We leave for China and Elliott in 3 days!
Wednesday at 7am we jet off to Shanghai – the city where our son has been in foster care since he was 2 months old. We debated the decision for a few weeks as travel grew closer (our agency standard is a few days in Beijing at the front end of the trip to get accustomed to the time change and ease into Chinese culture), tossing out lots of ideas on how to do the trip the way it is “supposed” to be done and also get to see Shanghai. But in the end, we decided that there are so many gaps in Elliott’s life story that we want to do whatever we can now to have information and pictures and experiences to fill in whatever gaps we can down the road. There are going to be a lot of questions we can’t answer, but we will at least be able to answer questions about Shanghai!
We’ll be in Shanghai Thursday evening til Sunday morning – two full days. We got our airline tickets booked Monday (the one 6 days ago), and life right now is a whirlwind, so I have no idea what our time in Shanghai will look like! I have heard a few recommendations – The Bund, Yu Gardens, some water town, but we have no firm plans. And I’m saying this to remind my planning self: that is okay, we will figure it out. I grabbed a pocket guide to Shanghai from the book store on Friday, I have an app with a map of the Shanghai subway system on my phone, and we will have 18 hours of travel time on our way to Shanghai Wednesday/Thursday. While this is not my typical travel style at all, this is also not a typical trip, and from what I’ve heard, Shanghai is the easiest city in China to get around solo as an English speaker. So wing it we shall! These are our only official “tourist” days on the trip – we will have a lot of other free days waiting for paperwork to be processed, but we will have Elliott with us at that point and just have no idea what his (or our!) emotional state will be. We hope to get out and see what we can in our other two cities, but no guarantees!
Sunday the 5th we will take a bullet train from Shanghai to Zhengzhou, the capital city of the Henan province. Our son was born in a city in the Henan province, so the capital city is where we will have our Family Day and meet Elliott (Monday the 6th, China time!), finalize our adoption paperwork, and await his Chinese passport.
Saturday the 11th we will fly with our new son to Guangzhou in southern China, which is home to the US Consulate that will issue Elliott’s US visa so that he can come home to the States. Appointments, waiting, and then Saturday the 18th we fly HOME.
You guys … I can type that so calmly. I’m impressed with myself. I am 98% excited and 2% feel like I might throw up from the nerves. I vary from wishing we could hop on a plane in 2 hours, just rip off the Band-Aid and get there already, to wishing I had more tiiiiiiiime to prepare and process. I am synthesizing 3 packing lists from different sources and friends into one, and yet I am convinced I will forget something essential. I feel so sad for my sweet kiddos who will be at home with grandparents, going to school and sticking to a normal-ish routine, but who have never been without mom and dad for such a long time and will likely struggle a bit with the change. I am glad we aren’t bringing the kids because their feelings would be so big and it would have cost a stupid amount of money to bring them on what will simultaneously be the worst-ever vacation and most-amazing trip.
Pray that we survive the trip emotionally, physically, and gastro-intestinally intact, pray that we are able to attach to Elliott quickly and love him well and have fun and laugh with him in China, pray that we grow in love for and understanding of his home country and culture. Pray with us for all of our hearts to be prepared for the changes ahead, for the grieving and celebrating, for the jet-lag and newness and re-shaping what normal looks like, pray that we are able to cocoon well with Elliott and that we (ME) are willing to sacrifice our (MY) desire to be not home to let him have simplicity in the adjustment and room to attach to us as parents and the kids as siblings.