First order of business on 10/10/13 was to the Norman Bethune Hospital #2, now part of Jilin University (the #4 ranked University in China) to the finding spot of Beau. The hospital had been renovated since she was found on July 19, 1999.In some paperwork I did not bring, it said her finding site was on the “ENT,” as in “Ear, Nose and Throat” floor of the hospital. Li Tong was listed as the person who found Chang Rong. I had hoped to meet with him and ask him a few questions. Unfortunately, he has since retired. Before our arrival to Changchun, Yu made several phone-calls to try to find this man. Turns out his wife just died, he is nearly blind, and he is in his late 70’s and has no real memory of the event. He worked as a security guard at the hospital, and any lost items, including foundlings, were taken to security or security was called to come and get them. So the truth is, he was not the finder, just the person from the hospital listed on the official document when the police came to pick her up and take her to Changchun Social Welfare Institute.
Not being able to talk to him was bit of a disappointment, but once you begin learning more about adoption and China, the you learn how easily the truth is distorted. So our hope, that this was the man who had found her, and then he looked around for someone watching to see if the infant was found…Then, he could have described his suspicions that the parents were there to make sure she was found…Maybe her parents were there? Maybe it was another family member who brought her to the hospital? My girls have to reconcile with the not knowing.
On the newer ENT in-patient floor, a crowd gathered around us. A couple of the nurses bent over backwards to find someone who worked at the hospital in 1999 to see if they could tell us exactly where she might have been found. Privacy for in-patients (or outpatients) is not exactly how we Westerners interpret it. Pretty soon, many people, young and old, even some patients wandered out of their rooms to stare and ask questions.
We had brought a book with some photos of Beau’s life, including a few from the orphanage, her family, her growing up, Chinese dance performances and we let the crowd look at it. People commented how “lucky” she was. We have heard this soooo many times, and I quickly try to clarify, no we are the lucky ones. It is hard with the language barrier, and much harder if your child is the interpreter. Fortunately, that day we have the wonderful Yu with us.
One woman was visibly upset that Beau’s family had abandoned her. Another nurse suggested that if Beau wanted to find her birth family we should call the media. Beau seemed startled and I too was taken aback. How to gracefully respond? This trip is about finding out where she spent the first 3½ years of her life. Looking for her biological family is another kind of journey. We don’t have time on this trip. Trying to find birth parents in China is a much greater challenge than we had time to prepare for. Did she really want to? That is a question she came back to later that night. I would support her in whatever decision she makes in this regard, but she is realistic and knows the chances are slim. Right now, she is not interested in pursuing.
We took some photos with our camera, Ken’s camera and peoples’ cellphones. Many people were impressed with how “pretty” Beau is. Especially, admiring her teeth. My guess is that many of the cleft children who eventually get their palate repaired, don’t get the bone-graft surgery or the extensive orthodontics that cleft children in the West have access to. [When we were in Changchun the first time, we were told if the children get to age 5 at the orphanage, that is about the time they will get their palate surgery done). However, I have seen children on adoption lists that had unrepaired cleft palates and were older than age 5. (FACT: even with a repaired palate—if speech therapy is not started before age 7 years old, speech articulation is affected forever.)]
Next, with help from one of the nurses, we next walked over to the old part of the hospital, which appeared to be still associated with ENT. We were led into a treatment room, where a physician was seeing a patient, and I tried not to look, but no one else seemed to care that there was a man lying there on the table, in the middle of some medical procedure involving his ear. The physician told us that the mostly likely spot to leave a baby was further down the hall. In that area of the hallway, included a waiting room. In an adjacent room, patients or prospective patients go to a window for an appointment, and have their condition assessed and treatment recommendations made. With discussion from our “team,” it seemed possible that Beau’s birth family took her to be assessed for cleft lip and palate surgery and when they found out the cost, decided to leave her there. We don’t know and probably never will. It gives me comfort to think, to the best of what we have been told, if it is that truth, that Beau was left in a warm, dry place where she could be found. While abandoning baby or child in a place they are NOT be found is rare, there exists a long history of such things in this country and in other parts of the world.