Reflections & Insights
Home: Day 1
Guess who ended up in our bed for her first night home! She is a wiggly sleeper!
She woke up with a smile!
It is 8:30 am, I had a full nights sleep last night thanks to a good dose of Melatonin....however, I still feel foggy headed and tired as if I had stayed up all night! I thought I would feel refreshed, I actually slept through the night for the most part, but after being awake for 30 hours I guess I still have quite a sleep debt!
Before, I detail our travel home, I would like to reflect on the last two weeks.....it was a whirlwind to say the least! I know it seems as if this whole adoption trip is some magical journey filled with joy, happiness, and a child who fully understands that on ´gotcha day´ he or she is no longer an orphan, she is grateful to have a forever family, and happily skips along with you for the next 10 days enjoying a fun-filled vacation.
Well, I hate to burst your rosy colored bubble but that is NOT what an adoption trip is like....not even a little bit! I am not saying this to be negative, I am saying it to be real. I do not think you can even begin to prepare yourself for this experience....it is a roller coaster of emotions like you have never experienced before in your life... and is very unique in its own special way.
Do not misunderstand my transparency about the struggles that come with adoption....International adoption is an amazing experience, you will see the hand of God in your life in ways that you couldn´t possibly have dreamed, there are joys beyond measure and yet.....there are also some of the lowest lows as well....much like REAL life itself.
I watched many families go through this process on Facebook and I saw a few pictures or videos of crying little ones on ´gotcha day´ but the rest of the posts were smiling faces and happy adventures...and yes, this is part of the journey....but it is only the rosy part. I do not think this is helpful for adoptive families preparing for travel, because when you experience the tough parts, you feel all alone, like everyone else has a fairy tale and something is wrong with you or your child! Social media can be fun...but the dark side is that you only see all the happy parts of any one persons life and that is NOT real life!
Life is messy, it is filled with happy, joyful moments, but it is also filled with mundane daily life, chores to be done, errands to run, bathrooms to scrub and then it is also filled with depression, despair, heart ache, the tough stuff too.....Life is like a dance of highs and lows and even coasting in the middle....
It is NOT healthy to try to avoid accepting the fact that hard stuff is normal , you aren´t happy everyday of your life, sometimes there are days, months, or even years that are hard, really hard! That is all okay....when life is good we lift others, when life is hard others lift us..... it is a dance of bearing one another´s burdens....NOT trying to ignore them or shame them for experiencing the hard and NOT being happy about it. The hard stuff isn´t happy and it is okay to NOT be happy just as it is okay to be angry, sad, lonely, happy, joyful, hurt......life is filled with a mix of emotions all of which are just fine!
Just Call Me Miss Tell It Like It Is.....
So, in keeping with my authentic self....through this series of sharing our adoption journey....I am going to be BLUNT and those of you who know me will probably be smiling right now because you know I like to tell it like it is.....and so that is what you are going to get! You will read about the amazing, beautiful, happy as well as the tragic, heart wrenching, and sad parts of this journey.....REAL LIFE!! Not some fairy
I am going to start with our Journey home because it is fresh in my mind and then I will go back to Day 1 of our journey and detail the entire journey..videos, pictures and all!
Our Journey Home Started Wednesday Night Sept. 7th. We received Gracie´s visa from the U.S. consulate in the lobby of our hotel at about 3pm. Our bags were packed, we had just checked out and we were ready for our LONG journey home! The small bus we had been traveling in took us to the train station, we were going to see if we could catch an earlier train at 4:15.
The Garden Hotel Lobby
Unfortunately they would not let us change our tickets and so we waited at the dirty train station for an hour and a half before being able to board the train. I found it very interesting that in China they really do not keep buildings clean and in good repair, except for the 5 star hotels or International business buildings. The majority of the buildings in China are in disrepair and are not very clean...especially the bathrooms, but we won´t go there right now.
A Little Chinese Humor
You see this all over in China....t-shirts, signs etc... I HAD to take a picture of this sign in the train station.....it is hilarious! ¨After the Check in, The toilet of the waiting room is closed for construction¨
LOL....it is so funny! I have more of these to come....the t-shirts are worse :-D
LOL....it is so funny! I have more of these to come....the t-shirts are worse :-D
The train station was no different...it was not a really old building and yet inside it was dingy, dirty, and did not look very well kept. As we waited for the train, it was no different than the last 10 days or so had been with Gracie....it was a constant battle to keep her from melting down....we had backpacks full of every ´toy´ she enjoyed, every snack imaginable and it was a routine we had developed to survive the trip.....she would start to breath quickly and would be on the verge of tears and then the mad rush to see which item would keep her from crying ensued......
Do you want crackers.......no crackers
Do you want your turtles.....no turtles
Do you want your ´Ji´........no Ji
and the list went on until....do you want X item?....yeah! Gold mine!!! Meltdown averted!
This was our routine and it happened sometimes every 10 minutes...but at times.....we were doing this literally every 2 minutes to avoid a meltdown. Yes, it was exhausting. Waiting in a dirty train station while going through our meltdown prevention routine was exhausting. She did NOT like walking through the train station, going through security etc... and kept asking for a drink of water or juice or crackers and we had to say...... Just a Minute.......
As we tried to get through security checks, waiting in lines (as much of a line as you can have in China), going through metal detectors etc... She was NOT happy about this and so she would ask for something to make the hustle and bustle stop....but alas we could not rummage through backpacks trying to find things while going through security and that did not go over well. She cried, she yelled and then eventually she learned to say..... NO just a minute!!!!
She got really tired of hearing just a minute....I understand but the reality is we could not give her everything she wanted while trying to get through security, show our passports, stand in lines, go down escalators etc.....I cannot tell you how relieved I was to get on that train!!
Dave & Gracie sat in two seats and I sat in the seat across the isle. The train ride was about two hours through the countryside of China between Guangzhou and Hong Kong! As we left the city we began to see that smaller apartment buildings in terrible disrepair....it was truly sad to see how millions of people live. We passed farms..Iḿ not sure what they were growing but we saw farmers with their traditional Chinese looking hats working out in the fields at 6 o´clock at night as it was getting dark. It was a mix of beautiful scenery, lush green everywhere and tragic poverty seen in the apartment buildings in terrible disrepair with clothing hanging out on lines on their small balconies.
Gracie was happy for the first hour and then......The Over-tired set in...... this time we did not enter meltdown zone.....we entered a giggling meltdown....this was a new one. She started just laughing and giggling....this isn´t normal laughing it is something akin to throwing a tantrum only with yelling, laughing and giggling. There was an ornery Chinese business man on the train and he actually got up, gave us a dirty look and moved to a different seat.....unfortunately the giggling meltdown really was that annoying. Dave was trying everything to calm her down, but nothing worked. We arrived at the train station in Hong Kong, went out and found a LONG LINE waiting for taxi´s.
I was SO over traveling at this point and just wanted to get to the hotel. We kept Gracie happy while waiting in line by giving her chips, cookies, candy etc.... and then into the taxi only to find out it was a half hour drive to our hotel. Luckily she fell asleep in the taxi, we arrived at the hotel and it took FOREVER to check us in. We were so tired and ready for bed...it was about 9pm at this point.
They had reserved a room with a queen bed....three of us in a queen bed....ummmm I don´t think so. Luckily the woman had compassion on us and gave us the King suite...it was amazing!!
Gracie stayed asleep so we put her on the couch and covered her in blankets and she stayed asleep. I got in the big jacuzzi tub to relax before bed while Dave checked out all the cool things in the room. The next morning was a whirlwind....down to breakfast at 7am and then take the shuttle to the airport at 8am. Today is the day we go home! I cannot even tell you how excited I was to go home!
We left the hotel on the shuttle to the airport at 8am Thursday morning
We arrived in SLC at 6am (China time) Friday morning!
22 hours of Traveling and NO sleep!
I won´t bore you with the details but it was an 11 hour 40 minute flight from Hong Kong to Seattle.
It was LONG.....Gracie did really well...she listened to music, slept about 2 hours, listened to the movie Zootopia, and only had three short crying incidents when she lost her JI (hair pins) overall the flight went well other than being entirely boring.
She refused food, would not talk at all, and was pretty shut down on the flight which was sad. I think she was very overwhelmed and afraid. She only went to the bathroom once on the whole flight!
We had a 4 hour layover in Seattle which Gracie just sat and listened to the live band in the Seattle airport and went between sleeping and just laying quietly on Dave.....
Then a 1 hour 22 min flight to Salt Lake City. When I saw those familiar mountains as we came in to land I cannot even explain to you the absolute sense of relief, joy, happiness.....I was SO happy to be HOME!!!
The Salt Lake City Airport Homecoming
As we were coming down the escalator I hear screaming.....it is Kenzi, my mom and my sister as they see Gracie coming into view as we ride the escalator down to the baggage claim area. I was overcome with emotion.....being away from home for two weeks, the emotions of the entire trip all came flooding over me as well as the sense of relief that I was finally home!!!
Tears started to flow as I tried to hold them back....Kenzi was just enthralled with Gracie and couldn´t wait to hold her. Camdyn was overwhelmed, just excited that we were back home. It was a very emotional reunion as well as meeting their little sister for the first time. We loaded up in the car and poor little Gracie was so overcome after 25 hours with no sleep. We put my neck pillow around her and she fell fast asleep in the car......luckily it was a quiet ride home because we hit traffic on the way home.
When we first arrived she woke up but could hardly keep her eyes open, she just sat on the couch, she did not talk or respond to questions, I think the shock of the 24 hours of travel and being in a new place was a bit too much. It took her about an hour or so to warm up a little and start talking....by the end of the night she was laughing, playing and completely soaking up all the attention.
Kenzi and Camdyn were fighting over who got to play with her, who got to help her walk down the stairs....
Everything went smoothly until bedtime....however this time I was prepared emotionally, I knew bedtime would be hard...she was in yet another strange place. She started to cry and struggle and did NOT want to go to bed. We rocked her for awhile and she calmed down but she did not want to be in bed. It was nearing 11pm and we were exhausted...it had been nearly 30 hours since we had slept.
We put her in bed between us and we all fell fast asleep within minutes......
I will post photos of our homecoming at the Airport in a few days.....