We’ve been home from India for about a month and a half. I can’t believe it! This time has been full of adjusting, exhaustion, joy, and “I can’t believe she’s actually here!” In a lot of ways, though, it feels like we’ve been home for longer, and that Faith has just always been with us. From a beach trip, to running wild with the boys, to her first high school football game, Faith jumped right in to being a Pattillo. Praise God!
While I posted a lot throughout our trip, I wanted to fully write out our experience (well, mostly all of it. Some parts of our/her story are ours to protect). Honestly, this is mostly for my sake. I know the longer removed we are from our trip, the easier it’ll be to forget the details. God was SO faithful every step of the way, so I want to reflect on and remember that in the years to come.
We left for India on June 25, 2022. I was a nervous wreck. I’ve flown many times, but a 15 hour flight to meet and bring home your daughter is completely different from an 1.5 hour flight for a weekend away in NYC. 4 years of planning, praying, and anticipating were finally coming to fruition. We also left with no definite return date in sight. Our agency prepared us to be in India for 3 weeks, but it could also be more or less. My emotions were well, just a lot. Our first flight was from Charlotte to Chicago. By God’s grace, we met a youth group going on a mission trip at our check-in, and found out they were on our flight. Jack and I have a lot of experience with student ministry life, so it was fun to talk to them about our trip and their trip. Meeting them was exactly what I needed to give me a distraction and calm my nerves! We landed in Chicago, and after a long layover (which included a delay), we boarded our 15 hour flight to Delhi. We thankfully got some sleep on this flight, and all in all, it wasn’t too bad.
Flying over Delhi was surreal. Finally, we were in our daughter’s country! We left the Delhi airport about 10:30pm (India time), and the Indian heat definitely smacked us in the face. You’d think we’d be used to heat and humidity being from the south, but believe it or not, India’s heat and humidity are on a whole different level! We made it to our hotel and attempted to rest. India is 9.5 hours ahead of eastern time, so it took several days to completely adjust.
The next day (Monday in India), we gave ourselves a rest day. We weren’t fully sure what this day would look like, but God knew! Monday morning, we found out we needed to go to CARA (India’s adoption authority) to pick up paperwork we needed for Faith’s passport appointment. We almost didn’t schedule this “rest day”. If we hadn’t, we would’ve missed this opportunity. We also got to meet our Delhi guide, and it was great to get to know her! Isn’t the Lord’s sovereignty wonderful?!
On Tuesday, we flew to Patna (Faith’s city)! Not long after we matched with Faith, I met a friend online whose son was in the same SAA (orphanage) as Faith. Again, we saw the Lord’s sovereignty, because they were in India at the same time, in the same hotel! We got to finally meet these friends in person and have lunch. Later that afternoon, we had a bonding day with Faith. I’m so grateful we did this. It helped prepare her, us, and her SAA for placement day.
June 29, 2022 was the day we waited so long for – our placement day. Faith was finally in our arms forever! Praise God! Our precious girl was exhausted from all of the events and transition she endured, so she spent a lot of this day sleeping.
The next day was Faith’s passport appointment. Normally, parents aren’t required to attend this, but Faith’s state required us to be there (why we traveled earlier and longer). This is the part of our trip that determined how long our trip would be. We were hopeful the passport office would hand us her passport that day, but also knew we may have to wait several days. That was such a long day. In total, we were at passport offices from about 9am-5pm. I honestly don’t know what went on most of the time. Our guide was excellent at handling it all, and we spent a lot of time just waiting. The whole time we kept thinking, “Is this it? Are we done? Are we getting her passport?” At the end of the day, though, we learned we wouldn’t get her passport that day. The offices couldn’t print them for about another week. We were so disappointed. Simply, we were ready to do our Delhi appointments and head home.
Praise God we had our friends with us, though! I don’t know what we would’ve done without them. While we waited in Patna, we tried to keep ourselves busy. We went to the zoo, Bihar museum, and ventured to the supermarket and mall. Taking Faith on these outings actually helped our bonding. As we took her out, she showed trust in us a little more each day. We had our toughest day of the whole trip in Patna, though. It was July 4, and neither Jack nor I felt well. We also found out there was a potential issue with Faith’s passport. On top of that, we were really homesick to be on the lake watching fireworks with our family. All of that combined for a rough day. God sustained us through this, though, and the passport issue was resolved! Another highlight of staying in Patna was going to church. It was wonderful to connect with believers on the other side of the world! Though we were disappointed at first about the passport delay, looking back, it was a gift. We had down time to bond with Faith and explore her city. It made all the difference in our attachment!
Though that time was a gift, we were also ready to be back with our boys and be a family of 5, so we were thrilled when they handed us her passport! We went back to Delhi for a medical appointment, embassy appointment, and to get our exit permits. Our hotel in Delhi was attached to a mall, so it was great to have this space to walk around and get out of the hotel. This mall had a Chili’s in it. Walking in there, we kinda forgot we were in India for a second. They served American food and played country music. It was the little taste of home we needed to get us through the last leg of our trip.
Delhi time was a lot more predictable than Patna time. Overall, the appointments went smoothly! We wanted to visit the Taj Mahal, but couldn’t get tickets to work out. Instead, we spent the day at the hotel relaxing and swimming. Faith loved the pool! Seeing her be comfortable in the water and have fun with us was better than the Taj Mahal, believe it or not.
The one thing up in the air with Delhi time was our exit permits. Those could take anywhere from 3 days to a week. Again, we were thankful for our time in India, but to say we were ready to be home was an understatement. We were told we’d receive these on a Tuesday, so we booked flights for Tuesday night. We still didn’t have our exit permits until late afternoon on Tuesday. I packed to leave without actual confirmation we’d go home. This worried me, but Jack (and even all our friends with us) were like, “Don’t worry! You’ll get them!” Obviously, God taught me a lot about worry during this trip.
We left Delhi late Tuesday night (India time). The flight to New York was about 16 hours. Faith did so well (except for takeoff and landing – she hated being buckled). She slept 10 of the 16 hours, and slept on our last flight home from New York to Charlotte. While leaving to travel and placement day were all huge moments we waited for, we finally had THE moment we longed for – all 5 of us together. For the first time in 4 years, I had all of my children in my arms, in the same country, and in the same time zone. God was so good to sustain us through the wait, all the travel, and the long trip to bring us to that moment.
If you can’t tell, God’s sovereignty was the theme of our process and trip. We saw his hand in every detail. Traveling earlier and for longer than “normal” gave us precious time to bond with Faith in-country. As a teacher, traveling in the summer was perfect. We also had time at home to get settled before our family beach trip. When we first met Faith, I was worried our life was going to be too much for her, but she fits right in with us. She LOVES her brothers. Have we had hard moments and days? Definitely! Jet lag was way more difficult than I thought. But overall, Faith has adapted so well. She amazes us everyday, and she’s such a blessing to us.
Truly, the Lord’s faithfulness is great!