By: Michelle Feng-Bao Biagi
On May 17, we departed from New York on a nonstop 16 hour flight to Beijing, China. On the way, I passed over 60 miles from the North Pole. I saw the land of the Terrain that was something I’ve never come across and would like to see it again. When we landed in Beijing, I was surprised how polluted the air was.
The next morning, we went back to the airport and got onto the plane for Taiyuan. When we landed, we met our guide, her name is Summer. She deals with the adoption process. Her English was very good so that helped a lot! She brought us to the hotel called Wanda Vista. The hotel was beautiful, with humungous chandeliers. Our rooms were huge.
The next day, we got all ready to go to the adoption center where my family and I would adopt Laila Marie, my little sister. She turned 2 on March 3. She’s the year of the rabbit. When we walked in, there were two other families adopting. One baby had her face distorted and the other had a slanted eye, which was partly blind on her right eye. When I looked around, there was a little girl with a scared lost face looking at us. Just then, I realized that she is my sister forever. That day, we brought her home. She started to like me, but then she was glued onto me. She started to giggle which turned into a laugh. Her white teeth shined. I found out that she has a great sense of humor. She doesn’t know how to talk a lot but always shows appreciation.
The following day, we went back to her orphanage in Datong where we met her foster parent who told us things about her. The orphanage was very well kept and there were around 40 kids in two separate rooms. I played piano for them while they all gathered around to eat lollipops that another adopting family had brought to the kids. Laila had a hard time to say goodbye to her foster mom but she was okay after. We spent the night in Datong and drove back four hours to Taiyuan where we visited a zoo, but it was terrible and all the animals were lonely and the babies were separated from their parents in small cages.
Our next flight was Guangzhou where we went to the American Embassy and received the citizenship. On the way back to the hotel, we walked through back roads and saw the real life of the Chinese in the city. They sold animals, jade, pots, wood, beads, fans, and more. We were all dripping with sweat and cooled off in the freezing hotel lobby. When we went out to the department mall to get a few things for my sister, we got lost. Thankfully there was a woman who even brought us to the store. She had a baby sister, even though she looked like she was 20 years old. We bought clothes, food, utensils, and more. I saw dried bugs, seahorses, and all sorts of stuff I don’t know what they are.
On the way back I saw a little girl around 3 to 4 years old crying while hiding in her knees on the sidewalk. My dad says that she was abandoned, he knew by seeing her holding a small black, plastic bag in her hand. Many gathered around her, including a policeman. That was very sad to see. It must be a terrible thing, to leave a child behind alone.
The next day was arranged to go to the temple and blessed my sister. The monk was singing a blessing song while he used a weird drum, then he splashed some water on us. My sister didn’t like it a lot.
Back on a plane… this time we were going to visit my orphanage near Hefei. We flew into the new airport that had just opened that day.
I was surprised to see how rough my orphanage looked compared to the one where Laila had lived. Many kids walked around in different directions. I heard some scolding. The caretakers were pretty rough on the children. It was lunchtime, and food was served on a big board over a rolling cart out in the courtyard. There were also older kids who just came back from school. We were told that they are very good in school.
The toilets were outside and it was only a hole made out of cement. However, the courtyard was kept pretty nicely. I could tell that it was the same when I was a baby by looking at the picture they sent to my family.
When I got to the room where they keep newly born babies, I saw a few of them with a hair lip. There was an older girl helping the younger ones who is now 18 years old, which means that she would have been around 7 to 8 years old when I was there.
Lastly, I saw the woman who took care of me and gave me my Chinese name. She was very gentle and kind. She took us to her office where she kept my files and showed us a document with a picture of me as a baby, my parents’ signature and a Chinese red stamp. She told us that the orphanage was about to close down, and that the children will be moved to a newer one. So, we made it there just on time! When we left some of the orphans followed us to the front gate to say goodbye.
The next trip we went to the train station to Shanghai and rode a high-speed train that traveled up to 260 km per hour. When we arrived, our very good family friends from New York came to pick us up. They showed us around and I played with their kids, Audrey and Noah, and that was fun. We learned that Shanghai has many English foreigners who are also French. That was the best place we visited in China.
Two days later, on June 2nd, we flew back to New York. Everyone was very happy even our new little treasure! That was the end of my grand adventure and another one begins with Laila.