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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

 Jian City

Yesterday we traveled down to Jian City where Mikayla's orphanage is
located. Five families got into a bus that we rented and headed south on
a 3 hour road trip and it was tough. I guess it was a good preparation
for the plane trip home, but the plane does not dodge oncoming traffic
and hit pot holes at full speed. New experience: if both of your lanes
are full of cars, use the other side and play chicken with the bus
heading right towards you. It was still so hot that you don't want to
even go outside, but this was a unique opportunity that not all families
had so we were compelled to do it. Driving down we got to experience the
countryside of Mikayla's home province which is mostly agriculture.
There were lots of people out working their fields with the big conical
hats that you associate with Asian workers and there were lots of water
buffalo. We passed by some oyster farms for cultivating fresh water
pearls. This was our first trip outside of a major city, so now
everywhere we go we are a big hit because people are not as used to
seeing foreigners. People will crowd around you to see the Americans
with their babies as if you are famous, or crazy. We stopped at a "truck
stop" so that some screaming babies could get a break and changed
diapers, and in the store every one of the women working in the
restaurant came out and watched us shopping for drinks. We finally made
it to town which is a decent sized city but still very poor looking over
all. Even Nanchang where our hotel is looks beautiful and new one way
and disgusting in the other direction. Our guide explained to us on the
way that Jian is known for their intelligence and that some people send
their children to Jian for one year when they are older to prepare them
for the entrance exams they are required to take to graduate high school
and to get into college. We pulled into the orphanage and right off it
looks deserted, like a ghost town (no parked cars, no people outside, no
kids playing, no water in the fountain, weeds growing up everywhere,
piles of trash, etc.). We go inside and we are greeted by some of the
nannies that we met earlier in the week. Let me preface the rest of this
again by saying that I believe the women working here truly loved and
cared for the children the best the could but it was obvious they didn't
have much to work with. We were being ushered upstairs and it apparent
that we were being kept from seeing certain things. One of the nannies
came out of a room to see us with a baby in her arms which looked like
she had some head surgery or at least some cuts and she was immediately
told to go back inside so that we could not see them. There was no air
conditioning to speak of except for one unit in one of the play rooms.
We go into a meeting room so that we can meet the director who I never
saw smile. He seemed very cold to me, like doing this was just a means
to provide for himself and nothing more; the babies were a commodity.
His wife, however, seems to care for the children very much so it is
comforting to know that she was there to persuade him. We were taken
into one of the playrooms which had a few walkers, no toys or anything
to play with. The walkers that you see in the referral photos are very
old and grungy, fabric is rotting off of some of them and covered with
mold. We then saw the bathing room that had 4 large sinks for giving the
babies a bath, which I don't think happened more than once or twice a
week I would guess. Then we went to the bedroom which had these little
beds put together in twos side by side. There was total of about 16 beds
in this room and all they had for padding was a bamboo rollout pad (i.e.
no padding). They showed us where each of the babies slept and who they
were beside. Mikayla was right between two girls who will be living in
middle TN and we will be able to visit from time to time, isn't that
amazing? The babies that were currently in here looked so sad and
pathetic, one of them was obviously sick and covered with some kind of
white powder. They all had about a 2 foot cord tying them to the bed. It
wouldn't keep them from falling out but just from leaving the bed and
into the next one. I think we all tried to keep ourselves composed and
to not focus on thinking that our children had been here for one year in
these same conditions, or else it would have been too much. This was
more like a research project, gathering information to have later in
life when questions are asked and leaving emotions at the door. We said
our goodbyes and left and then went by the spot where Mikayla was found.
Two of the girls where found at the orphanage gate, other than this, we
were the only one from the entire travel group that was taken to the
spot where our daughter was found. It appeared that the place where she
was found has undergone some rennovation and new construction so it
doesn't look like it did last year. We were invited to lunch with the
coordinator which was the most interesting yet. When someone scooped a
chicken's foot out of one of the dishes and then pointed out the head, I
was done eating. It was explained that separating the head and feet from
the animal would not give it an opportunity in the next life. When we
left the restaurant, we had to wait for our bus and so we started
attracting a large crowd on the side walk. It starts to get a little
unsettling. One last stop before we headed out was to go by the
appliance store where we as a group bought the orphanage an air
conditioner. Sometimes, the only way the orphanages get anything is
through these private gifts. The fees that are paid up front go to the
government and getting those funds applied back to the orphanage is
questionable. It was much appreciated and our coordinator was very happy
that we did this. We left the city feeling drained and hungry. Our guide
ordered pizzas for us to be delivered to our rooms when we got back.
After pizza, I went out and got Mikayla some baby food because it has
become apparent that we are not feeding her enough. She ate carrots with
apples and then apples for dinner prior to her bottle with formula and
rice. She did not want to go to sleep so we all crashed on the bed and
she fell asleep between us. I later woke up and put her in the crib and
she didn't wake in the middle of the night as she has the past two
nights. Today, we are going to take it easy and maybe go shopping. It is
supposed to cool off and we need clothes. One week before we head home...


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