Those of you who know me well are aware that I have wanted to adopt a little girl from China for many years. Lily is an orphan and was living with a Chinese family who wanted to adopt her. They were going through the process of adopting her when they discovered that she is HIV positive. In Chinese culture, there are many misconceptions about HIV, and children who are positive are often left to die. Literally. Orphanages will not take them, and many times their only hope is foreign foster families or Chinese families who are willing to risk everything to help them. Lily’s Chinese family had two older sons and if they kept her, the extended family would have cut them off and the sons would not have been allowed to marry etc. So, they made the difficult decision to give her up. Matt and Heather took her in and she has been a delightful addition to their family. The hope is that a loving family, in the United States, will adopt Lily. Adoption would give her more options for medical treatment as well as hope for a productive future. Lily’s story is heartbreaking. She was found at a train station, and her skin was cracked with a lot of sores. They think she was about 1 at the time, and was in very bad shape physically. She often wakes with night terrors. It breaks my heart to think of what she has experienced. I get tears in my eyes just thinking about all that she has already been through in just 3-1/2 short years of life.
Me with Lily
Our time in China was fun. We played with Matt and Heather’s FOUR children and laughed a lot. It was wonderful for me to reconnect with these sweet friends who are like family to me. We had great discussions, fun cultural experiences and a lot of rest. In addition, we were able to meet with some contacts that work with brothers and sisters in university settings. They invited us to come do camps in China. We are excited for that opportunity.
One very cool thing was that we were there at the end of Chinese New Year Celebrations. The last night of the celebrations is the Lantern Festival. Traditionally, the people will light lanterns and release them into the sky. As you may guess, lanterns with candles floating in the sky can be quite dangerous because they start fires. So, the city has banned the tradition, but there are still lanterns hanging everywhere, and they light fireworks THROUGHOUT the city. We went to Mall area where there is a Huge Pagoda and water show. We watched the spectacular water show and then walked back to our friend’s home. Along the way, there were fireworks going off all around us. We literally saw them on the sidewalk, street corners and some in the medians on the street. They were going into the wee hours of the morning. Our friends said, “this is nothing compared to the first night of the New Year celebration”. Holy Cow!! I cannot imagine how chaotic that must be!!!
Of course we had to eat some Chinese food! We tried Sweet Potatoes from street vendors, Chinese vegetables from a restaurant across the street and Calrow (Grilled meat and bread with insanely hot spices on them). Calrow tasted good, but after a few bites, you couldn’t taste anymore because your mouth was on fire!! Jeremy thought we were wimps. I guess we are!! J We took pieces of white bread and put them on our tongue between bites to cool it down.
Calrow (Meat and Grilled Bread)
The highlight of food in China was Beijing Roast Duck with Hoison sauce. We had that our last night in China, and it was Yum!!!!