Thursday, August 25, 2011

Touring Day

Today was a day with no itinerary and no scheduled meetings. The only adoption related event yet to be completed is to pick up Colin's passport which the guide will do for us tomorrow morning.  So, the day started later than normal so that George (our guide) could go pick up our notarized and translated documents from the Civil Affairs work.

We met him around 10am and went in search of Colin's "finding place".  We talked with him on the way to make sure that he was ok with us going there.  He gave his consent and we all went together.  Through the interpreter, Tom told him that we were very glad to be there to find him "a second time".   This is the address that was in his file where he was found as a baby after being abandoned.  Since it had been 14 years, many addresses had changed and the #36 no longer existed on that street. 
 There were many older buildings

surrounded by lots of newer ones

George stopped and interviewed several locals about the neighborhood and they all concluded that the numbers of each building had been changed several years back.  But, the street was only about 2-3 blocks long, so we knew that he was left somewhere in that vacinity.  One older woman who was sitting in a small hotel office asked Colin if I was his Mother. He said yes.  Then, she asked him if he could understand me and he shook his head no, with a smile and a shrug.  George said that she was thanking us for giving him a family. 

As we took a short walk around the  neighborhood and headed back to the van, Tom spotted a nice fruit stand and we walked over and bought some pears for Tommy (his favorite!).  We will enjoy those after dinner.

It was important to me that I see with my own eyes this piece of his history.  I knew I might never get that chance again.  It is hard to put into words, but I had to walk down that street.  I imagine what it must have been like for his Mother to leave him on that street in order to give him a chance at a better life.  Unlike a lot of abandoned babies in the US, in China, most are given up because of poverty and fear that the birth parents can not provide as well for their children as the state can.  Since Colin is healthy, I imagine that poverty was the main driving factor in that decision, although I will not ever know for sure.  I am grateful to that woman, no matter the reason.  I am grateful to his foster family who obviously raised a sweet, loving and respectful boy.

After we left that area of town, we headed over to the Imperial Palace.  This is a significant piece of Shenyang (and China, for that matter) history.

We had the boys dress up in traditional mongolian costume from about 200 years ago.
Here is Emporer Colin and Prince Tommy.

 (Yes, it was hot, and yes, Colin was slightly embarrassed-
 Isn't that one of the privleges of parenthood?)

Tommy with our guide, George.
We learned today that Tommy was born in the year of the monkey!  Is ANYONE surprised by this cosmic revelation?  Really?  You don't say....

George asked our driver what type of souvenir would be appropriate from Shenyang that was culturally or geographically significant.  He told us that Shenyang was most famous for their feather art.  They create magificant pictures from various colors of bird feathers.  He took us to a gift shop near the Palace and we saw some really cool (and expensive) pieces.  However, they had small square frames with the birth symbols in feathers. So, we got Colin one with an ox and Tommy one guessed it- the MONKEY!

Angie & the boys in front of the 8 different imperial military uniforms denoting the eight various ranks of the royal guard.

After we left the palace, we stopped at one of Shenyang's most famous restaurants:
The Lao Bian dumpling restaurant in Shenyang is very famous, as it is the original location of the now nationwide chain.  Lao Bian is one of the oldest restaurants in Shenyang, and it did not disappoint.

Here are the boys enjoying these delicious sumplings.  Doesn't Tommy look like a pro?

Now, as we left our lunch, we decided to stop for those gift items I mentioned earlier.  What happened next was quite unbelievable.  (Except to Kim who said this would happen!)  We walked into the gift shop and George led us up the stairs to the second floor.  As soon as we walked up there, we began looking at the feather portraits.  Within seconds, literally seconds-- we were mobbed- wait!  Did I say WE?  No, no. Correction. Tommy was mobbed by a large group of young girls!  Each one was speaking to him in English and asking him questions. Then, out came the cameras!  It was like the LA Papparazzi!  Each one bending down to take a picture with the "beautiful boy".  Tommy was a little overwhelmed and unsure how to handle it.  I stayed close by to help.  It was the funniest thing I've ever seen.  You would have thought that it was Justin Bieber!  Tom got a few pics on his phone, but I won't be able to post them until we get back. 

The last stop of the day was the park near the hotel with the statue of Chairman Mao. 

Finally, we were done with the tourist "to-do" list and headed back to the hotel for a couple hours of rest.  At 6 PM, we met George again and we walked to a small noodle shop.  It was your typical fast food style place, but the menu was, anyone? anyone? Yep, NOODLES. Lots and lots of noodles.  Colin was the only one who ordered spicy noodles and he quickly regretted it!  Poor boy had watery eyes and a red face just a couple of bites in.  He was either too embarrased or too stubborn to stop eating it.  Finally, about 1/3 of the way through this HUGE bowl of noodles, he ran off to the bathroom to recover.  While he was gone, Tom took his bowl away and gave him the rest of Tommy's noodles that he hadn't finished.   It was quite a window into his personality for sure!

Once we walked back to the hotel, George agreed to visit with us in the lobby lounge for awhile so that he could translate for us. We ahd a very nice chat about anything and everything including the fact that Colin plays the SAX!  Can you believe it? 

** Pictures compliments of the Shenyang SWI Director-- They gave me a DVD with about 175 photos of Colin from the last 3 years.  It is a treasure I can't describe. Having even a small glimpse into his past is a blessing that most adoptive families never get. 

Well, I suspect he is very much a beginner, and he admits he cannot read music, but how cool is that?  (For those bloggers who don't know us well, Tom plays saxophone too and has for decades, so he couldn't have stumbled into a better situation!  Anyone else see God's hand in this situation? {Smile!}

Well, that will be good night for now.  (Or in your case, most likely, Good Morning!)



Carmi said...

Angie & Tom, I have been so blessed this morning being able to catch up on your blog after being on vacation last week. Our son Zane is also from Liaoning Province but was in the Dalian SWI. The picture on this post with the big revolutionary statute in the background is in the park near the hotel where we stayed. We were there in March and it was so cold! Our youngest daughter is also the year of the monkey like Tommy and you can definitely tell. She loves to make people laugh. We also got one of the feather pictures for Zane before we left his province. There might be some more reasonably priced ones that are not right by the imperial palace. I would so love to come to Charleston sometime to meet you all. We have lots of friends there and I have not seen Annie since I graduated from Winthrop. Praying for you all to have a wonderful rest of your trip. God bless!

LA said...

WOW, a sign from God. Your husband will be a great teacher for your new son. Your house may be a lil noisy, but it is all good noise with two sax players:)
God Bless,
Lee Ann

Jenni Hester said...

Oh, Angie, I love hearing about God's providential hand in bringing a young man into your home who plays a sax!! Thank you for sharing your precious journey with us!!

kimjax said...

Wow, Angie - plays the sax?! Too cool - and of all the families to come to! You are the band experts. It would be great if he could play in the homeschool band! I can't believe you didn't get the mob pics - bummer! Sounds hilarious! It must be so hard for Colin not to have communication - poor kid. Does he talk much to others or is he introverted. So fun following you all! Can't wait till you're home! Love you all!

rae'smom said...

How wonderful that they both play the sax! Enjoyed seeing the tour of Shenyang. Love the outfits that the boys had on. Can't wait to see all these wonderful places in person. :)


Annie said...

Oh Angie!!!! WOW! The Lord has certainly been busy, hasn't He!!!! WOW, just WOW! Tom and Colin should have such fun playing together! What a great bonding time for them!! I just can't wait to meet sweet Colin!!

PS, Hi Carmi!!!! PLEASE come down!!!! I would so love to catch up!!!