"Can I get an Amen?"...or a Peace Out? Or "I am two."
So we are in the final stages of moving back to America. Elisabeth and I leave in just over a week and will land in the San Francisco area. Paul flies a few days later as he has some things to finish up. We are keeping our little guy with us until the very end then he will go to his ayi for about a year...we hope no longer.
It is excruciating to leave him but we do have great peace about his future. That makes all the difference.
After landing in the US,we will spend some time with family. Then Elisabeth will fly up to Portland to spend two weeks a teen re-entry camp with kids from all over the world. Paul and I will go to Central California to spend about a week at a re-entry de-brief. Then we will drive up to our new city just over the river from Portland and begin to weave a new life.
So why re-entry camps and de-briefs? Well, for many reasons. There is no way you can live in another country and come back the same. You come to another country anticipating change. But when you go back, you are going to a place that is the same, yet different. There are issues of grief and loss to deal with. For us, we are leaving a place that we love, leaving a child that we love and getting ready to be empty nesters. Plus, even though we are from the West Coast, before coming to China we lived in the MidWest for 12 years. All huge changes. Sometimes things that feel familiar can be stressful-the internet makes the world smaller but there are still movies, TV shows, cultural things that we don't know about. We are coming back in an election year....and not looking forward to all that negatives advertising and issues that goes with that!
China is the third country that we have lived in. We lived in Germany for a few years in the1980's. It was magic- no kids, two income and no debt. We traveled, worked and just really enjoyed our time there. We also lived in the deep South- outside of Savannah, Georgia. That was our hardest cultural adaptation- so close but not quite the same as where we lived in California. That sense of the familiar but not quite familiar can be disorienting.
We came back from Germany with two paychecks and no jobs. Paul went back to school and I went to work. Now we are coming back with a kid in college, financial obligations and all that comes with adulthood. We will need to buy a car...and at some point another car. It feels massively expensive to come back to the US. Fortunately we have a house to stay in until we find another. That is a huge relief.
So re-entry programs help you deal with loss, grief and re-adaptation. We need to grieve well so that we can move on. It's an emotional time for us.