Thursday, October 16, 2014

Our family reunion...a little late.

Did I really space out on posting about coming home? Not quite, but time has definitely slipped away! Some of the details might have escaped me at this point, but let me see if my brain still knows how to back up...

First, I must say that Joseph--just like our other kids--was an amazing traveler. I cannot fathom how unsettling it must feel for a child to handle a 30+ hour travel day. Especially knowing how it affected us! I guess kids are just resilient like that.

The morning of September 25th, our bags were hauled outside our hotel room door at 5:30 a.m., as instructed, and our Holt China guide got us to the Guangzhou airport in plenty of time to check our baggage and walk us to security. We said our goodbyes there. At this point (familiar in the process) we just wanted to get another step closer to home! Thankfully, we were traveling the next two legs with wonderful new friends and their precious little daughter, so we felt comfort in sharing the confusion of the day!  

Our departing flight was delayed an hour, which only decreased our original five-hour layover in Shanghai to four hours. We were surprised how quickly that time passed! By the time we re-checked our luggage for international travel and went through security again, we really didn't have an excessive amount of time to waste. Add in grabbing a bite to eat and trying to spend those last RMB's in a gift shop, and we were boarding before we knew it.

The long flight was, well, a very long flight. We'd hoped Joseph would sleep a good part of that fourteen hour flight, but he only managed to get in about two hours.We were thankful for movies! I think Joseph was even more thankful for movies!  He watched Frozen three times! He also watched the Lego Movie and Bugs. It cracked me up that he didn't understand the language, but he still seemed to love the movies! Watching his face during Frozen was priceless. There is something so captivating about that movie!

Our son wasn't a big fan of the airplane food, nor were we. It was all pretty gross, really. We were able to pick and choose enough to get something into his belly, but not much. Poor little guy got sick on our descent into Detroit. We changed him into a patriotic red, white, and blue striped shirt to celebrate the fact that since both of us traveled to bring Joseph home, he was going to become a U.S. citizen when we landed on U.S. soil and entered the airport in Detroit!

Ah...Detroit. I scarcely want to think about that part of our trip...the part I knew would be the most hectic and stressful, and it was. I still don't know how it is that we've done this four times, and we still chose the same itty bitty connection when we know there is so much to be done! I'll take the blame. It was pure mayhem! First of all, we were in the very back of the plane, which seemed like a disadvantage to begin with. Customs was disorganized when we finally did de-plane. But thank God for immigration...they were great! They got us through pretty quickly. Honestly, had they not, we would not have made our flight to Fort Lauderdale.

The worst part of our Detroit leg, by far, was the fact that Jim's sister, Kathy, who had driven two hours to meet Joseph was unable to do so because of our shortage of time, coupled with the security process for international travel. She had planned for days to come and see us, if only to meet her nephew for a moment, and give him a big hug. When Jim and I rechecked our bags and made our way into the security checkpoint area, there was another huge line. We were unable to get cell reception in the airport to tell Kathy where we were, and we were clearly running out of time. We then realized that it was unlikely we would be able to see her at all. All of a sudden, an angel appeared in the form of an airport security person, and she asked if we were an adoptive family. When we confirmed, she pulled us out of the line and miraculously shuffled us through to an open station! Come to find out, she was sent by our friends, Monica and Jared, who were looking out for us and feared we'd miss our flight! We will always be thankful for their kindness to have her seek us out, because again...had we waited in that line, we would not have made our connection. 

But we did. Thank GOD, we did!

And at that point, we were smooth sailing with under three hours until we would see Madi and Charlie again! The thought brought tears to my eyes several times in that airplane. Joseph slept almost the entire flight, so we were so relieved that he had a couple more hours under his belt. It seemed like an eternity to get us off that plane, yet knowing who was waiting for us on the other side made that wait so bearable.

We could hardly wait to savor these precious moments. Many heartfelt thanks to our wonderful welcoming committee. We were greeted by our beautiful kids, Bubba, Grandpa Murphy, Ruby, Katie, Miss Marissa Tata and her friend, and there were actually four FCC (Families with Children from China) adoptive Mamas who we'd never even met (thank you, new friends Kathleen, Kimberly, Lisa, and Shari)...all flying mini American flags for Joseph and one of their children had sent him his first American teddy bear! Joseph was also welcomed with a huge sign that the neighborhood kids made. He loves the collage of his new friends, and it now hangs over his bed. Thank you, Marissa, for preserving our homecoming through photos and video!

We have now been home for almost a month. We've had ups and downs in the adjustment department, but everyday brings progress for Joseph's bonding and transition. He is such a sweet little boy, and we are so thankful that he is finally a part of our family. And for that, we praise the Lord.


"God sets the lonely in families"
 Psalm 68:6   

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