Other appropriate subtitles for this post are: "Oh, the Horror." Or "The Trip That Nearly Killed Me." Or perhaps the most positive one I can offer, "Thank You, Jesus."
We got to the Guangzhou airport in plenty of time and checked in at the counter, only to learn that the agent had no record of our tickets. He could not find us anywhere in the system. We stood there nearly an hour, in sheer panic, and then opened our suitcases to search frantically for the boarding passes for our first Chicago to Beijing flight. It's a wonder we saved them, and an even bigger wonder that I found them where I did. So the agent found our tickets and we literally ran to our gate to board the plane.
The flight to Beijing was pleasant and uneventful. We had a short layover there, and left for Chicago on time. Jiushu did very well on our long flight to Chicago. No complaints! We did not get a bassinet, but he slept across our laps, albeit fitfully, so Vince and I got almost no sleep on the flight home. I did get to watch two entire movies, though!
We got to Chicago around 4:30 p.m. and went through immigration. Jiushu became a U.S. citizen there and then! Our flight to Des Moines* was to leave at 8:40 p.m., but kept getting delayed. We finally boarded the plane at 11: 15 p.m. I fell asleep draped across my seat tray and woke to hear Vince telling me we had flown half way to Des Moines, but the plane was turning around and flying back to Chicago due to weather. We got back to Chicago after midnight and stood in line, tears running down my face, to speak to the ticketing agents. There was no flight going to Des Moines until Friday evening, so Vince booked us on a flight to Kansas City leaving at 9:30 Friday morning. We had no choice but to spend the night at O'Hare airport. We tried in vain to find a quiet place to sleep. You haven't lived until you've lain on the floor at an airport with a newly adopted 13 month old, trying desperately to sleep even an hour. No luck. Between Jiushu's screaming, the terminal's being freezing cold, the seats having armrests so we couldn't stretch out, the intermittent announcements, glaring lights, and CNN that couldn't be turned down, Vince and I got no sleep for the second night in a row. Jiushu finally succumbed to sleep around 2 a.m. and woke up at 5 screaming bloody murder.
*If you're wondering why I said Des Moines instead of Kansas City, it's because our original flight to Chicago (at the beginning of our trip) got canceled. In order not to miss our orientation and sight seeing in Beijing, we drove three hours, at 2:00 a.m., to catch a flight to Chicago, something we would not have done if we had it to do again. We left our car in long-term parking, so had to have our return flight re-routed to pass through Des Moines. When our flight back to Des Moines got canceled, we accepted a flight to Kansas City, knowing we'd have to drive up to Des Moines at some point to retrieve our car.
I don't think I'd ever in my life felt so desolate and drained. And I'm being very transparent when I say there was not much affection for Jiushu at that point. There was nothing in me to draw upon but the commitment we had made. Nothing but a clenched jaw and sheer determination to survive this unpleasant situation, to somehow make it home, to start fresh from there.
We threw around the idea of renting a car, and made a few phone calls, though we questioned the wisdom of driving in our sleepless condition. By 6 a.m. we decided it was our best option, reserved a car with Hertz, and left Chicago by 7:00. After we'd driven a while, I called the airline to cancel our return flight and to set up a refund. The agent told me that our 9:30 a.m. flight (to Kansas City) had been canceled, so we were elated to have made the decision to drive ourselves to Des Moines. There wasn't another KC flight until Friday evening, so we would have been stuck at O'Hare another full day. We drove about six hours to Des Moines, dropped off our rental at the airport, and walked straight in to find our luggage waiting for us! Believe me, I was praising God for that small blessing! We got our car from long-term parking and drove home to Kansas City, pulling into our driveway around 5:30 p.m., almost 24 hours after we were supposed to have arrived home. I will add here that my amazing husband drove all but a half hour of our drive because I could not keep my eyes open, and was scared of killing us all. He's great.
Jiushu went to bed at 7:45 p.m. and slept about 13 hours. I slept 11. Being with my other three kids today was heaven! Having them here has already been so helpful in easing Jiushu into the family. They're a distraction, if nothing else, and I think he is amused by them. That is, when he's not mad. It's beneficial for me to already have an established routine to fit Jiushu into. He has so much to learn, and I continue to be saddened by all that he has never been taught--things that a 13 month old ought to have learned many months ago, like how to feed himself Cheerios, how to crawl, how to bear weight on his legs without throwing a tantrum.
It's now evening and all the kids are in bed. It's been a rough day. Our 23 month old daughter spent most of the day in an out-of-character furious rage, mad that we left her, I think. And Jiushu cried. All. Day. Long. My intent in this post is not to gripe, but to paint a realistic picture. Adoption is not glamorous. It's not romantic. I truly believe things will get better. But right now, it's just raw and ugly and not much fun. I read this blog post several weeks before we traveled, and reread it just now. Take a look if you have time. Lynne expresses so perfectly what I am feeling right now, and it's a huge relief to know that I am not alone. I hesitate to quote DC Talk, but seriously, love is a verb; it's not an emotion. Not yet.