Maybe one of these days I will be able to say "today, we did this," but until that day comes I want to continue the story from where I left off so that some day the kids can read it for themselves. I wish I had been able to record it sooner because I am sure so many details I thought would stay with me have already been lost forever. :( Oh well.
So here we go. What was literally the longest day of these kids lives. We woke them up as late as possible and got them dressed. Sasha picked us up at 4:15 (I think it was) to take us to the airport. The kids were exhausted, but exited. I know they were a little anxious too, but mostly excited. It was still dark when we left. It gets light much earlier in Ukraine than in America. We got to the airport in plenty of time but it still took us forever to get to our gate. We had a huge line to wait to check in. Then we had to go through another long line. When we went through the metal detector Kevin forgot to take his cell phone out of his pocket so he made it go off. This is only a significant detail because Sophie thought it was hilarious and kept saying, "Pop, beep-beep" all day. To this day the kids like to play that they are airport security and scan Kevin. They call the game, "Pop, Beep Beep" and I must say Sophia is a stickler. She even make a beep for his glasses!
Finally we are through to the security and we only have to wait about 10 minutes to board. I was afraid that one of the kids would hate flying or just be really scared. We walked outside and up the stairs to the plane. The flight to Germany was only a couple hours so it wouldn't be too bad for their first flight. We had three seats and the three seats behind them. I sat with the girls. next to Lily (who kept telling us she was "by-ozz" of the samolyot (airplane). Kevin and the boys sat just in front of us. We taxied for a while and the kids were all excited and kept thinking we were already in the air. Then we took off and within a minute Lily looked at me and said, "Nyet by-ooz!" She was perfectly happy, they all were. That was really nice. They loved everything about the flight. They fed us breakfast (make your own sandwich) and some fruit. We let the kids just go at it with the food. Sophia made a sandwich of everything they gave her (ham, cheese, jam, tomato, lettuce, butter, you name it). I think she ate one bite, but the entertainment lasted for quite some time! They all did really well. We had filled their backpacks with new coloring books and sticker books and they loved that.
The girl aisle.
I had Kevin take a picture of the boy aisle, but I guess Tate's eyes were shut. I think he has very sensitive eyes. We have tons of pictures with his eyes closed or almost closed. I think he reacts just before the flash goes. Poor little thing. Now that we are home I have several pictures that on the third or fourth attempt I tell him to open his eyes and they look huge. Sometimes he opens them as wide as he can as soon as he sees the camera. Pretty funny.
Sophia even caught a few z's on that flight.
We had another breakfast in Germany. This time we got the kids yogurt with fresh fruit and we all split some scrambled eggs and bacon. They brought yummy German pretzels to the table too. Hot and fresh.
Just the six of us, walking through the airport.
I love this one because Lily has her little matroyshka (Ukrainian stacking doll) keychain bobbing around on her babutchka (butterfly) backpack.
Even with the walking around and dining we still had some time to kill. We talked for a while with a family who had been on our first flight. We had seen them at the medical appointments as well. They were adopting three kids they had hosted. Congratulations to them! They have 5 kids now! Here is Julian watching something on the computer. He looks completely bored. We were all very ready to get on the next plane and go home. See the little girl and the woman's feet in the background? She had a son sleeping in a stroller and we watched him while she took her daughter to the bathroom. We saw them again getting off the plane and said a quick goodbye. A few days later she walked up to me at our neighborhood pool and said hello. Her daughter Miia is going to be in kindergarten at the school our kids are starting. We are hoping Miia and Lily are in the same class. :) Small world. She had been visiting Finland (where she is from). Can't believe we met in Germany and she lives a few blocks away! She had no clue we had just adopted the kids and that we couldn't understand each other. Guess we looked like a family already! :)
The faces of boredom.
This is such a typical Lily pose. Cracks me up. She is a very dramatic storyteller, even if Pop doesn't understand a word!
Some of the ways that we passed time on the plane...
The kids were WONDERFUL on the plane. I could not believe it. They are good kids, but 9 hours is a long time for anyone to sit still. They colored, played with the little toys in their backpacks, played with the little toys from Lufthansa, went downstairs to the bathroom several times each, watched "Horton Hears a Who" in Russian, ate a couple meals, and even grabbed a few naps here and there. That one of Tate sleeping is with his head in my lap. Sweet little guy. He napped twice for about an hour and a half each time. Julian slept for 3 or 4 hours. The girls each slept a couple hours too. I was bored and restless after that long, I can only imagine how they felt. Kevin and Julian has two seats in front of us. The four of us took up the whole middle row. It worked out really well. The people around us were really nice and a church mission group returning from Romania was seated across the aisle from us. You know they are from the deep south because they were calling their paster "preacher." They had really thick accents as well.
I only knew to explain that the flight was really long, I couldn't seem to convey to Alina (Sophia) how long that was. The time change was too hard to explain with the language barrier. After about three hours they started asking if we were almost home. I felt so bad telling them that we were not even close. They made it though and we were almost home!
Our flight landed at about 3:15 in the afternoon, I think it was. That is after 10 in the evening in Ukraine. The kids were wiped out! They were so excited to meet their grandparents and go home though. We got in line for customs and of course with the kids all stopping at the bathrooms and to check out the water fountain (something they had never seen!) we were pretty much last in line. Actually I think my neighbor was one of the few people after us in line. We finally got through there and they took us into a waiting room while they reviewed the kids paperwork and visas. No cameras or cell phones or I would show you pictures. We waited and waited and waited. People came and went. We were in a room with a bunch of people from other countries. Some were missing their connecting flights because of the delays. One lady was in hot water with the legal system and demanded a lawyer. Our kids kept quietly asking, "dom?" (Home?) We kept telling them soon. They all fell asleep either in our arms or in those really uncomfortable airport chairs with the hard arms so you can't lay down. Welcome to America! Outside our friends from small group and Kevin's parents patiently waited for about three hours to welcome our exhausted family home with hugs, smiles, ballons, and banners. The kids were good sports considering they had been up for almost a whole 24 hours. Good thing they napped here and there. These pictures are from my friend Andrea's blog:
I would have posted more pictures but our last name was on some of the signs and I was feeling too lazy to edit them.
Thanks to everyone who came out to welcome us home. Sorry it took so long! In the last picture is our friend Scott who was leaving for Afghanistan the very next day. Thank you for taking the time to come down and bring the boys to meet us. If you have a minute please keep Scott and his wife and two young sons in your prayers. Thank you Scott for serving our country!
And we are finally home (in the blog)!