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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

As promised - visit to orphanage, foster family & finding place

Gabriel was very attached to his foster mom. We knew that he couldn't be around when I met her. We got real lucky as it was about a 20 minute ride to the orphanage. I put him in the seat between Donna and I in hopes that he would fall asleep. As he began to doze off I leaned him against Donna. Soon enough he was out cold!
Poor Donna couldn't move the entire time I was in the orphanage and meeting the foster parents.
The entrance to the orphanage
 (which doesn't match the picture in the book they gave us - maybe not the main entrance)
The orphanage has about 500 kids but 400 are out in foster families! I believe they said that it has the largest foster population in the country. They say the other 100 that remain in the orphanage are high needs - and as they said in wheelchairs, cp, and downs syndrome (really?). The foster home is partly for the elderly as well. They are people who have no one to care for them and basically they told us that they go there for the remainder of their lives. 

He slept the entire time! So we went into the lobby of one building at the orphanage and waited for the foster parents. The front was all glass and as soon as the foster mom saw me she smiled and pointed to me. She recognized me from the pictures I sent (which was nice considering the ones we sent Anthony never got to him). It was very sweet. I said hello and through our guide asked if I could hug her. It was already too emotional! The foster dad stood shyly towards the side. Through the escort I was able to talk to her. I told her that he was doing well and that he sure has a set of lungs. Everyone laughed even the orphanage director as she new his crying screams from the monthly check ups. There was a lot of small talk. We asked if he had any issues with his gums as they were bleeding when I got him and then all night. The foster mom looked shocked and then upset. I told her he was ok now (when they brought him on Gotcha day they gave me three different medicines as they said he had a cold - yeah that wen over well as you can imagine! Tried them once and said not worth it - he seemed fine. Funny that they said he has a sore throat - ahhh, he's two did he tell you that & ahhh, he's a screamer!) Anyway, back to the foster family. I got to ask some questions and when it came to that time I panicked - not being able to think of any (unlike with Anthony I had them all written down and they couldn't answer anything) I looked at Bonnie (the other family traveling with us) and she said how about what he likes. She answered dancing and playing with toys. I mentioned the tricycle he had in the videos. I also asked how she comforts him when he is screaming. She said she holds him. I asked if they would like me to send pictures to the agency who would send them to the foster family. They were happy about that and said that maybe if we come back to China that we could visit with them. I told them yes and that I was sorry that my husband couldn't be here as he was at home with our first son. There was a lot of small talk. I had already gotten a ton of information about him from the escort who new him well as she provided all of the updates and she is often at the orphanage. I think three times I asked if I could hug her! I did everything I could to hold back the tears. This was the woman who took care of my son since June of 2012. He wasn't in an orphanage thanks to them! I didn't want to leave but I knew if was time - so one more hug and it was cute as I blew a kiss goodbye and the foster day blew one back. It was so emotional. 

Prior to the visit I did learn a lot about the foster family. They have one son - 23 years old - which was Gabriel's foster brother. They are in their mid 60's. The foster moms are usually low educated and aren't skilled to do anything else. They make very little - 200 yen per month which is less than $30 a month. I don't recall if that includes food and clothing - I think they said 200 plus food and clothing - not sure. It now makes sense that they kept feeding him formula as I believe the orphanage supplied it. They said he also ate rice noodles and congee (which he didn't eat while we were at the hotel). We also were told that they always had the TV on so Gabriel would play in front of the TV. The guide - and I agree- that they were not the best match for Gabriel. They are very shy and only answer questions when asked. They don't offer casual conversation which is probably why Gabriel only knows about 3 words. They were encouraged to bring him outside to play with the other children (which we did get pictures of -oddly laminated and we think photoshopped to appear in front of a fall scene). 

After that emotional encounter we walked around the grounds for a few minutes. They have a beautiful park in the middle. 

 Playground equipment for the older kids. 

This is the home for the orphans (feeling pretty institutionalized). The babies are kept on the third floor. We weren't allowed to go in. Those who work at the orphanage live in a building on the grounds. 

Next stop - his finding place (as if I could handle any more emotional baggage at this point). He was found on August 12, 2011 in the toilets of a transportation hub. He was estimated to be one month old when they found him - hence his given birthday of July 12th. The toilets are now closed because there were too many babies being left there (scary). There are many ways to get in and out easily at this hub. Many come from the country side and other cities through here. 
The toilets (now closed) where our little guy was found. No note or anything with him (unlike Anthony where he had formula and a blue blanket which we didn't get to have). 

And he's still out! Mission accomplished!

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