Sunday, March 23, 2014

Have You Thought About Moving to China???

So readers, as you can see I've been out of commission on the blog for another few weeks.  While the rest of the country was experiencing "Snow-pocalypse" we were suffering from "Poop-pocalypse".  Three weeks straight of diarrhea times six kids and two adults equals "holy moly when will it end"!!!!

Brian and I were also exploring the possibility of taking a couple of jobs in China.  Yep.  China.  The country with all the Chinese people.

So I've been a bit distracted.

Here's the skinny: Brian and I have talked for years about living overseas.  Even before we decided to adopt we looked into applying for DOD jobs or working in international private schools.  Then after Grace's adoption we very seriously thought about living in China.  We both loved our 3 weeks there and we knew that we would want to go back someday.

But that was 5 kids ago.

More recently we had daydreamed about joining the mission field.  My time in Congo has had a profound effect on me.  I feel very drawn to that region of the world. I've been casually browsing job listings for NGO's.  A couple from our church is planting a new church in Kenya and I've thought a lot about what it might be like to join them there.

Then a few weeks ago Brian struck up a conversation with another couple we know who are moving this summer to Shanghai, China.  They will be working with an organization called Charity Dream Shanghai. They lived in China a couple of years ago for a job transfer.  They got hooked up with Charity Dream Shanghai and are now going back to work for them. The organization includes a baby home for children with cleft lip/cleft pallet, a private school, a leadership program and a church.

And before you knew it we were interviewing via Skype for the jobs of 1st grade teacher (for me) and 3rd/4th grade math and social studies for Brian.  And the interview went well, and we got tentative offers and our kids could all go to school for almost free and ......

Then reality hit me like a ton of tofu. Six kids in China.  Six kids in an apartment.  Six kids on an airplane for 24 hours straight.  All the logistics of a move to China started to flood my brain with anxiety.  Selling or renting our house, selling our cars, filling out a trillion new forms for passports and visas.  Not to mention all the details of actually living in a foreign country. And not just a little foreign.  This isn't a move to England or Australia.  This is a big time case of "Dorothy, you're not in Kansas anymore!"

Strangely, the more nervous I got about the idea, the more excited Brian seemed to get.  He has followed the development of the Christian church in China for a long time and for him the idea of being part of this emerging culture is an invitation to a huge adventure. And I get that for Brian most days the greatest adventure he faces to finding out what accidentally ended up in the load of laundry he just washed. He is starting to suffer from a case of housewife blues and China seems like an amazing escape to a whole new life for our family.  It's just that I'm not sure I want this whole new life.  So as you can imagine this has lead to some very tense discussions.

However, he is not completely unrealistic.  After lots of talking we have decided that a move to China is off the table for at least this August.  But it is still a possibility for the following year.  Below is a list of my pros and cons.


  • We would get to live in a new culture and totally submerge ourselves in it.
  • It would only be for 2 years to start.
  • Grace would have a chance to live in her birth country.
  • We would all have an opportunity to learn to speak Mandarin Chinese
  • We would both get to work together and make more than we do now.
  • I would get to try my hand at teaching a new age group.
  • All of our kids would get a private school education.
  • All the Chinese food my heart could desire.
  • We could probably sell our house for a decent profit.
  • We would not need to own cars.
  • We could afford to have a housekeeper.
  • We would be part of a grass roots church.
  • Our friends and family would have a really cool vacation destination to visit.
  • We might have an opportunity to travel and explore China.
  • My kids are young enough that they won't regret leaving behind friends and such.
  • Brian really wants to do this and I don't want to disappoint him.
  • This could be a once in a lifetime opportunity.


  • We would be the outsiders in another land.
  • Two years seems a lot longer than one year.
  • Racism towards dark skinned people can be very severe in China and I have a lot of black children.
  • Everybody there speaks Mandarin Chinese
  • We would both be forced to work in order to make enough to get by.  I would get paid less than I do now, which sort of hurts my old veteran teacher pride.
  • I would have to teach 6 and 7 year olds.  Oh my!
  • If I do move overseas I would really prefer to do sort of NGO or mission type work.  Not just teaching a different cross section of children.
  • Grace still struggles with social anxiety and does not want to go to school.
  • Chinese food 3 meals a day.
  • I really have a strong sentimental attachment to my house. It's ours, warts and all.
  • We would have to move into an apartment that is smaller than our house, doesn't have a backyard and might be up several flights of stairs.
  • We would have to walk everywhere, rain or shine.
  • The idea of a housekeeper sort of weirds me out.  Have you ever read the book "Nickel and Dimed"?
  • I really love my church.  It is the first church in my life that really completely feels like family.
  • We would be very far from family and friends.  Most people we would not see for the whole 2 years we are gone.  We would not be able to attend our annual China Reunion and OFA Reunions.  And I wouldn't get to go my my Mom's Retreat.  
  • Grace really loves her dogs.  She's going to love them even more in another year.  Leaving them could be quite traumatic.
  • I would have to close my shop for at least 2 years.  I'm not raking in the dough, but I love it and I've been able to help a few adopting families with a few small donations.
  • It might turn out to be very difficult if not impossible to travel with our children.  Right now a trip to McDonald's can be a chore.
  • Our kids are still at a really hard age and dealing with some really hard behaviors.  A major change like this could be even more challenging.
  • Air and water pollution are a huge concern.  So is food contamination.  
There are many more issues on both sides of the chart.  I've gone over and over and over them in my head. I'm really not good at having things left up in the air.  I need decisions to be made, I need closure and finality, so that I can move on to worrying about the next thing.

I guess this is one of those decisions that can't be made quickly.  Holy moly, thinking about it for a year might kill me.  I've never thought about anything for a year.  But God, if you're listening, a really big burning bush sort of sign would be nice this time.

Have any of you had to make a decision about overseas living?  Anyone doing it right now?  If you have some great advice I'd love to read it.

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