Saturday, August 11, 2012

Vacationing With Newly Adopted Children

There were times during our trip that I questioned my sanity.  You may be thinking I was second-guessing driving 7,108 miles, through 18 states, with 6 children (plus Lizzy the first 9 days).

Nope.  That part was AMAZING.  Except for the sick kid part--I will share ALL the gory details with you later. 

Unless of course you DON'T want to hear about the diarrhea episode at Mt. Rushmore. 

Oops.  Did I just share some of the gory details?  Okay then, considered that part covered.

I loved, loved, loved our trip!  It was one of the greatest blessings of my life.  I REALLY wish my hubby could have joined us for part of the trip, but for some strange reason he keeps using up his vacation days traveling to China.

And that was the part I began questioning myself about.  How could I take two newly adopted children away from home for over three weeks?  Especially Mei Mei.  Really?  That's crazy! 

It breaks all my "post-adoption rules." And I am very into my "post-adoption rules," such as staying home as much as possible.  And yet for us, somehow breaking the rules worked!

I knew I would never get another summer like this where my kids are young and I am not working.  I've thought a lot about why and how it worked so well.  Some thoughts:
  • Older children can understand time.  Our girls understood the concept of 23 days and both speak English very well.  I would never take a newly adopted young child on a vacation.  Being older is KEY to being able to vacation early in the adoption process--particularly a vacation where we stayed at so many different places. 
  • Each night at bedtime I showed them a calendar of our trip and we would cross off the day, count how many more days until we returned home, talk about our future stops (looking at the map) and the people we would be visiting.  This repetition proved reassuring.
  • We called Hubby every day and talked a lot about things we would do together after our return.
  • Lan Lan and Mei Mei are both emotionally stable.  Neither child has rages, meltdowns, or acting out behaviors.  Having BTDT with previous kids, I never would have considered the trip if we were still in that space of attachment and adjustment. 
  • Mei Mei has been our easiest child to transition into our family.  She is very much a go-with-the-flow personality. 
  • Both girls are very attached to their daddy--I wouldn't have considered the trip if they weren't.  On a positive note, being solo with Mei Mei for three weeks really helped strengthen her attachment to me. 
  • We were extremely busy during our trip so the time went by quickly. 
  • We were with precious family and friends--all our children loved being loved on. 
  • I knew that I would cut our trip short if things changed and we needed to go home. 
  • We had tons of people praying--we were coveted by blessings and love.
Having said all that, both girls are thrilled to be home--all the kids are.  I sense their need to have some structure to their days.  Some quiet.  They love to just play and play.

And yesterday, Mei Mei came down with a high fever and cough which turned out to be pneumonia!  I can't help but think that the stress of our trip contributed to her sickness.  True, she has a laid-back personality, but I also know that on the inside she is still raging cortisol through her tiny body--I simply cannot wrap my brain around all the changes she has experienced in the last few months. 

So, yes, there is a dose of mommy-guilt, but if I had it to do over again, I would.

And honestly, I think there is a confidence that builds in the newly adopted older child when we go on a trip and return home with them once again.  A sense of belonging.  A true sense of family.  Love.

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