Lilia Trissler writes...
This winter, my family and I took a trip to Asia. First we went to my sister’s home country, the Philippines. Then we went to China. Soon after we arrived, my family and I visited my orphanage, in Zhangjiagang in Jiangsu Province. The first thing I noticed was that an electronic banner read “Welcome Lilia Trissler back home” in both English and Chinese! Upon our arrival we were greeted by the co-directors of the orphanage, the director from when I was a baby, and our translator. Everyone was very friendly and welcoming. We took a tour of the orphanage. I was surprised to hear that it was mostly for children with disabilities. I thought that this was very good, and that taking care of children who would normally not be able to get the care they need is very helpful.
After taking a tour, the orphanage made my family and me a wonderful lunch. The meal was so delicious and I had never had such authentic Chinese food in America. I also met a boy who is a couple years older than me who has lived at the orphanage his whole life. I was surprised to find out that he remembered me from 16 years ago. A nanny was introduced to me and she, too, said that she remembered me. I was shocked that so many people could remember 16 – almost 17 – years ago. I was only six months old when I left the orphanage, so I was not there for very long.
I enjoyed talking to the people who worked at the orphanage and I really liked that I was able to see where I came from. This was my second trip back to China and I was glad that, this time, I got to visit the orphanage and learn more about my background. For example, although I do not know anything about my biological parents, I did find out that I was found in Phoenix Village near the orphanage.
During the visit, I was given two character practice books and a jade necklace with a dog pendant, because my zodiac animal is the dog. I thought that these gifts were so thoughtful and I really appreciate them. I think that being able to visit my hometown was a wonderful experience for me and my family.
February 1, 2011
Rose Trissler, Lilia’s mom, writes...
It has been a longstanding hope and dream for my husband and I to return to Asia with our daughters Lilia (from Zhangjiagang, China) and Phoebe (from Manila, The Philippines). We saved up and actually began our journey three years ago this month when we applied for new passports. This summer, our adoption agency Wide Horizons for Children, connected with me with Gongzhan Wu of the Gladney Center for Adoption. Once Gongzhan learned of our upcoming trip, he assured me that he had several contacts in Jiangsu province where my daughter’s hometown is located. As the trip got closer, I updated him as to when we would actually be in China and the Shanghai/Jiangsu area, and he expedited everything for our visit to Lilia’s orphanage.
What a special day it was. Lilia was able to see firsthand the environs of her hometown – always a mystery until this point. When we arrived at the orphanage, we were warmly greeted by the former director who had administered the earlier orphanage facility where Lilia was cared for during her first 6-1/2 months, the two current directors, and a translator. We chatted and had a tour of the orphanage and a wonderful lunch. We were all so impressed by the cleanliness, light, and obvious good care the children were receiving in this orphanage. The directors shared with us their plans to add on to the building next year.
A happy day it was, and I think for many reasons. Just the day before, a 22 year old young woman who was raised there and who had just missed the international adoption program held her wedding banquet at the orphanage. This was the first and only such wedding at the orphanage. The directors and staff all showered her with gifts. The foyer was still decorated with red balloons and the double happiness character. They were so proud of her, and it was obvious what wonderful nurturing she had received at the Zhangjiagang Social Welfare Institute. The next day, here comes our lovely Lilia, along with a book about her new state, Rhode Island, and her report card – an honors student!
We thank Gongzhan Wu and the Gladney Center for Adoption for making this return visit to our daughter’s origins possible. We will be forever grateful for their assistance.
February 1, 2011