Almost a week later, we are still absorbing the impact of our visit to Lia’s hometown. What an intense day. I am journalling about it privately because so much of it feels too personal to share, but we did want to post a few highlights.

We were lucky in that the local guide we hired, Coby, is from Yingtan so he knew the local dialect well.

The kids loved our guide, Coby

The van ride from Nanchang to Yingtan took under two hours, and we actually arrived at the Social Welfare Institute (SWI) earlier than expected.

Yingtan SWI

We walked through the building up to the reception room, where they served oranges, bananas and dates for the kids (there go the clean jackets!). I showed them photos and then they let us look through Nafei’s file and take pictures of the pages. A few precious discoveries in there, such as a footprint and a photo of Nafei as an infant.

Welcome banner, Yingtan SWI

They took us to visit the baby room, and while we were there, Lia’s foster mother arrived. It was an emotional reunion. As you can imagine, Mama Zhu missed Nafei very much. She told us later that Nafei was the last baby she fostered because it upset her so much when the babies left.

The SWI director took us all for lunch at a very fancy restaurant in Yingtan. Mama Zhu sat next to Lia and made sure she had all the rice and pork she wanted. Every once in a while, she would grab her hand and say a few quiet words in her ear.

Then we said goodbye to the SWI staff and drove to Mama Zhu’s village to visit her home. They lit firecrackers for our arrival and Lia was impressed. Mama Zhu served lychee fruit, peanuts, boiled eggs, and hot water–a spread that Coby told us was reserved for special guests. We shared more photos and gifts and asked lots of questions. We learned that Mama Zhu called Nafei “Na Na”!

Early photo of Na Fei and Mama Zhu

It was a boisterous visit, with villagers coming to see what was happening, other foster mothers crowding around showing photo albums of the children they had cared for, and everyone keeping an eye out for the many children underfoot. At one point Shawn went looking for Nico, only to learn he had gone off with someone to get more treats.

Some of the family and villagers who turned out to see Na Fei

Saying good-bye was very hard. We promised to stay in touch and come back as soon as we can.

P.S. Yingtan families who want more details should feel free to email us.

(More photos on flickr.)

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