We had Donovan for about 3 days when the opportunity to go and visit the orphanage had come up. We were not all able to go unfortunately so Kendall went on all our behalf. I felt sad about this but there wasn't a way that it was going to work.
We were unable to just travel around China. We had to purchase a special permit for Kendall to go to the orphanage. ($75 USD) We also had to pay for a guide to accompany Kendall for the day ($50 USD) also all her travelling expenses. Kendall was required to have a guide "for his safety" and I think this was partially true... maybe 10%... the other 90% of the reason was so they could keep tabs on him.
Our guide's name was Tania. She was super nice and it was comforting to know that Kendall would not be travelling completely alone and had someone to interpret signs, train schedules..etc. They took the fast train to Heng Yang. This train travels about 350 km/hr. So the trip which normally takes 2 hrs took 1/2 an hour. Big difference!
Once in Heng Yang, Kendall and Tania were picked up by Ron who is a retired man from Australia. Him and his wife are resident grandparents at the orphanage. :) Kendall then met Kyla from International China Concern who we have been in contact with since December. She showed him all around the orphanage. He got to see Donovan's room and where he slept. Donovan pretty much spent his time between two rooms in the orphanage. The room where he slept had 8 cribs in it. And the second room was like a play room. At the end of the hallway was another room where he would have had his "kindie classes"
I am going to tell you a little bit about International China Concern (ICC) for a sec. Changsha is the capital city of Hunan province in China. They have a Social Welfare Institute (orphanage) where ICC has partnered with and had great success. The Chinese government has appreciated ICC's efforts and asked them to do the same in Heng Yang. So ICC partnered with the SWI there. Now, that is exactly what ICC does is PARTNER. They come along side the SWI and work within the system. They do not take over the orphanage. They are given space to work along side the SWI. Essentially there are 2 sides to these orphanages. There is the ICC side and the SWI side.
Having said all that: Kendall had an amazing tour of ICC. They are doing such great things. The children are happy there and well cared for. In Heng Yang, ICC has about 130 children and the SWI has about 50. Kendall was able to take lots of pictures of ICC and video. Kyla then took Kendall (& Tania) over to the SWI side. He was forbidden to take any pictures on this side. I can not say much more in writing about this side of the orphanage. I will leave it there and I can talk about it another time. What Kendall witnessed there can only be described by the word "heart wrenching."
Once there is an opening on the ICC side of the orphanage they transfer a child from the SWI over to ICC. Because we adopted Donovan this opened a bed for a child to come over to ICC. Donovan left the orphanage on Monday morning and in the afternoon Kyla received a baby from the SWI side. (Truthfully there were two children that left ICC that day. They had room for 2 to transfer but they took 4! PTL!) This baby is now in Donovan's bed and he is doing so well since the transfer. In the three days that ICC had him he had started to gain a bit of weight and his color was looking really great! The staff at ICC were very hopeful that he was going to survive. We are so grateful for what ICC is doing and all they have accomplished already!
For more info on ICC feel free to visit their website: http://english.chinaconcern.org/ Lots of information! There is even the possibility of sponsoring children on a monthly commitment.(similar in cost to World Vision) Lots of great ideas.. more on that in another post!
When Kendall and Tania made it back to Changsha it was time to say good-bye. They had an amazing day together and lots of great talks. In the end Tania was so touched by the day that she refused to accept payment for her guide services. We have been e-mailing her since we have been home. It was very gracious of her to volunteer her time that day and we were very grateful.
While Kendall was in Heng Yang, Crystal and I had the kids for the day and we went in a taxi to... you will not believe this... WAL-MART! HA! Yep we travelled literally to the other side of the world and we went to Wal-Mart! That is just a pre-cursor to my next note! I know you can hardly wait..... it was a day I will never forget! I will tell you about it in my next post!