Today was pretty full. After a bit of an early rise, we set out for the orphanage. We met the doctor who did Sheehan’s surgery, the orphanage director, and the nannies who cared for Sheehan.
NOTE to parents adopting from Xi’an…Unfortunately, we were so frazzled trying to get out of the hotel room, with Sheehan being sick and not sleeping well, that we forgot the video camera AND the list of children to take pictures of. I also forgot the family albums I was to deliver, but they will come to our hotel to pick those up. We did take many pictures of all the kids hoping we could at least get one picture of each kid. If I remembered what they looked like, then I took many pics of them. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to go to the 2nd floor. I will post the pics at the Xi’an yahoo site as soon as I can.
All the nannies were very excited to see Sheehan again. At first he wouldn’t let any of them hold him, but eventually he allowed it. They were so excited. The children were so beautiful. Some were dying to have Steve and I pick them up. One of the kids clung to my leg and wouldn’t let go. One little girl I picked up, she threw some plastic keys across the room and starting laughing hysterically. Then I let her down to go over and pick them up and in the meantime picked up the boy clinging to my leg. When the little girl came back with the keys she laid down on the ground and starting crying and kicking. She was ok after a few seconds.
One of the women at the orphanage speaks English (British accent, so I’m guessing she was from Hong Kong). She told me about the non-profit organization that takes care of the children on the 4th floor. The organization is called the English Language Association (ELA Childcare). They are not part of the orphanage, they just use the space and take care of this group of children. They have a good ratio of care takers to children. There were MANY caretakers in the rooms. I was really impressed. There were children in the other room singing the ABC’s in English. We arrived just before lunch, so they invited Sheehan to sit down with the kids for lunch. As soon as they said “Let’s eat!” (in Chinese, of course), Sheehan wanted out of my arms and ran right for his little chair at the table with the other kids. He woofed down two bowls.
While Sheehan was eating and dad was watching, I got a tour of the rest of the 4th floor facilities. She showed me the baby room where the youngest children are. She said that many of the children have cleft lip/palate. She said that if the cleft babies were on the other floors of the orphanage there is a good chance they wouldn’t survive. Cleft babies have to have special feeding bottles because they are unable to suck. She also gave some reasons why cleft babies might be abandoned. She said it was two-fold: 1) many parents in the countryside can’t afford to get the care needed for a child with cleft and 2) many women in the countryside only breastfeed and when their child is not sucking, they don’t know what to do. The child begins to waste away. They can’t stand to see that and they take the baby to be abandoned. It makes me sad to think that there is possibly a woman out there who couldn’t care for Sheehan, either because she didn’t know how to or couldn’t afford to. This is a person that we will be sure to pray for for the rest of our lives.
Then she showed me the room where the children who have severe special needs (mostly mentally challenged) stayed. I asked what happens to the children in that room if they are not adopted. She said they usually go right into homes for old folks. Later, we asked our tour guide what happens to orphans similar to Sheehan’s case, that don’t get adopted. He said they will live a life of poverty.
After lunch we went to have an adult lunch at a dumpling (pot stickers) banquet. They took us to our own private dining room where 4 different people waited on us. There were so many dumplings to try. They were all so good! One was filled with sea cucumber. We recalled that we saw this animal on the bottom of the ocean floor of the lagoon where we satyed on our honeymoon and we were told that if you toched it and then touch your eyes you will go blind. I stil ate it though. It was pretty good. The weird thing was the “beef” she put in front of me. I really think it was beef intestines because it didn’t look anything like the beef I’m used to. I ate it anyway. The Chinese have an amazing way of making yucky stuff taste relaly good. Like this yucky-looking green vegetable that looks like it’s straight from the ocean floor…I tried it…loved it. Oh, and then at the end of the dumpling banquet they bring out a fruit tray and there is this fruit that had a BRIGHT pink rind and a white flesh with tons of little black seeds (poppy-seed sized). It tasted like kiwi…but I’d never seen it before. Also, apparently pomegranate and dates are quite common in China. They were selling pomegranates on the highway to the terra cotta warriors (Susie, I thought you might appreciate this.) They are very inexpensive in China. One more thing about the dumpling banquet restaurant that I found amusing and took a picture of, were the bathrooms. The male and female stalls were in the same room. So, you would go into the bathroom and be in a stall next to a person of the opposite gender. Very different.
After the banquet, we visited the city wall around Xi’an. There is a wall that surrounds the entire city that was built…I’m not sure when it was built, but it was during one of those dynasties. It was kind of chilly and I was concerned about Sheehan getting cold, so we were only up on the wall for about 15 minutes.
After the wall, we went to the Shaanxi museum (Shaanxi is the province that Xi’an is in). Xi’an was the beginning of the Silk Road. We saw many archeological items dug up from thousands of years ago. It was neat to see all that history in our son’s homeland.
After the museum, we came back and tried to get Sheehan to take a nap. Didn’t happen. So, we went to the grocery store. There stores are pretty neat and HUGE. Totally different than what I imagined. It’s a like a Meijer store, but multiple levels and to get to the next level, instead of taking an escalator, they have escalator ramps…like the walking escalators at O’Hare, but these are on an incline, so you get to the next floor and you get to take your shopping cart with you. Sheehan likes going to the store, especially when we buy him cookies. Again, chip off the old block!
Now for some prayer requests. Sheehan is really having a difficult time sleeping, and it is wearing him out, and Kate since he literally will only stop crying when she holds his 25-pound body “standing upright”! If she tries to sit down while holding him or if Steve tries, he screams and kicks. Tonight’s trial and error seems to show that he can’t stand the hotel room. When Steve took him out in the stroller one time and while carrying him a second time, he went to sleep in minutes. Anyway, please pray for his rest and Kate’s as wel as Kate’s health. We think she may be coming down with a sore throat.
As always, thanks for your support. We have been witnesses to God’s hearing and answering your prayers and it is awesome to experience.
Steve, Kate and Sheehan