Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Orphanage Visit and Last Day in Changsha

Going to the orphanage was a good way to finish off my trip to Changsha.  Chance, Brenna, myself and these three Chinese students named Lucy, Barbara, and Nancy (the Chinese seem to love choosing English names) all went together to see the children, to play with them, and to hold them.  Before we went, we pooled our money and bought them lots of stuff.  I can't remember everything we got but I do remember buying diapers, wipes, formula, bottles, wash cloths, music cds, hair barrettes, toothbrushes, and various toys. We had to go to three different stores to get everything we needed and the workers at the stores were very intrigued as to why these Americans were blowing so much money.  We only spent about 1500 yuan ($225 dollars), but it was a fortune around here.  When we told them it was for the orphans, they seemed very excited and willing to help.  They would find extra boxes lying around the stores so that we could fit everything since we would be riding the bus quite a distance into town to get to the orphanage.  Chance was joking that most people will blow about $500 dollars or more every trip to Cosco, but we were celebrities spending a measly 200 bucks.  Money does go a great deal farther here so by the time we were all done shopping, we had 4 big boxes full of supplies to donate.  

When we got to the orphanage, there were many small children in the hallway and they seemed very happy to see us.  The main ones we saw initially ranged in age from about 8 months old to about 4 years old.  Most I would say were about 2 or 3.  Anyway, the first thing that surprised me was how clean it was and how many workers were there and how attentive they were to the children.  You could tell they really cared about them and were interacting with them and showing us around.  The orphanage is next to an elderly person facility and so the whole building is very much like a hospital. The walls are decorated with things to make it more warm for the kids, but it still had that sterile feel that hospitals do.  There was one cute little girl that kept gravitating to Brenna.  She was about 2 and had Leukemia.  It made me really sad to see her afflicted with such a trying disease at such a young age (and orphaned on top of that).  Another cute little girl kept looking at me so I reached out and picked her up.  She started to cry, but I immediately distracted her with some origame swans hanging from the ceiling.  She warmed to me very quickly and started calling me baba (daddy).  Sad, isn't it?  When the workers tried to take her from me a couple of times, she cried and reached back for me.  I also tried to put her down to play with toys a few times and she reached up for me to pick her back up.  It's a good thing Stacie and I aren't eligible by Chinese adoption regulations to adopt because this girl would have come home with me.  I was about ready to bust her out of that joint and hire some people to help me cross the border into Mongolia.  But, I came to my senses quickly enough.

One thing that is very obvious in the orphanage is that there are many girls and the boys they do have are disabled.  In fact, most of the children in the orphanage had some disability.  I saw many kids with down syndrome, dwarfism, cleft lips and palates, and other ailments.  The boys in the orphanage were much more likely, though, to have a disability and it makes sense why when you think about it.  With the one child policy, everyone is trying to have a boy.  If it's a girl (even a healthy one), they are sometimes just abandoned in the streets and end up in the orphanages.  The boys are more likely to satisfy the desires of their parents unless they are disabled.  

It was a really emotional experience for me and I'm not sure how much I should share on a public blog.  On the one hand, it was uplifting to bring some small measure of joy into the lives of these small children.  On the other hand, I realize that despite the great efforts of these orphanage workers, these children lead pretty sad lives.  We generally saw the healthier kids because they could actually get out of bed and come to interact with us.  Many of the children, though, were so disabled that they simply lay in their cribs all day. When I got back to my room, I had a hard time keeping it together.  I really wish I could adopt one of these beautiful children.  Life isn't fair! 

Buying toys for the children.

Yes, the Angry Birds were a big hit.

Our stash of stuff just before getting on the bus.

One thing I'll never get used to in Changsha.  The crowds.

Showing the little kids the toys we brought for them.

Told you they liked the Angry Birds.

The one on the right is the one with Leukemia.  Such a doll! 

Some of the cribs in one of the rooms.  I went into a few of these rooms and waved at the little babies, but it was hard to see them just laying there.

This is the one I wanted to smuggle out of the country.

This disabled boy just loved Chance!

I tried to put her down, but she keeps clawing at me.

This girl on the left is 16 and spends her time doing bead work.  I took her picture and she literally jumped out of her chair.  She seemed very sensitive to noises and things.

View from the orphanage window.

Bunks for the older kids.

This is the Chinese version of a dryer.  It plugs into the wall and you put your clothes in there to dry them.  It zips up around them.  My clothes have now been in there for 3 hours and they seem to be half done.

Going to my favorite restaurant for the last time.

Still on my way.

I made it.  That short woman in the green is Liu jie.  Miss Leo.  She is short even by Chinese standards, but very very sweet.

She is very excited to meet the whole Stein clan next year.  She speaks no English, but kept saying 2 0 1 3 in Chinese because that's when we will come back.  She also grabbed my arm and said "Wo Bu Yao" (Wo Boo Yow).  I don't want. 


  1. You won't get an orphan through Customs.

  2. Hi, there was no pictures appearing in your blog, were they removed?