There is nothing like being immersed in another culture to make you thankful to be an American.  Today was one of those days that I will never forget, both for what it was and what it wasn’t.  We visited the orphanage – just getting there was a site in and of itself.  There is no city in America that even comes close to the size of Guangzhou or BeijingGuangzhou is a city of 13 million people (Beijing has 18 million) with high rise apartments as far as the eye can see.  Its borders stretch for mile upon mile with crowds and crowds of people everywhere.  And then there is the traffic.  Had I not lived in the Philippines before I might fear for my life every time we get in a car.  There are no rules for the road.  It is every man for himself with cars passing within inches of one another.  They do seem to stay on the right side of the road but other than that, I can’t see that any standards are followed.  Add in the bicycles and pedestrians that are travelling on the same paths and it is quite an experience.  The one thing that lends a bit of a comfort is that fact that rarely do you go above 35 mph and that speed is reached only occasionally.  Most of the travel is done bumper to bumper, inching your way along.   There are no car seats and today was the first time I have ever used a seatbelt.  The roads are most definitely a cultural experience!

So after navigating this unending city we reached the suburbs and the orphanage where Lydia lived for about 15 months before she was transferred to foster care.  I was shocked – although I don’t know why at this point.  God seems to have had his hand on this little girl from day one and certainly her orphanage experience was no exception.  It was a beautiful compound with manicured lawns surrounded by a security fence and a guard.  It was huge – several stories high and multiple buildings, a playground, and lots of open space.  The director said about 200 children were there – he couldn’t give a specific number because children were being dropped off and being adopted every day.  We saw the children in their preschool and elementary classrooms.  The rooms were colorful and filled with toys.  The walls had artwork on them and it resembled every bit of a Western-style classroom.  The kids looked happy and healthy although the vast majority I noticed were special needs – cleft lips, missing hands, crossed eyes.  Several them were being adopted within the next few weeks.  There were a ton of workers around, certainly seemed to be adequately staffed.  The babies were all in a room being played with and we were able to see the crib were Lydia slept.  It was a stainless steel crib with a sheet and blanket folded neatly at the end.  Very simple and practical, but definitely adequate.  Most importantly, the workers were obviously kind and sweet people.  They loved to see Lydia and the two nannies that cared for her were thrilled that she would let them hold her.  I was thrilled when she immediately wanted to come back to me!  It was obvious they loved her dearly and obvious that she had attached to us as her family.  We met the orphanage director and he was very happy to see us.  It is a great success for them when they can see one of the children they have cared for being happily adopted into a family.  He was very thankful to us – we were far more thankful to him.  One of the unexpected surprises was when they brought out a Shutterfly book that I had made of our family and mailed to Lydia several months ago.  I had forgotten we had sent it but when they came to give it to us she squealed with delight and immediately began turning the pages.  It was clear she had looked at it many times and was very familiar with our faces.  Which would explain in large part why she has taken to us so well.  Another miracle, that she was unbelievably prepared for her adoption into our family.  When we left one of the girls who worked on Lydia’s adoption said to me, “She was one of my very favorite.”  I can understand why.  She is the cutest, most precious thing in the world.  I think it was bittersweet for her to say good-bye to our sweet girl and it was bittersweet for us to say good-bye to them.  They have played such a huge part in her life and we will probably never see them again.   

We then went to her place of abandonment.   All I could think about when we were walking to the intersection of roads was the miracle that I was holding.  To think that a 3 month old baby was left on the sidewalk in the middle of China and she is now in my arms and on her way to America is amazing to me, it is a miracle.  And as Eric so rightly said the other day, she is the perfect one for our family.  She fits.  The other girls we are with wouldn’t fit in our family and she does, without a doubt.  I cannot explain how or why, she just does.  She was left near a hospital in a place filled with all things Chinese.  Roadside vendors, beggars, bicycles, crazy traffic, stinky smells, dirt and grime.  I held her tight and thanked our Almighty Jesus for bringing her to us.  I hope that someday she will be able to recognize the life she was rescued from.  Not that these people are any less loved by our Creator but they most definitely live a very difficult life with very few opportunities.  When she begins to retrace her roots and wants to discover her history I am praying that she will have the framework for which to grasp the blessings she has been given.  God has done a miracle to bring her to us and I can only pray that the miracle continues on in her heart and she has much to share with this world as she grows older and begins to see God’s big picture for her sweet life.

As we celebrate July 4th here on the other side of the world I am quieted by God’s great gift to us in the form of America.  The opportunities and freedom we have in our country are unimaginable to the rest of the world.  And the ease of our life is astounding when compared.  I am thankful for the big things and the little, for freedom and for air conditioning, for opportunity and for traffic lights.  For garbage trucks and for bathrooms, for McDonalds and malls.  God has been good to us and good to our Lydia.  He is and continues to be our God of miracles.




Justin and Lisa said...

Lydia is absolutely the cutest thing! We are so thankful that everything is going so well for you! We continue to pray for you! Love, Lisa

Claire said...

Wonderful! Matthew and I have been staying caught up and are so excited that she is doing well and you are getting to see where she is from.

Love to you all!

Claire and Matt

From My Brain To Your Eyes..Chary's Crazy life said...

Wowee! I was wondering if you when your picture book was going to show up in your journey- that is sweet how Lydia immediately recognized it!! Oh how pictures are so important!! Love your descriptions of the cities and the orphanage as well as where Lydia was left so that one day you would have her in your arms!!