Look. I know it is a wonderful emotional, beautiful experience. And I mean that. I lived it!! And I can’t wait to do it again.
There are a few things about your adoption travel experience that people won’t tell you. And I feel it is only right that someone breaks the bond of silence. Knowledge is power. And as I chatted with an online friend today about the trip I thought to myself that more people should be equipped with that power. And no, I am not telling you which of these I personally experienced. (ok, all of them…)
1.) The dreaded, “DON’T DRINK THE WATER!!!!” warnings will be heeded but at some point, accidentally, you will drink it. For some it will mean nothing more than hours spent in fear, over analyzing every tummy gurgle, every gaseous emission. Those folks will be fine. For others?? Not so lucky. You will spend some time, well, crapping like you never have before. (I don’t really know a gentle way to put that.) Here is the thing though. Since you have been so repeatedly warned about the water, you will not actually admit you allowed a trickle past your lips. So instead, like everyone else on the trip, you will catch that “tummy bug” going around that everyone else has had, because they too forgot and brushed their teeth from the tap but can’t admit to that secret shame.
2.) You and your spouse, partner, parent, best friend will be ready to stab/maim/murder each other at some point on the trip. I don’t care how tight your budget is and how poor you are. If you have the means to read this then you have a place to live that is probably larger than a 240 square foot box. Two weeks straight….tight quarters, hard beds, someone snores, someone misplaced something, someone BREATHED WRONG. At some point you will literally hate the person next to you on this beautiful journey with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. It may last a minute. A tiny flash of daydream where you, with a smile on your face, are suffocating your beloved aunt with a foam pillow because daggone it she has snored her last snore!!! Or it may last a few hours as you draft up a divorce decree for your spouse who treated you like a dog with orders and commands in front of your whole travel group. Ahem, uh, hypothetically. Either way, don’t deny that hatred. Acknowledge it, take a deep breathe, stab him I mean forgive him, have a glass (bottle) of wine, and move on, knowing soon you will be back in your home, where you can retreat to distant corners like cage fighters on a break.
3.) Don’t feel guilty when, after those first amazing moments when your new child gets brought to you for the first time have passed, and the feelings of bliss subside slightly, that you are suddenly a little bit queasy because your child SMELLS SO BAD. I know. The basis of this is SO sad. Hours in a wet diaper, crazily sweaty because of how they layer the kids in hot clothing, weeks or months at a time without any kind of bathing….sad truths. But it does not change the fact that your kiddo, so precious, so long awaited, will stink to high heaven. Of course, this will not deter you in any way from hugging, snuggling and kissing the stanky little monkey, but it is normal so don’t feel badly for thinking, “Man I love this kid but MAN he reeks!!!”
4.) You will steal things from the breakfast buffet.
5.) This time change is a MAJOR event for the human body. And with the exception of the aforementioned possible ramifications of drinking the local water, you may spend the majority of time wondering how it is possible to eat 3 meals a day, for 9 days straight, and not poop once because for the love of PETE your whole body must be ready to explode or something, right?? A lot is happening. And different bodies manage stress and change in different ways. Constipation is one of those very common ways. Bring a few fiber bars to be on the safe side.
6.) So…you are sharing the wonder of adoption with your children?? Test the benadryl (or nyquil, whatever) PRIOR to travel. Do you know how many people I know who have dosed their kiddos with crack I mean benadryl on the 15 hour flight home from China only to have it backfire and make their kids wired and crazy instead of sweet and dreamy???? Look. You wanna knock back a few, pop an ambien, whatever. Snooze away. But if you want that slumbering peace, make sure you know your kid responds to melatonin/benadryl/bourbon in the preferred manner.
7.) Adoption is crazy expensive. It sucks that this is true, and I wish it wasn’t so everyone could do it, but it is. But by the time you travel you have already spent a lot. Do yourself a favor and rather than save $387 bucks on a flight with two layovers, just suck it up, beg grandma for the cash, sell a few appliances, or do whatever it takes to fly the easy and most direct way HOME. Why?? Because no matter how wonderful your trip was (and mine was AMAZING) by the time you get to the airport to board that plane home, and you experience the first of the harrowing layovers/plane changes/etc you will literally be willing to do ANYTHING to get onto a direct flight. After all, the person with you from number 2 above doesn’t REALLY need both kidneys, right? So make the sacrifice if humanly possible, and book the easiest way home.
8.) Unless that pool looks super clean, smells perfectly normal AND is excessively chlorine-y, do NOT go in it. Guess what?? Find 20 adoption blogs of people who blogged while traveling. Chances are many of them used the hotel pool. And the chances are that the majority of those who used the pool (typically in province as GZ is westernized and safer for this stuff) end up sick. Ear or eye infections, fevers, etc. Why?? Well different bugs and bacterias live in a different part of the world than what we are accustomed to, and don’t forget there are also very different standards for pool cleanliness. So unless you are in a high end hotel in a more westernized province, I would play it safe.
9.) I am an organic mommy. All fruits and veggies, meats and dairy…yup. All organic. Heck, sometimes I even buy the ridiculous 3 dollar box of organic mac n cheese even though it makes no difference but frankly makes me feel a little bit superior. But traveling with 5 kids and a VERY needy husband, at some point I will walk into McDonald’s and surely kiss the counter while we order fries and nuggets.
10,) Last trip, prior to travel Ken expressed a few concerns about, ahem, “adult time” over the course of those two weeks with a new toddler in the room. I got a LOT of flack for being honest about that. This time?? 8 of us will be traveling. If you are traveling with your spouse, don’t forget…the two of you have needs too!!! Whether the hubs is getting grouchy, whether mama needs to feel a connection, whether you have jet lag and are wide awake at 2:14 a.m. Go for it. Cement this time together with, ahem, time together. Just keep it quiet. And maybe quick. But don’t forget that this is a family. Not just an adoption. Meet each other’s needs too, in all the ways you can. This is a beautiful, special, and yes, tough time. Don’t forget that, and don’t forget your partner because you are creating something together.