Many of you have inquired about our trip and what the two weeks will look like! We wanted to share our general itinerary with you all! We will be flying out of Dayton, OH next Wednesday, July 16 in the morning. We will have a layover in Chicago, IL before flying almost 7,000 miles into the capital city of Beijing, in northern China. It will be a 20+ hour trip total, and by the time we reach Beijing, we will be ready to get acclimated to the time change/rest up to meet our sweet girl! We will be in Beijing for two days in order to adjust to jet lag a bit and to visit some significant cultural sites. We will climb the Great Wall of China and see Tiananmen Square. We plan on soaking in the culture as much as we can to also gather valuable photography of her homeland for her life book. We are really excited for this experience to also help us emotionally prepare/process for Gotcha Day!
On Sunday morning, we will fly 900 miles to the city of Nanchang, in the province of Jiangxi, in southern China. This is the capital city of Jiangxi, and this is where we will meet Selah. Her foster family and representative orphanage are about 3 hours from Nanchang in Pingxiang City, but it is not customary to go to the orphanage to meet your child. Selah will travel by van with the orphanage director and a nanny (most likely her foster mom will not come) to our hotel in Nanchang to meet her mom and dad (mama and baba in Mandarin)...US! Monday morning in China (Sunday evening in the States), we will see her for the first time and she will be left in our care from that moment forward (known in the adoption world as "Gotcha Day").
We have thought about this day over and over again a million times. In the world of adoption, this day can be romanticized, over-idealized, and families can go into it with crushing expectations. We truly desire God to prepare our hearts for the possibility of a "worst-case scenario". She will most likely be very afraid and upset as we are removing her from everything she has ever known. Her world will have just been turned upside down in every way. The sights, smells, people, bed, food...everything will be different. She may reject one or both of us, and we are going into this knowing that it could take days, weeks, months, and possibly even years for healthy attachment and bonding to happen. If she does have intense sadness and grief, it is actually a very good sign as it indicates that she made real attachments and bonds with her foster family. After she has time to grieve, she will hopefully be able to attach to us too. Through much of our training in this process, we have learned to stay close to her while giving her all the room she needs to go through this process. We want her to learn slowly and genuinely that we are safe, that she can count on us, and that she is dearly beloved and adored. It will take a lot of time and patience to earn her trust. A fellow adoptive mama shared in her blog that "we have been pursuing her for 18 months, and that pursuit does not end in China". We also learned so much in our Pathways training about how it is our responsibility to build trust and bonds with our child. Those expectations cannot be placed on the child. It is not her responsibility to figure out how to bond with us. We desire to go into this time of getting to know Selah and helping her to grieve and adjust without conditions. It is not about her meeting a need within us, it is about coming alongside her to meet the needs that we can while also pointing her to God to ultimately meet all the needs we can't. We will get the opportunity, through our guide who will translate, to ask her caretakers a few questions about her life. We will also take this time to give them gifts (we are bringing local chocolates), and to thank them for taking care of our precious daughter until we could. Overwhelming moment...blurry words on a screen right now as I type and ponder what saying goodbye to them will really mean. We hope to get pictures and some video of this time depending on how Selah is doing. Her comfort will be our first priority.
We will stay in Nanchang for the remainder of the first week in order to complete our adoption registration with the Chinese government (after which Selah will officially be our daughter!!!) and apply for her passport. From what our agency has shared with us recently, we have come to realize that her foster care has not been in the orphanage that has processed her paperwork. She has been living in a foster home upon leaving the hospital at 3 months old. So we will not be visiting the orphanage, for her living environment, bed, and close family/friends will not be at the orphanage. We would love if her foster mom were able to come to the hotel when we meet Selah, but that may not be the best situation for her. We will let our agency and the orphanage workers make the call on this, and we will trust them that they really know what is best for our little girl in regards to how to best approach all of this.
On Friday, we will all travel by plane again to Guangzhou, in southernmost China where the US Consulate is located. Here, we will apply for Selah's visa to be granted entrance to the United States. Guangzhou has a sub-tropical climate with many beautiful gardens and sites that we hope to explore during our mandatory stay there. Her visa application will require a medical exam on Saturday morning, and on Wednesday or Thursday, we will go to the US Consulate to complete the visa application. Then we will need to wait one more day for the US Consulate to process and issue her visa. Once we receive her visa, we will travel by train to spend two nights in Hong Kong before boarding a flight back home! Her brothers will be anxiously awaiting to meet their "Sissy" I am sure! We will fly into Newark, NJ for a layover before boarding our final flight to Dayton, OH!!! There we will be greeted by close family and friends on Friday, August 1 at 9 pm. That is another moment that seems so surreal, like a dream come true!!!
As we approach this day of leaving for China very soon, we are overwhelmed with gratitude and love for each and every one of our loved ones who have prayed for us, supported us, and been behind us every step of the way on this journey. We look forward to keeping you updated during this time, and we are thrilled to walk with you all in the long run as we discover the beautiful gift of grace God has given us in this life together. The gift of adopting Selah is a journey straight into the heart of a child who is just as much our own as Bryson and Lincoln. As we prepare to leave, Isaiah 43:1 is on our hearts for Selah, "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine." This is God's heart for His beloved adopted children, and He has filled our hearts with His love immeasurably for her. Now off to pack some bags and prepare our little ones for this time of being away that is necessary for Sissy Selah. We appreciate your prayers so much!!!
(A special thanks to friend and fellow adoptive mother, Melissa Tabasso, for some of these details regarding travel!)