We got out T.A. yesterday: this is our "travel approval" from China's central adoption organization. It is basically the last piece of paperwork we need before we can apply for our visas and book our flight and hotel!!
We now know our dates: I am leaving on Friday June 14th, getting to Hong Kong on the 15th, driving to China (or being driven, I should say) on the 16th, and meeting Christopher on the 17th!!
This adoption has moved so quickly; so unlike our other adoptions. This fact, and the fact that we already have 4 kids, has made this adoption a blur. I can't believe it is actually happening!
I am traveling alone this time. Separation anxiety has been very real for our adopted kiddos, and they would not do well with both parents gone for so long.
We brought Nicholas with us when we adopted Ellie and it was, in many ways, a good experience (especially when we got to meet her together for the first time!), but it was also very stressful for him. Nicholas, like many kids who were neglected as infants, gets dysregulated easily: if we add time changes, new foods and a lack of a routine to the situation, it can get ugly. I recall one time we were in an official registrar's office signing important documents and Nicholas was all over the place, just ju,ping up and down, singing and being silly. I asked him to stop multiple times, and he didn't Finally, he bumped into me as I was signing a form, and I snapped at him (I know! Bad mommy!) Then he started crying and would not stop. I mean would. not. stop. We brought him out into the hallway to try to calm him down but he just could not. Eventually, other office workers in this government building started sticking their heads out of their office doors and wondering what was going on. It seriously sounded like we were torturing Nicholas by the way he was wailing. I started to panic, thinking that Nicholas could be taken away from us. Here we were, these two Westerners, in the middle of a not-so-cosmopolitan part of China holding a screaming Chinese boy, who was yelling "I HATE YOU!!!" (I was praying no one there knew English).
To make a long story short, he eventually calmed down, but we have thought twice about going on such a trip with kids again. I mean, an adoption trip is no Disney Cruise. It involves a lot of boring meetings, official appointments, and long bus/ car/ plan rides. Even an adult needs an extra dose of patience and endurance to get through those two weeks.
Nicholas was 5 when we travelled to bring home Ellie. Right now, Ellie is only 3, so when we contemplated bringing her with us to China, we had to think about impulse-control issues as well. Ellie does not always listen we we tell her "no" or "stop," and those of you who have been in a Chinese city know that a small child (or a linebacker) would not stand a chance walking into the street without serious planning.
So, we have decided that I will go alone. John will stay home with the kids, with the help of a beloved nanny and my parents.
I am starting to get a little nervous about the trip: not because I don't like traveling alone (I really do!), but because both times I've been in China before, I got really sick. One time food poisoning, one time just a really terrible virus. Please please please don't let me get sick this time.
I am also having anxiety about leaving the kids. I mean, we are together 24/7. Ellie, especially, is at my side all the time. She is my "best friend ever," as she likes to say. She is NOT happy about me leaving, and I really hope she is not too upset while I am gone. I think the best thing we have done with parenting Nicholas has been keeping him really close. We have witnessed his anxiety and emotional barriers really melt away slowly, and now we have such a healthy attachment. If I could do things all over again, I would have homeschooled him from the beginning, and also let him sleep in our room (those things have been so helpful with Ellie). So I am not thrilled with the idea of leaving Ellie for a couple of weeks, but am praying that it only serves to demonstrate to her what I always say: "Mommy always comes back!"
Anyway, didn't mean for this post to be so long. If you haven't stopped reading, I thank you!!