Frankie’s Heritage Circuit


So Frankie & I (that’d be Angela) did a whirlwind tour of Qinzhou, her home city on the Gulf of Tonkin. It’s not exactly a tourist hotspot, so getting there–via taxi, airplane, shuttle bus, and more taxi–was half the, um, fun. She was ambivalent about the whole enterprise, but as a slavish follower of adoptive-parents-advice books I felt that we should re-visit her orphanage and “finding place.” To make it festive I squelched my miserly impulses and booked a room at the fanciest hotel in town: the White Dolphin. It was, as expected, something of a gilded Motel 6 (i.e. “breakfast buffet” consisting of leftovers from last night’s dinner buffet; gold faucets but no reliable hot water, etc.). But we had fun, and there was a very cold pool which was refreshing after hours in the tropical heat.

Qinzhou is a small city with a very Vietnamese flavor; people are not as open as in Xiamen, although their reticence is, I think, mostly because no one speaks English. The traffic is hypnotic, nonstop, and trance-like. The orphanage turned out to be just down the street from our hotel, so we were able to take pictures in front of the courtyard, although we did not try to go in. To my relief it seemed okay-pleasant, crowded with worker bicycles and decorated with red paper lanterns.

Frankie’s “finding place,” near the gate of Qinzhou University, was part of a small, leafy campus. We wandered briefly through the searing heat, before beating it back into the city where we ate a shamelessly American lunch at McDonald’s. That evening, Frankie met a chubby little Chinese girl in a polka-dotted bikini who turned out to speak impeccable, if foul-mouthed, British boarding-school English; everything was “bloody hell” this and that. They had fun swimming until they turned to prunes.

Overall, it was a fine trip, though I probably violated a lot of adoptive parent heritage trip rules. Time to put away the advice books, I guess.

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About The neurodiversifier

I am an ADHD poet/professor from a neurodiverse family.
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4 Responses to Frankie’s Heritage Circuit

  1. janet sorby says:

    Sounds like you had a great time!! Please post more pictures if you have them.

  2. Bettina says:

    Angela what a wonderful thing you did. She may not grasp the actual enormity of the event but the photos will mean a lot to her one day as well as the fact that she was there with you. How profound really. I got choked up imagining it. Life is such an amazing journey, literally and figuratively. Can’t wait to see photos.
    Love you guys

  3. sorbyroths says:

    (Chris writing:) The best part is that when she tells people where she’s from, it’ll be a real place to her, a place she has good memories of, including a friend she met, a stuffed animal she got—not just a label put on a sad story.

  4. Catherine Hubbard says:

    What are the heritage trip rules again? Damned if I know any of them. Just this evening I was pondering whether or not to give Anya the special jewelry box we bought for her in China on our Adoption Day for her 8th birthday that’s coming up later this month. I decided against it based on the reason that she still treats most of her belongings like cheap toys and can’t be counted on not to break or lose things. So sentimentality is trumped by the fact that Anya insists on being a normal, disorganized kid. But maybe for our Family Day in June….

    I should show you the pictures of Anya’s orphanage in Donguan City. It looks very, very similar from the outside. Big, white, sort of in the southern plantation style, with artwork and lanterns. On the inside, there were wide stair cases and spacious hallways and enough natural light they could save on electricity and keep the heat down by keeping the lights off the entire day. It wasn’t a bad place to visit and was almost comforting in a way. But Anya has no memory of it, which is sad.

    I confess it seems strange to think Frankie was ever, for a second, not part of your family. In my mind, she’s the keystone of your house. Thanks for posting pictures, and thank you for this wonderful blog. I liked the pictures from the Modern Toilet Restaurant, but found this blog entry a lot more poignant and valuable.

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