Katie’s Orphanage Visit
Because our tour company doesn’t have a guide in this city, Jason from Zhanjiang is our guide for the trip to the Maoming orphanage. He and the driver spent last night in Maoming, but probably not at our hotel.
We never had the chance to visit the Social Welface Institute in Maoming when we adopted Katie. In the winter of 1998, she was given to us at the local notary’s office and we met its director in the lobby of the hotel across the street. Katie had the good fortune to meet the director as an elementary child when she visited the states, but she has long since retired.
Since her adoption, a more modern was built for the children of Maoming. We recognized the pink and white tile building from pictures on the web the when we drove up to it today. It is home to about 300 children from birth to 15 years old. 1400 children have been adopted from there since 1993.
The building is semi-circular around a courtyard with a marble statue of a caregiver and two children in the middle. The room walls that face the courtyard are glass from chair rail to ceiling. An open air hallway connects all the rooms. Some off the hallway floors and restrooms were wet from having been recently scrubbed clean. Another section is being built and it looks to grow the complex by another 30% with more classrooms.
The current director took us to several rooms with children; the first with children under two. Like the Fuling orphanage, most had disabilities but many were sitting up or rolling around in their cribs. A few were getting their faces scrubbed cleaned by caregivers. The ratio of kids to caregivers seemed remarkably low 3 to 1.
We saw a couple of rooms filled with preschool and early elementary children. As we walked up the stairs between floors, childrens crayon art covered the lower tile portion of the stairwell. Neatly drawn numbers were drawn above them. As children were led in small groups from one room to another, they would grab onto the back of the shirt of the one in front of them. Two caregivers were assisting a couple of boys in braces walk the hallway. We distracted they from their concentration when we strolled by. I said “Ni Hao” lots.
A row of little shoes lined the half wall adjacent each classroom door. The classroom walls themselves were brightly decorated with three dimensional children’s art. Tissue paper mobiles hung from the ceiling. A handful of dried up red markers were taped around a clock turning it into rays of a sun. In both rooms the kids gathered around their teachers while they were clapping and singing songs. The kids seemed genuinely happy to be where they were.
The director mention of a few American non-profits, including Half The Sky, which donate equipment and sponsor educational programs for the kids. She was careful to point those out to us. While we took pictures of the building and children, the secretary of the orphanage was taking many pictures of our family. They wanted us to sign their guestbook and exchange emails with us so we could email them pictures of Katie. Katie wanted to put her email address.
At the conference room, they gave each of our girls a delicate shell necklace carved into the shape of a sailboat representing this coastal city. The far wall inside the conference room displayed dozens of recent pictures of families, like us, who had come back for orphanage visits with their children. Alongside the photos was a message to the adoptive parents thanking us for providing a family for the children. It began…
Family is a quiet harbor all people.
Maybe Claire’s orphanage is for growing loud harbor families.