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.
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.
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!