Thursday afternoon we had the opportunity to visit Noelle’s orphanage in Hefei City. It is a very, very good facility as far as orphanages go. The building is clean and well maintained, the grounds are lovely and there is a nice playground. Most importantly, however, the children are loved and well cared for. Director Wu, an attractive, professional and very kind woman, led us on the tour with our Hefei guide Jane. Noelle enjoyed seeing the children her age and many nannies called out to her “Zhen-Zhen!” (this was her nickname, pronounced Jen-Jen) and waved happily or came over to speak with us. We were told later by Jane that many of them said things like, “She looks so healthy and so pretty from being with her new parents. She looks so happy. She is going to have such a happy life with her new parents. Etc.”
Then we were shown the babies playroom, where Noelle spent much of her time. We were privileged to meet her “Grandmother”, the nanny her basically raised her from the time she first entered the orphanage at one month of age. She was thrilled to see Zhen-Zhen and wanted to hold her. We wondered how Noelle would handle this. Well, she loved it. In fact, she loved it SO much that she did not want to return to mom. She pitched a fit when the grandmother tried to return her to my arms. Jane ended up having to take her and pass Noelle off to me. She said, “Go to your daughter to the courtyard to play. She is very confused.” We agreed.
Separating Noelle from the nannies and children settled her down somewhat, but she continued to fuss. We were disappointed to be missing the rest of the tour, but knew Noelle could not handle it. Before we left, we were able to have a brief visit with her foster parents. Yes, that’s right! Noelle spent the last six months living in a foster home, an apartment right there on the orphanage grounds, with a foster mom and dad who loved her very much. What a blessing! We were able to see Noelle’s crib and thank this kind couple for loving and caring for our daughter. We had been concerned that seeing them again would throw her into more fits, but she did pretty well, enjoying the hugs and kisses from foster dad and the candy and cookies they stuffed into her pockets.
It was time to go back to the hotel, and that’s when the real trouble started. Noelle didn’t want to leave. She threw an all out temper tantrum like I hadn’t seen and fought us all the way into the van. We didn’t get to say thank you and farewell to Director Wu, who was busy holding Noelle and passing her off to Jane who passed her off to us. We were into the van and off to the hotel in a flurry.
Wow! That was a rough day. It really threw Noelle and her new parents for a loop. Usually the return to the orphanage is good for the child (and it may still prove to be so), but it succeeded in confusing Noelle. She didn’t like mommy so much anymore, but now preferred the kindly Chinese housekeeping staff, or any Chinese woman, to mom. She even preferred daddy (which IS good for Eric) to mommy. So it’s been a real struggle these last 2-3 days. It is actually Saturday evening (we’re in Guangzhou now) that I am writing this post, and I am still trying to regain the ground I had with my daughter at the beginning of the week. Being sick and unable to play and care for her as I would like has compounded the problem. But I know that things will turn around. Tomorrow is Easter and we have the opportunity to celebrate our Risen Lord. I know He is with us in this journey. I know He chose Noelle for our family. So, in time, things we be as they should be. Please just pray for us to have strength, patience, compassion, and the wisdom needed to care for the unique needs of a little girl who has been ripped away from everything she knows.
We love and miss you guys (and home, and American food, and our own bed, etc.) SOOOOOO MUCH!
P.S. We will try our best – no promises – to post one more time before we leave China on Wednesday morning. And remember, I will be continuing the blog back at home. Our life is just beginning to get interesting…
P.S.S. I'm sorry, but I put almost all of our pictures on video and won't be able to edit the orphange visit until we get back. -evj