Thursday, May 31, 2012

The SWI Visit Part 2

3 weeks ago we visited the SWI (Social Welfare Institute) that we thought Sweet Pea was living in.  It turned out she lived in a home with her Nanny and 4 other babies and her Nanny's family.  But still this is the place that she would come for paperwork, doctor visits, and for the pictures they sent us while we were waiting.  At the time I did post a bit about the visit itself, but I had not yet sorted through the photos.  So here are...some, a very small some really...of the photos I took that day.
It took us awhile to find the orphanage as my guide wasn't sure how to find it.  Finally the assistant director came out to meet us.  She hopped in the front seat with our guide and directed the driver.  I took many photos of the city as we wandered the streets.

During the visit, though I took many pictures, there are many shots I missed because I was so focused on staying close to my baby and I wasn't sure exactly what was allowed.  But here is Sweet Pea immediately upon being reunited with her Nanny.
It was the first time we'd seen her that upset.  We've seen it since...usually at the doctor's office.  I don't know what she was feeling at all, but I know it was hard on all of us.  And it was hard to leave her in her Nanny's arms crying.  But I'd told myself I'd let her hold her and she took off to the kitchen to feed her.
But our guide and the assistant director didn't give her a chance.  
The hall outside the kitchen.  I was so focused on Sweet Pea and asking about my friend's baby and baby rooms that I didn't look at the rooms on this floor or the signs.  I didn't take wide angle shots of the area.  I only took pictures of Sweet Pea and her Nanny in the director's office.  I'm not sure I have one single good shot of the director, though I do have several of the assistant director.  I didn't ask the questions that now flow through my mind or the ones I expect Sweet Pea may someday have.  I guess this is why some urge you to wait to visit the SWI on a Heritage Tour...when the baby will remember it.  Certainly I want to do that someday, too.  I just wish I'd been better prepared for this visit.

However...I did get a lot of photos.  The whole picture is just not complete.  But here they are.  I'll try to keep my words to a minimum, but feel free to ask questions in the comments.  I'll answer what I can and would.

The Outside...Everything was under construction.  I'm still amazed we were allowed to visit.

The seat the Nanny tried to put Sweet Pea in while she prepared the bottle.  I held her instead.

The room I THOUGHT was Sweet Pea's since the Nanny made the bottle in it.  On the right is the door to the hall and a small room with running water, possibly bathroom.  On the left is a door to the balcony.  There were 4 babies here.

Oak and the Assistant Director.  They'd finally tracked us down.  Oak and Huckleberry apparently looked in all of the baby rooms looking for us and found us in the last one.  I only saw the inside of 3 of the rooms that held babies.  This was the third floor of the building we were in and the floor had 6 to 8 rooms of babies.

Ummm, I look crazy here, but I was just feeling a little overwhelmed and a lot unsure of what to do and what was allowed.
One of the other baby rooms on the floor...Labeled Baby Room #3

Baby Room #3's Balcony (and Huckleberry)
The 3rd floor had rooms all down one side of the hall and a balcony basically the length of the building on the other side of the hall.  
Then the 3rd room we visited (we went back to baby room #3 to take more pictures after spending time in this last room.)  Here Sweet Pea's Nanny continued to feed her her bottle, everyone was talking, and I finally decided they didn't seem to mind what I took pictures of.  This room was labeled Dry Room, but it was now housing babies and a Nanny.

The Balcony of Dry Room #3...Clearly the Nanny's washed the kids clothes in the little washroom each room had and hung them on their own balconies.  There was a lot of windows and light in the whole building. 

The view from the balcony.  I don't know if it was part of the old SWI and remodel or something else entirely.
Then we left.  We went to Sweet Pea's finding spot and I took several pictures until someone seemed to be getting upset and my guide rushed us away.  Then I took more pictures as Oak was holding the sleeping Sweet Pea as we drove out of town and back to Nanchang.  Basically it was the small city of Yugan with a village on its edge, then rice fields and rivers and countryside until we got back to the large city of Nanchang.
Couldn't help thinking this could have been Sweet Pea's life in an ideal world. 



DiJo said...

You did a great job with these photos!!! It has been five years for us since we brought home Ruby, and I still can't get over the baskets with the precious infants in them... I know this was a bitter sweet visit for you.. Hard but so special that you could do it! We were just at our 3 year olds SWI last summer... I will never forget the feeling of it all...

Blessing to you. "Sweet Pea" is precious!


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sharing these photos. Unfortunately when we brought our daughter home we were not allowed to visit the orphanage. This was so upsetting. Going through others pictures and stories really helps us to fill in the missing pieces. Congratulations on your beautiful daughter!

Anonymous said...

I think your photos are amazing! I also didn't get to go inside when we visited the orphanage after adopting my second daughter in 2009. Your photos (and the video someone has posted) really have helped get a fuller picture of the world my Mei Ji experienced prior to joining our family. Interestingly she was only 6 months at adoption but she loves little babies and cares for her baby dolls very tenderly, lining them up in baskets and cribs all along the foot of my bed - just like your pictures of the babies in their baskets at the foot of the Nanny's beds. It has only recently come to me what she has been recreating. Best wishes to your family and your dear little Sweet Pea.
Sydney Australia

Sarah and Phoebe said...

I actually think this was better than actually visiting the SWI myself. Knowing my baby was living there during your visit is wonderful and you take way better photographs than I do!!!! Thank you for sharing these!!!!

Jenn said...

Thanks for posting these pictures. Your daughter is precious. I was wondering if there is a way to contact you through e-mail or another way. My husband and I are currently in the process, hoping to travel soon and I was wondering if I could ask you some questions. Thanks! I have loved watching your journey!!

a Tonggu Momma said...

I'm so glad you were able to visit!!! I know it must have been difficult, but a blessing at the same time. How are y'all doing?.

Catherine said...

What an amazing gift that you were able to visit and capture so many pictures too! Hopefully there are many people you will make happy in the future when they have a picture of their baby before their referral!!!

Precious moments. So happy for you and Sweet Pea too!

Nancy said...

Why am I crying all over again? Still so many emotions so close to the surface.

The Johnsons said...

Oh I love, love, love all the pictures! We're "in" China right now you know! There's so much to learn! We might be here forever! Thanks for the tour of the baby rooms. Was the nanny's room in the SWI? I'm confused about that part. Do the nanny's live the room with the babies? Are those baskets their beds?