We left our hotel this morning early to head to Dongguan. This is the city where Lila’s orphanage is. It is about an hour from Guangzhou, heading down the Pearl River highway back toward Hong Kong. The first thing we noticed about Dongguan is how beautiful it is. It is very lush and green, and in parts you would think you were driving in Hawaii…very beautiful! Dongguan is a very large city and it is known for it’s factories. Many people that live in Dongguan are not from there, but have come there to work in the factories. Our Beijing guide said that if you’ve ever bought anything from China, it was probably made in Dongguan.
We pulled up to the orphanage and for some reason I was just so nervous. I guess I knew this was going to be emotional for me, and of course it was. I had Lila in the k’tan (I have officially learned how to baby wear!) so that hopefully she would feel safe with me and not get sad. The orphanage from the outside is nice. You can tell they try to maintain the grounds as much as possible. We walked in and were met by Mo, who is one of the lead people at the orphanage. He is the person that prepares the children’s files for them to be adopted. He led us back outside and around to the “foster homes” where Lila was living. She lived in the second house, and it is a house divided into 4 separate foster homes, 2 upstairs, 2 downstairs. Each foster home has 2 nannies living there, taking care of around 16 children. We walked up the stairs and into the room where Lila had been living from the time she was brought to the orphanage until Monday morning of this week.
I am crying as I type this. Y’all. It was so sad. It was made up of a large central room, and then 4 rooms off to the side- a bedroom with all of the cribs, another room with cribs, a twin bed, and a fold down bed (both for the nannies) with a bathroom in between, a small kitchen, and a small laundry room. When we walked in one of the nannies was feeding some of the children their lunch. It was congee, which is a rice porridge. She was spoon feeding it to a child and the rest of the children were lying or walking around this front room. It was just very sad to see that this is where she had been living, lying around just waiting for attention. The kids still there were just so sweet. They were so sad. There were no toys, and they really weren’t doing anything. They were just sitting. And laying. And waiting. Waiting for something to change, for someone to call them a son or daughter. I have so many pictures that would show so much more, but out of respect for the orphanage I will only share a few.
We walked around and I took pictures of her living area. We saw the crib that she slept in (below, and
mattresses are gone because it is Friday and they wash them we have since found out there are no mattresses, and that she slept for 2 years on a piece of wood), the sink where she was bathed, and the kitchen where her nannies cook the congee and make the bottles. It was clean, but it was lacking so much. We recognized so many things from the pictures we had received over the last few months, but we just didn’t know how bad it really was. I know it is the best they can do, and the nannies and Mo and others that work there care so much for the children, but it is just not enough.
We gave one of Lila’s nannies the gifts we brought for them, and I told her thank you for taking care of our girl for the last two years. It was very emotional for me, but for her I don’t think it was that big of a deal, or at least she didn’t show it. She is so busy taking care of all of the children, and I’m sure she is happy for Lila but she didn’t say much.
After leaving her home, we headed back into the main orphanage and up the stairs to the Sunshine School. This is where all of the children that are three years or older live. It is a much nicer area than the foster homes. There are many toys, and many kids! They also have more teachers and these kids go to school here starting at 3 years old. They are teaching them all subjects, including English. When we walked in one room of 3 year olds, some of the kids shouted “hello!” in English! In this room I was able to take some pictures for two families I know from our Facebook group that are waiting for their approval. It was so nice to be able to take pictures for them and update them on their kiddos!
Then we headed to the playground, and so much of this looked familiar! The red slide is where Lila sat for the first picture we ever saw of her, and many more pictures of her were on the different parts of the playground. Chloe and Jack enjoyed playing around and I was so thankful to see this part of the orphanage. When we were done there, we headed around to the back of the building which serves as an elderly home. Our guide said sometimes the older people will come out and sit to watch the children from the orphanage play. That warmed my heart! Here we are with Mo, and with the slide from the first picture we ever saw of our Lila.
When we went back inside Mo went to get Lila’s file so he could tell our guide where Lila’s finding spot is. Lila, like all children in the China orphanages, was abandoned. Her parents could not keep her, and it is illegal to abandon or put your child up for adoption, so most parents leave their babies somewhere where they can be found, but far from where they live so that they will not get arrested for abandonment.
Before we left we ran into Lila’s other nanny and also the supervisor of the foster homes. We had been praying for this nanny since receiving a picture of her holding Lila in March, so we were glad to tell her thank you one more time. The supervisor knew Lila and was SO sweet. She kept telling our guide how happy she was for Lila, and what a smart girl she is. We could all tell that she was very fond of Lila! That was very special and we will always tell Lila how much people there loved her.
We left the orphanage and drove about an hour to her finding spot. It was very hard to take in, and it just made me hold her a little tighter and tell her how sorry we are for what happened, and how thankful we are that she is now safe and in our care and part of our family.
As we drove away, my heart just broke.
I am so, so thankful that we chose to adopt. This isn’t easy, and we didn’t do it just because we wanted a bigger family. We didn’t do it just because we have cousins that adopted from China. We didn’t do it just because God calls all of us as believers to care for orphans.
We did it because instead of asking ourselves the question “how can we?”, we always asked ourselves the question “how can we not?”
Friends, there are sweet little girls and boys lying in the Dongguan orphanage tonight that need a family. There are thousands of orphans all over China that need a family. There are millions orphans all over the world that need families!
I am thankful that each of you is following our story. I can’t tell you how important your prayers, comments, texts, and emails have been. But more than following our story, I want it to inspire you. I want it to move you. I want you to be asking the question, “How can we not?”. How can we NOT adopt? How can we NOT give to orphan ministries? How can we NOT do something to help these kids?
If you could have walked up the stairs to where our sweet Lila was living just five days ago, I promise you would have the answer to those questions.
Instead of praying for us tonight, we ask that you ask God what He would have you do for orphans. Pray for your hearts to be open to adoption. Pray for how you can better support orphans in your area or around the world.
Because after seeing what I saw today, I can’t help but ask that you find a way to say “how can we not!”