After two days of just kind of resting and touring, today was a HUGE day. We were up at the crack of dawn to drive the 2.5 hours to Gigi’s orphanage where Cam, very bravely, decided he would set aside his nervousness and go inside so that he could see where Gigi has spent her whole life.
At the age of, they’re totally guessing here, three months old, she was left outside of the exterior gate of the orphanage. This orphanage is in an affluent area of the city, and is well known for its quality of care. Sometimes people travel for many miles to leave their child here. So, just because that’s where she was found doesn’t mean this is where she was born. There is some information we’ll just never know about Gigi’s past.
Today though, we went back to make the only connections we could with the people who have loved her for her whole known life.
This is Gigi’s “finding spot.”
We were welcomed into the orphanage with a huge scrolling sign that read “Welcome back to the family of *insert Gigi’s Chinese name*!” These are the orphanage director and administrator. They seemed to know Gigi well.
They took us to her classroom, which was set up just like a pre-K classroom in the states. She kicked off her shoes (they do that there) and went right in.
There were some hugs from friends who missed her terribly. I can’t show their faces because I promised not to, but the majority of Gigi’s waiting friends have Down Syndrome. One little girl, who was slightly older than Gigi (5-6 years old?) RAN to Cam and hugged him. A hard bear hug to the waist. He rubbed her back, bent down to her and told her how beautiful she was. She lit up like a Christmas tree. These kids. They wait and wait. If you are at all interested in adopting a child with Down Syndrome, please, please email me.
The classroom was FULL of pictures of Gigi doing typical pre-K activities. No wonder she knows how to pretend play so well. She has obviously been given many opportunities to learn and explore.
We got to see where Gigi slept. In a room of 20 cribs, she RAN to hers and was lifted in. She was home. And, she wanted to nap with the rest of her peeps. She was NOT happy when we left the room.
Once we had finished our tour, it was time to eat. We were treated to a beautiful lunch with the orphanage director and some of Gigi’s nannies.
The boys ate eel. They wanted me to tell you that, and, they’ll be creating a PowerPoint presentation about all the weird things they’ve seen, and eaten, in China.
After lunch, we said our goodbyes. The nanny that is trying to get Gigi to look at the camera absolutely dissolved into tears when we left. This made me cry, which in turn made Gigi cry.
As the car pulled away she stood up and looked out the back window, sobbing as if her heart were breaking. She’s usually so happy that this had us all in tears. This girl, she had a tiny world, one that never changed, one that held no future for her. But, in it, she was loved. Her world has just grown exponentially. She has no idea how loved she still is. This part is so hard though.
My heart breaks for her nanny, and for her.
–FullPlateMom, who will hold onto the past for her sweet girl, knowing that it is the key to moving forward.