This morning, we met 3 other families from our group to tour the Zhengzhou Social Welfare Institute (ZZSWI). This is where Tian was delivered after he was found on the other side of town. (We hope to visit his finding place on Friday morning.)
He lived in ZZSWI for almost one year before moving in with his foster family. They moved him back to the orphanage 2 weeks ago.
Tian did well on the hour-long bus ride, thanks to our to-go breakfast and some friends with bubbles. He, like us, also enjoyed looking out the window at the passing people, scooters, cars, and street shops.
Turning down a countryside street (China's countryside is quite different than Texas' countryside. Their "countryside" still seems quite urban to me. It's just not quite as high or polished as downtown.) I immediately recognized the clock tower I've seen in so many photos. Tian also recognized the place and quickly wrapped both arms around my neck.
The director approached Ken and me right away with a little red clothing article inside a ziplock bag. He apologized that they did not have Tian's note that was found with him. Evidently, the police still have it, but they do not. They did, however, have the little clothes Tian was wearing. It looks like a diaper cover of some sort. It's red with a very pretty embroidered design. The SWI keeps it, but allowed us to take photos of it. We aren't sure why SWI's keep these finding articles, but we had been told that's how it would be.
A young volunteer who spoke beautiful English walked up and recognized Tian instantly. "TianShi!" She said she had helped care for him. She also added that he was, by far, the smartest boy in his group. Of course. :) She told me he was the only one in his group who could walk at his age and that he also seemed to understand many things.
Tian had to potty, so while everyone else stayed downstairs to walk the hallway, the volunteer took us up to the Lily Orphan Care Room where there was a small potty. As we walked into the room, all the nannies began to exclaim, "TianShi! TianShi!" I had put Tian down to walk, so he quickly turned for me to pick him up. We went into the restroom (Western toilet...now I know how he knew how to use it) so he could potty. I made sure I had him in my arms AND had him fastened in before walking out. The nannies were all very excited and several wanted to hold him. Tian began to cry and cling tightly to my neck. I just kept reminding him that I was his momma and we were only visiting to say "bye bye." He DID love telling the nannies bye bye. As we walked out the door, he stopped crying and waved and said, "Bye bye!" From then on, I kept him out in the hall, in the carrier with me while Ken, the kids and the rest of the group went inside the rooms to look around.
As I looked around, I saw why the girl had said Tian was the "smartest." He was the least "disabled." Tian is hard-of-hearing. That's it. The other kids had more pronounced disabilities. Ken and I were interested and a little sad to see how people with disabilities are viewed here.
We got to meet Tian's doctor, who let us know that he was very healthy. A nanny told us to be careful to keep him warm because "he gets sick very easily." Hmm...story of our life with this guy...always unknowns.
We eventually walked outside where a group of older children (ages 7-10, I'm guessing) were making their way across the courtyard. It broke my heart to see them. It is nice that they have a safe place to learn, eat, and sleep, but it's not a home. Like one mom in our group said, we are seriously on a rescue mission for these kids. She turned and said, "If we weren't here now, that would be our kids in just a few years."
She adopted a sweet young boy with albinism. You probably noticed him in my photos. He is precious! She and her husband had both lived in China for a while after college, so were talking with their Chinese friends about the adoption. When they showed a photo of their son, the Chinese friends asked, "Who gave you this child?" She explained that they were matched to him, but that they chose him. They wanted him. The friend said, "I think you better choose another child." Amazing. The same friend has noticed that Chinese people flock to get their photo made with their blonde haired, blue eyed little 3 year old son, but then nearly recoil when they see their newest son.
When we've been out and about, many people look at me and point to Tian's ear, as if to let me know they recognize his "problem." I just gesture with my hand over his ear, then give a thumbs up, like "it's all good." Quite a few people have even come up to touch his ear. As long as he hasn't minded, I let them. I want them to see that it's not a bad omen or something to be frightened of. After they touch his ear, they give me a "thumbs up" then smile and shake Tian's hand. I love my little ambassador.
We were happy when it was time to go. It was nice to see the SWI and we were glad he was in a colorful place where the nannies seemed to have an affection toward the kids. We were also more thrilled than ever to have gotten him out of there. Praise God!