Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time ~Oswald Chambers

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Orphanage and Foster Family Visit

Today, our guide and driver met us early in the morning to take us to the orphanage where Lily has spent most of her life.  We left our hotel and on our way out of the city we stopped at the US Consulate where our guide, Connie, needed to drop of someone's Article 5 paperwork that morning due to the fact that the child was aging out.  We enjoyed spending the next 30 minutes conversing with our driver (who spoke very good English) about life in China (namely Guangzhou) when he was a boy compared to what it's like today.  Economics.  Politics.  All while watching a local street vendor make sugar cane juice by feeding stalks into his grinder and bottling it to sell.  Right outside the 7-11.  Old world, new world. 

Once Connie was finished we headed out of the congestion of Guangzhou and onto the highway.  It was a 3 1/2 hour trip that took us through a number of different cities interspersed with fields of banana trees, farming plots, and water ways.  I was reminded how beautiful this land must have been before the age of concrete.

Along the way we stopped at a rest area for a bathroom break.  I feel certain this entitles the girls and I to charter memberships in some sort of club.  It was an experience to say the least.

We finally arrived in Shenzhen City, the home of Lily's orphanage.  Shenzhen, as I have been told several times by different people upon arriving here, is Hong Kong's greatest competitor.  It is one of the, if not the most modern city in all of China.  There are no native residents as all of the inhabitants have moved in from other areas of China.  And you can tell it's a new city.  The buildings and roads are not all on top of one another.  While there are still plenty of skyskrapers things are more spread out and much more contemporary.

We quickly ate lunch at the KFC in Lily's district, Longgang District, and then headed over to the orphanage.

We were first taken into the office area where a few of the staff members were waiting to answer any questions we had concerning Lily.  They then proceeded to show us her file and allow us to take pictures of what it contained.  What we found out was invaluable.
On October 8, 2002, this sweet baby girl was found at 8 in the morning on the steps of the government building in Ping Hu, a city about 1 1/2 hours away when a woman passing by heard her crying.  She was wrapped in a blanket with yellow flowers.  Snuggled in with her was a bottle of formula, some baby toys, and a bill worth 20 yuan.  Attached was a note saying that her actual birthday was October 5.

Did you catch that?  The tenderness of the blanket?  The compassion of the formula and toys?  She was left at 8 in the morning when passerbys were everywhere not at midnight when no one would hear her cry and she most likely would not survive the night.  And a note giving certainty to the day when she entered this world was attached.  Whatever circumstances or convictions prevented her biological family from parenting this sweet girl, one thing is perfectly clear...she was loved.

We then walked to the living area where we were able to give a photo album to a precious girl whose family was supposed to travel with us.  Due to an injury to the father's leg, their travel dates were delayed by several weeks.  It is heartbreaking for them and for her but I was so happy to be able to give her the pictures of her new family and see her beautiful smile.

Annie and her photo album

 I had hoped to take pictures of many of the other children there but they didn't allow that.  Only the ones waiting for families.  And time was short since we were being allowed to visit Lily's foster family as well.  We finished walking around the facility and viewed her sleeping area, play area, dining area etc.  It was a newer building with bright colors and from what I can tell a very loving staff.

But an institution is an institution and it came across as such.  It left me with much to process.

The bed she has been in for the last month after moving back to the orphanage.

After a quick walk through we returned to the van along with one of the staff and were on our way to Lily's foster family.  Because the orphanage is only about 5 or 6 years old, children abandoned before it was built resided in an old folk's home.  That is the case for Lily.  At age 1 1/2 she moved from the old folks home to Longgang and then 2 years ago she went to live with her foster family.

Her situation is very unique as most kids from Longgang live in simulated homes.  She is the first (or one of the firsts) to live with an actual foster family.  It was worth every minute in that van to get to meet this family.

 We walked in and they motioned for us to sit down.  The father poured cups of tea while the mother loaded the coffee table with candy, boiled peanuts, and fruit for us to eat.  They pulled up chairs and began to speak on how proud they were of Lily while the guides translated.  They told us about her schooling, her achievements, her skills and talents.  About how happy they were for her to have a family and a chance to succeed.  They told us countless times how they hoped that we would email pictures of her back to them so that they would be able to watch her grow.  Again, I can say without a shadow of a doubt, she was loved.

She loved to do Lily's hair.  She brought in some of her accessories and went to work.

A momma is a momma in any culture.  Here she fixes Caroline's shoe when she sees it's untied.

It was a blessing to be able to meet such an amazing woman.

One last gift.

One last goodbye.
It was finally time to leave and as we said good bye there were many tears.  Her for the treasure she was letting go and me for the one we were gaining.

There is much more that I learned on this trip.  And one thing in particular that is worthy of its own post. 

But for now I am so thankful to have a better understanding of Lily's past.  And thankful to see confirmed what I knew from the beginning of this process...

...that we are the ones who count ourselves blessed to call this child our daughter.


  1. Oh my heart. What a blessing that your sweet girl lived with such an amazing foster family.

    But such a sad good-bye...I'm sure.

    You are indeed blessed to get such a beautiful, well-loved treasure!

  2. I could barely get through this one...I can't imagine how many tears flowed for all of you. How comforting to know she has been so loved and will be forever. You are so blessed, I hope she is doing well. I'm sure it was a very tough day for her.

  3. oh this was just precious- made me cry-- to get to meet her foster family-- that was truly a gift- for all of you- to be able to be in contact with them--
    lily looks amazing- so beautiful and full of joy! i have had so much fun following your journey (found you through sonia;)


  4. What an amazing day. Such a gift to get a piece of your daughters past. I can only imagine the tears. Congratulations on you beautiful new daughter. Your story is such an inspiration.


  5. I have lost all notion of how I found your blog after reading this post! Very emotional. What a beautiful story. Your daughter is just precious, congratulations.

  6. Oh my, that last precious picture (trying not to get into the "ugly" cry ;) What a gift. Thank you for allowing us to follow your journey!

  7. Oh, tears in my eyes. Oh how sweet to know that she was loved, even from day one. Oh, how precious that you got to meet that foster family and let Lily say a goodbye. Looking forward to your future posts.

  8. Wow! Thanks for sharing your day. An incredible reminder of God's sweet and tender mercies in the midst of difficult times - on so many levels. Still praying!

  9. Tearing up here to see the love of this family for your sweet Lily. It's clearly the reason she is "AMAZING". They clearly LOVED her and gave her the gift of the "Ability to Bond" and feel safe--with those that LOVE her. It's amazing...this is a beautiful post!

    So special this trip has been--my heart is warm for you and your entire family! What a blessing!

    God is sooooo good!

  10. Thank you for sharing ... can't wait to hear the rest of the story.. so special that you got to have this visit.

  11. Ugh! You just made me bawl!
    That is soooo neat! How wonderful.
    Thanks for sharing something that must have
    been hard to put into words. You did a wonderful
    You are one blessed mama. Lily is so sweet.

  12. Amazing to share time with her foster family and to see into Lily's younger years!!!

    Lily is precious! Can't wait to read more!

    Take care!

  13. Wow, what a story! You are very lucky to have met them. That is just priceless. Blessings

  14. Oh. Angela.
    I'm trying to type through tears. What a blessing to have seen her file AND met her foster mother. And yet how bittersweet at the same time. The pictures leave me speechless.
    Praying for you all..

  15. My Sweet Angela and Scott, my heart is so full. What a day this must have been. I know this must have been so hard for Lily and her foster parents,and you. But we know you all will give her so much love and help her through this. God has been with all of you since the beginning, especially Lily. She is such a special young girl. How remarkable she is. Take care and I cannot wait to put my arms around her. Love to all. Mom

  16. What an amazing gift- for all of you! Such a blessing! I wish oh how I wish - all the children could have such a precious closure~ and beautiful beginning all wrapped together.
    thanks for letting me be a part (via Sonia's blog)
    Jill Shelton (friend of sonia & john)

  17. Ma Hengxin, adopted in Nov. 2010, would like to make contact. She says she knows both your daughters show in this post.


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