San Antonio 10/15 @ 6:45AM
Xuzhou 10/15 @ 7:45PM
Today we rode a fast train into Xuzhou. This is the city where the orphanage is located. The fast train was something new to us, because we don’t really have trains like this in the states. It can reach speeds of 180mph. While riding the train, we got to see areas of this country that we never would have seen from the air. The country side is absolutely beautiful. There were patches of rice fields being harvested or burned, there were areas of construction that span miles and miles, there were rolling hills and trees and small country homes. It was amazing. I think the thing most surprising about this area is the construction. There were areas where 10-12 identical 20+ story apartment buildings were being built all at the same time. They would be in the middle of nowhere…no major highways to be seen, no other tall buildings nearby, no other infrastructure. Then we would go a few more miles, and the same thing…10-12 identical new buildings. It was odd, because essentially they are building homes for hundreds of families in a very small area, very quickly. That means that there is a need for that many homes in that short of a time. The amount of people in the China is just mind-blowing!
Xuzhou is a city of nearly 10 million (if you include the outer areas of the city). Since we now know that Brooks was not in an orphanage, instead he was in a foster home, this trip is mostly just to tour the one-to-one orphanage that EAC supports. I had no idea that we would have time during this trip to visit Brooks’ abandonment location.
As with most Chinese orphans, he was abandoned when he was a few days old. We knew that he was found near a stairwell at Hospital #6. Today, we took Brooks back to that place to take a few pictures. It was bittersweet. I’m very sad that he was left there for who knows how long with no one to look after him, but at that same time, whoever left him (I’m assuming it would be his birthmother) loved him enough to leave him in a public place where he would be found quickly and he would be able to receive medical care immediately. I don’t know anything about his birthmother, but she chose life for this beautiful little boy, and for that I will be eternally grateful to her. She’s such a strong and brave lady!
As you can see in all these pictures, Brooks has really found a friend in Jace. The two of them have hit it off really well. He’s not smiling much yet, but he’s not crying anymore either.
On the ride to the hotel, Cohen sat next to Brooks and Jace. I snapped this sweet shot while he wasn’t looking.
We’ve been emailing family while here and they have all asked how Cohen is handling being a brother. I think this picture pretty much sums it up. Cohen is such a great kid, and Brooks really is so lucky to have a big brother like Cohen. And Cohen knows how blessed he is to have Brooks too.
Also, at this point, I think Cohen is the only one who can get Brooks to smile.
We made it to our hotel (3rd hotel in 7 days) around 4pm. Cohen saw the pool and started begging right away to go swimming. Jace and Brooks rested in the room for a minute and I took Cohen out to the pool. The water was so COLD that he could barely move, but he wanted to swim so bad, that I let him do a few laps before bringing him inside to take a nice hot bath.
After that, we decided to break off from the rest of the group and try a local restaurant. We found a place that had some fried chicken nuggets and French fries.
Overall today was a good day. We are really starting to feel the effects of constant travel (did I mention…3 hotels in 7 days…well that doesn’t include the 3 airplanes, 1 train and numerous bus rides we have endured over those 7 days…we are exhausted). Oh and Brooks doesn’t really sleep, so there’s that too.
Tomorrow after the orphanage visit, we head back to Nanjing for one more night before flying out to Guangzhou. I hear that Guangzhou is a beautiful city with lots of fun places to shop and see. I believe there is a zoo there as well…and I hear it has pandas! YAY!
For more information on EAC’s one to one orphanage CLICK HERE.