IN THE SUBURBS: The happy ending of an adoption journey approaches
It seems hard to believe, but in just four months, our older daughter Stacey’s dream will come true and she will travel to China to complete the adoption of her little boy, Lun Lun, nearly 6. The best part for us is we will accompany her on this last leg of her four-year adoption odyssey and spend about two weeks in Beijing and Hong Kong, as well as at the orphanage in Datchong, reasonably close to Beijing.
When we reach China, our daughter will be swept up in meetings with the orphanage staff, visits with all sorts of officials, magistrates and doctors, and finally we will bring Lun Lun back to his new home in Connecticut. Because our birth certificates were lost in our move three years ago, we had to get duplicate copies to apply for new passports — our old ones have long expired. I learned we have to apply for a Chinese guest visa, which adds another $500 onto our trip. All this has been very enlightening. Between the birth certificates and passports alone, we’ve already spent about $600 and we haven’t even left the country yet.
Probably the most challenging part to our upcoming trip is, for right now, we have no firm travel dates. The lady from our daughter’s adoption agency, Cradle of Hope, a worldwide agency based in Silver Spring, Md., said if we are the kind of travelers who need firm dates, we could book airline tickets, but we should buy refundable tickets in case all the dates change. Fortunately, we can be very flexible since we have absolutely no plans for the summer except this journey.
I was very impressed to hear the adoption agency will handle all airport transfers, and connections with four-star hotels where we will be paying three-star prices. It has arrangements with local tour groups to set up any sightseeing tours (my understanding is that the Great Wall is barely an hour from Beijing).
There is just so much unknown information to process and work with for this trip, and it’s only March. I can see how all this can be very overwhelming. While the agency handles everything from the China side, our daughter’s representative couldn’t recommend a travel agent, but said many airlines will offer a discount adoption fare.
Just this past weekend, I made a two great discoveries. One was a travel agency, Lotus Travel, that has a phenomenal website and information about everything from the overall adoption process to air fares. I felt like I had died and gone to heaven.
Then, I found another website from a religious-based organization that has airline connections for discounted adoption fares. They were showing at least 20 different airlines.
Given the recent spate of snow days and delays, especially in Waterbury where our daughter teaches, we are hoping to leave sometime around the third week in June and return just before the Fourth of July. Of course, all this is contingent on the very crucial adoption date from the Chinese government.
It feels like we have been on this journey with Stacey for years, but, in fact, it started only last spring when she heard from Cradle of Hope about the opportunity to adopt Lun Lun. I remember vividly the Saturday afternoon when she texted me at work with the news that we would become grandparents. She was long past the need for an infant and was very excited about the nearly definite prospect of a little boy.
Stacey explained we would have the opportunity to meet Lun Lun in July, but he would have to return to China after only three weeks. But the adoption, she said, could go through in months.
When we all said goodbye last July in Washington, D.C., we left Stacey alone to process the loss only a new mother can feel. She had the five-hour trip home to think about the special time she and Lun Lun spent.
From the summer of last year until just recently, Stacey plowed through what seemed an endless mountain of paperwork to get Lun Lun adopted. But after what seemed like an interminable wait, the process finally moved rapidly after the first of the year.
This week, Stacey forwarded us some updated pictures of Lun Lun, and when we opened her text, our tears just flowed. At long last, I can say, we are truly excited.
Steven Gaynes' “In the Suburbs” column appears each Friday. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.