China: A Photo Essay

My husband, daughter Isabel, and I are just returning from a trip to China. Sponsored by the Chinese government and arranged by our stateside adoption agency, we were there for a Heritage Tour. Isabel was adopted from China a few days shy of her first birthday. Now fourteen, she’s had questions about the place of her birth, so we joined other families with adoptive children on a quest to acquaint ourselves with the world our children left behind. Although much of the trip involved sightseeing—The Great Wall, The Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, and more―the journey was more about self discovery than anything else. It was about helping our children connect with their past, create their own meanings about the place, so they can build a solid future for themselves. It was about facing incredible loss―our hearts broke when we visited the orphanage in charge of Isabel’s care for the first year of her life and faced directly the loss she suffered so many years ago. We were sad for the children there now, waiting and hoping for homes of their own. Although the temperature was about 100 degrees F., we were chilled when we saw the spot where Isabel was abandoned and found when she was only six days old.

Now, we are home in the comfort of New Hampshire, and it’s time to make peace with the place and the journey.

These photos represent much of the beauty and the history we experienced in China.

I look forward to seeing you in my kitchen, gathering flavors, soon.


Please watch for my next post in early September. Enjoy the rest of your summer.

Dena Testa Bray has been writing Gathering Flavors, a culinary blog, since 2011. She is a trained chef & ran a home based cooking school. Dena now designs websites, focusing on work with creative people. You can see her website work at She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and family.