Since our Travel Approval (TA) was issued on Monday, my life has consisted almost entirely of staring at many browser windows, each containing many tabs, each containing a possible flight itinerary for getting us to and from China, plus a chat with a travel aficionado friend who was helping me look at our options, and then multiple phone calls and e-mails with our travel agent, our agency, and my brother and sister-in-law, who are traveling with me. It was all, to put it mildly, rather exhausting.
BUT we received our first choice Consulate Appointment date (12/20), and we now have our international travel tickets! I still need to arrange the domestic side of things, but that will hopefully come together this week, as well. The international piece was really more pressing. Here’s our working draft of our schedule!
- Wednesday 12/07: Madeleine CaiQun and I will fly from St. Louis or Kansas City to Newark
- Thursday 12/08: Madeleine CaiQun, my brother, my sister-in-law, and I will fly from Newark to Hong Kong
- Friday and Saturday 12/09 – 12/10: We’ll spend these days acclimating to the time change and doing a bit of sightseeing in Hong Kong
- Sunday 12/11: We’ll travel from Hong Kong to Nanning, the capital city of Guangxi, which is the province that our little Fang Fang is from and where her adoption will be finalized
- Monday 12/12: Family Day! We will take custody of our girl <3
- Tuesday 12/13: Adoption Day, when her adoption will be finalized
- Wednesday and Thursday 12/14 – 12/15: We’ll be in Nanning waiting for Fang Fang’s passport to be processed. Depending on how we’re all doing, we may go to her city and request to visit her orphanage.
- Friday 12/16: We’ll travel to Guangzhou, where the US Consulate is
- Saturday 12/17: We’ll have Fang Fang’s immigration medical exam
- Sunday – Monday 12/18 – 12/19: Free days in Guangzhou while we wait for the results of Fang Fang’s medical exam to be ready
- Tuesday 12/20: Consulate appointment at the US Consulate in Guangzhou
- Wednesday 12/21: If all goes according to plan, we should receive Fang Fang’s visa
- Thursday 12/22: Travel from Guangzhou to Hong Kong and take a flight out of Hong Kong that evening back to Newark, arriving around 9:00 PM and spending the night in a hotel in Newark
- Friday 12/23: Madeleine CaiQun, Fang Fang, and I will fly back to St. Louis or Kansas City (probably with my dad flying with us to help – I’m not sure it would be wise for me to tackle that flight by myself with 2 exhausted kids in tow!)
I am so thrilled to be DONE looking at international flights. Because we have multiple people coming from multiple locations but wanting to converge before the international flights, and because we’re booking tickets reasonably close to when we’ll travel, and because we had flexibility in some things but definitely some preferences and no flexibility in other areas, it was pretty complex. And then there was some gymnastics involved in getting the actual best fares – in order to save about $1200, we have 4 of us booked on Cathay Pacific and one on American Airlines (but for the same flight) and 4 standard Travel Agent tickets and 1 direct buy ticket. It’s pretty crazy. Adoption Airfare was super helpful in working through all of it with me, though!
And now that we have more definite dates, we can get to work on planning the travel specifics and doing little things like packing 🙂
I’ll have a post soon with a whole list of prayer requests for our journey, but in the meantime, I have a pretty urgent prayer request. Fang Fang is, right now, at an amazing foster home that specializes in caring for children with osteogenesis imperfecta (OI). Apart from a perfect world in which she could still be with her first family, this foster home is absolutely the best place she could be in China. However, her orphanage retains legal custody of her, and it is often the practice in China for kids to return to their orphanages after their families receive TA. Because of the difficulties inherent in caring for children with OI and because of the relationships our daughter’s foster home has generally been able to cultivate with the orphanages from which their children come, kids have usually been able to remain with the foster home right up until their families arrive. For so many reasons, this is so much better for the kids. We had assumed this would be the case for Fang Fang, but I got a message this morning that her orphanage is wanting her to return and does not seem to be receptive to the idea of her remaining at her foster home until we arrive. My heart is hurting at the thought of our sweet girl having to face yet another loss and yet another transition in her short life. The foster home is still in discussions with the orphanage, so there is still hope that she could stay there until we arrive. Please pray that the orphanage allows this. And, in the event that they would say no, please pray that she could stay as long as possible. Would you please pray with us for these things? We’d so appreciate it. I’ll keep you informed.