Thursday, July 4, 2013

Orphanage visit

Dongguan City Orphanage

Today, we visited Dongguan City Social Welfare Institute, the place Sophia called home for the first two years of her life.  I wasn't sure what to expect.  My experience with overseas orphanages,
especially those for children with special needs, has been heart breaking to say the least.
Sophia's orphanage apartment 
The playground area  
Baby girl's meltdown
Sophia's crib

I LOVED this cutie!

Shower area 

Sophia's nanny giving her a cookie

Dongguan City SWI is a huge complex responsible for over 500 children.  Sophia lived in what
China calls an "imitative family".  A husband/wife team reside in a small apartment on the orphanage campus providing care for 16 children (most with special needs) around the clock.  Can you imagine the physical and emotional strain?  With no breaks.  They eat with the children, sleep with the
children, and then awake with the children to do it all over again.  This certainly is not an ideal
situation.  I had to chuckle a little at the term "imitative" family because families with 16 kids are not typical, unless you are the Duggers.  Nevertheless, I have to applaud China for at least attempting to provide these children with consistent caretakers and the opportunity to bond with a parental figure.

Sophia had a meltdown when we entered the orphanage apartment.  I think the overwhelming emotions and fears of the week's events were finally surfacing.  Sophia's nanny scooped her up to soothe her and appease her with cookies and treats.  It warmed my heart to see Sophia interact with her friends and nanny.  She smiled and giggled and danced to some music.  It gave me a slight
glimpse into our baby girl's personality that I know will shine once we are through this difficult

Then, we toured the small apartment.  16 iron beds each with a pillow and blanket but no mattress.  A television and toy bins but no toys.  And, a small sink with a shower wand for bathing.  All in all,
there was not much to the apartment, but it was spotless (unlike my own home with far fewer kids)
and the children appeared to be well cared for. Sophia's nanny requested to feed her one last time so Sophia ate a huge bowl of rice with pork followed by a marshmallow treat.  I gave some gifts to the
husband and wife team to acknowledge my deep appreciation and gratitude for their love and care for our daughter.

So we left Dongguan City SWI and headed for home.  I'm so glad I chose to make the long trek.  The global orphan crisis is overwhelming.  In fact, Sophia's crib was already occupied by another baby girl.  So many children who will probably never be adopted.  Heartbreaking.  I said a prayer for those she shared her first few years with, and we left for the 2 hour drive to the hotel.


  1. I am glad you got to go and see the place where she has grown up. I know you had her stories about the place and I am happy you go to see it for yourself to have some background and closure. Great story!

  2. Looking for pics of the CWI Dongguan where our Meng Jia spent the first 2 years of her life (she just turned 6), I landed at your blog. Sparked some emotions, I can tell. Despite having been there (August 2010), we certainly did not see all of it. And like you said: the thought that so many will never be adopted - heartbreaking.
    Greatings from the Netherlands,

  3. Hi, there! Congrats on your daughter Sophia! I wanted you to know that I am in the process of adopting the little cutie shown on your blog. I got an update today and went back to look at your pictures, and to my surprise, there she was! Now I KNOW where she is and while it's definitely not ideal, I know she's being taken care of. I would very much like to speak with you further if you're able.


    1. Sure Coleen! I would love to talk to you. Email me when you get a chance.