Today was a very bittersweet day.
This morning, we left and were able to visit Ashby’s orphanage.
We took turns going inside, so that Ashby could stay in the van the entire time. We had several people (including our social worker back home) tell us not to take her back inside because it sends a lot of mixed messages and could really upset and/or set her back.
A few details before I begin…
Ashby was found in a basket in front of a hospital on June 19, 2012. Once inside the hospital, doctors examined her and estimated she was 10 days old. Once a full examination was completed, she was sent to live in this particular orphanage.
On April 3 of the following year, a photo of Ashby along with her information was placed in the local paper with a notice that her parents had 6 weeks to claim her or else she would be put up for adoption (we now have a copy of that newspaper clipping). No one came forward to claim her and thus, she began the process of being adopted out.
Over a year later, in July 2014, she was finally put on US adoption lists and our agency was the first to secure her for us to review. Andrew and I received an email along with a photo and preliminary medical records on July 10th and pretty much knew right away that this was our girl. Also on July 10, Ashby was moved from her large community room in the orphanage (where she had been for two years) and placed inside a foster home within the orphanage.
The foster home is a place to prepare the children who are about to be adopted out. Ashby’s orphanage is apparently one of the nicest ones in this area and receives a lot of donations and charitable offerings. One business even sponsors a “little sisters” program that’s very similar to a preschool and for the last 6 months, Ashby has been going to this little preschool every day.
So…off we went to see all of this.
On our way out this morning, we ate our traditional breakfast in the hotel restaurant…and took silly pictures :).
Ashby tries really hard not to smile when she knows we’re trying to get her to smile. It’s so cute! She sucks her lips in really tight trying to hold it in.
A boy and his bacon.
With her daddy ready to head out for the day.
In the van, he said “take a picture of me for Nixon to see”. There you go Nixon :).
So, in this particular orphanage, there are over 800 children. We pulled in and there were four really tall buildings (all 12 and 14 floors high) with a courtyard in the center. Kensington and I got out first for our tour. They started by taking us into the little foster home where Ashby has been living for the last 6 months. There is one building dedicated to these kinds of homes full of apartments. Each apartment has an older couple living in it and the criteria is that the woman must be retired and stay home all day but the men must still have a job outside of the orphanage during the day. Ashby’s apartment was on the sixth floor and she had been living there with her foster parents and four other little girls.
This had been Ashby’s room and the bed on the left was Ashby’s. I teared up just looking at it. I’m so blessed that my sweet girl had a warm bed and sweet people caring for her.
A different view of their room.
Here we are in the living area of the apartment with Ashby’s foster mom. This lady was so sweet and just went on and on and on about how precious Ashby is (in Chinese of course, I had someone there translating). She gave me some more information about her and I was able to ask a lot of questions. When we came in, she was in the middle of preparing lunch for the remaining four girls. They go to their little preschool program in the morning, return for lunch and then go back in the afternoon. She said Ashby was really attached to her husband and that they both were so happy she finally has a home.
They are in apartment 605…such a sweet little room full of pictures of them with these precious kids.
After we left the foster home building, we walked over to where the preschool is and where the babies are kept. We walked up four flights of stairs to get to the “healthy baby” floor. It broke my heart because there are some floors dedicated to babies with very severe health problems (like cerebral palsy and such).
This is the room where Ashby slept for 2 full years. A room full of cribs and babies without parents.
One of the sweet ladies that cared for Ashby went and stood by her old crib so that I could see. Way back there is where my baby used to sleep.
And then we took a picture together. This lady and 13 others cared for my daughter during her two year stay here.
Next door to the crib room is the babies’ play room. We only received three pictures of Ashby during the entire adoption process and I recognized this room from two of them. All these babies ever see is that crib room and this room. Look at all of those babies…they need homes.
And then our last stop was Ashby’s little preschool room. It was happy and cheerful and she had two really sweet ladies teaching her.
After this, Kensington and I returned to the van and the boys toured. This orphanage really was bittersweet. It was sweet because it was clean and nice and full of loving and kind people. It was bitter because I saw dozens and dozens of children (and remember, they have 800 there) that need a home. These kids don’t have moms. They don’t have dads. They don’t have someone to hold them when they’re sick. They don’t have someone to kiss them each night before bed. They don’t have someone to hug them after they have a bad dream. They don’t have anyone. They are orphans.
In this little corner of the internet that I call home, my prayer today is this…that one family’s heart might be stirred to adopt. A recent UNICEF report estimates that there are between 143 and 210 MILLION orphans in the world. So many kids just need someone to give them a chance and I’m praying that maybe our story will encourage just one family to adopt.
After I return home, if you have questions about the adoption process, I would love to help. You can email me once we’re home at firstname.lastname@example.org.
So…what did we do after spending our morning at the orphanage? We headed to downtown Xi’an and did everything American…
We took our kids to McDonald’s. (Don’t judge…after 11 days in China, my kids deserved a nice fry and nugget!)
And then, we headed to my favorite place on earth…
…we found a delightful Starbucks in Xi’an! Yay! Ashby’s first Starbucks experience!!
We love making her smile :).
We love her serious face too.
We love our Ashby.
Tomorrow, we pick up Ashby’s passport and fly to our final city where Ashby will receive her Visa and we can head home. We have one full week left in China!
Before I go, let me answer some frequently asked questions…
1. How old is Ashby?
She’s two! Her birthday is June 9, 2012.
2. What do you know about her birth parents?
Absolutely nothing. She was found in a basket with no information. We don’t know anything.
3. Does Ashby speak Chinese?
Yes. She’s already picking up some English but her native tongue is Mandarin Chinese. We’re told that children her age and in her situation will quickly forget the Mandarin in favor of English.
4. What’s wrong with Ashby’s hand?
I’m going to save all of that info until we see the specialists at home and I have a better understanding myself. She was born with a vascular birth defect that is effecting her hand. We’re hoping to correct some of it (or as much as we can) once we’re home. No matter what, we love our girl and think she’s just perfect.
Click here to see Days 12 & 13.