Today we met Jaxson's foster family and got to visit for quite a while with Jenny, the director of his foster program. In all, it was one of my favorite days (even though it was tough at times) because it helped to piece together some of the puzzle of his life.
When we arrived in Donguan (the city where the foster family and the children's home where he received his surgeries/care) we went to a really nice hotel where Jenny and her husband/adopted son live. It was gorgeous! The view outside their hotel room looked more like a Disney resort than any part of China we have seen. Jenny is an amazing person - she is a Christian and has really devoted the last six years of her life to developing the True Children's Home. Her husband worked for Alan True, who is a business owner who wanted to start a children's home in China. He approached her about directing the home and developing it from the "ground up." She and her husband moved to China and she has built a fabulous program that takes orphans out of orphanages, provides medical care, and then helps the children transition to foster homes until they are adopted. The organization oversees the home (which provides nurturing during and after surgeries/medical procedures), the foster program, and assistance programs that seek to help Chinese families learn to care for and keep their own children so that they will not be abandoned (families with children who have special needs). She and her husband also started a store that benefits all of their programs. It is run by an American man who is also a Christian. Some business owners and manufacturers bring overstock items they need to get rid of and they sell them to profit the programs. They also partner with a program that supports adults with leprosy. Apparently, people with leprosy are sent to live on an island. They make handmade crafts and sell them in the store. After meeting with the family, we went to the store and shopped some. It was such a wonderful experience to talk so much with Jenny. She gave me the name of the business that supported his surgery so that I could write them. She told us about underground churches and gave us a booklet she and her husband had printed that told the Easter story. We feel truly blessed that Jaxson was selected - from a waiting list - to be placed in their children's home and then given such great care in the foster program.
Meeting the foster family was tense. I was very nervous as we waited for them. We were told to sit on a couch and leave the chairs "of honor" for them. They arrived and seemed very nervous as well. They didn't make eye contact with us for a long time. They seemed very nice and appeared worried about Jaxson's transition. It was awkward having to say things to the translator, wait for them to discuss whatever we said, and then hear the feedback. The foster father is a taxi driver and the foster mother stayed home with Jaxson. The foster father liked to talk A LOT. We showed them pictures on the iPad of Jaxson smiling/playing with Alexis. They told us how much he eats (which is a LOT - he eats way more than I do!). They kept saying how smart he was and how he was the most intelligent of all their children - foster and biological. They then told the translator to tell us that they loved him and would have adopted them if they could have (the law does not allow them to foster and then adopt). The funniest part was when they told us how much he likes to drink and they proceeded to say that he likes to drink beer!!! Oh my!!! They said there is no age limit on alcohol consumption in China.
They still had yet to look at us for quite some time. We expressed our thanks - from us and our families, told them how we would provide a good education and thanked them for how well they had taught him and raised him thus far. They told us they were afraid he would not be still in school and that we needed to make sure he was in a good school for children who were smart. :-) Apparently children are expected to be silent and still in Chinese schools? Interesting....
We gave them our gifts and they warmed up a lot. Jenny and the guide told me to put the necklace I brought for the foster mom on her. The foster father LOVED the photo book we had made. Apparently they did not have copies of the photos of them with him that we had been sent via email and included in the book. He looked so proud and told the guide it was the "best gift ever."
Things were going well and then they started asking to see him. Our guide explained that we could not do that - it would be too hard for him. They kept asking. Jenny and the guide quickly wrapped things up and told them it was time to go. I felt so bad. I know they are grieving and missing him so much. They said to us MANY times to please send emails, pictures and videos (which we will, of course). It was just not a possibility for him to see them again.
Hayley was a lifesaver and played in Jenny's home with Alexis and Jaxson while we had the visit. She was very glad to see us return. :-) Apparently Jaxson likes guns and all the "boy toys" Jenny's son owns. I think he enjoyed attacking Hayley.
After visiting the store that supports the True organizations, we returned back to the hotel in monsoon like weather. We are hoping to go to Lucy's - a restaurant on the island that serves American food.. We will see if the rain lets up enough to allow us to go. We are also waiting on our laundry to be returned. :-)
I included some pictures below of our trip to the park last night. You can also see some of the farmland that we passed by on our trip today. There are shacks that people live in. SO sad...