It’s surreal. One week from this moment, we’ll be trying to soothe our two newest additions to sleep in our first night together at the hotel.
Three more sleeps until we leave.
Bags have been packed and re-packed and probably will be packed one more time before Thursday. I’ve made at least 4 separate “final” Target runs for last minute items…with another planned for later today since one our money belts (empty, thankfully) has been absconded, most likely by the resident 3 year-old. We are consciously trying to meal plan the last few meals this week around the food that remains in the fridge and pantry and tomorrow and Wednesday I’ll be in cleaning mode so we can come home to a tidy house.
A number of questions keep surfacing so I thought I’d take a moment to address some of the ones that are most often asked.
When do you leave?
-This Thursday July 10. Flying out of Dulles, 14-hour direct flight to Beijing.
How long will you be gone?
-Officially 16 days which includes 2 days of travel to/from DC, 2 days in Beijing to rest and see the Great Wall, 6 days in the Henan province where the Marianna and Joseph live and where the Chinese paperwork is finalized, 6 days in Guangzhou where the US Consulate is located and the US/immigration paperwork is finalized then 1 night in Hong Kong where we will catch our flight back home (!!!) on July 25.
Are you taking the kids?
-Yes. It was the plan all along but the decision wasn’t made official until we saw prices at the time of purchase (which was just last week). The reasons we are bringing them are many and varied but ultimately it came down to the fact that leaving the 3 oldest behind for 2+ weeks was causing us more stress than the thought of taking them. This is a family event after all and we want them to not only experience the first moments we have with their new siblings but we also think that the presence of the older ones will be mutually beneficial to the two youngest. It’s our hope that Marianna and Joseph will bond more easily with kids around than they would if it were just Mike and I. Our older ones will need time to acclimate too and the ample time spent together in the hotels in China will be something of a familymoon. Not vacation, mind you…but just time to get to know one another. Climatize as a family.
Is anyone coming along to help you?
-Yes! Our rockstar of a SIL Linda-Anne has graciously agreed to accompany us to help with the kids, wrangle luggage, provide emotional support and otherwise just be present to assist us along the journey. To say we are grateful to have her along is an understatement. Our kids adore her and so do we!
Where will you be in China?
-Three different regions in north, central and southern China and a total of 6 different cities: Beijing, Zhengzhou (capital of Henan province), Nanyang (Marianna’s birth city) and Jiyuan City (Joseph’s birth city), Guangzhou (US Consulate) and Hong Kong. Travel between these cities will involve a combination of flights and van rides.
When will you meet Marianna and Joseph?
-We will get the kids on Monday July 14. We’ll take a 15-minute bus ride with other families from the hotel to a government office in Zhenghzhou, the capital of their province. The kids reside in different orphanages and different cities (in fact they’ve never yet met!) The orphanage reps will likely stagger their arrival times from the orphanages a bit but there are no guarantees. We may get M&J seconds apart or an hour apart. They go back to the hotel with us after that and the adoption is made final the following day.
How are you feeling?
-Excited. Scared. Anxious. Nervous. We have much weighing on our hearts, not the least of which is how much grieving the kids will do once they are placed with us. My heart longs to hold them in my arms, to stroke their dark hair, to whisper in their little ears that I am their momma…that they are orphans no more. I long to just get them home and have the travel squarely behind us. But this is an adventure and cannot be rushed. For better or for worse, each part must be savored because it’s part of their story which is already plagued by gaps and mystery and questions that will never have answers. Intellectually, I know we have little reason to doubt or worry because this journey has been nothing short of grace-filled thus far. We are confident that the graces will be present but the butterflies in the stomach are ever present. We are grateful for any and all prayer.
What agency are you using? When did you first begin the process?
–CCAI is our agency. They have been nothing short of wonderful and we’d highly recommend them. We started the process in January of 2013–so the whole process from beginning to end will be 19mos.
Will you be on your own in China?
-No! Our agency representatives will hold our hands every step of the way from the moment we step off the plane to the moment we board the plane home. I’m told they they act as our brains, guides, protectors, translators and all-around mother hens the entire time. From meeting us at the airport to providing and arranging all in-country transportation, to being available as emotional support…our agency reps will not leave our sides until we are safely boarding the next plane, train or automobile where we will be met by the next rep at the next destination city. They stay at the hotels with us and we will have 24-hour access to them in case of any emergency or unforeseen event. (please God let there be no such event!)
What kind of hotel/western amenities can you expect while you are there?
-China is a complex nation, one that is both digitally advanced but lagging behind in infrastructure compared to western standards. The hotels we will be staying at are the equivalent of 4/5 star American hotels as far as comfort and amenities. We will have access to the internet (though not sure how much time we’ll have to use it!) and will be able to FaceTime, iChat and email via the hotel wifi and VPN service. But the water from the faucets is not potable. We will brush our teeth with bottled or boiled water and have been told to stay away from certain fresh produce (that which does not have a thick peel or rind) and be weary of salads or anything that may have been ‘washed’ in tap water.
Will you be able to post updates and pics as you go along?
-That is the hope, but truthfully, our first priority will be to the kids. When time and internet connection allows, we will be happily sharing updates and pics here on this blog. In a similar vein, we would welcome texts and emails from those at home, especially to the older kids. No guarantees that we will be able to respond to all or any but getting notes from home will be much appreciated along the way!
Is there anything we need?
-I’m sure there will be more specific needs after we get home but I can’t plan that far ahead. Chiefly and most especially right now we need PRAYER. Specifically, we are asking for prayer for:
- safe, smooth and uneventful travel to, from and in China
- that the transition with all the kids goes well
- for Mike and I to stay physically and emotionally sound so we can support and uphold the family and one another throughout the journey
- that the grief that Marianna and Joseph will undergo will be short-lived and that we will figure out how best to manage it
- that no one gets sick while we are there
- that we have an abundance of graces to carry us along