WOW!!! We made it! I almost can't believe it, and I've been living that reality for the past 5 days.
I got an email from my social worker Friday morning pretty early asking me to call her. I assumed that she received an update from the China team overnight and wanted to let me know what she learned. I called and left a message, and she called me back soon after.
"Hello, this is Amy Abell." (I answered my phone at work)
"Hi, Amy. It's Karla."
"Hi, Karla! How are you? (Bracing myself that our Travel Approval was not heading to the US yet)
"Amy, I have your Travel Approval."
"What...you...what....are you kidding?"
"I have your Travel Approval."
"Are you kidding, Karla?!"
"No, I'm not kidding...."
I could not believe it, you guys! Karla didn't tell me the whole story, but what I am guessing is this. Karla worked all night trying to get our TA, and she did it! Although we really wanted to meet Tucker October 8th, Karla told me that our Gotcha Day (the name for the day we meet Tucker) would be October 14th, and our Consulate Appointment would be October 23rd.
That night, our family went to a church festival and celebrated over a fish fry, a fun house, Liam's first roller coaster ride, and the boys' first Ferris wheel experience. We spent the evening with our new neighbors who adopted their son a year ago. It was the perfect way to celebrate!
We had previously made plans with Ryan's family to stay overnight in order to spend some time together before China. The weather was just beautiful - sunny skies, a nice breeze, and and fresh air - that perfect feeling that Fall brings. We enjoyed the day playing football outside, having wonderful conversations, and enjoying a Chinese food feast.
That night we spoke with a travel agent who works with solely with families adopting internationally. We had our itinerary (WHOA!), and everything started to become more real. Liam woke up in the middle of the night crying, and of course, he had a high fever. So, we spent a bit more time with Ryan's parents the next morning and then went home. It was a PERFECT weekend!
When we got home on Sunday, we spent an hour and a half FaceTiming my parents who will be watching the boys while we are in China (NO, I cannot let myself even begin to process that yet or else I'll melt into a puddle of tears). The conversation was very productive, and when we hung up, I had a mile long to-do list.
Please welcome PANIC on the scene.
Oh wait, there is not time to panic. The travel agent called, and it's time to seriously book these tickets. Quick call the credit card company so they won't decline payment! Phew...the payments went through. :) Are you curious what flights look like when you fly to China?
Depart Indy 6:00 a.m.
Fly to Chicago - 1 hour flight
Land in Chicago - 3 hour layover
Fly to Seattle - 4.5 hour flight
Land in Seattle - 3 hour layover
Fly to Beijing - 12 hour flight
Land in Beijing - 5:00 p.m. the next day
We will be traveling with layovers and flight time for 23 hours. GULP! This is going to be an adventure, ya'll!!! (You know you've been spending too much time talking to your adoptive momma friends from the South when you start saying "Ya'll").
We will be in Beijing for a few days before flying to Tucker's province, Chongqing. This will allow our bodies to adjust a bit to the 12 hour time difference, become more familiar with Chinese culture, and learn about the country where I son was born. No country is perfect - our only perfect home will be in Heaven - but we are choosing to love and respect this special country where our son was born. China will always, always hold a special place in our hearts. It is our desire to raise Tucker in a way that honors his heritage, and spending time in Beijing will help us develop a stronger love and knowledge for his birth country.
We spent most of Sunday night trying to decide what we want to do in Beijing. We never knew for sure if we would go to Beijing, but since we have to fly out a bit early to avoid crazy airfare costs, we had lots of research to do. We needed to pick a hotel, find a guide/driving service, and choose which places we wanted to visit. When I woke up Monday, Liam still had a decent fever. I'm going to be completely honest here and tell you that I basically turned on the TV and let him watch cartoons all morning while I looked at hotels, tours, and attractions while emailing folks in China.
I was in full multi-tasking, all business, on the brink of panic mode all morning! Once I secured a hotel room and knew we had a place to stay in Beijing, I felt better. We got an amazing deal on a hotel in a perfect area - $102 per night, including a free breakfast for each of us that costs $16-18 each day. WHOOP WHOOP! We chose our desired places to visit. I started making appointments at the dentist, pediatrician, and international adoption clinic. I filled out more paperwork and crossed a million things off my to-do list. Needless to say, it was a productive day.
Liam was still sick on Tuesday, so I stayed home from work. This has been pure mercy from God because I have been able to accomplish so many things during this time at home. (Sorry you are sick, Buddy, but it's been great for Momma!)
People have asked me if I am just so excited. Honestly, I haven't gotten there yet. I am staying very much in my head right now because I'm afraid if I start letting myself feel anything, the dam will break, causing massive amounts of tears.
Tears of joy. I get to meet MY SON! The little boy I've been loving for the past 8 months, 4 days will soon see me eye-to-eye. I will be able to hold his hand, whisper that I love him, and thank God that He finally brought us to that day.
Tears of sorrow. I am leaving two little boys behind. I've never spent more than 4-5 days away from them. It goes against the law of nature for a parent to be separated from her children for so long. I trust that they will be in wonderful care. Part of my heart will be left in the US while we are apart.
Tears of relief. Soon we will board a plane, look at each other, and say, "We made it." This has been a long, long year. More than a year has passed, and we are forever changed. God walked beside us and often carried us through this year. He put so many people in our lives - so many of you - and we are forever grateful to have the love and support from everyone. THANK YOU WILL NEVER BE ENOUGH!
We appreciate all prayers sent up for our family. Prayers for protection, safety, good health, love, acceptance, understanding, patience, grace, and peace. Thank you!