Two Libby children who were originally adopted from China have had the chance recently to visit the land of their birth, and bring back stories to share with their classmates.
Through HOLT International, the adoption agency that helped place Sally, now 16, and Charlie, now 12, the siblings and their adoptive American family were able to tour the Chinese province where Sally was born.
“Charlie had to miss school and they were studying the Terracotta Warriors,” said Charlie and Sally’s mother, Anne Weber. “After we went to Beijing, we went to Xi’an, which was the ancient capital of China, and that’s where the Terracotta Warriors are at. They have a huge museum there. Charlie gave a presentation about it in his class.”
Anne described from the tour book how the Terracotta Warriors were discovered. In 1974, local farmers in Xi’an village were drilling a series of wells searching for water when they came across old pottery fragments and ancient bronze weapons.
When archaeologists came to excavate the area, they dug three pits with the largest measuring over 17,000 square yards.
“The Xi’an Emperor built all of it,” said Anne. “He believed in the afterlife and he had 7,000 warriors, so when he came back to life he would have his army.”
Anne said they were able to visit the province where Sally was born, but did not get a chance to see where Charlie was born.
She explained how HOLT had done a lot of background work for a lot of the families on the tour. Some children were able to connect with foster families, and all the children were able to return to the orphanage to see where they had spent time as babies and toddlers before being adopted.
“We got to see where Sally was born,” said Anne. “We went to a little town called Lode. Fifteen years ago we got to go to the capital city but we didn’t get to go to the town she was born in. So we got to see it.”
Sally told about her experience visiting a high school in China, and said it was very different from high schools in America, where she is currently a sophomore.
“Some of the smartest kids showed me around, they have known English since they were very young,” said Sally. “They had pictures of their test scores lined up on the wall. They have one day off a month.”
Anne said the children go from 7 a.m. to noon, then come back after lunch and go from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. They break for supper, and then come back to school from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. She said the schedule was every day except for the one day off a week, and maybe two weeks in the summer.
“Most of the kids live right there at the school,” said Anne. “Because some of them live so far out that they have to stay there.”
Charlie explained some the pictures he and his family took while in China. One of those pictures was of the Mural Hill, otherwise known as Nine Horses Fresco Hill on the west bank of the Li River.
“It’s kind of like in an art pattern, so if you look closely you can see nine horses,” said Charlie. “I personally didn’t really see nine horses.”
Anne said they plan to return to China in a few years when Charlie is older, so they can visit the province he was born in, as they did for Sally.
“There’s other places that do tours, but HOLT does a tour every summer,” said Anne. “The trip takes about two to three weeks. It is a lot of preparation and work.”
Holt International Children’s Services is a faith-based humanitarian organization and adoption agency based in Eugene, Oregon. They sponsor the China Heritage Tour every year. Through this tour, families can visit famous sites in Beijing – such as the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City – the Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an, the world-renowned natural scenery of Guilin & Yangzhou, a cruise down the Li River, home province with orphanage/finding site/foster family visit (where possible) and retrace their adoption journey in Guangzhou.