Connie Hope returned to her Colorado home on Friday to find her husband and two teen children dressed in the same clothes they had worn to visit their immigrant parents in China a month earlier.
Shortly after her arrival, the Chancellorsville, Kentucky, woman realized they had too much to pack.
“That’s scary,” she said with a smile.
Shelley Hope, whose parents are locked in an immigration detention center in China, landed on July 7 and has spent about a week in Beijing, the final leg of a long trip with her children, Sydney, 17, and Cameron, 15. When she arrived home, the family was greeted by television reporters in Baltimore, D.C., and Dayton, Ohio, and they were quickly taken aback by the amount of attention they received in China.
“It was an emotional trip, but also, it was so much more than I could have imagined,” Hope said by phone. “I just feel like I have an awesome family.”
Connie Hope, her mother and father, Cliff “Chick” Hope, and Sydney and Cameron Hope left China on June 23, headed for a meeting in Pennsylvania with their Australian siblings, Peta Cameron, 23, and Dawson Cameron, 19. The trip was a reunion for the parents and five siblings, who grew up as a part of an Australian extended family in China before making their way to the United States more than 20 years ago.
At the airport in China, Allison Taylor, the Hope family’s stepmother, got an Uber ride to a McDonald’s and bought three, Dollar Menu meals to take back to China for her family and friends. Taylor, in China visiting from Maryland, said her daughter will hopefully be released in the next few days from Sheping Women’s Prison in Yiwu, Zhejiang, where she has been held since May 30.
“It’s a long story,” she said. “But here is where they’re at.”
Hope says she plans to visit China again next month, but she has not decided where or when. She said the family will work with the State Department on the visit, or even if and when she will be allowed to return to the United States.