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Lianyungang Social Welfare Center

Nanjing, China is where we met Judah but he is actually from Lianyungang, China.

Visiting your child’s orphanage is sort of an elective with a China adoption.  To truly understand where Judah came from and what kind of life he had up until he met us we knew we wanted to visit his orphanage.

Wednesday morning our guide and driver met us at the Nanjing Holiday Inn hotel for a four hour journey to Lianyunguang.  As Americans I think we hear a lot about the vast population of China and we picture the major cities of Beijing and Shanghai.  Nanjing and Lianyunguang both fit those descriptions well but the four drive between the two cities was mostly farm land.

 

The drive was beautiful.  Field after field that grows wheat in the winter and harvests rice in the summer.  Stand alone houses and small rivers and water channels used for transporting goods. Men and women working on the farms with the occasional tractor or plow.It amazed me that even in a country as populated as China there is still so much green land.  It was beautiful!

We arrived at the Lianyungang Social Welfare Center a little before lunch. It wasn’t just a building it was a complex of buildings that served as an orphanage and a nursing home.  Judah’s nanny and the orphanage director greeted us at the front entrance.

 

With international adoption there is so much unknown about how your child has been cared.  The Lianyungang Social Welfare Center is housed in a new set of buildings that is only a couple of years old.  The facility was clean and colorful designs were used throughout but even this can not hide the fact or feeling that where he had lived was an institution.

 

We were shown the playroom where Judah spent time each day with some of the other children and a small room where he slept when he was a baby before being moved upstairs to his foster family.

 

Judah’s foster family lived above the orphanage. There are several families living there in the complex.  Each family is allowed to live there rent free in exchange for caring for some of the children at night.  For instance Judah’s foster family cared for four children at night and during the day the kids joined the rest of the children downstairs. We took the elevator to his foster families living quarters.

 

We were welcomed by his foster mom and dad who had prepared a big lunch for us.  She was excited to see Judah again and I was thankful to meet the woman who had cared for our little guy for us.  We didn’t know he had been living with a foster family until we met him on Monday.  Pictures of the kids were taped to the wall in the living room and there was a small table where the children normally sit.

Sitting on the table was all the food she had prepared for us.  We sat down for a short meal. The foster mom joined us and fed Judah while everyone else crowded around and took pictures for us.  Everything happened so fast that really it was hard to take it all in.  The man brought us canned drinks and I eagerly took one because I was so thirsty.  I popped the tab and pulled it back thinking it was going to taste like an R.C. Cola or something. Boy was I shocked when I realized it was some sort of Chinese beer!  I felt bad that I had opened one of his three remaining cans only to drink a sip.

After our meal our guide took us down the hall to show us Judah’s room that he shared with the other three kids.

The sight of his metal sterile looking crib just about broke my heart. It was so tiny but at least furnished with colorful Paul Frank sheets and blankets to keep him warm.  Here was where my little boy had slept every night.  The entire living unit consisted of five rooms.  This is what home had looked like for him up until now.

After visiting with his foster family we went back downstairs for a delicious meal that the orphanage had prepared for us.

it was prepared by the cooks there.  Our guide shared with me that this was some of the same food Judah was used to eating.  He didn’t eat  much but the girls made up for his lack of appetite.

The table was set with beautiful china trimmed in gold but the fanciest thing to the girls was that they got to drink Coke out of long stemmed glasses.  Judge me if you want but they had never had Coke before so this was an extremely fancy occasion for them!

I am incredibly thankful that Judah had the opportunity to live with his foster family but the truth is that even with that little luxury the effects of institutionalization have not escaped him.

Judah is two but developmentally around six months old.  I’m not all that sure how much interaction with toys and people he has had and I don’t know if he has ever learned to love someone else because he showed zero emotion leaving his nanny and foster mom.

What I do know that is in six short days I have already seen this little boy grow in big ways.  Monday he had no desire to reach out and touch things.  I’m not sure it was nerves or what but he was basically lifeless. Now we board the elevator and he’s learned that when he reaches his hand out he can feel the scratchy upholstery on the wall.  He’s beginning to show signs of wanting to be held and starting to hold onto me as I hold him.  He still doesn’t understand peek-a-boo or get tickled easily but he is starting to grin at me when I lean over him and talk to him on the floor. He hasn’t learned to crawl yet because maybe he’s never had a motivation to  but last night he rolled all over our room because he was so happy and wanted to see what was going on.

In one short week this little boy is finding joy in life and letting his curiosity for life propel him forward.  Love is powerful.  Love is free and life changing.  So mom next time your just sitting there holding your crying baby or laying on the floor with your little one feeling like you are wasting precious time remember that you aren’t.  You are helping your little one develop and become all that they can.

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Meeting Judah

Today we celebrate four days with Judah.  Monday afternoon our lives were changed forever.  We arrived at the civil affairs office early so we walked next door to exchange some money.  For some reason this ended up taking an hour so I kept the girls entertained with sticker books and origami butterflies.  

Our guide had walked into the civil affairs office before we went to the bank. Judah was already there with his nanny and orphanage director.  So the entire time I was entertaining the girls I knew our son was just next door waiting on us. Here it is customary to take a lunch and nap break from 1 – 3 so we had to wait on the director of civil affairs to come back to work anyway.  Don’t you wish lunch breaks worked like that in the U.S?

After we wrapped up at the bank we headed over to meet Judah.  I was so nervous.  So much so that I let Michael Luke and the girls walk in the room first. He wasn’t in there though.  His nanny had gone to change his diaper and as soon as she walked back in the room I was all tears as she handed my son to me.  

Our guide, Lily, had Michael Luke’s phone so she filmed and took pictures of the entire event. Judah was worn out from his eventful day and almost instantly fell asleep in my arms. 

We signed some papers and and were able to ask his nanny a few questions but overall it was a quick event.  Unlike Esther who came with two suitcases of belongings Judah came to us with only the clothes on his back. He had on a new pair of yellow pajamas with a giraffe on them and a red and blue quilted pant and shirt with a penguin on it.  

One of the things that surprised us the most was that the orphanage gave us a disc with pictures of Judah.  This is such a special gift for parents and adoptive children who will never know much about their life before joining their forever family.  

Judah is small for a two year old.  Right now he is wearing 9-12 month clothes… Which makes him the perfect size for snuggling.  I’m not sure how much he is used to being held or if he’s ever attached to anyone before but the last four days he’s been held and loved on lots.  In four short days we have already noticed him becoming more alert. 

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Dim Sum and the Dragon King

This afternoon we flew into Nanjing, China. Tonight Judah sleeps four hours northeast of here in Lianyungang for the last time as an orphan.  Tomorrow at 2:30 he will join our family forever.  He will receive a new name and a new future!  

Before our life completely changes though I want to take a few minutes and remember everything about Saturday… our last full day in Hong Kong.

This is actually my second time writing this post on my phone.  Earlier today I was adding the last picture and the app froze and deleted my entire post… even though I had already saved the document several times. This is the second time it has happened to me this week. 

I wasn’t able to successfully install a VPN app on my Chromebook so the rest of my posts during this trip will be written on my phone because WordPress is banned by the government here. So to hopefully prevent my posts from being deleted again I will be including all pictures as part of my Instagram and Facebook posts included with the link to the actual blog post. 

Yesterday, we met two former Mother’s Choice workers for a dim sum brunch.  Gloria brought her six year old daughter Novia.  Novia and Noah became good friends almost instantly and had fun shopping together after our brunch. 

Connie had known Esther since she was one month old.  As a must of an adoptive child it has been special to connect with so many people this past week so have played a part in carrying for Esther.  

Yesterday afternoon Noah and Easter finally got to ride a double decker bus. Sitting on the top front row bush exclaimed, “when I grow up I’m going too live in Hong Kong.” 

We took the bus to a cafe famous for their egg tarts and afternoon tea. It’s a small cafe that makes fresh egg tarts all day.  A line firms down the street waiting for a seat at possibly a table with random people… This happened to Michael Luke and Jelly Uncle.  Eating here was a treat and for a few minutes we felt like a local. 

The day before Aliena and Rupert (Kai Ma and Jelly Uncle) offered to watch the girls for us so that we could go on a date for our honeymoon.  Never would we have thought a night out on the town would have been possible.  Mr. Rupert made us reservations at the Dragon King Restaurant… The same place we had eaten dim sum at a few days earlier.  The New York Times lists the Dragon King Restaurant as one of the worlds top ten restaurants. 

An American couple who only speaks English sticks out in an atmosphere like that though. After we were seated at our private table for two with a view of Kowloon Island and the harbor the manager brought us a special menu in English and then helped us select our five course meal.  

The main course was tiger prawns but I’m not sure about everything else.  It’s probably better that way because it’s really no telling what we eat. I do know ml had jelly fish as an appetizer… I didn’t eat mine. 

Overall the meal was wonderful though and we are thankful for such a special night out.  After tomorrow who knows when that will happen again. 

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