That Story

January 5, 2009
“Mom, we are supposed to ask a family member about a favorite summer memory from their childhood and then write a paper about it. Could you help me?” asked my 11 year old daughter, Samantha.

“Ok. Hmmm,” I said giving it some thought. “My favorite summer memory was about 34 years ago when I was your age. I traveled back to China to visit my orphanage for the first time.”

“Oh, I love that story! Tell it again.” Sam interrupted.

“Of course,” I answered happily. “In 2007, my parents decided to take me back to China and see where I was born. This memory is of our visit to my orphanage.

That special day began with my family and me riding a bus through the crowded streets of the fifth largest city in the world. My godparents and my cousin came as well. I remember feeling happy, excited, and a little bit nervous, too.

When we arrived, our tour guide Anita led us to a newly built red brick building with well-kept grass. We entered and loaded into a small elevator. I was very surprised the building even had an elevator. I had imagined the orphanage would be unsightly and old with dark dirty staircases.

During the short ride, a million thoughts raced through my mind, like the traffic in this densely populated city of Chongqing. But my anxiety vanished as my family and I stepped off the elevator and saw a room full of babies staring at us, not knowing what to think of this group of unfamiliar visitors. I hesitated. I looked around and noticed the walls were painted with brightly colored sunflowers. I saw my aunt immediately start playing with a small boy.

The rest of us followed her lead. I found a little girl all alone in the corner. She was shy and endearing. I picked up a lime green toy truck and handed to her. Then she looked into my eyes and smiled. I smiled back. I knew it was a treat for the kids to have someone come to play with them. It felt good to give them the one-on-one attention they hardly ever got.

After playing with the children in this first room for a while, the director of the orphanage showed us to a connecting room. We walked into the new room where about forty-five more babies were gathered.”

“Wow, so many?” Sam exclaimed. “That’s sure a lot.”

“Yes, but not compared to the 600 children that were cared for in the entire orphanage.” I amazed her.

“Oh my gosh!” she reacted.

“Yes, there were hundreds of thousands of children in orphanages all over China at that time.” I explained.

“Then, I remember carefully tip-toeing through a maze of kids, toys, caregivers and my family to sit down on a bench, suddenly finding a baby in my arms. The next thing I knew I was holding a bottle with very warm milk in it. In what seemed like no time at all, my precious bundle had emptied the bottle, and the caregiver lifted her back from me. I got down on the floor with everyone else. There was a lovable little child with a cold waiting patiently for someone to see her. She was just learning to walk so I helped her take some steps. She toddled precariously over to a mirror that bordered the lower wall of the playroom. My new friend reached out her small hand uncertainly and discovered her reflection. While she stood flirting with herself, I held her up, both of us smiling and enjoying her new found amusement.

Mirrored in the background I saw a caregiver holding three silver cups of steaming rice congee, which is similar to oatmeal. She was quickly and efficiently spooning it into the open mouths of the waiting children. I was shocked she was feeding all of them at once.

My mom played with the baby at the mirror while I spent a few minutes passing out some new toys we had bought for my orphanage. The vibrantly colored beach balls and puzzle toys were adored by the babies. I found another lonely child and once again picked up the sweet girl with the cold and let them play together with some of the new toys I handed them.

I was having so much fun with all the babies, I didn’t realize two hours had passed, and it was time to return back to the hotel.”

I paused.

“Mom, why are you crying?” Sam questioned me innocently.

“This story just brings me lots of memories,” I said drying my eyes and finishing the story. “That was the hardest part of visiting the orphanage…”

“What was, Mom?” Sam asked empathetically.

“Leaving. I felt incredibly sad because what I really wanted to do was pack up all those kids and bring them home to a family of their own. That way they could have all the attention they craved and deserved. But unfortunately, as heartbreaking as it was, we said our goodbyes filled with hugs and our best wishes for all of the darling kids. Soon, we got back on the bus and drove away.

On the way back, I remember feeling so thankful that I got to have such a special experience in my life. I enjoyed it very much. Being able to spend time where I was cared for when I was a baby meant a lot to me, and it still does.

Although my whole trip back to China was wonderful, my orphanage visit is my favorite and most memorable summer childhood event.” I told Sam.

“When will you take me back to China?” Sam asked.

“Hopefully next summer, so you can have a story of your own.”

“Thanks!” Sam said graciously. “Now I can go write my paper. That Story is the best!”

“I agree. And we are so lucky to be a forever family.”

“I know.” I said smiling while running upstairs to my room.

Join the Discussion

This article has 5 comments. Post your own now!

tAylOr said...
Feb. 5, 2009 at 12:26 am
What a sweet story, you're really good at writing stories! How did you get it published online?
lane575 said...
Jan. 13, 2009 at 7:42 pm
That story is awsome. Must have been quite a adventure.
Uhhh said...
Jan. 12, 2009 at 3:36 am
Math Queen 16 said...
Jan. 10, 2009 at 4:20 pm
It was very interesting!

Math Queen 16!!!
Blue Eyes said...
Jan. 9, 2009 at 1:36 pm
I love that story!

It's so nice and sweet and makes me so thankful for the family I have.

Thanks for brightening my day.
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