Anticipation is growing, as is the anxiety we both feel. But we are determined to make this an amazing trip!
We've stumbled upon a few glitches, but I'm truly thankful to the people who are assisting us in China for what they have done to resolve said glitches.
The first was around the train tickets. First, let's set the scene... In 2009-2010, we hosted an exchange student from Hong Kong. I consider her to be my second daughter. All grown up now, she's the one who is there for me! She and her mom have gone above and beyond to help us out. Her mom booked the train tickets for us, taking her own time to go to the travel agent and negotiate the best tickets for us. One of my concerns was that I really wanted us to be able to have the soft sleeper seats (the trip is 10 hours) and I wanted our tickets together (our exchange student is coming with us, as is my BFF). If you buy 4 tickets, you can get them all together in the same room, provided there is room, and that's exactly what I wanted. And that's what she got us. Then she had to take more time, to go and book the return ticket (you can only book tickets 10 days ahead or later). Our plan had been to travel during the day so that we could appreciate the scenery. Unfortunately, the daytime train only has "hard seats", which would have been very uncomfortable for a 10 hour trip. so we decided to take an earlier overnight train instead. It's not exactly what we wanted, but in the end, I think it will be the most comfortable ride :-)
The other glitch is surrounding our visit with the orphanage staff. We had originally planned to take the orphanage staff out for lunch, along with the family who acted as our daughter's foster family. We had planned to retain a guide to help us navigate through all of this, but in our delay in retaining her services, someone else beat us to it and she will be elsewhere at the relevant time. Disappointed, we resolved ourselves to the fact that we would be fine because we had our exchange student with us. But then another friend also spoke up to help us, and we thought we'd be ok. I wrote a letter to the orphanage and had it translated into Chinese. Then I paid $70 to send it to the orphanage in China by courier so that I could track it. This was a few months ago. I did not hear from the orphanage, but was not overly worried as I knew that our friend would be checking in with them before our arrival, and I knew they had received our correspondence.
So our friend checked in with them... And they advised him, less than a week before our intended arrival, that we would not be able to meet with them without formal permission form the government who completed the adoption. My first reaction was to be upset. We had already abandoned any expectation of visiting the orphanage as we had been told that this orphanage no longer allowed it. So we were content to take the staff and foster family off site for a nice meal, so that we could chat and give them gifts. I was upset at having to jump through hoops just to be nice to them.
But then I reminded myself that China does things differently than Canada does. It is not up to me to judge how or why the Chinese Government does what it does. It is, however, up to me to respect the laws and regulations they have put in to place. And so I do.
We hope to be able to meet with the staff and foster family. But if we cannot, we will be thankful to be in our daughter's birth city, even if only for a couple of days. We will do the things her birthparents do, see the things they see, hear the things they hear and feel the things they feel. We may ride a bus they've ridden before. We may walk on the same stretch of road. We may see the same signs, or shop in the same stores as them. We'll never know. But one thing is for sure, we will truly appreciate the moments we get to spend there, take ridiculous amounts of photos, and make this a trip to remember.
We are so thankful to the people who are gathering together to help us on this trip. Maybe what goes around really does come around. It's days like this, I'm glad I emit the most positive Karma I can.
We leave in 30 hours. Hang on tight-it's gonna be a hell of a ride!!!