Today we had Ava's medical appointment at the clinic where all adoptive parents take their children for clearance. The place has been moved from when I was here in 2004. There were several American couples there. Other than Ava, it looked like one boy was maybe three and the oldest of those being adopted. The others were infants or small toddlers. The room is very modern. Ava's clearing physician was a woman who listened to her heart for quite awhile, then said "It appears her surgery cured her. She has no heart murmur." Yaaaaayyyyyy!!! I will still have her checked out by a cardiologist at Children's Mercy; however, this is good news, as I thought she still had a small heart murmur. (Ava was born with VSD, a hole in her heart, that was repaired around 2005.)
The orphanage gave me Ava's "finding ad" from a newspaper clipping which said she was abandoned at Xiangnongshi Street, Ximen Bus Stop, Chengdu City, Sichuan Province and was found by Ma Yingchuan, a citizen of Chengdu City. She reported this to the police who sent her to the Children's Welfare Institute. They gave Ava this woman's name "Yingchuan" plus Tu, because it was the year of the rabbit. I showed the finding ad to our new guide, "John" and he said at that age her parents probably found out about her heart defect, hence the abandonment.
Through John, I learned more about Ava today. She just completed the seventh grade. She does not like Math, but loves Chinese. She went to a good school in the community. Many of the other orphanage kids also went there, and they were not ridiculed or discriminated against, like Aleah and her friends from the orphanage were. She lived in one foster family for seven years before they moved to Hohot. She told John she liked them, but after they moved, they never contacted her again. They gave her their phone number, and she tried calling them, but they would never answer the phone. :( She then went to her current foster family. She said she likes them, as well. Since the fourth grade, she has gone to "boarding school" which means she lives in a dormitory during the week with three other kids to a room, and she returns to her foster family only on weekends. There is one other foster child in the home, a small infant - a little girl who is in the photos she gave me. Ava says the family was Buddhist and they went to a Buddhist temple one time every six months, plus they burned incense in their home. John asked her if she also believed in Buddhism, and she replied she just followed what her foster parents did, burning incense in the home also. She said her foster father was an accountant, and her foster mother stayed home. Ava said they were very strict and she was disciplined a lot, but not physically. Their twenty-year-old daughter is a pharmacist, and she would often take Ava shopping for the foster family, as Ava's school was downtown near where she worked.
John walked us around Shamian island (so called because it is hemmed in by the Pearl River). He also took us up and over the river on a skywalk and we explored the shopping district some. To do so, we have to go through an area where they sell pets. We saw a lot of goldfish, which John says are sold not so much for "pets" but because of feng shui. The continual flowing of the water is supposed to be "lucky" for the continual flowing of good fortune. There were many dogs. Ava said she has had two dogs, one that died, and one she left in her foster home. There were kittens everywhere and I saw one cat with a pink collar around its neck that appeared to belong to a woman running a "store." Their goods spill out of their shops and some are sold in the street. John asked Aleah if she could identify something dried and brown. When she said no, he said it was from an animal leg. He told us "we believe if we have something wrong with our leg, for instance, we need to eat a leg of an animal to make it better." We also saw gerbils, birds, and rabbits. John said last year was the year of the rabbit, so many people got rabbits for good luck. He said maybe lizards will be popular pets this year, as 2012 is the year of the dragon.
We ate at a Thai restaurant down the street from our hotel, the Victory. I remember eating there in 2004, if my memory is correct. I had a fruit bowl, and once again, it was covered with beans - this time red kidney beans. There were also small tomatoes halved throughout the fruit. It was very good. The beans appeared to have absorbed some of the fruit juice, so were very flavorful. We have two other restaurants we want to try while here - Lucy's, and a Cantonese restaurant back in the shopping street off the island.
John says he thinks my biggest problem with Ava will be her diet. Her province is noted for their spicy hot food, especially a dish they call "hotpot." Ava said three times weekly her family ate hotpot. John says people from that province have difficulty eating other foods, as they seem so bland and without flavor.
We walked by the White Swan, which is closed for repair. We saw the 7-11 across the street, where Aleah wanted me to take her every night, so she could choose tea-boiled eggs for the both of us. I had to check - they still sell them! We saw familiar brands again - Gillette, Olay, Colgate, Budweiser, Pond's, Nivea; and Hershey. The girls each chose a frozen dessert bar.
There is a ping pong table down two floors in our hotel, and for 30 yuan ($5) you can play for an hour. The girls had so much fun playing ping pong! I think Ava has decided it is alright to act like Aleah!! They did lots of laughing and goofing off. At one point they were both under the table, looking for their ping pong balls and laughing.
Tomorrow we will walk to Christ Church Shamian for an 11:00 service. John showed us how to get there and when a woman walking down the sidewalk saw us discussing it, she told us we could go in at anytime, it was always open. Afterward, we will eat with the family from St. Louis we are meeting at the church, then I think John will take us a couple places.
It rained briefly, then got very hot and humid today. I don't know whether it made 92 degrees or not.
Hope the weather back home is not so humid! We will be leaving China in another five days!