Thursday, September 21, 2006

Visiting the Orphanage

Today we visited Zoe and Molli's home for the past 16 months. The Lu'An Children's Welfare Institute is located about 1.5 hours west of Hefei. We travelled by bus with about 5 of the 9 families. We were torn about whether we should bring the babies, but we did want to see the orphanage, and thought they would handle it OK.

Are we glad we went? Yes and no.

Yes, because now we can describe to Zoe where she lived, show her pictures of the bed she slept in, describe the city of Lu'an, the orphanage, and the nannies. These may be important to her someday.

No, because it was sad. We were only shown rooms where the babies slept. Each room had about 12 babies, and they were divided by age. We saw about 60 babies, from tiny newborns (two to a crib) to toddlers walking around. The rooms had no carpeting, and no toys. We can only assume they had other rooms for playing and eating. The playground was run down and a bit dangerous looking. Lisa said she wished she could take all the babies home and pass them out to her friends and family. You all wouldn't mind would you?

That said, the nannies seemed to truly care for and love the children. They kissed and hugged our babies, and some cried when they saw them. The rooms were clean and there was music playing. Rui spoke with the orphanage doctor, who knew all of the babies, and their medical conditions. She specifically asked about each one, and had some special instructions for Linda and Don, because Molli has a rash which has not cleared up. We stayed about 10 minutes (5 minutes longer than the adoption administrator wanted us to) and left. I would normally post pictures, but we were asked not to.

Lisa kept Zoe in the carrier attached to her body. She said she knew as soon as she walked into Zoe's room, because Zoe tensed up, pinched Lisa's arm, and began to fuss. Lisa walked out immediately, and Zoe calmed down. Zoe's nanny was not there, which was probably a good thing, although we would have liked to have met her.

There are organizations that help provide much needed supplies and assistance to orphanages in China. If you are interested, go to or

So now for a few more pictures from today:

Breakfast on the 29th floor revolving restaurant. I think we are all getting tired of eating the breakfast buffet. They have a lot of things available, but the "western" items are getting tedious. Both Katie and Doug have started drinking coffee with breakfast. We're startin' em young!

Zoe, Molli and Linda on the bus. They still don't play together, and it's tough to get a smile out of Molli, but one day I expect they will be tight as glue.

One of Zoe's favorite things to do is look out windows. She makes funny chirping noises like a yip when she see's something interesting. Here she is looking out the bus window.

Not sure what this was, but a giant bald caucasian person with no eyes, ears, nose or mouth suddenly appeared outside my bus window. He looked strangely like my finger, but anyway . . . this was a shot of the bicyclists riding along the highway. Also, notice the neatly manicured hedges? We saw a man out in the middle of nowhere trimming these hedges with manual scissor-like pair of hedge clippers. For 10 miles in one direction, they were nice. For 10 miles in the other direction, they were ragged. You think YOUR job sucks?

Doug poses for yet another picture with a local resident. This was at the end of a group dinner at a "real" Chinese restaurant. Doug and Katie loved the duck (aka - chicken) and bamboo shoot soup. This woman told Rui she thought Doug was very handsome.