It was amazing once again to step through these gates...........
interested to see how it would feel this time......
and excited because new friends were here too...
it's great to be able to think about it thro their eyes this year........
Go, Manna :-)
This was a special trip for our whole family. We have been to China several times since the adoption but never before back to Guangxi and Nanning. China has been a part of our lives in many ways all the time, we have Chinese friends and our daughter is studying Mandarin at school.
In some ways China is not a big deal, it’s only a part of daily life.
At the same time, it’s so big deal.Our kids don’t have holidays in October, not more than two or three days, and yet we, the crazy Finns as Linda (affectionately) calls us, took them to China for two weeks. We started the trip in Hainan, thinking of having relaxing sunny time before facing the reality in Guangxi. Little did we know…the typhoon was heading for Hainan, the island was in a sort of chaos, storm, flooding and heavy rain everywhere and we ended up being stuck at the airport in Haikou, waiting for the plane which didn’t land and didn’t take off either.
I was sitting there, at the midnight, without any information for the planes, without any information if we’re going to be in Nanning or not, wondering if that was it. The whole trip finished before it really started.
I was quite sure we would miss the meeting with Linda and others in Nanning
and will never get to Hechi!
But we did it!
But we did it!
We had this "very interesting" bus ride from Nanning to Hechi,
were astonished by the beautiful mountains everywhere around,
spent a great day meeting the GGEF girls in Desheng and Yizhou
and then, there we were sitting in the bus driving to the SWI
on a beautiful bright sunny Tuesday morning.
I guess we all were a bit nervous, curious and excited. So many times we had been looking at the photos from the place where our daughter had spent her first year and now, we would see it so soon. I don’t really know if our daughter really really knew or understood what she’s going to see;
she was just busy having fun with her friends.
Kind of spooky feeling to see the gate so familiar from the photo, enter the SWI premises, step out of the bus and look around.
In the very first beginning there was nobody,
and then, suddenly there was everybody.
There were staff members, foster mothers with their children and there were we in the middle of all these friendly and smiling people.
We felt like this was the place where we were supposed to be!
It would have been very different to visit the SWI alone and I truly think it was very good for our daughter to visit with friends. She had the possibility to take a little distance if needed, to in a way keep a distance and to escape in playing with the friends. She didn’t take part that much in the conversations we had with her nanny, the doctor and with other persons who knew her as a baby but those conversations surely were important for her – and for us the parents.
I’m sure she is more complete now after this visit.
We have some little important pieces for her story we didn’t have earlier.
The whole day was an experience.
The whole China trip was an experience.
The whole story of our daughter is an experience.........
and the internet is an other experience.
Without the internet we would (probably?) have never met Linda and Matthew
and made this unforgettable trip.
It’s not only once we have been remembering the SWI day since we returned back home
and it will be so many more times, still.
There is a part of China in our family.
'We were pleased and relieved to have the opportunity to see the grounds of the SWI at least (thanks to the H4C Team), and to meet some of the staff who remembered Zoe, as well as seeing the places where the earliest photos we have of her were taken. Zoe took it pretty much in her stride, helped I'm sure by the fact she was not the sole centre of attention that day.
It meant a lot to us to hear a few more snippets of information about her, in particular finding out about a special carer. It is never going to be easy for a child to return to a place which holds uncomfortable (if mostly subconscious) memories, but with the right support we've found it can be an experience that greatly helps the processing of those memories. '
It was wonderful to share these experiences with Desheng friends, staff and families.......
Wonderful also to see the children still living at Desheng with amazing foster families
Hopefully they will all soon be with families of their own forever, but in the meantime it was fantastic to see the love, joy and fun they were having with their foster families.
Bubbles, Balloons, Balls .............
....seemed to do the Job
Swings for young
and old...... :-)
..and then the good old parachute!!!!!!!
It was such fun for the kids that we didn't get one decent photo- no-one stayed still for long enough;-)
So lovely to reconnect with old friends......
and share special moments with special Desheng Sisters
The girls had such fun having this photo taken!!!!!!
However after our fun in the SWI grounds, in the van journey to the local restaurant where we would eat with the Directors, Nannies, Foster mothers and children, life returned quickly to the latest Nintendo Game..they could have been anywhere :-)
Dinner in Desheng Town was wonderful, as always
but it's always so hard to eat when there are so many special connections to be made...both by the visiting families, and for families at home who have sent photos, letters etc
....some more photos to be shared with previous foster families who are no longer in the Programme..they will be so delighted to hear from "their children" around the world!
Gifts for special people who helped to care in the early days.....
Gifts from special children who make a real efort in difficult circumstances.....
A Special picture of LOVE for one of our 2005 Foster children
...a wistful moment for our little cutie.....
and a special cuddle for a Teddy Bear after an exciting day!
The Foster children were so excited to receive their Teddies from Desheng families...actually the foster parents and staff were excited too! Restaurant staff were asking if we had any left for them!!!!!
And the good old swing never fails...tho Shawn had quite a queue of sweeties wanting their shot too!
(Who's having the most fun here?????)
Meanwhile our own cuties managed to occupy themselves very nicely in the midst of all the excitement
and when it was all over...time to chill........ :-)
An amazing day in so many ways, but one picture still lives in my memory...
....sunshine, love, laughter, giggles, fun and togetherness....
It says so much that cannot be expressed here!
The Power of Love!
Linda, Manna, Andrea xxx