Last week, I got an e-mail with the subject line, "I Have a Surprise for You!". It was from a friend who adopted a teenaged boy from Kunming only about a month before we met XiXi. XiXi and this boy had been in the same "family" in the orphanage. Evidently, this young man has been in e-mail contact with some of the workers and teachers from the orphanage and one of them asked if he'd heard anything about XiXi. He wrote back that XiXi's mother knew his mother and that he followed our blog. He took some photos off of our blog and e-mailed them to the teacher. The teacher was thrilled to get them, and then sent an e-mail (with attachments!) in response. The mother forwarded it on to me. What a priceless and wonderful surprise!
This is our XiXi, just before his second birthday. I wouldn't have thought it possible, but I think his cheeks were even more squeezable back in 2009!
This photo was taken two months later and explains XiXi's reluctance to get out of his pajama pants each morning.
Further evidence that he wore PJ pants all day long. He saw this picture, pointed to the pants and yelled, "Cars!" I get the impression they were his favorite jammies. (I'm basing this on the fact that he didn't scream "apples" when viewing the PJ's in the previous picture.)
I've cropped down this photo and the next, since I don't know the little friend pictured with him. They were taken a year ago. He looks so happy, doesn't he?
As wonderful as these pictures are, my favorite picture was a group photo of the children in his orphanage family. It was taken in 2009 and XiXi was the youngest by far, with most of the kids 10 and older. Of the 11 kids in the picture, I know of only 4 who have been adopted. I remember meeting several of them when we toured the orphanage. One of the girls sobbed when she heard we'd spoken to her dear friend and orphanage sister, who is now living in the U.S. She missed her so much. This girl was already 14 and too old to be adopted. What a different life for these two girls. I cried too.
When XiXi saw the picture of the kids, he got a huge smile on his face and looked at it for a long time. He whispered some names in my ear, but mostly he just called them "big sister" or "big brother". One of the girls, a ten year-old who is now with a family in the U.S., told her mother that, "XiXi was treated special." That's certainly the impression that I got and also what I've heard that from everyone who knew him there. "XiXi was spoiled," or "XiXi was the favorite." I'm so glad that he was well-cared for, but it's also bittersweet, knowing that that wasn't necessarily the case for some other children, especially the girls. No matter what, an orphanage is no substitute for a home.
I'm so very thankful that XiXi is home.