Two days after being united with our son we had the opportunity to visit the social welfare institute (orphanage) where he spent the first 22 months of his life. He was over 4 years old by the time we adopted him and had spent 2+ years living with a foster family; which we were very grateful for. So while we knew that he likely didn’t have many memories of living in the orphanage, visiting the orphanage was strongly encouraged by our agency and by my China mentor moms.
I have to be honest, I knew that it would be beneficial for Kai to have photos of his orphanage for later on in life, but I was deeply dreading the visit. I had seen YouTube clips and documentaries showing what life in the orphanage was like and I didn’t even want to imagine Kai there. But, my feelings aside, we signed up for the visit and went. It was about as emotion packed as I assumed it would be. I filmed a lot and have been debating whether or not to share it with the world. I am crying during most of the filming, I couldn’t pull myself together despite the myriad of nannies who must have thought that I was crazy.
The visit left me unbelievably heart broken and emotionally drained. When we got back to the hotel room later that night, I wrote and posted this to Instagram: “I will never forget today. Visiting the place where Kai spent his first 22 months of life was hard. Let me start by saying that there is no doubt in my mind that the nannies here care for these children. Every single nanny that we saw knew Kai’s (full Chinese) name, and there were dozens. The ladies in that lower photo were only a small amount of them; these were the ones who assisted in Kai’s classroom. I was so overcome with emotion when I saw them in action with the other kids and Kai that I burst into tears and walked around the room seeking out each one to thank and hold by the hands. These women looked after my Kai when I was thousands of mile away worrying and praying for him; I owe them everything. We gave Kai a giant bag of candies and he passed them out to every child we saw (until it ran out). They ALL called him by name when thanking him. Out popular boy! But guys, there were so many that it broke my heart over and over again. 5 tiny babies sunbathing in one crib, 10 little boys with Down Syndrome holding a rope led by a teacher. Countless baby babies playing in the nursery, a dozen toddlers wadding on the pavement. Is there something you can do? Can you give up a bit of comfort to do something miraculous? If I was a soapboxes before, this upped the ante X100. These babies NEED and DESERVE families. Is your baby here? #wehavekai but what about you?! It takes work, and stamina, and yes MONEY, but these are real live children, not statistics. We are blue collar workers, we own a 2 bedroom townhome, not a mansion. God used us, you can be used too.” (@leftylex)
I still stand by those words and that call to action. Friends, I’ve never attempted to sugarcoat adoption. It’s hard. Somedays you’ll wonder if you’re strong enough for the challenge, before, during, and after your child is placed with you. I know that I have! But, it is absolutely more than worth it. Holding my son in my arms after all of the mountains of paperwork and money it took to get him here only makes it sweeter. Looking back at these photos I’m reminded of the goodness of the Lord and his incredible faithfulness. Perhaps these photos and this mama’s recollection of her son’s first home is tugging at your heartstrings. And I pray that it does. Perhaps that subtle tugging will turn into something larger and you just might find yourself, someday, visiting the place where your orphan first lived.