Beautiful Life

Hey child up and go; A big world is out there waiting for us to live in every day. Outside you will find, there is love all around you; Takes you, makes you wanna' say; That it's a beautiful life and it's a beautiful world and it's a beautiful time to be here, to be here, to be here. -Fisher

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Ancient Culture Street

Daddy's girl, ready to go

This morning our guide took us to the Ancient Culture Street in Tianjin. This is basically a series of streets built in typical Tianjin style with the Tianhougong (Heavenly Empress) Temple nearby. The shops on the street sell a variety of traditional Chinese handicrafts and antiques. While we walked the street, we were approached by a man asking our guide about us. He said that he was a foster parent and that his daughter had left on Monday with her new family. He insisted that we take his picture with Claire and thanked us for taking her to America. He said he wished good fortune on us for caring for her. This is the first time we have encountered this kind of good will in Tianjin. For the most part, the people here look at us as if we might have stolen her! Almost all of the 700-900 children in Tianjin's orphanage are special needs children so there are not an abundance of adoptions taking place in this city and they simply are not accustomed to seeing Caucasian people with Chinese children. We get lots of stares when we walk the streets!

This man is painting on the INSIDE of this crystal ball with a tiny, bent paint brush. He hand paints them and then he added the Chinese character's for Claire's Chinese name. We paid 35 yuan, which is about $5 for this and it is beautiful!

The one handicraft that Tianjin is known for are small statues of children. Most of these are lovely, simple little figurines. However, as it is very popular for children in China to wear split pants with no diapers or underpants, many of the figurines are, shall we say....immodest! When Paul went to the orphanage to pay our "donation" fee, we were given two gifts for Claire. One was a commemorative flag from the orphanage and the other was one of these figurines of a boy in split pants with his you-know-what, showing! So, we decided to buy a few of the more modest little girl figures for Claire to have.

The good news is that she slept a little better last night, the bad news is that today was a big grieving day for little Claire. The poor thing is missing her foster family and she is just so sad. We have been able to distract her sometimes but other times she just cries and there is nothing we can do. When our guide picked us up this morning she brought with her a small diary that the orphanage had given her. First the nannies and then Claire's foster mom kept this diary and Jessie translated it for us. It is obvious that her foster family loved her very much. In the diary, the mom talks about how happy Tong was when her Dad came home each night and that she learned to call her dad before her mom! Essentially, she has always been a Daddy's girl!

There is a neighborhood across from our hotel with sidewalks and nice tree lined streets. It is cleaner and quieter than the busy street the hotel is on so to distract her this afternoon, we took her there for a walk. All along the street are bronze statues and little gardens. We have no idea what they are for, but they give the neighborhood a pleasant feel. Even though we got many stares, we enjoyed this walk.

Notice that in many of the pictures we take, Claire is wearing her jacket. This is not because it is cold here but because she insists on having it on at all times and zipped all the way up. It is a good thing we brought leggings for her because she also wants something on her legs at all times or she will try to cover them with a blanket and she cries if you take her socks off. Actually, she cries if you take her shoes off but will stop once you put them away where she can't see them. She won't stop if you take her socks off! She will whine and try to cover her feet with something! I know that Chinese mothers cover their children in layers and keep them bundled year round, so she may be so accustomed to being covered that she feels cold even when it is not...or, it is just ingrained in her that she must be covered. The other day, in the restaurant, she was sweating but she would not let me take her jacket off.

Oh, I forgot, another thing that Robert shared with us yesterday, is that we are mispronouncing Claire's Chinese name! Oops! The Kang part is not pronounced like kangaroo but like Kong. So, Wei Kang Tong sounds like "Way Kong Tong". How sad would it be for her to grow up mispronouncing her own name! Thank you, Robert for correcting us!!

1 comment:

The Lewises said...

Hi Chelsea! It's great fun reading your blog. That photo of Claire grieving was so sad, yet so beautiful. These kids go through so much, leaving their first homes, but then their lives take a new, wonderful turn with us.

I think the guy painting the pandas is the one who sang while his friend played the Erhu (Chinese instrument) when we were on Ancient Culture Street! Enjoy Guangzhou and your little girl!

Caroline Lewis, another Tianjin mommy