Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Day 4, Xi'an

Today was long, tiring, wonderful, and difficult.  We started out going to the Terra Cotta Warriors, a national treasure of China.  The displays are excellent, and our guide is extremely knowledgable about the area and history of the museum.  We had a lovely tour, and then an absolutely delicious lunch full of local delicacies.  We busted out the Ergo, and as L is about 2 sizes smaller than we had originally thought, he fit just right and it worked well.  He didn't like it at first, but then realized that he pretty much had my undivided attention, and talked the entire time we were touring--of course, I didn't understand any of it, but this didn't seem to bother him in the least. 

Generally, he continues to do well.  He eats like a champ as long as the food is white.  Add color (ie, veggies, fruit, meat) and it's the universal shaking of hands and head--no, no Mama.  But yogurt, noodles, broth, Cheerios, bao-zi (steamed bread), and dumplings are filling and accessible--we'll deal with the lack of variety when we get home.  He sleeps well, from about 7:30 to 6:00 with a 2-hour nap mid-day.  Of course, travel across the date line will completely hose that, but at least it's a start.  He's been calling us "Mama" and "Baba", although he doesn't answer to any of the names he was called before, nor the nicknames.  Not sure what is up with that.  He gives us kisses, gives occasional hugs, and is very concerned if we leave his sight.  He loves to take things apart, including the remote control, mouse, and flashlight, and is definitely in the dump-and-fill stage. 

We did have a very difficult and somewhat unexpected experience today.  We hoped to see the orphanage that he was in, although we were also told he was in a foster home for a period of time, so we were never quite sure who he lived with, or when.  Our guide said that we could see the orphanage from a distance, maybe take a picture or two, but otherwise foreigners were not permitted to enter.  As it is located on the outskirts of Xi'an, we decided to head there after the Warriors tour. 

We were, however, invited to enter the orphanage itself.  As it generally looks like a government building, we didn't actually realize we were in it (or that we had been invited to enter it--we were big-time clueless at this point) until the foster parents ran out, scooped L up, and started crying and kissing him, and then took him to their apartment.  Because, as it turns out, the foster family actually lives on site in the orphanage itself.  Foster parents each have a small apartment, and the children live with them, which is a wonderful setup as the kids all get the family experience--it was definitely not a Dickensian, please-may-I-have-more kind of situation. At all.  So this clears up the placement question. 

It was also confusing, surprising, and a little shocking.  The Good:  We got little-guy stories about L, and they are pretty funny.  Several people told us that the orphanage director would only visit L when he was sleeping, as he is "too naughty otherwise".  We also got pictures of the three of us with the foster family, saw his bed and apartment, and met some of his friends.  Priceless.   The Difficult:  The transition was awful, heartbreaking. We had anticipated a tough transition the very first time we met him, as we had some indication that we might take L directly from the foster family.  As it turns out, this was not the case, and the original transition went smoothly and relatively happily.  He was attaching a bit, seemed to generally like having us around, etc.  This transition, however, was another story entirely.  He was screaming, the foster family was wailing, and Cory and I were desperately trying to hold it together enough to keep things somewhat upright.  After about an hour post-visit, L was more or less back to his usual self, and we had a nice, very quiet evening. 

I really have no idea how this will play out in the long run.  I know that meeting them was a gift.  Their love for him was absolutely clear, and they told us all sorts of things that we can pass on to him.  We can show him that we made a connection, and tell him about them and how much he was loved and cared for.  We were able to thank them for taking such good care of our son.  And that was also unexpected.  Adoption: the good, the bad, the confusing, the wonderful--it's a mixed bag, to put it mildly.

So, it was a big day.  A big, huge, exhausting, emotional day.  Tomorrow, we pick up his passport and go to a park.  And that's it.  Seems like the intense political situation has eased a bit (we're not going to sleep to the sound of chanting protesters tonight--yay!), so here's hoping tomorrow is easy and quiet.

Anyway, after that long and involved post...a picture!  (I could only post one--the internet connection keeps timing out).

Meeting L for the first time



  1. Wow, what an experience. I'm glad for you that you got to meet his foster family and gain a better understanding of his living conditions. But I'm so sorry it happened the way it did. That would have been a really disruptive, emotional, surprising experience for anyone.

    And darn it, that photo is not coming up right now! I will have to come back and check again later...

  2. Oh boy. What a day. An emotional rollercoaster for all of you. I know you'll be happy to be able to share the stories with L and what a gift it will be for him, but yikes. What a wrenching and exhausting experience. I hope today is a calm, happy family day at the park and you can bring your little guy home soon!

  3. Oh man so many mixed emotions over what y'all went through...I can only imagine how heartbreaking and yet beautiful it was all at once. So amazing to know and witness how much he was loved and to get to see everything firsthand is amazing but I'm sad for your sweet little boy who has so much confusion ahead...knowing that you are loving him through it all will help so much!

    I can't see te picture on my iPhone and it's killing me!!!

  4. Wow. praying for you and little one. I am sure it was an emotional day but one that ya'll can look back on for years and years. loving the updates. sooooooo happy for you guys!!!

  5. Wow, so intense. It took me months to emotionally process the day we took placement of our child. I hope you're able to get at least some sleep. We were grateful for all the information we did get on that day (not as much as we'd like, of course), but yes, it was exhausting. And L and his white food? I guess comfort food is pretty much the same wherever you go in the world. Gotta love those carbs :) Hope you get some happy times and see at least a little improvement in the coming days and weeks.

    And...congrats! I don't think I've weighed in since you left Seattle. I know it is mixed emotions all around, but how exciting that you made it to the other side!!!

  6. What a blessing to meet the foster family and see his home. That is priceless. Your description of your little guy makes me laugh. Our little guy from Shaanxi province was 27 months old and wore a lot of 12 month clothes! He was / is pretty adept at taking things apart and putting them back together. Interesting that both our boys from this province are engineers-in-the-making;) Problem solvers! I can't wait to see a picture (this darn one isn't showing up). I'm SOOOO happy for you!!

  7. I am so happy for you guys! the foster family meeting is a tough one but oned you will treasure. Glad you guys are safe!