Hefei Childrens Welfare Orphanage
Hefei, Anhui Province, China - Page 3 -


Mrs. Yannie FanIn the activity room, a metal wall-to-wall shelf is filled with toys. Ms. Yang asks two teachers to bring their children over to play in the room. In a few minutes the group of about 20, three, four and five year olds are busy running, hopping and playing in the big room. The children spread out in all directions playing with toys from the shelf, dragging out tricycles to ride and playing with puzzles. There is no carpet so the children are playing and sitting on the bare floor.
 
In a room on second floor on the opposite side of the courtyard we meet a group of twenty-or-so older children. Some of the children are sitting on the floor and other are milling around. The children have just come in for a snack. Sweet crackers are passed out to each of the children. There are not as many toys in this room, only the small toys that some children are carrying.
 
Ms. Yang asks one of the children to stand and show us how well he can move his arms and legs. Ms. Yang explains that the boy is five years old and has been practicing for six months since he underwent surgery for a "brain paralysis". The boy is now able to take part in some activities just like his friends. A little girl, about four years old, stands up to show us her hands. She suffered from poliomyelitis and is now able to hold toys after orthopedic surgery. She is holding a red metal truck and raising it for us to see.
 
Ms. Yang said, "Where are you, Little Snowflake?" At that, a third child, about 4 or 5 comes towards us. The little girl stands against the wall by herself holding a small toy but not speaking. She is wearing a black dress with white dots and the bottom of the skirt is tucked in her panties. It looks as if she may have just returned from using the bathroom. Two other children notice it and help her straighten out her skirt. Ms. Yang tells us that the little girl understands everything that is said to her but seldom speaks. She says "Look at her, look at her skin, she is pretty and healthy but always seems sad and quiet."
 
We go downstairs where we meet Ms. Li, the chief caregiver. Ms. Li has been working at the children's department for more than twenty years. I ask her to go to Director Zhang's office to take a look at the pictures of the U. S. children that I had brought. I am sure that she will know some of the children well. She smiles from ear to ear and tells us that she will go and see the pictures. Encouraged by her amiability, I ask whether it would be possible for her to find out some information about these children and their lives in China before being adopted and brought to the U. S. She promises to try and see if she can find any more information.
 
As we return to Ms. Yang's office for tea, she finds out that the adoptive families are arriving at the orphanage for their visit. I tell Ms. Yang that I would like to meet the families to find out whether one of them is a family that I know from the U. S. I learned before my trip that a family would be coming to Hefei for their second adoption at the same time that I was in China.
 
Five families climb off the tourist bus. Mr. Zhao leads the group slowly towards the Children's department. They look like quite an army with five newly adopted children ranging from 10 months to 3 years, parents, grandparents, one biological son, strollers and diaper bags. The family I had hoped to meet is not in the group. This group consists of two families with children from Hefei, one from Maanshang, one family from Wuhu and one from Feidong. The families are here for a visit before leaving for Guangzhou to obtain their visas from the U. S. Consulate.
 

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