Thursday, December 6, 2007

Visiting the Orphanage

At breakfast this morning and driving around Sanya, we became well aware that this is not just a resort town for Chinese nationals, but for Russians as well. Half the signs around our hotel are in Cyrillic, as well as a lot of signs in town. We saw Russians everywhere, and the most complicated Russian word I know is "мороженое" - ice cream. Not very useful. So we may not be the only Caucasians in town, but it's probably be a safe bet that we're the only Americans.

But today's big event is that we visited Xiao-Ling's former orphanage this morning, where she spent much of her early life. Meeting some of her friends and the "aunties" who cared for her, the visit was bittersweet to say the least.

As we went from room to room, meeting kids our daughter's age to younger kids to infants, I was overwhelmed by conflicting emotions. Sadness that anyone should have to go to an orphanage in the first place got all mixed up with relief that it was a good place as orphanages go, as well as a million other feelings. Looking at the kids abandoned for a whole slew of reasons, I found myself sobbing with a loving desire to adopt every single one of them, and sobbing with the realization that we can't. My head knew perfectly well what we could and could not realistically do, but my heart still had a ways to go.

After Jacquie mopped me up and my heart caught up with my head, the orphanage staff took us to lunch at a restaurant in Sanya. This was most definitely not the sort of restaurant frequented by tourists who play it safe from a culinary sense. No, this was real Sanya cuisine, and we were made aware of that fact right out front.

Yes, those are real fish in real fish tanks, which diners pick out individually. Our hosts selected a red snapper, which was cooked and brought to our table thusly:

On the one hand, the fish was delicious. On the other hand, it wouldn't stop looking at me. I swear it had a reproachful look on its face, telling us, "Why me? I have a wife and guppies at home."

The rest of lunch was face-free and ranged from a papaya soup to a tasty green vegetable to a rich beef-with-peppers mix, not to mention several other dishes. It was only when we were stuffed like geese that the meal ended.

We made a good impression on the staff - they see clearly that we love our daughter very much and would help all the children there if we could. I like to think we helped the cause of Chinese adoption today.

And finally - Happy Chanukah from China!

1 comment:

tikva said...

Happy Chanukah with love love love! And thank you for the wonderful book! (I'll be opening the birthday present on my actual birthday, so I'll thank you for that then).

Brodie and I send lots of love and we can't wait to meet Xiao-Ling!

Rachel and the Brodester