Monday, February 22, 2010

Orphanage Day

Praise the Lord, we are out of there.

Today we went to the orphanage, the Kunming CWI. Don't' get me wrong, it was a nice (enough) place.

We were afraid of the babies' reactions, just as we're starting to bond. We took special steps to never be out of Ella's sight.

We were shuffled into a room were a perfunctory medical exam occurred.

Most of the attention was on Lexi, our traveling companion, who was having a melt down.

Ella, bless her, slept until being woken by a tongue depressor stuck down her throat.

They provided lunch for the babies.

Heather and I locked eyes, and we instantly sized it up as a test. The overall vibe was one of proprietary interest in the children - us considering them ours' since yesterday morning, versus the staff letting us know (gently) that we are still on their watch.

We fed Ella under watchful eyes.

A sweet special needs child, I say about 10 years old, wandered in and around us. The staff was not pleased untilthey saw us, especially Heather, reach out to her with smiles and small talk.

Otherwise, the place (at least what we were shown) seemed eerily empty.

We got to see the infant room, full of cribs. It was hospital-like, with a sweet staff that talked to us through a sliding window. They recognized Man Li right away, as did others. I locked eyes on one little baby and started to cry. There was nothing you could do but whisper, "It will be alright."

We next were allowed to go into a large room with about 5 severely handicapped children, just sitting there, as if on display for us. Just the same they were sweet. Not everyone went in, but Heather and I did. One little boy could high-five, so we did that and smiled. There was actually some comfort in knowing that these particular children were being cared for.

Next was lunch for the group, which was pretty good. It's amazing how good you can get with chop sticks after about four days of steadyuse, three meals a day. The Director and staff joined us.

Lexi was still in melt-down mode, prompting a lot of hands-on care by the staff, essentially ignoring her new adoptive mother, which brought us back to, and reinforced, the feeling of being tested.

Ella, well, that girl can hang. She was perfect. She made us look good. There is a video of (Ella) Man Li being stopped on the way out by (what I assume was) staff. You'll get a good sense of the Kunming fashion sense if you consider they were (apparently) returning to work, after lunch, at an orphanage.

Again, don't get me wrong, we will always be appreciative of the care that Man Li received. We were happy to see that the place is as nice as it is. We agree, there should be a test, and they should sniff us out. It was important to see that they take it seriously. It was just a weird experience. Just like modern China itself is a series of contradictions, I am glad that we had the opportunity.

We will never go back.


Link to Video


  1. Larry, Thank you for sharing this with us. We were never able to visit either of our childrens orphanages, because they were too far away.

    Stephani Letzring

  2. H&L,
    Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful experience with us!!!
    We love the three of you.
    Beth M.

  3. Larry - Josh was in an orphanage in Russia. He was brought there when he was three days old and stayed there until he left with us at 11 months old.

    In Russia you had to visit twice to finalize his adoption. The first trip we were ALLOWED daily trips to the orphanage for about two hours. Conditions were horrible - in fact Josh and one other child were the last two out. The remaining children were moved and the orphanage closed.

    I understand the sense of being tested. Every thing we did, every move we made at the orphanage was watched and if we were doing something they didn't like they simply came and took Josh away from us and held him. It was a very interesting experience.

    Josh's baby room sounds similiar to what you saw. Josh's room had 44 beds and each bed had a number on it and then there was master list on the wall of which child belonged in which crib. Strangest thing of all to me at the orphanage was that it was perfectly, and I mean PERFECTLY quiet. Children did not cry - there was no need to - no one would have responded if they did. Don't get me wrong - some of the women were wonderful - but it was the exception rather than the rule.

    Just know that the life that you are now giving Ella will be wonderful and this new life will be what she remembers. That is the most important thing. On the days that my parenting skills are less than perfect and I am being hard on myself, I still know that this life, here, with Jay and I, is far superior to anything Josh might have had ahead of him in Russia.

    Just kiss her, love her and hold her close.

    Tell Heather hello and kiss that sweet baby for me.

  4. Gretchen's friend Melissa here to say congratulations! My goodness, Ella is the most beautiful child I've seen in a long long time. You all look fabulous as a family.

  5. Hi Heather, Larry and Ella,

    Today was an emotional experience for you. It makes my heart ache to watch the video. The expression on Ella's face, is very much like what I saw with Lily, as we visited the very same orphanage. I remember holding Lily as closely as possible and constantly trying to comfort her and make her feel as secure as possible. The experience is something that we treasure, in trying to fit each piece together of what life was like for Lily, before becoming a family. There is definitely a deep sorrow that sits right beside an overwhelming sense of joy and gratitude. I always wondered what Lily was thinking and what emotions that she was feeling, as we traveled through our China experience. I agree with you, it is our job to provide a safe and loving environment that they can just let it all out. It seems that you are feeling very similar to how we felt...tears of joy and tears of sorrow. Hold each other close, look into each other's eyes and enjoy this very wonderful gift that God has granted. We are thinking about you and praying for safe travels. Enjoy every second..even the ones that seem tearful..it is all part of the bonding experience. Just love each other, everything else will fall into place.

    Donna, Patrick and Lily

  6. Hi Heather & Larry - Ella is absolutely beautiful! I have to second everything that Donna says above. God had Ella chosen for you long ago and therefore there is no test you cannot pass with her! Hope you catching up on some sleep. Love the videos! Praying for time to pass quickly for you. Dr. Tracy and family

  7. I just started reading "The Great House Of God" by Max Lucado today and this is a quote from page 14. "When we come to Christ, God not only forgives us, he also adopts us. Through a dramatic series of events, we go from condemned orphans with no hope to adopted children with no fear". I thought of you and Ella. When you bring her home the three of you will have a whole community of help. I agree, she was chosen for you. Love you.
    Ron & Peg