Thursday, October 27, 2016

Hong Kong & traveling home

Tuesday afternoon, we packed up and went back to the US Consulate to pick up Madeleine's passport, visa, and immigration paperwork.

We then traveled 3 or so hours to Hong Kong for the night.  We could have flown out of Guangzhou, however it turned out to be a little more convenient to fly out of Hong Kong -- the fewer connections we had to make with a toddler and all our stuff, the better.

We saw the sun so very few times in China, so this was a nice treat on our drive out of the country.

Hong Kong is an autonomous territory of China, so once we got to the border, we had to split up with the other family in our group and travel by separate van.  In one stop, we immigrated out of China by van -- flip open all the doors, look at all our papers -- and then immigrated into Hong Kong the same way.  Unfortunately it was nighttime when we arrived, so we really only got to see our hotel room and the airport.  I can tell you the view from our flight out of the country really was amazing...but I had a toddler on my lap to occupy and couldn't grab my cell for a photo.

Spinning in the chair, waiting on room service.

Our night in Hong Kong was a little off.  While Madeleine was having mild sleep problems in our other locations, she acted completely different in Hong Kong when it was time for bed.  To help us all attach to one another, we have been rocking her to sleep every night.  We've learned that if we put her down too soon, she will wake up very unhappy, crying really big tears.  We got her down to sleep in the crib in the back and her eyes immediately popped open, but she only whimpered.  She then stood up, trying to get to us -- something she definitely never did in the other cribs.  We repeated this a few times until it finally hit CJ -- the crib you see in this picture above is nearly identical to the crib in her orphanage, whereas the other cribs she slept in with us were different.  As much as we don't want to encourage her sleeping in bed with us, we simply couldn't put her back in there.

Wednesday morning, we walked over to the airport and found out our flight to Chicago was delayed by 4 hours (they later canceled it), which would cause us to miss our connection to Indianapolis.  Instead of Hong Kong to Chicago to Indianapolis, we were offered Hong Kong to San Francisco to Denver to Indianapolis.  It would have been all in the same time frame as the original flight, and I honestly didn't think it'd allow us enough time to get through customs and immigration.  Some of you know that my nickname at the state was The Hammer...and it came back out.  Maybe it was because I was persistent in saying that that new schedule wasn't an acceptable solution or maybe the agent didn't want me to start sobbing right there at the ticket counter, but we ended up getting the same flight schedule from Hong Kong to Chicago on Cathay Pacific and then Chicago to Indianapolis on United. Needless to say, it was quite a process and I'm still going to have to argue for a refund from United and it was a race to the gate. CJ and I were a hot, sweaty mess by the time we reached the gate, just in time for boarding.  There was no time for a bathroom break, diaper change, or even the chance to get a bite of food...not the way I prefer to travel, especially with a toddler.

Once we landed in Chicago, Madeleine had to officially immigrate to the United States.  On paper, Madeleine's Chinese passport and visa are technically good for a bit of time, however in reality, it's a one-time use only.  Along with the passport and visa, we handed over our sealed paperwork.  A few stamps here and there, and Madeleine became a U.S. citizen!

Because of our flight trouble in Hong Kong, we had to do a little more maneuvering in Chicago.  Thankfully we found a wonderful ticket agent who was able to move us up from our 7:30 flight back onto our original 4:00 flight, putting us back in Indianapolis at 6 pm Wednesday night.

Our homecoming didn't quite go as we had hoped.  Madeleine is pretty quiet and has gone with the flow this entire trip.  By the time we landed in Indianapolis, she was completely over it and I don't blame her one bit.  Her sleep and eating schedule was off, and as we learned later, airplane food didn't agree with her either.  She cried and screamed her way through meeting her grandparents, aunt and uncle, and cousins.  We got her home, gave her a quick bath, and then she was out within 30 seconds.

Unfortunately, sleep is still a challenge even here, and certainly a 12 hour time difference doesn't help.  I mean, here I am blogging at 5:30 in the morning because my clock tells me it's actually 5:30 pm.  I'll go down for a nap myself somewhere around 10 am.  But we explored the playroom around midnight last night.  We all had a snack around 2:30 am.  And I think she and CJ are asleep in the guest bedroom right now.

I'll try to post another blog entry with some photos that you may have missed or that I may not have been able to upload in country, so stay on the lookout for that.

And finally, thank you again.  Thanks for your texts and facebook comments.  Those really did help us feel connected and boosted our mood in China.  Thank you most of all for your prayers.  God was faithful to us and certainly went before us on this trip, and we are so thankful to finally be home with our little girl.

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