Travel day 19 (Dec.14th)

We’re on the airplane in Uganda, getting ready to take off.  It’s Lucas first time ever seeing an airplane.  He has no idea what is going to happen or what we’re doing.  The other problem I foresee is that when it’s time to put the seat belt on, he will flip out and won’t have it.  See, in Uganda there are no such things as car seats, high chairs, strollers, or anything that “straps” a child into, so that is a foreign concept to Lucas.  I entertain him in his seat and hope he won’t notice me slipping on his seat belt.  He is too nervous to play and doesn’t want to do anything but observe everything and everyone.  Great.  This is not going to be good.

Of course, time has come and I must buckle his seat belt.  As prepared as I am with snacks, a drink, candy, toys, etc. he notices, and FLIPS out.  Yes, FLIPS OUT.  I mean completely losses it, melts down, I don’t want anything to do with this, flipping out.  We’re pulling away from the gate and I know if I take him out of it now he won’t sit in his seat again, and there will be no way I’ll be able to get this seat belt back on him, so I really have no choice but to try and comfort him and leave it on him until I can unbuckle him.  He is screaming and crying!!  I know I’m the most hated person on the plane.  I don’t care.  I’m trying to comfort my terrified child.  I know he is beyond terrified because not even I can comfort him or calm him down.  Oh I feel so bad for him.  He is crying so bad and screaming so bad that he starts to gag and I know what’s coming next…I grab one of those handy dandy throw up bags in the seat pocket in front of us and get ready.  Oh my poor boy!  He is so upset.  I can do absolutely nothing at this point for him but just hold him the best I could through the seat belt.  Then the flight attendant has the nerve to come up to us and ask me what she can do to get him to stop crying, like I haven’t been trying everything possible.  I told her that if I could unbuckle him he would be fine, and she of course said “oh no we can’t do that”.  Ok, well then, he will keep screaming.

Thankfully, a short time later, we are on the runway to actually take off.  As soon as we hear the jet engines spool up, Lucas became silent, absolutely terrified.  We are pushed back in our seats from the thrust of the take off and Lucas grips my arm so tight his finger nails left imprints.  Poor baby.  I try to comfort him and let him know I’m ok, therefore he is ok, and he remains silently gripped to my arm.  We are finally at a high enough altitude to take off the seat belts and as the seat belt sign goes off I scoop my baby and rock him in my seat, he is finally calm and falls asleep in my arms.  Heaven.

This was the first of many planes we were on that day, but the first one was by far the worst.  The next plane we were on, the plane from Brussels, Belgium to America, which by the way, an airplane is called an “Enyonyi” in his language, and he says that word all the time now!  He did much better the second time around and although fussed about the seat belt again, it was nothing like the first time.  He settled down, ate some food, played with the toys I brought, and enjoyed time with one of his favorite people, my cousin Wendy.

An entire day had gone by that we had been on airplanes and airports, and finally, we arrive in the United States of America!  Flying onto U.S. soil had never felt so good with our new boy.

Walking off the plane, through the gate, into that American airport in New York, seeing signs in English, and people were speaking English, was amazing.  🙂  I’m Home.  In America.  WITH my boy.

My phone…oh my phone…I can use my phone!!  🙂  Next is going through U.S. Immigration.  Oh celebration over, nerves quickly arising.  Ok, so THIS is where I give this sacred sealed envelope to…we wait in line to “enter the country”, my cousin goes first, no problem.  I’m next.  The guy sees the black child on my back in the carrier and alerts another man to come take me to a different location.  Uh…ok.  Wow.  This is super nerve wracking.  I have no idea where we are going and Wendy says she’ll wait for me in the hallway.  We go in this “waiting room” type area in the airport and I see Homeland Security signs everywhere.  They ask for my sealed packet from the Embassy, and some other things and I wait about 15 min. and then I’m called up and they tell me they have signed Lucas passport and that he may enter the U.S. and is a temporary U.S. citizen until we finalize the adoption in the U.S.  Phew!  No spotlight over your head investigation to be done, we’re on our way now!  We’re officially “in the U.S”!!!  Big sigh of relief!!

So now we have to figure out what to do and where to go to pick up our bags.  We were told we had get them from baggage claim, and re-check them to our final U.S. destination.  What a pain!  Better yet, once we get our bags and re-check them, I notice the tags only say going to “Denver” which is my connecting flight, not my final destination.  What?  I ask the lady and she says that we are only checked in to go to Denver, that in Uganda somehow they had erased my final destination and ended our bags at Denver.  Oh my goodness, what?! She starts to tell me there isn’t anything she can do but book me another flight, when I’ve already paid for the flight from Denver to home, and I have a reservation.  She couldn’t find it.  Oh it was so frustrating and confusing, and I’ll spare you the details but after getting a little snippy and explaining our situation and showing her my itinerary, she calls someone over for help, and miraculously they figure it out.  Seriously?!  It was beyond frustrating for me, but in the end, it was figured out and we were on our way.

Next hurdle to jump, saying goodbye to my cousin Wendy.  I was dreading this moment.  She has been there with me from the very beginning, we grew closer than we ever had our whole lives of knowing each other, we formed a bond that is indescribable with everything we saw and experienced while in Africa.  She has been there through this adoption journey from the day we got on the plane to go get Lucas to the day we arrived on U.S. soil, it would be really hard to say bye.  I knew Lucas had no idea that he would have to say goodbye to her, it made me sad to think that he would once again be hurt and not understand why those he was forming a bond with would leave, and he had really formed a bond with her.  Besides me, she was the only thing that was constant in his world since day 1 too.  We had limited the bonding with her since we knew this day was coming, and further yet he needed to understand who his mommy was, and the difference between a parent and another family member.  He formed a close bond with her, and I was thankful that he felt secure enough to do so, although he did understand there was a difference between us and that I was mommy.  They had fun together, played together, and he called her “auntie wendy”.  They are buds.  🙂

I could never thank her enough for doing this journey with me.  I could never ask anyone to do this, to pay their way, to help me with everything, to stop their life and come travel half way across the world with me, possibly at a moments notice, possibly missing her daughters college graduation (which thankfully she didn’t miss), and asked me if she could come with me, because she loved us, and wanted to help us, because she said she could and wanted to, because she has an amazing heart.  It is unbelievable to feel that kind of love from someone in your family.  I pray that everyone has someone like her in their family.  Who’s willing to do something like this for you, for nothing in return.  I could never re-pay her enough, or thank her enough for all that she did for us.  She became more than a “cousin” to me, but truly a sister.  In fact, in Uganda, they don’t understand “cousins” and just refer to family as sisters/brothers, so we said we were sisters.  I am one lucky girl to have the family I have.  I have another cousin who is like a sister to me, literally is a sister to me through our sorority in college, and one of my best friends.  I just hope everyone has a family like this!  I am one blessed girl.

We stayed together as long as we could, and eventually came to the point we had to go our separate ways in that New York airport.  It was a sad goodbye, I didn’t know how Lucas would react.  We hugged and cried, and Lucas was strapped on my back looking at her, she did her best to hold it together.  He looked at her with confusion.  He didn’t understand.  He hugged her and said goodbye, and waved to her as we walked away.  I knew he did not understand we were saying goodbye.  She’s always been right around the corner, and I think he thought she was going to pop up around the corner in just a few minutes.  It felt strange to be alone, without her, on my own for the first time with Lucas.  We walked to our gate, which we would soon be boarding.

He kept looking around for her saying “auntie, auntie”.  I kept telling him that we would see her again someday soon, but we were going home to see Daddy and Aiden, and I would show him pictures.  He remembered Daddy and would point to his picture and say “daddee daddee” with a big smile!!

We arrived in Denver, and didn’t have long between our flights, oh I’m so tired.  We’ve been traveling for over 24 hours at this point, and I’m so exhausted.  Only one more flight.  One more.

So I pull out our last and final boarding pass and I’m too tired to have noticed before that Lucas and I aren’t even seated together.  Oh my gosh.  Really?!  The lady in the New York airport who had the issue with our last flight and getting us to our final destination including our bags, didn’t even seat us together…are you kidding me?!  With like 5 boarding passes, a almost 3 year old I’m wrangling, and a million bags to re-check, and trying to figure out where to go and what to do next, and not to mention I’m running on little to no sleep, looking at seating assignments was the last thing on my mind at that moment.

Well…even if we are seated apart, we won’t be sitting in those seats.  We will be together.  They can’t let a toddler sit alone anyway, isn’t that a airplane regulation or something!?  It should be.  Anyway, we board the plane and I sit in my assigned seat in the middle, and I sit Lucas in the window seat next to me, getting prepared to ask who’s supposed to be sitting there if he would mind sitting in Lucas’ assigned seat so that my child and I can sit together.  It was a middle seat, so I knew that person wouldn’t be too thrilled about it.  I also told the flight attendant that we didn’t have seats together, and he replied “why didn’t you check that earlier?”  “You’ll just have to sit apart until the plane is loaded and we can figure it out!”…uh, what?!  I don’t think so.  I unloaded on him…”I am one exhausted momma, and I can guarantee you that no one else on this plane has just traveled over 24 hours coming from a third world country…and with 4 different planes we have already been on, and all that we have been through and done in the past day, seating assignments are the last thing on my mind, in fact that’s ya’lls job to sit a mom next to her child…so don’t question my judgement sir!”  He was silent and walked away.  I should have told him off even more!  Jerk!

ANYWAY, so I’m on my own to figure it out.  Then, this young-just graduated from college, has no kids probably-guy points to the seat Lucas is in and says that’s his seat.  I explained to him our situation and asked if he would mind taking Lucas seat.  He paused, and hesitated, and grumbled with a sigh of irritation, “…fine”.  Oh great, thanks jerk, appreciate the compassion.   I’m really grumpy, tired and exhausted at this point…can you tell?!  lol

Thank God this is the one flight that Lucas is totally fine with the seat belt and doesn’t fuss one bit, I wouldn’t want to upset college boy over there getting his panties in a bunch even more from our horribly inconveniencing him with sitting in a different seat for an hour.  So this horribly exhausted momma and her boy land to our final destination, and I couldn’t be happier.  A rush of adrenaline comes over me and that I am going to get to hug and kiss my sweet husband and that Lucas will be re-united with his daddy in just a few minutes!!  I am so excited.  Lucas is beginning to put it together that we will see daddy!  He starts smiling.  We come down the escalator and there he is!!!!  My husband!!!!!!  Daddy!!!!!   The whole world just shut out for that moment and all I could see was his face, oh I am sooo happy.  Bliss.  Home.  Together.  All we’re missing is Aiden, which we will get to see him on Saturday when my dad and Aiden fly in.  Lucas was so happy to see daddy, but didn’t want me to let him go.  He was still trying to figure all of this out and where we are, and what we are doing, and how daddy appeared…poor guy.  lol.

I had always envisioned this big “welcoming committee” with all our close family and friends with signs and balloons as we come down those escalators, but with coming in so late, we knew it wouldn’t be what we had “envisioned” and only Roger would be there to greet us.

In the end, I am SO SO glad we chose not to do that, I barely had the energy to keep walking to the car at that point, let alone greet all of our family and friends and have the energy to properly introduce them to Lucas.  I am so glad it was just an intimate greeting of just us when we arrived home.  Plus, Lucas was so tired and confused as it was, to have so many people there would have been way to over-stimulating and overwhelming for him.  I mean he had never even seen a floating balloon before, let alone all these new faces, and people excited to meet him.  I think it would have frightened him.

When we got to the car, I began to get anxious about the car seat and how Lucas would react.  I feared he would flip out because this had way more straps than the “seat belt” on the plane.  I think he was so tired, and excited to see daddy because he didn’t care at all.  I strapped him in waiting for him to flip out but pretending like we had done this a thousand times before.  He was fine.  He was looking around the van, looking outside, looking at the lights, the cars, he was majorly distracted by all the foreign looking things around him.  I held Rogers hand on the way home, so happy to be HOME and TOGETHER.

We pull up to the house, I’ve never been more happy to pull up in this driveway.  We are here.  my bed.  oh my bed.  Roger and I are filled with anxiousness and excitement as we are about to walk through the front door of our home with our new little boy.  Roger goes ahead of us to let the dogs outside and take pictures.

It’s unbelievable that this little boy from the middle of Africa, who was in an orphanage with no hope, no family, no one to love him only weeks before, is now walking into his future, his home, his family, and is loved beyond anything he will ever know.  It was a big moment for all of us.  We felt Gods hand on our shoulders the whole time as we took steps into that house, like he was carrying us faithfully till the very last minute until we arrived home.  It was incredible.

Lucas walked in the front door, and he was consumed with new visual sensations.  A TV, a couch, shoes by the door, carpet, toys in the corner, plants in the house, pictures in frames, lights, it was a lot of new things to look at.  He stood in the doorway looking around.  He stepped in one tiny step at a time.  I held his hand the whole time.  He was uncertain and raised his arms for me to hold him.  I picked him up and lead him slowly around the room.  He saw the dogs at the door outside.  He was terrified of them.  We took him down the hall where he couldn’t see the dogs.  Then we took him to his room.  He wanted down.  It was his room.  The first room he had ever had.  The first bed he had ever had to himself.  The first time he had anything that was “his”.  He felt ownership right away instinctively because he wanted down and smiled, exploring his room.

We had a few colorful things in his room, like his bedding, the rugs, and a hanging on his wall, but for the most part, it was purposely bare, and we didn’t put too much in his room as advised.  We wanted his room to be his “safe” place when everything else was too overstimulating.  Coming from a stale, cold, un-colorful environment in the orphanage, a slow transition to adding more in his room will come later.  For now, the simpler the better.  He loved his room.

We took him and showed him the rest of the house, and got ready for bed.  This would be the first time he would be in his own room, in his own bed, and without me sleeping next to him.  I rocked him to sleep and sat in his room with him until he was sleeping heavily.  Then, I went around the corner to our bedroom, crawled into bed, and slept the best sleep I’ve ever had…

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