T-Minus 18 Days to Wheels-Up
T-Minus 23 Days to Ryan
Our planning is in high gear now, with only a few more days until the suitcases come out – and the rough packing gets underway. Luckily we won’t need to be burdened with winter coats and heavy weather gear. This is a good thing. On our Kyle trip, we traveled over the Christmas holiday, and needed every thread we carried to keep warm.
Our travel route for Ryan remains the same: PHL – DTW (Detroit) – PEK (Beijing, formerly Peking) – CAN (Guangzhou) – SHA (Arriving Shanghai: Hongqiao) – PVG (Departing Shanghai: Pudong) – DTW – PHL.
Picking up from our last post…we’re really excited to renew Ryan’s relationship with his good friend, whose forever family we found through the help of our agency.
BUT…Thanks to our ability to connect with other Dongguan SWI Adoptive families, through a closed FB Group dedicated specifically to us…Ryan’s story is taking another amazing turn. For those of you who don’t already know, even though our “homebase” FB page is under MY Name, Lisa is responsible for the vast majority of activity. Through her mastery of FB and her ability to network through the chaos of adoptive family, orphanage, and FB Group Pages, she was able to uncover the FB Group for Dongguan Families. Since we are in fact an adoptive family headed to Dongguan, we were accepted into the group. As I mentioned at the top of last post, the difference in the quality and quantity of communication between email and the old Yahoo Groups, and the functionality and immediacy of FB, is remarkable. Threads are easier to follow (and join), and photos and videos abound.
The community of families that we have discovered within the Dongguan FB Page is very active with conversations covering prep and packing tips, documentation pointers, travel and tour recommendations, hotel and restaurant reviews, orphanage visits, etc., etc., etc. As we have been fortunate enough to have had many “adventures” on all three of our previous journeys, Lisa always tries to make meaningful contributions to any thread that she thinks could benefit – and without exception, her suggestions and ideas are welcomed and appreciated. (We’ve been there…not so long ago we were preparing from scratch to meet our first son Kyle…and we appreciated every idea that was sent our way. This is one of the ways we – mostly Lisa! – try to ‘pay it forward.”)
On one of her usual visits to the Dongguan Families site, Lisa was looking through some photos and videos posted by a family who had just visited Ryan’s SWI (and were actually still in China). In one video, for a brief moment, something – a face – caught her attention. It was pure chance that the post was high on our timeline, and that Lisa was alert enough to see it! “That little boy looks like Ryan?!?!?” Soon she’d reached out to the Family that had made the post and the wave started to break. Emails flipped quickly as the details filled themselves in. This Family (also from the “near midwest”) was able to have a wonderful visit to their/our/Ryan’s SWI, and was able to take several videos and photos to commemorate their son’s farewell to his friends and nannies. It was a moving experience for them and their photos and videos had a tremendous impact on us.
Through the generosity of this family, we were able to confirm that “YES, THAT IS RYAN”. And Ryan was also good friends with THEIR son! It was really cool to watch him interact with all of his friends and caretakers as they get ready to say their good-byes. It swayed our decision to finalize our visit to the SWI. This is one of the days Lisa and I are most looking forward to – not just for us, but for Kyle, Dylan and Ashley to experience. I can only guess at the barrage of questions and observations each one of our children will have. We’ll be as ready as we can be with honest and truthful answers to every last query. We’ve shared the videos and photos with them already, and we are anxious to see how each one processes what they see and hear that day.
Again, the fates seem to be watching over us – as I mentioned a moment ago, this family lives in the “near-midwest” (said Charlie, trying to be as opaque as possible!). It turns out that the town that they call home is even more “on the way to Grand Rapids” that Ryan’s first friend. This detour would be even shorter than the first detour. There’s a very good chance Ryan will also be able to connect with this SWI friend, too!! This is indeed great news for everyone. We cannot wait to make our next plans to visit Grandma and Poppa, and our Aunt, Uncle and cousins. Hopefully we’ll be able to make THIS connection for Ryan as well!
We’d like to say Thanks to this family (you know who you are!) and let you know how much we appreciate your help. These sorts of connections were nearly impossible before the days of FB. We are so fortunate to be part of such a caring group of families. (I’d like to believe that the FB pages of other FB SWI Groups are chock full of stories like this…?).
Ever the networker, Lisa quickly flipped the good news of Ryan’s Friend #2 back to the family of Friend #1. The seeds are being sown for the possible growth of lifelong friendships for our little boys – at least we’re hoping so – and we can’t wait to be part of their stories.
Who would have thought…?
On a related note…from the “Small World Department”…
As we learned more about THIS little friend’s family and parents, we’ve come to find out that his Mother and Ryan’s Uncle (who lives in Grand Rapids presently) attended Medical School together!
Thanks for following, more news of our trip plans will be coming soon. The next milestone will be the receipt of our Passports back with our Visas – some time early next week.
I’m off to research VPNs, and get our trusty little netbook PC configured to be able to communicate with all of you while in-country through/over/under the “Great Firewall of China”.
Talk to you soon.