Yesterday we were able to go and visit the orphanage that Simon has lived in for the past four years. I wasn't prepared at all. Nothing could have prepared me. The two hour van ride through huge Chinese cities was a sight to behold. People stacked upon people in apartment building that are back to back and 20 stories high. I've been to big cities...these are bigger, much, much bigger. The city of the orphanage is a wealthy city. You could see the difference the minute we crossed the border. The shops and stores and apartments weren't as dirty as we have seen everywhere else.
We first stopped at his "finding spot." A finding spot is what we call the place where they were abandoned and then found. His spot was in the massive pedestrian street with shops all over the place. He was found in the second story of a McDonalds building there. We went and I could almost sense his fear. Our guide said she thinks he remembers the place. That seems unlikely, but his reaction to it was palpable. The minute we got to the second story he begged to leave and go back. As I walked back down the stairs with him in my arms my heart broke for the mother that walked down those same stairs without her baby in her arms. I snuggled him closer and kissed his sweet face so thankful that I was leaving with him.
On his adoption day we were given a copy of the letter than his parents left with him. It said, "We hope a warm hearted family will come and care for our son. He has thalassemia and we cannot take care of him."
Then we headed to his orphanage. I really wasn't sure how he would react to going back. But he seemed so excited. The minute we got out of the van he ran off and into the orphanage. Downstairs they have a small room with a stage where they have celebrations and events.
Then we took the elevator up to the fourth floor. This is where I started falling apart and Craig went dead silent. I tried not to gasp. I think I succeeded, but really I'm not sure. Pictures cannot capture the state of my son's former home. Let me describe it in words. There were tiles broken everywhere, holes in the walls, dirt and trash everywhere and puddles in hallways and buckets to catch water from leaky ceilings. The smells can't even be described. Now, take all this in realizing this is one of the best orphanages around.
Let me take a moment to sidestep and tell you about Simon. In the van ride over I was having one of those moments where pride was rearing its ugly head in my heart. I was thinking I was going to an orphanage and would show them the love of my Jesus. How blessed they would be.
(For real...oh. my. word.)
But God has a way of putting you right back into your place.We walked in and my son rushed into the classrooms handing out the candy we bought for the kids. I expected him to go to his buddies, but do you know what else he did?
He ran off down the hall before I could stop him and the staff choked up as they told me that he wanted to include the ones that are "severely diseased that no one will ever adopt." He went to the room of the lowest of the low and touched each of them as he gave them candy. Then, as if that wasn't already humbling to my oh so proud little heart he went back to his classroom to his best buddies and pulled out his backpack.
This is the backpack he sleeps with, goes to the bathroom with, panics if he can't find it because he put all his new toys into it that we purchased him. Do you know what he did? He pulled out his new toys and gave them away. It was all he owned in the whole world and he smiled while he gave it away.
I may have planned on showing the light of Christ, but in that moment I knew...it was shining on me instead.
Simon and the director of the orphanage who clearly loved him!
Giving away his new toys
The play room
A nanny who was NOT happy that he was not in multiple layers. (It was almost 80 degrees!)
Checking out their new toys
His very best friend, Patrick (who will be going home soon!)
At this point I started realizing he was a favorite...
The nanny's asked for our email so they could keep in touch.
I have no doubt that he was SO loved and I am incredibly thankful.
Simon's bed is the second from the right.
Baba pulling it together for a picture
The room Simon started in as a baby.