Oh it's good to be home but experiencing jet lag while my boys are still on their schedule has been very difficult. Rachel, Russ, Abigail and I want to go to bed by 5pm and the boys are still up until 8 so those last few hours of the day have been brutal. Other than the jet lag, we are thrilled to be home.
Our last night in Guangzhou, we went on a dragon boat ride on the Pearl River. Usually you have to buy the dinner on the boat but Holt arranged for Papa Johns instead. Oh yummy! It was a beautiful night and good to spend some time with some of the families we've met on this journey.
Our visas arrived on time and without mistake (which was huge because mistakes do happen but we left no time for error) at around 4pm in Guangzhou so we immediately hopped onto a bus with two other families who were heading for Hong Kong. We arrived at the train station. Thank God our guide took us right where we were supposed to go otherwise we would never have found the right place. There were not very good signs, at least none in English. Thankfully Russ had a good system for managing the luggage because we did have to take it up and down multiple escalators (no elevators) and to the train by ourselves. The train ride itself was very nice and smooth and took two hours to Hong Kong.
Once in Hong Kong, we had to go through customs and immigration again and our driver was waiting and took us and our other Jersey friends to the airport hotel. We checked in around 9:30 and tried to go to sleep. Poor Rachel must have been so confused. She had such a hard time sleeping as this was her third hotel in a week and a half. A new bed, new surroundings etc. She finally did fall asleep late and then we all had to be up early, around 6. We headed over to the airport and got checked in. Again, through customs to exit the country. Hong Kong airport gets an award for family friendly security. If you have kids, you by pass the VERY long line through security. They have a separate line for families with little kids. Oh it made my morning. Little Rachel has waited in more lines than I'd like to remember and she is a very typical two year old, impatient.
We boarded the plane on time and took off on time for the dreaded 15 hours. Rachel did surprisingly well. A sticker book and that draw with water Melissa and Doug book were both lifesavers. She spent at least an hour on each of those, yeah and then we had 13 more to go! When the food came around, it was rice and beef something and she insisted on using the fork and eating it by herself. Yea, we both sat in rice for the remainder of the 13 hours. She did nap for an hour and a half early on and then her and Abigail both fell asleep all tangled together around 9pm and slept a few more hours. Russ and I were both awake. Rachel squirms in her sleep and was constantly falling off the seat so there was no sleeping for Russ or I.
Finally we landed and Rachel became a US citizen. The turbulence was awful for the last hour so everyone looked a little green. Then we waited in the immigration line for an hour and a half! Ugh, the US immigration line always takes forever. What's the deal??! Worse than China or anywhere else. Yea, so toddlers and long lines... ugh!
When you arrive in the US with an adopted child, you have to hand over a sealed brown package to the immigration officers. If it's been tampered with at all, you're in big trouble! So, that's not stressful at all. We handed it over to the officer and he didn't know what to do with it! Really, after an hour and a half. So Rachel and I had to go to a special office where there were all sorts of sketchy people waiting to speak with an officer. Eventually someone knew what to do and Rachel and I were set free. We found our bags and then had to go through customs where they scanned our bags (yes, another line).
We got out of there and our ride was waiting and we went home. We chose not to have the boys come to the airport or to invite family there because we knew we would be exhausted with a little girl who did not sleep well who was already terrified. So we headed right home and Josh was super excited to see Rachel and Trevin just ran away from her. They both gave us all hugs and Abigail kept hugging and hugging her brothers. Rachel kept staring at her brothers. She wasn't quite sure she wanted anything to do with them. She stayed close to Russ and I the rest of the evening. We ordered pizza before we got home and by then I was just plain dizzy from exhaustion. It was only about 4:30 and I couldn't wait to go to bed. We all ate and showered and tried to watch a movie with the boys as mom and dad had no energy for anything else but snuggling. Rachel and I lasted probably until 6:30 and we went to bed. Abigail had gotten the most sleep on the plane so she ended up putting the boys to bed while Russ supervised with half an eye open from bed.
Rachel's first night home was rough as every night we transition has been. She cried a lot in her sleep again. I can't imagine how frightened she is with all the change in the last few weeks. I'll write more about the first day home soon.