Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Trip to the aquarium

We started out with a good breakfast and a dose of Dramamine so we could go to the Beijing Aquarium today.  Before visiting the aquarium we stopped at the place Claire was found as a baby and the police station she was taken to.  Recently parents have been able to get pictures that were taken when the children arrived at the police station but in 2002 they didn't take pictures of the children; that started only a couple of years ago.  That was a disappointment but we did get a picture of the station to add to Claire's life book.
After that we went to her finding location and I was overwhelmed with emotion.  I was emotional about the fact that our daughter was left in this spot when she was a baby and the mere thought of her being there alone was a lot to think about.  Then to think of a woman carrying her child for 9 months and then spending a few days with her before making the decision to leave her simply overwhelmed me.  I have carried 3 children and the thought of feeling forced to leave them behind is unthinkable to me.  I don't feel anger towards her but rather compassion and sympathy.  I know that must have been such an awful day for her and I know she probably thinks about her child every day and looks into the face of every girl around 7 years old wondering if that might be her child; hoping she has been given a better life.  I know many of you probably think her birth mother couldn't have loved her at all or she wouldn't have abandoned her.  But, this country is different than our own and has placed many pressures on women to produce a son.  Even though many (if not all) these women who have abandoned children would love to raise a little girl, they face punishment from their husband and family if they do just that. 
Abandoning a child here in China is illegal with the punishment being jail time but yet women go to great lengths to leave their children in very public places to ensure they are found quickly.  They usually wait away from the area but within sight to make sure their children are found quickly.  The area Claire was found was probably the busiest place we've been to, second to the subway so this tells us that her mother risked a lot, really her life to make sure she was found quickly.  This tells us that she most definitely loved her little girl so much that she risked her own life to give her daughter a better one.
Other things we learned today-
Our guide also said she thinks Claire is from a different area than Beijing.  She named the same place that the lady in the shop did.  She told us that people in Beijing rarely, if ever, abandon their children because they know they will have a good life in the city.  This tells us that her birth mother either traveled from far away to leave her in the city for a better life or she was a migrant worker who did not get the same benefits as permanent residents of the city.
The government has been trying to reduce the amount of children abandoned by extending health insurance to farmers in 2004 and life insurance in 2007.  This has made it so a farming family does not have to rely on their son to support them when they are older because they know the government will so they are now less likely to abandon girls.  Our guide also confirmed that this is around the time that the slow down in international adoption started so the two things are probably related.
Now the government has a new problem- children who have special needs being abandoned.  Of all the special needs children abandoned, only about 10% will qualify for adoption.  The other children are deemed as having "mental" problems making them less desirable by adoptive families (what they think) and the government takes care of them for life; they will most likely spend their entire life in the orphanage.  The reason for many of these special needs children are the result of women not obtaining care during pregnancy and not learning of any problems with the child during the pregnancy.  The government has now made it free to obtain care during pregnancy to try and reduce the amount of special needs children being abandoned.
After a heavy morning we arrived at the aquarium and had a nice time.  Claire liked looking at all the fish and they had a good dolphin and seal show as well. 
We've finally reached the half-way point of our trip.  I'm missing the kids at home tremendously and I can't wait to get back home to them.  Only 2 more breakfasts here in Beijing and then we fly to Guangzhou.  We've become such a regular at the hotel now we don't even have to give them our room number to get the breakfast for free; today she just looked at us and said "yes, come in."  We had a good laugh at that and said that was definitely a sign that it was time to go.
Claire is a pro at hair styling.  She spends a lot of her time in the room putting many ponytails into her hair and today I ended up with 7 ponytails and dad even had a headband.
In a way it feels like we are completely spoiling her because we do things for her that we don't do for the kids back home.  Things such as rubbing her down with lotion after her bath.  It is great skin to skin contact and we had to think of it as we did the same thing when the other kids were babies.  We are kind of going back to the baby stage with her and doing those things we didn't get to do back then.  We also sit and rock her in our arms and sing rock a bye baby and she just loves it. 
We are trying to find the fine line between making her happy because just one week ago we ripped her out of every thing she's every known but also not giving her every thing she asks for because that can't continue when we get home.  I think we've done fairly well so far but I think getting home and setting a routine with rules is going to be a very good thing.
We have established that she has to ask "please" before taking food when she wants to.  When she wants a snack she just holds her hand out and motions and I don't think that is a very good practice to start so our guide reinforced to her that she needs to ask please to get food.  She's done really well the rest of the day and asked please when she wanted a snack.  I think this is good because the pantry at home is fairly open territory because the kids know they need to ask before getting snacks so this will help establish that she can't graze all day without permission.
We've learned (the hard way) that she absolutely hates being scared or startled.  I did it to her when we were playing a couple of nights ago and she went from happy to crying and very mad at me in .2 seconds.  I had to rock her and tell her I was sorry many times and then she still had a grudge for awhile. 
I think we are going to walk to another silk market that isn't far from our hotel tomorrow.  We might go swimming one more time and then we get to pack up!  It is probably going to take awhile; it feels like we've completely moved in here.  I'm so ready to go though; one step closer to my kiddos back home.  We're still blocking out that 14 hour plane ride with a motion sick child.  We'll just pretend that isn't going to happen.

1 comment:

  1. You are doing everything right!! My daughter is 7 and has been home for 18 months and still LOVES for me to rock her and sing "Rock a Baby" (what she calls it). I truly think when they are older and try to remember what it was like to be a baby...they will remember us singing and rocking them. It is like re-wiring their brains and recreating the baby stage and toddler years that they did not have with a family. I will continue to do it as long as she wishes. I will add that this type of behavior and "therapy" happens at home.
    I still rub lotion on her everyday especially since her skin has not taken to the dry climate here and gets chapped very easily.
    We still carry her around when she asks but for the most part she is very age appropriate.
    Your daughter is such a cutie and I enjoy following your blog!