Our first flight to Ethiopia went very smoothly. Mayer slept most of the time in his seat. I got him up when we landed in Ethiopia. We didn’t leave the plane and were just waiting for others to board. So we walked up and down the aisles, talked to the flight attendants, watched tv, etc for about 2 hours.
After the new passengers boarded in Ethiopia (including a bunch of adoptive parents with their kids – fun!) we took off to Dubai. Mayer ate dinner, watched part of the movie Cars and then fell asleep again for most of the flight to Dubai.
We only had a short time in Dubai on the way home. They had checked our stroller all the way through to New York so I was very happy to see that Emirates provides complimentary strollers at the airport. Mayer is heavy and was fussy so he didn’t want to walk. The stroller was nice. We made our way through immigration and to our gate. Everyone going to JFK was patted down at the gate. They had a private booth set up for women and children to be patted down by a woman where no one else could see. Once we got to our gate, I was able to talk to another new adoptive family who was bringing their baby home. I got Mayers diaper changed and jammies on. He was really good the entire time we waited. He loves strollers so while we waited to board he pushed the stroller around the waiting area.
Our flight from Dubai to JFK was loooonnnngggg. 13 hours I think? Mayer wasn’t really tired at first because he had slept so much the first two flights. He got quite a bit more wild and it was harder to entertain him. I was also very exhausted at this point because I hadn’t slept at all. We walked the aisles for a while and the flight attendants were great about bringing things to entertain him and distract him. He finally fell asleep for a little while after we ate something. I slept for about an hour I think. I was exhausted but just could not go to sleep. That flight was long.
When we landed in New York, this huge wave of relief washed over me. I just could hardly believe I was in the United States with Mayer! I couldn’t believe we were so close to home! I wasn’t sure what to expect at immigration in New York. I’ve gone through immigration in Miami/Ft. Lauderdale with Haitian kids and it usually involves very long lines then a long wait in the immigration room while waiting to be grilled by an officer. I expected something similar at JFK. My stroller was missing (we had gate checked it and they told me it would be at the gate, but it wasn’t) so I got out my sling and put Mayer in it – carried him (35lbs!) and two carryons through JFK to get to the customs/immigration area. It seemed like a VERY long walk. We finally got there and got in a very short line (2 or 3 people in front of us) to speak to the immigration officer. He was so nice! It took about 3 minutes, he asked a few questions, looked at the paperwork and then showed us where to go next. We walked to a “room” which wasn’t really a room, but a section of the airport partitioned off with ropes and chairs where a surly woman was sitting and stamping paperwork. There was one person in front of us (adoptive family). We walked up, she didn’t even look up at us. She opened our paperwork, stamped it and said in a dry, flat tone “congratulations” and waved us on. It was so incredibly anti-climatic but we were home free and I was grateful!!! At this point I was beyond exhausted and I just really needed to find his stroller because he was acting crazy and I was having a hard time holding him, our bags and trying to walk through the crowds.
We found our baggage carousel and started to wait. Then I saw someone had piled the strollers up in the corner so we went over and I found our stroller. Got him and his blanket settled in it (he was happy) and shortly after our bags came! We got in a LONG line for customs. We stood in line for about 45 minutes and were waived through once we got up to the agent. We walked outside and I stood outside, in the United States with Mayer for the first time. I just stood there for a few minutes with Mayer looking around. Everything seemed so exciting and I was so relieved. Our next job was to find a taxi to La Guardia. Mayer was wide-eyed and patient while we stood in line for a taxi. He was getting tired again so was happy to sit in his stroller and look around at things.
Our taxi ride was less than $40 for a one hour ride from JFK to La Guardia. I was tempted to take a bus for less, but decided it was too much hassle we decided to do the taxi. I’m glad we did. Our taxi driver was a lady and very nice. She tried to carry on a conversation with me while we were driving but I was so exhausted I’m afraid I wasn’t a very good conversationalist. Mayer promptly fell asleep once we got moving.
We got to La Guardia and unloaded our bags. We got in line and got checked in for our flight. It was late morning in New York and now evening time again in Uganda – so we’d been traveling for over 24 hours at this point. We had a couple of hours to spare so we had some Chinese food before going to our gate. At this point Mayer was really starting to melt down. He was exhausted. I was exhausted. Neither of us were feeling great and I was ready to get home. We got through security with the help of some nice fellow passengers. Mayer decided to scream like a crazy person the entire time we stood in line for security so it wasn’t exactly pleasant trying to hold him (while he screamed) put the stroller and our bags through security and deal with rude TSA personnel. We made it through though and got to our gate where I collapsed into a seat. Man was I tired! I got some snacks out to distract Mayer and heard my phone ring. It was a message from American Airlines advising me that my flight was cancelled!
I was at my gate so I got up to look at the screen but we were early so the flight wasn’t up there yet. So I loaded everything back up and went to find a gate agent. They confirmed that our flight was cancelled. I asked when the next available flight was and they told me it wasn’t for another six hours. I burst into tears. I called home to tell everyone what was going on. Our welcome home party quickly disintegrated because of the time we were getting in. After begging the gate agent to please try to get us onto some earlier flight (which they couldn’t do) I found an uninhabited corner of a waiting area where we could camp out. I covered up Mayers stroller with blankets and he quickly fell asleep. I laid down underneath Mayers stroller (so if someone tried to take it I would feel it roll over me) with my head on my backpack and my feet on the diaper bag. I slept for 2.5 lovely hours on the airport floor. I woke up feeling so much better, it is wonders what a small amount of sleep can do. Mayer was still sleeping so I let him sleep for another hour. I finally decided we needed to go get cleaned up and get something to eat. We got some food, cleaned up in the bathroom and found our new gate. Our new flight was delayed (ugh) so we waited, and waited and waited. We finally boarded our flight home. Mayer fell asleep before the plane even took off. It was middle of the night in Uganda – poor little man was so tired!
As we got closer to Columbus I got more and more excited. HOME! When we landed I woke Mayer up and put him in his stroller. As I pushed him up the walkway towards where I knew our family was waiting I was filled with such excited and relief. I saw people yelling and waving before we got through the security doors. Keith, his mom, my parents, grandmother, siblings and friend were waiting for us. We hugged and hugged. Mayer sat in his stroller with a glazed look. He was about to pass out from exhaustion I think. Poor little guy!
It was a short reunion at the airport. We were so tired we just quickly loaded everyone up to head home. Mayer was so tired he didn’t protest at all when we put him in his carseat. I sat in the back next to him. He didn’t fall asleep right away but just looked out the window a lot. We got a bite to eat at a drive thru – he fell asleep soon after and slept the rest of the way home.
We got home late at night. Mayer woke up as we carried him in the house. We carried him into his bedroom. We sat on the floor and watched him check out his toys. Talk about surreal. We just stared at him in wonder and kept saying how we couldn’t believe he was actually home. We let him play for a little bit, got pajama’s on and put him in his crib. He didn’t make a peep and went right to sleep. I collapsed in bed. It was over. Thank God, our son was finally home.
Sleeping in his own bed.
First breakfast at home.
Our adorable little man.