It’s 3:20am, and I’ve completely given up on sleep. Time travel is always difficult for me, and my body will not accept a 12 hour time change. The four of us (soon to be 6!), are sharing a small hotel room, with two twin sized beds, which means I am sitting in the bathroom while writing this. I think that I ended my last ramblings with us being surrounded by waiting older children, many who have special needs, all begging me to help them find a family. I’ll post photos later if/when I get back on the grid. Let me just say this: it’s tough knowing and seeing the need firsthand. Unfortunately, we can’t un-see what we’ve seen, and I even feel guilty for secretly wishing that we didn’t visit the orphanage. But I’ll move forward, and tell about John’s visit with his friends. After 30 minutes of observing John and his friends playing basketball (the older boys hogged the court), we decided that it was time to leave. Before we left, I did ask a teacher if he knew where one boy lives now, after his adoption. A friend of mine (via a yahoo group to which I belong) has been looking for this particular boy because he was his son’s best friend. I can’t believe I actually hit pay-dirt. The teacher went and retrieved the address and phone number in the U.S. of the adopted child. I can’t wait to tell the parents who are looking for their son’s friend!
As we were leaving, we decided to tell John to ask his three good friends to join us for lunch. The boys (who are all over 14) obtained a pass to leave the orphanage, and we jammed into the van and drove to a decent restaurant a few miles away. Our group of 9 (the four of us, John’s three friends, our guide, and our driver) proceeded to eat an elaborate meal in a private room. I won’t bore you with all the details, but there was only one dish ordered that made me literally gag. The lunch once again underscored, that John is, what the guide termed “a banana.” She said he has yellow skin, but he is American (white) inside now. John ordered beef, pork and lamb dishes that are familiar and easy to eat. The dish that I couldn’t fathom was ordered by John’s friend, and Ben, John and David and I all let it pass us by on the big (think lazy susan) wheel.
We then returned to the hotel and crashed for three hours. When we woke up, it was 5:30pm. I had a tough time getting anyone moving, but I knew that we’d be up all night if we slept much longer. We took a taxi to Tiananmen Square and walked around for a few hours. Poor John felt like a foreigner, I think. People here stare and stare at Americans, and now they were staring at John too. Ben doesn’t seem to notice or care. We returned to the hotel by 8pm, and just watched TV until bedtime. Ben has been over the moon excited to see his favorite cartoon program, “The Sheep and the Fox.” Early this morning, Ben told us that today was the best day of his life because he got to eat millet congee for breakfast and watch cartoons. Ben told our guide (in Chinese) that he loved that particular show, and our guide laughed and laughed at Ben’s Chinese. In the afternoon, our guide asked Ben to repeat the name of the show for John’s friends and the driver to hear. Once again, everyone laughed at Ben’s accent. Ben was from a foster home in the country, and he learned to speak with a distinct accent, which we might equate with a southern drawl. No wonder Ben lost his ability to speak Chinese! All the proper Mandarin speakers thought he was a barrel of laughs. John has been particularly hard on Ben for not speaking Chinese while we are here. I had to point out to John that he spent the first 30 minutes struggling to speak proper Mandarin to his friends, and Ben spoke a dialect that made people laugh at him. Yes, this trip has not been a bed of roses, but it was important and enlightening. It’s 4:00am now, and Ben is now up for the day. I think I’ll take him down to the lobby with his game boy so that David and John can sleep for awhile more. At least they seem to be adapting to the time-change!