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the loooong flight home

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Alright already! Jiminy but you guys are an impatient lot! ;>) I guess I deserve all of the razzing for keeping you waiting for so long. Yes. We're home!!! Now, sit back and let me finish my story. I've got to get it all written down before my swiss cheese of a brain forgets it all! :)
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I remembered to set my alarm last night. But I didn't needed it. I couldn't have slept more than a couple of hours. I was just too excited!
We were going home!
As we got dressed and ate some breakfast, I kept telling Maddie, 'Tonight we're going to be home, and you'll meet Q-ball, Punky and JacJac and see Papa again. Isn't that great?!'
She just smiled and gave me a look that said, 'Please give me more banana.'
Sigh.
I guess I'll just have to be excited enough for both of us.
No problem!
The driver showed up a little early which was just fine with us. He helped us get to the car with our bags and off we went.
As we raced through the streets I couldn't help be a little nostalgic. I mean, after all, this probably will be the last time I'll see Ukraine. I can't imagine having the money to ever come back...at least not until Maddie is older. I had met so many wonderful people here. It was a little sad to say goodbye to it all.
But it was more wonderful to know that in just 18 hours I would be home.
HOME!
We pulled up to the airport curb, the driver jumped out and helped carry our bags into the terminal. Then he pointed in the general direction of the ticket windows, said, 'good luck' and walked away.
Maddie and I were on our own.
No problem. I had been through here before. I could manage.
We walked through a throng of locals who were obviously waiting for the boarding call and went to find the Luftansa desk. When we arrived there was a line.
Great! I thought. Maddie is never going to put up with this, but ya know what? She did. She stood like a little trooper and waited and waited and waited.
Finally it was our turn.
Here is where I have a little piece of advice for all of you PAPs (pre-adoptive parents). Make sure all of your paperwork is in your carry-ons. And if you're traveling by yourself, it's even more important.
The ticket asked for my sworn statement from Meshack saying it was okay for me to take Maddie out of the country.
I said, 'You're kidding me.'
'No ma'am. I need to see the statement from your husband.'
'But he's in America. We're traveling to America. We live in Kansas. We're traveling to Kansas City. We're going HOME. He is at HOME. We are going to see HIM. I think he wants me to bring his daughter HOME!'
Oh...so you adopted her?
'Yeeess.'
Well, then I need to see the court decree.'
UGH! (I don't know why it mattered - Maddie had her passport with her name in it!)
Anyway...after a few frowns from her and some muttering underneath my breath she gave me the boarding passes for the flights all the way through to Kansas City.
I don't think I had ever seen anything so beautiful.
We made our way up the escalater and up to passport control.
There was a little hiccup at passport control. I'm not exactly sure what it was about, but they pulled Maddie and I aside to another officer. I asked what was wrong, and the nice lady said, 'oh, nothing. She just needs to see this.'
Okaaaaay.
The other woman scowled a little then signed off on something. The first woman smiled and said congratulations and we were on our way.
Security was a breeze. By the end of the day Maddie knew exactly what to do.
Then we waited for our flight.
The flight to Munich was uneventful. I thought Maddie might be a bit scared, but she actually laughed hysterically when we took off and thought nothing of the landing. She kept busy coloring and eating snacks. We made it through the first two hours without any problems.
Until we reached Munich.
We only had 40 minutes to change planes.
I don't know why they even offer this connection. For heaven's sake. It was waaaaay too short. The lady at passport control said it wouldn't be a problem...that we would make our flight.
She was right...but it was close enough to give me a heart attack. If you're flying on the 6:50 a.m. flight from Kiev to Munich and then going on to Chicago...be ready to run.
If the flight to Munich was uneventful...the one to Chicago was another story entireley.
Maddie was incredibly restless. I couldn't get her to settle down for anything, not that I could blame her, but we were sitting in the middle four seats (on the aisle) and there was no containing her. She was infatuated with the man sitting next to her, which thankfully had a granddaughter about her age, so he was used to it.
But I wasn't.
She couldn't sit still...didn't want to play with any toy for more than 10 minutes. Wasn't interested in the movies. The only thing she was interested in was her juice cup.
She drank way too much juice...which meant frequent trips to the bathroom.
And she had absolutely NO desire to take a nap.
Not ever.
I tried Benedryl...which I had experimented with during our passport wait. She showed no signs of hyperness during the trial and did take a nap that afternoon so I figured we would be alright.
Um. No.
While she wasn't hyper, she definitely wasn't tired. Not even close.
She didn't sleep more than 30 minutes of the 10 hour flight.
THIRTY MINUTES!
I about lost my mind.
We had a couple of screaming fits which required trips to the bathroom to 'correct'. Thankfully after the second one all I had to do was point in the direction of the bathroom if she got out of hand and she quickly shook her head 'no' and quieted down.
Thank goodness for small favors.
I thought we would never get to Chicago...but finally, we did.
American soil.
It was so sweet. We were finally 'home'.
Okay...not technically, but close enough.
We made our way through the 'American citizen' line in passport control, then grabbed our bags and went to the new immigrant desk.
Five minutes later my newest little citizen and I were on our way to recheck our baggage.
It was, again, easy peasy.
Before I knew it we were in Terminal One on our way to our gate for our five hour (yes, you read that right, FIVE hour wait). We tried getting on an earlier flight to Kansas City, but United Airlines in their unlimited wisdom decided to cancel that flight. So we had to wait five hours.
Five hours in a terminal with a three year old, by myself.
Yea. Tons of fun.
I tried, unsuccessfully to get her to take a nap, so we went for a walk. That was when I found the BAGEL shop!! Woohoo! I hadn't had a bagel in what felt like eons.
Maddie and I had a sausage, egg and cheese plain bagel with juice.
Mmmm-mmmm.
So good.
Then we made our way back to the gate to wait some more.
I thought about taking Maddie for a walk - but there's this whole don't leave your bags unattended thing...and my bags were way to heavy to carry all over O'Hare.
So we sat...
and we sat...
and we sat.
Finally, five hours after we touched down in Chicago it was time to leave for K.C.
The minute we got in our seats on the plane, Maddie fell asleep.
Finally.
Our one hour flight to K.C. was uneventful. I let Maddie sleep as long as I could before taking her to the bathroom. (I didn't want to interrupt the homecoming with a potty break.) Then we started our descent into K.C.
Kansas City looked amazing from the air.
I never noticed how pretty it looked before.
Finally...we were home.

22 salty messages:

Troy and Rachel February 5, 2008 at 12:08 PM  

I am so glad you are home safe and can't wait to hear how the reunion with her daddy and meeting the kiddos went!!

kate February 5, 2008 at 12:21 PM  

Welcome home!

Guess what--it's "soon".

Waitingonmyua2 February 5, 2008 at 12:23 PM  

WWWOOOOOOOOPPPPPPPPEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!! Impatient?! Dang right! LOL I couldn't WAIT to read you were HOME!!!! Congrats!!! I am SO happy for you! hugs, Beth

Stefanie February 5, 2008 at 12:33 PM  

I just knew you were home!! Yipeeeeee!! All the best to you. I'm in line, ya know the long one...for the crazy ride...hoping for dossier submission this month!
All the best to you and your family. ENJOY...we do!
Stefanie

DoveFamily February 5, 2008 at 12:38 PM  

Welcome home, and congrats to the parents of 4 beautiful kiddos!

Now I'm ready to see pictures of your family's airport reunion!!!

Ashley February 5, 2008 at 12:46 PM  

WELCOME HOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

jessy February 5, 2008 at 12:47 PM  

I am so glad you are both home safe and sound!

MoscowMom February 5, 2008 at 12:49 PM  

Welcome home!!!!!!!! I'm dying to hear about how it went when you introduced Maddie to her siblings!!!!

Anonymous,  February 5, 2008 at 12:57 PM  

I loved your little prologue - you're right, we ARE an impatient lot!! ;-D

Wow, it seems there were still a few problems awaiting you on the trip home - but you at least you were GOING HOME. Please let us know in the next entry what time you landed in K.C. With a five-hour wait, it must have been rather late. The flight from Kiev left at 6:30 a.m.? Whew.

SO GLAD YOU'RE HOME! - Melinda H.

Debbie February 5, 2008 at 2:11 PM  

I am thrilled that you're home! What a wonderful gift. I can't wait to see pictures of all the kids...but I know you need your SLEEP. :-)

Big hugs!
Debbie

Gail,  February 5, 2008 at 2:19 PM  

Tami and Maddie,
Welcome Home!!!
Gail

Steve and Gail February 5, 2008 at 2:57 PM  

We would have given a lot for your five hour wait in KC. Ours was to be eight and ended up being twelve an a half. We could, however, let our kids walk by themselves. They also all slept on the "comfortable" airport seats. Glad you are home. I guess our timing wasn't so bad after all. I heard that Chicago cancelled flights last Thursday and Friday and again Monday or Tuesday. By you being there Saturday and us on Sunday, God knew what he was doing.
God Bless
Steve & Gail

winnie,  February 5, 2008 at 3:36 PM  

Welcome home and Congratulations! You have one heck of story to tell your girl when she learns English.

Winnie

annmarie,  February 5, 2008 at 7:22 PM  

welcome home :) Your journey home brings back baaaad memories!

Kendall February 5, 2008 at 7:26 PM  

Congratulations and Welcome Home!!!

Is Eight Enough? February 5, 2008 at 8:03 PM  

You know Tami, I was watching your little ticker at the bottom thinking wouldn't it be cool if it all completed itself right on the dot of 365 days!! Looks like it was pretty darned close!! I am so thrilled to hear you are safely home. It is so wonderful to hear the end of your journey. Now the fun begins.

Tina in CT February 5, 2008 at 8:15 PM  

I've been waiting to read a blog like this and am so happy that you are HOME! Now we're all waiting to hear how the reunion with Dad and meeting her sibblings went!

You need to one day reread your blogs and write a book.

I hope you and Maddie are adjusting to the time change.

You and my daughter (Moscowmom) need to exchange emails about her ordeals flying back and forth from Moscow to the US with the two girls by herself.

Nataliya February 5, 2008 at 8:40 PM  

CONGRATULATIONS!!! Can you believe it's finally over???

My return trip was very similar to yours: I was also asked for my husband's permission, I was also pulled aside at passport control, and I also had exactly 40 minutes at Frankfurt airport :)

I'm VERY glad you are home! Take it easy the first couple of weeks, just one step at a time, and don't forget to post about Maddie's first days home!

Christina February 5, 2008 at 8:53 PM  

Oh my - a 10 hour flight with no sleep and then a 5 hour layover?! Poor you!! So glad you are home safe and sound and can get started finding your new "normal"! Congrats again. :-)

Amy K-S crew February 5, 2008 at 9:39 PM  

What great news to hear that you're finally home and have been reunited with your family! You must have had the best reception of anyone in that airport! The kids (and Meshack, of course) had to be beyond estatic to finally have you home! Impatient, who's impatient?!?! Must run in the genes. ;)

Adrienne February 5, 2008 at 11:02 PM  

Hooray! Welcome home! I know it feels so good to finally be at home again and to have Maddie at home with you. Looking forward to hearing how the transition goes!

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