T-Minus 24 Days to Wheels-Up
T-Minus 29 Days to Ryan
Thinking back to our first journey with our oldest son Kyle, we didn’t have tools like Facebook to enable us to reach out and reconnect with old friends and find new ones. For our adoption preparations, we relied mostly on email and Yahoo Groups that were usually organized based on specific orphanages, or among families who might share the same DTCs, LIDs, TA Dates, and so forth. These groups (which are still around…) provided a place to share travel planning tips, packing tips, preparation ideas, sightseeing tour ideas, and other information.
And along comes FB – now there is no going back. FB Pages and Groups pop up quickly to capture adoption stories and mark milestones. In addition, photo and video sharing options are everywhere and usually free. There has never been a greater depth and degree of connection. It wasn’t always like this – but we’re glad it is now.
Oh yeah…how does this relate to Ryan?
On our three previous trips to China, we never really had the opportunity to visit the orphanages (SWIs / CWIs) where our children were cared for as infants. We could find out some information, we saw many photographs (In Dylan’s case, the photos showed only him, carefully posed in many of the rooms where he’d lived – they were stark, sterile and somewhat cold…), and we met with two of the orphanage directors – but we were not able to visit. To see our children (and perhaps their friends, too) IN THEIR WORLD, was something we’d always hoped for – every time. It’s difficult not being able to help them fill in this part of their story when they fell like talking about it…
Ryan’s story is very different. As we learned more and more about him and his background and experiences (like his trip to the US on his host program), we found that so much has changed. While on our previous trips, we were not permitted to even visit, we learned that many of the orphanages were now allowing visitors, and even allowing photographs and videos – during normal daytime hours with full staff and with all of the children present!
As we tried to piece together Ryan’s story, our agency mentioned that one of their families had recently traveled to China to adopt a young boy of about the same age from HIS orphanage. They DID visit the institute and they were even allowed to take photographs of their son with some of the other children. The agency kindly put us in touch with the other boy’s family via email. They had traveled in November of 2104.
We got to know each other through our emails and pretty soon things started to pick up some steam…
Their impressions of the Dongguan CWI facilities and staff were very positive, which helped us feel much more comfortable about Ryan’s situation. During their trip, they told us that one of the caretakers introduced their family to their new son’s “best friend” in the orphanage. They were also familiar with the agency profiles of some of the other children who had been made available for matching, and had seen Ryan’s profile photographs.. Could it be?
We are so very grateful for the graciousness and generosity of this family (you know who you are!!!) and we could not have been more excited to start firing questions and trading photographs (using a free file sharing site!!) . Over the next few days, we learned that YES, this little boy who had joined his forever family in November, was in fact Ryan’s good friend. It’s hard to describe how we felt when we read their descriptions of how their son reacted upon seeing one of Ryan’s photos that we’d sent! We are hoping to maintain they boys’ connections after we return in June. Even better…
As some of you may know, we travel frequently to Western Michigan for the Christmas holidays or sometimes for a week in the summer. As it turns out, Ryan’s friend’s family lives in a place where we could easily make a slight detour from our regular MI travel route to possibly make a VISIT? How cool would that be – can’t wait for that reunion!
Again, we are so grateful to have the chance to help our son make this connection, and we’d like to say Thank You very much to this family for helping to make it happen. We are so happy to hear that your son is adjusting so well and we look forward to coming back home with Ryan to reconnect the boys.
To bring this story somewhat full circle, the photos we sent were taken during our visit to Ryan’s host family last summer!
Stay tuned for another story about a special FB Group, coming very soon…
Thanks for following.