Dear friends and loved ones,
If you have kept up with us this far, you know that we are coming to the end of our trip. At 10:00 p.m. today, China time, we will leave for the Guangzhou airport for the first of three flights that will take us back to Philly. Our first flight is to Seoul, our second to Detroit, and our third and final (seventh of the trip total) gets us into Philly at 2:20 p.m. on Saturday.
In EST, we will start our journey at 10:0o a.m. on Friday and finish it at 2:20 p.m. on Saturday. Needless to say, I think we’ll be pretty tired when we drag ourselves off of that last flight!
This trip has been remarkable for so many reasons, not the least of which has been meeting the boy we have dreamed about for over a year, and getting to see him start to find his special place in our family. Titus has been adjusting as well as we could have hoped. We have seen grieving and joy, sadness and laughter – all reactions that we had expected and that are a normal part of being uprooted from all you know and planted somewhere entirely different. We expect all of this to continue as we make our house feel like his home. He clearly was prepared for us and that has made all the difference.
Our kids have really done incredible. They have played with their new brother, embraced the sights and most of the tastes of China, made new friends, and gone with the flow on just about everything. They have had their moments of frustration and disobedience for sure, mostly revolving around the idea that they really have to stay with us and not get lost because all “what to do when you get lost” plans don’t work when you can’t speak the language. But overall, they have been great travelers and even better big siblings.
Other than our photos from Gotcha Day, here are pictures we will treasure most after our journey home.
This is the statue that all adoptive families make it a point to see and stand at if they can. All four of our kids wanted the opportunity to stand at the statue. And I think you’ll be surprised at who is actually standing in his picture. 🙂
Pretty awesome, right?
And then we had the pictures for our travel group on afternoon. First each individual family had theirs, and then we did everyone together.
The first time we adopted, I was hesitant about traveling in a group, thinking it was better to just go it ourselves. You all, I was so very wrong. The best way to do adoption is with a community. These people become your de facto family for two weeks. They become partners in parenting, friends in a foreign land, and their children become instant friends with yours. Our journeys will always be intertwined because of these two life-changing weeks. We are so grateful for these people and so thrilled for each family.
Eight journeys that led us here to China at the same time.
And most importantly, eight less orphans in the world. Eight children who are part of a family forever, who will get the love and medical care and love and guidance and love and school and love and love and love that they need to grow and flourish and become all that they were created to be.
As you can imagine, we have grown very passionate about the subject of adoption. It has brought us two of the greatest gifts of our lives. And we, like everybody else, are quick to share highlights and smiley pictures on social media. But adoption can be hard. This is the reality.
- These children are torn from everything they know and thrust into the arms of complete strangers, some for the second or third time in their lives. Grief and fear and trauma are a very real part of the adoption process.
- Parenting adopted children is different than parenting biological children. The love you feel is not any different, but the strategies and discipline often are. Sometimes those outside of your immediate family will not understand this and that’s okay. You still have to stick to what you know to be right for your new child.
- The trip to get them is hard. Sure you’re seeing fantastic sights and learning a new culture, but you’re also away from everything you are familiar with, parenting a child who doesn’t know you or trust you, in a place where you need help to even get basic supplies for your child. You’re living out of hotels and suitcases and your sleep is off and your new kid’s sleep is likely off and everything is just off. It’s 2 1/2 weeks away from home. And because everything is new to both you and your child, it’s kind of like you’re stuck on a foreign island together, each trying to figure out not only the environment, but each other as well.
- Bonding can be a real challenge and the struggle to bond can last a long time. Sometimes it takes years. Even Vivi, who bonded with us fairly quickly on the surface, took a year to return affection. She would take it and look to us for comfort, but she didn’t return it and hug us back for a solid year. I remember the first day she did it. It was like she finally let her herself truly attach because she finally realized that she was home for good. While Titus is doing well, we anticipate that it will take a while for him to feel totally secure too.
- The family dynamic that you’ve built whether intentionally or unintentionally is torn down and you have to build it back up again from scratch, getting used to the addition of another rhythm. You have to get used to another person’s opinions on things, even if they’re coming from a soon-to-be-four-year-old. He gets a voice. Grafting it all together takes time.
But here is the thing. For all of those reasons that adoption is hard, adoption is also beautiful. It blends together a family in an irrevocable way. It interweaves the lives of people from different places so tightly that the fabric cannot be broken by anything of this world.
And in the end, it’s about children finding a home. It’s about parents answering the call to follow Christ through the specific journey of adoption. There will be hard times. There will be times where we will look at ourselves and wonder what we’ve done, but honestly, we’ve done that every time we’ve added a kid so Titus is no different. 🙂
But there will be good times. And we will figure it out, this new family dynamic of six. We humbly ask for your continued prayers for strength and patience and love as we navigate these new waters. We are more grateful for your prayers then you will ever know.
Black, party of 6