We spent the day touring the Hutong (traditional neighborhoods in Beijing) by rickshaw. After that we had lunch and then on to tour the Summer Palace and Tiannamen Square. This evening we had a great time having dinner with the volunteers from "Baby Come Home." Just a few minutes ago in the hotel room we saw the video coverage of the reunion on CNN. Christian is getting quite used to the reporters now. We have one more interview tomorrow morning before leaving for the village. The volunteers also gave us some of the local papers that had articles on the story. I can't believe how big this story is here. Christian is having a massage tonight here at the hotel, which he definitely deserves after all the stress he has been under the last few months. Not sure when I will get mine! :-)
I am tired as usual so I will blog again after we leave the village and arrive in Xian. Here are a few photos from today:
By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. -John 13:35
I have so much to post but not enough time...of course. We are on a very busy schedule of touring each day. We are also trying to get together with some of our new friends in the evenings (the volunteers from "Baby Come Home"). Some of the foreign reporters we have gotten to know have been so helpful while here and we hope to get together for dinner with them (no more interviews though) as well. I wish we had more time!
Yesterday was great. The family enjoyed the Great Wall and we were all amazed at how agile Christian's 80 year old grandmother was. She was with us the whole time and often ahead of us. She won't let go of Christian's hand. At one time I tried to give Christian a break so he could take photos. I tried to grab her hand and she lifted up our hands, pointing to our hands, shook her head "no" with a smile and then scurried ahead to grab Christian's hand. So cute! It is so evident that this family loves Christian dearly. The birth dad and uncle are getting a long well (no more arguments or bitterness) and laughing together now, so that is nice to see. Years of anger and resentment seem to be healing between the two of them. Thank the Lord for that.
Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. -Ephesians 4:32
We are learning a lot more information about Christian's first family and his life before the orphanage. I am so thankful his birth family are they type of people they are and that we all just want the best for Christian.
After the tour of the Great Wall, we went to a Cloisonne Factory and then to an Acrobatic Show. The uncle and grandmother were literally on the edge of their seats the whole time with a big smile on their faces. This is all so new to them having never been out of Ningxia. After the show we had a nice Peking Duck Dinner. We laughed and joked around a lot with the family. The birth father particularly has a great sense of humor. We talked about how the alittude is much greater in Ningxia and the birth father said he was worried we would have a hard time adjusting and breathing, so he got us some oxygen bottles. We think he was joking but not quite sure...after all he and his wife are doctors.
We leave Beijing tomorrow to head to the village and won't have internet access until September 5th unlesss we take a day trip to Longde and use the internet there. I will upload photos from yesterday later before we head off to the village.
This has been the most exhausting day emotionally of my life so this is going to be a quick post. Everything went very well. I can not believe the attention that this story has gotten. It was a media frenzy when we walked into the room. The birth family was waiting for us when we walked into the room. As soon as the family laid eyes on Christian there were outbursts of tears. His birthfather literally knelt down in front of Christian holding his hands and sobbed. The media was fighting for a spot up front so much that my sister couldn't get through to take any video or pictures. We were all overwhelmed with all the media attention, but I was particularly concerned about Christian. I was so moved by the family's outburst of emotions. Even some of the volunteers had tears in their eyes. My heart just broke for the family because there was no doubt their tears were genuine and they loved this little boy who is now almost a grown man.
From left to right: Birthfather, Grandmother, Christian
Christian with Grandmother and Uncle
I think there were at least 8 different media outlets present.
Finally, after 4 1/2 hours we got out of the hotel and were able to head to lunch with just the family and no media. We had a very nice lunch with family and then went to a Lake where we went for a boat ride. Christian's dear grandmother had hold of his hand and never let go.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. -Psalm 147:3
Our first meal together
CNN producer, reporter and cameraman caught up with us again
at the lake (they were actually a lot of fun). We had to take this picture
because the reporter looked so funny crammed behind the helm in his suit.
We wanted to play bumper boats with them but thought
maybe the cameraman wouldn't appreciate that.
Christian at the helm- finally having fun and much more relaxed
We ended our day early because we were all so exhausted. It was an incredible day and I think it all went very well. Christian became much more relaxed and at ease by the end of the day. It is time for my head to hit the pillow. Tomorrow is the Great Wall!
CNN Video clips:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. -Rom 8:28
Thanks to Sue for having us over for dinner the night before we left. It was a delicious dinner as usual. It was tough saying good bye to my daughter, Madison. I know she will be in good hands with my mom and other family/friends but I have never been away from her this long. Here is a picture of the two of us at dinner the night before we left.
Madison and I
Some of us were up until 1 a.m. packing (yeah, that would be me). The alarm went off at 4 a.m. I never did find my camera, but I borrowed my mom’s. Thanks to Candice and Alisha (and any others I missed) that offered their camera to me!
We had an uneventful ride to Dulles and all went smoothly at check in. Jamie, my brother is flying separately and took off at 9:15 for a connecting flight in Newark. Christian, my sister and I had a direct flight on a packed flight. I got word just before taking off that our story was on the home page of the CNN website. I believe it is airing on CNN international also. A second part will air after the reunion.
Here are some shots of us flying over the North Pole.
We arrive in Beijing and only one camera person was there (CNN producer) so it wasn't too bad. The funny part came when we arrived back at our hotel, where the birth family is also staying. Our travel guide and the CNN producer go into the hotel to check us in and to make sure the birth family was not in the lobby area. They don't want us to run into the birth family before the actual reunion takes place tomorrow so the entire evening was very tricky. They thought the coast was clear so my sister and I go into the hotel and are standing with the CNN producer at the hotel front desk, when all of a sudden the producer very calmly says "uh oh, there's Granny. Quick...turn around, don't look back and go straight to the ladies room." We go into the business center by accident and ask where the ladies room is, so the very kind Chinese lady starts taking us to the ladies room. All the while Kelly and I are ten steps ahead of her trying to locate it based on her hand gestures so the grandmother doesn't spot us. We dart into the first stall together to hide and pulled out our cell phones to wait for further instructions. Finally Wen-Chun calls to tell us we are in the clear and can go directly to our room, where we have been ever since.
The night before the reunion with the "Baby Come Home" in our hotel room
About 6 volunteers with the "Baby Come Home" organization came to our room for about 2 hours tonight to talk about tomorrow's reunion. We determined the room they have reserved for us is not big enough for all the media now (ABC called in the middle of our meeting to ask permission to be there too). This is getting crazy! Kelly and I are so exhausted that all we could do is just laugh about it all. Jamie (my brother) and Christian pretty much went to sleep right after we checked in, so they missed all the craziness. Anyway, time for us to get some sleep so we are not zombies for the big day tomorrow! Thanks to everyone for your prayers!
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. -Isaiah 41:10
The following article appeared in the Henan Daily Newspaper on June 25, 2009. The reporter’s name is Ju Chang (朱长振)
“I think my son has the right to know where he is from” an American adoptive mother described her response to her Chinese son’s request to find his biological parents. The son is 17 years old. He asked for help in finding his birth family when he was 14. Since then, this American mother has tried many different ways to help her son find his relatives.
This June their wish finally came true. Due to the help from numerous volunteers, they found the son’s home and got in contact with his biological parents. His past is not just “time spent in a Children’s Home in Luoyang” anymore.
The pain of losing a son in a Ningxia Home
In the last few days, whenever he had time, the 40-year-old Ningxia resident Jin Xiaowang (Christian’s uncle) sat guard by his telephone hoping that it would ring.
He spent more than 400 Yuan to install the phone about 10 days ago. Now it is bringing in one after another good news for the family.
The two brothers, Jin Xiaowang and Jin Gaoke lived in Ningxia, Longde County, Town of Shatao. The older brother, Jin Gaoke lives in the city of the county and works as a doctor. Around 1992, Jin Gaoke and his wife had their second child, Jiacheng. Jin Gaoke sent this child home for his younger brother and mother to raise.
Because he is poor, Jin Xiaowang did not think he would ever be married, so he raised this baby like his own. He gave the baby a nickname “Jian-Jian” and the official name Jiacheng (meaning “forming a family”). Maybe because of the name and the baby, soon after Jiacheng came to the house, Jin Xiaowang got married and had two biological children (a boy and a girl). However, Jiacheng always lived with them, and Jin Xiaowang loved him dearly.
When Jiacheng was 5 years old, he was sent to the village school. Jin Gaoke suggested it was time to take him to the city to study. Jin Xiaowang finally agreed with his older brother.
However, soon after, Jin Xiaowang heard from the neighbors that Jiacheng was lost. Jin Xiaowang hurried to the city to talk to his older brother. Jin Gaoke told him with regret that a few days before Memorial Day (Chinese memorial day is in early April- usually April 5th) in 1998, Jiacheng did not like the city life and cried to go back to the village. Therefore, he took Jiacheng to go back to his old home in the village. However, when he got to the bus station, the boy was lost immediately.
Jin Xiaowang was so angry that he picked up a bat and beat the hell out of his older brother. After that, the two families never talked to each other again until now.
Throughout the years, Jin Gaoke tried many ways to search for Jiacheng. He put notices in the newspaper, traveled to places to search. However, after years of searching and being scammed for a lot of money, he was left without any luck. Because she was missing her son so, Jin Gaoke’s wife fell sick and retired early from her hospital job years ago. Jin Gaoke himself has had a lot of health problems as well.
Jin Gaoke never thought that after so many years, he would get news about his son again.
In recent days, he kept getting phone calls describing the look of his boy and checking on many details.
After sending pictures and checking on names, Jin Gaoke finally confirmed that he found his son – he was adopted by an American woman at 8 years old, and was looking for his biological parents.
Jin Gaoke told his wife the good news. “Her sickness instantly got much better.” He said Jin Xiaowang still living in the village also got the good news.
An American Volunteer Adopted a Little Boy
No one knows how Jiacheng got from Ningxia to Luoyang. On February 17th, 1999, he was found under an overpass bridge, the police from the Tang-kung Rd. Police Station brought him to the Luoyang Orphanage.
On the 23rd of this month, when the journalist arrived at the Luoyang Children’s Welfare Center (the orphanage), the person in the office looked at the boy’s pictures downloaded by the journalist from the computer and called out “Jiacheng, it’s Jiacheng” again and again.
Another worker – Ms. Chang- who was a care taker for the children also remembered him. “Jiacheng was very smart and friendly. Everyone liked him.”
Jiacheng was adopted by an American woman named Julia in 2001. She volunteered in the orphanage for over a month and liked Jiacheng very much.” Chang said.
Because the person in charge of records was not in that day, the journalist was not able to read Jiacheng’s file from the orphanage. Yesterday, the journalist arrived at the orphanage again and met the director of the orphanage. He said, Jiacheng was brought to the orphanage by the police. Before the adoption, his record was posted in the province level news media. Moreover, he himself went to the United States for a post adoption visit at Jiacheng’s home in the United States.
The journalist asked if he had tried to look for Jiacheng’s family based on the information he provided. The Director said no because the public notice went out and looking for the family is the police’s responsibility. The Tung-Kung Police Station told the journalist that the police staff had been changed many times, and the records were not well kept from that long ago. So how Jiacheng was sent to the orphanage was not possible to know now.
April 28th this year, Beijing Law Firm, Attorney Zhang Zhiwei received an English letter. It was a letter looking for help mailed by Jin Jiacheng’s adoptive mother, Julia.
In the letter, Julia described that she adopted a Chinese boy from Luoyang Children’s Welfare Center in 2001. The missing children notice said his name was Dang Ziyang. He was about 8 years old when he was adopted. Now he is seventeen years old. His name is Christian. When Christian was 14 years old, he asked his mother if he would help him find his biological family.
Julia said “I feel that my son has a right to know his past.” From that day on, this American mother started the journey of helping her son look for his family.
From Christian’s fragmented memories, Julia organized the original pieces of her son’s memories: he was born in Dongjiagou Village. His name is Jing Jiacheng. His parents are both farmers. His mother and grandmother made noodles and hung them to dry. He also had adoptive parents. They are both doctors. Mother’s name is Shao JuLian, and father’s name is Jin GaoKuan.
Finding family on line
Chang Chu-Fu (volunteer) posted Christian’s information on the missing children website “Baby Come Home.” The volunteers started helping to look for the family based on the information. They looked for Christian’s parents’ names online and found a “Shao JuLian.” She published a medical related paper in a journal. There are two authors in the paper, and the other author was Jin Gaoke. This is very close to Christian’s adoptive father’s name.
Volunteers also found out that Shao Julian was a doctor in a small city in Ningxia. That matches Christian’s description. Later, volunteer “One Meter of Sunlight” asked volunteers from Ningxia to help check into their information and found Jin GaoKe’s cell phone through the county hospital.
“One meter of sunlight” kept up with sending Jin Gaoke short letters and sent him Christian’s pictures. Jin Gaoke soon determined that the boy in the pictures was Jiacheng.
Jin Gaoke identified a birthmark on Jiacheng. After contacting Julia, it was confirmed to be true. At the same time, volunteers also got in contact with Christian’s uncle, Jin Xiaowang. From him and the grandmother, they confirmed Julia’s report of the two birth marks on Jiacheng.
Preparing to Come Home
These days after looking at the pictures sent by the volunteers, Jiacheng remembered more. He recognized his uncle, Jin Xiaowang and his grandmother in the pictures right away and also remembered the small farmhouse courtyard he played in while he was little.
Now Jiacheng has a wonderful large family in the United States. He has a mother, a little sister, two aunts, three uncles, two first cousins and a grandmother. Julia hopes to have some of the family accompany Jiacheng to visit his family in China. She is trying to find enough funding for the trip and hope to have Jiacheng meet his family soon.
Julia wrote in her letter that Jiacheng has grown up to be a handsome young man. He is a junior in high school, and is doing very well at school. He likes to play lacrosse and has won a lot of awards over the years.
When the journalist talked to Christian’s uncle, Jin Xiaowang yesterday morning, he was very emotional explaining how he saw the pictures of Jiacheng sent by the volunteers. The family was crying when they saw the pictures. The grandmother could not stop saying “that is my “Jian Jian,” my Jiacheng.”
Jin Xiaowang said he will not fight for the child with the American adoptive mother. The adoptive mother raised the child so well. He is very appreciative.
The following article came from the Beijing China Times (京华时报). It was posted on June 23rd onto the “Baby Come Home” website. The reporter is 张瑾 (Chang Jin).
The Winding Road Home for a Chinese Adopted Son Searching for His Family
American mother, Chinese adopted son, an orphanage in Luoyang, Henan Province, Chinese volunteers, Dongjiagou Village, a Ningxia doctor and his wife. All these elements combined together is a true story of cross-country search for family. During this process, kindness and love crossed each other many times, changes and passes added up to a “butterfly effect.” Searching for his roots with the American mother’s support.
An e-mail letter from United States was lying in Beijing attorney, Zhang Zhiwei’s inbox. The time was April 28th this year. The sender was an American mother named Julia. She was looking for help from Zhang Zhiwei. Zhang Zhiwei is also a main coordinator for “Baby Come Home,” a non-profit organization that helps parents search for their missing children.
Julia described in her letter that she adopted an eight-year-old Chinese boy from an orphanage in Luoyang in Henan Province in 2000 (actually 2001). She named him Christian. Christian has grown up to be a kind, handsome young man. The family lives a happy and peaceful life together. However, in 2006 when Christian was 14 years old, he asked his mother if he could find his biological family and the village he remembered growing up.
“Sure, why not?” Julia said, “I felt that my son had the right to know his background.”
From that day this American mother started the task of helping her son search for his family. Not understanding Chinese, the most she could do was to go through her Chinese friends to start the search.
The American mother’s first try failed.
Her first try started with the orphanage in Luoyang, but it also stopped there. Julia noticed that in the adoption record, Luoyang Orphanage gave Christian the name “Dang ZiYang,” but they all called him Jiacheng. Also, with regard to the time he entered the orphanage “it seems there was some confusion.”
In the record for “Dang ZiYang” at the orphanage it says on February 27th, 1999, he was sent to the orphanage by Tang-Kung Rd Police Station, West Subdivision of Luoyang City Public Safety Bureau. The record showed that he was found under an overpass bridge in an area full of commercial buildings.
However, the date in the record is somewhat different from what Julia learned. A nanny in the orphanage had told Julia that “Jiacheng” was sent to the orphanage in 1997 or 1998. Julia also saw Christian in a photo taken by an American that had visited the orphanage 1998.
This conflicting information did not help at all. After more than two years of searching without success, Julia felt lost.
A Chinese stamp was included in the letter looking for help.
A turning point happened in April this year. Julia was doing some research on the internet and found the website for “Baby Come Home” – a non-profit organization that helps locate missing children. She immediately sent a letter to ask for help. In the letter to the lawyer, Zhang Zhiwei, Julia included as much Chinese information about Christian as possible.
Most information came from Christian’s recount from his memory during the first six months after his adoption:
Born in – Dongjiagou Village, Province – Shanxi, Name given at birth – Jing Jiacheng, mother’s name – Shao Julian; father’s name – Jing Gaokuan.
Christian remembered both his parents were farmers. His grandmother had taken care of him. The place he slept at home was a cement stove or “kang.” He remembered his grandmother had told him that he had a twin brother, but he was given up for adoption at birth.
He remembered that his father often went to Luoyang to sell grain and food. His old home grew corn and potatoes and had yaks. The local area seemed to face a drought. Some small rivers were dried up. He remembered his family used vinegar in their cooking. He liked to mix vinegar with potatoes in the US. He remembered there was a lot of garlic in the foods too.
He also remembered his mother and grandmother would make noodles and hang them to dry. He believed he has an older brother or a younger brother, but he could not remember their names.
He felt that his father really loved him, but he was not sure if his mother loved him the same because she never talked much to him.
Other stories from Christian included that when he was around 5 years old, his parents sent him to live with another family. His living environment changed to a big city. He was not sure whether he was related to his adoptive parents, and he did not remember why he was sent away. His adoptive parents had another boy who was older than him.
Christian remembers that both his adoptive parents were doctors. They owned a medical clinic (possibly an OBGYN clinic). His adoptive mother delivered many babies. He thought they were much wealthier than his earlier parents. However, Christian did not remember much of the family life with the adoptive family (except the boy was very nice to him). He had tried to run away to go back to the village where he lived, but he was brought back quickly. The next day, his adoptive father took him on a trip by bus. He thought maybe he got on the wrong bus. After about three days, he somehow ended up in Luoyang. Later, he was sent to the orphanage by the police.
Christian remembered being on a bus for three days and then being in Luoyang. In Christian’s young mind the chain of events that happened during this period were scrambled and he did not remember clearly anymore.
Analysis Finding Out The Birthplace
The unmodified and fragmented memory pieces from years ago got passed onto Zhang Zhiwei’s hand. Gradually, he translated them all into Chinese, and last month, this information was picked-up and posted on the “Baby Come Home” website by a volunteer with the screen name “a meter of sunlight.”
“A meter of sunlight” posted the search for family information on the “Baby Come Home” missing children website. There are 10,000 volunteers from around the country and an online group divided by geographic regions.
According to Christian’s memory his family liked to eat vinegar and raw garlic and slept on a heated Kang. However, these customs are common in the northern and mid-western regions in China.
Julia also provided that according to Christian’s memory he thought the village was located in the Shanxi province. However, the Director of Luoyang Orphanage had told her that Christian’s accent sounded more like one from the Henan province. Therefore, they don’t think Christian is from Shanxi, instead it is more likely to be Henan or the surrounding regions.
Very quickly, based on inputs to the website and other volunteers, “A Meter of Sunlight” decided this direction was not presumable because there are too many uncertainties. Christian also remembered that his mother and grandmother made noodles and hung them to dry. A Henan Province volunteer responded that region does not have that custom; moreover before being sent to the orphanage, Christian rode the bus for three days before arriving in Luoyang. It means he is from far away, possibly other provinces.
As for Shaanxi or Shanxi’s Dongjiagou Village, they were both geographically possible, but both locations do not have yak. So these villages were also excluded by the volunteers.
The neighboring Henan Province has cities, yak, often face drought and water shortage and had a Dongjiagou Village. According to the four factors, it seems that the mystery associated with Christian’s story could be solved.
Putting the four factors together, Dongjiagou Village in Qinghai became the very likely location. However, other volunteers suggested that based on the geographic characteristics Ningxia was possible as well.
First Finding of the Relative on Line
While “One Meter of Sunlight” and others were searching based on the geographic characteristics, other volunteers started trying another route earlier this month.
“KuangJu Mother” (volunteer’s screen name) searched on line for the name “Shao JuLian”, and found that a person with this name had published a medical paper in a journal. The article had two authors, and the other author’s name was Jin GaoKe.
This name is very similar to what Christian remembered as his father’s name.
The author’s bio-sketch in the article also shows that Shao JuLian is a doctor in a county in Ningxia Province. Christian remembered that his adoptive parents were both doctors.
The news was passed on to “One Meter of Sunlight.” However, the “Baby Come Home” website does not have a Ningxia online group yet. “One Meter of Sunlight” therefore, passed on the related information to all online groups for help. She asked volunteers at the nearby regions to help find out who the two authors were. A volunteer from “JanJiang” soon responded that he has relatives in that region, and he could help out.
The volunteer’s relatives found that the address for both authors was the same, so the preliminary information suggested that they could be married. Other volunteers also found that there is a Dongjiagou Village near the county of interest. Things were coming together.
The First Phone Call Required Explanation and Patience
From the county hospital the volunteer got Jin GaoKe’s cell phone number. When he called, the person who answered said his name was Jin Gaoke, and his wife was Shao JuLian. However, it surprised “One Meter of Sunlight” that he denied that he had a missing child, and he hung up the phone right away. No one answered the following phone calls.
A doctor from the county hospital proved to the volunteer that Jin Gaoke and his wife had a boy who was lost. However, the volunteers could not understand why the couple rejected talking to the volunteers on the phone. “One Meter of Sunlight” continued writing to Jin GaoKe short letters to explain the story and sent Christian’s pictures from the United States to him. Finally, Jin agreed to talk.
Father-Son Relationship Connected Again from Across the Ocean
However, “One Meter of Sunlight” was surprised again by Jin GaoKe’s first sentence “I am Jiacheng’s biological father.
Jin GaoKe explained that Jiacheng was “chaoshang” (“over the quota” child due to the one child policy) so after his birth he was sent to be raised by Mr. Jin’s younger brother and mother in the village. When the child was 6 years old, Mr. Jin brought him back to the city with him. One day in 1998, he took his son to go back to visit the village, but the child got lost on the way. In Jiacheng’s young memory, he mixed up his uncle as his biological father.
The father said after he was lost, he felt guilty for years, and searched for the child for many years. However, he could not find him. During that period, he was taken by many scams. Therefore, when the volunteer first called, he was very doubtful.
Jin GaoKe identified a birthmark on Jiacheng. “One Meter of Sunlight” contacted Julia in the United States and proved that to be true. The two sides finally decided to reunite.
Jin mailed pictures of Jiacheng’s uncle and grandmother. After “One Meter of Sunlight” emailed them to the United States, Christian recognized his grandmother and uncle. In his letter to the volunteers, Jin Gaoke said that “All your hard work reunited my family and made the dream I have had for 12 years come true. I am an internal medicine doctor, a good husband, but I am not a good father because I did not fulfill my responsibility of being a father.”
Julia also said to the volunteers that she and her family all believe that Christian was lost by accident and not for other reasons. She will be bringing her family to China in August and hope to meet Jiacheng’s biological parents.
For Christian, hometown has never been so close after so many years.
It was the summer of 2000 when I led a group of 30 volunteers for 2 weeks to the Luoyang Orphanage in the Henan Province in China. We spent most days holding babies, playing with the older children, painting, and cleaning. One day we took 30 of the kids from the orphanage to the zoo and out to lunch. Our bus pulled up to the orphanage and the kids were waiting for us outside with their nannies. Each of us got off the bus, took a child and got back on the bus. Jiacheng was the first child I saw when I got off the bus. He seemed scared yet curious. It was the sadness in his eyes that pierced my heart. As soon as I showed him how to use my digital camera and he started taking pictures of his friends, I got that first smile that lit up his sweet face. This little boy captured my heart in a day.
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. -James 1:27