Parents' Experiences Adopting from Ji'an
From a mom adopting in May 1996: We adopted a little girl from the Ji'an Social Welfare House. We did not get to go to the orphanage since this was during a time when China was getting a lot of bad press and stopped all visits to the orphanages. Our daughter was brought by bus to the Lakeside Hotel in Nanchang where we received her from her nanny. Our daughter is doing magnificently. She will be 18 months tomorrow, and is bright, athletic, funny, good natured, and healthy. I can't believe how lucky we were to get her. There were ten babies in our group who were adopted from the Ji'an Social Welfare House and all are doing well. The babies ranged in age from about 4 months to 8 months. Our daughter was 6 1/2 months when we adopted her. Although we did not get to see Ji'an, I can tell you the ten babies were well cared for. Of course, some had colds and others had weird haircuts (to check for lice?). But all were sociable and sweet, and none had any severe medical problems (except that one baby did subsequently test positive for Hepatitis B but has shown no ill effects from the disease). We've kept in contact with the others in our group and periodically get pictures and updates. Every single baby is growing developmentally right on schedule and I hear nothing but glowing reports from adoring parents.
And another mom: "The three babies from Ji'an in our group were brought to the hotel in Nanchang. Ji'an is about a 6 to 8 hour drive from Nanchang and in a mountainous region. All three were in very good condition but seemed significantly younger than the official birthdays we were given. Our daughter had a bad diaper rash and tested positive for TB upon arrival home, but is very healthy. She was in foster care for about five months." (MC, 3/97)
From a mom adopting June 1998: "We were not able to learn much about the orphanage while in China, although we did receive a few pictures of the orphanage from the doctor that accompanied us on our trip. The buildings were basically institutional and we also received a picture of what we were told was our daughter's crib. We met with the director but got no information. It seemed pretty clear that he was not involved with the children, although the caretaker who handed us our daughter seemed lovely and sweet. When our daughter arrived at the hotel, she was healthy, but weighed very little. She was 13 months old and weighed 12 pounds. When they placed her in our arms, we were told she could eat formula, rice and porridge. We assume that this was all she had been eating at Ji'an. She started eating table food almost immediately and in four weeks gained 4 pounds. Some other things for new parents to be aware of: It was clear to us that our daughter had never been allowed to be on her stomach because when we first put her on her stomach she screamed like crazy (and this from a child who cries very little). We understand that this is a very normal situation in orphanages -- they really don't want to encourage the kids to be able to roll over or to get up without assistance because of the concern of falling out of the cribs. She also went nuts when we tried to bathe her the first few times. She was so scared that I assumed that she had been sponged bathed exclusively. She did OK as long as I was in the bath with her and holding her on my lap. While she certainly has developmental delays (gross motor skills such a turning over, sitting up, rolling side to side), she is very healthy. Although she was underfed, as I said earlier, she is very healthy and did not even have any skin or respiratory problems. She is also a very loving and social child, so I have to believe that she was given some love and affection at Ji'an. I would be happy to talk with parents about to adopt from Ji'an." And in an update sent October 1998: "She has now gained 9 pounds in 3 1/2 months and has caught up on nearly all of her developmental delays -- there is still some residual weakness in her legs and upper body but it is very minor. I'd like prospective parents to understand that they are not likely to get much, if any information, concerning their babies in Ji'an but should have faith that the children from this orphanage will be fine." (MB)
From a mom adopting in May 2000: "Our daughter was brought to us at our hotel in Nanchang. She was 8 months old at the time. There was only one other baby from Ji'an in our group. Both babies were very small for supposedly being 8 - 9 months old, but both were in good health. Our daughter had a rash around her neck (probably a heat rash), a boil on her lower back (which cleared up in a few days) and a runny nose. And she looked undernourished. When she was handed to me by the orphanage worker, she looked into my face, touched my face and then smiled. She immediately took to me. She could say "Babba," "Mamma," "Ya ya," and nod her head up and down. But she could not sit up on her own and did not like being put on her stomach. She also screamed the first time we gave her a bath in the sink. But she was (and is) a very social and happy baby. She must have been given attention and good care at the orphanage. She had no adjustment problems whatsoever. Today, at 15 months, she is still very petite--only 19 pounds. She has no developmental delays whatsoever. She has had her second set of blood tests for Hep A and B and both were negative. She is a healthy, social, curious and talkative little girl, the joy of our lives." (VS)
A note to other adoptive parents from Ji'an: We also noticed the lack of knowledge on the part of the director. He insisted that Savannah could stand with help, she wasn't even close. In his defense, Savannah had been in foster care for the past eight months. All 6 children from Ji'an supposedly had the same schedules, food preferences, temperaments and developmental abilities. This was definitely not reality. All the babies were at least a little malnourished, but Savannah was the smallest at 11 lbs. and 24 inches at 10 months. She ate everything we gave her. She was very healthy and still is. She had not had a bath in a long time and wasn't really happy about that. She had an intense fear of Chinese women, especially older ones. She loved all men and still bonds quicker with men than women. She bonded with us immediately and switches back and forth between being a mommy's or daddy's girl. We are still dealing with a slight language delay, but it is not enough to qualify for speech therapy yet. Physically she is advanced and excels in gymnastics. She is one of the 3 lights in our lives; she blends into our entire family perfectly! Oh yeah, she has medium brown hair. She attracted lots of attention in China, because they thought she was American until they saw her face. They were somewhat confused, but gave us the thumbs up anyway. (TP/JP, a. 3/99)
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.