Sunday, September 17, 2006

Our most important day

We will have to tell you the full story when we get home, but we got to meet and get to know all the people that took care of Lyvi her first 8 months of life. This orphanage is an example of what they hope other orphanages are able to become. They only keep the babies in the orphanage for about a month so they can monitor them during that critical time. Even once the babies are put into one of the 25 - 28 foster homes, Fu, the head nurse, bicycles around and visits them all weekly. They said they choose foster families based on how clean the homes are and how nice the families are.

We had lunch with the director, his wife, the office manager, the head nurse and their driver. Our guide and driver also ate with us. The restaurant served some locally grown food like peanuts, garlic and potatoes that even XiXi had not seen before. At one point I told Jason to count the dishes -- 17! There was also really good fish, mushrooms and a noodle soup that rivaled any chicken noodle soup I have ever had. I think they put a lot of white pepper in the dishes and it tasted terrific.

Of course the most important part of the meal was getting to know to the director and others there. They told us Lyvi was a very easy baby and would go to anyone. Considering that she was in foster care, I don't think it is the same as a baby who can't attach to anyone. A number of times they told us what an easy baby she was. While we were eating she got fussy and the nurse took her and spent more time with her. Lyvi did seem comfortable with her nurse, but Fu is also just really good with babies.

The director asked if we would drink wine with him. Although I was aware of how bad it was going to be (45 proof rice wine), it is important to us to follow this kind of custom. Things quickly got hysterical once he started toasting us. We did our best to sip only a little, although he goaded us to drink more. Jason was about done with the rice wine, but then Director Wu wanted to toast to XinShi now having two fathers -- who can say no to that? The director got quite tipsy and it was amazing he could stomach that much of the wine! XiXi told us that this was truly how a typical meal would be with lots of laughing, wine and fun. We had the director, his wife, the office manager and the nurse write good wishes in her book Harrah's gave us as a gift. They were teasing the director about how much he wrote (I had a feeling getting him tipsy would loosen up the pen a bit!) Everything I had been told about the director was true and we felt blessed to have such a warm send off for XinShi.

The acme of the day was getting to meet her foster mother. When we arrived in Shanggao, XiXi took us to a grocery store. An interesting side note is that she told the people there it was her baby so we wouldn't cause any trouble -- she said they probably think she is very rich to have a white nanny! We went there to buy a huge bottle of cooking oil and a bag of the rice used for congee as a gift for the foster mother. We bought a box of local cigarettes for the director. I also brought a small windchime for the foster mother. So, we felt really good about the gifts we gave her -- something to remember XinShi by and something practical.

We arrived in an area that was small whitewashed concrete apartments. Her foster mother quickly came out to see XinShi. XinShi didn't seem to know what to do and her foster mother kept kindly saying something like, "You forgot me already?" XinShi did go to her and the mother warmly told us that she really liked her and was so sad when she had to go. She said XinShi is very smart and that when she (foster mother) was crying because XinShi had to go, that XinShi wiped her foster mother's face. She wanted us to take a picture and send it to her, which of course we are happy to do and I hope it gets to her. XiXi seemed to think that Lyvi really did already forget her foster mother -- I wouldn't want to think my 8 month olds could have forgotten me that quickly so who knows what was going on in our sweetpea's mind.

They pointed out the blue window that was her apartment. What a beautiful corner of the area it was. She had a small garden and a basket turned over that was a coop for chickens. Beyond a sweet little bamboo gate were green fields and the whole place warmed my heart. My friend, Sharlande, reminded me of the Celtic phrase, "Thin Place -- when the veil between heaven and earth is so transparent that you're neither here nor there but in both places at once." That was too true. What a wonderful little piece of the world it was for her to be tucked in for 7 months.

The neighbors were warm and laughing and were excited that foreigners were there and they talked about what a lucky baby she is -- every adoptive parent knows that we are the lucky ones though.

XinShi gives me what we call monster kisses -- mouth wide open generally mixed with some sweet baby attack noise. I don't know what to make of it, but while her foster mother was holding her, she kept wanting to lean in and give me monster kiss after silly monster kiss. Her foster mother seemed so kind and sweet. I wish we were allowed to get to know her, but the visit was very short and she had two babies in her home that had started to cry.

The director then wanted to stop and buy us, XiXi, Mary and our driver each a bottle of the rice wine and some garlic. After waiting in the car for them to make the purchases, we were only able to give he and his wife a quick good-bye then we were headed away from Shanggao. There are some beautiful parks there and a hotel so I am already looking forward to a visit again. XiXi said things in China are changing so quickly that it will probably look very different when we come back.

The drive out and back could have its own post, but I am a bit overwhelmed by everything we saw. I could have walked to Shanggao and taken a picture every three steps. On the way back, XiXi stopped at a house and to buy chestnuts and I am again amazed at the homes and kind hearted people. She let us wander through her home while she gathered chestnuts for XiXi. She has very little, but based on her conversation, XiXi said the woman must work very hard and is actually doing very well for a farmer. My eyeballs were dry by the time we got home because I hardly wanted to blink and possibly miss something the hour and half drive each way.

We feel very fortunate to have been allowed by Director Wu to include this visit during our adoption trip and will always be grateful to him.


8 Comments:

Blogger Krissy said...

OMG!! That is so awesome! I can't believe what an amazing adventure that must have been ~ and such a great experience ~ I am so glad you're writing it all down so you can share w/Lyvi later!!

We saw Lindsay this morning ~ H & L were inseparable from the moment we picked her up... They both cried when L had to go! :) Got to hug/kiss J & D too!!

We miss you guys... K

7:37 PM  
Blogger kimb said...

I know you were hoping to meet the foster mother, so I am so happy for you. You both are glowing. Have a great rest of the trip and we will see y'all soon!!

9:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is SO great! I agree with Kristen -- what a great thing this will be for Lyvi some day! You will be so glad that you wrote it all down. I am enjoying reading your adventures everyday.

Beck :)

6:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel like I am living vicariously through you right now. I look forward to the pictures and the blog. What an amazing experience for you all. I am so relieved for you that Lyvi doesn't seem to have the bonding issues that can happen. I got a kick out of the picture of Jason and the director...Jason looks like he is feeling NO PAIN!! Lyvi will so enjoy reading this journal some day and looking at all of the pictures. You are giving her a great gift for the future. HAve a good week at the consulate (SP????)

Laura

7:43 AM  
Blogger larry and marianne said...

I am so glad you got to see Shanggao, and the orphanage. There has been a lot of activity by the CCAA on the internet regarding the orphanage visits, and I don't think you said anything out of line, but I will send something snail mail for you to read when you get home. Mr. Wu wrote some very nice wishes for Grace and us in our Harrah's When You Were Born in China book. I can only assume your comments are great too.

9:04 AM  
Blogger larry and marianne said...

I am so glad you got to see Shanggao, and the orphanage. There has been a lot of activity by the CCAA on the internet regarding the orphanage visits, and I don't think you said anything out of line, but I will send something snail mail for you to read when you get home. Mr. Wu wrote some very nice wishes for Grace and us in our Harrah's When You Were Born in China book. I can only assume your comments are great too.

9:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What an amazing journey. I have not read your blog in a while as Shayna has been sick for a few weeks and so have I. I love the name, Lyvi, and she is just beautiful. I have to admit, I am jealous that you got to travel to Shang Gao, but how incredible. Safe travels to you and your family. Beth Escobar, The Escobar Family. http://beeshayna.blogspot.com

11:58 AM  
Anonymous Barbara said...

Again, Lela, you paint such wonderful work pictures! I love that you see Livia's first home as one of the snug thin places in this amazing world.

Thanks for letting us come along!

Blessings - Barbara :D

7:55 PM  

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