Adoption in China

Adoption Heritage Tour

Summer 2006 - by Eileen Kern

This summer our family traveled to China and Cambodia, the birth countries of our daughters.  Caroline Bao Yi, aka Guo Rong, was born in Guixi, Jiangxi Province, in July 1994, and adopted at 6 months of age.  Julia Phkay, aka Rath Phkay, was born in Phnom Penh in April of 1998, and adopted at 2-months-old.  We customized an adoption heritage tour through Lotus travel, and spent 3 weeks in Southern China and Cambodia.  The entire trip was an amazingly positive experience.  One of the highlights was the time we were able to spend in Guixi.

Orphanage: The Beginning
We traveled to Guixi from Nanchang by van, on a superhighway.  The smooth ride took about 2 hours and 45 minutes, and took us through Yingtan, a beautiful countryside of rice fields and water buffalo.  Our first stop in Guixi was the orphanage.  I recognized it from the pictures I had seen on this website.  The visit was made by appointment and as of June 2006, there is a fee involved.  The staff had made a large welcome sign for us at the entrance.  They welcomed us into a conference room, where watermelon and bottled water were offered.  They showed me the limited documentation they had, including my adoption application and Caroline's abandonment and adoption certificates.  They explained that they did not begin to keep detailed records until 1997.  None of the staff from 1994 was still there, including her foster mother.  Lotus had tried to locate her for us, but we were told that she had moved and wasn't able to be found.  Nevertheless, the current staff showed great interest in the photo collages I had prepared for them, and especially, in Caroline herself.

Next we were given a tour of the baby rooms, in the new building.  Each room had the capacity for 10 babies, cared for my two nannies.  The rooms were bright, with large windows, and each room had an air conditioner.  The caregivers rooms were directly across the hall.  While we didn't see any toys while we were there, other than those attached to the walkers and potty seats, the caregivers were very engaged with the babies, holding them, talking to them, smiling at them.  The nannies were very happy to see Caroline and told the babies that she was their jie-jie, big sister.  Most of the babies we saw were approximately 8-months-old and soon to be adopted.  Between 1994-2004, the Guixi Social Welfare Institute has placed about 450 babies, with 316 of those going to homes in the United States.  The babies were beautiful (we have many photos!).

After our tour, we were served a tremendous lunch, which we ate with the director and senior staff.  They were impressed that our entire family is at ease with chop sticks.  They, like most of the people we met on our trip, seemed disappointed that Caroline did not speak Chinese.  They told us that they are very happy when adopted children return to the orphanage, particularly children who may have spent a couple years there and are well remembered.  After lunch, Caroline requested to visit the babies again, and they said yes.  On this tour, our girls actually played with and held the children.  Caroline carried one baby for quite some time and would have stayed for hours if she could have.

The staff gave Caroline a gift, a ceramic plate.  But they gave her other gifts, as well: their warm welcome and a connection to the place where she was found.  Although their records did not include the founding place, the director sensed her desire to know.  He showed her where the old gate to the orphanage used to be and the road that ran along side it, and told her that this was probably the county road I had been told she was found on.  Caroline embraced this answer, and the beautiful (with the backdrop of the sandstone arch) and safe setting it provided for her abandonment.

Guixi: the countryside
We were very fortunate; our guides boyfriend lives in Guixi, and our guide has spent a lot of time there.  She knew of a small mountain hike and asked us if wed like to take it.  We traveled some back roads, and I do mean back roads!, until the road ended.  Then, we walked through a rural village of stone houses, pigs and chickens,  to the beginning of the hike.  The scenery was magnificent: a pristine blue lake, flowering trees, butterflies of many colors, and a family of white mountain goats along the red-tinged rock ledges.  At the top of the mountain was a Taoist shrine.  This was truly special, and something we certainly would not have found on our own.

Guixi: Downtown
We went to a restaurant downtown for dinner, recommended by our guides boyfriend, and populated by cool, 20-somethings.  The food was good and the multi-course meal for 6 people cost $12 US dollars.  After dinner we walked around the downtown area, which was another surprise.  It was alight with neon and bustling at 9:00pm on a weekday.  We were quite the attraction; I don't think many Caucasians visit Guixi!  The girls were very excited to find a store much like Claires, where they bought several hair accessories while the local people practiced their English with us Americans.

We feel so blessed to have been able to spend  time in Guixi.  We have additional pictures, particularly of the babies in the orphanage.  Please feel free to contact us directly, if you would like to see more (maybe your own baby!).

Eileen Kern

Click on each picture below for a larger version, then your back arrow to return to the thumbnail listing.


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.