Saturday, November 14, 2015

Thursday, November 12th- Visit to Liuzhou

Friday morning we woke up really early and met our guide in the hotel lobby at 7 a.m.  We headed to Nanningdong train station, a new station built about two years ago.   Before loading, we took a bathroom break.  This was the first time we've seen this system I got to see for the first time when I was on my trip in Anhui province.   There is basically an opening in the floor that is about 8 inches wide. It goes through each of the stalls. You squat over it and water flushes through the whole system every so many seconds.   Lena was very unsure about this.  To make it worse, there were no doors- just a bit of a partial wall with a major opening so you basically are watching everyone in the room go to the bathroom.  We loaded the train and headed towards Liuzhou.  It was about an hour and a half ride with a couple stops along the way.

The beautiful countryside!

Lena and Macie were having fun interacting with a couple of the little kids on the train sitting behind us.  

Almost there!

We made it to Liuzhou!
We got off the train shortly after 9:30 a.m.  When we walked out of the train station, a woman who works in the office was waiting for us with a driver.  We took a short drive to the orphanage. I had seen pictures before, but I didn't realize that the gate was so close to a main road that's pretty busy.

This is the view from the orphanage looking at the gate and road in front of it.

The orphanage.  Our guide thinks about 200 kids live here and that more are in foster care. It does seem like there are a fair amount of kids in foster care.

When we pulled into the orphanage our guide told us that the orphanage felt like it would be a good idea to have the kids in the same room as the foster parents.  Not our original plan, but we kind od saw that coming.  Just like gotcha day- no time to really prepare for what's about to just do it!  Most family's don't make it past the front door.  We didn't make it too far past that either- basically in the door and into an office that is to the right and then to a bathroom a bit down the hall where we got a peak at an open air courtyard that was in the middle of the orphanage.  That's about all we saw.  As we were walking into the orphanage, I could see three women sitting on a couch inside the office. I recognized one right way- Maeleigh's foster mom.  There were two other foster moms and once in the office, I knew it was two of the three kids I was hoping to meet who have families in process. I had a package for the two on the couch sitting with their foster moms.   I wasn't sure what to do first.  We just let Maeleigh spend some time with her foster mom and dad and them with her since this would be the last time they see her for a very long time/possibly forever.  All the girls had crazy hair after the train ride.  The first thing her foster mom did after giving her a warm embrace and shedding a few tears was ask for a brush and she re-did her hair. ;)  She sure was treated like a little princess.   Rick took some pictures and video and I started unloading my packages for two of the three kids I'd meet.   

I got to give packages to these two sweeties from their forever families. I got a lot of great pictures of them and some video too to share with their families who hope to travel in December and March/April.

I then met this little guy who has a family who hopes to come for him after Chinese New Year!
I am sad to report- I was not able to meet any waiting kids.  Definitely one of two disappointments that day.  Most were in school or in foster families and there was just so much going on too. I understood, but felt a bit of disappointment.  The other reason I couldn't meet any was because our agency just had representatives go visit the orphanage days before.

Maeleigh's first embrace with her foster mom.
Getting her hair re-done.

Maeleigh's foster father.

Us with Maeleigh's foster parents outside the orphanage.

I had to give this incredible lady a big hug.  

Our families with a couple of the orphanage staff.

A picture with Maeleigh and her foster mother.  I was sure to tell her that as much as Maeleigh will always be in her heart, a piece of her will also be in Maeleigh's hearts, as well as ours.  

And if things weren't emotional enough by this point, up pulls a police care and about four or five police officers with a little boy about 2-3 years old who was abandoned on this day and found and brought to the orphanage.  Oh my heart.  Our guide had never seen this before and obviously this was a first for us as well. The boy was terrified and of course crying. I had already had tears in my eyes from seeing Maeleigh's foster mother re-unite with her and her emotional state and now this.  I did all I could do to keep it together and not lose it. Tears were flowing.  I think the orphanage staff was quite overwhelmed with all that was going on as well.  But talk about putting it into perspective.  We finally have our girls and then witness the beginning of the process of a child being orphaned.  My heart goes out to that little boy and the parents who had to make the decision to abandon him for whatever reason...and to the millions of other children and parents who have been in their shoes.

Shortly after that, Macie's foster mother and foster sister, came to the orphanage.

This is Macie's foster sister. Her only special need is a repaired cleft lip and she is considered healthy now so the orphanage will wait to see if a family will adopt her domestically before preparing her file for international adoption.  That would be wonderful if she could remain in her home country.  Praying for her!

Macie and her foster mother's first embrace.  The emotions she displayed surprised me a bit after having seen her in video.  Meeting the foster families was such an amazing experience, despite how hard it was, because it allowed us to learn more about them and to see how our daughters interacted with them and how they interacted with our daughters.  It also allowed us to see where parts of their personality and behaviors came from.

Macie and her traditional pose, which I believe she learned from her foster mother.

Macie's foster mother and I embracing.  Another woman who will forever be in our hearts and a part of Macie.

I told you she's pretty good with sharing- she was totally okay with letting her foster sister share her sippy cup.

As we were walking out, some kids a level above us were watching us and waving at us.  How I wish I could have spent some time with them.

Group picture with Macie's foster mom and sister, Maeleigh's foster mother and father, and two of the orphanage staff members.

Our half a family that's here in China....soon to be a family of twelve.

A view from outside the orphanage gate.
This is where Macie and Maeleigh were found abandoned.  It's always a bit somber to stand in/near the place where your adopted child was found, but it is a part of their story and something that you will share with them when they are ready.  I'm sure it was the most difficult decision their parents ever had to face, especially their mothers.  I am thankful that they left them so close to the orphanage- they were taking a risk doing so, but likely knew they would be found quickly and taken into a safe place.

We were told before leaving the orphanage that we would be able to visit Macie's foster family's home, but not Maeleigh's because they were too far apart and there was not enough time. That was our 2nd disappointment for the day, but we were thankful to be able to visit Macie's foster home at least and hope that maybe Maeleigh's foster parents can send us some pictures of the outside and inside of their home so we have them for her future.  We know she'd appreciate that.

From the orphanage, we took a city bus with our guide who happens to be from Liuzhou.   We rode it for quite awhile.  We had many women asking our guide about us and all were very positive and kind.  One gave us many thumbs up.  They were in awe that we had four children and said how we must love children.  Little do they know that we have ten children. I don't think they would have believed out guide. ;)

At one point both girls fell asleep. 

Our guide, Miko, took us to the mall in Liuzhou for lunch. There were paper umbrellas hanging from the ceiling on every floor- it was really pretty.

We went to a restaurant she recommended for a hot pot.  She asked us what we wanted to put inside- I let Rick decide.

One of the staff preparing the long noodles that would eventually go inside.  You eat part of the meal and then they add some of these noodles and then they add something to make it more of a soup and finally some more vegetables are added.  The meal changes as you go.

After we finished lunch, we decided that Rick would stay at the mall with Lena, Macie, and Maeleigh while Miko, Evan, and I paid a quick visit to Macie's foster home.   Macie's foster mother said it would be best if we didn't bring her back because she already grieved heavily that day when she saw the mother.  The mother knew she'd grieve much more when she'd see the father, who she was very close with.  We took a cab to their apartment.  It was raining pretty heavily.  The foster father was waiting for us at the entrance to the apartment complex with umbrellas.

We followed him through the complex area until we go to their building.

This is their building.  We went in the main door and up one short flight of stairs and they were the first apartment on the left- 101.
Macie's foster mother let us in and then we took off our shoes and put on some slippers.

We got to see Macie's foster sister again. :)

Within days of Macie leaving the home, the foster family had a new child to care for. I thought this baby was a boy at first, but learned that it is a one year old girl with down syndrome.  This is the family's 11th foster child.  Ten of their foster children have been girls and only one boy, who happened to be Macie's foster brother.  He has been home for quite some time now and we are friends with his family and hope to re-unite the kids at some point.  We were told they were very close.  We were also told we were the first family to visit the home.

Views from inside the home.  This is looking out from the living room out to the patio.

A large picture on the wall of the family's son and his wife who recently got married. They had their own home, but the son decided he wanted to stay at home so the couple has their own room inside the family's two bedroom apartment.  The wife has a job with the government and we're told she speaks good English.  The son works at night so he was sleeping while we were there.  She did open his door and show us his room.;)

The couch and chairs in the living room.  

A view from the couch.

They had a small fish tank.

The kitchen.  The mom loves to cook and we were told she is a very good cook.

The foster father and the foster sister getting bags of snacks and seeds they had purchased for our visit.

The dining room table.  That bottle on the table was the one Macie used to drink out of, but it is now the foster sister's.  They had various fruit on the table and offered us each one when we arrived.

The parents' bedroom.  They had one large bed in the room and we were told that both girls slept with the foster parents in the bed. I can't even imagine how that would be comfortable and how they'd get any sleep, especially after seeing how Macie sleeps.

This mat was at the foot of the bed, between the bed and windows.  We had seen this room in the video we had received in October.  This is where Macie took her naps.  She'd lay on the mat and watch the computer- maybe a movie or something until she fell asleep.  Now we know why she doesn't like to go to bed at night.   Her foster mother said Macie is the one who pulled the pieces off this mat.

She pointed out the computer that she'd watch until she fell asleep.

The bathroom.  They had a squatty potty and a western toilet.  The squatty potty likely also served as a drain.  

There was no bathtub, but there was a shower.  The girls would stand in the red basin and possibly be hand washed.  That also explained why Macie does not care for the bathtub.

Part of the kitchen.

They then got out a bunch of pictures they had received of former foster children.  We saw a bunch of this little girl who was adopted by a family in the Netherlands.

There was an older lady who lived in the apartment across from the patio who likes to spend a lot of time at the family's home, helping take care of the babies.  She is like a grandma to them.  We got to meet her too.

A sign and clock hanging on the wall.

The snacks, candy, and pumpkin seeds.

Trying some seeds.  Macie's foster mother imitated how Macie would put seeds in her pocket and how she'd eat them. It was PRICELESS!  She was so animated and it made me see exactly where Macie's two personalities come from...her mellow side from the father and her animated and crazy side from the mother.  I loved it!

There you can see the 'grandmother' in the background.

She also imitated how Macie would squat and poop and then pinch her nose and wave her hand for stinky.  It was HILARIOUS and again, one of those moments I will never forget because I very much see this woman in who my daughter is at various points in the day.

The grandmother feeding the new baby a bottle.

The foster father made some tea for us.  The little girl tried to touch the pot and got her hand swatted.  She cried, but soon stopped. She was very attached to the foster father too- when he left to take us to get a cab she cried very hard.

This was a special dish the foster mother made for us.  Inside was sticky rice (and let me tell you- it is VERY sticky) with meat.  You unwrap the shell and eat what is inside.  It's a lot like a Mexican tamale in that sense.  These are made special for holidays like Tomb Sweeping Day and Dragon Boat Festival.  The foster mother said we could take them with us since we had already eaten lunch and really didn't have time to stay for a meal- we'd miss our train back to Nanning if we did.

She also packed up a bag of snacks, candy, and seeds for Macie.

So cute!

We saw a picture of our friends who adopted Macie's foster brother.  I love this picture.

More kids' pictures.  They really treasure the pictures they receive.

Group picture!  It was time to say goodbye.  We thanked them for the love and care they gave to our daughter and to so many others and thanked them for allowing us to come into their home. We now have their address and their email and can send them some updated pictures of Macie.  They took our flash drive and put a folder of pictures they had of Macie on their computer onto our flash drive.  Such a gift!  I am SO glad I had the opportunity to visit them in their home. I learned so much and it is a memory I will never forget. I now have so much great stuff to share with Macie some day too.  I wish we had the same opportunity for Maeleigh, but understand why it did not work out.  I hope we can at least get some pictures from them at some point.

After saying our goodbyes, the foster father walked us out. We quickly realized catching a cab may be an issue.  It was pouring rain too!  We walked many blocks to a place where we'd have better luck finding a cab.  We saw a bunch of shops along the way, including ones where meat had just been freshly cut and laid in slabs on the tables for people to buy.  We even saw the heads of birds on the table as well and one bird being drowned before it was going to get it's head cut off.  We finally got to a place where we'd have better luck being able to get a cab.  Despite having umbrellas, we were all pretty wet- our shoes were soaked!   That's the most rain I've seen in a long time.  We we running about 15 minutes late for picking Rick and the girls up from the mall.  We told them a time and place to meet us.  We finally got a cab and said our goodbyes to the foster father.  We got a cab to the mall and walked in.  As we were getting ready to go up the escalator to go to our meeting spot, we spotted Rick with the girls near the top of the escalator and waved for them to come down.  This was too cute of a moment not to capture!  

Rick said they had taken laps on each level multiple times- he knew the mall pretty well and thinks everyone in there knew them too...haha.

We made it to the train station in plenty of time..whew!  We had to take two cabs to get there and were a bit nervous when Rick, Macie, and Maeleigh's cab was not arriving.  We aren't sure if our cab just was really fast or took a short cut or what.  Finally they showed up- thank God!  I think our guide was even starting to get a bit nervous.  Our train ended up being delayed out of Liuzhou. It was supposed to leave around 4:30 but got out at about 5:10 or so.   We got back around 6:30 p.m. and waited for our driver.  They drove past the famous 'night market' and asked if we wanted to stop.  Of course we did!  The night market opens at 6 p.m. and closes around 2 or 3 a.m.  Our guide told us that by morning every stand was cleaned up and gone and that it was just an empty walkway during the daytime hours.  I asked her what time people typically work here and she said from 8 to 12 and then again from 2 to 6 p.m.

We walked down the path, past all the food stands.  There was fruit, breads, and just about any meat or seafood on a stick that you could imagine.

There were some shops too. I LOVED the lanterns hanging in this shop. I was told that they were kind of traditional to a nearby province, Yunnan. I didn't care because I liked them so much. I let Lena pick out the color she wanted and we got one for the girls' room.  Evan found something he really liked in this shop too.

Evan wanted to buy some watermelon and he shared it with the girls on the way back.

We have seen things like this before in China- metal twisted to make different shapes.  
We got one of those cool bikes for a little over a dollar.

Heading back to our hotel, we got to see a lot of the city lit up at night. 
Nanning really is a very cool city!  The big building across the road is our hotel.

Every day and night the hotel has a lady dressed in a traditional outfit like this waiting near the elevators.

When we got back to the room, we got out the few things we had purchased at the night market and the special dish Macie's foster mother had made.  Both girls liked it, but Maeleigh REALLY liked it. She almost ate a full one herself.  I was spoon feeding it to Macie and Maeleigh started helping me...too cute.

This was a very long and exhausting day, but it was one we will never forget!


  1. Wonderful memories, Brooke! Love the animated foster mama! What a treasure. :)

  2. Wow, what an amazing day you had! So cool that you could meet the foster parents and spend time with them. I can't even imagine seeing that poor little boy brought in to the orphanage, though. :(