hungry and ended up spitting up her egg all over her pretty outfit! I had a nice dinner and Mom didn’t eat. Oh and AnnaClaire reached for me at dinner!!! She wanted ME to hold her! FINALLY!!!!!!! She was the cutest thing! When we left, we stopped by the piano lady and danced to the piano music before heading for the room to get the Ergo. We put AnnaClaire in and went on a walk outside. AnnaClaire LOVES it outside!!! We had a nice walk and stopped at the Christmas trees to look at lights. It was fun! When we got back, we stopped by piano lady again (who knows AnnaClaire now!) and danced somemore. We got back in the room and gave AnnaClaire a bath. She really likes baths! We snuggled her in her towel, put her in her yellow pjs and I held her and brushed her hair. Dada and Will came back a few minutes after her bath and AC greeted Dada with a big kiss. She was all smiles for the night and Mom fed her cheerios! We got tons of smiles out of out little one and Will read a book to her. We played with her a little before Mom gave her a goodnight bottle. Mom held her until she was asleep (she wouldn’t go into the crib) and once asleep lay her in the crib. She is now sleeping peacefully with her hairbrush!
It was a great day! AnnaClaire has taken big steps in bonding today. She has reached for both Mom and me even though she was a big daddy’s girl on the car rides! I think having a girls night tonight helped.
Love to all,
Mom, Dad, Will, and AnnaClaire
We love you and miss you! Study hard for your exams. We’ll see you in a week! Can’t wait for you to meet your baby sister… She’ll love you, she loves all men!

P.S. I'm having trouble adding pictures, so I'll post the rest in the morning when I'm more patient! Goodnight!

It was a year ago today that we made the 4 hour trip up to Chenzhou city. AnnaClaire was great in the car and we arrived just about 4 hours later. It was rainy out and we ate the most delicious meal ever. We had it in a private room. The best part was the terra root. It cost $16 for our family, Amy, and the driver. Plus the waitresses were in there with us the whole time and helped entertain Miss Bu! It was the most delicious meal we ate the whole trip. I wish so badly that I could go eat there again. Then it was off to the orphanage. We are so incredibly blessed to have had this opportunity. Not all people get to go, especially since it was so far. Not only that, but we have the entire visit on video. We got to meet AnnaClaire's nannys, nurse, etc. We also got to see her room and meet all her little friends. The most special part is that in a room of 6, we know 3 of the families (plus us which makes 4). 2 of them live in the Carolinas as well, and we are hoping to meet up with them at some point. We were at the orphanage for about a hour before it was time to go back to Changsha. Visiting the orphanage was one of the best decisions. If you have the opportunity, GO! You will not regret it. I am so thankful to have the pictures, videos, have met the women that cared so much for my sweet sister. Not only that, but we got to see REAL China on the drives. It was a really great experience. We got home and it was pretty late. Changsha looks pretty with all the lights at night. I loved China so much. I cannot wait to go back for Kate! I am already looking forward to that trip! God is SO good!

AnnaClaire, I remember so much about this day a year ago. I remember waking up and eating breakfast at the delicious breakfast buffet at our hotel. I remember one waitress in particular, NaNa, who absolutely loved you. I remember she always wanted to hold you. I remember driving to Chenzhou. You were so good in the car You sat so still and slept over half the way. For the other part, you quitely ate your Os and played with your hairbrush. We saw so many things on the way. We saw water buffalo, markets, dogs running loose around, fish on the ground, ready to be sold. We experienced real China that day and it was amazing. I am so glad we were able to visit Chenzhou. We ate the best lunch ever that day. You loved eating off of the chopsticks. You loved the sticky, China rice and the terra root, too. You went into the orphanage with open arms and were glad to see all your nannies. We also discovered you could actually walk on that day! We were shocked when they told us you had begun walking at the beginning of the month! You hadn't walked for us yet! Anyway, at the time, I think we were sad that you didn't want us more, but in a way it is good because it showed that your nannies loved you and cared for you so much. We were blessed to be able to hear all about Chenzhou and meet everyone, as well as your friends. It was such a blessing to go. We were also able to see your finding spot. As we sat and took pictures, many people looked at us. I silently wondered if one of those women might've been your birth mother. I pray that one was. I pray that she saw you in the loving arms of us that day, that she knows you are safe in the arms of a family who loves you so much. I pray that she has peace on this day. AnnaClaire, time goes so fast. I cannot believe it's been a year since we visiting your first home, Chenzhou SWI. Everyone there was so kind. They are all in my heart forever and always and I am thankful for all they did in your first 13 months of live. It is no resort, but they took really good care of all the children, and worked their hardest to adopt them out. I hope one day when you are older, we can go back and you nannies can see how you've grown. AnnaClaire, I love you so much. Never forget that. I love you more than anything in the world. Love always, your sissy


Anonymous said...

wfojEmily, I really feel like I need to tell you this. As an adoptive mother of four, I will admit that I don't know everything (not even close!). I do know a little but about adoption, though. My oldest is 12. We talk about how she was abandoned a little bit, but she doesn't like to talk about it too much, and we don't push it. The reason I am telling you this is because you are posting pictures of that very tender spot where your sister was left. It is the most personal and private thing that adoptees have to deal with - the harsh, harsh reality that they were abandoned. No matter how much love the adoptive family can give them will never take away that fact. I know that you are only 14, and that you are just posting pictures of your trip to China. Please think of your sister, though. Think about how she would feel if she knew (and could understand) that you were sharing very private information with the entire world. I know you are innocent in your intentions, and that you aren't doing this to invade her privacy, but I believe that very private matters of adoption (such as this) need to be kept off blogs and such. You need to protect Annaclaire's privacy, and I know that you want what is best for her. I am not trying to tell you what to do - but I do think it's something you need to really consider, and something you should remember before posting about sensitive topics.

Best wishes,

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