Friday, April 1, 2016

Travelogue - Day 2

After a refreshing 5 hours of sleep, Conner and I got up to gray skies and a drizzle of rain.  We headed downstairs to find something to eat.  The hotel restaurant has a wonderful all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet with delicious western and Chinese cuisine.  The problem is, neither of us could stomach the $17 per person price tag.  So we started walking down the street looking for a restaurant.  The first place we came to was a cafeteria-style place that had one of Conner's favorite Chinese dishes: Wuhan noodles.  I told him to order the same thing for both of us, and we feasted on noodles with peanut sauce and vegetables, steamed buns with pork, and a cup of heated soy milk.  Delicious!  And it came to a total of $2.50!  

We were scheduled to be at the orphanage at 2:30pm, so after breakfast, we walked home and took a nap:).  We went to the same restaurant for lunch and had some fried chicken and another Wuhan-specific dish made with rice fried in a thin crepe-like breading.  Again, cheap and yummy.

After lunch we waited for our friend, Joanna.  Joanna was our adoption agency guide on our trip to adopt Conner.  She is a wonderful lady who has worked with CCAI for about 15 years.  She drove her own car to pick us up (not very common here) and drove us to the orphanage.  Conner's reception as he walked into the room with his many loved ones was truly beautiful.  His "Grandpa" embraced him and kissed his neck and cheeks.  His brother gave him hugs and they talked excitedly together.  Conner's foster moms (one is "Grandpa's" wife, the other is the foster mom he lived with for the   last two years before we adopted him) were both all smiles and hugs.  The orphanage director was so excited to see him.  There was also a foster brother there that Conner had lived with for seven years.  This sweet boy has down syndrome and is non-verbal, but Conner hugged and hugged him and was clearly glad to have him there.  Conner's piano teacher was also there.  She was the one who first recognized Conner's musical abilities and taught him piano.  She had taught several of the kids a couple of songs they could sing in English in honor of Conner coming back to visit.

The next three hours were basically a love-fest for Conner.  His sunny disposition, humorous outlook on life and musical talent had clearly made him a special son at the orphanage.  Everyone was so excited to talk to him, to ask him how life in America was and to tell him how much they loved and missed him.  I had misty eyes several times during the reunion and became unquestionably aware that this three hours alone was worth the entire cost and effort of the trip.  We hope that Conner's brother and foster Grandpa have many years to live and that Conner has many more opportunities to see them in person.  But if not, we're so glad he had this opportunity to connect with these important people in his life.

Conner's gifts to his loved ones all prepared.  (Christi had a full page of instructions for me on how to put these together!)

Grandpa was so happy to see Conner when we walked in the room.

Conner and his brother with Grandpa

The music teacher that first realized the talent Conner has

They had taped these "Baby, welcome home" signs all over the room

Foster Grandpa and his wife with a little girl they are currently fostering

This little angel kind of fell in love with me.

The foster mom that Conner lived with the last 2 years before he was adopted.

Joanna, our guide on our trip to adopt Conner.  Now a friend who came to see him meet his loved ones.

At one point, they all wanted Conner to play the piano for them.  He first played a song that he used to play in China and several of the people there, including his brother, sang along.  Then Conner wanted to play a new song for them that he had learned in the United States.  He decided on a song he had learned to accompany a church youth choir.  It is a beautiful song that moved many people in the congregation to tears on the day he played it in church.  But being an accompaniment, it is much more powerful when the choir sings along.  So he calls out "Hey dad! (That might be the first time he's called me 'dad' instead of 'daddy.'  I liked it.)  Can you sing the song for me?"  I've heard him practice this song many times and I know some of the words to it, but I certainly don't know the whole thing.  But what was I going to do?  How often does he get to play for his friends and loved ones in China?  So I sang.  I knew the first line, but that was it.  But I knew nobody else would know the difference, so I continued on with the correct melody:  "I cannot remember the words to this song but I know I'm the only person who'll care.  I hope that they like your beautiful playing and they will not know that these words make no sense!"  I sang my heart out, trying to compliment Conner's playing the best I could.  Fortunately, they were shooting video of the entire thing:)

We were able to talk with these wonderful people for about three hours.  They asked Conner lots of questions about his experiences in America and about school and if it was difficult for Conner to adjust to life outside of China.  Joanna was translating for me.  At one point Conner said, "It was very hard when I couldn't speak English, but my mom helped me a lot.  She helped me feel better."  Go Christi!  They provided us a meal of Chinese food from the cafeteria, which was as delicious as it sounds:).  After dinner we wound things up and made arrangements to meet the next day so Conner could do some shopping for gifts to bring home to his siblings.  Once we got back to the hotel, we crashed.  Well, I crashed.  Conner was incredulous that I was going to bed at 7:30.  Jet lag is NOT awesome!