Anyway, on this day we visited the orphanage where Ethan had spent part of his life. It was here that we learned he had been in a foster home for about 10 months. We did not know that previously. He had come to the orphanage when he was approximately two months old, and he had stayed there until he was about nine months old, at which time he was placed in a foster home. We also learned that it was foster daddy who spent most of the time with him and took naps with him and such. That explained a LOT about why he was all Daddy's boy! About a week before we arrived in Kunming to pick him up, he was placed back into the orphanage. That's a lot of change in a short time for a little guy (for anyone, for that matter) - foster home, orphanage, strange people in a hotel room, all in a matter of a couple weeks.
We had a very nice tour of the orphanage and were able to ask questions. They showed us the room where his age group was kept. There were so many cribs, just lined up. And even though the staff is caring and tries their best, there are still children who don't receive the attention they crave and whose cries are not answered. It's so sad. We were so thankful that Ethan had been in a foster home and had not had to spend all of his life here.
There was a very kind, warm lady who worked in the medical/hospital section of the orphanage who remembered Ethan immediately. She and all the nurses knew who he was the moment they saw his blue eyes. She told us that they had tested his eyes repeatedly, because they thought he may have been albino (therefore, having vision problems). But it turns out his vision is fine, and he only suffers from the hearing loss. This wonderful lady had worked at this orphanage for over 30 years! All the staff was very pleased that he was going to his forever home.
We asked the woman if she would please write Ethan a note, in Chinese, for him to read when he was older. She seemed taken aback at first, at the request, but she did write him a short note. We did this so that when Ethan is older and asks questions about where he came from, we can pull out the note and show him. It will be a bonding experience as, together, we find someone who can translate it for us. Hopefully, it will help him know a little about his early childhood.
While we were walking around the orphanage, Ethan fell asleep in the front-pack baby carrier that I had him in. It was so nice to have him resting against me - my first experience holding our son while he was napping.
From the orphanage, we traveled to a very exquisite tea shop, where they explained to us the origins of the pu-ehr tea that grows in the region. We learned about the 200-year-old tea trees that grow in the region, as well as learning that the tea was carried along the same trade routes as silk in the olden days. Sometimes it would take two years for it to reach its destination! Puehr tea grows in value as it ages. In days gone by, two cakes of pressed tea leaves would be given to a newly married couple - one cake for them to use, and one to keep in case they ran in to financial trouble down the road and needed to sell it. The tea also grows less bitter (more mellow) with age.
We loved this experience. We tasted several different kinds of tea, and the hostess explained about each of them. In the end, of course, we purchased a couple cakes of puehr tea, and the establishment gave us several other items for a discount or for free. And, because we were adopting a local baby, the manager gave us a special little gift. We didn't open it until later, and it turned out to be a figurine of a bearded man. (I will have to ask someone who it is supposed to be.) When we mentioned to the hostess that Ethan was deaf, she said she was glad he was going to America, because there is very little help for the deaf there. I had read earlier that deaf orphans MAY, if they're chosen, attend a special school for the deaf at the age of five. Can you imagine? Five years with no communication?! And then, only if you're lucky, do you get to go to a special school to help you.
We achieved some small milestones this day, as well. Ethan began to interact with me a bit more. He began to crawl around to see where I was. We all played peek-a-boo after his nap, crawling around on the floor in the hotel room. I guess he figured I was OK, if I could be fun and play with him. He would also look around for me, if I left the room! Baby steps, small victories - each day brings more.
To be continued...