Thursday, June 30, 2005

A Long Exausting Day

Divide and Conquer

Jeff has shared his nasty cold with me, and last night and today have been positively icky. I can't breathe, I have a very sore scratchy throat and I feel like I was hit by a truck. Meanwhile, last night Tenley decided to load up her diaper with something green and foul smelling, and not at all the consistency we would like. She repeated this 3 more times before bed.

This left us with a small problem: we were suppposed to go visit Tenley's orphanage today, but it's a 4 hour bus ride- each way. I just wanted to crawl into bed and die, and we were pretty sure no one else in our group would want to be trapped on a bus with the kind of smells Tenley was making. Should we go, or not go? All of us go? One of us go? Could we, in good conscience, not go at all?? So, in the end, I decided to miserably get on the bus, and I left Jeff and Tenley to spend the day in or near the safety of the hotel (and a healthy supply of diapers & wipes).

If You Don't Like the Weather in Guangzhou, Wait 5 Minutes- It Will Change

Jeff & Tenley had a fine day at the hotel, with the only problem being that everytime they tried to leave for a little outing, Mother Nature rained on their parade- literally. Eventually Jeff gave up and decided to cruise every single floor of the hotel with Tenley in her stroller. When they got to the business offices on 4, a woman came out and was smiling at Tenley in all her cuteness and remarked to Jeff, "Your little boy is so cute!" Jeff laughed and said, "Yes, we think SHE's rather adorable too!" The woman blushed and apologized. Jeff told her not to apologize- it was the horrible haircut that made her look boyish. The woman agreed: "like old man". She inquired as to Ten's age, and then ran back to her office and returned proudly displaying pictures of her 10 month old daughter. Tenley also made friends with several business men in the lobby, and the all the guards by the elevators. They dropped off some laundry at the Valet desk, and later went to pick it up (our other laundry is at a fruit stand across the street- we may need to buy a kilo of lychees in order to pick it up). All in all a good day for them of playing, napping, eating and just hanging out.

Heart Wrenching

I boarded a bus and headed off with the rest of the group on the 4 hour drive through the Chinese countryside to see my daughter's orphanage. I felt like since we had the opportuinty to go, we owed it to Tenley in case she had questions about that part of her life.
The countryside was green and lush - mostly because of the copious amounts of rain. We passed fields of who knows what that were being tended by people in big woven hats, and several rice paddies. There were cows grazing along, and some were working. These weren't like Jerseys or Holsteins that we see back home, but more like the water buffalo or sebu variety with the Brahma bull hump and long ears and loopy horns. They all had rope halters on that connected to a ring in their nose, and some were hitched to homemade plows. We also passed pond after pond with these funny bubbling bobbers in the middle that we later found out were fish farms. Many of the fish farmers were also raising ducks and geese, and we saw huge flocks of them out happily waddling around in the rain.

Eventually we came to a small town (which turns our to have population of half a million) and drove through it's quiet streets to a large steel gate that led to the Yang Xi Social Welfare Institute. We picked up the Director and Assistant Director and went out to a local restaurant for lunch, where I had the best meal I've had since coming to China ( the bathroom scale says I've lost 7 lbs). Then we returned to the orphanage.

First we gathered in the reception room and the Director told us that is orphanage was opened in 2002 and that they are very proud of the modern facility. She pointed out the wall of photos of former Yang Xi children and asked us to please send photos. They are a small SWI and have about 80 children right now- most children from that orphanage get adopted. We talked about the formula and rice powder ratio for making their bottles- 7 scoops of each- which may be why many children have been refusing their bottles because we were making it too thin. We also saw their bottles and realized that the holes we had cut in our nipples to make them larger were inadequtae, because the SWI nipple openings were the size of a nice fresh pea.Then we went upstairs to see the nursury, and that was when I discovered why my daughter has such a mishapen head from the huge flat spot she's created laying on her back.

My precious little girl spent the first nine months of her life in a tubular steel crib with a 2 inch piece of plywood for a mattress. Nothing else. No mattress of any kind. No blankets or bumpers. Just a metal cage with a wood bottom. My heart broke. Tears streamed down my face as I asked which of the now empty end row of cribs had belonged to my child. She had lived in a room with white tile walls and two rows of windows that had pictures of Hello Kitty and Teletubbies taped to them. There are only 3 caregivers for all the children in that room. There is no playroom- if it's a nice day they put them out on the porch, or they set them near the door if it's raining. There were only a few toys and 2 or 3 walkers. I went over and pinched cheeks and tickled the little ones who still wait for a forever family and looked at me so piteously for any tiny bit of attention. I was so glad Jeff hadn't come: he would have been angry that this was how his child had lived, and he would have tried to carry 2 or 3 more out to bring home. I met Tenley's nanny, Guan Li Mei, and when she told me that Ten likes red toys I knew for certain that this was my daughter's caretaker (her favourite is the big red stacking cup, and she always gnaws on the red key!).

We stopped for pictures at the main gate to the SWI for pictures, since all but 3 of the girls adopted on this trip were abandond there. Then we visited a shop which sells knives created locally, and began the long bus ride home. I arrived home 3 1/2 hours later to my husband and new daughter who must feel as though she's won the lottery with her current crib and all the attention and toys she now has. Wait until she gets home to the US, then she'll think she's not only won the lottery, but died and gone to the Ritz as well.


Babygirl's parents said...

Michelle, I guess you can't read this while you are in China. Your post and pictures (of the cribs) were indeed heart wrentching. I am glad you gave those little girls some much needed and deserved attention. I can't help thinking,
"What is one of them is ours?"

Hope you three recover quickly!

Barbara Park said...

Oh Jeff and Michelle,

This is as bad as reading those books you gave me. I cried through those and I am crying now. Tenley is safe now, but there are others who will still be living like that. It breaks my heart. Give Tenley lots of kisses and hugs from her Grandma. Love you all lots.

Love, Mom