The Longest Day Ever, But We're Home!

Now that we (and by we I really mean just me) are getting up when it is light outside and sleeping when it is dark, I decided to chronicle our journey home to North Carolina.

It began WAY TOO EARLY on Friday morning in Guangzhou. We had to be in the hotel lobby at 5:45 and were strongly warned not to be late. As Ian and I had to finish packing up the carry-ons, we decided to get up at 4:15 that morning. I will also add that I didn't sleep well that night, my mind was racing with things like, "What if the alarm doesn't go off?" and "What if they don't accept Kylie's paperwork in Chicago and don't allow us to bring her into the country, will we be stuck like Tom Hanks in that movie?"

But of course the alarm did go off and at the last minute I scooped our sleeping angel out of her crib (yes, in her pajamas ~ who needs to dress up for their first ever flight?) and strapped her into the carrier. The bus ride to the airport was very emotional as Amy, our guide, said her goodbyes. Luckily we were tipped off by Kristin's parents ~ this is their second adoption ~ that Amy would probably say a few words and we got it on video. I'll have to wait a while to watch it, I could cry just thinking about it now. Amy said that she has about 10 groups a year and she has been doing this for 10 years now, and still she becomes so overjoyed for the babies, yet sad that they are leaving. I had to just look out the window of the bus at the rapidly passing scenery as I cried silent tears. It was really hard!

Then we got to the airport and the chaos ensued. I think that 31 of the 42 families that had been at the China Hotel with AWAA were leaving at the same time. You can see that we took over a section of China Southern's counters...

Kylie did amazingly well on her first flight! I held her for takeoff and just watched Guangzhou disappear under the clouds as we were reaching elevation. Again, very emotional for me. But the laughter of our daughter brought me away from my sadness. We had three seats as the flight was relatively empty and for a while she sat between us and played. I will also add here that she is a smart little thing. Her ears seemed to be bothering her during take off and instead of crying, she began sucking her thumb. Any time the pressure changed on any of the flights, that kid got the thumb to the mouth in about 2 seconds and didn't have to wail about her ears hurting.

Then we got to Hong Kong where we had about 8 1/2 hours to wait for our next flight. Sadly at this point the goodbyes started. Out of our 11 Guangdong families, one had stayed behind in Guangzhou, so we were down to 10. In Hong Kong the Nellie's family and Grace's family peeled off to catch their flight to Newark. We also had to say goodbye to Caroline's family (they were staying for two days in Hong Kong) which brought about a few tears. And then there were 7 Guangdong babies left. Luckily though we had each other to hang with during the wait. We decided here that Kylie should get as much exercise as possible because there was going to be a lot of sitting starting around 6:30. First she practiced her walking for a while. Then we decided it was time to eat, so we joined Olivia's family and went to a sports cafe where we got hamburgers, french fries and iced tea. Ian and I even followed it up with some Ben and Jerry's. WOW did that taste good! Then we found a play area (the airport has about 5 of them) and played with Olivia and Anneliese (with AWAA but from Jangxi province) for a few hours. All the play time wore Kylie out and finally she had a short siesta on her daddy's chest.

And then it was time to board our 13 1/2 hour flying vessel... All in all it went well. Ian, Kylie and I were in a section of 3 seats and had heard that the flight had about 60 empty seats. We were hoping for one of those to be with us (we only paid for a lap pass for Kylie), but we ended up having a very kind gentleman at the window seat. He was so gracious and didn't complain about being trapped in when Kylie finally sacked out around 9:30pm and slept until about 7:15am (China time ~ the fun thing about flying back from China is that you cross the International Date Line and then suddenly it was Friday morning all over again...)

Anyway, our little one did great and finally we landed in Chicago. Cool thing about Chicago is that Kylie officially became a US Citizen there as it was her port of entry to the US (I really wanted her to be a Charlotte girl like her mommy, but Chicago will do). Luckily Lottie's parents had thought to bring a flag, so we took a photo opportunity with Kyile's former roommate Kristin. After going through immigration (strange to go through the foreigners line for the first time) and customs ("Do you have anything to declare?" "Umm, just this adorable baby!") we had to say those last goodbyes as everyone that had been on our flight to Chicago was now heading different directions. There were lots of hugs and promises to email with Hallie, Kristin, Olivia, Marisa, Darby, and our other little Carolina girl Lottie and her mommy.

Then our family of 3 headed to the gate for our last leg of the journey, our flight to Charlotte. We decided to treat ourselves to a Starbucks knowing that we needed the caffeine to get through the last little bit. Looks like Kylie fits right in with mommy and daddy, she was just dying to get that cup! Despite the caffeine, all three of us sacked out for most of the flight and before we knew it, the stewardess was tapping me on the shoulder asking me to bring my seat back to the upright position in preparation for landing.

Daddy caught this shot as Kylie stepped of the airplane (okay, well mommy did the walking) in her new home city for the first time. Now keep in mind that it was right at midnight on Friday night, but for us it was 1pm on Saturday (China time). We knew that our moms, Aunt Traci and Uncle Adam planned to meet us at the airport, but nothing prepared us for the joyful surprise of having so many friends there. I would give those that showed up a call out, but my mind was so tired that I'm afraid I'd leave someone out. I will just say that the welcoming committee spanned several of our circles of friends and we love each of you so much!!! Thanks for being there to welcome Kylie home!

Finally the guard told us we had to move on from the edge of the secure zone, so we headed downstairs to get our luggage and wait for Uncle Adam and Lee to go get our car for us. Slowly most everyone headed home, but little Katie was totally enthralled with Kylie and made her parents stay until we left. It did my heart good to see Katie walking with Kylie, Katie has been one of my sweeties from church since she was a baby, in fact, she was mentioned in my very first post (Fireworks & Fireflies?) where I explained the name of the blog.

Our little trooper was excellent for so much of the trip, but as you can see the car seat didn't go so well. And who can blame her, they don't have carseats in China. If you want to go in a taxi, you just hold your child in your lap. Even private cars that we saw from our birds-eye-view on the bus just had infants in the arms of an adult. Who knows what they'd do if only one adult was in the car. She screamed (not cried) and kept reaching her arms out to me ~ it was breaking my heart not to get her out of that seat ~ from the time we started strapping her in until we got out to I-85 (for those of you that live in Charlotte, you know how long that is) when she pretty much passed out from the effort of crying.

We were hungry by that time (lunch time in China) so we decided to go through a drive thru to get some food. Only place open at 1:30am, of course, Taco Bell. Cindy Martens, this one is for you!

We played at home for a bit when we got back so that Kylie could start to adjust to her new house. We got out her toys that she played with in China so that there would be something familiar and finally all crashed hard at 4:15 am. Saturday would bring many phone calls from friends and family checking up on us, and also our friend Sam bringing home our first baby, Maya. I'll go over the Kylie/Maya meeting later. Right now it is time to wake up my baby (this post is dated from last night because I started it then and fell asleep...) and get ready for a gourmet lunch at Chick-fil-a!!!


Anonymous said...

Welcome Home, Miller Family!!
I am so glad to know that you all made it home safe & sound, and without any problems!! PTL!! We look forward to hearing about how the days turn into nights and vice versa. :) We just kept Sara up as much as possible during the day to try and make the transition. We came home so exhausted though, that it was not too hard. :)
Take care, Gladhill's

Jeff and Valerie said...

Glad to hear you made it home safe. I enjoyed following along! You did a great job with your blog. I await the tails of Kylie and Maya. Goldens are the best!

Anonymous said...

We're so glad you're home safe and sound!! I hope your days and nights are becoming western again! We love you and can't wait to meet the love of your life soon! Welcome home! Love, Jen

Anonymous said...

Kristi, Ian and Kylie -

Thanks so much for sharing your journey. We adopted our precious daughter from Lianjiang in April of 2006. Following your journey has brought back such wonderful memories for us. Your "new" family is beautiful - enjoy every minute!

Amy & Chris
parents to Rachel, a. 4/20/06 from Lianjiang

LaoLao Shultz said...

What a "Welcome Home"! College roommate, Sunday School friends, CCC friends, family. It was wonderful to see the love poured out by so many. Oh, these wonderful, new Grandmother feelings! It was so fun to see little Anna and Katie relating so well with Kylie. Kylie really seems to thrive when children are around. Praise God for your safe travel and that Kylie did so well on that long, long trip.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! Sherry gave me this website address a couple of weeks ago and I spent several hours one afternoon reading it all. I am so happy for you! I hope to meet Kylie one day and wish you all the best!