Look at the beautiful family God gave us!


Marshall (yes, he's wearing pink)





Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

So, here it is Thanksgiving, and I'm done with work for the week, and back home in Wilson Creek, in spite of the snowstorm that we had. The second night at work, we had about 8 inches of snow, and it was 7 degrees outside, so after the de-icer went around the parking lot, the hill was too slick for me to drive down. I tried twice, and the second time, when I was part way down, and my car was sideways, I put it in reverse, backed it up the hill, and called my mom and stepdad, who rescued me in their big 4-wheel drive. Thank you!!

The third night it got down to 19 degrees below zero, and the heating system went out in the hospital. We were moving patients from the frigid rooms into the warmer rooms, and handing out warm blankets to everyone. The maintenance guy worked for 2 hrs, (outside!) and fixed the heating. Thank you!!

David came to get me, and since my car wouldn't start, gave me a jump, and I was able to drive down the hill without any problem. Thank you, honey!!

God keeps reminding me that I'm far from self-sufficient, and need to rely on him (and others, apparently) all the time, so I don't get too proud.

Okay, so I know no one really wants to hear about me, so here are some pictures of the kiddos from when we were in their country, and then I'll tell you all about our trip home.

I don't know why, but the game "Barrel of Monkeys" comes to mind.
So few pictures of the little man smiling--that makes them more precious.

Everyone knows that the simplest things make the best toys.

This makes me think, "prehensile tail."
Yet another display of the super-flexibility of the Darlin's with Down syndrome.
Nothing sweeter than babies in blanket sleepers.

"I miss my orphanage..."

"And you're the villains who took me away!"
"You guys are my heroes!"
Back to the theme of reliance on God and others-- our second night in the apartment, we were still a bit overwhelmed by the kids, even though they were starting to get the hang of the words "no-no!"  Our coordinator and her husband brought us McDonald's, which was such a blessing, and made us feel so loved.

We had some issues with getting the birth certificates for the kids, and it took several days, and we ended up waiting around in offices for hours (this was before we got the kids out.)  Continuing that pattern, the day before we needed to leave (we had plane tickets for 5:30 am) we went for the medical exams, and ended up waiting around for hours in a small playroom with the other family I mentioned several times in an earlier post, who are adopting the boy with cerebral palsy, and were on the same track as we were.  They were also leaving the next day, but in the afternoon.  We had brought some snacks, but that doesn't take the place of lunch, and nothing takes the place of naps!  Our facilitator finally arrived, triumphant, with the passports, and it was off to the US embassy for our second interview (our first interview had been the day before, and that family had also been there with us;  they babysat for us while we filled out lots of paperwork which we hadn't realized we should fill out beforehand online.)

Anyhoo... as we were all there at the embassy, waiting patiently for our golden tickets to freedom, they told us that there was a problem with our boy's passport, and that his middle name was spelled wrong (remember our court being delayed because his name was spelled wrong--by them, not us;  again, on the passport-- by them, not us!)  They told us that it had been submitted electronically to be verified by facial recognition, and that it would take anywhere from several minutes to 24 hours (!)  I was so mad I could have spit.  I said, "If I'd known that this would happen, I wouldn't have even given him a middle name!"

The other family was so distressed for us (we were all so tired, and emotionally done) that they stayed for a long time while we waited, just talking with us, and giving moral support.  Then they went and got McDonald's for us, and sat with us while we ate.  The embassy staff told us that we should take the children home (this was at about 3 pm) but we told them that we would wait there until closing time at 5:30 pm.  We didn't want to take a chance on not getting back for the visas before they closed.  We dreaded the thought of missing that flight, having to try to book new tickets, paying the fees for making changes ($1000) and booking a new apartment, and moving into it.

At 4:30, the other family finally left, and I went out of the embassy to find a little store to buy some food for Little Boy, since he wouldn't eat regular food, and after going through security to get back in, I was greeted by the sight of David packing everything up, and he yelled to me, "We're going home!"  I stopped in amazement, and then just started sobbing those loud, embarrassing sobs that happen when you're either so unhappy or so happy that you lose control.  He just hugged me, and smiled really huge.

After that, things were a whirlwind.  We called the other family, and they cheered when they heard the news, which made me start to cry again (not those big sobs, though, thankfully.)  We were dead tired already, but we packed, and took turns taking a nap, then at 2:00 am, our usual driver (Edward--awesome guy, who speaks no english, but was super patient and helpful) picked us up and took us to the airport.

It was crazy trying to carry the kids, and drag all our luggage in and get everything where it needed to go, but we did it.  After that, we asked the flight attendants on each flight to arrange special services to meet us at the gate to help us, and that made an amazing difference.  Frankfurt airport personnel were so helpful and so were the Sea-Tac folks.  Lufthansa is an amazing airline, and I would recommend them.  The flight attendants were so attentive, and one lady even gave our big girl a drink by kneeling down to hold the cup for her.  That is a messy proposition--trust me--but she was a good sport, and held the cup for her to the very end, even with all the giggling and sputtering.  It was just a very beautiful and compassionate act.

When we went through the extra security, we had to divest ourselves of coats, shoes, belts, and there were three ladies at the end who redressed our children, while we got ourselves together, and asked us lots of questions about the kids, and about why we were adopting.

On our long flight, I felt very self-conscious because the children had such snotty noses and cruddy eyes, but with no hot water in our apartment the last two days, I just wasn't able to soften any of it enough to clean it off really well.  It helps to have cooperative children, too, when you're trying that, and they really weren't.  Also, on the flight I was worried that people would be judgemental of our children having Down syndrome, and that people would be less patient if our children were loud, but in the end, even though people stared a lot, the children really only made happy noises, and when we were leaving the plane, many people reached out to stroke them as they went by or waved to them, and tried to get them to say, "bye."  These were people of all different nationalities, too, so I think that says something.

The kids were amazing on the long flight, and napped and played in their seats.  They enjoyed being fed, and cuddled.  We brought benadryl along, just in case, but we never needed it, Thank you, God!

On our last short leg home, we took a commuter plane, and we were separated by 4 seats in the back, and 1 seat in the front.  I relegated David to the back with the kids, while I sat in the front and pretended I was single and childless.  Just kidding!  It was a great view, though, even though it was really loud.  The flight attendant was completely charmed by the kids, and by our incredible journey, and we talked a lot through the flight, comparing caring for patients and caring for passengers.  David was befriended by a couple in the back, who helped comfort the kids when the plane started to descend and the pressure change began to hurt their ears.

As we landed, the flight attendant told me that at one time she had started to wonder if her job had any meaning, and then she realized, "I'm bringing people home!"  Well, you all know me, and the waterworks started again!

As we straggled out of the airport, the husband of the couple in the back of the plane, (who was big and beefy, like a football player)  stopped David, shook his hand, and put his other hand on David's cheek, in a very tender gesture.  There was David, looking so bedraggled, and weary, loaded down with children and bags.  David just smiled at him.  I really thought the guy was going to burst into tears.  When I say that this was the biggest thing I could think of to do with the rest of our lives, I really think that there are other people out there who think that, too.

Our daughter and her husband and our youngest son met us at the airport, and it was a great reunion with some of our children.  Later we met up with two more of our children.  We still have two more kids who won't see our newest additions for a few weeks, but they are very excited.  All in all, it is grand to be home, and we love the USA even more, now that we've been away, and then come home to our homeland.  God Bless America !!  

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