emotionally. I had already warned Dan that I was likely to be a wreck
today!! I'd been in touch with a lady who had adopted a daughter from
this orphanage in Kunming a couple of weeks ago, and she'd told me a lot
about it. She said that it's the "Ritz Carlton" as far as orphanages
go.... which had not been the case with Emily's home. So, I was hoping
for the best, --as far as it might not be quite as depressing of a day as
it otherwise could be. That turned out to be the case. The Kunming
orphanage is the main one in this province as Kunming is the capital city.
If we were told correctly, they actually oversee 800 children. That seems
unbelievable, but the place is huge.
children, but the community as well. Most of the children do not live on the premises, but are in foster care in and around the area in villages. Some of the staff visit these villages twice a month to make sure that the kids are being well cared for. You could tell that they truly were concerned for the best of the children.
We first met the orphanage director who was very nice. He had taken time
out of a meeting with all the orphanage directors of the province that was
going on at the time. Before he returned to the meeting, he invited us to
stay for lunch which was being prepared for all the participants of the
The lady who was in charge of all international adoptions (and had been
the one to bring Bethany to us on Monday) gave us a tour. We started in
the closest building which was a special needs school. We interrupted the
preschool class and played with the kids there and admired the art work
they wanted to show us. They actually have a room full of art (mostly
paintings) that the children ages 12 and up have done.
The next stop was the baby house, but it also is the home to the infirmary
and doctor's offices. There were sick little ones in a room that had
windows into a type of nursery like we'd see in an American hospital.
They were so sweet. You could tell that they didn't feel well, but a
couple of the ones that looked to be about 2 or 3 years old waved at us
and one even blew us a kiss! So precious. There were several
nurses/nannies there which made me feel a little bit better about those
sick little kiddos without a mommy to take care of them.
Then we went to the baby room.
We had already been told that they had
made lunch for Bethany and wanted to feed her! They obviously like to
feed her! Ha! The caretakers were all very nice, and they came and got
Bethany as soon as we walked in. I don't think that she was attached to
any one lady in particular, but they all liked her and talked to her and
smiled at us! One of them got her and went over to a big circular table
that several ladies were sitting around in little chairs. They were each
feeding a bottle or some food to a baby.
I had already guessed that Bethany had been held while taking her bottle, because she didn't try to
grab it from me and hang on to it while I had given it to her in the hotel room. She also makes really good eye contact and doesn't seem to feel stiff in our arms. Sure enough, the ladies held all the babies while feeding them instead of propping a bottle in their cribs. Bethany was fed some "congee," which is a rice porridge which seemed to be made with some broth and a type of green vegetable. They absolutely shoved it in. She hardly had time to swallow.
I didn't watch the whole feeding because I went over to another part of the room to take a picture of her bed. But, Dan said that when she got full, she just wouldn't close her mouth and swallow. So, the caretaker got the picture and stopped shoveling!
Bethany's bed is the second from the left
They let us stay there and take pictures and play with babies for quite
awhile. The room was very large and had its own little kitchen in a side
room, while another side room was a changing room with 4 or 5 changing
tables and a washing area beside it. There were probably 30 babies there
in all. Some were asleep in their cribs; some were being fed; some were
on foam mats on the floor with baby gyms above them which had toys and
rattles attached. The cribs all had nice colorful comforters and some had
colorful toys or mirrors on the sides for the baby to look at.
funniest thing was toward the end of our time in the room when a lady came
in with a baby in a carrier on her back. She was holding something in her
arms, and it looked like some type of mop. My first thought was that she
was a cleaning lady, and was "wearing" a baby while she worked!! :)
Then, I turned around and saw 3 more ladies coming in with babies, and I
realized that they must have had them outside for fresh air. I was never
sure what the first one was carrying, but apparently it was not a mop and
she was not a cleaning lady! We definitely saw some heartbreaking sights
that will haunt me, but over all, we could really tell that the caretakers
loved the babies and wanted to be doing what they were doing. In fact,
there was one elderly woman there that David told us later has worked in
that baby room for over 30 years. And, the best thing was that she was a
Christian!! WOW! He said that she was not the only one.... apparently
there are 5 believers that work there. Before we left, we had a chance to
tell them how much we appreciated the care that they'd given our Bethany.
We left from there and walked around outside while our guide pointed out
places and told us what they were. We walked up to the dining house and
main kitchen of the compound and were told to wait there for the lunch to
Soon all the regional orphanage directors and staff
representatives came in, and we had lunch. It was very good -- lots of
different dishes that all went with rice.... one with beef, one or 2 with
chicken, several veggies, a soup, and one that David warned us to
avoid.... frog!!! Dan and I took turns eating as Bethany was REALLY
needing a nap and was very restless. After lunch, we walked to see the
new hospital building, and then on to an apartment building which housed
some staff as well as some foster families--- one of which was the foster
home of the little boy that our other Lifeline family was adopting. We'd
met his foster mom and several of his foster brothers and sisters earlier.
There are 6 different couples that live as foster families in the
orphanage compound, all with about 8 kids each. It seems to be a great
set-up with a good mix of healthy kids and special needs kids in each
family. Some of the healthy kids David told us were "social orphans" who
were not available for adoption. Their parents might be in jail or in
some similar situation in which the child has been removed from the
From there we walked toward the exit and ran into a group of older boys
walking in the same direction. We were delighted to learn that the kids
never "age out" of this orphanage. When they've finished school, they can
continue to live there as long as they need to. If they can go to
college, the administration works to help them--- or go to trade school,
or to get a job, or whatever they can manage. But, the place is still a
home to them whenever they need to come there. We met these boys-- at
least one of whom worked close by and had just come home to the orphanage
for lunch and was returning to work. We also watched as several school
aged kids returned to the public school after coming back for lunch. The
school was just about a block down from the orphanage. So, the special
needs kids who weren't able to go to the public school had their own
school there on the grounds, while the kids who could would go to the
At the entrance/exit gate was a small building that appeared to be a
security guard's room. David told us that it was a "drop box," though.
Our family had recently watched the Korean movie "The Drop Box," and it
was such a strange feeling to be witnessing one that was in use.
Inside the little house was a baby bed and an incubator for newborns. On the door and outside the building were signs that David translated for us that were meant to discourage parents from abandoning their children..... phone numbers of people that would counsel them or offer help, information of government agencies that would pay for doctor's care if the child had a medical need that the family couldn't afford, etc. And yet, rather than have the desperate families or single moms abandon their babies in a place where they might not be found quickly enough and could die -- there was still the safe option of ensuring that the baby would be found quickly and cared for well.