Adoption in China

Fenyi Orphanage

King Family Travel Log

Friday, October 1st PM to Saturday, October 2nd

Train ride into Fenyi - train ride from hell!  Overbooked, crowded, floor buckling with old linoleum, passengers standing in the aisles � of course standing over the 'laowei' in case we do something interesting.  Thank God, Angie has found us soft sleeper tickets and we 'buy up'. The kids share a bunk and we all manage to catch some sleep the rest of the train ride in.

We arrive in XeLing (or something like that) at 5:30 AM to be met by a car from the orphanage. We drive for the next 40+ minutes or so, farther and farther into the countryside.  It is beautiful - full of rolling hills, trees and fields of crops everywhere.  We arrive at the Fenyi Hotel in Fenyi. We are taken to our room, which is in fact a three room suite - a large bedroom with two beds, a living room complete with dining table and chairs, leather couch and chairs and a huge bathroom with a Jacuzzi garden tub.  The doors in the living room open to the rooftop and there is an area for the children to play.  The room also has a shelf running around the ceiling, with pink neon lights hidden in it! 

We nap and bath, then the orphanage staff picks us up at 1:00 for a huge lunch across from the hotel, since there is a wedding at our hotel restaurant.  All the while we are lunching, pick-up trucks drive by with bands playing in the bank to announce a wedding, followed by the bride's car covered in flowers.  So many weddings - we see and hear at least a dozen.

At lunch we give out the gifts we have brought, Texas and US bracelets for Ms. Xu and Texas tie tacks for the men.  Each man takes his turn to have me explain what is on his tack - jalapeno peppers, bluebonnets, armadillos, etc.  We also look at the photo pages from the Fenyi Families e-mail group and the staff is delighted with them.  

We then go to the orphanage!  We drive in to be greeted by several children - some with disabilities, some without, and they aren't afraid of us at all.  Several children with cerebral palsy, a boy with Down syndrome and a lovely little girl with a large tumor of some sort on her nose.  They are curious and happy to show us around.  The director shows us around the children's building, there is also a building for the old people.  She shows us the room where Becca used to live, but the babies are upstairs now.  The place is grubby but has big faded murals painted on the walls.  There is lots of light.  The babies are all together in walkers and are picked up immediately by their nannies when they start to cry.  There is obviously lots of love and care here.

We also ask to meet Xiao Ying and discover she has been walking around with us the whole time.  Ms. Xu asks about her mother - she didn't know the INS keeps giving the family delays. She has happy to know that is the problem and her family is still coming.  We get a measuring tape and find she is now 86 cm tall and weighs 13 kg.  Xiao Ying is so beautiful and healthy. She is also very shy and reluctant to talk to me.  We find out she has a special person in her life - Gong Yue Xiang - an older girl who lives there and has taken it upon herself to take care of some of the younger ones.  I must remember to talk to Kate about Yue Xiang - Xiao Ying will probably want to keep in contact with her.

We are taken to a large conference room with a huge, gorgeous table in it. The director shows us she has saved all the photos of Becca we have sent over the years and tells us, through Angie, that they have been receiving the packages we have been sending.  She also shows us Becca's file and in it is a NOTE FROM HER BIRTH MOTHER!  We never knew there was one.  It is a small red rectangle of paper that says Becca was born on April 27th in the afternoon and they wish her a good life.  We take photos of the note since the director says it has to stay in her file.  We spend a very comfortable couple of hours with the staff � eating oranges, apples and a large softball sized green citrus fruit and talking about Becca's life in the US and in the orphanage.  Becca eats 5 of the small oranges - I promise the director we do actually feed her and there are smiles all around.  

We learn over 100 babies have been adopted from Fenyi!  We also talk about their needs - such as more walkers, stationary, etc., but Ms. Xu says the packages we have been sending are good.  Ms. Xu gives us special Fenyi green tea and an elaborate box of moon cakes.  One older girl also gives Josh and Becca 2 small decorations each - they tell us she did this on her own.  We drink green tea and are very comfortable in this intimate setting.  We ask each other more personal questions, and then reluctantly agree we need to go find some supper for Josh and Becca.  We make tentative plans for the morning - some sightseeing around Fenyi, and then say goodnight.  

We go to Bideboa - the only western food in Fenyi.  It has hamburgers and chicken burgers, but it is all so spicy - Fenyi food is so spicy overall that we mostly each French fries and drink soda. We finish our meal and head back to the hotel for an early night, each ready to process their emotions from the day.

Sunday, October 3rd.

Jeff and I wake up before the kids and talk.  We think about the requested walkers and decide it would be cheaper to buy some here in Fenyi than to buy them in the US and pay shipping fees.  We also decide, since we were quite frugal in Hong Kong that we have enough money to do this.  So, we decide to spend 500 RMB on walkers to surprise Ms. Xu.  I also sneak another 500 RMB into my pocket to see if we can find a medical supplies store to find a proper walker for the boy who gets around with a stool - it works for him for now but he will outgrow it.

Angie arrives with the orphanage car and we set out.  I thought I remembered a store full of baby beds and walkers between the orphanage and the Bidebao so the driver patiently retraces our drive from the evening before.  We can't find the shop but we do find a small toy store.  Jeff buys two packages of large plastic animals - he wants to give them to the boy with Down syndrome.  Angie also negotiates with the shop owner but he has only three walkers and refuses to bargain. Someone must have phoned Ms. Xu because she suddenly appears and says she knows a better store.

We cruise up a deserted alley of small stores until we come across a quite large toy store.  This is the place.  We start looking over the store and find so much we want to buy.  There is no medical supply store in Fenyi so we decide to spend the whole 1000 RMB here.  They have lovely wooden rocking horses and we must have those. Ms. Xu picks out a large bag of Duplo-style building blocks, I find puzzles, Jeff finds a basketball backboard, etc. Ms. Xu also buys two of the little Chinese style drums that beat as you twist the handle for Josh and Becca. Angie negotiates prices the whole time with the shop owners.  The store fills up with curious onlookers and they flow out into the street. It is chaos and so much fun!

This is what we get for our 1000 RMB - about $120 USD.  Nine walkers including the best one in the store, a basketball goal, five small but sturdy basketballs, the bag of Duplo blocks, two wooden rocking horses, five trace-n-erase books, thee sets of 16 puzzles, a package of 10 rattles, two pull toys and two baby toys and three large magna-doodle writing toys. The owner has given us great prices and even threw in the rattles.

We hire a funny little three wheeled taxi - it is 1/2 car and 1/2 motorcycle - to take the things to the SWI.  The street is now packed and we pose for photos with the toy store staff.  The owner even asks for permission to display the photos and we say of course.  We all arrive at the SWI and begin unloading the toys.  I think we are supposed to go sightseeing now but we are having way too much fun.  The children appear and we hand out the plastic animals and they also begin playing ball.  The taxi arrives and we unload all the rest of the things. 

All the walkers are in pieces so Jeff decides that is what he wants to do next even though the shop owner says he will do this.  The boy with Down syndrome starts to help Jeff and he is amazing.  Ms. Hu says he is very good with his hands and is very persistent.  Jeff and the boy make quite a team assembling the walkers together. A lovely girl with cerebral palsy decides she is in charge of trash and collects all the plastic bags, the papers, etc in one big bag.  I start to play ball with several of the children and so does Becca.  Josh is more withdrawn but helps his dad with a few of the walkers.  Becca and I play ball with the girl with CP, the girl with the tumor on her nose (I wish I knew their names!) and then Xiao Ying comes over to play too.  She is much less shy today and is very happy as she plays ball with me.  Her jiejie, YueXiang comes over to play too.  We play and assemble until everything is done and everyone's tummy is rumbling. So much for sightseeing but this has been so much more fun.

We go out with the staff for another wonderful lunch - they refuse to let us pay.  Josh actually eats some noodles, some rice and some beef so the staff is pleased.  Ms. Xu takes over care of Becca at lunch, peeling chestnuts, picking choice morsels of fish, and ladling soup for her. Becca responds to her care by laying her head in Ms. Xu's lap.  I am very impressed by Ms. Xu - she knows the children well and obviously doesn't sit in her office all day.  She is very hands-on and the children are very comfortable with her.  I speak to her about the two children I noticed the first day who I am sure have multiple disabilities and are too big for walkers.  I have seen some bamboo woven strollers, if I purchase them, would these children be allowed to go outside in them and the answer is of course.  

We talk, through Angie, about stimulating their minds as much as possible.  We also learn Becca's primary nanny left shortly after Becca left.  She got married and Ms. Xu says she will try to find her for us.  We say goodbye and head back to the hotel for Becca's nap and some quiet time.  Angie will go see her family and meet us at the hotel around 6:00 pm.

We meet Angie in the lobby of the hotel and walk down the street to see the strollers. We get them for only 30 RMB each and we take them back to the hotel.  The desk staff will keep them for us until we return and we set off again.  We stop in a music store and Angie buys Jeff a CD of a singer, Dao Lang (sp?), that Jeff likes very much. I am approached by a giggling young girl who wants to practice her English and she asks me to sign my name for her!  How fun!  

We keep walking and shopping, aware that we have a growing following behind us.  The people here are so different from the people in Yiwu and we are not worried at all.  The people are smiling, giving us thumbs up - not rude and poking fun like they do in Yiwu.  I buy myself some much needed sturdier shoes and a pair of sunglasses.  We come across a shooting game and of course, Josh must play.  We are now surrounded by about 100 people who cheer when Josh pops a balloon with the pellet gun and he is pleased.  I feel a tap on my elbow and hear 'hello' - it is Mr. Liu from the SWI, the man we met 4 years ago.  He has his son with him and we invite them to supper with us.  We keep walking toward the Bideboa and when we get there, the owner has to 'shoo' the crowd out, not once but several times!

During the meal, the owner gives Josh and Becca a shark game where you have to push down the teeth until one closes its mouth.  People are so generous!  Then we head back to the hotel in the motorcycle taxis.  Mr. Liu, his son and Angie come upstairs to watch the video footage of the toy store fun and also a tape Jeff brought that shows our home so they can see where Becca lives now.  After the tapes, everyone says goodnight and we have our baths, get ready for bed, etc.

Monday, October 4th

We are unable to get decent train tickets back to Yiwu � only standing tickets are available and that is not acceptable for the children to stand for nine hours. We change plans again as Angie has a friend in Nanchang who managed to get sleeper seats from Nanchang to Yiwu.  We won't need to sleep as it is a day train but we will have much more room and it will be private.

We drop plans to sightsee again as taking the bamboo strollers out to the SWI is my priority. We will say our goodbyes at the SWI, meet Angie's parents and take a bus to Nanchang.  We arrive at the SWI to be greeted by the kids and their basketballs, ready to play.  I take the chairs in to find the two children.  Angie tells me she is amazed that I noticed them and knew their problems, but I guess, after 17 years of Special Education, you develop an 'eye�.  The nannies are happy to help me transfer the children to the chairs and they are a god fit.  They even have a good footrest that will keep their legs well-supported.  I am so excited as we go outside, the other children are so happy to see the two come outside.  They talk to them, laugh, tickle them and give them toys.  The older girl is so excited - she is looking everywhere and stiffens when we play ball near her.  The other child, a smaller boy, is a bit overwhelmed but he appears interested in the playing too.  Xiao Ying is happy to see us today; she brings me a ball to play with her and blesses me with many smiles.  I keep telling her that mom is coming soon.

As we play ball all together, I am surprised to see Ms. Xu appear in a straw hat and a metal object in her hand - she is going out to cut grass by hand with some of the older girls! She is an amazing woman.  We have got to see about getting a better system for them - maybe a small mower or a weed-eater.  We say our goodbyes and I snap what I hope will be a great photo of Becca leaning out the car window, grasping hands with Xiao Ying, both of them shouting 'bye' over and over to each other.

I still want to shop a little - to buy something from Fenyi for both Becca and my mom.  Ms. Xu cleans up and takes us out to several shops.  I buy some Fenyi green tea for my mom and then we go to another shop filled with accessories.  I buy some hair things for myself, Angie buys Becca some hairclips and I get a bracelet with a stone heart on it for Becca when she is older.  Becca and I pick out a few things for my mom and the shopkeeper gives Becca some more hairclips.

We go to the Fenyi primary school, where Angie's parents used to work and where they still live. It is a beautiful school with really well-kept grounds and Angie's parents greet us with fruit and moon cakes.  We walk down the road for lunch and then we need to go pack for a 3:00 PM bus to Nanchang.  We come downstairs to check out after we pack up and find Ms. Xu and Angie's family ready to see us off at the bus.  

The bus has been delayed so we sit in the lobby for a little while.  Jeff and I had talked while we were packing about coming back to Fenyi for a summer sometime in the future to repaint, teach some English, maybe teach the nannies some therapies for the disabled children, etc. and we mention the idea to Ms. Xu.  She says that would be fine and says we can have a room in the old people's building.  Maybe I can talk my mom into coming.  We also talk about our visa problems and how we don't know how long we will be in the country at this point but she says we are welcome to bring my mom back over Spring Festival, if we are still here.

The whole group takes us to the bus and we say tearful goodbyes to Angie's parents, her sister and Ms. Xu. There are no words to thank her for the last three days - they have been incredible.  We have had so much fun and we just love Fenyi.  Becca is very much at peace with the visit.  The bus ride is fairly uneventful except for the people peering in the windows to check us out as we are waiting for the bus to leave.  The scenery is really nice - China is really pretty as we pass lots of really big hills covered in green, fields of rice, and water buffalo grazing in the fields.

We meet Angie's classmate at the bus station and she tries convincing us to stay in a different hotel but we have already decided on the Lakeview since this is where we first met Becca. Angie and her friend say goodnight and leave us at the Lakeview.

We order some dinner (we remember to order our burgers well done from the last time we were here and they were served so rare - Josh eats two as he is low on protein from Fenyi!) and I take Becca to the restroom.  We are walking back through the lobby and I am telling her all about it � this used to be the store, the restaurant was longer, this bar is new but the jade tree and chandelier were here, etc.  The concierge, Arthur, comes over to speak to us and tells us he has been there five years and I am correct in my memories of the lobby. He asks the name of our guide when we were there and when I say Sissi, he pulls out his cell phone and asks if I would like to speak to her!  We talk a few minutes and then appears at the hotel about 1/2 an hour later.  How wonderful!  We talk for some time and she presents Becca with a gorgeous porcelain plate for the Jiaxing area. She finally says good night and offers to be our guide and cook for us if we come back in Spring Festival.  Again, I explain the visa situation and promise to keep her informed.

Tuesday morning, we have the breakfast buffet and head to the train.  We have great seats - thanks to Angie - really we have 4 bunks and 1 is a lower bunk so we have a place to sit.  The kids climb into the second bunk and get out their magazines and Game Boys.  It is a good trip and we arrive in Yiwu about 6:15 or so.  Angie comes back to our apartment for some supper as her train to Shanghai leaves at midnight.  The trip is over and there is so much to think about, so many details and memories to store.  I am so happy and relieved that the trip was so good; the orphanage was as we suspected - a good place for the children and that Becca loved her hometown. Angie is a true blessing from God � her efforts made the trip go so smoothly and we are so blessed to know her. I know these days will live in all of our hearts forever.

2005-12 - A Fenyi Mom, Carla Sanford-Elliot has passed away recently and we have planned a memorial in her honor in Fenyi. We are building a family/educational room in the SWI to be called Carla's Room. Anyone wishing to contribute to the fund can contact me for bank info. The trip is planned for July 2006.

Susan King

We'd love to hear from any families that have children that are from Fenyi and would welcome any information anyone might have about the city or orphanage.

Please e-mail me at if you have any additional information or if your child is from here and you would like to post a picture here or other contact information.