Monday, September 3, 2007

Sunday recap 9-2-07 Reagan's Foster Mother

Well we are back in GZ, and have only one more day to go! Wow what a trip and journey we have had.

Yesterday was an interesting day full of many memories for us. We had breakfast around 7:45 AM and then at 9 AM met up with the Orphanage staff again. We went to the orphanage and weaved through town and many side streets to get there. I wished I could have taken photo's. I always find it so interesting the daily life of these people the little vendor stalls each selling their wares and sometimes so primitive looking and yet so facinating. I could just spend days walking the streets meeting the people and trying to gain a snap shot into each of their lives.

We were about a block away and i saw the gates and knew them. They opened them our our two vehicles drove through and parked. We walked back out and i quickly tried to take some shots. We asked where Reagan had been left and they pointed to the right of the gates was a gatekeeper room and just outside the door was where Reagan was left and then found by the gatekeeper. It was later in the day he was left.

I wish now I had written some of my thoughts and questions before hand since during this time it was hard to remember things to ask.

We asked Reagan if he could stand at the gate door to have his photo taken and he did not want to. So we chose to do it later. I know he was doing a lot of processing at this time and he is usually shy at first and then is outgoing. We did not want to force too much on him - not knowing what he was thinking at this age and time.

We then went into the orphanage up to the third floor where they had a banner from wall to wall over the window that said welcome Jing, Wulin - Reagan's name in Chinese. There was a long conference table and three flower planters with plastic flowers in them. The walls were a bit bare, except for official plaques noting their status with the government. The had a couple of plates of banana's and also the Lechee type fruit. We told them that Reagan loved these, but then he did not want to eat them! Taylor had fun pealing them and making a pile with them until we finally took them away from her. It definitely was a challenge and Scott did a great job handling the kids!!

It was formal in many ways, so even if it was for Reagan in many parts it was over his head. So Scott had to take them out to play.

When we got in and settled we had Reagan present his sailboat charcoal drawing to the director and of course we took the formality photo's and they including our guide Sissi was extremely impressed with his work and age. They feel his parents could have been art student attending the local art university which is very famous and people from all over come to. But of course we will never know.

We then had Reagan give them the package of gifts which they seemed to appreciate. In Asia the custom of giving gifts is very important and you give them first. We then let the director talk and share about the orphanage, and all the new plans for the new one including seeing a master drawing of what it will soon look like. I video taped the whole thing with the translator explaining it since I know I would only retain some ofthis and know it is important to remember and to share with the other families who have children from there. It is a plan of a series of building stages. The first is three buildings on on the old orphanage site in the mountain area of town. They have arranged for the children to have a bus take them to school and it was not the floods that had them move but being so far from the school before and not having transportation. The building is old and definitely in need of repair of torn down as is planned. The director is very proud of what they are doing. They will have a central home foster care system there with a set of parents overseeing the kids instead of individual families - but more control over their care.... it should be interesting. Similar to the program I believe is being done in Beijing with New Hope?

The director talked for a long time and did answer some of my questions. The kids got bored so this is when Scott took them outside and i talked with the people there.
Kaitlyn kept saying where is the party?

After this if i remember in order correctly - Sonia's daughter - another waiting mom of Jingdezhen was brought into the room for me to meet her. She is just beautiful. She has had a rough time and is doing very well. She was very shy, but at the end warmed up. The foster mother was there and I could take many photo's and I was able to get video - so will be sending this to you in days!! She was wearing the dress Sonia had sent and tell's everyone it is from her mama and wants to wear it all the time. They say she is shy at first and then later is very talkative - so watch out!
She is doing so well - about the same size as my Taylor so bring small clothes! 12-18m and also weighs about 10 kg = 22lbs and the same age!!

Then Reagan's foster mother and brother came..... this was the highlight. I quickly came and gave her a hug and said thank you. She stood there - I probably overwhelmed her. Then she saw Reagan and she just lit up and he son recognized him. Reagan slowly let her hug him and hold him and i got some photo's of this. (i only took 250 in the two days we were there)LOL

Her son gave Reagan a necklace that was a braided string with a etched heart that said "Peace for Life" and a jade bead. Reagan has been wearing it since and keeps telling us his foster brother gave it to him. So it really means something to him.
We had Reagan present his cat drawing to his mother and then give her her gift from us. Later we tried to get her address, but she has moved many times - I got the feeling she may not have received the photo's I had sent? One set I had sent was being given back to us from two years ago - so I gave this to the mother. It had a photo of Katie another Jing girl who we met in NJ. They asked how she was doing and we told her about our meeting her and how she has come a long way and is doing great with her mom there.

Then the mother and the orphanage presented us/Reagan with some gifts which we were not prepared for and very much appreciated. From the foster mother we got a locally made tea set in white with a dragon embossed on it. Later we told Reagan he can give it to his wife some day, he told us no, because it was his tea set!

Then the orphanage presented us with a local Jingdezhen signed ceramic paint set. It has paint dishes, water dishes and a brush holder - because they had heard he liked to draw and had talent. So this is very special and we know Reagan will use. It had the local and famous peach flower design on it. So this will be carefully packed and later on Reagan can have. I wished we had more time to see more of the local stuff. It was raining hard off and on, so this limited us a bit.

We then had a chance to ask the foster mother some questions. Reagan had learned to walk at 12m and i had suspected this. He had be brought into her home the day he was found, they had misplaced his finding note - which I had wanted to photograph - will work on this later. She noted he was a good sleeper - I asked if he moved around a lot? since our Reagan sleeps every direction but in the normal sleeping position and in his crib mostly slept sideways :-)

Then she noted he loved porkbuns and each morning she went to the bakery to get him one. She also noted he from an early age would take your face and hold it in his hands - we smiled for he does this with us often, it is his indearing thing.... and just the day before he had done this with me. Then he just stares at you and smiles.

I asked if she could share something... she said he liked the TV and had learned to turn it on and watch it on his own. I asked about the dog in the photo since we know he loves animals and esp. dogs. She said it was a neighbors dog, but that he always wanted to see the dog. She also told us about how Reagan was like her son and after the 1-1/2 years she missed him a lot and had been sad. We shared with her our appreciation and how we think of her as Reagan's other mother and her importance in his life. We want to stay in touch and did get her and her son's name in Chinese. I want to make sure they get the photo's and said we would see them again in a few years. I do wonder how this will work in the future if the orphanage is going to set up group housing?

We can see now many things and their is a peace and for Reagan he has a connection to the stories we share. Now when we look at his baby photo's and he see's his foster mother there is a real connection for him, other than just a story. There is this person, his real foster mother who lives in China. We saw the place where he lived and it was a block away from the orphanage. We are so thankful that this opportunity was able to come together for him.

We spent time talking and asking questions, the director gave us their copy of Reagan's file to look at which the guide translated for me. I was expecting a file. It was more of a booklet of all the papers during the process. So I did take some photo's of this since some were from when they got him, his registration number in China... but most of it was papers about us and we had them too. At the back was one photo i did not have which was so cute of Reagan and they had two - so they gave me one. The other was the first photo of him, but was nice to have another one.
Then there was a photo we had to photograph which was their only copy of Children's day 2003 June 1, which is when Reagan is 11m and the time we got his file and accepted him. He is sitting in the lap of his foster mother at the orphanage with all the other mothers eating a cookie? So other moms if you kid was at the orphanage at this time I may have a photo of your child? I told them all the photo's the parents get are priceless and tried to encourage them to take more for us to get as a record of their life in China.

We said goodbye to the fostermother and her son, and then toured the facility. Wow, compared to the others we have seen. This one is in poor shape. We took a photo of the temp. bed Reagan was at in their medical office and met 6+ girls who are between the ages of 10-14 years - I was allowed to freely take photo's and of course i did.
I inquired about one who is about to be adopted and had a failed adoption. I asked about the experience. It had been their first older adoption and they had a bad experience with it and are still very cautious. I wish they could talk with other orphanages who have done a great job preparing the child and family for this time.

We did learn that at this age, the government recognizes them and they do have opportunities and chances as they did not have in the past. So it is not a horrible existance as many of us think of. Our guide told us of one male who recently graduated from medical school. So I am more at peace about this. Also, our guide told us about an article she read last week... the government is now acknowledging the abandoned children from years ago and giving them cards now. So many families have had illegal kids that could not go to school... so now the government is acknowledging them and giving them and their families a chance. Things are slowly changing here and we have learned a lot this time.

We met one adorable mentally handicapped girl who kept following us around. She lives at the orphanage and is about 14. She was so cute. They had a garden where the seniors grow various squashes to eat. They had a playground and our kids had fun there while I was taken to an very old building which was the eating hall. I met the cook and saw him cooking lunch over an open fire stove with a huge wok. He was cooking cucumbers and other veggies. They showed me a rice cooker - industrial style which has been breaking down.

I figured I would get asked about something along the way and then my guide pulled me aside and asked me if i could help with this. I told her i would have to check with Scott, but how much would it cost us? This being a Sunday, I knew we had limited resources and not sure how much we could afford?

At this point we went back to the gate and took a bunch of group photo's. Reagan still was not into having his photo taken - but got a couple anyways which am thankful for - we did not want to push it. We know he is processing a lot for a five year old.

We then headed to a very nice restaurant, got a private room with fine china called the Yilong Hotel. The food was great, and they were very considerate, by having it prepared "non-spicy" This region the food is very spicey! Reagan use to like food spicey, but has lost this for now. We talked lots about all things and had a wonderful time. A few very loud thunderstorms came through - was glad it was during lunch.

The eating rooms are interesting... they have a sitting area and this one had a tv which they sat and waited for the food to be prepared before we sat at the table. Our family not as familiar with this, of course eagerly sat hungry and waiting at the table while the rest just sat and took their time. But this was very hard on the kids since there was not break... very boring, no naps.... we started to feel it as each had meltdowns and we are all trying to be polite :-)

Of course the kids did a bit better once we got food into them. The crackers i had packed sat in the car out of reach.

I did forget to mention we did head to a local youth school of arts for ceramics. We toured the facility and the director got permission for Reagan to paint a plate. But not being experienced in painting yet - he did a snowman? not one of his best works of art, the other two were jealous and had problems! Sonia I will be emailing you... but they want to send the plate back to us after it is fired in the kiln!

I am sure Reagan will do much better on a future trip!

After lunch we told the director and staff we would donate a rice cooker... and they thanked us many times and then we said our goodbye's. We went to a local historical place where ceramic had been started and had demonstrations... it was so interesting but we were so limited in time since we had to return back to Nanchang and catch a flight. The kids were getting to be a handful and each had their moment with a meltdown. Try to get three kids to have their hands to their sides with unfired pottery all around!!!

It was so interesting and Reagan was soaking it up. When they are older it will be so much more appreciated. We saw the largest kiln which is over 1,000 years old. The place was rich in history. We did finally purchase a book to capture what we lost. Then we piled into the van and started our journey back to Nanchang - three hours +
The girls took turns crying for over thirty mins until both finally crashed. Then finally Reagan did. But then Taylor woke and had another meltdown. We were all just pooped.

Our guide padded the time so we got to Nanchang early and our flight was not until 9:30 PM so we did dinner and it too was very good and finally we got our guide to make one dish spicey.

The past two days we were starred at all the time. It was funny but also a bit tiring. You walk into a room and the whole place would turn and stare, then they would talk, then stare more. Some more bold, would try to talk to us... but we definitely drew attention. Well in the land of only being allowed to have one child, two white parents with three chinese kids, one being a boy - will get attention!

We got to the airport at about 7:30 and had a long wait. They would not even process our tickets so waited outside for 30 mins, then finally could got through security - more staring! Then the flight got delayed until 10. So we did our best to entertain three kids who were overtired. Mom and Dad also were tired, at one point, Scott was concerned about our flight and went to check. I had all three, who decided at the same time to cry - here i am standing rocking Taylor who is melting down and wanting to run, while Reagan and Kaitlyn are siting crying. We were everyone's source of entertainment during the delay! LOL just just have to go with the flow....

Finally the call came and you have to see it to believe it... but you would think they were calling a fire and everyone is pushing and shoving to get on first. I was expecting it and used the carrier to block - like in hockey. Scott was not as prepared and had the other two, and all these people were cutting it. So I finally waved him forward and we got through.

We got Taylor to sleep on the flight, but she woke part way and had a meltdown. I was so ready to check myself in, with flashbacks of our first difficult days with Kaitlyn, but the calmness to it all, was knowing Kaitlyn two years later was such a different girl - so know there is hope and we will get through this once we get back to normal and being at home with structure.

We got back to GZ and were in a taxi and back to the Victory by 12:30 AM - it was a very long day. the kids went straight to bed but at 2 AM another thunderstorm woke them up and we had REagan and Kaitlyn in bed with us the rest of the night!

Well I hope you enjoyed my long version of our day - it helps us with remembering this for Reagan's sake. I do hope I can do something like this for Kaitlyn someday. I know she has struggled since two wks ago it was all about Taylor and this wknd it was all about Reagan. I took her to the store this morning and we picked out a pretty chinese dress so she could feel special too.
Have a good night - will have to capture today - tomorrow!

1 comment:

Charlotte said...


What a day that was ! What a great trip to Reagan's swi for him and for you, makes you feel good knowing they were so loved. Did you get to see Charlotte and Kayleee yet ?

Charlotte W.