I spent an hour on the phone today with the agency talking through travel and the process in Colombia. When I got this travel date, it seemed so far away. Now, it's just a week! In some ways, I feel like it snuck up on me. In other ways, it's been a long time coming.
Here are some answers to some of the most common travel/process questions that I get. If you have other questions, leave a comment and I'll answer them here or in another post.
1. When do you leave?
I leave next Saturday! My mother and I will meet up in NYC and then fly to Bogota together. It's about a six hour flight from NYC to Bogota--definitely not something I'm really looking forward to.
2. When do you meet Sara?
I will meet her on Monday. We will spend Sunday adjusting to the altitude, getting to know the neighborhood a little bit and settling in. Or, with my luck, we'll spend Sunday in some US airport trying frantically to get to Colombia.
3. When will you get custody of Sara?
The first part of the process is a week-long bonding period. So, Sara will come to the hotel with us after the first meeting. I'm so glad! I think it will be overwhelming for both of us but I can't imagine meeting her and then leaving her there!
4. When do you come back?
Who knows??? I have a return ticket but I hesitate to really share the date because I have no idea when I'll be back. It could be anywhere from 4 to 7 weeks or more. I'm hoping for 5 or 6 but there is no way to know and nothing I can do about it. (Yes. This is a very hard concept for a planner like me!) I have special tickets that don't charge a change fee so we'll be home as soon as we can!
5. Why are you there so long?
There are quite a few steps that have to be followed:
*Adoption in the court system (This is the potentially long step.)
*New birth certificate
*US Medical appointment
*US Embassy interview
As soon as the visa is ready, we will change our tickets and get on the next available plane!
6. When do you go back to work?
I can take up to 12 weeks off of work with FMLA. At this point, I am planning to go back to work after Spring Break. We'll see how the timeline plays out.
7. Where are you staying for that long?
We are staying at a hotel the caters to adopting families. It's really more like a B&B than a standard hotel. I looked into lots and lots of options and decided this was the best for both of us. Our meals will be prepared for us. I think this will be really good for Sara and probably not so great for me. (Yes. I'm a picky eater.)
8. Are you going alone?
My mom will be going down with me for the first week. (Thanks, Dad, for holding down the fort at home!) As it has worked out, there are 3 families from Reece's Rainbow that are all leaving within days of each other. The other two families have to travel to other parts of the country for their daughters but we will all end up at Bogota at some point in the process. So, we are all planning to stay at the hotel with our 3 and 4 year old Colombian daughters! This has worked out so well! It looks like one of the families might even be coming the same day my mom leaves.
9. Is it safe?
Colombia has a pretty sketchy past but has cleaned up quite a bit in the last few years/decades. For the most part, Bogota is the safest part of the country. The guerrilla warfare and drug issues are in the more remote parts of the country. It has the same problems as any major city. I won't be going out alone after dark or venturing into less desirable neighborhoods, etc. Pretty much the same rules you would live by in Chicago, New York, or LA.
10. Are you ready?
I'm so ready for her to be home. Her room has been ready for months. I know it will rock my world in a huge way and I'm totally ready for that too. (Ask me again when she's not sleeping or when she's sick and may have a different answer.)
I've purchased everything we need for the trip and for the stay. My biggest struggle at this point is packing. How does one pack for such an event? I want to pack as light as possible but still have what we need. I'm tempted to take every piece of clothing she owns because I want her to be adorable at all times and I want her to have a cute outfit for every milestone in the journey but I know that's not practical. I've always hated packing and I always put it off until the last minute. So, I know I'll be done before 9AM next Saturday morning but probably not much before that.
Any other questions?
Excuse me while I go squeal again because I'm leaving in one week and 12 hours!