then it was off to those botanical gardens i shared pictures of in my last post. it was so beautiful and serene. music was softly piped in and there were lots of structures and fountains sprinkled amongst the flower beds. red lanterns and umbrellas hung from the trees everywhere you looked. it was really one of the most beautiful man made places i have ever seen.
we saw many wedding vehicles on the highway. instead of cans hanging off the bumper, they decorate their cars with flowers.
our guide explained to us how marriage works. there is a law about how old you should be to get married. men should be at least 24 or 25(can't remember which) and women 21. if you are not of age or unmarried and have a child, the child cannot be registered at the police station for a "number." sort of like our social security numbers. without this number, the child will have no access to health insurance. also there is an incentive to having late childbirth. if you have your first child after the age of 25, you get 6 months of maternity leave. if you have a child sooner there is no maternity leave. these measures were put into place to facilitate their one child policy.
in shenzhen where our children are from, there was a population boom when the factories and industry came in. many women had children before legal age or were unmarried. if these children had no "number" they would not be able to get any government services. these numbers are used to obtain schooling and work. without a number a person cannot travel out of the country or apply for any benefits. that is why there are a great number of orphans in that area. the mothers either were unable to take maternity leave, provide for the children, or gain a number. the loophole is that they do a count or census every ten years. during this counting, one may apply for a number.
we would be wise to remember these cultural differences and laws before passing judgement on any of these orphans' mothers. learning these facts has helped me gain even more compassion for these women. a disabled child would not have the money for care if not protected by these sanctions. therefore many special needs children are given to orphanages because the parents have no means to care for them. the fact that any of these children are found and survive and taken care of means that their country cares what happens to its people. people who live in glass houses...enough of a lecture...moving on...
we saw many brides posing for pictures. it was explained to us that these photos shoots are not their wedding day. they take pictures months in advance so they have the pictures on display at their weddings. many of the dresses are rented. good thing too, because we saw a few that had very muddy hems.
after the gardens we went back to our room for a quiet lunch of ramen. then we went over to Shamian Island. the architecture was beautiful. you could see the spanish and british influence. they would have been very active in the early 1900's trading tea, bribing officials with opium from India, and buying silk and other regional goods.we shopped for squeaky shoes and dolls for friends at Gifts of Love and Jenny's Place. both run by Christians and serving adoptions. then we had a tea tasting and got robbed for $50 for three small bags of tea. note to self...not everything is cheap in China. next time ask the price before buying.
then we went to an expensive Cantonese restaurant for dinner...here are pics of the food. it was really good except for the intestines. I DID NOT order them. i think a Chinese adoptee ordered them. S ate the whole plate by himself. blech...but the rest was beautifully done.
intestines and organs...i tried it first, but did not have seconds
thanks to our host for treating us. we also had crab steamed buns with little orange crab eggs on top, beef and Chinese broccoli, rubber scallops, veggies, chicken and mushrooms, and dumpling soup.
today we went to see the Chen Family Temple which was paid for and built by 70 members of the Chen family. there are only 250 Family/last names in all of China! during the cultural revolution, the Red army destroyed everything in it but left the structure. it was built as a school. now it is owned by the local government.
then we visited the buddhist temple. i didn't take many pictures. we were really uncomfortable being there while people were worshipping. we turned down a blessing from the monk because it would have required us to kneel/genuflect to their dead ancestor. we do not bow down before any god but our own. still, it was interesting to learn about the traditions and rituals of another religion.
later we took a taxi and went shopping. we didn't find much, so we went back to our room for some rest. then we went to dinner and home for baths and bed. our guide came and translated for us. perhaps the children will be even better behaved than today.
they actually walked and were quiet in the hallways. the hotel lobby decorum needs to be worked on yet. but discipline has been met with some acceptance instead of rejection. i am so proud of how far our girls have come in a short time. here's to hoping it continues to get better each day. all i can say is that we are thankful for them and love them even though they can be beastly and embarrass us at times. the loving and well behaved times are a blessing. oh...basha held my hand a few times today without me initiating it. it wasn't for long, but it happened none the less. woohoo.
tomorrow is a down day. i think we will eat a late breakfast, swim, go to the park, and do some clothes shopping for the children. we are looking forward to a free day. here's hoping for family, fun, and fantastic behavior.