Much to our surprise, we have received our Travel Approval from China in record time! Our Article 5 documents were picked up from the US Embassy on April 30th, and the Chinese officials had a holiday on May 1st. On their first day back to work while we slept Sunday night, officials issued our Travel Approval. We were out of town that night, and just as we were getting ready to drive back to Indiana, I saw the email and a voicemail stating the good news! We truly were not expecting it to arrive so quickly and had settled in for a nice 7-14 day wait. I guess God had other plans!
Yesterday afternoon, we submitted our top five preferences for a Consulate Appointment (CA), which we will need in order to obtain a Visa for Tyson to enter the United States. This morning we learned that we got our 3rd choice in CA, and most importantly...
...we will meet Tyson AnTao Abell on Memorial Day!!!
I have spent the afternoon talking with a travel agent, and our airline tickets have been purchased! What a relief to know the dates and times we will be traveling. We plan to spend a day and a half in Hong Kong touring and acclimating to the time change. Then we will fly to Guangxi province (in red below) where Tyson lives!
Nanning is the capital, and we will be in Nanning for several days to meet Tyson, have our official adoption ceremony, learn about his province, and hopefully visit the orphanage where he currently lives in Beihai, which is 1.5 to 3 hours away depending on method of transportation.
You can see on the map above how Nanning is the capital, and below it there is a red dot marking the city of Beihai. This is where our sweet son lives.
I love that Tyson lives so close to the water. I have no idea if he has ever seen the ocean, but it our great hope that we can take him to his beach while we are in China! His Chinese name actually means "Kingdom of Calm Waves." I love that!
The last part of our trip will take place in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, which is about 6 1/2 hours east of Nanning. While in Guangzhou, we will have Tyson's medical appointment and his Consulate Appointment to complete the US side of the adoption process. His visa should be issued the next day, and then we will fly out the next morning to come home!
I am so excited that Ryan, Noah, and I will travel together to meet Tyson. We were matched with Tucker for 9 months before meeting him, and with Tyson, we will only have known his precious face for 4 months by the time we meet him. For his half birthday, we sent Ty a birthday cake and a care package. We did that for Tucker on his birthday, so we wanted to do the same for Tyson.
We sent many treats for the nannies, a flash drive in hopes of being given pictures that they have taken of Tyson while he has been in their care, and a photo album of our family. We are hoping that his nannies have prepared him with our pictures as best as one can with an 18 month old child. Isn't this cake beautiful?
We received pictures of him eating his cake with his nanny, and out of respect for her, we will not share those pictures. Ryan and I have prayed for 4 main things for Tyson.
1. We have prayed that he has been loved well by someone. We have received a few pictures and a video of Ty with his nanny that have given us great peace that our prayer was answered. I hope I will have the chance to meet this woman who seems to have cherished our son.
2. We have prayed that Ty is well-fed in his orphanage. Judging by his cute belly, I would say that is an answered prayer! We received updated measurements, and he currently weighs 26 lbs. and is almost 31 inches tall. We are packing 18-24 month clothes! Again, what an answer to prayer.
3. We have prayed that Tyson is safe, healthy, and protected. We have no reason to believe otherwise and will continue to pray for this to be the case.
4. We have prayed that God, in His great power, would prepare Tyson's heart for us - that he would recognize us and know us when we meet him.
We are prepared for him to be very scared, very emotional, very distant, and very upset about this sudden change in everything he knows. Adoption is beautiful, but it is born of loss. Loss of birth parents. Loss of the only home he has ever known. Loss of his nanny. Loss of his friends. Loss of his routine, food, clothes, toys, smells, etc. Because of this being an international adoption, Ty also will lose his birth country and his culture. We grieve with him that he will lose so much. At the same time, we celebrate that Tyson will soon be our son for the rest of his life! He will have parents, brothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends who will adore him and love him all of the days of his life. We celebrate that he will have medical treatment from the best doctors in a hospital where children are treated with such gentleness and care. We celebrate the fact that he will learn about God, who orchestrated events in such an incredible way last summer in order to lead our family to him. Tyson will learn that Jesus was born to show us how to love and then gave his life so that we could be redeemed. We are thankful to have been called once more! We are excited to be back in a country we love so much, a country that will forever have a piece of our hearts.
Tyson AnTao Abell, we are coming! In time, we are hopeful that we will earn your love and trust and that you will feel secure with our family forever. We love you so much, and we are counting the days until we see you face-to-face. I will try to control my kisses, but I am not making any promises. Your cheeks are too sweet!