Spoiler Alert: This post does NOT contain pictures of Pierson and Maylin. More to come, though!
Okay, now here's the story of how we met Pierson and Maylin. It's a long one, so we'll probably break this into separate posts. So from here on out, things could be a little out of order as we catch up.
Several have asked if we were able to sleep the night before meeting Pierson and Maylin, and the answer is yeah, pretty well! We went to bed very excited, but also VERY tired, so that helped. When we got up, though, we were anxious to go, got ready, rushed through the The Howard's breakfast buffet, and hopped into a cab. (Quick aside: Taipei just seems to get bigger and bigger everytime we travel by cab or MRT. Many beautiful sights to see, large and small)
Before leaving Taiwan, our adoption agency sent us a photo, which they said would be our meeting place to meet up with our ChungYi social worker. Here is the photo:
We were a bit worried at first that all that lay between us and our children was a non-English-speaking cab driver's interpretation of this JPEG file. As it turns out though, trying to find the Shin Kong Life Tower is like trying to find the Bank of America building in downtown Charlotte -- EVERYONE knows where it is.
Once there, we met Jane, who is our social worker at ChungYi Social Welfare Foundation, the agency that handles the Taiwan side of things (as opposed to our stateside agency, ASIA). Jane is the one translated for our Skype visits with the kids, so it was great to finally meet and thank her in person. She has been super-nice to us and extremely patient. More on her later.
We walked from the Shin Kong Life Tower to a nearby station to catch our 8:00 AM bus to Nantou. Most of the places we have been have been user-friendly for English speakers, but here was a place with no written English at all, so it was good Jane was there. Hopped on the bus and settled in for a 3-hour tour. A 3-hour tour.
It was nice to see more of rural Taiwan outside the city (sorry we don't zero photos -- we were trying to conserve flash card space -- we'll have video later though). Saw a lot of rice fields, rivers, dried-up rivers, and little hamlets. Industry is everywhere, though, even in smaller cities and towns. But still, it's a beautiful island, as the Portugese observed.
Nantou County is a very interesting place. Still what I consider a city, but on a much smaller scale than Taipei. In terms of size, I would guess that Winston-Salem is to Charlotte what Nantou is to Taipei (percentage-wise, that is). Some parts of Nantou actually felt third-world village-ish. Some seemed very developed. Others poverty-stricken. Others just quaint and pastoral. An interesting mix.
We also began to notice several betel nut stands, which is an interesting phenomenon and a sad, but true part to our children's story. For lack of better terminology, a betel nut stand is sort like a small, truck stop, where betel nuts and cigarettes are sold by women in very revealing clothing. There are also signs out front advertising as much. The sad and sobering truth is... at least at one point in time, our children's birthmother was a betel nut girl, according to the documentation we've received. The birthparents probably deserve their own post at some point, but for now I'll simply say that our hearts and prayers are with them wherever they are. If they were ever to read this, we would want her to know that we pray for them to find hope and love. (Since I had begun working on this post a few days ago, we now have a little positive news about the birthmother. More later.)
We finally arrived at a park and playground in Nantou City. We soon discovered that this would be where we would meet Pierson and Maylin. It is a large and beautiful park (the pictures you've seen are it), and it was all very surreal as we waited for what seemed like hours but really was about five minutes.