While in china an adopting family usually has the opportunity to visit the “finding spot” of the child they are adopting. Now a lot of factors can come into play when this opportunity comes up. A guide willing to make the arrangements to get you to the finding spot ( often these places can be hours away) money ( your paying the driver and guide that day to take you to the spot) and just the state of the newly adopted child, some are grieving, don’t do well in cars, or with certain medical conditions mean its just isn’t a good idea to travel too far from the hotel.
With our first adoption of Regis in 2013, we wanted desperately to visit his finding spot but once we got to china and realized it would be a two hour trip ( one way) we decided not to. He was doing great at the time but we had our other two kids there are just figured traveling all day there and back wasn’t the best decision. Now looking back I wish I would have pushed a bit more and maybe just traveled there by myself. Hind sight is 20/20 right? In 2014 when we adopted Momo, we found out her finding spot was in a whole other city up in the northern part of her province. Would likely be a train ride of 4 or more hours. Momo was still adjusting to being outside the orphanage gates and we found out very quickly we could not do much outside the hotel and making her sit in a car or train for that long would be miserable for everyone and she would just not do well with that.
Now what is a finding spot exactly? its a place where our babies were found. It’s a grim reality that our precious babies faced this, but it just cannot be sugar coated. To brush under the rug that this happens is just an injustice to their story. Often we have very very little information about events surrounding their birth. So any little bit of info we adoptive parents can gather by visiting such a place is a precious gift.
Placing your baby for adoption is illegal in china so parents have no choice but to place the child in a area that they will be found quickly and taken to the police station and then assigned a orphanage. Sometimes its a train station, a public restroom, a park, a busy street , a business. Really anywhere. Sometimes the children are wrapped with care, a note stating their birth date or just a little message from momma saying she tried and please take good care of her baby. Many times the babies do not survive……
Can you imagine? I can’t, I simply cannot even begin to imagine what thoughts run thru a persons head when they are facing this decision. The heartbreak has to be unimaginable. China has made an attempt to create a “safe” place in which birth parents can place their child. These are called “baby hatches” and are dotted across the country. Most are overwhelmed with babies on a daily basis. In Tianjin where Ridge is from they had a baby hatch and it was so overwhelmed with huge amounts of babies they decided to shut it down. As an adoptive parent you always wonder what those last moments are like as the baby is left and the parents walk away for good. I am including two links below with an article and videos that I encourage you to watch, just to get an idea of the grim reality that these parents face in china.
Videos and reports like these break my heart. I cant help but think of my 3 babies birth parents, and what they deal with on a daily basis.
So when I had the chance to visit Ridge’s finding spot in Tianjin this past October I jumped at the chance. What I didn’t know at the time was how life changing and heart transforming it would be.
Four days after I met my son, our guide picked us up at our hotel lobby and he and our driver took us about 45 minutes out of the city. From Ridge’s file we had the village name where Ridge was found. We also had the name of the alleyway he was found in. Yep- an alleyway.
I wanted to remember everything about that day so I tried to take as many pictures as I could
AS we drove up to the entrance to the Village all I saw was shambles. The place looked like a bomb had been set off. My heart sunk. On one side of the street was destruction. On the other side of the street was new huge sky scrapper like apartment buildings. My guide Eric was very confused so he stopped and walked in the tiny police dept they had in front of these huge apartment buildings. He returned minutes later to say that the village had mostly been abandoned ( a few building still stood) the government had decided 6 weeks after my baby was born to demolish the entire village and place the village people in new apartment buildings. My heart ached, I think my guide realized I was on the verge of tears and so he said we would enter the village gates anyways and take a look around. I am so thankful he took this seriously and realized how important it was for me to see where my son had been born. As we drove in I realized how poor an area this must have been. The buildings that remained where very old, falling down, and looked like they had been repaired over and over for years. My guide suggested we get out a walk a bit. We walked up to a building still standing and realized on the side of it there was a name plate that listed the name of that particular alleyway. If only that was the ally way where my baby was found- but it wasn’t. Our guide continued to chase down any person he saw walking around. It was a bit weird to see people still there. We found one older man who still was living in his shack and he confirmed we were in the right area but to identify the alleyway would be too hard. There was a younger girl walking thru the rubble and the dirt and our guide ran to ask her if we were in the right area and she confirmed as well, but couldn’t tell us the ally way location either. This story repeated it’s self several times. Each time my guide would see someone he would run to them and ask them if they knew anything. They were all so helpful but none of them could come up with an exact location. I mean how could they? The place was a wreck. We walked around a bit, I made some videos to show Ridge as he gets older, took precious pics I hope give him a bit of insight to where he was from. We found out this particular village housed immigrants from Korea who were there for work. It’s very likely one or both Ridge’s birth parents were from Korea.
I guess I didn’t realize I was still holding out hope we would run into someone that knew more, knew exactly where the alleyway was, knew a bit of precious info my heart so desperately wanted. We drove out and our guide Eric ran into the police station once again to ask if anyone knew anything else. He returned with nothing. That’s when I completely lost it. The hugeness of this day, the reality that I was not going to get any more answers that day came crashing down. As the driver fumbled for a pack of tissues for me, Eric tried to reassure me that all was good now, Ridge was happy and would have a happy life now. I uttered I know that but this is him too- this place, as dirty and sad as it is, its where his birth momma saw him for the last time. I realized I had more than most, I had a glimpse into the world he came from. I don’t know the circumstances surrounding his abandonment but I would gather to say his momma was very likely very poor and just did not have the means to provide medical care for my baby. So she did the only thing she knew how. She placed him somewhere where he would likely be discovered quickly and taken to a hospital and then an orphanage that could provide for him until a family came……. and then two years later, a momma across an ocean would see this babies face on a computer screen, and decide he was to be in their family.
AS we drove away I had peace about how the day had went. It was harder than hard, I never anticipated to carry the weight of the harshness of that tiny village still today. I am so so very glad I had the opportunity to go. And I hope that when we go back to china with ALL our children we will be able to visit Regis and our Momo’s finding places. I know the rough edged peace it gives, and I can only hope that one day this info will help my children heal just a bit. Yea its harsh- but it’s part of their story. When you don’t have hardly any info to give your child about where they came from, you cant tell them about their birth parents, or family history – something like this, as heartbreaking as it is, is info for them they can use to place in the tiny puzzle of facts they have on their time in their birth country.
AS we drove away my boy laid his head on my chest and quitely fell asleep. He was in my arms, not hers. I was heartshattering sad and elated at the same time that I had my son in my arms finally. How can I be so happy while I know a momma’s arms ache? As I looked at our dirty shoes from the day of walking around the village- I prayed his first momma would somehow have peace in this world and maybe just maybe she felt her baby was being loved on. Man is he LOVED!