Today we traveled across town at 7:50 am to the US Consulate with five other families for our visa appointments. The other six families went yesterday. Jason and Kathy had us all complete the paperwork several days earlier. So this was a fairly straight forward process.
We went up to the fourth floor, through security, up to the fifth floor, through more security, and into the office. The room was set up similar to a bank only the "tellers" were behind glass as well. A very kind official talked to us for several minutes explaining what we should expect and then had us take an oath. Our families were then called one by one to go through the documents. I was very impressed with the officials here. They were all very professional but at the same time, they realized what this was all about. While they remained professional and checked every document, they also recognized that we were all adoptive families, and as such, the officials were very caring and welcoming.
Tomorrow we get our visas for our children, and by 1:00 pm our time, we will be travelling by van to Hong Kong for a quick overnight stay before flying home.
This afternoon has been filled with packing. It feels so good to be laying out final outfits for our stay, having meetings about final travel plans and exchanging money back into dollars, and asking questions like, "Does this bag weigh too much?" Of the twelve families here in our group, four of us will be on the same flight to Newark though we are the only ones who do not need to travel further. It will be nice to have some traveling companions along as we all survive the very long flight home with our young ones.
This morning, several of us were talking about heading home, and someone mentioned how hard of a decision this must have been for Rachel and me to have to be away from each other. The decision itself was actually not too hard in that it sort of made itself. Once we were pregnant, we knew Rachel would be nursing and not be able to travel. We knew Mom would be the best person to ask to come since it is recommended that a dad travelling without a mom should have a female who will be present in the child's life after the trip. Since Mom lives so close, sees our family regularly, is great with kids, and is an experienced traveler, she made the most sense. As great as this all was, accepting the decision of leaving Rachel behind was difficult. Yes, in many ways it was a very good decision for our other children. Though they miss their Daddy a ton and life is not the same around the house, it is much more regular because Mommy is there. So that was good. But this experience of picking up your daughter from China is one that really a Mommy and Daddy should do together if possible.
Probably though the most difficult part has been living with the decision. Not seeing your best friend for over two weeks is not easy. Beyond that, going through all that we have gone through here in China without Rachel has been hard. Some of it has been hard because there have been special moments that I wanted Rachel there for. Other moments have been hard because they were difficult ones where I needed to turn to my wife for help. I am sure Mom has felt the same way at times being away from Dad. I am also sure that Rachel and Dad have had these moments on their side of this as well. Nonetheless, God has and continues to sustain us until and beyond that moment when we are back together again.
So in a brief twenty-four hours, our travel days begin again as we head to Hong Kong and then to Newark. Then begins a new adventure and challenge of becoming a family. It will be challenging for sure. Liliana has never lived in a family and really has no concept of what a family is. She is starting to understand what a Daddy is but it is so underdeveloped at this point. Outside of seeing pictures of Rachel and talking with her on Skype, Liliana has no concept of what a Mommy is either, and it may or may not be difficult for her to understand in some ways because she has had a Grammy already. So now Grammy is going to go from a daily person to a sometimes person, and her role will change while Mommy is going to go from a distant person to a daily person and have her own role. Sisters? Brother? What are those?
The best Liliana can do right now is to understand that Daddy and Mommy are the best nannies she has ever had and her sisters and brother are the best fellow orphans she has ever known. Yet that is not what a family is at all. The relationships in a family are far deeper than any relationship Liliana has known thus far, and the only way for Liliana to understand that is to spend time in those relationships within her family. In a similar way, we may decide to follow Jesus and be in God's family, but it takes time before we move from calling Him God to calling Him Father. When we get that though, we get that we are truly in His family. Such is the journey Liliana is on within both our little Meurer family and we hope also in the family of God.