**These are based on my thoughts and feelings while on our trip. Some events may come across clouded and foggy due to our high emotional state while encountering each event.**We arrived at Bole International Airport at 10:15pm. The place was rocking! We headed into the terminal and through our first security checkpoint. Next, to ticketing (yes, that does sound backwards...it usually goes ticketing then security, but don't worry it gets better). Once we were done with ticketing we filled out our exit forms and headed through customs. We looked around in a couple of shops and then went through security (again) to get to our gate. The airport had wifi (it had been down at the guest house for a couple of days) so I was finally able to tell family we passed court! My FB status: "We adopted the cutest 8 month old Ethiopian baby girl today! What did you do?!" Clever, I know... :)
Our plane left from Addis at 1:10am. I had been feeling mixed emotion about leaving all evening/night. I was anxious to be home and talk to family and friends, play with Diogee and finish up my last 4 days of the school year. I felt like I could finally decorate Cupcake's bedroom and fill her closet with frills. I knew my first purchase would be shoes (and it was, in case you were wondering). On the other hand, leaving meant leaving Cupcake behind. There is a hole in my heart. I used to get slightly annoyed when families further along in the process or already home would say, "Once you have a referral, it is so much harder to wait for court," or "once you have been to court, it is so much harder to wait for embassy." I never doubted the truth to those words, but it was probably jealousy, like "Ugh...I only wish I was at that stage by now." Well, let me tell you...I thought this journey was difficult before, pfffft. What a naive little thing I was. So, taxiing to the runway, in typical fashion, I cried for at least the first hour of the flight until I fell asleep.
Sleep didn't last long. Maybe an hour (and that is being generous), and then I was awake the rest of the flight to Istanbul, Turkey. Unfortunately, we had about a 4.5 hour layover. We couldn't connect to wi-fi (but figured it out literally as we were walking to our gate to board the next plane...hint: you have to sit in a restaurant and pay or something along those lines). No internet gave me an excuse to journal my thoughts about court day. Even if you aren't someone who keeps a journal, I recommend it in high emotional situations just to process thoughts and feelings. It has been fun to look back on everything I wrote (and if you think my blog posts have been long, you should see what I actually wrote!) As we approached our gate, we went though a security checkpoint. We had to pass through the standard metal detector and carry-ons through x-ray. Then, show our complete itinerary, and be questioned about who packed our bags, and were they left unattended at any point? I almost giggled when the lady asked me if I was carrying any weapons (thankfully, I didn't...I fear I would have been subjected to a strip search if they thought I was lying), but do people wanting to do harm actually admit right out to that question? Honestly, I don't mind the security precautions. They are meant to keep everyone safe, but I just wish things made a little more sense. We had to have our boarding passes and passports scrutinized and stamped, then they were checked again and we got stickers this time! :) Then, our bags were physically searched and we were patted down. Our passports and boarding passes were checked, again, this time to make sure our stuff was properly stamped and stickered (I need to use this example with middle school students about how important it is to follow directions...) I felt confident that everyone getting on our plane was on the up and up, which is nice. :) K is a little more accustomed to international airports, so I think I was the only one amazed at all of this...
|My Turkish bagel|
|3 Mama Odi Bah Grogo Bah 3rd, King of Ashanti regions of Ghana apparently missed his plane from Istandbul to Denmark and we saw him and his 'servants' so we snapped a couple of pictures. We had to look up who it was when we got home. ..|
|A better photo of him.|
We left Istanbul late, with no explanation, unless the explanation was in Turkish. However, I am one of those stupid Americans that speaks English and 5 words of a couple of other languages (El burro sabe mas que tu). I really ought to put at least one other language on my bucket list! (Eat, Pray, Love, anyone?)
I cried on the plane to leave Istanbul (weeping is a pattern in my life...I cry when other people cry. Can't help it). It just felt like another step to leaving Cupcake behind. Again, I zonked out from the tears for about an hour. The flight attendant woke me for icky airplane fare. The in-flight food for the most part has been doable, but this particular meal contained items that I couldn't really identify without reading them on the 'menu.' I hope nobody actually tried the smoked salmon (does it always look raw, and should you eat that kind of thing on an airplane???) It looked like a good way to test out the barf bag or more subtly named, "bag for your waste." I just wasn't up for the challenge, I guess.
The rest of our flight was uneventful, but we had a tight connection in Chicago to begin with, and it was made even tighter when our flight left an hour late. We were really hoping to not miss our connection, because we knew it was probably one of the last ones leaving for home for the day. I REALLY needed a shower (and a Diet Coke with ice). Customs was fairly quick, and thankfully our luggage was fairly quick too. We transferred our luggage to the domestic terminal, and headed there ourselves. We asked if we needed another boarding pass printed (since ours was printed in Istanbul), and we were told no, but when we went through domestic security, our pass was rejected. I pleaded with the security agent to let us cut back in line after getting a new boarding pass because our flight was already boarding. Thankfully, she took pity and said yes. We got our new boarding passes and back through security in record time. Our gate was literally feet from security, so we made it onto the plane just before the doors were closing (after having 2 more sets of boarding passes printed by the gate agent...don't ask). The plane pulled away from the gate on time, but we sat on the tarmac for quite a while. I could see a ridiculous # of planes in line to get to the runway (I counted 12). Have I ever mentioned that I'm not much of an O'Hare fan? This time, it wasn't worry about making a connection, I just wanted to get home.
While we were standing in line at customs, I turned on my phone and we had an e-mail update from our agency. I was working hard to choose to have a positive and hopeful attitude about it, but it was hard not to be a little down. The current US Embassy Director of the adoptions unit in Ethiopia (can't remember the official title) is leaving the post (which we found out while in country), and the replacement is being trained in July. The bummer was that, submissions of adoption cases to the US Embassy are expected to be slowed (some have speculated they will be cut in half, and others have heard there may be no visa interviews in July), and then resume at a normal pace in August. We are still hopeful that we can return to Ethiopia in July. I believe in miracles! I have witnessed many in this year alone, meeting Cupcake (she is truly a little miracle), our niece Kailey growing and thriving. HE will always guide and protect this journey, HE always has. Even when I wasn't sure...HE was.
We met our daughter exactly 3 weeks ago...but, who is counting? (ME!)
**Whew, did you think I was ever going to run out of words for this trip? Me neither!**