Thursday, December 14, 2017

Orphanage Visit, Hefei SWI

I’m not sure what I expected, but his Orphanage was not what I expected.  I keep hearing and being told that he was in “one of the good ones,” “very well managed” and I would have to agree.  First off, it’s HUGE!  I felt like I was on a college campus. It’s not just an orphanage – it’s a social welfare institution.  So there are buildings for seniors and for adults with disabilities.

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This is the building that Zheng Kai lived in.  They are apartment buildings.  He was on the second floor.  This is a picture of their family.  It was hanging above the table. You can see it below on the wall of the picture of his foster parents and us together.

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Us arriving – love all of the touching :)

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I am so grateful to his foster parents!  They were so loving and demonstrative.  We talked about Kai, about how far he has come and some of the things she has taught him.  We talked about his likes and dislikes – about his chipmunking :).  At one point when she was telling us what a good boy he is, she said with a lift of her chin, “You are lucky to have him.” (all this through our guide obviously).  Darn right!  Loved her for that pride in her boy!

Other observations – a little sister was home, she ran up to Kai and grabbed his hands.  Dad was cooking.  Dad peeled a pear for Kai and gave it to him.  (This is good.  Daddy does half of the cooking in our house)  Kai was totally familiar with his environment.  Went and got a little chair and set it over by the toys and TV.  Little sister sat beside him.  There was so much love.  I must have thanked her a thousand times!!

His bedroom – I loved that there were pictures of the kids on the walls.

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I got the feeling that he had genuinely been loved and cared for.  I am so grateful!  This foster family model is funded by One Sky, a charity I deeply admire – and now am so very, very grateful for!

When it was time to leave, Kai started to cry.  Sweet, sweet boy. Our hearts all broke for him.  He understands what is happening.  I have been waiting for something, any form of grieving but hadn’t seen any.  Now we where there leaving his home for good, and tears.  His foster mother and I hugged him and loved him and wiped his face.  Sweet, sweet boy.

How do you thank the woman who has loved your son and prepared him for you?

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He walked down the stairs all by himself – everyone wanted us to see how well he could manage them by himself.  We walked across the campus to the school.  Another big building, up the elevator to the classrooms.  Everything was decorated so colorfully and with pictures and creations by the children.  It was wonderful!  We walked into his classroom – about 8 or 9 kids, 1 teacher and an assistant.  The kids ranged in special needs, but with a background in Early Childhood Education, I was impressed.  All of his little friends rushed around him, touching him and holding his hands.  He started crying again.

His sweet teacher.                                         Wiping his face.

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Terrible picture, but this little guy just kept holding his hand.

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All of the little ones were so excited  - teacher set up a light box.

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Kai was really sad by this point.  So I thought it was time to go.  We went to a conference room – we had to take care of some last paperwork. I thanked the Asst Director for all of the love and care he received here.  Truly, how do you express gratitude?  Of course they were saying things about us giving him a home, but he is ready for a family now.  He has been given love, time and attention.  We are thankful for that! 

She was watching me comforting him and told Ding, our guide, that this was good.  She knew he would be spoiled with us.  So many emotions today!!!

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We came back to the room and just chilled.  We turned on Chinese cartoons and let him play with his toys.  Jason went down to the Noodle Shop and brought back some fried rice and noodles for lunch.  We kept the rest of the day low key.

We did run up to the lobby to get his passport in the afternoon.  Yea!  That is the last thing we need here in province.

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For dinner we went to the Noodle and Chopstick.  He had bone broth, fried rice, and hot milk for dinner.   Tried to keep it as normal as possible, no weird American food!

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I didn’t know what to expect going to the orphanage, but I’m glad we went.  My heart now knows that he was in a loving and caring place.  He’s had his final goodbyes, and those tears, while heartbreaking to watch, seemed to open up something inside of him.  He was much more talkative all afternoon and evening.  What a hard thing we are doing to you, Kai! I honestly believe that he is ready to take the next steps.  He has been prepared and now we will help you further develop into the very best man you can be.  We love you Zheng Kai! You are going to amaze all of us!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Free Day in Hefei

There was nothing adoption related we need to do today, so we had a free day.  We aren’t sleeping well still – we’ll sleep for a couple of hours and be up again.  Kai is sleeping great, though! 

The Turpin laundromat – hand washing gives me more appreciation for my washer and dryer!

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We started with an early breakfast and headed out to explore this great park we can see from our hotel room.

We learned a lot about the Three Kingdoms period and the great battle for Hefei – 1000 men holding off 200,000.  Jason is fascinated by the rich history of China!

The park has a little of everything in it – beautiful buildings, museum, paintball, petting zoo, amusement park, lake, you name it.

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I love whenever I see English!  I have thought so much about not being able to speak the language.  Do us, it’s no big deal.  We have a guide for anything important.  The little stuff people are happy to help us.  I keep thinking of those in the US who don’t speak English and I don’t think we go far enough to help them – well, as much as we have been helped here.  It’s just brought to my attention how privileged my life has been.

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This is a beautifully maintained and loved park.  We were out early and there were workers everywhere sweeping up leaves and doing maintenance.  There were also several groups of people, mainly women doing dances.  From a distance, I expected tai chi, but no, dancing.  One group was learning to ballroom dance.  Another was doing what I would consider traditional dancing, but with an international twist.  For example, there was an Indian song these Chinese ladies were dancing to.  We did see one man doing tai chi. As the day progressed, more people came to the park.  Some little children with their mothers or grandparents, and finally people of all ages.

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We spoke with so many people – and no, we still have NO idea what they were saying :), but people like to talk to us!  Older people like to talk to us.  The younger generation just stares into their phones – people are the same everywhere.

We found a small playground for little children.  Kai knew exactly what to do when he felt the playground equipment, that’s good.  That speaks well of his experiences.  Look how long his legs look on that slide!  Isn’t that a fun slide?

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It really was beautiful!!

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The view of our hotel from the park.

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We found a really cool museum inside the park.   After some conversation, we realized we had to pay, ah, OK.  My goodness!  What an amazing museum!  I can only guess (since I’ve never been) that it was like Disney – everything was so high tech!  Animations, virtual reality – amazing!!  Of course, it was all in Mandarin, but the visual display was breathtaking!  So Kai could understand everything that was said and we could see everything, so together we got the full experience.

Pictures against a green background and you are there, in the animation!

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Virtual reality game

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This is a ten minute “ride” that flew you through a reenactment of the huge battle.  We were going up and down and left and right and there was sound and wind and the movie, and after a few minutes I had to take off my harness and jump to the ground.  Me and my crazy tummy!  (Breathe, breathe, do not throw up all over the amazing Chinese museum!)   Kai and Jason seemed to really enjoy it though.

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Another cool tech thing  - so instead of standing behind a cut out and having your picture taken, you stand in front and the computer puts your face in the picture.

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This was cool – an animation of the ancient city and then your image is thrown on top.

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It’s such a beautiful park – we loved it!  But we were cold!

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We hiked over to McDonald’s nearish the park – because they sell Macaroons!! – to warm up (to get back feeling into my hands  :)   )

Why, yes, that is a porcelain plate at McDonald’s.    We got Kai a happy meal.  Joy would have been so sad without any French fries :)

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We rested in our hotel for a bit, watching (listening) to TV, playing with toys. 

We visited a couple of department stores.  We have been on the lookout for a fan.  It’s Winter, so the hotel has turned on the heat.  We can push the down button on the thermostat all day long, but only the heat works.  So we are sweltering – another reason we aren’t sleeping well.  They must have thought we were crazy, but they opened the windows for us to let some air in.  While it helps a little, it lets in lots of smells too – mostly cigarette smoke.  Oh well.  If being warm and having to diffuse some oils to clear the air is all we have to complain about, we are doing well!!

We were able to get some more treats to bring home for the kids.  That was fun!

We went swimming in the afternoon.  We were quite a sight!  There are many rules and they were very slowly learned them through google translator and pantomime. 

The pool itself was 5 feet deep everywhere, so we settled on staying in the Jacuzzi.  The funniest thing to me was Kai, being unable to see where we were and us, unable to explain it well to him, Kai thought we were all getting into the bathtub and tried to take off his swimming trunks.  :)  He thought we were crazy!  Hello people – you don’t wear your clothes in the bathtub!  Through Google translate, Jason asked someone working there to explain to Kai that he had to wear his suit.  Haha!    He hasn’t spoken a lot – because he knows we don’t understand.  He’ll repeat things.  We have learned the Mandarin word for “say.”  But when we got into that Jacuzzi he was sure trying to tell me something!  :)   After that, he settled down.  He had fun splashing and kicking and going back and forth between us.  He is such a sweet boy!

(it’s a rule – you have to wear swimming caps)

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After all of that walking to and around the park and the stores, I think we wore him out.  At dinner, he could barely keep his head off the table.  :) 

Tomorrow we will visit his Orphanage and get his passport!!