Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A Hard Day--Finding Place and Orphanage Visit

On Wednesday of Gotcha week, we decided to make the long journey to Hannah's birth city to see her finding place and also her orphanage.  It was something we could tell our guide really didn't want us to do, because it was such a long drive, but I knew in my heart that if we didn't do it, I would regret it forever.  I am so glad we went.  It was something we needed to see and do.  It was a three hour drive by van one way to Yulin City.  We had to set out very early in the morning in order to do it all in one day.

It was a hard day for Hannah.  She seemed to be realizing she was trapped.  With us.  In an awful hotel.  Eating awful hotel buffet food (oh my word...western buffet was quite comical here!!).  She was very blank this day.  No sign of really anything.  Perhaps a little sadness.  Perhaps a lot of shock.  She was tired and slept a lot of the day and seemed on edge when we arrived at the orphanage.

Our first stop was her finding place.  She was found in a park in Yulin City, near the convention center.  We have no details about her finding...where exactly in the park she was left, what she was left in, and no note was left with her.  Her birthday is an estimate.  It was very strange, being in her birth city.  Our guide told us it was a "small" city, "only about one million people here."  Ha!  Small, indeed!  It was strange, to stand in that park.  To imagine where the child you are holding close was left.  To think about what her birth mother experienced that day and wonder, did she stay?  Did she watch to make sure she was found?  And then also to think she might be there, walking the same streets of Yulin City that day.  Did she see us?  Does she know Hannah is safe?  We tried our best to capture what we could of the park, for Hannah.

 She was so sad, so emotionless, much of this day.  I was happy to hold her close.  This is the convention center.  The park is mostly cement, with some greenery. It would be a busy place, so a baby would have likely been found quickly.

 Just across the street from the park is one of the largest Buddhist temples in China.  Many people journey to Yulin City to visit this temple.

 More views of the park. 

Standing together, with her forever family, in the place she was abandoned, and found.  Never to be abandoned again and always known to her Father, never abandoned by Him. We praise Him for knitting her into our family story from the beginning of her story!

The Chinese flag flying over the park where Hannah was found.

After we visited the park, we ate lunch at a local restaurant (BEST Chinese food we had on the entire trip!!) and then got in the van to visit the orphanage.  We had discussed with our guide meeting Hannah's foster mother, but he strongly urged us against it, fearing what it would do emotionally to Hannah.  She was already going through so much grief and rage, I wasn't sure what would happen if we saw her again, so we decided against it.  In hindsight, I wish that we had done it, difficult as it may have been, or at least tried to find a way for us to meet her without Hannah seeing her.

The orphanage was not where I thought it would be.  It was rather hidden, down what seemed like an alley street and difficult to find.  Right outside the gates was the "pets and flower market."  The flower part of the market was very pretty, but the pets portion left a lot to be desired.  Many, many animals, crammed in cages that were far too small and most not looking very healthy or well fed.  It was an outdoor market.  We walked through, prior to entering the gates to the orphanage.  Our guide told us this would have been a place Hannah frequented.  The nannies would sometimes bring children from the orphanage to visit the animals and Hannah did seem to get excited about seeing the animals!

 Experiencing the "pet market."

 Yes, you too may own a chipmunk for your pet!

 The pet market.

Pedestrians do not have the right of way here!  Crossing any street (sidewalks often included) was like a game of frogger!  Ready, set, run....and get out of their way!  FAST!  Unless, of course, you are us, in which case they are likely coming to a complete stop to stare at you.......

Our time at the orphanage was fairly short, but we are thankful we did it.  Each orphanage is different....allowing you to enter the facility itself, or not, allowing you to see children, or not, allowing you to take photos or not, and so on.  This particular facility would not allow us to enter the building, due to the confidentiality of the children inside, which was a disappointment, but still worth the trip to us.  We were able to stand precisely where all of Hannah's referral photos and videos were taken.  She returned to the orphanage twice a month for development checks.  I could tell when we entered that she knew where we were and that she didn't want to be there.
 Standing with Hannah outside the gates of the orphanage.  Orphan no more! 
 (Take note of the cultural no, no....she had no shoes OR socks on!  She would get easily frustrated and angry and the first thing to go were the shoes and socks.  She was tired and emotional this day and I didn't see it as a battle worth fighting, so I just let her leave them off at this stop.  I am sure the director and nanny of the orphanage thought we were foolish Americans to have her so lightly dressed....and NO SHOES!  China scandal, y'all.  Just leave it to me to be a Chinese scandal.).

 Hannah and I with our kind, efficient, hilarious (and highly caffeinated) guide, David!

 Hannah giving a final goodbye to the head nanny and orphanage director.  Farewell, Yulin City Social Welfare Institute!

 Views inside the social welfare institute property.  There are homes here for elderly people as well as children.  There are also apartments with foster parents in them.  This is not where Hannah's foster parents lived.  They were about 45 minutes away from the orphanage.

 The water basin made famous to us in our very first photos and video footage of Hannah.  She played in water in the first glimpse we saw of her in this basin.  We have several photos of her from this that my brother in law made from the video.

 The view from inside the social welfare institute, out the gates.  We also got familiar with this view from our video footage and photos throughout the process.

 Two of Hannah's referral photos were taken by this rock.  We already forgot what the Chinese character on the rock says and we were told that it was the rock of something......  Need to find this out!  Anyhow, referral photo no more, file no more--real person and in a real family now!  BURRIS!

 Hannah spent the first six months of her life on the top floor of this building in the baby room.  So wish we could have seen it.  She then visited the orphanage every two weeks or so for developmental check ups.

The entrance gates of the orphanage.

We left the orphanage and I felt Hannah let her guard down.  We took her there....and then we left.  We didn't leave her there.  We protected her the whole time we visited.  

Orphan no more, sweet girl.  Hannah, daughter, sister, niece, granddaughter.....loved and cherished, just the way you are (have I told y'all that "clefty kisses" are seriously the best?  I will miss them.....I truly will!).  Planted firmly in a family.  For good.

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