Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Mother's Love

We woke up Monday morning to familiar surroundings at the Majestic. We had breakfast at the Garden Restaurant, as we did every morning when we were here for Maya’s adoption. The buffet was the same, but you might notice that Zoe’s plate isn’t the typical American breakfast – she has noodles and an egg roll! As I did for Maya’s adoption trip, I had far too many of the chocolate croissants.

Since we wait around a lot on adoption trips, I have a million pictures of Zoe and Maya on the white marble steps in the Majestic lobby. And here we are again, recreating that experience. Such sweet sisters, huh? But you tell me, does it look like they’re hugging or trying to choke each other?!

Then we headed out for Mother’s Love. I remembered the road leading there, and the park with an elaborate gate just before the road to Mother’s Love. But this time I noticed kiosks selling the sorts of things we see outside Nanputuo – incense, flowers, hell money. When I asked our guide if there was a temple nearby, he said no. So I was puzzled. But he explained that what I thought was a park was actually a cemetery, like Arlington National Cemetery. I guess I missed that tidbit of information on our first trip here.

We drove up the hill to Mother’s Love, which was an improvement over walking there like last time. The same unfriendly dogs were guarding the same farm houses that lined the road. I was glad that this time there was a barrier between us and them! We pulled up to the same building we visited last time – the one with the statue in the interior courtyard.

But then came the first surprise of the morning – Mother’s Love is no longer Mother’s Love! The original building, with the statue, is now a school for autistic children. It seems that the Department of Civil Affairs simply reassigned the building to the new school, and Mother’s Love had to move out. (Maybe this was karma – it seems that there was a home for disabled veterans there when Civil Affairs reassigned it to Mother’s Love). Mother’s Love had another building near this one, so now all of its facilities are in that one building. Since most of their kids are in foster care, it seems the one building is adequate for them now. I wonder, though, whether they are able to take in as many new children. We weren’t able to tour the new (other) building, but I understand there isn’t a baby room and it houses only special needs kids who aren’t in foster care.

Our second surprise, as we walked toward that other building, was that Maya’s entire foster family – MaMa, BaBa, JeiJei, and new MeiMei were waiting outside for us! This was the first time I had a chance to meet BaBa, and MeiMei is the family’s latest foster child (Maya was the first, their second was adopted to America, and their third was adopted domestically by a family in Guangzhou). They were all so excited to see Maya!

We all sat outside on the patio and talked and exchanged gifts. They brought both Maya and Zoe presents, including tiny rattan dolls, small satin purses that the foster mom made herself, and wall hangings with images of girls in Chinese dress. And she brought them a huge bag of lychee fruit, and said it was one of Maya’s favorites when she was a baby. It’s still one of Maya’s favorite fruits! Maya and Zoe were very well-behaved and said thank you in both English and Chinese.

We gave the foster mom the photo albums with pictures of Maya, and she was delighted. She kept saying how tall and how beautiful Maya was.

Maya did pretty well at being fussed over, but it wasn’t long before she said, “I want to be with Mama,” and came over to sit on my lap. Foster mom was actually delighted by that. I had a chance to ask her some questions about Maya’s time with her – she said Maya’s favorite foods were strawberries and CHOCOLATE! And what a mess she made when she ate chocolate. She said Maya started walking very early – at 10 months. And she didn’t remember when she got her first teeth, but she remembered it as early. And it seems in addition to MaMa, BaBa, and JeiJei, the family also had NaiNai and PoPo (maternal and paternal grandmothers) living with them when Maya was there. But when Maya said nai-nai to us, she meant “drink,” which was abundantly obvious to us. Her foster mom laughed and said that Maya drove her crazy always wanting a drink. She heard “nai-nai, nai-nai” all day!

Maya’s foster mom asked me if Maya cried when she came to me, because she had been worrying about how the transition went. I was happy to be able to ease her mind about that. And she told me about Maya’s first day with her.

Soon Zoe and Maya and the baby (who is 13 months, fostered from Nanning SWI rather than Mother’s Love, and has recently had her file sent to CCAA) were playing with the bikes and other riding toys on the patio.
BaBa spent most of his time taking care of the baby while MaMa and I talked and she held Maya. BaBa did tell me that he used to give Maya rides around the neighborhood on his motorcycle and that she loved it. Everyone in the neighborhood fussed over her because she was so beautiful. And he said that Maya loved playing with the dogs in the neighborhood (it’s funny, because Maya has always been good with pets, while Zoe is terrified of them).

With the kids off playing, I had a chance to talk to JeiJei. She’s 22 years old, and works as a sales clerk in a department store. She likes it because she gets to sell jewelry. Meanwhile, Maya’s foster mom started pushing Maya around on one of the bikes, which delighted Maya. And then the baby got into the act, too!

I also brought a small album of photos for the director at Mother’s Love. I included some updated photos from our travel group – the group of babies adopted when Maya was. She loved having the pictures and thanked me profusely. She was delighted to look at each one, and compare them to their baby pictures. She seemed to remember each child. She gave both Maya and Zoe a gift from Mother’s Love – porcelain dolls in Chinese garb.

After we all chatted on the patio for a while, we took the foster family to lunch. I was so glad they were able to join us. We went to the restaurant next to the Majestic (a restaurant we ate at LOTS of times while we were here, and which has acquired an English name since we were here last – “Baby Face!”). We had a lovely lunch, and foster mom finally managed to coax a real laugh out of Maya.

My favorite part of the meal was watching them feed the baby, because I could readily see them feeding Maya in just this way.

I am so glad that we were able to see Maya’s foster family again. And they were genuinely delighted to see Maya. Foster mom kept thanking me for bringing her back to see them, and I kept thanking her for taking such good care of Maya, and we were all near tears by the time lunch was over.

I don’t think Maya will remember this day, but I hope the pictures we took can show her how much she was loved by these wonderful folks who took care of her so well.


Krista said...

What a remarkable gift...for all of you... to make this connection with each other. Looks like a truly wonderful and memorable day.

Anonymous said...

ack! I could cry reading this. It was so amazing that you have been able to go back and touch so much of Maya's past. Am I remembering correctly, that Maya came to you in a red silk jacket that her foster mother had made? I'm spending way too much time reading your blogs!

Elizabeth J.

Anonymous said...

What an amazing day to treasure for your family!
Thanks for sharing. Your daughters both look so much like my youngest from Guangxi. I am enjoying this blog, thanks for all the pictures to view! Have a great trip!

Beverly said...

Such precious memories. When I adopted Glenys in July 2005, we stayed at the Majestic. Glenys is from Wuzhou. Anyway, we were referred to the "Baby Face" restaurant and we loved it too.


mimifrancoise said...

I am so glad you met the foster family again,that Maya enjoyed herself, and that the foster MaMa saw how happy she is with you. Thanks for all the photos. I would have recognized the foster mother anywhere.

Wendy said...

SO wonderful. My mind was wandering in and out as I read as it reminded me of last year when we got Madeline and also our desire to return and meet her foster family again (we keep in touch, but it is not the same as being there). I am so happy for you and for your girls that they get to experience so much of their beginnings.

Anonymous said...

What a sweet and loving
foster family Maya had.
And for you to know how
much she was loved. Mary