I've tried to be as transparent as possible on this journey to help remember this season in our lives, but also to be somewhat of an encouragement for you who may be on the same path or may have thought about doing something like this.
Working as a Treatment Foster Care Social Worker in the past, I'm familiar with the grieving process that kids go through when they are taken out of their familiar environment, and the behaviors and issues that arise as a result. I am not claiming to be an expert, by any means. Here are some things we have learned:
Transitioning children is a big deal. It needs to be intentional and planful, when possible. I know that TJ and I will be okay, we will be able to handle the upcoming changes with minimal discomfort. Our children have never been to Kenya before. The way they handle the new culture, food, sights, and sounds will all be very different, because they are different.
Be intentional about how this transition makes them feel. Asking open ended questions to get kids talking about their emotions.
What do you think about our new house? What do you think of our move? Are there questions you have that are making you feel ______?
We continue to have ongoing age-appropriate discussions with them daily about moving.
Give kids power to choose.
We have already sent suitcases to Kenya with a team that went to Kenya from our area 2 weeks ago. The boys helped pack and choose toys they wanted to send in advance to have waiting for them when we arrived.
We have given the kids each a suitcase that they can put whatever they want into it without mom and dad giving an opinion. The boys chose pictures, toys, and various things that they wanted to bring.
Bring familiar items from home.
We are bringing their bedding from home, to give a sense of familiarity to them. I am packing picture frames, photos of family, grandparents, aunties and uncles, cousins and friends they have here to keep in their room to remember those who love them back in the States. I also am packing the essential oils/air fresheners that we use in our home today to use in our new home in Kenya.
Keep your routine.
Examples would include bedtime stories, family meals, songs, games and any elements to our day that we can keep similar when we arrive. Keeping kids' routine the same as much as possible is helpful in transitioning them to a new environment.
There is so much more to this I know. If you have any advice to help us get these three monkeys transitioned well let me know.