A Sibling Perspective About Travel

Through some of the many, many China support groups on Facebook and in real life, I hear a lot of discussion about taking children already in the home to China with the new parents to bring home a new child. People wonder, worry and discuss because it is a decision worthy of all that. It’s a big deal. My husband and I had to consider all this last year when I was debating bringing my eldest son, Cam, to China to bring home our new daughter, Cate. He did beautifully. In fact, the boy was a rock during a difficult transition and adoption experience in general.

In the next four to six weeks, I will be traveling to adopt another daughter (my husband will be staying home). Our new daughter, Gigi is four-years old and is deaf, blind in at least one eye, and has a Congenital Heart Defect.  She has some significant needs.  When it came to making a decision about taking one of the children already in our home with me to bring home another child, it wasn’t difficult, even despite what we might face in China.

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Cam had been to China already, so it was our son Brady’s turn to go this time. Brady is only ten months younger than Cam. The pair of boys are currently 12 and 13 years old. Brady decided very quickly though that he would rather give his ticket to Cam and earn the money to buy another ticket for himself. He said he wanted to enjoy China with his brother.

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Brady worked his way to China. He worked hard. I wanted you to hear from them about what made this so important to them. They are in the unique position of having both been adopted and now experiencing all aspects of adopting another child into our family. Their experience is worth hearing when you’re deciding if your child is emotionally prepared for all that is involved in joining you on your trip.

I decided to interview the boys about the last six months, to see how they felt about their upcoming trip, about their new sister, and about all the change that is about to occur in our home.

Mom: Hey Guys. I wanted to ask you a few questions about traveling to China for your sister. This is for people out there who are considering taking their child with them.

Brady: DO IT! I’m SO EXCITED.

Cam: You should. I really liked going to China.

Mom: What are you most excited about?

Brady: Well, getting Gigi, of course. That’s why we’re going. But, I’m super excited about seeing another culture too. I’ve never gotten to do that before.

Cam: I’m excited about watching Brady see it. I really like China. I want Brady to see it too!

Mom: I also want to see if there’s anything your nervous about. Is there anything you’re nervous about?

Brady: I’m optimistic about this trip. The stuff that will be hard is all the stuff you will have to deal with. But, there is stuff I worry about a little for Gigi. She’s deaf. I think it might be a little hard to teach her to sign. I’m looking forward to her learning to sign. Then we can understand each other. But in between when she learns it and when we get her, it might be hard.

Cam: I’m not nervous. I remember how it was for Cate. She was sad for awhile, but we handled it.

Me: What about visiting Gigi’s orphanage? If we get to do it, how do you think you’ll feel?

Brady: Mmmmm…that might be hard. I might feel a little sad, but not really, really sad. Unless the kid is my age. I want to meet the kids my age. I don’t want them to think I feel sorry for them or anything, that would make them feel worse. I’m just sorry they might not have a family.

**Cam declined to answer this question. He does not now, and has not ever, wanted to visit any of his sibling’s orphanages. He would prefer not to say why. So, we moved on to a lighter question.**

Mom: What about the food in China? How do you feel about that? I know how important eating is to you two.

Brady: I’m adventurous and I really want to try a lot of stuff. Maybe I’ll eat a chicken foot or an octopus.

Cam: I like McDonald’s. They have that there. I know I won’t starve.

Mom: What do you think you’ll be able to help your new sister with?

Brady: I’m not changing diapers, that’s for sure. Maybe I can help you put her on your back, because you said it was important to carry her. Maybe I’ll help teach her a few signs. She’ll probably be able feed herself, but I’ll help her if she needs it. Playing with her might be fun, but she won’t be able to hear me. I could roll a ball to her. There’s lots of stuff I can do.

Cam: Cate liked it when I took pictures of her and then showed her the camera. Little kids like to see themselves. I’ll just do that again. Well, unless she’s blind. Then I’ll figure some other way to play with her. I’ll figure it out. I usually do.

Mom: What has Cam told you about China so far?

Brady: He said it’s fun, and that there is so much fun stuff to see. The stores sell a lot of the same stuff, but shopping isn’t my thing anyway. He said the sights were really awesome, and that there were a lot of cultural things to see. Cam told me about the Safari Park. He also told me about the adoption appointments. I’ll be fine during those. I can pass time easily. Cam told me about the huge line outside the Consulate, and how we’re Americans, so we get to go right in. I think that’s not fair. Or, maybe we’re all just really lucky. Cam liked walking around on that island too, taking pictures of all the people staring at him.

Cam: I told him how people stare, sometimes at us because we’re not Chinese, but a lot at any kid who has a special need. It’s different that way in China.

It’s different for sure. We’ll see how they both feel about all this after they travel to bring their new sister home! I plan to follow-up with both the boys to see how their expectations matched with the reality of the trip.  You can follow us to China at http://www.fullplatemom.com