On September 2nd, 2005, a newborn baby girl was found near the gate of the Chongyang Social Welfare Institute, which serves as both an orphanage and a nursing home. Those who found her believed her to be only a day old, making her estimated birthday September 1st.
We can make an educated guess as to the socio-economic and political factors which made it difficult for her parents to keep her, but the details we will probably never know for sure. It seems pretty clear, however, that the person who placed her near the gate of the Chongyang SWI wanted her to be found quickly and to be well taken care of.
On the first day of her arrival at the SWI, she had a full medical check-up and was found healthy. That evening she went home with one of the workers on staff and has lived with that family ever since. Whether this is common practice as part of a foster care program, or whether she just captured the heart of someone on staff, we don’t know. But what a blessing. On the very day that she was found, she was taken into someone’s home.
The staff at the orphanage named her that day. They gave her the family name Chong, representing where she was found: Chongyang County. The rest of her name is Si Yuan, which means "remember the origin" or "remember the source of life." The orphanage staff indicated that this name was given in order to express their care for her, and to express their hopes that she would always remember where she came from. We’ve been told repeatedly by Chinese friends that this is a truly beautiful, elegant, and carefully chosen name. And we like it too. We do want her to know and understand the place where she was born, and more importantly to know and understand the true source of life, the one who created her and ordained her days before even one of them came to be. (Psalm 139)
We were given amazingly thorough information about her feeding and sleeping schedule. Our friends that were helping us translate the form laughed at her numerous feedings, saying, "This girl has been treated WELL!" She seems to be an avid fan of milk and rice porridge.
Her foster mother says she has a mild temper, is introverted, quiet, very cute and smart. She likes to smile and laugh out loud. And our favorite part: She likes to sit on the sofa and watch TV while feeding herself cookies! Ha! Who wouldn’t?! While that might not be the healthiest activity for a not-yet 9 month old, visualizing that little scene has been good for my heart. For so long we’ve prayed that she would be warm and well fed and protected from harm. We asked that she would experience love and would be well cared for. As we prayed those prayers, I usually pictured her in a room with many other children, perhaps competing for attention and time from limited staff. Hanging out on the sofa and snacking while watching the tube was NOT one of the visual pictures that came to mind!
Aside from some details about her schedule and iimmunizations and such, that’s about all that we know about Grace Noel. We eagerly await the day when we can post a picture of the three of us together and tell you all so much more!