All, Some or Just One?

 November 13, 2011

Well we are certainly into the busy part of the year for our family. I don't know about the rest of you but for us this is our crazy season.  Between school activities, teacher meetings, fall sports, starting back to music and dance lessons and a full social calender of kiddie birthday parties the fall always feels hectic to me. And throwing in adoption paper chasing and trips to Kazakhstan (me) and China (hubs) made it feel even busier than usual.  By the time we get to the end of this crazy season at Christmastime we're all going to be ready for a "long winter's nap".

Usually that means we're taking off on a much needed vacation somewhere warm but that's probably not happening this year given that we have an adoption trip around the corner (by around the corner I mean February or March).  I'm really hoping we can make this a family affair.  If we can manage it we would like to bring all five kids plus one (Big Brother has a girlfriend who has become part of the family). That's a total of eight PLUS baby Butterfly!  We would be are own adoption travel group!

But I am not sure how we are going to do this one... we're taking a bit of an all or nothing attitude towards travel: either all of us travel or only one parent will go while the other parent stays home with the kids.

When we adopted the ladybug we left the kids with their grandparents.  For us it made for a wonderfully easy trip.  The people in our travel group still talk about how good we had it.  The combination of the ladybug being the most laid back well adjusted kids you can imagine and the fact that we went from four kids to one made for a holiday feel. But the problem is the Bee really missed us, two weeks without mom and dad was too long (even with the best grandparents, which BTW they are). We simply wont be away from our girls that long again (don't misunderstand, we miss our boys like cray too but they are old enough to understand time and able to handle the separation better than their little sisters).

I'm not sure how many large families make trips like this, I think most don't.  It is expensive and inevitably chaotic. There are definitely pro and cons.

On the Pro Side

  • It would be an incredible shared experience for our family.  China is obviously an important place to our family and I think it would be good for all of us to have some first hand experience to help all of us, most especially our Chinese born daughters to feel connected to China.  
    On our way to Kazakhstan to bring home the Bee.
    The sibs bonding in Kaz.
  • More importantly though is the opportunity for us to bond as a family.  We all traveled for the Bee's adoption trip to Kazakhstan and without reservation I would say it was the best decision ever.  That time in Kaz bonded us as a family and put us months ahead in the attachment process.  There was something special about the shared adventure that tied us even tighter together.  The boys gained a first hand appreciation for their sisters birth country and the orphanage she was coming from.  That understanding helped them to understand her once we were home and now her brothers are able to talk to her about Kazakhstan not just as the place she was born but a place they know and love.  By traveling as a family we got to spend some serious quality time together, something that is nearly impossible to do at home.  In Kaz there were no video games, English tv, cell phones, friends.  It was all "us" all the time. (OK there were moments that would put this on the con list but mostly it was a pro) At the end of that trip we really felt like a family of six.

  • The addition of Big Brother's girlfriend will add an extra pair of hands for taking care of the littles.  She is great with them and they adore her. She's like the vacation nanny-except she's really part of the family.
  • We know what we are in for.  We have traveled with kids to more than a dozen countries on 4 continents. We have spent a combined total of 6 weeks in China in just the past 18 months. This is our third adoption in a little over 3 years.

On the Con Side
  • It is expensive. Really. Expensive.   I've always flown business class to China (lots of frequent flier miles) but with 8 on the way there and 9 on the way back we would be flying economy (maybe economy plus if we fly United).  
  • No matter what Economy or Economy PLUS it wont be comfortable. And I'm just going to put it out there I'm a total wimp on this issue.  As I've said before I likes my lay flat seat! For the kids it wont matter-the boys can sleep anywhere and the seats are luxuriously large for the girl's little tushies.  Basically mom and dad will be miserable.
  • Who cares about snakes we will have TWO 5 years old's on a plane...for 22 hours each way.  And of course the way back we'll have two 5 years old's and a non English speaking 3 year old. Which of course means no adult on this trip will ever sleep (a small consolation for not having a lay flat seat to sleep in). I've traveled a lot with kids and I have no illusions about what that means.  Mind you my kids are great travelers, I always get compliments about how well behaved and quiet they are (code for wow I expected your kids to kick my seat and cry from take off to landing) but the reason I get those compliments is because I am working my butt off to make sure the kids are fed, watered, entertained, pottied and not kicking! It is a constant effort and while they will likely sleep the odds that they all sleep at the same time are almost non existent. While Ambien, a glass of wine and a sleep mask might get some through a trans continental flight in steerage it is not a practical plan when traveling with children.
  • Less time to focus on our new daughter.  I think this is balanced out with the family bonding we would get but I have to accept that I wont have that special one on one time we had with the Ladybug and the Bee.
  • Finally, if we all travel together that means we will all be jet lagged together once we get home. Exhausted mom, dad, teen, tween, two five year olds and a three year old newly adopted child who doesn't speak English all under one roof. Joy.
So what do you think...all of us, some of us or one of us, what would you do?

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