I wish this was the "TRAVEL APPROVAL" post but we are still many months away. We are currently (still) waiting for immigration approval (sigh). Our best guess is that travel will occur in March or April. That doesn't mean, however, that we haven't spent hours talking, contemplating, praying over the details that involve travel. Specifically, who will go this time, what is the best scenario for our family?
China requires that we are there for about 2 weeks. There's no way around this and in some ways we are grateful. During our time there, we take every opportunity we can to immerse ourselves in the culture and retain as much as possible to share with our children later. The trip is not easy though. It's long and exhausting. The jet lag alone is enough to make a person sick for weeks. The emotional toll of meeting your child and dealing with her trauma is intense. The paperwork, site seeing, meetings with government officials, all while being clueless about what day it is and what time of the day it is... It's a lot. Then there's the cost of the trip in dollars. For each person traveling we must account for an additional, approximate amount of $2,500. As you can imagine, consideration of travel plans is not taken lightly.
When we adopted Emily in 2014, Seamus and I traveled, bringing our oldest son (who was 8 at the time) and leaving our two youngest kids behind with friends. The experience was amazing and I was thankful that Brady had that extra time to bond with his Mei Mei. Anna and Bryce were definitely in the best-case-scenario for staying home. They stayed with friends who are more like family and they took amazing care of them for us. When we returned, they were both excited to have us home but we noticed our four-year-old seemed very affected by our separation. He was sad and clingy, just not himself for quite a few weeks. While we explained what 2 weeks looked like and left them with a calendar, we believe he was probably too young to really comprehend what that looked like. It was extremely hard to watch and after that journey with him, we decided any future adoption travel would need to look different.
When we adopted Samuel in 2015, the decision was made that I would go alone or bring a friend. This way, Seamus could stay at home with the kids, maintaining their normal routine with daddy close by. We were so grateful to sweet Ms. Suzi who agreed to walk that long and arduous trip with me. The 4 kids did very well at home with Seamus. Our community of friends rallied around us (as usual), provided meals for them while I was gone, carpooled, babysat, and loved us well. I grieved, those many thousands of miles away. I missed Seamus and the kids so very much. I wanted Seamus to be loving on Samuel with me. I hated sharing "gotcha" through pictures and texts. It was hard on each of us for different reasons.
Third trip approaching... what to do? We've talked and prayed over several options.
We could bring the girls with us and leave the 3 boys with friends. The boys stick together naturally and we know our older boys would help care for our 3 year old son. But would we be repeating the separation anxiety with the youngest? He is still a tad vulnerable from his trauma as a baby and we can't be sure that he'll handle the separation well.
One of us could go (not ideal for reasons already mentioned). We ran through many scenarios.
What if we all went to China? SAY WHAT?! Yeah, that was my initial reaction too. We began adding up the financial expense, considering what the luggage and Customs check points would look like, imagining our baby and toddler screaming on a 15 hour flight, and knowing full well that with eight people, each immune system greatly compromised, SOMEONE will be sure to vomit at any given moment. What a fun prospect this is!
But we also saw a different side. God has always provided the finances when it's His will. No one would be separated. All of us could experience welcoming Maggie to her forever family. It would be hard but oh-so-rich. We spoke to many families who have traveled to China with 5 or more kids. Not one of them said they regret it, and each encouraged us in this possibility. More prayer, more discussion, and lots of revelation. We've decided the whole family should travel to get Maggie!
The kids are beyond excited and we can't imagine a more fruitful trip for each of them. We've always seen this trip as a mission opportunity in so many ways. For our kids to experience the richness of this multi-faceted trip... the prospect overwhelms me. Being there for Maggie, visiting an orphanage, loving on those babies, seeing Mom and Dad share the gospel with guides and others who may never hear it... we are so grateful that God would consider letting this happen for our children.
The older ones want to be involved in raising the funds needed for travel so we are brainstorming about that now. I believe we will continue fundraising for the adoption itself. Once we have raised the total needed (approximately $31,000), we will continue fundraising specifically for travel expenses. This way, your giving is not muddied. We will be very clear about what fundraisers will go towards travel. If you feel led to give one way or another, you will have that opportunity. I should reiterate here that every dollar currently being raised is being put aside for our adoption expenses. We will make it very clear when (God-willing) we've met this goal and will move on to fundraising for the kids' travel.
Maggie's, Seamus', and my travel are already factored in to the original amount needed for the adoption. After examining past travel and speaking with our travel agent and social worker, we have estimated the cost to be about $2,500 per additional person. That's an additional $12,500 needed in order for our entire family to go. While our immediate reaction to this amount was fear, we now feel settled knowing that this is what God wants for us. We have been encouraged by so many of you and are thankful for your support in this decision!
There is no perfect plan for this sort of journey. It's hard. It just is. No matter what. But we are super excited about being together as we embrace and bond with Maggie as a family!
Load up Lomans! We're going to China!