Today was a day that I knew would be difficult... There is something about not seeing with your own eyes that helps you mask the obvious. The orphanage is located approximately 45 minutes from our hotel with the Shanghai traffic. Since our little guy has been going to bed early and getting up early, he took a nap on the way there.
As we pulled into the campus, the guard met us at our van and opened the gate. Many orphanages and schools have gates and guards. Not sure if it is to keep people out or children in or both... We stopped at the administrative office to give the donations we brought to the ladies working in the main building. There were several buildings that were visible once inside the gate. The administration building was the first and it has several floors. There was a rehabilitation building for physically handicap children to recover. The garden area had zoo animal statues and the there was a large clock tower beside Brody's building. We were told there is a playground and hospital on campus but we didn't tour or see them. The photo below is the children's housing area. There were renovations going on while we were there, including concrete work, painting and cleaning.
This is the building that Brody lived in prior to us coming. I think most of his life has been spent in that particular building. He knew exactly where he was going when we arrived and led the way to his room. He has been going to school off campus. I assume that helps with his directional ability because the building is quite big with many halls, rooms, and staircases. He must have to navigate his way back after school.
This hall has a few classrooms that he attended when he was younger.
Knowing where he has spent his past 6.5 years is heartbreaking. Seeing it with my own eyes is even more devasting. The 20 or so boys that he shares a room with spend most of their day (when not in school) in two rooms. There a larger room filled with 24 beds with little room to "play." The bathroom sinks separate the sleeping area from the main room, which is small and filled with tables. This room is where they eat all meals. I didn't see any toys, only a big screen TV (which explains his love for watching TV and his fascination with the remote). I expected they would to a cafeteria for meals or have a room with toys. To think he was confined to such a small space is saddening. I know there are times when they go to the library, which he seemed to enjoy since he wanted us to the library. Most of his room friends were not there when we went to visit. They were off campus at school. The few that were still there were special needs boys that were not allowed or couldn't attend school outside the institute. We were able to meet one of his nannies and get a sense of the interaction between them. As I stood in his room I took as many photos with as many angles. I wanted him to have those memories of his past. But I also wanted to erase it all and replace it with photos of family vacations, birthday parties, first day of school photos, VBS photos, silly family time photos. No child should have to spent 6 years inside the walls of an institute. No child... There are so many still waiting... Making a difference for 1 is making a difference... I beg you. If you aren't led to adopt, support a family who is. We are so thankful for our family and church family that helped give this little guy a forever family, and God is eternally thankful. Our son has a chance: a chance at a future, a chance to become a Christian, a chance to have a family of his own. So many don't... Our son took a toy to his best friend, his friend who doesn't currently have a family coming for him. When we return home, my goal is to try to change that. Every child deserves a family.
Outside the steps of Brody's building.
As we walked away from the building I knelt down and told him, "Say goodbye sweet boy. Our family is forever, we will always love and care for you. Are you ready to go?" Our guide translated and he looked at me and with confident eyes he said "Yes."
Back at the room, enjoying some snuggle time and China candy.
After resting for a bit in the room, we ask Brody if he'd ever been on the subway? He said no, so we asked if he wanted to take the subway to go to the Shanghai bookstore to get some Chinese DVDs for him to watch when we return home. He was up for some Shanghai subway fun, so we ventured out to do a little shopping and find dinner. The subway wasn't too crowded on the way to the bookstore. He loved the subway ride and liked helping me purchase tickets and keeping up with how many stops before changing lines.
After shopping, we found an American pizza place on the way back to the hotel. I wondered if he would like the food? He and Chase played tic-tac-toe while we waited for our pizza to come.
Three pieces of pizza later, he was full.
The subway was really crowded on the way back! I love his many facial expressions.
A view of the city at night.
Brody did so well riding the subway, walking to the bookstore, and listening to us while we were out, so we stopped at the McDonalds near our hotel to get him some ice cream for dessert. He choose a strawberry sundae. When you adopt an 8 year old child, you miss so many firsts... Their first word, first step, first tooth, first day of school... But tonight we experienced him enjoying ice cream for the first time! He said it was "hen hao" or "very good." We look forward to sharing more firsts with him.
Chase and Maeli were hanging out upstairs while Brody, Ryan and I watched one of his movies. He decided it would be fun to sneak up the stairs and scare them. As he tip toed up the stairs he looked at us and put his finger over his mouth. It was the cutest thing to see him interact and have fun with his brother and sister. I'm looking forward to getting back home and having all our kiddos together, forever...