Friday, November 23, 2012

Our Orphanage Visit

 These are the kids in Darren Xiangzi's preschool class. When we arrived at the class the kids were all just sitting on the chairs. Apparently they had just finished an activity. The room was pretty much bare so I am not sure what they had been doing.

When they saw Darren Xiangzi they all were VERY excited - saying his name over and over. 

Darren Xiangzi passed out smarties candy to the kids which they were very excited to receive.

We asked why some of the kids have hair...and others have the lovely haircut like Darren Xiangzi. Apparently the ones with hair live in foster homes. Kids with more severe special needs lives in the orphanage.

This orphanage has 700 kids in it's care. 200 live at this building, Kids with even more special needs are housed at another building and the others are in foster care.

This is Darren Xiangzi's bestest buddy. He looked like a very sweet boy. He came up to Darren Xiangzi and tried to trade him a piece of candy for one of the match box cars Darren Xiangzi was holding. Right away Darren Xiangzi was very clear he wasn't giving up his cars. This little guy then shared a piece of candy with Darren Xiangzi - very sweet!

This is another one of his close friends. Although Darren Xiangzi would quietly acknowledge his friends and classmates he did not want to let go of me. So besides getting down for these pictures, I held him in my arms the whole time. He also didn't say much to them or smile. I expected more of a reaction to all their excitement.

This was the little guy that Darren Xiangzi shared a bed with. Apparently his heart disease is even more severe then Darren Xiangzi's. He was the only child that really smiled while we were there. Darren Xiangzi would give him little nods of the head, but as with the others did really interact or smile with him.

I remembered seeing this fellows picture on Great Wall's photo listing. When I got back last evening it also occurred to me that I had also seen him on "the blog where we found Darren Xiangzi". I looked...and sure enough it was these two boys who that blogger had chosen to highlight that March day.

A photo with Darren Xiangzi's preschool teachers.

Before age three the kids participate in the Half The Sky program in the orphanage. After age three they attend preschool classes at the orphanage. For those with less severe special needs when they reach kindergarten age they will attend the local school. Those with more severe needs will be taught at the orphanage.

The local school is very good - offering dance, music, and gym classes to the students. I asked and was told that the kids who come from the orphanage are not made fun of by the other students - that seems surprising.

All the windows are covered with bars. This orphanage is situated in the downtown area of a city of nine million. According to our guide, who visited the orphanage with us and acted as our translator, Shenzhen wasn't even on the map before 1978. At that point China opened up a bit and encouraged people to move to certain areas by giving economic advantages.

Many times if you adopt from a certain region of China you can be pretty certain the ethnic background of your child. Shenzhen is different since people have come from all over China you don't even have a guess to their background.

We met with the director Mr. Tong and Ms Pan who is in charge of the adoption paperwork. They served us hot water - apparently common in China, and shared with us the Mr. Tong's son attends U of M!

Mr. Tong...or maybe it was Dr. Tong shared that there were lots of pictures taken of Darren Xiangzi because they all thought he was so cute. He showed us the picture taken at the 20th anniversary of the orphanage a few weeks ago. The women holding Darren the MAYOR of Shenzhen! He was picked to be in the photo because of his cute looks.

So Ba are right! He is the cutest boy in the orphanage AND China!!

When walking down  the hall we noticed a framed picture of Darren Xiangzi. There were very few framed pictures on the walls.

Darren Xiangzi started pointing further down the hall - as he wanted to show me an 8 by 10 size of the same picture! Apparently he knew he was on the wall :)

The orphanage is VERY old. It isn't exactly dirty...but so old that is it run down and feels dirty. No wonder Darren Xiangzi wants to wear shoes ALL the time. (He currently wears his shoes 24/7. I take them off once he falls asleep, but when he wakes he puts them back on.)

We then visited the area that Darren Xiangzi slept and ate his meals.

This table is in the hallway right outside the sleeping room. It is where the kids eat their meals. They were serving the kids Chinese noodles for dinner.

The kid in yellow on the left is the BULLY that scratched up Darren Xiangzi's face. I looked the whole visit and no one else had scratches like Darren Xiangzi - not even this kid. This kid came up to us and was pulling on my arm that was holding Darren Xiangzi. He seemed to be trying to get to Darren Xiangzi. I would move my arm or walk away and he would follow us. Poor little guy his pants were way too big so he kept having to retrieve them from around his thighs. Finally the nannies redirected the child to the table and dinner - I was getting ready to go "mama bear" on him. Darren Xiangzi had fresh scratches on Monday and LOTS of scars from months (years) of this kid scratchy him on the face :( Darren Xiangzi still has scabs today :(

This is Darren Xiangzi's favorite nanny. After finding out he was being adopted he told her everyday "I am going to the states, I am going to the states". Then he told her that he would take her with  him :) So while we were there she asked "Are you taking me with you?" and he shook his head no. He didn't seem sad during the visit as apparently he has seen many kids come back to say goodbye. Our guide said the orphanage prepares the kids well....but how can you be prepared for adoption when you have spent your whole life in an orphanage? Darren Xiangzi was very quiet - which is unusual for this little motor mouth. He also didn't smile or really engage much with the kids or the adults.

Everywhere we walked all the kids and adults knew him and would say his name over and over again. The guide said he was very well liked. They liked his chubby cheeks (me too!) and his constant talking. This nanny commented that he frequently made her laugh with the cute things he had said.

This was the bed that Darren Xiangzi shared with the little boy wearing red.

The bed is in the sleeping room that sleeps 25 kids. Darren Xiangzi's bed is a middle one on the left.

Many of the windows were open. It was very humid and warm in the orphanage. It must have rained recently as there were puddles throughout on the old and dirty floors.

The Shenzhen orphanage is actually known for being a really good orphanage. It has great medical care for the kids too.

The next room down is the baby room. It had a row of toddler beds and many rows of cribs. There were kids ALL over - on the floor, on the beds, in the cribs. This room has three nannies in it. The room where Darren Xiangzi slept has two nannies to care for the kids.

Apparently nannies are not paid well and in this area of China there are lots of jobs available. Ms. Pan shared that the nanny job is usually just a stepping stone to a better job so turn over is very high.

Darren Xiangzi's "finding spot".

We stopped by the hospital to take a picture. We didn't go inside.

Darren Xiangzi was found at two month's old with a note that said his birth date and "We hope the kind people will help him".

Our guide shared that many families would be unable to afford the medical care for their child with a special need. We also asked her about having more than one child. Apparently there is a fine, among other penalties, that is six times your salary for having a second child and eight times your salary for having a third child.

We asked how a women like Darren Xiangzi's birth mom would be able to have other children. Apparently there isn't a national registry. Many people will just pack up and move to another town and no one will realize or acknowledge that they may have abandoned a child.

The orphanage was a two hour drive from Guangzhou. With heavy traffic it was a three hour ride back. Visiting the orphanage was HUGE emotionally. I was expecting something from Darren Xiangzi as this was a final goodbye. I carried him during the hour and 20 minutes we spent on our tour.. Between rooms I would occasionally get a smile, but he was pretty stoic and quiet throughout. He didn't even react much to his friends or nannies which surprised me. I would have expected something - either good or bad. I also wondered how his behavior would be once we got back to the hotel for the night. He did just fine - his usual curious, chatty self and went to sleep next to me just fine.

I pray for his little heart. That God will heal it physically and emotionally. I am not sure how much he would want to process the visit yesterday, but since I don't speak his language I can't process it with him. What a sweet boy with such a heavy emotional burden to carry.

Both Madeline and I are glad to went to the orphanage. It gives us a better perspective on where Darren Xiangzi has been. The word orphanage is more than just a word now...we have seen it with our own eyes.

Blessings from China, Sandy


  1. Oh gracious you met "Ivan"!!!! Love that boy!! CANNOT believe that the two of them turned out to be bed mates, I didn't even know they were in the same orphanage!!!!!! There was at one time, a family pursing him adoption but last I heard they weren't ready to commit. Did you happen to hear about his status while you were there? What a big day you had! LOVE the pictures!.....ok....well they made me cry......but I still loved them. ;)

  2. Once again you amaze me with your words and your huge heart