We had a great first full day in Beijing. Our agency rep is fantastic. She is a great guide and help. There is one other family here so far with us (3 more to join us) and she took both our families to Tiennaman Square and the Forbidden City today. Then we rode on a rickshaw (pulled by bike) through the little alleys in old Beijing that are between very old homes. We also were treated to lunch in a family's home, which was amazing. It was so neat to see some of the history of our daughter's birth country. It's chilly here but not cold, a great day to be out walking.
After that we were able to visit Little Flowers group foster home. It's not a typical part of the agenda at all, but one we really wanted to do since we knew that Maggie had lived there from birth until 10 months. (she has been at an orphange in her home city from the age of 10 months until now) It's a wonderful group home with great care for little ones with medical needs. Since she spent so much time here, it was really important for us to go. We had it arranged ahead of time with Little Flowers, and our agency rep was so awesome at helping us figure out how to get there. It was a bit of a drive from our hotel, but she called them to confirm, got us a taxi, gave the driver instructions and sent us on our way. It was a little scary heading off thru the busy streets of Beijing without her or anyone who spoke English! We were dropped off in front of a gate with no signs in English. We somehow managed to understand the guard's mimes at how to get thru the streets by foot, and we are SO glad we took the risk!
That place is AMAZING. There are so many caregivers loving on those kids. I follow their Facebook page, so I recognized a lot of the little ones and the rooms from pictures. We got a tour and they told us a bit about how the place is run. Our tour was given by a young Chinese man who coincidentally had lived in the states for several years, about 15 minutes from where we live! We had a lot in common and we felt very welcomed. We were introduced to several staff members and volunteers, some Chinese, some American. They are dedicating their time and care to these babies and it shows. The babies are happy and loved. And our girl got to spent her first crucial months there.
When we walked into one of the rooms, I immediately recognized the caregiver who was in many of the pictures we have of Maggie. It was so emotional; she remembered Maggie fondly and we got to thank her for taking such good care of her. In fact, many of the volunteers and staff immediately lit up in fond memory of Maggie when they learned we are her parents. It was just an amazing time to be somewhere where she was so loved. The young man who gave us the tour then walked us quite a way back out to the main road, hailed us a taxi and explained to the taxi driver where we needed to go. So very kind and appreciated! We are so glad we insisted on visiting and are so thankful for what they do there.
We've already been able to Skype our babies at home a couple of times, they are doing great. Tomorrow we'll get to tour the Great Wall; and we are getting closer to having Maggie in our arms! Here are some pics from today:
In Tienanman Square, in front of the Forbidden City
Some of the bricks we walked on in the Forbidden City are 600 years old.
Our amazing homemade lunch.
Photographs can't be taken inside Little Flowers, but here we are outside the home.