Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Finding Spot And Orphanage Visit

We packed up the van around 7:00 a.m. and set off on a journey for a three hour drive to visit the finding spot of our daughter and the orphanage where she lived.  Looking back the impact of this day really did not hit us until we experienced it.  We drove out of the city and onto a highway where all we could see for miles was countryside and mountains.  The scenery was beautiful and something that is hard to describe without witnessing it first hand.  Try to image people working out in the fields in field hats and farmer clothes.  We saw water buffalo which are used in the fields to help carry supplies for the field workers and other such goods.  The morning sunrise was beautiful and we were headed for an adventure that we were not prepared for.  Our guide in Nanchang is awesome.  She educated us on so much of life in Nanchang and was the best of resources for getting us from place to place.  We tip our hats with respect to her and her family. 

The morning started getting longer and we were in the car for about two and a half hours as we got closer to the county where our daughter was abandoned.  Our guide called the civil affairs office to confirm Piper's finding spot and let them know that we were coming.  When she got off the phone she told us that the director of the Social Welfare Institute and some others there were so excited that we were coming that they were going to meet us and escort us to her finding spot.  Piper was found right outside the gate of the Social Welfare Institute (SWI).  Nothing can describe the honor that some Ch*nese people have towards Americans.  It goes way beyond anything I have ever experienced in life!! 

After going through a toll booth, our driver got to a location where we pulled over and stopped.  We waited for about 10 minutes until the director of the SWI and some other personnel came to meet us.  We looked up and a nice van pulled up behind us.  About 6 people jumped out of the van smiling as happy as could be.  They shook our hands and bowed with respect to us.  There was a feeling of respect that exchanged hands between our family and them.  We then got into our van as they got into there's and they escorted us into the county.  I remember driving into a smaller city/suburbs that was so clean.  The people looked very well cared for and the buildings were very nice.  The homes were very large.  All I could think of is I wonder where Piper's parents were living.  We don't know if they lived in the small city of 660,000 people or if she was from the countryside.  As we drove through the city, our driver put his turn signal on and we drove down a small ally only wide enough for one car.  As we looked off to the left we saw the SWI building.  This was the building that our precious Piper Yu Mei was left at.  The gates opened and we were escorted inside the gates.  There were a few elderly people walking around staring at us with curiosity.  Jenn and I got out of the van and greeted the SWI director and the others who joined us.  Jenn and I were both speechless the only thing we could do was look all around and just take it in.  The Director and the other workers walked us to the front gate where they showed us exactly where Piper was left.  She was wrapped in a thin blanket with a bag of formula and placed on the ground in front of the gatekeepers door.  It is presumed that the mother who dropped Piper left her earlier in the morning and probably watched from the distance to make sure she was picked up.  Jenn and I took pictures of the finding spot and took pictures with all the SWI workers that were just so happy to put the pieces together for us to show Piper when she gets older.  We took a picture of Piper now exactly in her finding spot.  She cried today probably just as she did the day she was left.  The assistant director is the person who actually found her.  Our guide would have arranged for us to meet her but she was not there that day.  We would have loved to meet her.  As we stood at the gate of the SWI, I just could not help thinking about her poor mother who had to leave her there.  How hard of a decision that would have been.  We both wonder if she thinks of her still.  The man who was the gatekeeper was so happy to see Piper too.  He reached out and wanted to hold her.  He held her for a moment and then she wanted her mommy back.  The look on the faces of the SWI director and workers was priceless.  Looks we will never forget.  I wonder what all they were thinking as we walked there looking at her finding spot, them reflecting on the day that they found her and seeing her now and seeing her with her forever family.  They were so happy for us.  They were so proud and wanted to make sure we saw everything.  For that we will forever be grateful!!!!

I remember looking at Jenn waiting for the tears to appear.  She teared some but I believe we were still in shock and our bodies were just responding in a way that could not be described.  Our tears would come later as this day had so many emotions.  We thanked the SWI director and the other people and got back into the van.  We were then headed to the orphanage.  The Director got into his van and wanted to drive us out.  There was a short cut to the orphanage and he wanted to show us that way.  Before we left the Director kept insisting that we all go to lunch with them.  Of course we would have but the orphanage was waiting and had lunch for us also. 

We were so thankful that we were able to visit her finding spot.  This was such an important part to fill the void of our daughter's life as one day she will want to know all about this.  As I sit here and type I tear up as I reflect on how our daughter was abandoned.  I am not mad at her mother or father my heart goes out to them as I know they will have to grieve the loss of their daughter forever!!  Our guide told us that it was possible that they could not have cared for her due to her condition of cleft lip and palate.  They may not have known how to take care of her or how to feed her.  God bless this little child whom you have given to us.  We promise to raise her as our own and care for her needs.  We promise to provide a life of laughter and a family of happiness.  We promise to raise her up to know you Jesus.  We promise to make sure she succeeds in life in whatever your plans are for her. 

As I mentioned before Jenn and I were operating in shock and really not responding to what we have just seen.  As we drove away from her finding spot Jenn and I were reflecting on how nice the SWI people were and how appreciative they were that Piper was given a life outside the orphanage.  We got to share this moment with the other family who was with us.  A day I think they will always remember too.   

The Director and workers from the SWI

Us following the Director

Us going down the narrow ally.

Us making the turn to her finding spot

Us walking up towards the gate outside of the SWI.  The gatekeeper is the man in the doorway of the building.

Us with the Gatekeeper standing right at her finding spot.

Piper Yu Mei looking for her mama.

The Gatekeeper

Piper Yu Mei standing exactly in the spot where she was found last June.  She cried today and probably cried too last year.

We are so thankful that God chose us to be her parents.  We are truly blessed.

We drove in the car for about another half hour until we arrived at the orphanage.  As we pulled into the orphanage we saw a light blue and darker blue square building.  As we looked on the electronic billboard in front of the building it said "Welcome family of ****** Yu Mei".  I don't think it is to often that the orphanage receives visitors from the adoptive families.  It was so welcoming when we saw that sign.  The director and others that we met from Gotcha Day seemed so nice.  We got out of the car and took pictures of what looked like a well kept building.  The building consisted of around 150 children all with special needs and only a few of the children are waiting for their parents.  The rest are still waiting to be adopted.  As we walked in we saw a sign that said something to the effects of "We love our children" in Chinese characters.  The building on the first floor had lot's of cartoon characters.  As we walked in, Piper started pointing to the cartoon characters and making litle squeals.  She seemed to be so happy.  We could tell that she definately recognized where we were.  As we walked through the first building we entered a court yard where they had swings and jungle gyms outside.  There were no children playing outside at the present time.  We then walked into another building where we met the director, the team of people that worked at the orphanage and the cook.  We sat down and ate lunch with all of them.  They were very pleased that we came to the orphanage and everyone was very welcoming.  We ate all kinds of foods that I have never tried before--lotus root, fish, purple sweet potatoes (tasted the same as ours at home), rice, sweet bread with dates, fruit that looked like grapefruit, soup etc.  We had a good time socializing but it was also hard knowing that our daughter was about to reunite with her foster parents again.   How they planned on working today was that we would have lunch and then Piper would spend some alone time with her foster family.  We would go to a different room where we could review Piper's file and then later we would go back and her foster family would hand her to us.  We wondered how Piper would do seeing them again. Would she want to come back with us?

During lunch Piper was fussy so I decided to walk her down the hall and show her the cartoon characters on the wall.  She was happy doing that and seemed very comfortable.  As I peered in doorways I saw children.  Some of the children were sleeping on the ground on foam mats and others were just standing around gazing out the doorway at me.  A number of the caretakers came out to greet me and were very welcoming.  I think a lot of them wanted to see which child was adopted and with their forever family.  It did not appear that there was much to do on the first floor on the orphanage.  Lunch was over and it was time to go upstairs to Piper's foster parents.  Another adopted couple was with us and it was their turn first to go visit their daughter's foster parents.  As we walked in I don't remember much of what they exchanged between each other but we did take lot's of pictures of all the rooms and apartment and tried to help them capture the moment and video for them.  They were going to do the same for us.  To be honest I was surprised the amount of space they had in a few of the rooms.  It wasn't the cleanest and there were not a lot of windows to get natural lighting but it was better then expected.  All of a sudden a man appeared in the room and walked over to Jenn where Piper was sleeping in her arms.  He reached out for her and took her in his arms.  Jenn came over and was asking who is this man.  Piper stayed asleep while he held her.  I said to Jenn that I believe this is her foster Dad but we were waving down our guide to interpret Ch*nese to be certain of this.  Indeed it was him.  He was a short man about 5 foot 4 inches.  It was our turn to go to Piper's foster parents apartment.  We followed him back into Piper's apartment--Room 6.  With him holding her, we visited and took a look at all of the rooms in their apartment.  We took pictures of all the rooms.  We walked into the room where all of the children slept.  Her foster dad came over and showed us her crib where she slept.  Jenn got really upset and was crying when she went to see her crib.  As she walked over she saw Piper's bib laying on the side of the crib.  It was the bib that she had worn in pictures that were sent to us.  We walked through and saw the sitting room where the foster children were hovering around their foster mother.  They were not quite sure what to think of us Americans.  There was a child in a stroller, the TV was on and there were cartoons playing on the TV.  The foster mother was sitting in a corner with all the children.  It appeared to Jenn and I that she was trying to hold it all together as for this moment of her life was going to be a roller coaster of emotions.  We walked through and saw the foster parents bedroom where they slept, the kitchen which was pretty big, the bathroom where they had a western toilet and little baby pottys for the children to use.  They had a washer/dryer in the bathroom.  We saw the little tub where the children were washed and bathed.  We walked a little further and saw a big playroom where the kids could play.  The whole place was bigger and so much nicer than what we had expected.  Piper really was in a nice place.  We walked back out into the sitting room where everyone was.  It was time to leave the foster family with Piper.  Her foster dad had laid her down in her crib to sleep.  I went over and took a picture of her sleeping for this was the last time she would ever nap there. We nodded with respect and we both were tearing more.    

We left and walked to another building where we went to a really nice meeting room.  There was a large table and many nice chairs around it.  The orphanage director went and got Piper's file that was there at the orphanage.  We got to look through it and take pictures of all of the documents that were there.  As we were going through the documents, we saw a sheet that had Piper's first footprint on it.  We took a picture of it but asked if we could have a copy.  The copy would have been the only true size of her little foot.  She asked the director and they made a copy for us.  In her file was the police report with information on who found her, where she was found etc.  She was found on June 1st 2011 at 7:30 AM by the assistant director of the SWI.  There again it said that she was found in a thin blanket with a bag of formula.  It had all of the paperwork that was required by the Civil Affairs office in order for her to be placed in the orphanage.  Paperwork has to be done quickly because they need to get the babies/children into the orphanage as soon as possible.  They cannot just have the babies sitting at the police station.  Piper was a Holt Sponsored Baby.  The other families daughter was also a Holt Sponsored Baby.  Piper's sponsor paid money each month for her for formula, diapers, food etc.  Because she was sponsored they had to make a report to send to the sponsor each month so there was information on her and pictures for each month that they made the report.  There were many pictures that we had never even seen before.  It was so neat to be able to see her from infant to where she is now.  The best part of it was that we were able to bring these pictures and the updates home with us.  We will have this information to show Piper when she is older.  Pieces that we thought were missing were completed today!!!!  What a gift.  We were so thankful!!!!  The orphanage was so happy to be able to give these to us.  We are part of the 1% of people that actually were able to get this information because they were sponsored.  We thanked the orphanage director and hugged her.  Afterwards she brought us a gift.  They had already brought us a beautiful tea set when they brought Piper to us on Gotcha Day.  They had another gift for us today.  It was a large box of green tea.  Piper's province is known for porcelin and green tea.  Our guide told us that the tea they gave was very expensive.   We were so thankful for our guide Sissi too.  She was the one who coordinated our whole meeting and visit.

It was now time to go meet her foster parents again and see Piper.  We walked in the room and Piper's eyes were gleaming. We got to witness her in her own element.  She was so comfortable in her surroundings. In the previous days she was not this active.  She was smiling but really just found comfort in being held.  When we walked in she was playing with all the children and was passing toys to the children. She noticed us when we came in and she walked over to us and made a squael and a smile and then went back to the children and continued to play.  She was running around in the room then up and down the hall that led to the play room.  It was a joy to see her like this. 

Jenn asked her foster father if there was anyting special he could tell us and wanted us to know about Piper. Our guide was there to translate.  She said in his words "You are very lucky you have a smart baby". He began to tell us that she is one of the smallest but yet is the leader of the group. While we were in the meeting she had picked up a piece of trash and put it in the trash can.  There was a little child that was upset and she was trying to help them by giving them some tous.  He said she walked very early at 10 months of age. Also, she can be a little bossy.  We just laughed and thought oh boy does she have competition with her sisters at home.  Jenn also asked her foster parents how long it takes for her to drink her bottle.  Previous to today it took a very long time and it didn't seem that she was eating much.  We cut the hole in her nipple of the bottle bigger and that seemed to help tremendously.  He said it takes her awhile.  She drinks some and then walks around and drinks more.  She would only drink her bottle if her foster dad fed her.  Jenn asked if she could see the bottle because she was curious to see the size of the hole in the nipple.  He went and got her bottle and showed us.  It was dirty because while we were in the meeting, he had fed her a bottle one last time.  He told his wife to wash it and send it with us because she was pretty perticular and would only drink from that bottle.  Being there showed us that they cared so much for her.  They truly took wonderful care of our daughter.  We are truly thankful for them being in her life.  We prayed that she would be in a good place and be well taken care of.  She really was!!!!!    When we were finished exchanging questions and answers, I nodded with respect to the father there was a lot of commotion but he kept repeating something to me that I couldn't understand. He kept showing us his phone.  We could not make out what he was trying to tell us.  We tried to show him our camera and said we would send updated pictures to them so that they could see her.  I don't know what it was but there was a mutual respect for Piper's foster parents. It was at that moment that I couldn't hold it together anymore. I cried and cried more as Piper's foster father looked at me as though he understood how thankful I was for Piper's care in the orphanage. As I gazed at Jenn she was crying and as I looked upon Piper's foster mother she was also crying. There was a presence of unity between all of us. I truly believed that they knew we cared for them and we were tremendously thankful for her care. 

Piper's foster mom remanded calm and sat with all the children and kept her distance but was trying to smile and welcome us.  Piper's foster Dad who was hesitant of us in the beginning looked at Jenn and I as if he had more to tell us.  I truly felt in my heart that he knew we had best interest in Piper's needs and wanted to share more with us.

We smiled and thanked both of them. We took pictures of Piper with her foster parents and with both of our families.  The orphanage director was also taking photos.  It was time to say goodbye.  It was a really hard thing to do.  We both felt for them because we could see they truly cared for her.  He was holding Piper and turned to us.  I knew what was about to happen.  It was at that moment that he said to Piper this is your new Mama and Baba.  Trust them they will take good care of you.  He then handed Piper off to Jenn and we cried some more.  Piper did well and seemed happy to come back to us.  She didn't cry.  She just looked at them.  I shook the father's hand with respect and thanked him.  We hugged her father and mother and headed outside.   Piper's foster Dad always remained composure but I knew down inside his heart was breaking.  He took two of the foster children with him as we headed out the front door of the orphanage.  We took more pictures outside of the orphanage and then he walked with us over to the van.  Piper was walking and he got down and held her one last time.  He still was trying to tell us things even as we got to the van.  He told us that Piper eats 2 bananas everyday.  (1/2 in the morning and 1/2 later on)  He held her hand as Jenn got into the van with Piper.  He was telling her the entire time that we were her mama and baba.  As we loaded he kissed Piper goodbye and closed the door of the van for us.  We were all crying in the van.  It was so hard to say goodbye.  We were thankful for our visit and have so many things that we can share with Piper.  It was such a gift to be able to go there.  Something we will never forget.  Ever. 

What a job these foster parents have.  Take a minute and reflect on this.  Could you imagine having to care for a child as your own for a year, two years, or even ten years and then have to say goodbye to them forever.........These parents dedicate their lives to taking care of these children 24 hours a day.  From what we were told they only get to leave the orphanage for a short time once a week.  Please pray for her foster parents because it was truly hard for them to say goodbye.  We were told that her foster dad is 57 and her foster mom is 55.  Our guide gave us her foster parents names too. 

As we drove out of the countryside and back to the city of Nanchang Jenn and I were speechless.  It was a hard emotional day but a day we would remember for the rest of our lives.  We were blessed to be a part of this day and also thankful that one day we can share with Piper how much her foster parents loved her.

Piper was pointing to the cartoon characters on the wall when we first walked in.
The Playground
The Playground
Paintings on the wall
Lunch with the Director of the Civil Affairs Office, the Orphanage Director and other workers of the orphanage
Piper & her foster Dad
Jenn starting to cry as she saw Piper's crib & Bib she had worn
Piper's crib
Jenn with Piper's Bib
The Kitchen
Her Foster Parents Bedroom
View from the window
Piper Sleeping in her crib one last time!!
Her first footprint
The Meeting Room
Her foster family!!
Us with the Director
























  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Jon, Jenn, and Piper:

    What a wonderful account of this day. We enjoyed sharing with you this leg of the journey. Watching all of you at Piper's finding spot was moving. We are glad that she will have this account and other details available to her when she comes of age to explore her roots. We, too, will never forget this day, and you all remain in our thoughts.

    Ron, Melinda, and Natalie Richards
    Sacramento, CA

    P.S. Jon's name was mispelled in the first comment, so we deleted, corrected, and reposted it!

  3. Jon and Jenn,

    Thank you so much for sharing. It brings tears to my eyes because of how much change there has been in the process. I brought my first son home 20 years ago and leave for my fourth child next month and never had the opportunity to meet any of the foster parents. I pray that someday all families will have the same loving environment that Piper had, and that foster and adoptive families will be able to meet.

    You captured the day so well in your words and sharing of the emotions of everyone involved. It was hard on everyone but being able to connect with each other will help heal hearts and fill them with love. Best of all, the transition for Piper showed her how many people love her. In her heart she already knows that. And now you will be able to tell her about her life in China as she gets older and she will be able to understand that love.

    Thanks again for taking the time to share. It really meant a lot to me.

    Claire Huking
    Plain City, UT