Sunday, November 30, 2008

Coming Full Circle


Today we began with a trip to a local Cultural Museum. We were tired and cold (no heat is typically used in the buildings), and so we had difficulty truly enjoying the exhibitions.

Livie on the steps on the Museum

Museum Exhibit

Livie at lunch

Aimee at lunch


Following lunch, Kim and I set out in search of Livie's Foster Mother. We had done this yesterday, with Charlene acting as our translater, but we had great difficulty in explaing the phrase 'Foster Mother', since Hong (Livie's Foster Mother) was not her mother or her ayi (aunty/nanny). Thus, the first day of 'looking' had turned up nothing, as looking for one woman in a city of a million people is like looking for a needle in a haystack.

But today we went back to the Haystack...

This time around Kim (who should work for the Secret Service, I swear!) had the insight to write a note explaining who Livie and I were and that we were looking for Livie's Foster Mom (we had since found out the correct phrase for Foster Mother), and using Bable Fish Kim translated the note into Chinese and printed it off at the Hotel's Business Center. We hit the streets around the Old SWI with a photo of Hong & Livie (taken on Gotcha) and our note. Kim said the trick was to show this info to as many people as possible, and even if we were unsuccessful in finding Hong, that likely word would eventually get back to Hong that we had been looking for her.

We walked and walked, with Aimee acting as our trusty translater (she is one heck of an AWESOME 6 year old!). We showed our photo and note to anyone and everyone who would look (and people LOVED to come and see what 'was up'!). We finally stopped to ask a shopkeeper near the Old SWI (a hairdresser) if she knew Hong. Once again a crowd gathered as they all looked at the photo and note, talking rapidly amoungst themselves. Another shop keeper came out to see what was going on, and also looked and the photo and read the note. Then, she nodded. She gestured that she knew Hong! She quickly got out her cell phone and began ringing what felt like everyone in her contact list. Worried that we were waisting our time and that she really didn't know Hong, Kim called a friend in Shanghai to speak with this lady and verify whether or not she did in fact know Hong. It turned out that while the shopkeeper didn't actually know Hong, but she said that her friend did, and that she was trying to reach her friend. We gave the lady Kim's cell phone number and told her that should she find Hong, please give her the number.

We walked back towards the Hotel in order to prepare for another trip up the Mountain to the New SWI and the Farewell Ceremony. Once at the hotel we got on the bus and waited to leave. Suddenly Kim's cell phone rang and a voice at the other end was yelling, "Mama! Mama! Fu Ai Man!" Kim knew it must be Livie's Foster Mother (Livie's Chinese name was Fu Ai Man), but couldn't speak to the voice on the other end. She quickly ran towards the back of the bus where Charlene was sitting and handed the phone to Charlene. Just as Charlene took the phone the Guide, Nancy, who was at the front of the bus said, "Mary Rodin, the Foster Mother is here!" I looked up to see Chuan Hong standing in front of me. We immediately hugged - both of us crying tears of happiness. Then I pointed to Livie who was sitting in the seat to Hong's right. I am not sure that I have ever seen such joy on another person's face before in my life. It was amazing. Hong reached down and scooped up Livie and held her close, all the while saying, "Man Man, Man Man! Wo Ai Nie!" I asked Hong if she had ever received the letter I had sent, or seen the photo album I had sent (the one that was on a shelf at the New SWI). She said, "No, I haven't seen anything." That really upset me as this is the woman who loved and cared for Livie from the time Livie was 5 months old until we adopted her at 18 months. It just seemed terribly cruel to me.

Kim and I grabbed Aimee and our bags and got off of the bus with Hong. Several members of Hong's family were there, and everyone of them was elated to see little Man Man. There were smiles everywhere and not a dry eye to be found. We took LOTS of photos. One of the guides translated for us. Cameras (publicity cameras, that is), were suddenly everywhere, which Livie did NOT like. This was a private moment, shared in the middle of a street.

My plan was to let the busses go on without us (naturally), but the guides were saying that we should come to the Farewell Ceremony and that we could see Hong when we got back. Looking back I see that they had no intention of letting Livie and I spend time with Hong and her family 'unsupervised'. I told Hong we would be back at 4 pm, and she said she would be there.

We got back on the bus, waving to Hong and her family as we headed out to the New SWI.

We spent a few hours at the New SWI, where Livie and Aimee were able to leave a donation to the orphanage, and Livie received the gift of a lovely jade pendant with 'Fu' on the front and the Chinese Characters for the Fuling SWI on the back. I know Livie will treasure that necklace forever. After the Farewell Ceremony, the exchanging of gifts, lovin' up on the little ones in the orphanage and going back to the room filled with the albums (where I promptly took back Livie's photo album and shoved it in my backpack to take to Hong - idea curteousy of my oh-so-wise friend, Kim!), we got back on the bus and headed back to our Hotel, where Hong and even more members of her family were there to welcome home Livie!

The publicity cameras were once again seemingly in our faces, and a larger crowd was gathering, and so I asked Hong and her son, Lei, to come up to our room so that I might be able to show them some more photos and get all caught up with one another. Hong and Lei said goodbye to their family, and came into the hotel with us. I was questioned by an Official from BLAS about where Hong was going, but I firmly stated that she was MY guest and we were going to my room. Period. I got on the elevator with Hong just as I saw what apparently is the 'head' official with BLAS trying to get to us. We got to our room (Kim came right behind us) and began looking at photos. I gave Hong the album intended for her, and just as she was looking through it the doorbell to my room rang. I looked through the peep-hole to see the Director of BLAS and the Director of the SWI on the other side of the door. I felt my stomach turn. I opened the door and they immediately stepped in. Director Yang walked over to Hong, and spoke to her in stearn manner. Hong made an excuse (clearly at the insistance of the Director and clearly a lie) of having taken a 30 minute break from work and that she needed to get back to work. She handed me the photo album (which I believe she was told to do), and said, "Xie, xie." While I was saying goodbye to Hong (and all *eyes* were on Hong and I) Kim took the album and shoved it up the back of Lei's jacket. Lei, knowing exactly what Kim was doing, placed his hands behind his back and held the album, and both Hong and Lei left the room with the Officials.

Then I cried. I was scared. And I was MAD.

Our guide, Nancy, came back to the room (she had come in right after the officials) to speak with me. I let it ALL out. I told Nancy that we did NOTHING wrong. I told her that just as the children who were raised in the SWI were allowed to spend time with their ayi's, Livie was due nothing less than to be able to see the woman who wiped her tears, fed her, bathed her, and loved her as her own for over a year. I told her I knew that the Director had made Hong lie, and that I am not stupid. I was insulted and disgusted by the disrespectful treatment given Hong. I reminded Nancy that this was a roots trip, and that if the officials believe that these children will become connected to bricks and mortor they were wrong. Livie has the opportunity to be connected to people, and this is far more important than any building. I reminded Nancy that had my intentions been dishonorable I would have met with Hong in a noodle shop down the street, and not in broad view of God and everyone. I had hid NOTHING. Hong was Livie's Foster Mom and nothing they could do would change that, or change the fact that Hong loved Livie. Nancy listened with tears in her own eyes, and understood.

Following this nightmare, we all tried to regain our composure, and head downstairs to a Farewell Dinner (more speeches). We had only been sitting about 10 minutes when Livie began to projective vomit all over two other adoptive moms and the floor. Remember that this entire scene had been played out in front of small children, and clearly Livie had reached her limit. I scooped up Livie and left the room. Once up in our hotel room Livie had calmed down and I bathed her and put her in bed to watch Dora on the portable DVD player. Kim, Aimee, Charlene and Rachael came up only minutes later and we all talked about the highs (finding Hong) and lows (the incident in our room with the officials) of the day. It was wonderful to have the support of my friends during such an emotional time (several other families also spoke with me and were quite supportive. In fact, several families who's children had been in Foster Care said, "Gee, I wish I had thought to look for my child's Foster Mother!"). After a bit we all retired to our own rooms and I locked my door tight.

Running into other Fuling Families while out looking for Hong

Aimee and Kim playing!

Rachael acting like a monkey!

Charlene and Kim

Livie after having presented a gift on behalf of FKI, International, to Director Chen (on right).

Livie leaving the orphange gifts from us, Kim and Aimee

The girls decorating a scroll

Kim with one of the newborn babies

A little precious one at the SWI

Aimee feeds the newborn

Another precious little one at the SWI (with an IV patch on his forhead. :-( )

Hong's son, Lei

Hong, Lei and Livie

Hong's nephew, Livie and Hong

Hong's father, Livie and Hong

I have a ton more photos to load, and I will try to get to this later this afternoon. Right now Livie and I are enjoying Shanghai before leaving tomorrow.

Love to our friends and family back home...we miss you all!



Mei Mei Journal said...

Wow, what a story! I am amazed that you found Livie's foster Mom. I wonder if Paige's will receive te card and bracelet we are preparing for her? It doesn't sound promising. That cute little guy with the IV was in Paige's second birthday pictures. I believe all the children at her party had special needs. I hoped tehy had all found their families by now.

Mary said...

April, your daughter's Foster Mom will hopefully receive your gift. Our situation brought about lots of dialog between officials and parents about the importance of Foster Moms in many of the children's lives, so I am quite hopeful that moving forward things will only continue to improve. So...get that bracelet in the mail to me right away, so that I can include it in our lovely Holiday Box to Fuling! :-)

Angel said...

I'm sorry your visit was cut short. It is amazing that you found her. I hope there are no repercussions toward Hong.

How did Livie do during the short visit with her?

Vivian M said...

I am so mad at the directors....I remember when we were in China we were told by our guide that the Chinese were not allowed in our hotels, and he could only go so far as the lobby.
How wonderful that you found Hong and that Livie has new pictures to remember her by. How sad that it was so shortlived, but maybe you can meet again in a public place? I pray she received the album and that she does not suffer any consequences because of the hotel room meeting.
What an eventful day. I bet it made the whole trip worthwhile!

Val said...

And I see someone I "know": Kim! We were in the same May04DTC group! Wow how time has flown!

Candy said...

As I sit here with tears running down my face, I am so happy that you had the opportunity to find Hong. Livie will treasure those photos forever and ever. What a lucky girl she is to have you for a mother to pursue this for her and make it happen. I'm so happy you stood up for what you believe in and hopefully things will change for others to come. Have a safe trip home.

Candy said...

I forgot to mention that I have not seen Livie smile as much as she has been during this wonderful Journey. Her smile is just beautiful.

Tammie said...

Wow. I am so happy that you were able to find Hong & her son. I'm sure that she & her family are happy beyond words to know that their little girl is safe & happy. Hopefully Lei was able to get the photo album home for the family to view.

Carrie said...

all I can say is wow- and bless you for doing this for your daughter- it is not fair and I hope the China officals see it is good to have these children come home and see the people that have helped them! My prayers are with you!

AZMom said...

Wow! What an incredible story. Thank you so much for sharing. I can't believe what transpired in your hotel room but I am thankful that everything turned out okay. What an experience.

Waiting for Mia Hope! said...

Oh my goodness...what an AMAZING story! I'm speechless!!!! Mia Hope is in Foster Care and my heart is already breaking at the thought of their goodbyes. It just makes not sense to me why they would not allow Hong to visit with you. It truly makes you wonder what they are hiding. What an amazing blessing that you found