"Once our eyes are opened, we cannot pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act." Proverbs 24:12

“There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t yet met.”- William Butler Yeats

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Saying Goodbye...starting a new life.

This morning we awoke bright and early again. We went up to breakfast and prepared for the day. Anna Grace woke up in a more cheerier mood and did not fight with me to feed her. Actually, she even let me play with her a bit at breakfast! Baby steps, but we're moving along.

At 9:30, we met our guide in the lobby and prepared for what I was expecting to be a nightmarish, hellish, emotionally charged few hours. We continued the same routine of my sitting in the back of the van alone with Anna Grace so that we could spend one on one time bonding. Today she was so much better. She laughed and we took turns giggling. The drive time to the orphanage blew by and I was loving every minute of it. I even stole a kiss or two on the way.

As we made the left turn and headed up the dirt hill path that led to the orphanage gates, I carefully watched her eyes. She knew her surroundings. My heart began to race thinking that all of that joy and glee we had just spent together would be washed away in a matter of minutes.

As the van pulled up the main building, we noticed the assistant director waiting for us outside. She greeted Anna Grace, who had now become much more stoic, with a smile. A very small smile was returned. I tried placing her on the ledge next to a statue at the entrance to take a picture, she refused to look at the camera. I figured I wouldn't push it.

The assistant director them came and carried her, as she told our guide that we would head to the Sunbeam Village apartments to meet the foster family. Anna Grace completely knew where she was going and, although a bit confused, went in the arms of the assistant director with no problem.

As we entered the building she was greeted by an older lady who apparently knew who she was. Still no reaction. We went up the elevator and turned down the hallway to meet Anna Grace's family for the past year. Suddenly there we were, standing before the two people who we owe so much to for caring for our beautiful daughter for the past year. I immediately recognized her foster mother from pictures that I had. Both she and the foster father was present, which is rather unusual because most foster fathers have permanent jobs and are not permitted time off of work. Well, he was there, and soon we understood why.

Anna Grace was the youngest of the five siblings they cared for. She was definitely the "baby" of the family. The foster father lovingly did as much of the nurturing and caring for her as the foster mother did. They had pictures of her all over a wall in the dining room. He called me over to see the pictures and my heart almost leaped out of my chest when I saw my sad little girl with the biggest, most beautiful smile on her face. (April, one of the pictures was with the pink bunny you gave her!!! Unfortunately, we did not get it back). He then pulled off the pictures from the wall and handed them to the guide instructing her to tell me that they were a gift from him.

By this time, Anna Grace was in her foster mama's arms. But, she still remained as quiet as I have seen her thus far. There were no tears, no whimpers....nothing. I could tell she was a bit confused as to what we were doing there with them, but nothing extraordinary. The small 2 bedroom apartment was immaculate, and quite spacious from what I have seen of the apartments in China. They took us to the bedroom and showed us the bunkbeds where Anna Grace slept each night (on the bottom bunk). They made sure we knew her sleeping and playing habits, including her likes and dislikes. Her foster father even went as far as to bring me her bowl so that I know how much to feed her. Then they both proceeded, at the same time, with the poor guide interpreting at record speeds to tell us how "Fengqin is such a sensitive soul." They told us to be very careful of her feelings and if she did not want to do something, not to force her because she would get upset and that she was the "star of the orphanage". They also told us that she rarely cried because they always tried to do what she wanted to keep her happy. Ummm.....ok, sure! I don't know how long that's gonna fly at the Bombardier household, but we'll definitely try and keep her happy, although I see many tears in her future if that's what she's used to. :) (As I am typing this right now, she and Kai are having MAJOR giggling fits with Scott on the bed!) The foster mother informed us that when she gets to know us she will be very active and extremely talkative. Thus far, we've seen some rough playing with Kai and her quiet singing. She loves to sing!

Our visit was about 20-25 minutes long and they thanked us for being her forever family. We assured them that the blessing was ours. At the end of the visit, the assistant director again picked her up and told her that we were going to visit the preschool and her teachers and she carried her away waving goodbye, but not before being handed by the foster mother a little purse filled to the brim with candy. There were no tears, no sad goodbyes, no emotional breakdowns. Nothing like what I expected from either party.

Again, we followed the assistant director through the grounds of the orphanage, which were also impeccable and had beautiful gardens. We went up three flights of stairs to visit her preschool. Her nanny was unfortunately off on that day, so we did not get to meet her, but we did met several nannies who lovingly kissed and hugged her. We entered the playroom where the playmates from her group were. Her foster sister was there and quickly greeted her with a big smile. We gave the nannies their gifts and I had Anna Grace pass out candies to the children. I know a couple in her group are going home to their forever families, and my mind could not help but wonder if the other ones would find homes soon. It truly is heartbreaking to know that you are leaving so many behind.

I digress. After the playroom visit, we then met with the assistant director and the director who presented us with a most valued treasure, a keepsake lifebook that had recorded in it just about every milestone that she met. The book was also filled with pictures including pictures from when she arrived at the orphanage at only 5 days old, and pictures of her with the infamous birthday package we sent! Our guide is translating the many pages of the book for us and we should have it by tomorrow before we leave to Guangzhou. I can't wait to read what's in it!

After our visit we headed back home. Anna Grace seemed fine and continued to be playful and happy, until we entered the hotel room again. I still think it has a lot to do with being in such a confined, quiet space and giving her too much time to think about the huge changes that have taken place in her life in the past few days.

We returned to the hotel and relaxed a bit before venturing off to a nearby McDonald's for dinner. Anna Grace's first taste of fast food American food. As expected, she loved it!

Tomorrow we visit her finding place and then checkout and are on our way to Guangzhou, the last leg of our journey before heading home. Thank you all for your prayers for getting us through this day. They were obviously heard!!!!

We've enjoyed every second of our trip so far, but we miss our kids and family so much! Here are some pictures from today.
P.S. Becky, thank you for your NUMEROUS efforts in reminding me about bringing back a stone from the orphanage. Even with that, I still forgot. UGH!!!!


Janette said...

Ohilda I am so happy to hear that everything went smoothly for all of you during your good-byes to the foster family. My heart was breaking for you and of course for Anna Grace as I figured that she may have thought she was going back to them and it would have been a tough going again having to tear her away. My heart is at peace now. Last night I was talking to mom and was telling her that I don't think that I could do what you and all the other families are doing. Just reading your post many times tugs at my heart and my mind goes off wondering and I fing myself in tears. When you posted yesterday about her yelling out for her grandfather I swear the tears were rolling off my face. I was a mess. I guess I am not as strong as I thought I was. I would not be strong enough to hold back my tears and I guess that could not be good for the child to see when I am suppose to be the strong one for them. How do you do it? I know the love is much stronger and the better life that they are going to have but, I guess, oh, I don't know, I'm just so happy that everything went well. Anna and Kai are beautiful children and they are so very blessed to be love by such a loving and STRONG mama and of course baba and the extended family.
I love you all and wish you a safe return.
P.S. You broke my heart again when you mentioned the other children being left behind. How sad I will pray that each one of those children find forever families too. To all the mama's and baba's out there "Bless you."

geminirn said...

So happy that all went well...and did not cause a set back for little Anna Grace.sounds like you received a lot of momentos to share with your little one as she gets older.

Love the photos and looking forward to your next update.

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