We are at 24 hours til our plane leaves the US to head to China, and even less time until we say goodbye to our little boys for 18 days. I am dreading leaving them even though I know they are in loving, capable hands. The boys love all 4 of their grandparents and we trust them all to take wonderful care of them while are away. It's just that life would be much easier if we could skip the hard stuff, right?? :)
We originally considered bringing the boys to China but our trip to Destin over the summer showed us that they were not the most flexible travelers! Being almost 6 and almost 3 are probably not the ideal ages to go on a long, emotional, trying trip that requires flexibility and endurance. The trip is hard for adults; I can't imagine how hard it would be for kids!
I've done a couple things to get our boys ready for our trip. Of course we have been talking about their sister from the beginning of this process. They have seen us prepare her room and begin to pack our bags.
But more important than the physical preparations are the emotional ones. Both of our boys needed preparation in different ways. For Joshua, it has been for me to start to rehearse and repeat phrases with him- asking him "How long am I going to be your Mommy?" and teaching him that the answer is "Forever!". This all comes from him asking a couple months ago if I would still be his Mommy when Hannah comes home. He has not been through this process as a sibling like Caleb has and it is important that we communicate that no one is being replaced, that family is forever.
For Caleb, he really strives on routine and structure. Something that has challenged him since he was a little guy was transitions. I've made schedule books in inexpensive 4x6 albums to help him know what he will be doing each day we are gone. The pages show who will take care of them, where they will be and what they will be doing. The last square is a place for them to put a sticker when the day is complete. When I showed the finished product to Caleb he got a huge smile on his face. It will help him to look ahead on his schedule and know the changes that are ahead.
The last thing I have done to prepare both boys is make a Shutterfly book about our family. It tells the story of how God has built our family through adoption, and each time God has led Bryan and I to grow our family again. It briefly tells about each boy being born and added to our family, how we prepared special rooms for them and how everyone celebrated when they came home. I then move on to talk about Ping - a baby in China who needs a loving family. I want the boys to recognize the common ground that they all have, and to hopefully understand that the reason we are going to be gone is so we can bring Hannah home to a place that will be loving, safe and happy.
Both boys like looking at the pictures in the book but honestly they both cried at different times when we read it. That probably sounds horrible- but it is actually a good thing. For Joshua, it was an opportunity to validate his feelings about missing us and reemphasize that our family is forever. For Caleb, it was an opportunity for us to discuss and process some of his own adoption grief. While his questions and tears break my heart, the conversations are healthy and good to be have.
The pictures are horrible quality, but my camera is already packed and I'm not going to unpack it at this stage of the game!! :)
The best thing to prepare our boys and sustain them while we are gone is prayer. Please, please, please pray for them while we are away. Pray for the time to pass quickly and for them to stay healthy and happy. Please pray for our amazing parents who have willingly stepped in to help care for them. Please pray for their health and energy as we know they can be a handful! There are many families who find themselves without support in the adoption process. We are blessed that this has never been the case for us. Our families rally around us, love us well, and provide the most amazing and practical help possible. We are so very thankful that our boys will be in amazing hands while we are gone!
Sweet pics with our boys at our family dinner tonight