Ten years ago today we traveled two hours on a bus with baby Anna to her orphanage. The sights, the sounds, the smells forever etched in my head and heart.
I will tell you that I tried to keep this post as unemotional as possible. I am only showing a few of the best pictures. The ones that are too sad I just can't put out there. So here we go...
Sleeping in her daddy's arms the entire two hours.
We drove into a strange place
I scanned my eyes and tried to remember every detail of this town. It is very likely that her birth parents live here I thought. My heart wanting to know more but there is nothing I can do to find out.
and walked up this alleyway
into the Diangqian Social Welfare Institute.
Now I must tell you that these photos are difficult to see. But I can not tell the story of Anna without telling the part where she lived for fourteen long months.
And I must also tell you that we took over a hundred photos so that we could at home post them on the orphanage website that American and parents from all over the world search for their child once they have the referral photo. Other parents had visited the orphanage and taken and posted photos and we've been able to find Anna. This is one.
She is the fourth after the first group of three in the front.
Each and every photo is a gift. A link to her life before us. And we are grateful. So we did the same hoping that others would be able to find their child.
These babies I don't know but they are still in my prayers ten years later. Whatever became of them I don't know. If they were adopted or if they just live now in China never having a family. They are not easy to see.
I scooped her right up and kissed her. I whispered prayers into her sweet ears. And kissed her some more. I held her and Anna at the same time. (It was over 100 degrees) and rocked back and forth.
But I had to put her down eventually.
This is how Anna spent fourteen months.
She's a miracle.
All of the nannies wanted to hold my baby and say goodbye. I didn't want to hand her over. But I didn't feel like I could say no. Scott snapped pictures and I never took my eyes off of her. My hands always touching her. How confused she must have been.
I asked our translator to ask the orphanage director what happened to the care package we sent Anna. He led me to this room. I'm not sure why he showed me. Ripped open boxes (a whole room of them) with the candy or whatever gifts parents sent the nannies taken out and the toys for the babies still inside.
He let me dig through and find what I had sent Anna.
Words really can not describe my two hours in the orphanage. I wrestle with feelings of anger that she had to live like that, gratitude that she was kept alive by the nannies, and just plain saddness.
Once back on the bus it was really the greatest relief ever. My girl in my arms. Safe and sound.
This day of our trip in China felt like a turning point for us as a family. And it was about to get a whole lot better.