We had a lazy day today. The girls drew in their sketch books and played on the ipad and we are now watching a Chinese badminton match on TV. Ava says she likes to play badminton! We will have to get a badminton set, as ours has long ago disappeared. Ava was fine after her initial sadness this morning. She knows we will fly to Guangzhou tomorrow, and I am wondering if that is part of her sadness. She drew in her sketch book the words "I like Chen du" and showed it to us. Tomorrow she will leave the city she has lived in for at least twelve years (she was found at the age of one) and who knows when or if she might return?
The girls each drew a portrait of the other, which involved sitting as still as possible while the other sketched. Ava showed us how to use a hot pot from the hotel to boil water for her honey tea milk drink mix. I thought it tasted similar to cappuccino, but it had little gelatinous rectangles floating in it which we couldn't identify, so Aleah only tried enough to be polite, saying "I don't eat food if I don't know what it is."
We let Ava choose where we ate this evening and despite the fact that there are several places that sell Chinese food near the hotel, she chose once again the "fast food" Chinese restaurant the translator told me was not "real" Chinese food. I have a feeling I am letting her do something she is not usually allowed to do; however, she had a huge bowl of some type of rice dish, Aleah had a huge bowl of noodles with actual beef slices, leeks, and a whole boiled egg floating on the top, and I had fruit with brown beans on top, so it doesn't feel like I am feeding the girls "junk food." Yes, brown beans, really. I suppose it serves the purpose of adding protein and it was surprisingly not bad! I asked Ava if there was any place else she wished to go tonight. We could have taken a taxi to any part of the city, but she shook her head no.
Aleah did her usual on the way back, holding her nose from the elevator to the room, and once again Ava fumbled with the key card, putting it in from the wrong end. Aleah was standing there with her cheeks pouffed out and her eyes wide like a guppy, and Ava got tickled before she got the door open. Aleah took a deep breath and fell backwards on the bed once the door was opened, making a production of taking deep breaths! She is hoping to see blue sky in Guangzhou, which is in southern China and a lot like Florida - palm trees and blooming flowers. We are on the 9th floor of the Dynasty here in Chengdu and there are 26 floors total. We have not yet seen blue sky since being here. It rained again this morning in Chengdu, once again producing a sea of red ponchos flowing down the street each time the light changed.
Sichuan Province is the province where the earthquake struck in 2008, and many thousands of people died, including a great many school children when their schools collapsed. Yoshi, our guide in Beijing, said that many Chinese people wanted to adopt surviving children, but that it was difficult for them, because they had to prove to the government they could afford to raise an adopted child. Yoshi told us a horror story about a single mom who came to China to adopt a little boy, and somehow lost her passport. He said it took a week to get her passport replaced and in the meantime, she had to have $5,000 each for her and the little boy placed in a bank in Beijing to prove she could support herself and the child until she left the country. He said he pleaded with the officials to not make her deposit the $5,000 for the little boy, but to no avail.
I miss Yoshi and all his long-winded stories. Anytime we asked him a question he did not know, he would respond "I will google it," which amused us all. When he left us at the airport, my flight did not yet have a departure gate assigned. He told me repeatedly "I will not ditch you. The people at the information desk speak excellent English and they will help you when the departure gate is assigned." He also gave me his phone number and told me to call him if there was no one to meet me at the Chengdu airport (since my flight was delayed by two hours), and he would call his company. Yoshi evidently helped guide during the Olympics, and he told us about his time with Kobe Bryant, and how nice he was. Yoshi is the type of guide you enjoy - one full of local flavor! The guide in Chengdu is very brisk and business like. She gets the job done efficiently, but is not as personable. When she was reading the bride magazine at the Civil Affairs office, I took the opportunity to ask if she was married and she said she was and had one little boy, age five. She said she worked for many adoption agencies besides Adoption Associates, including WACAP, Helping Hands, and many others.
I showed Ava photos of the three boys her age who are being adopted within 100 miles of us - Lee Summit and near Warrensburg. I asked if she knew them, but she knew only one. As you can imagine in a city of ten million people, the Chengdu Children's Welfare Institute is very large.
I was selfishly relieved that we did not go back to the institute the day after we picked up Ava. I think the family from Lee Summit had to watch some pretty tearful goodbyes, and I was dreading doing the same. I really didn't want Ava to associate her parting with everyone she has ever known with the arrival of Aleah and I.
The Chengdu orphanage has decided to forego any orphanage "donations" for children age seven and over in an effort to find homes for their older children. If anyone has a heart for orphaned children, I will include this quote from the website 'Wonderful Waiting Children":
"Once our eyes are opened, we can't 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."
Family is the most important thing in the world! If you have the opportunity to give a child the gift of family, please consider doing so!