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Adoptees return to their Chinese village to help friends who were left behind

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Abigail Anderson (L)  and Bingjie Turner (R) lived at the Xining Children's Home before being adopted.  Anderson went to live with a family in Virgina and Turner with a family in Washington state.

Abigail Anderson (left) and Bingjie Turner (right) lived at the Xining Children's Home before being adopted. Anderson went to live with a family in Virgina and Turner with a family in Washington state.

Credit:

Courtesy of Abigail Anderson and Bingjie Turner

For Bingjie Turner and Abigail Anderson, returning to China has been bittersweet.

Both wanted to go back since leaving their orphanage, the Xining Children's Home, 14 years ago. Turner wished to visit her father's grave. Anderson wished to reconnect with her surrogate grandmother before she died.

At first, they were giddy with excitement when they found out they would get to fulfill their initial wishes. Even more poignant was the chance to meet many of their friends who were not adopted and find out how they were getting along as adults. 

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Abigail Anderson at Xining Children's Home.

Abigail Anderson is shown at the Xining Children's Home in 1997. She is third from the left, in the back row. 

Credit:

Couresty of Abigail Anderson

Orphans at the Xining Children's Home who are not adopted are known as the "left-behinds." They often are disabled and struggle to make it on their own.  

But their visit also brought back painful memories — for Turner, it was going to live at the orphanage at 11 after her father died.  

Anderson was orphaned as an infant but wasn't adopted until she was about to turn 14 — the cutoff age for international adoptions. "Everyone wants the babies," she remembers. It was hard for her to see the young ones go to families. 

Turner and Anderson are the first to participate in the charity's Back to Serve program which encourages former residents to return and help those left behind. They stayed for six months visiting the home and their friends.

"I always knew I wanted to give back," says Turner, 27. "I had a missing piece in me, and now, I found it."   

See photos of the children reuniting, below.  

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Bingjie Turner and Abigail Anderson with residents at the Xinxin Children's Home

Bingjie Turner and Abigail Anderson are shown with residents at the Xining Children's Home. 

Credit:

Courtesy of Abigail Anderson and Bingjie Turner

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Abigail Anderson visits her surrogate grandmother from the Xining Children's Home

Abigail Anderson visits with her surrogate grandmother. 

Credit:

Courtesy of Bingjie Turner and Abigail Anderson

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Bingjie Turner and Abigail Anderson

Bingjie Turner (left) and Abigail Anderson (right) are pictured (2017). 

Credit:

Courtesy of Abigail Anderson and Bingjie Turner

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Bingjie Turner and Abigail Anderson at the Xining Children's Home (2002)

Bingjie Turner and Abigail Anderson, respectively, stand in the back row in a 2002 snapshot from the Xining Children's Home. 

Credit:

Courtesy of Abigail Anderson and Bingjie Turner 

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Tagged: ChinaUnited StatesBingjie TurnerAbigail Anderson.