What’s Gonna Happen on the Next Page?

When Lia wants us to entertain her during stroller and car rides, she asks “Can you read me a pretend story?” I love that books are her primary model for narrative 🙂

Her request is usually followed up with plot specs: “A pretend story about Cinderella and all her family going to the pet store/gymnastics/daycare/Chinese school.” She has not lost her obsession with the fairy-tale princess, and now insists on calling Daddy “Prince” and Mommy “Fairy Godmother”, even at night when she’s half-asleep. If we say, “Lia, come put on your coat,” she’ll reply, “Can you say ‘Put on your coat, Cinderella’?”

When we pause in our pretend story, Cinderella pipes up, “What’s gonna happen on a next page?”

That question has been echoing in my head as we prepare for our flight to China. I’m intensely curious to see what our son is like, how the trip will unfold, what memories will be created. Our first two weeks with Lia are near-mythic now, full of moments that revealed the essence of our little girl: crying with gusto, then unable to keep herself from laughing at her father’s antics; her relish for food; her love of music and dance; her fascination with other children. I believe that, if we look carefully, we may be able to see the whole of our life with Nico Han-Kun reveal itself in our first hours and days with him. I’m making it sound melodramatic, but so much of our future will be shaped by this boy and his sister that the moments of meeting them — well, they’re like earthquakes, avalanches, utterly changing the landscape.

Practical arrangements are not going as smoothly this time around. Fees are higher than expected, paperwork is delayed. Yesterday we had to make a decision about whether to postpone our trip by ten days, or leave as scheduled with the possibility of being held up in China. We chose to fly as planned on February 3. Worst case scenario, I will have to stay in China with Han Kun while Shawn, Lia, and Shawn’s mother Boukje return without us.

But things are also falling into place as needed. We have the money to cover our fees. The freezer is full of meals. The packing lists are complete. We will be ready.

We have an exciting itinerary. This Tuesday we fly Ottawa/Toronto/Shanghai, arriving on Wednesday afternoon. Two days to explore Shanghai and recover from jet lag, and then we take a train to Nanjing. Monday, February 9 is Adoption Day, the day we meet Han Kun. Our request to visit his orphanage in Lianyungang has been approved, so if all goes well, we will travel there on February 12. Then a few days later we fly to Beijing for another week of paperwork and sightseeing. Lia is excited about seeing pandas at the Beijing Zoo. We’ve packed swimsuits for the hotel pools.

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This trip will be very different from our last in that we will be travelling on our own, rather than in a group of twenty families. We will have a guide with us from beginning to end. We will spend less time waiting around in administrative offices getting paperwork done, and have more choice about what we see and where we go.

What’s going to happen on the next page? Stay tuned . . .

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