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
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 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!).
Click on each picture below for a larger version, then your back arrow to return to the thumbnail listing.
Please e-mail me at email@example.com 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.