Today, Leah, our guide from Holt, offered to take us to the "finding place," the place where our children were found. For us it was a subway station on the outskirts of Beijing. Quinn was found at Exit B of the station, which is small and fairly quiet. I was so happy to have such a specific location and wanted to go there and take a picture so Quinn would have it. This is the picture I hoped for, and it alone would have fulfilled my expectations for the day:
As we took pictures, a crowd gathered around us. Quinn, who is a first-class ham, put on quite the show: He smiled, laughed and even stuck out his tongue and blew raspberries at the teaming masses:
While Quinn entertained the crowd, Leah asked the station guard if there might be anyone around who remembered the day Quinn was found. He didn't, but told us where to find the station director. She had only worked at the station for less than a year, so she didn't know anything either. But she took the time to coo at Quinn and pose for pictures with us:
She told us to ask at the police station inside the station, because that is where babies would have been taken. So off we went:
Within minutes, a guard walked up and greeted Leah very enthusiastically. He was there the day Quinn was found at the station, and remembers him well. He told us Quinn had been taken from the substation to the main police station for the area. And amazingly, he said there might be a file on Quinn there, maybe with pictures. Here is the guard:
We hopped into a cab and drove to the police station, where the commander was out front waiting for us with a big smile on her face. She had just gotten a call that we were on the way. Not only did they remember Quinn, she said, but they did, indeed, have pictures.
She quickly ushered us inside and into a small office. A young receptionist inside saw us walk in and she started pointed excitedly at Quinn and then at her computer. She motioned us to come behind her desk. And within seconds the big face of tiny Quinn, at five days old, filled her screen. Then she pulled up an amazing shot of his whole body, laying on a small bed covered in a blue-and-white blanket and wrapped in the white sheet and orange blanket he was found in. He had on no baby clothes, which I had been so sad to read when I first saw it on the updated child information we were given during orientation last Saturday.
As she scrolled through the document I saw a file and asked Leah if we could get a copy of the photos and the file. They said no to the file, but did agree to let Leah copy its contents - and download the photos onto a memory stick she happened to have with her, God bless her. Tom asked if we could take a picture in the police station, and the commander said we should take a picture with the officer who brought Quinn from the subway station. Wow. She made a call and within a couple of minutes in he walked, carrying a steaming bowl of noodle soup. He greeted Quinn and pointed to the adjacent room where he first brought Quinn. Tom peeked inside and was shocked to see the very same blue-and-white blanket still on the bed. Quinn was due for a diaper change anyway, so I asked if we could use the bed - which provided a perfect opportunity for a photo op: (the officer who picked up Quinn from the subway station and brought him to the subway station is below the picture of Quinn.)
As we left, after trying our best to express our deep gratitude, Leah shared with us the contents of Quinn's file. On June 14, 2007, at 9:35 a.m., a 40-year-old woman approached a guard at the subway station and told him she had noticed a bag. She led him to a large, zippered canvas duffle bag like the ones everyone in China carries and he heard noises coming from it. He rushed to the bag and unzipped it, to find a five-day-old baby - wrapped in a sheet and a blanket but with no other clothing - tucked inside. When he turned around, the woman was gone. She may have been Quinn's grandmother, meaning his birth mother may have been a teenager or young adult. Having a baby at 40 would be very unusual in China, and not being at all ready for it (Quinn had no clothes when he was dropped off) would be even more unusual considering how very familiar everyone in China is with the one-child policy.
Learning his story fills in some blanks, and raises some new questions. It makes sense that a young girl wouldn't have baby clothes, and it might explain the rare choice to give up a boy, which are treasured in China. I had assumed his birth mom was unable to raise a child with a birth injury, but instead, perhaps she was unable to parent because she was a child herself.
Here is Leah translating the file for us:
I can't describe how grateful we are for the indescribable gift of learning a bit about Quinn's history - and even having pictures of him on the day he was found. Leah was amazing today, and her determination, along with the willingness of person after person to to help us, was truly astonishing. This is a morning we will never, ever forget.
As she dropped us off at our hotel, Leah turned to us in the cab and said, "I think this was a miracle day, guys. It was." Man, did she get that one right.