Saturday, April 21, 2012

Our Last Day in Addis

Our last day in Addis was bittersweet.  We were excited to get home and introduce our little girl to her brothers and sister, but we also knew we were taking her away from everything she's ever known.  Can you imagine waking up one day, having someone pick you up, and put you on a plane and take you far, far away from everything you've ever known?

We tried to keep the day as low key as possible.  A little after noon, our driver arrived with Elliana's Visa and sealed envelope so that we could officially travel that evening. (Sorry -- I had said in my last post that we received the "Envelope" when we were at the Embassy -- I had that incorrect).   The Guest Home prepared a coffee ceremony for us and one of the beautiful ladies from the Guest Home braided Elliana's hair for us.

Shortly after dinner, our driver arrived to take us to the airport.(and we weren't finished packing!!)  They piled all of our bags on top of the van and 6 of us from our guest house hopped in the van.  We then stopped at another guest house, and picked up 5 more people.  (yes, it was crowded -- 4 of the 11 occupants were babies).   As we began our trip to the airport, it began to rain!  (it's true.. there hadn't been any significant rain in Addis for 7 months and it picked the day we were leaving to pour down.... I mean pour down... stormy conditions complete with thunder and lightning).  We all moaned as we realized our luggage on top of the van was getting soaked! Thank goodness we had our "Sealed Envelope" with us in the van.

When we arrived at the airport, the van dropped us off as close to the building as possible, but it was still a parking lot away.  Our poor husbands stayed behind to retrieve the luggage from atop the van, as us ladies (with babies in tow) ran towards the airport building.  ... note to self... wet rubber flip flops running into a wet marble floor is not recommended :)  Luckily, I didn't fall completely down!  Elliana thought it was funny and even let out a little giggle as the rain trickled on her face.

~First Plane Ride~ 
Checking in and getting to our gate was not a problem.  We changed Ellie into her pajamas before boarding the plane and held our breath as we wondered how she would do.  The flight was completely booked!  I mean, no extra seats.  We were so glad that we purchased a separate seat for Ellie on the way home.  Technically, she could have sat on our lap.  Many adoptive families have traveled and were able to get bulkhead seating with baby bassinets or a row with an extra seat for their child (and not have to pay for it), which would have been ideal.  We just didn't want to take the chance of holding her the entire way home (17 hours) with someone else in our row.  I'm so glad we bought her a seat.  There were about 30 babies on that return flight, and many families were disappointed that they had to hold their child the entire way home.

She did great on the flight.  She slept for a good part of the way, and the other time she entertained herself with stackable cups, looking at pictures on our iphone, sticking stickers in a book, and playing with a baby wipe.  She played with a baby wipe for about 30 minutes.. no joke.  She would 'fluff it' and then fold it.  She must have watched the nannies fold laundry.  She still does that at home.  Anything that is laying on the floor will get folded by Ellie. too cute :)

Once we arrived in DC, we headed towards Customs with our Sealed Envelope in hand.  This time the line at customs was pretty long, and Ellie had no intention of letting Brad hold her. Ugh. We probably waited about an hour or so in line and she wouldn't let me put her down for a minute.  I had taken off my carrier because I was so hot and then I wasn't able to put it back on without putting Ellie down (and I was trying not to have make Ellie have a major meltdown in the middle of the customs line).  All I can say is that we were very glad we were not sick this time.  When our turn came, we approached the customs agent, and he tore open the envelope.  I was wondering what the heck was in there.  It looked like a duplicate of our paperwork (court decree, birth certificate, immigration paperwork, etc.)  It looked like he took whatever was on the top and threw it away! Ugh... (although, I did find out later that we can send a request to get our paperwork back as there may have been some information in her file that went to customs that we may not have).  Our Customs visit was pretty non-significant too.. and soon we were on our way to get our WET luggage.  (yep, it was pretty wet).

Second Plane Ride
On this trip, we were blessed to be able to take a flight back to Harrisburg, instead of driving the 2 hours home.  Although the drive wouldn't have been a problem, we weren't sure how Ellie would do being in a car seat for the first time for 2+ hours after a 17 hour flight.  A 43 minute flight from DC to Harrisburg sounded very good!  Before I called the Travel Agent when we got our invitation to travel, I had checked prices for the "43" minute flight and they were crazy expensive (I'm talking between $500 and $700 each!).  We were disappointed... because we were hoping to have our family meet us at the airport in Harrisburg to see Ellie coming home.  I told our travel agent to price them out anyway but we probably wouldn't do the Harrisburg leg of the flight.  Can you believe she called me and our seats from DC to Harrisburg were $7.00 each!  Fourteen dollars total is all it took to fly us from DC to Harrisburg.  Praise the Lord!  Apparently there was some type of deal going on and she was able to get those prices to us.  Ellie was free because she sat on our lap.

Once we got our luggage and took it to our connector flight, we honestly only had enough time to visit the bathroom, change our icky clothes, grab a bite to eat and hop on our next flight.  Once we arrived in Harrisburg, it was so overwhelming (but awesome!!) to be greeted by our family and friends.  We couldn't have asked for a better ending to such a long 24 hours!

And, as far as Ellie getting used to her carseat.... I don't think it was a problem :)

First Car Seat Ride on the way home from the airport

  The next morning, both girls were excited to begin their day and play with each other. . .

First Morning Together

At least for a little while!

{sorry some of the pictures are blurry... we used our phones to take them}

1 comment:

  1. I loved this post and all of the details you included. The story about Elliana playing with the baby wipe was too cute!

    I can't believe you got tickets for the last leg of your journey for $7 each! What a blessing that must have been. It's so amazing to look back and see all of the ways that God provided for each of us on our adoption journeys!