Thursday, April 16, 2009

Goodbye.......

I know a lot of people won't agree with me. I am sorry and certainly not saying this right at all.
It is just my thoughts and not a criticism.

People assume a western foster home will take better care of orphans than a chinese orphanage. I am not so sure. I have seen two foster homes and investigated several on the web and see a trend of more opening all the time. I have seen only a couple of orphanages years apart. The Chinese people love their children. The Chinese nannies do a pretty good job of caring for their charges and it is always a paid staff that cares for these kids. I have seen some not so gentle care and some unkindness but it was rare. Kids can be trying a times and some have real issues. Some are not so easy to love. The beautiful children/"cute ones" get more and better attention. It is a fact of life. Probably true of people in general but that is a long debate. I also think the people who were led to China and have foster homes are doing this for many and varied reasons.
They aren't sainted and they aren't sacrificing and they live good lives full of purpose.


After spending a little time with these children their personalities shine out and that is when you will fall in love not their looks. Once that happens you begin to notice all the little characteristics that make them who they are. The sweet smile, the cheeky giggle, the way she likes to hug and how hard he tries to please you.

I am glad there are places like this that try to do their very best and care for these orphans as best they can. Lots of children have received medical attention that they sorely needed. Some of it good and some not so good.
Plenty of people given a ton of money and lots of donated toys and clothes and medicines and food and strollers and all sorts. I have seen the store rooms packed to the rafters. America is still an incredibly wealthy country and immensely generous and they donate a huge amount. So does Britain and Australia and Canada and others including China.

We know how many so very sad people are waiting for families. We know what a change an adoption would make in the lives of these children and in the lives of the families waiting. Doesn't it seem a waste to create facilities to warehouse these kids instead of getting them homes? Especially since they say there are fewer children available for adoption now. Why does adoption take so long? It shouldn't take years and years. They should be coming from China, from Ethiopia, from Haiti and all the other stricken parts of our sorry old world. It isn't hard. A child with no parents wants parents....a Mom and Dad or either or. A man or a woman wants a child. And these waiting parents are paying and paying a lot.

The wasted potential is heart breaking. I would rather take the money used for creating these foster homes and direct it toward getting the children adopted. I don't mind that I don't have any photographs of my girls before they were one , or in Grace's case before she was 4. They are here with us and in a family that loves them warts and all and will always love and be there for them. They are getting an education and have bright futures. There potential is being realized. So I will sacrifice the scrapbooks for their future and document their growing up in photos with their family in their home.

And I weary of people fawning over the kids. Oh they are so cute, so pretty, so adorable............when some are clearly not and yet you can look into their eyes and see a light shining. They want to be loved and to learn and to have all the opportunity we take for granted and to have some one get to know them for who they are not just for what they look like. Home and love are very special words.


I am on a rant and my heart is sore. I am having a hard time expressing what it is I want to say. We don't live in a perfect world and everything isn't pretty. We pussy foot around and try to be politically correct. We are told it is up to the Chinese government and we can't do anything. Surely, at least, we can talk about it and keep asking why?

I miss those dear children of Hope....and Starfish. I imagine what they are doing every day. I will wonder what became of them often.

Thank you for following along on both or our Return to China blogs. They will stand as a constant reminder to us and maybe some day we will be able to share them with the friends we made along the way.

Goodbye.Zai Jian.

Goodbye 2008.......

Saturday, March 28, 2009

And more.......





Some last photos of the kids........





One week later and goodbye........

To whom much is given is much required. [Luke 12:49]

I am still tired and the girls are just back to normal. We wonder what everyone in China is doing and the girls occasionally discuss
the kids and remember little incidents. But it is over now and we move on.

This time we won't get to find out what happens to them. That is sad.
If anyone out there is lucky enough to travel to Hope or better still to adopt one
of these precious children please drop us a little note.

We will remember them and we will pray for them.

Again I am so grateful for having had the chance to take all three of my girls back and for the priceless opportunity
they were given of seeing some of where they came from, and a part of their heritage, and that they were able to know some of the children who had similar beginnings.

Just another piece of the puzzle.

Thanks to all who were interested in our adventure and who were kind enough to comment or email.
We were happy to share.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday......Day Twenty........



No need to go on about how long that trip home is. Enough to say it was okay and we are thankful to be home. It is 7pm and I am in bed. Beth is eating pizza and Grace is eating fruit that her Daddy went out and got especially for her. It was the one food she was craving. They seem to have caught a second wind unlike their old Mom. I am tired dude and this lovely soft bed is feeling pretty good.

We arrived home exactly to the day Isabel and I did one year ago. I have a lot of the same confused feeling. Miss the kids and wondering what they are doing. Just this morning the girls were out in the playground entertaining them.

I will rest and think and try to wrap up our incredible journey in a while

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Last Day of Preschool............

I would take all three of these children home if I could.

The little girl is a paraplegic and is going to be adopted and we are so happy someone was smart enough to chose her.

The little boy to the right is a pure pleasure always happy and sweet natured and smiling. If we had to chose a favourite he would certainly be high on Grace's list.

The boy with the most beautiful smile and the great laughter breaks my heart. He has some congenital heart disease which needs some attention as his oxygenation is clearly not what it should be, but I just love him no matter what. He would be an absolute blessing to any home he went to.

video

Photos.......





Last Full Day in China........


It has gone by so quickly and yet we are taking home so many memories.

We made good use of our time and got a little taste of everything. Some tourist and fun trips, a little exploring and a smidge of adventure. The food was great, the Chinese people always gracious and polite and the staff here helpful and accommodating. We saw some amazing sights and enjoyed learning the history.

There was nothing even remotely bad except we didn't get to meet as many people as we would have liked. I enjoy meeting folks from around the world and sharing travel stories. Not that mine are as interesting as some.

We will miss Katie. The girls had a lot of fun hanging out with her and their trips to the village meeting her friends there and playing with the locals. I think that was a valuable lesson for them.

There was lots of time loving on the children. We will remember them for a very long time. We are praying for them to find a family all of their own. One 7 year old is always asking when will his Mommy and Daddy come for him and it is so sad. We will be praying for them all. If they don't find a family that they have a good life here and China.

It is nap time now and I am off to begin packing. Tomorrow we will be up at our usual time and off to the airport by 930. Our long journey home begins at 1240. We are looking forward to being home and reuniting the family.

I am grateful for this opportunity and thankful we all stayed healthy and safe.

Will we be back? Only God knows.

Thursday...... Day Nineteen....... Grace.....

My last post here in China......

Sorry I haven't written in a while......

On Saturday we went out to dinner with a woman named Jennifer and her family. The food was delicious but we went through a heck of a lot to do so. We accidentally came an hour and a half early so we wandered around for a while. We found this lovely park, and a rollerblading rink, so we went rollerblading! That was really, really fun. It's just like skating but on stone! After the dinner we went to the acrobats. Those people are SCARY! They did such bizarre things, I was afraid to watch in case the messed up or hurt themselves! One dude did mess up and I felt sooo sorry for him! But the show was fantastic!

Yesterday was the hottest day we've had so far. The babies go outside to play when it's nice out, so they went out yesterday. But they had jackets on! It was like 22 degrees out! I was taking my shoes off it was so hot! Joseph, the seven year old was sweating bullets!

We went to the Summer Palace as well yesterday. It was a lot like the Forbidden City, but it was prettier and different because the
Forbidden City just repeated the same designs over and over again. Also, while we were in the palace, we had lunch at this very chinese place. The palace was beautiful because it had this porch that went as long as who knows what, and it had a gazillion different pictures on it, no picture was the same.

After that we went shopping and then home. I've gotten a pair of jeans, a dress, a shirt, 3 pairs of shoes, and a purse here in China.....

Bye Bye!

Wednesday......Day Eighteen......






What a day............almost the best ever!!!!

Summer Palace was awesome and shopping with my beautiful girls. I have had the best time with them.

Exhausted and gearing up for the long ride home.

Tonight I went around and kissed all my little munchkins goodnight.

Will update tomorrow. Our last day at preschool. :( :(

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The staff....

Of course, there are the nannies who are treated very well here. They have uniforms as do the cleaners. The ratio is 2 children to 1 nanny on days and evenings and one nanny to 4 kids on nights. I think there shifts are eight hours. They get three meals a day in the canteen prepared by three cooks. They are the primary caregivers for their charges and do everything for them. This is so the children will learn trust and how to bond.

There are a load of cleaners and they have a set routine and are assigned to different areas. There are two drivers I know of. One regular guy who runs a lot of errands and one on call for the likes of us who want a little tourist action from time to time. They have two vans and one car. They have a caretaker cum guard who lives in a little house at the entrance with his family and they also have 2 foster kids from here. There are several other workers I see around the grounds. Somebody shovels coal......the very polluting source of heat here. If I lived in china full time the particle count in the air would be areal concern. It is hard to miss in all the photographs. Some do yard work. I noticed their are residences in the backyard where staff live.

Their are two girls in the office doing secretarial stuff and there is Mona, the nurse and Rose the medical assistant. And of course, Robin and Dr Joyce who are the founders and directors of all the facilities Hope is now running. It is quite the organization.

The day starts early. You can hear the babies around 630 beginning to stir. Breakfast is at 7 sharp and then any nanny who has a concern goes to the clinic to see either Mona or Dr. Joyce. They are pretty astute at picking out the sickies.

Some of the older ones go to preschool in a little classroom off the playroom. They are taught in English and some speak it well. There is a schedule of who is coming and on what day. It is only for 1 1/2 hours.

There is lunch at 11 and then nap time until 1 or 2, then snack and then dinner at 5pm. In between they are taken for walks or outside weather permitting or just play and visit with whom ever is around. Volunteers or such.

Prep for bed is right after dinner and most are sleeping by 7ish although the occasional older kid is sometimes playing amongst the chattering nannies.

And so it goes. I haven't seen a birthday party. One of the kids is three on Thursday so we will see.

It is a very happening place and there is a sense of family here.

Tuesday...Day Seventeen......






All you wonderful people at home longing for spring.......I wish you could have been with us today and had a taste of summer.
It was bliss!!!

We had preschool and then for the first time, we felt the need for some quiet time in our room. No one slept but we just relaxed for a while after lunch when all the kids were napping. Then the lure of the spectacular weather became irresistible and the nannies, most of the children and we headed out. The playground here is really wonderful. Trampoline, slides and swings and play gym, lots of toys and bikes and things to push and two sandpits. The kids loved it. Goes without saying they were all pretty hot because it is well known how the chinese love to overdress their little ones.

Now we are up in the lounge and will dine on broccoli and leftover pasta followed with ice cream. Life is good.

Beth wants to stay longer and Grace is ready to come home. I am on the fence.

Skating in Beijing........

video

Monday, March 16, 2009

Monday....Day Sixteen.......

Fairly quiet here at Hope today. We took preschool because Rose was busy. The girls wanted to run it themselves so I sat near by and kept busy. Beth is definitely not school teacher material at least at this point in her life. Grace has more patience. We have two more days of our classes left.

The girls have been a little restless today and so decided to go with the driver to pick up Kate and get a look at her very posh British school. She gave them a little tour and I hear it is pretty nice. They were treated by the driver to all kinds of goodies on the way home and he even bought a snickers bar for poor old Mom.

In the evening there was a lot of biking and out side play because it was so beautiful out. I was a little.....ok, quite a lot, annoyed with the girls for taking off into the village while I searched for half an hour trying to find them. I walked all over the place inside and out until I found out from Robin that they were with Katie and due back at 630. They assumed they didn't need permission. Of course, I had to enforce some consequences and am now the not so great Mom.

Dinner is a bunch of snacks tonight and then maybe a movie up in the lounge before reading time and bed.

Tomorrow and Wednesday are supposed to be in the hi 20's...........winter to spring to summer in a very short time. I'll take it.
Our next outing and our final one will be on Wednesday. Thursday will be rest and packing and Friday........well, let's enjoy the time we have left.

Will post some more photos of our kiddos tomorrow. Bathtime and bedtime are so cute. They are so adorable toddling around in those little footie pajamas all rosey from the tub and sucking away on their bottles.

Night night.......sleep tight.

I am thinking of home now and missing it some. Love you guys...........won't be long.
Hope you miss us too.

Food photos......seafood.....




Random photos.......

The visiting teens.....and sweet Katie......




A Daddy and his boy..........



The shopping mall.........



The Canadian Embassy which all of us adoptive parents know and many will know soon enough.......



The brand new highway that leads to Bei Wu our closest village and which oddly rarely has anyone on it going in either direction...........

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sunday..continued....






It was a very full day.

Robin is off to Henan province with the guests to check on the progress of Maria's Big House of Hope. It will be opening this summer. He generously left money with Mona to treat us to lunch. This was taken in the ex pat area know as the Pinnacle Mall in a restaurant called the Hungry Horse Cafe. It was fab!!! Afterwards and again graciously and kindly we were given the use of the van to go shopping. Joon a friend of Mona and Roses' whose company we had enjoyed last week came with us.

If you are going shopping in Beijing try the Yashow Market in the Sanlitun area. It is full of lots of knock offs and outside you will find all the up market "real" shops. It was fun and again not crazy packed as you would expect China to be. The girls purchased some items for their friends back home and I got us all Chinese slippers like the ones we have been wearing at Hope and are so comfy. We wandered the out side square in quite warm spring weather just to feel the sun on our skin. The girls played.......we had young Katie with us too.

By 3 or 4 we were home and there was more play and then reading and an early night. Beth and I seem to sleep less well than Grace and already I am preparing myself for the trip home.

Sunday.....Day Fifteen.....

We were up early to get ready for Church and were a little fatiqued after our night out. Our ride home was like passing through Las Vegas. They like their lights here!!!! Probably in bed for 10pm........our latest night yet.

The new folks were up and about and we met them briefly. Loved the teenage girls. Shades of things to come.
After a stop at Starbucks, we were off again. Must say I like drinking coffee in Church and the girls have taken up
tea drinking here. Big girls now!!

Enjoyed the service done by the youth group this morning and an inspirational talk by the Youth Minister. It was timely and helped me sort out some of the feelings I have here in China about wealth and guilt a the big picture.

We are helping here. By smiling at the kids and sitting with them. In hugs and kisses and cuddles. Even in scrapbooking.
In smiling and saying "Ni Hao"to the nannies and cleaning staff. Trying to talk to them. Letting them know we aren't that different.
I wish they wouldn't clean up after us or do our laundry. I would tell them if I could, but it is expected. It is their job. We are
obsequious in out thanks yous. Our driver is so kind and protective of us. Without him we would be lost.......literally.

At church we were given the definition of theology. It is faith seeking understanding. Just what we are trying to do.

I haven't a clue about what China is or isn't. Everything I write is probably wrong. I ruminate. It is my nature. It would take many years of living here to understand some things.

China is part of God'd plan and while I am here I will try to open my heart and just listen.

Actions show what our beliefs are and prayers work.

We are enjoying it all.

And still more Saturday.......






We met our friends and had a dinner and were whisked away to the acrobats. Very colourful and entertaining. My girls had a good time. Jennifer and her family were very tired. They had only arrived the night before and had been touring since 930 that morning. Poor Luke was exhausted and I sure hope they were able to catch up on their sleep and enjoy there time in China. Little blond haired blue eyed Anna is the star of the show and has already had far too many photo ops with the locals. She and her brother were treated to some oranges from some older chinese folks taken with her looks in the theatre.
We will catch up in April when we are all back in our real lives and exchange stories of our adventures.

More Saturday......





On Saturday we left earlier than we should have for our dinner date with friends from our hometown. Once we were dropped off at the restaurant by our lovely driver Joe we found we had an hour and a half to kill before meeting. So we decided to spend the time walking. Some of my best memories of the last trip to China with Isabel last year were of just walking in the very gentle warmth of the evening around what I perceived as a typical chinese neighborhood.

We chose a direction and headed off. When the main street filled with huge blocks of apartment buildings became too tedious we headed up the next alley. Beth was a little nervous about being off the beaten path which only increased when a man on a bicycle began calling out in aloud voice, the same message each time. Turns out he was a salesman of some kind selling whatever was in the large container on the back of the bike.

We passed a hospital and then spied an interesting looking bridge a head. This entry gave way to a beautiful park. It was a little bit of magic bathed in the golden light of the sun low in the sky. We crossed the bridge and meandered along a path beside a pretty little lake. It was busy but not over crowded and we were the only westerns...........well, I guess I was. There were boats and amusement rides and a gigantic water park. It must be lots of fun and a very pleasant place in the summer. We stopped and watched the children on all the kiddie rides and there was an area where they could do artwork and even an area where they had
wheels for making clay pottery.

On we wandered and then we followed some modern chinese and western pop music and an outdoor roller skating park. The girls really wanted to have a go and against my better judgement I consented and paid up the 36 quai ($7) for the rental of skates and for an hour of unadulterated fun!! They had no problems and zoomed around and around and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. I was praying for no bad falls and no head injuries since no one wore a helmet.

So there is a lesson learned..........go off the beaten path and you may be surprized what you find.

We finished up our walk after skating and were still early meeting our friends.