Join Angela, Axel, Abel and Asher as they welcome their new sibling home.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

We Made It

Well, it was an interesting trip home!

The we caught our first flight from Belgrade to Munich at 1:00 Saturday afternoon. Although he was just a little fearful getting onto the plane, Abel did fantastic on the 90 minute flight! However, we were late arriving in Munich which had us running through the airport, Abel in a wheelchair so we could move faster. We got on that flight was they were closing the doors.

Abel did absolutely AMAZING the entire flight. Really, he was perfect. The only problem we had was  him not wanting to eat the food because it was tough for him to chew, but I had packed back-up options. Really, he could not have done better. He stayed awake the entire flight which means Dean and I did too. This would be a problem later.

The excitement started when we arrived, right on time, in Chicago.

When you arrive at your port of entry, there are several steps to checking your newly adopted child into the country. We have come in through Chicago every time and never had any problems, but this time was different. I have always gotten  a wheelchair escort for a couple of reasons. First, the Chicago airport is HUGE 2) there are lots of lines to stand and wait in and 3) the newly adopted, post-institutional kids don't do very well with all the waiting around, and the wheelchair escort is able to bypass some of the lines.

Step 1) Passport control. It took us awhile to get down there because there were about 15 wheelchairs waiting for the elevator that can only take two wheelchairs at a time. Our escort, a college kid, looked at his watch, then looked for our gate on his phone. At this point we had one hour. "I don't think we're going to make it." he said. "Oh, you need to think far more positive than that! We have one hour, I have made it in an hour before." It was about that time we got a whiff of Abel.

Step 2) Baggage claim. You must get your bags off the carrousel, but re-check them later through security and into the domestic flight system. While Dean and the escort were waiting for our bags, Abel and I found the bathroom so I could get him cleaned up. It was a good thing we went then. When I removed his pull-up, Abel was nice enough to pee all over the floor while I was scrambling to get a new diaper to catch the pee, then clean the puddle off the floor. It was a bit tight in the stall since we had a wheelchair in there with us, and while I turned to get rid of the diaper Able pooped on the floor. Meanwhile Dean is at the door of the restroom "Hurry honey! Hurry!" I pulled a clean pair of jeans out of my carry on, got the floor cleaned up as best I could, and ran to catch up to them. Because this happened while they were getting our bags it didn't delay us at all.

Step 3) Immigration.

A lot of people have complained about the Immigration section at Chicago O'Hare, but I have never had a problem. I've always gotten in and out very quickly. This time when we arrived there was one other person ahead of us, and several who came in behind us. Just after we arrived the guy at the counter left. He didn't bother to have any of the other 8 immigration staff step into his place, he just walked away.

For 20 minutes.

When he came back he got through our stuff pretty quickly, but by then the damage was done. We quickly shoved our bags through the X-ray machine, threw them on the cart and all of us (escort pushing wheelchair, Dean pushing cart with bags and me running behind) and all of us RAN to the area where our bags would be re-checked and get our boarding passes. All the agents were occupied. One woman stood and debated for 10 minutes over which of the three flights she was being offered would suit her needs. Another woman was issued a boarding pass for her flight and told to "Run! I'm calling to let them know you're coming! They're ready to close the door!"

Then it was our turn. "Oh no." the agent said. "That woman was on the same flight." She quick punched in the numbers to check us in. "I'm so sorry. The system has locked me out of that flight. It won't let me check you in because they've closed the doors."

We were only one hour away from home, and I did NOT want to hear this. Only it got worse. "That was the last flight out to Minneapolis tonight, and there is nothing tomorrow that has seats available." We were a one hour flight away from home but couldn't get there.

It is possible I started to cry at this point. I blame exhaustion, frustration, and the thought our only way home at this point was to pay $300 to rent a car and drive 7 hours. As our escort guided us out of the airport I couldn't stop the tears. They were just flowing down my face as I kept thinking, "We're not supposed to be leaving the airport! We're supposed to be on a flight HOME and seeing our kids in less than an hour."

We got our rental car and headed out of Chicago. Dean doesn't like to drive at night and I realized at the first toll booth that my eyes were having a really hard time staying focused. We'd been awake for 25 hours at that point and I realized even if we took turns driving, neither of us would be able to drive more than an hour at a time, and there is a heavily wooded area we'd be going through where there are lots of deer and other critters. "Lets get a room." I said, but Dean didn't want to. "Lets get something to eat. I need some real food." We pulled into an all-night diner and ordered some food. By this point Abel was DONE with the travel business. Our food took FOREVER because I'm pretty sure the cook went to the store to get the eggs, bread and oatmeal we ordered. As we were eating we realized it was the first time Abel has ever been in a restaurant and we were doing it when he was exhausted! Poor kid.   Sometime during our meal Dean realized driving wasn't a good idea and there was Super 8 right across the street. The empty beds there were calling our names. We ate quickly because Abel was DONE, drove next door, checked into the hotel a little before 11:00 pm and I think all three of us were out cold in a matter of minutes!!!

We woke up at 5:30 this morning, ate a quick breakfast then headed for home. Abel was excellent, once again, playing with his block and entertaining himself with the empty seat belts on either side of him. he sure is a good traveler!

FINALLY we pulled into our driveway at 1:30 this afternoon. What a journey!!! Dean's brother Dave and his wife Sandy were here to video our arrival. I will post it as soon as I get it.

Now, it's 9:15, all four kids are sound asleep in bed and Dean and I are headed to our own very shortly. It's 4:00 a.m. Serbia time. It usually takes me several days to get my body back into the local timezone, and I expect Abel will be waking up for the day at around 3:00.

Good night everyone!!!! Pictures and video as soon as I can think clearly!

6 comments:

  1. So glad to hear you are home, but sorry it took SO long. :( We've never had any problems coming thru immigration at O'Hare either, but I remember how incredibly emotional I got when our last 30 min flight home was cancelled (due to weather) when we brought Elijah home. I can so understand those feelings. Not fun.
    Looking forward to seeing videos of the homecoming.

    (I just have to say that I still remember your story of Asher in the bathroom in the airplane. When one of the kids has a nasty blow-out, I remind myself - "At least it's not on the ceiling." LOL Glad Abel only got the floor.)

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  2. So glad to hear you are home. I have been following your blog & sending prayers from the other side of the world.

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  3. Welcome home. I am looking forward to hearing more. I'm sorry the last leg of the journey held so many inconveniences, but I am glad that you are all home, at the same time. :o)

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  4. Welcome home, my friends!!! And sooo glad Dean was with you for the whole trip!

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