Sunday, October 11, 2009

All The Grueling Details

I know we have been home a few days, but I want to preserve these memories for Emma.
Wednesday, October 7th
Since we had to change our departure to Wednesday, we obviously looked for the best option to get home in the shortest amount of travel time. That meant changing airports in Moscow. We chose a United flight that would take us straight from Moscow to Dulles International in Washington DC. The flight was about 10.5 hours long, and the seats were so expensive by the time we booked the flight that we only purchased two seats. Below is the airplane that would bring Emma to the United States of America.

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And here we are getting settled in our seats...look how happy I was!

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We did buy seats with extra leg room, and it was completely worth it since Emma sat in our laps.

We were fortunate to land about 30 minutes early. We were so early in fact that there was still an airplane at our gate, and we had to wait until it departed before we could deboard. This is when my heartrate started to escalate. We were really worried about having enough time to get through US Customs with Emma. We got off the plane in record time with me carrying Emma and JC carrying all three bags. We hustled to Customs and went straight to the US Citizens line just like the nice lady at our US Embassy in Moscow told us. We were directed to a line and waited patiently. The line beside us was moving faster, and it became empty before our line opened so the guy motioned us forward. Then he saw the famous brown envelope and told us that he couldn't process us and to get back in the other line. When it was finally our turn in the first line, a girl about my age called us forward. She was GROUCHY! She told us we had to go to the non-citizen line. I was about to lose it at this point since we had already been given the run around by the first guy. SO I said, "the US Embassy in Moscow told us to come through the US Citizens line". She responded with, "Well, if you want to wait until these two planes get processed, I'll help you." What??? Like I was really going to argue with a federal agent. JC very diplomatically told me to calm down and that it would be ok. We walked back to the man directed folks to the different lines and explained that we were being sent to the non-citizen line. He asked why and we just looked at him. He at least let us get in line next instead of waiting behind everyone else, but get this...the guy that finally helped us told us that we had to go in a special "side office" after getting our bags for the adoption to be final. We thank him and look at each other like "what is going on???"! We collect our luggage and head down to the security check point. We tell the guy that we are supposed to go in some office and he points the way. We get in this tiny room with foreign nationals. One lady was working behind the desk. She processed out of turn and said ok you are done. Then she said, "all of this was supposed to be done when you came through customs." - like it was our fault. We just said thank you and ran toward our gate after going through security. The crazy thing is though that there was another adoptive family on our flight who got to go through the US Citizen line and have EVERYTHING processed by the first person they came to...we just got passed around by 3 agents before the lady in that office helped us. So frustrating!

Anyway, we finally got to our gate thinking it would be about 15 minutes til boarding, but it was SO windy in DC that day that all flights were either getting delayed or cancelled. Thankfully ours just got delayed about an hour and 15 minutes. Emma did fabulous through this whole ordeal even though she had to be exhausted. She only slept about three hours on the flight, and that was broken up into three mini-naps. We made it to NC in about 45 minutes, and we were on the very back row of our tiny commuter plane. I was so jittery waiting to get off since I knew our boys would be there waiting. Eleven days is an EXTREMELY long time to be away from your babies.

We finally deboarded and I took Emma. JC was carrying all the bags again, and it seemed like forever before we made it to the spot where our families and our friends were waiting. What a joyous sight. We were both fighting back tears of joy! We got to the boys and just dropped to our knees to hug on them and introduce them to their new sister. They could not have been any sweeter or kinder to Emma. It was pure fascination. They had homemade signs, and Patsy had brought pink and green balloons to the airport. I'm not really sure what the other passengers thought since we flew into a tiny little airport where not much happens.

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We had great fellowship there in that airport before leaving to collect our bags! It's amazing that every piece of luggage that we dragged back and forth between NC and Russia made it every step of the way.

JC's dad had driven our Yukon to the airport for us so we were able to load up all the kids and drive home. This was Emma's first experience in a car seat, and she was extremely mad! She did not like it at all.

We got home and got the boys and Emma down, and then we collapsed. As you know from the first post, Emma was up at 2:30am and then only got about a 20 minute nap on Thursday.

Thursday, October 8th

The transition from Russia to home was WAY harder than I thought it would be. I am not sure why I thought we'd just all fall into place in our normal routines and go on about our lives as a family of five. That DID NOT happen exactly! Emma's little body was so confused with the time change, and JC and I weren't doing much better adjusting. The boys took our being away pretty hard as well, and JC and I have had to balance spending quality time with them as well as trying to bond with Emma. Needless to say, life was a little difficult and completely disorganized the first two days. Saturday was an ok Mom came and that allowed us to get our suitcases unpacked, the house vacuumed, clothes washed and Brendan's dresser drawers cleaned out. Then Saturday night, our great friends brought us dinner and visited with us for a while.


This little child of ours has been the biggest trooper. Aside from some of her behaviors (mainly biting - she bit me 10 times on Thursday alone), she has been a true doll. She must be horribly confused, but she goes on about her business just trying her best to fit into our lives as well as she can...that's usually attached to my hip. Seriously, though, her independence in this house has grown by leaps and bounds since Thursday. She eats like a CHAMP...she even got her first taste of NC barbeque, slaw and baked beans - let's just say that she cleaned her plate. She has continued to "go potty" very well when I prompt her every two hours or so...she knows the phrase now. She still wears a diaper as she won't ask to go potty, but it really is amazing how she will always use the toilet when I set her on it. We hardly ever change a wet diaper unless it's after nighttime. Emma went to her first baseball game today. She met our mini-dachshunds today (not sure about them yet), and she loves the stroller rides outside. Lots of new stuff for this young child!

We are really working on her going down better - especially at naptime. She did so great in Moscow, but once she got here, she doesn't want to get settled - even with me rocking her or holding her in her room.

All in all, I think we must have gotten the most precious little girl. She is a true charmer, and we have all fallen in love with her - especially her sweet, adorable big brothers!

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Jodee Leader said...

Welcome back! There is no place like home!

You are one tough cookie to survive that trip! What a trip of a lifetime!

Hope you have a great week!

Natalie said...

So glad you made it safely home. Hope you will soon be rested and will be able to enjoy your new life with your family.

Sarah said...

Everyone will get adjusted soon and eventually, all the ups and downs of these first days and weeks (and maybe even months) will seem like a tiny blip on your radar. Thanks for sharing the experience with us.

Sandy Toes said...

What a wonderful adventure. Wishing you an easy adjustment and the beginning of a family of 5!

sandy toe

CarolinaGirl said...

I wish you and your family the best! I love the pictures of her brothers hugging her at the airport. Priceless!

Love Being a Nonny said...

You will be so thankful you wrote down all the details. Hope you all are getting adjusted to your forever family.

Anonymous said...

So happy that this part of your journey is complete - and your forever family journey is just beginning! Praying for you all as you bond together - hope you don't mind I put that as a prayer request on my blog:)

Blessings and Hugs, Ashley

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