The balance of Katie’s day
As wonderful as the care is of the children in the Maoming orphanage a few of things did disturb us during the visit. It seems at times, in an attempt to save effort or in keeping Chinese tradition of “saving face,” the director was willing to tell us convenient stories that strayed from the truth.
The orphanage we visited was not the orphanage Katie lived in for eight months and we knew that. When we inquired where the original orphanage from 13 years ago was, we were told it was just one of the buildings at the new location as she pointed to a relatively new building. Sadly this isn’t true as we have pictures of a less than desirable facility from other adoptive parents that was at a different location. We weren’t permitted to view the less than flattering site 13 years ago and we weren’t about to know of its existence this time around either.
We also wanted to show Katie where the notary office was where she was given to us where we completed the adoption process, but we were told that it doesn’t exist anymore. I just wish we had the street address. In 2003, we were told Claire’s founding site in Fuling was underwater from the Three Gorges Dam. Funny thing is we visited the address just a few day ago. The street was quite dry. I believe these were instances where it was simpler for the directors to misdirect us rather than expend the effort to look up the information.
My wife had the temerity to ask this morning whether there was there a note left in the box which contained our 2-day-old Katie. A question Katie herself has been asking us over the years. The director then proceeded to apologize that it was beyond her control, but China’s national adoption agency, CCAA, would not permit us to even view the details our daughter’s file. They have them, but we cannot see them. We know this to be completely untrue. The purpose of these homeland visits is to peruse this information and we send copious amounts of information ahead of our arrival so the files can be pulled. We saw Claire’s file just last week and every other family was able to see theirs. But the response from the current director stopped us from asking any more questions.
Unfortunately because our guide did not realize that we had already paid for it and that he was to plan for it, we did not end up inviting the orphanage director, the secretary or the one employee they could find who had been there from 13 years ago, to lunch. Seeing as though we weren’t allowed to ask questions, there was less of a need to talk offsite anyways.
We did see Katie’s founding site, the Xinhua Bookstore, after leaving the orphanage. Conveniently it was right across the street from the hotel we were staying. The store was larger than I would have imagined, about the size of a typical American (non-defunct) bookstore. We asked if there were any photo books of Maoming, but our guide could only find one and it had only a few pictures. We opted for a map instead.
I was hoping to talk to any employee who might have been there from 1998 and might have remembered anything, but Jason pointed out that the place seemed to be staffed by younger ladies who could not possibly have been employed there back then. Our guide did end up taking us into the back room where the manager’s office was and explained our situation to them. None of the half dozen or so in the office could recall anything from that time either. Jason and the manager exchanged numbers in case someone with information could be found later.
This momentous day with our guide was barely two hours and although it was a bit of a disappointment from the point of Katie’s personal story, we were heartened to see children well cared for.
My wife completed the day with some retail therapy with Katie. It is quite an oddity to see a blonde woman in Maoming, so we all got stares as Chris attempted pick out a necklace and some bracelets. One sales lady assisting my family became three sales ladies then four the longer she took to decide. By the time Chris reached the checkout counter to pay we were surrounded by eight sales ladies. One helping. Seven watching. Of course none of them spoke a stitch of English so the checkout process was still very labored.
On this last non-travel day, we hit the bank down the street to exchange the last of our greenbacks. It was 4:50pm on a Friday afternoon. The security guard locked the doors behind us right as we left the bank.