Trying to prepare someone for an adoption trip to China is literally like trying to prepare someone for giving birth.
It will hurt.
It will be expensive.
It will be smelly and there might be blood and there will be tears.
It will be so sweet.
It will be surreal; you will come as one thing and leave as another.
There will be people who will whisper soft words of encouragement and there will be others whose voices grate on your nerves and who make you question what the heck you are even doing.
There will be room service.
There will not be paper panties.
(Unfortunately there may not be toilet paper either. You should not be alone.)
People who travel to hospitals for their babies belong to this weird club. When you are a member, you can meet someone for the first time and within seconds be talking to them about your most private parts and how they tore or burned. It’s bizarre. People who belong to this club have wavy boundaries and they will make you a cuppa and tell you about their cracked nipples. This is the sisterhood.
The same exists with adoption. Meet any family who has traveled for an adoption and you’re family within two minutes. You’ll pull up a chair and exchange your stories like you swapped stickers in third grade. And even if few words are exchanged, you will share a look and you’ll know. The length of the flight, the trauma of your child when he or she walked into that hotel lobby/foreign affairs office/hotel room, the food, the jet lag.
Holy smokes, the jet lag.
China Adoption Trip Jet Lag (it’s a proper noun, trust me) will give a level three tear a run for its money any day. This is the sisterhood too.
There is no way to prepare you for an adoption trip other than this: this is a hard and beautiful way to grow your family. It is birthed of great loss and that will likely present itself sooner than later. It’s also born of great joy and obedience and such a long labor.
It will involve a plane ride so long you will think you might grow old and die on it. But every mile that goes by gets you one mile closer to your child and so you’d gladly settle in for a million miles if that’s what it took. There will be lots of hotel buffet meals and, if you’re not gastronomically adventurous, you will swear never to eat watermelon or Yangzhou fried rice again.
There will be a feeling I can’t even describe when you step into your hotel room in your child’s province and see a crib or a roll-away and you’ll realize there will soon be a son or daughter in it and that will knock your breath out with it’s enormity.
And there will be a people so generous in spirit that you will become madly in love with them.
There is no way to prepare you for an adoption trip. But remember that weird club? You’ll be a part of it. Which means you’ll have all hours access to people who have walked this road and will encourage you, pray for you, bring you dinner and a hug, tell you where to buy the best pearls.
The adoption community is a beautiful, inclusive and welcoming group. They will open their arms and you will fall in. And before you know it, you’ll be back with your child and will be part of this club.
And someday, a lost mama or baba will reach out. They’ll be facing the Everest that is an adoption trip and you will tell them all these things and it will make it better.
You’re awesome like that.