Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Guiyang, Day Two - The Orphanage

The most important part of today's agenda was visiting the Guiyang Children's Welfare Institute. Although Addison spent very little time here (9 days, we have found out), he came here regularly for medical check-ups or other required paperwork.

Visiting an orphanage is a leveling experience. This is the second one I've visited and both have been good facilities and programs filled with loving caretakers, but both are still orphanages. They are both filled with children who do not know what it means to have a family of their own.

Our first stop in the orphanage was to see the facilities of a new program between Guiyang Children's Welfare Institute (CWI) and the charity, Love Without Boundaries. What they have done is create something in-between foster care and orphanage care. There are / will be eight on-site foster families, comprised of a married couple and four special needs children. Two - three of the children sleep in one room (see pic of bunk beds), and the other(s) sleeps in a room next to the foster family. There are glass partitions halfway up the walls, so everyone is in one big room, in a way. There's also a tiny kitchen and sitting area, and a shower / bathroom. When the foster families go to work, the children either go to school or to the orphanage for the day.

I was able to meet many children. I sang to a baby who was in a room alone, bundled in blankets. The baby had a large red mark and swelling on her face covering her right eye to the point where she couldn't use that eye. She seemed happy when I came in and talked to her, then cried when I started to leave. I held her hand and sang three songs while she smiled before the orphanage director said we had to move along. Our next stop was a special needs room.

The special needs room had 14 lovely children playing. I was able to hug and talk to each child. Each child absolutely loved the attention. There were two nannies in the room. The children had a variety of special needs, although it seemed that all had cognitive developmental delays and some had additional issues. They were charming children who hugged me, gave me high-fives or, for those whose physical impairments prohibited them from doing such things, I got long pieces of eye contact and as much of a smile as they could manage. These kids really blessed my day with their beauty.

Our final stop was to the playroom which seemed to have a couple of kids with some special needs, although most just had the great need of a family. To say we were descended upon by the children is almost an understatement, they were so happy to see someone new. They spoke to me in Mandarin, said "hello" in English and spoke the universal language of smiles and hugs.

Several of the children clung to me, but one captured and broke my heart. She must have been about 6 or 7 years old. She took my face in her hands and just looked at me with sad eyes. Then she wrapped her arms around my neck and nuzzled her head in. She sat on my lap and just wanted to stay with me. I wanted the exact same thing.


for Ammon by his Mama Stefani said...

THe SWI visit changes us doesn't it. Those children will remember you to. May they always feel your warm hugs when they feel alone.

You are doing very proud of you guys.

Stefani Ellison
CHI China Program Coordinator

Karen M said...

(haha) The best form of birth control for me in China would have been NOT visiting the orphanages! Visiting really drove home the fact that we are SO rich in every single way in this country... and it really spoke to me about every single child deserving a home. Heart-wrenching. How lovely that you were allowed to visit with and love all over the children. Have you visited a school yet?

The Lewises said...

Wow. Your story choked me up. I'm glad you felt good about the orphanage, and that you actually had a chance to interact with the kids! It's all so life changing. this child #3 on the horizon? ;)


Kathy said...

Thanks for the tour.
Oh if we could only adopt over and over again (even after the age of 50 ) ;)

Riky said...

I went to visit the Guiyang SWI while in China also, it was a humbling experience and has changed me forever...I will never forget or stop praying for these sweet children!!!


Patricia/NYC said...

Wow...what an account of your trip to the orphanage...a heartwrenching experience for sure.
So beautiful that you touched their lives even if briefly...something you will remember as will they, I'm sure!