Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Orphanage Visit--Good or Not Good Idea

Part of the schedule of events while in Kunming was for us to visit Shane's orphanage with him on Wednesday. It kind of took us by surprise. Although we were very interested in seeing the facility and staff that has been a part of his life for quite a while, we were not sure this was a good idea based on his current emotional state--still confused and apprehensive about his new parents and lifestyle. Furthermore, we had not requested the visit. Needless to say we should have gone with our initial assessment of this outing--either call it off or only send one parent.

So off we were for a 30 min taxi ride through town to the Kunming Municiple Children's Home. The facility had a nice entrance opening to a compound with a few buildings. We arrived and went to what appeared to be the main administrative building and met with a director in a sitting area where we handed over our gifts for the workers and the director. The director then gave us a book that provided an overview of the orphanage and then asked us if we had any questions-- Susie had prepared a list and she proceeded to go through them. For the most part we didn't gain much more additional knowledge...we were hoping that they may be able to provide his medical records, or insight to the type of bottle/cup he had used in the past.

Then we were off to visit his old dormitory. Up to this point Shane seemed OK...but as we walked up the steps of his old building a worker walked out and Shane erupted in a scream...a "take me away" scream. Quickly we decided that Susie would go in but Shane and I would stay outside. He calmed than some but it was obvious he was not happy. Then a couple more workers showed up and his response actually was much better...he went to them, hugged and kissed them...they gave us an Asian pear and seemed satisfied for us to hang out outside and snack. Then it was time to leave and the full melt-down began. He screamed and lurched for the building yelling Ma Ma. His melt down continued from leaving the orphanage to walking to find a taxi and finally all the way back to the Hotel. Of course Susie's heart was breaking because of her little one's anguish because we seemed to have no way to comfort him. Our guide Eric recommended that we stop by Green Lake Park for a brief visit to the children's rides...I was not sure but he was confident it would be a good distraction. So we stopped by the park and Eric treated Shane to four rides...the type we would see outside a department store. You would walk up to a ticket booth and exchange Chinese money for ride tokens-- it was really funny to see that the ride token was a US nickel. It took the first ride just to get Shane to stop crying...then rest of the rides he never smiled but he seemed to calm done quite bit. He would avoid contact for the most part and pretty much maintained a stoic face. Eric said that eye contact even for Asian adults was not common and he would eventually come around. I also noticed that most of the other children on the rides were quite reserved. After the rides we proceeded to walk the park where Eric bought Shane a couple of toys (pin wheel and a little horn)...again not much of an emotional reaction but it seemed to further calm him and he began to engage us more as we had to help him work and figure out his toys. Eric had helped us make great progress in restoring Shane to at least his orginal emotional state. Bottom line, we made a tactical error in visiting the orphanage with Shane but he seems to be recovering.

The rest of the day was spent trying to interact and bond. He is beginning to eat very well but we are still having trouble finding sources of protein that he likes besides yogurt. Up to this point he hasn't been a big fan of meat and eggs....he loves fried rice noodles, watermelon, apples, and Asian pears.

In the afternoon we returned to Green Lake park for a stroll to enjoy their gardens. Also there were several folk music bands playing away...we enjoyed their playing and seeing all the unusual instruments. It funny though, it was if they were competing with each other. Several bands all playing at once in close proxiemity where at a distance it sounded pretty bad but if you walked up to each individual band you discovered the music to be quite good.

Last highlight of the evening was a return visit to a local Chinese Restaurant...but this time I took our guide there earlier in the day to help me order and make a reservation. This time the food was great. All the local dishes he picked out were great: crispy fried potatoes that looked like interwoven potatoe straws (Shane's favorite); ginger chicken and peanuts, baked BBQ spareribs (more like a very good pork roast), and soup. We ate well and took Shane back to the hotel full and ready for bed. He seemed tolerant and somewhat content with his current situation. Thursday we are off to the Ethnic Village. Should be fun.



  1. This is my take. We didn't get to visit the CWI with our Li'l Miss b/c Susie knows the story. She was ill in the hospital (and we left straight from there at the end of the week) and, anyway, I always regretted that.

    I can only imagine the grief he encountered but from the perspective of NOT having that time, I think it is an important step. I know this is just my opinion and of course we can agree to disagree but I think you made the right move by taking him. He is not a baby (well I know he still is), but he spent years there not months and it was home and this will provide closure for him I think in the long run. To have photos of him there with workers who cared for him ... priceless. For him to be able to look back and know you both cared enough to see where he called home ... priceless.

    And really the more he grieves now, the more you are on your way to the deep attachment that is needed. And to see he longed for a Ma Ma there ... well to me that is a good thing, that he was attached to someone there who obviously had his heart (emotionally speaking). Did you get to see her??? Just curious. We were told Li'l Miss's "Ma Ma" (ayi; I had photos) was "out" the day we visited. I'll leave it at that.

    I am sorry you didn't get more answers but I'm not surprised. At least you tried, and again, years from now, Shane will know you tried to get answers for him.

    Glad you also found some good food! We love the food in Yunnan especially the local flavor of cooked cucumbers and the bamboo. :)

  2. We also were very apprehensive about visiting Michelle's orphanage when we were in China. It was a hard day - we made sure our guide told her (in Mandarin) that we were only going to visit and we were not leaving her there. She seemed to understand. She was very apprehensive and when we saw her "Ma-Ma", the Nanny who had cared for her the most and even kept her as her foster mom for a while, Michelle was obviously upset. It was an emotional and difficult day for us all, many tears from everyone, but now I am so glad we went. Not only will we be able to talk with Michelle someday about where she lived, but I believe even then it was part of her grieving process and helped her to realize we were not leaving her, we were now her family.

    Praying for you all!
    Take care,

  3. Thank you for encouraging us on our decision to go. It was so very hard but as you have said ..necessary, emotional, but priceless. Hard to tell how much Shane really understands. Developmentally, he is so,far away from acting like a normal 3 year old. we are hopeful it did allow some closure and that true healing will begin. glad tomorrow is Guangzhou!

  4. Saw two of your kids today out and about in the neighborhood, enjoying the lovely weather! Youngest daughter brought me a small white flower to put in my hair...proclaiming it a tulip :-) I'm ready for you all to come home! I'm overwhelmed at the prospect of all the adjustments you are all facing in a place that is foreign to all 3 of you! So thankful that the God of all comfort is with you all, and brought you all together in His perfect timing. Mariah and Micah have been making paper airplanes for Shane...we will indeed be praying especially for his peace and comfort. Am assuming you've probably read "Toddler Adoption: The Weaver's Craft." Can't help but think of that book, and how exactly predictable Shane's response is currently. Be encouraged! Full-on giggles will be so delightful when they come, and in the meantime his bath time smiles are precious!

    Our love and prayers!
    Sonja, for the Srays

  5. Prayers as he continues to find trust. Tom & Cara