I live in the midwestern U.S. with my wife, my 8 year old stepson and our 2 year old son who shows signs of and is undergoing therapy for autism. The company I work for just offered to relocate us to their headquarters in Germany for a period of 2-4 years. My wife and I love it there and have daydreamed about spending more time abroad, and it would be an excellent career opportunity. No one can make this decision except us and I'm not looking for a recommendation. I am seeking wisdom from other parents on what kinds of issues we should be thinking about to make this decision, pros and cons, or general opinions and advice on some of the specific issues to aid in our decisionmaking.
- My stepson visits his biological father every other weekend and they have a positive relationship. He pays child support and we would need to reach an agreement with him, maybe involving allocating the support money toward travel expenses to send him back a couple times a year. He also has two half-brothers who he sees at his dad's.
- Our 2 year old is "presumed autistic" (our doctor won't officially diagnose it until age 2 1/2). He has serious language and behavioral delays. We're set up with local resources that provide 1-on-1 therapy sessions for language and behavioral development and have been doing this for about a month.
- My wife quit her job last fall and has been staying home with the kids and plans to continue to do this whether or not we move.
So naturally, some things we have to think about are:
- How would a move to a foreign country affect our younger son's development? Would being exposed to a foreign language impair his development even more or is there a potential it could actually help?
- How would the older son react to moving so far away from his biological father? He and I have a wonderful relationship as well, he loves, trusts and respects me, we have bonded very deeply and he has adapted very well to having a dad and a stepdad. Would a change like this ruin a good thing and plant seeds of discontent, resentment, regret, ... where there don't seem to be any now?
- We can see this as an amazing life experience for the kids - we can always come back in a few years if we want and the trip would expose them to lots of culture and history they wouldn't get otherwise. Or we can also see it as taking them away from a life experience they're already used to and happy with.
Thanks for any thoughts and talking points you might have. For the purposes of this question we can ignore issues of finance or logistics. I'll be posting a similar question on Travel.SE about some logistics questions and will add a link here when I do; but here I'm chiefly concerned with the kids and the impact this decision might have on our family.