Our visit to Max’s Orphanage

I have been yearning to sit down and write this posts for the past 4 days! Things have been busy around here and we are now in Guangzhou. We said goodbye to Max’s birth city, Kunming, this past Friday. It was bittersweet, but we are ready to be home so we can be united with our Landon!!

The Thursday before we left, we are able to visit the orphanage that Max spent the fist year of his life at. In Kunming, babies usually live at the Children’s Social Welfare Institute (orphanage) until they reach one year of age. Once they reach one year, and are healthy enough, they are moved to the foster village and are placed in a foster home. This foster village is still somewhat of a mystery to us. We did find out that each foster family has a baba and mama (dad and mom) and they may have up to 3 children in the home. We were not allowed to visit the foster village or even see pictures of it. When we asked if we could meet his foster parents, we were told that adoptive families are not allowed to because of privacy. I am hoping this will change in the near future! I think it would answer so many questions that adoptive families have and would help the transition to be a little easier.

Max’s short life has already been one of many transitions,with many different caretakers. When Max was first found (move one), he was taken to the hospital (move two) so that could get “scientific feeding” and get healthy. After that, he was moved to the Kunming Children’s Social Welfare Institute (move three). Here, he was taken care of by very sweet nurses until he became big and strong enough to move to the next floor/nursery – the nursery for healthy infants (move four). We were allowed to get a picture of this nursery!

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I am not sure how long he was here for, but the orphanage director told us he was moved here between 4-6 months of age. Next, he was moved to one more floor, with yet another set of caretakers (move five). At around age one, he was moved to the foster village (move six) which is a few hours away from the orphanage. He was here for the longest – one year in a family environment! I think this where he got so healthy and STRONG! He runs and eats a lot and is very very playful. These are definitely signs of being cared for in a foster care environment vs institutional care. Three days before we came for him, he was moved yet again (move seven) back to the orphanage. And this past Monday, he made his final move into our family! The moves that I am talking about aren’t moves that most babies experience (being dropped up at day care or nursery and later being picked up by their parents). These are moves where he had caretakers and then never saw them again (talk about trauma) . This is why attachment is such a BIG part of post adoption and why many adoptive parents may parent a little different with an adopted child vs. a biological child. This is also why Max keeps a close eye on me and sometimes gets extremely scared if I am not close by.

I am so glad we were able to visit the orphanage and meet many of his caretakers. They all remembered him and would come up and call him “Ping Ping” and try to get him to smile. I don’t think he remembered many of them since he spent the last year with his foster family, but I was reassured that our daily prayer was answered: that God would send people to love and care for him until we could. As we were leaving the orphanage, one of his caretakers was just coming in to work so we were able to ask her for a picture!

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We were only allowed to take 2 pictures inside his orphanage and they were in designated spots. Overall the orphanage was very nice. It was clean, big,and there were toys (although none of the children were playing with them) . Supposedly it was built by a company located in Beijing. I think this is big – that China is starting to work within their country to make things better for their orphans. I hope that one day they will get to the place where more people will adopt domestically. I think their culture is changing, but there are so many people that there may always be a need for international adoption. For example, in Kunming alone, there are 4 million people. Kunming is a smaller city in comparison to Beijing, Guangzhou, etc. Raleigh, NC just hit about 1 million people. That is a big difference !

Here are a few other pictures of the outside of the orphanage…

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After some digging and some investigation by our driver, we were able to find the exact location that Max was found. Not everyone is able to find their locations and our guide told us “you very lucky family”. I think it was just another little gift from God. We took some videos and pictures that we will share with Max one day if he wants to see them.

This day was hard, but it gave us more of an understanding of where Max has been and how difficult yet another move will be on him. I promise, we are here to stay Ping Ping 🙂

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