Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Orphanage Visit

Today went very well. We went to Jei Jei's orphanage. The drive was though the countryside and just under two hours. Our guide explained to Jei Jei that we were only visiting and that she would leave again with mama and she was fine.

The orphanage staff was very happy to see us. They had made a fantastic lunch! We ate everything Chinese style and loved it. Afterwards, we had a look around. We only saw a few children. I let my daughter run around as she wished and she always came back to me and halfway through the visit, grabbed my hand and said that she wanted to go wait in the car. I marvel that she has a deep sense that we belong together, despite the love she has for those who have raised her and cared for her. However, I will admit that I wanted to do as she asked and snatch her up and run away from there and never look back. I'm still sorting out my feelings about the orphanage. The squallor is, of course, evident, as with most orphanages, and the caretakers truly love these kids, but the children cared for my my daughter's Po Po were truly filthy, despite that aside from having long dirty fingernails, my daughter and her clothes were perfectly clean when she came to me. Anyway, enough said until I have time to ponder things.

My daugher's foster brother has dwarfism. He is five years old. His brain is healthy, only his body is affected. He cried and cried and cried. Partly, he was shy and obviously he missed her. He tried following us at one point and we didn't know it and he couldn't keep up. We went back for him, but his shyness won over and he turned from us. I approached him and did what I normally wouldn't, me being a stranger, I picked him up. He didn't like that so I put him down right away, but the staff thought I'm mama hao, a good mama. The little boy did let me feed him candy, but his heart is clearly hurting as the loss of his foster sister.

I saw my daugher's room, her bed, her pile of clothes on it. I learned that the first night I had her, her Po Po couldn't sleep and missed her and cried all night. I received my daughter's finding ad and saw her finding place, right outside the main gate. I also received a copy of what I was told is the note she was found with, but I don't believe it's real, for a couple reasons, and my guide is going to call and ask them more about it. If it's not real, I know that their heart is in the right place in giving it to me, so I don't feel negatively about it.

We went to the post office where I mailed humanitarian supplies to Beijing and while there we saw a baby in a basket on her mother's back. The basket had a little piece of wood across it inside that made a bench for the baby to sit on.

Last night was very hard for my precious girl. It was her first long, long, hard cry of grief. I just held her and let her go through it. Sometimes I sang and she slowed for a tiny moment, and sometimes I murmured soothing words, but it was heartbreaking and reassuring at the same time. I hated to see her go through it, but it's important that she let it out. For those of you reading this who aren't in the adoption community, our children, regardless of age, mour the loss of their life and loved ones and it's not an event, but a process. This was the first of more to come and it usually comes at bedtime when they are tired and feeling more vulnerable.

She isn't allowing me to do her therapy. The orphanage staff said that she does cry, though it's supposed to be painless, but she's fighting me like a tiger, even in her sleep when I've tried. She has one more month to go before discontinuing the treatment and I don't know if not doing it for two weeks would be bad. I'm going to have my guide come up to our room and with just my daughter and I, talk about this with her. She clearly shuts down when I've had my guide talk to her about this before, so there's clear trauma here. She has suffered great pain with her surgeries so I'm not surprised. Please pray that she will allow me to do her therapy.

She fell out of bed last night. She sort of slid, there wasn't any thump, so she didn't even wake up. I am sleeping with her and she lets her legs dangle over the edge. I spend much of the night scooping her away from the edge. Tonight, I'm putting chairs against the bed.

She loves music and dances in front of the mirror. She's extremely well-coordinated, can catch a ball, jump, skip, etc... As I get to know her, part of me is also beginning to mour the loss of how she would have been without her special need. She is amazingly graceful, but due to her need, there is a limit to how far this gracefullnes shows. I guess I can be frank and say that when she stands here and dances in front of the mirror, she is exquisite! But if I put her in ballet class, she'll have fun and enjoy it and look cute, but will never be the prima ballerina that she otherwise could have been. Please know that as I say this, I don't need comments of how she'll reach her potential, because I know she's going to do wonderfully well just as she is. But as a mother, as those in the same position know already, it's natural to mourn this loss as realization comes with getting to know our children, and then we pick up our steely resolve and help our kids reach their potential, no matter what that turns out to be.

Brushing her teeth! Yep, she does it over the toilet like a pro.

Can you see how tiny she is?

A little pouty because mama won't let her lean down into the fish pond and pull out the floating lillies.

Welcome to Yugan! It's a rather new city, clean and well-organized.

Orphanage gate.

The woman seated with us is Po Po, grandmother, Jei Jei's caregiver for the past 5 years.

Foster brother who shared the same Po Po.

Jei Jei's bed.

In the office where I gave my donations. This scale is where the incoming babies are weighed.

On the way back to the hotel. How I treasured this moment of her asleep in my arms. She also asked to be picked up for the second time while at the orphanage.


foreverfamily said...

Are you as together as you sound because it sounds like you're doing great!

Nicole said...

Your daughter is simply beautiful! I am enjoying following your blog! Congratulations!!

Karen said...

WOW Lots of great pictures too! I have a couple questions out of curiosity. Is your guide Chris? Or did you have a different guide? Also, does the orphanage look to be vacant or full? More babies, toddlers or children? Have you asked the guide what his thoughts are on the amount of babies still abandoned, compared to what we are assuming on this end?
Also, I heard somewhere that sometimes the notes are rewritten by someone with better handwriting because they do not want the a-parent to think poorly of the b-parent's writing. It's possible this is the case for your daughter.
Im so glad you were able to visit the foster family. The foster brother needs to grieve as much as your daughter does, and this will help him. With our first daughter, even though she was only 17 months old at the time of adoption, the night after we went back to the orphanage was when she grieved the most, and then she was done except for a few times of watching her gotcha video and asking questions to process everything when she could verbalize it. I really think that, even though its tough to help them through it that night, it's very healthy to be able to go back to the orphanage to allow the process to begin.
Looks like everything is fitting into place nicely. Great work!
PS if it is Chris, please tell him that we appreciated everything he did for us back in March 2006, when we adopted our daughter from Hefei. I also read that he found a young girl and adopted her a couple years back. Give him our congratulations.

nicole said...

i played in that same playroom the week after cmas. great memories! enjoy nanchang and eat some noodles for me...i miss them so much! and broccoli with garlic...ymmmmm. your daughter is adorable. love seeing her in the ergo, sleeping in ur arms, you are well on ur way!

Eliza2006 said...

Loved reading about the orphanage. You are a good mama!

Jill said...

Congratulations on getting your Jie Jie at last! She's beautiful!

Cupcakes and Hairbows said...

Hi - I'm a friend of Donna. We adopted a 6 year old a couple of years ago. Our daughter did many of the same things. We had some challenging times, but each day got better and better. When we brought her home from the airport, she ran around our yard and went through every room of the house and then came and hugged me. Please video her speaking Chinese, even if it's just playing. I wish we had done more of that with Alaina. What a fun age - and you will be amazed how she will be speaking and reading and writing in less than a year! Please feel free to contact me (while in China or when you return home). Donna has my number and email. Wishing you much happiness -- Lucy in GA.

It's a Wonderful Life said...

I understand mourning the loss of what a child could do without the special need then bucking up to encourage them to reach their full potential. You are doing a great job with your daughter and the blog. I love following along.


Chrissy said...

Thanks for all the pictures! I love seeing you there with her. I was writing way too long of a comment so will just keep reading and send you a real email when you're home & situated. Lots of support & virtual hugs are coming your way!

Catherine said...

what a beautiful little girl you have there! It's such an amazing blessing for you to be able to visit her SWI and meet the staff there as well as her Po Po.

The picture of Jei Jei sharing her drink with her foster brother is my favourite of this series. Such precious moments shared between them and you can tell through the picture how they love one another and were a team. Praying for him as he adjusts to his big sis leaving.

Are the cute little sleepers she has on in the bottom pics from Carters? If so, she and Hannah wore the same pj's today! :o)