Wen Xin and I walked to a local park this morning while Mike caught up on e-mail in the room.
He really loved climbing on everything. It makes sense when you think about where he's been living for the past 2 years. We were told that the orphanage houses 1000 kids. We asked if the children were allowed to play outside. We were told they got some time in the courtyard every day.
We saw the courtyard. It's a paved area in front of the orphanage. Now keep in mind I was totally overwhelmed the day we visited. We'd been in China less than 24 hours and were there to meet and leave with our new son. It was raining. Traffic was bad so we got out and walked in the rain the last half mile or so. But the best I remember that courtyard, it was just a paved area in front of the orphanage. No grass. No trees. No playground equipment. Maybe I misunderstand the situation. But if the only place he's had to play outside for the past two years is that courtyard, I can see why he loves the park.
I was especially pleased to see how sweet he was to the younger children. This was more of a preschool playground and all the kids were younger than him. He helped several toddlers on the slide. He's fast and rough, but he always was careful around the little kids. I was very impressed.
We continue to gather pieces of Wen Xin's history. Yesterday he told our guide about his foster family, where he lived until he was five. Up until yesterday, he insisted that he'd never lived anywhere besides the orphanage. We learned that he had a foster mom, but no foster dad, and that there were a number of other kids in the home. We learned he slept with the foster mom and a younger sister. That makes so much sense to me. At night, when he's sleepy, he drops the "tough guy" stance and hugs and snuggles. He loves to sleep next to you. It seems like he's had experience sleeping in a safe place with someone who loves him. I would think that a kid who's always slept alone in the orphanage wouldn't automatically snuggle up with you.
Oh, and we learned the family had a dog -- but no chicken. The guide asked about a chicken to determine if his foster family lived in the city or the country. Wen Xin said he went to kindergarten and his foster mom dropped him off and picked him up every day.
Now grown-ups know that foster care is usually a temporary solution. But little kids don't know that. It breaks my heart to think that in December 2008, Wen Xin was taken from the only home he could remember and placed back in the orphanage pending adoption. (We began the process to adopt him in August of 09.) He was moved into an institution with 1000 kids and placed with the "other disabled boys."
That's another thing I've been angry about since I've been here. We received a certificate thanking us for adopting a "disabled child." Wen Xin had a hernia repair when he was a toddler. And he has some burn scars. There's absolutely nothing wrong with this child. He runs and plays and is incredibly bright. He has 20/20 vision. He's not disabled in any way. It makes me mad just to think about it.
My "go to" book about adoption and attachment these days is The Connected Child by Dr. Karyn Purvis. Dr. Purvis says, "Adopted and foster children deserve deep compassion and respect for what they may have endured before they were welcomed into your home. . . Certainly, your children may exhibit manipulative or assertive behavior, but instead of faulting them for it, respect that it enabled them to survive and cope in profoundly difficult circumstances."
I have great hope for Wen Xin. He's already settled down quite a bit from those first few days. And he's an English learning machine. We aren't drilling English - no flashcards here. He just learns it as he needs it. Here's his English vocabulary so far:
You're welcome. (But, it comes out more like "You're Wonko.")
Just a minute.
We've learned some Chinese too. But in the language learning department, he's going to beat us hands down.