Sunday, January 25, 2009

Welcome Home, Kaelie!

Our "tag team" of four became a "Party of Five" Friday night at the Jacksonville Airport!


Our long travel day began at 12:30 am Friday morning in China, when Kaelie got up with a fever and cough (I think the same one that ran rampant through our travel group). She wouldn't settle back down, even after the fever broke with the Tylenol/Motrin combo. So, on about 2 hours of sleep, Kaelie and I began our long travel day in what seemed to be the middle of the night on a bus with three other quietly reflecting families....reflecting on the wonders of a magnificent adoption trip and and heartaches of saying goodbye.

Kaelie did great on all the flights and I was so glad that I bought her an adult ticket for the way home. I couldn't have done the trip without it. She slept through many take-offs, landings, beverage and dinner servings, and slight episodes of turbulence. Kaelie took her bottles and was a real trooper getting her diapers changed in the lavatories...and I learned that it was possible to use the restroom on an airplane with an infant! I didn't realize that we would be flying through the night over eastern Russia and into a beautiful sunrise over mid-Canada. It was great to touch down in Detroit, where Kaelie and I waited in line about 45 minutes for her immigration visa to be processed. Kaelie is now a permanent resident alien of the United States of America. Because David did not travel with me and personally see Kaelie before returning to the US, Kaelie's visa with an IR4, which requires the re-adoption to take place before citizenship status will be granted.

Many helpful people aided in the loading of luggage through customs, getting all the stuff loaded onto the conveyors for the security screening, and so forth. In Detroit, I felt almost ill after getting off the plane, and Kaelie was no different. I found McDonald's and ordered some chicken strips and fries, only to realize I left my extra-large diet Coke on the beverage bar, and that retrieving it would require a long and strenous walk back around the moving sidewalks. The taste of fries at that point made me sick at my stomach anyway. I threw the food away and chose a 20-ounce diet Coke from Chili's and a fresh-fruit cup from another food vendor. The watermelon and pineapple seemed to help in the dehydration I seemed to be experiencing. Kaelie didn't seem to feel much better, with periods of crying, and low-grade fevers. I did what I could to keep her spirits up and her body comforted.
After a nearly six-hour layover, the service representatives from Northwest finally came to the gate, only to announce that "We are in an overbooking situation and we need to ask three volunteers...." You know the rest, promises of meals and travel vouchers. There wasn't anything that was going to stop me from getting from getting on that plane!!

Finally, we get boarded for our final leg of our halfway-around-the-world journey. Our seats were in the almost next to the last row, which was cumbersome since I had the baby plus three carry-on pieces (one for computer equipment and documents, one for a diaper bag, and another for an overnight bag...just in case...you just never know when the unexpected might happen). We got settled in, and by this time my sweet baby girl had turned into one big screaming nightmare. A bottle seemed to cure her tantrum, and she slept more peacefully on this flight than on the entire journey.


Then, just in time, I gathered her up and changed her now-worn, medicine-stained, drooled-on outfit for the special meeting outfit that I bought in Guangzhou. I chose a pretty blue outfit trimmed in red and yellow, along with a pair of silk red squeaky shoes, white tights and laced bobby socks, a Gymboree ladybug sweater, and a beautiful headband I found at Jordon's. Kaelie looked absolutely stunning for such an exhausted little girl who had come so far from everything she'd ever known before.

It was time. I took my time gathering our things and was greeted in the jetway by the now-familiar blue stroller that found us in China. The left front wheel seemed a little wobbly, but it did the trick. I put Kaelie in the stroller and arranged our bags, said my good-byes to the flight crew and attendants who were waiting for me to make my exit, and off I went. Through a corridor of closed stores and dimmed lights, again quietly reflecting on a wonderful and amazing journey and so excited about what was about to come next.
I followed the arrows and signs toward baggage claim, secretly thinking about how those signs were pointing me toward such a sweet reunion. Then....our party of two weary travelers joined with a party of three eagerly awaiting fellows, holding a sign...I remember hearing "There she is!" in Jeremy's familiar voice and suddenly my feet weren't on the ground any more! I ran past security, pushing baby and lugging my three carry-ons and jumped into the arms of my loving family! It was a feeling I'll never forget.



Our party of five headed downstairs to baggage claim, and David and Shelby scooped up the luggage, Jeremy pushed the stroller. We walked together to the car and headed for Ruby Tuesday for a decent meal and to the hotel for a short stay. And a short stay at that, as at 3:30 am we were all still awake (due to my horrible cough) and so decided to go ahead and miss morning rush-hour traffic and get home. We arrived shortly after seven, and soon all five of us were in our own beds for a peaceful nap.




At one in the afternoon, we all got up and enjoyed a breakfast of grits and toast (well, Kaelie had her formula...), followed by a dose of ibuprofen for Kaelie and some cough suppressant for me. After a catnap, Kaelie decided that it was time to show her first company (Aunt Lisa and Grandma Annette) her cute little personality that I'd grown to love so much in China.





Later, we went into town, where I learned that the biggest news in forever in our small town was the burning down of our town's peanut mill, a three-day fire that temporarily closed several businesses due to thick smoke and horrible stench. We stopped by for a quick introduction of Kaelie to my grandmother and mom, then off to the grocery store (NOTHING remotely like the Carrefour!) for a buggy-full of meals. After a warm bottle and a warm bath, and a rubbing down with Vick's Baby Rub, Kaelie is out for the night in her own crib. What a beautiful sight!




I'm about to follow in her tiny footsteps, off to bed, in my own bed with my own covers, with no agenda for tomorrow except to play with my wonderful children and recooperate from this chest cold. I believe that Kaelie will sleep through the night, and I will too, and tomorrow when we wake up we'll be on eastern time and hopefully no signs of jet lag. Now another journey begins, the journey to raise Kaelie, to teach her the proper ways of life, to love and be generous, to be kind to others and to never give up! I love this baby so much already, and David and the boys do too! I'm looking forward to tomorrow and what the future holds for all of us!

20 comments:

my3 kids said...

Welcome home sweet Kaelie..what a beautiful little girl you are. Another Yangxi beauty home with her forever family..yippeee. Love all the pix!

Alyson and Ford said...

Welcome Home! I know your family is happy to have you and Kaelie home and I know you are happy to have them in your arms again!
peace
fm

Kim said...

Oh Karen! I am so glad to see that you finally posted! I cried through the whole thing! I love seeing the photos of Jeremy and Shelby with their new baby sister and they look very handsome in their outfits. I can't wait to meet her. Call me when the dust settles. I am so sorry about your horrible cold. Love ya!

Natalie said...

Welcome home to you and your sweet little Kaelie. I am so happy for you. What a lucky family to have such a beautful litle girl and what a lucky girl to have such a great family.
Thanks for letting me follow your blog.

Jen Talley said...

Tears Karen!!! I'm just so happy you guys made it home!!! You are an amazing writer and you had me crying.

cheepette8 said...

Welcome home. I love the pictures and everyone just looks so happy.

Sophia's Mama and Baba said...

Such a beautiful post and a beautiful family.. I love the coming home outfit (wink wink)

Hugs
Susan

Ava Baby said...

Welcome home! I enjoyed following your trip to China and bringing beautiful Kaelie home. Enjoy! Michele

Catherine said...

Welcome Home!! What a beautiful post with so many precious memories that you'll be happy you recorded for yoursel, Kaelie and your family!

Congratulations!!

hiltonsheadeast said...

Welcome home! Love the boys outfits. They look great. Please give your boys (and you big boy) and your girl and yourself a hug from me.

Lori**

Randi said...

I am glad to see that you made it home ok. I am a fellow 2/2006 LID and am waiting to travel. You are "neighbors" with my in-laws. They are in Coffee County.

Cheri and Shane said...

Karen & Kaeli,

Welcome Home!!! It was so nice to follow along in your trip to China. You did a wonderful job posting entries and pictures. Wasn't Guangzhou a wonderful place to be?! When you have a chance, email me privately so we can catch up alittle!! :)

Happy New Year!
Cheri

Natalie said...

Welcome Home. Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful journey with us! It was especially fun following along since Kaelie and my Elliana both come from Yangxi.
I hope your adjustment is smooth as you adjust to the time change. Get some sun!! It helps.
Hugs to all of you

Natalie

Amy and Vivian said...

Welcome home!! Loved the photos! I hope I get to meet Kaelie in person one day!

Amy and Vivian

rebecca/tarynsjourney said...

Karen, how precious! I can't wait to "follow in your footsteps" in 1.5 months! I have so enjoyed watching your journey to her...your boys are as cute as they can be as well!
Keep in touch!
Rebecca

Priyanka said...

Good post and looking forward for future updates

Thanks
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