Many of you have asked what our trip will look like, so here is our general itinerary: gotta say I'm exhausted just contemplating it. But excited, even more.
We will leave on a Thursday and fly almost 7,000 miles into the capital city of Beijing , in northern China. It will be a 17 hour journey if we are lucky enough to get a direct flight out of New York. And as China is a full 12 hours ahead of us, it will essentially take us an entire day to get there! We will be in Beijing for two days in order to acclimate ourselves to the time change and to visit some significant cultural sites. We will climb the Great Wall of China and see Tiananmen Square and soak in the culture as much as we can, jet-lagged and anticipating meeting our baby girl.
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 where we will meet Emmeline. Her orphanage is about 3 hours from Nanchang in Xinyu City, but it is not customary to go to the orphanage to meet your child. Emme will travel by van with the orphanage director and her nanny to our hotel in Nanchang to meet her mom and dad (mama and baba in Mandarin). Sunday evening, 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").
I have replayed this moment over and over in my head. She will most likely be very afraid and upset as we are removing her from everything familiar to her. She may reject one or both of us and we expect her to experience intense grief and sadness. It is actually a very good sign if this is the case, as it indicates that she made real attachments and bonds with her caretakers and will be able to attach to us, too, after she can grieve. We will do our very best to give her all the room we can to go through this process, all the while assuring her of our constant love and helping her to see that she can count on us and how much we adore her. We know this will take time and patience to earn her trust. As another dear adoptive mom put it, we have been pursuing her for 18 months, and that pursuit does not end in China. We will get the opportunity, through our guide who will translate, to ask her nannies a few questions about her life in the orphanage in the few minutes we have with them, and thank them for taking care of our baby until we could. Tears just thinking about this moment. We hope to capture it on film to share here as we are able to.
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 Emme will officially be our daughter!!!!) and apply for her passport. If we are granted permission, we will also try to visit the Social Welfare Institute (orphanage) where Emme lived the first years of her life. Again, cannot fathom the impact of that opportunity, but we believe that it would be invaluable to us to see with our eyes and hearts the environment and people that are all she has ever known.
On Friday, we will all travel by plane again to Guangzhou, in southernmost China (my girl and I are both from the "south" you see), where the US Consulate is located. Here, we will apply for Emme's visa to be granted entrance to the United States. Guangzhou has a sub-tropical climate and many beautiful gardens and sites we hope to explore together 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 US Consulate to complete the visa application. Then we will need to wait one more day for the consulate to process and issue her visa and we will finally able to bring her home to meet her (anxiously waiting) brothers and sister.
On Thursday or Friday, we will travel by train to Hong Kong and begin the long (approx 20 hour) 8,000 mile journey home.
Cannot wait to update with actual travel dates. Emme, we are on our way! Thanks to all of you for your support and well-wishes. It means so very much to us. Now off to pack for a person I have never met (such a drag, all these adorable baby girl clothes) and get everything ready for 3 kiddos for 2 weeks while we are away..... ain't no thang. Trying to balance finding times to rest and reflect and prepare our hearts, with the 10 bazillion to-dos. Your prayers are much appreciated.
Here is a little slideshow to tide you over until we have pictures of our baby girl in our arms: