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The Kanter Family

Reese Kanter and her parents made a return visit to Nanchang and Duchang. Reese’s mom Janis Kanter sent this account of the trip to Gongzhan Wu.

Dear Gongzhan:

Well, we just returned, and what a fabulous journey this was! I cannot begin to thank you enough. It was AMAZING seeing Guillin again and we couldn't believe all the information that she seemed to remember about us and our group. It was fun fun fun being with her and she really went over the top to make certain that our welcome at the orphanage was outstanding.

We first went to the local Nanchang official offices to pay the dues and they gave us a GIANT cloth sign saying "welcome back Du Yan Zhen.” Guillin braced me that upon our arrival in Duchang that they were going to set off firecrackers. It took us about 3 hours to get there and on the mark the firecrackers went off and we looked out the window of the minivan to see all these reporters and camera crew. It was frankly a bit overwhelming but apparently Reese is only the second child to ever return to this orphanage and they were excited about seeing her.

Needless to say, the first person we immediately recognized was the foster mother. She came over and gave Reese a big hug. The cameras followed us everywhere as we went inside to an overcrowded room of reporters, the Director (who was lovely), another care-giver or orphanage employee who we had a picture of from 2000, and all of us. Everyone there looked a lot hipper than they had nine years ago. Seems like Duchang has gotten some city slickness!

We stayed there a while and then went outside for more pictures, a TV interview, and saw a band of boys from a local middle school watching the scene. Personally I think they were wondering how this cute babe got away from them! Reese got pretty tongue tied and could barely come up with an answer as to why she wanted to return to her hometown, but given the fact that we didn't speak any Chinese, I am guessing none of it really mattered. Thank god for editing!

The Foster mother brought Reese a gift of some slippers she made. She also brought me her baby clothes that she had been abandoned and given to her in. She must have held onto them this entire time. While I know that she was happy to see Reese, she clearly couldn't quite make heads or tails of this western kid, and she herself now has an eight year old granddaughter that she takes care of daily, so there wasn't much pressing of uuuhhhhh and aaaahhhhh over Reese - which was a good thing. It was really generous of her to take the day off from her own family to come be with us.


 

 

 







Then we all piled into two or three cars (I lost track at this point) and went to a huge lunch that they hosted on our behalf. The food was great, we got to ask questions, the orphanage director was really wonderful. I guess she had done a US tour about two years ago for the government on Jiangxi province.

After we finished lunch we drove over for a hurried look at the vegetable market that Reese was found at. We zoomed in and took some quick pictures, but clearly they were uncomfortable and kept saying "we can't linger because we will get noticed." I'm not certain what that meant and what exactly the problem was, but it satisfied Reese enough and of course there moment are very overwhelming when they are happening so too much more for her little brain might have made it cross wire.

On he first day we arrived in Nanchang, Guillin took us back to all the spots we had been with Reese. That was wonderful too and we recreated a lot of the pictures we had taken at that time for a "then and now" shot for our I-photo book. Anyhow, as I said, Guillin was MAGNIFICENT and we loved seeing her. She is really a spirit of fun and I can't thank her enough for taking such good care of us.

I also can't thank you enough for making all the arrangements. While the Gloria Hotel is really a dump (it was back then and remains so) it was fun being there since there was a group of families from Spain picking up their babies which of course allowed us to reflect ever so closely on our emotions of nine years ago. What a journey! Also our friend Yan Yan, who lives in Beijing, really felt that this was something incredibly special to share in both with our family, and with her country, and I think it might even bring her to one day opt to create her own family this way.

So, that is the tale. Thank you Gongzhan. What a miraculous thing you helped do for us and Reese.

Best always,
Janis