On returning to the States in March, we had a sweet time of reunion with family and friends. But soon after those sweet times came the headache of dealing with the logistical issues of returning: insurances, vehicles, taxes, etc.
Last summer (2015) we started saving up money for a family vehicle. I knew the probability of us become a family of five was very high, so we needed to be prepared. We had a Dodge Neon at home that we would use on our return. But it would last long if we were going to have a third baby. So in November when we found out I was pregnant with baby#3, we were so grateful we’d already been saving money for that family vehicle.
Two months before we returned, we started shopping cars on Craigslist and locally in our city. We called about a couple, my dad checked some out, but each time it fell through. Anxiety was knocking at our door, but because baby wasn’t due till July we knew we had plenty of time to find the right vehicle for us.
Two weeks after return, we found one and bought it–IN CASH!!! What a cool feeling!! Yet also very sober feeling, Do I really want this car? Look at all this cash I’m holding! But I really liked it and we got our Nissan Quest spaceship. Have you ever seen the front console of one of those things–it kinda feels like a spaceship. 🙂
We were excited about our new van! But when we went to get insurance on it, the headache began! We found that most companies wouldn’t insure us because we hadn’t had car insurance for the last 18 months while we were in Africa. My Love looked and looked and researched. But we were having a hard time. Eventually we had to settle for a high rate with an online company. We were thankful to finally have it–it’s always more pleasant to drive legally! 😉 And we are looking forward to the time when we can re-shop for insurance and get a better deal!
But the headaches didn’t end there. April 15th was coming soon–tax day. This was our first time to do taxes while being out of the country for the whole of a year. We’d always done our taxes ourselves online, but this was uncharted territory. My Love looked into going through an Agent, but even the papers they gave us to fill out ahead of time we were unsure about. He decided to give the online method a shot. He did research and research, navigating his way question by question and figured it out!
After April, we’ve had a peaceful time until doctor’s appointments and Little Brother was born and figuring out how to use our International Health Insurance nationally. The insurance we had for Africa was great! But it’s a different ball game back in the States. I learned that they didn’t cover our kids’ vaccinations–$$ for us. And the way you place claims is…a headache in itself.
Since Little Brother was born in July, we’ve been trying to solve the puzzle of how our insurance will work and cover our costs. And especially after seeing how much his NICU bill is…we are PRAYING that they cover our costs! And to throw in another twist, our insurance renewal is this fall and we wont renew because we’ll be in the States for another year or so. Yuck!
We didn’t expect or realize there would be so many hurdles to jump on this side of returning home. There were even hurdles in setting up our home–our house. We rented out our house, that we own, while we were gone. The renting went well and we are looking forward to continuing that when we return to Africa. But it was a hassle, in the business and 6-9 months of pregnancy, to unpack and re-setup the house. If our house was a train station, there would have been many train wrecks. There was stuff coming out of totes, stuff going into totes. Things coming out of suitcases to be put in the house, put in a tote, put in the basement. And things coming out of the basement to be put in the house.
We’ve been home five months and I still have a bag of holiday and misc. things from Africa in a closet because I haven’t gotten to put it in the basement yet. We have our tote of pictures and random decorations still setting in our dining room. I have a bag of our Africa treasures still in a bag next to my bed because I haven’t found a place to put them yet. Little by little, it is feeling more like a home and less like a train station. But that was a hurdle I didn’t expect.
I don’t know if there is any way to avoid these re-entry issues or even prepare for them. There was no way we could have fixed the car insurance deal, that was just a bummer of a reality. Unpacking our house could have been easier and faster if I would have asked for help. From our experiences and what from what I’ve learned, here is my two cents:
1.) Ask for help! Whether its with taxes or unpacking your house, ask for help! Are there people who have done this before you? Do you have an accountant friend that you could talk with? Is there a college girl needing some service hours, extra money, or just free to help? Do you have family around? Ask them to help you! They want to see you and spent time with you anyways!
2.) Heads up! Now that you know logistical issues happen, you can at least be mentally prepared for some hurdles. But are there insurance or tax logistics that you need to look into before hand? If you foresee an issue arising, figure out if there are simple steps to take to make it less of a headache.
3.) Breath and keep running! Don’t let the stress of unknown and complications get to you. It’s life, hurdles are all around. Take a deep breath, pray, and jump! Tackle the problems with a good attitude. More pleasant times are just around the turn.