Thursday, February 28, 2013

Visiting Bao'an Social Welfare Institute

What a day. I feel like I'm on emotional overload after visiting Thalia's orphanage. I'm so glad we did it, but my feelings about the experience are all in a jumble. The good news is that as far as orphanages go, it's a good place. We were allowed pretty much everywhere and could take pictures and video as we liked, with the exception of individual kids. We visited the on-site clinic, the classrooms, the playground and playroom, and Thalia's old bedroom. (We couldn't visit her current bedroom for some reason I wasn't quite sure about.) We got to meet several of her teachers, including the American teacher who runs Sunshine Academy there. Everyone talked about how much Thalia was loved there, and it was obvious she was. It was obvious all the kids are. I was so impressed with the way I saw them being treated, especially those with serious special needs. It was definitely the best orphanage any of our kids have come from in terms of resources and appropriate care.

We saw 5 or 6 other children with Down syndrome, including a little girl that Thalia booted out of "her" desk so she could take her regular seat in the class. It was so funny! Another little boy with Ds came straight to us and started hugging everyone. He was so cute. :) Our guide kept suggesting that we have the orphanage tell the CCWAA to put him on hold for us. ;) I told her I thought 13 was plenty for us, but that I'd advocate for him once home. I'll have to do some hunting to find him.

The staff also let us meet and photograph several children who have adoptive parents coming for them. I can't wait to send them their pictures! I lived for these updates when we were waiting, so I'm happy to be able to return the favor now. (Or pay it forward, I guess.)

We found out that Thalia was in a foster family for at least the last 3 months. Apparently they so this with all the kids who are going to be adopted so they can get a taste of family life. I wish we could have met the foster parents, but we did meet another child's foster mother and she was wonderful!

Saying goodbye was hard. One of the teachers cried, and others were emotional. Thalia waved and yelled "Goodbye, goodbye," as we walked away and continued until everyone was out of sight as we drove away. I know her life will be much better with us; she'll have a family and a good education, a knowledge of her Savior, and many opportunities, but she's also leaving behind a "family" and her culture. It's hard to think through it all.

The staff took some photos of Thalia's baby pictures on their computer screen but promised to email them to us. I'm posting them below. They're so cute!


  1. Her baby pictures are adorable. What an awesome gift for you :)

  2. Those are some seriously adorable baby pictures! That playground looks familiar to me. Is that the orphanage that was on the China's Lost Girls DVD? It was done several years ago, so even if it is that orphanage, she probably wasn't there yet.

  3. LOVE that you got baby pictures and to see most of the facility! Can't wait to hear more!

  4. It's bittersweet, isn't it? So glad she was loved and cared for!

  5. Hi Tana! What a beautiful family you have! We have sent a LOI for a sweet little girl with Down syndrome at this same orphanage. I stumbled upon your blog when I was looking for info. :-) Praying that our circumstances work out to adopt this sweet little one! Our youngest daughter has DS and she is such a blessing! Would love to pick your brain about your experience if everything works out!