My husband, the original blog bully, has been hounding me for the last few days to update the blog. I apologize. It has always driven me nuts to follow other families' blogs and then watch them fall off the face of the earth upon returning home. Now, I'm aware that re-entry is a huge adjustment for the adoptive child and parent, but there's an intense need to follow a story to its conclusion. For those of you who have tuned in for that purpose, let me assure you that this story, Kristina's story, is far from over.
Let me back up to Saturday morning. I got up early enough to check the flights on the computers in the business center to make sure there were no delays. Everything was in order and we headed to the Kiev airport to check in at the NWA/KLM counter. I gave the woman behind the counter our paperwork and she began typing away. Its when she got that "look" that I started to feel uneasy. The typing slowed and she looked at the computer monitor like what she was seeing wasn't what she expected. She called a supervisor over and they began pointing at the monitor and arguing (although, doesn't everyone sound like they're arguing in Ukraine?). I whispered to Kristina, "What are they saying?" She shrugged and I mustered up the courage to say, "Is there a problem?" One of the women explained that our the second leg of our flight from Amsterdam to Minneapolis had been canceled. Okay, was there an alternate route available? Yes, in fact, Kristina was already rescheduled on a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit. However, I wasn't. "Mama? We not going to America today?" she asked panicked. I repeated to the woman behind the counter what I told my Uncle Keith who made the reservations for us earlier that week, "Put me with the luggage or with livestock, but I have to be on a plane headed to America NOW." She resumed her typing and scrunching up her face at the screen until the printer began to whirl and she placed tickets on the counter.
On the first plane, we were seated next to an elderly woman. Kristina took ownership of the old woman, searching out the stewardess to order hot water when the woman needed tea and chatting about where she was going. The flight from Amsterdam to America included seats with personal videos players for on-demand movies and music. Contented with the personal entertainment system, she watched the first 15 minutes of just about every movie and bopped up and down to the music selections. By the time we arrived in Detroit 16 hours later, we were spent. Kristina dozed in the chairs outside the gate to our last flight. The 9pm flight to Orlando was virtually empty. With empty rows of seats available to stretch out in, we opted to stay put and lean on each other as we drifted in and out of sleep.
A few minutes after midnight, we made our way onto the trams at the Orlando International Airport knowing Robert and the children would be waiting at the other end. Seeing them waiting in the empty concourse with Hannah's homemade "Welcome Home, Kristina" sign made the emotions of the last few weeks wash over. I wept ungracefully as we walked towards them. Kristina watched me out of the corner of her eye and said sympathetically, "Don't, mama." It wasn't until I could hug my kids and husband that I felt I could say, "Its done. We're home." Hannah and Kristina immediately linked hands and we made our way to the parking garage.
Exhausted in every aspect, I longed to crawl into my own bed. At the house, Kristina scooped up the cats and picked up where she had left off. She ooh'ed at her and Hannah's made over room as I urged everyone into their beds. We slept long into the morning, missing church but recharging from the previous day's fatigue. Sunday was spent unpacking suitcases, grocery shopping at Wal-Mart, and playing with summer friends. As soon as lunch was done, the kids headed out into the warm December day on their bikes. Kristina hoped on, pushed off, and went soaring down the drive. She never missed a beat! She was so proud that she remembered how to ride. "Hurry! Where's the camera? You should be photographing this!" Robert urged as he watched her. I knew I should, but I just wanted to be. The remainder of Sunday was spent with endless doorbell ringing from neighborhood kids who heard Kristina was home. Perhaps most significant, was Katerina's visit. This precious little girl from around the corner was adopted from Russia when she was just a toddler. She had been over the previous day to help Hannah with the welcome home sign and had anxiously waited for the chance to come by. The sounds of continual girl giggling floated down the hall for the rest of the day.
We set out for the Health Department on Monday morning to get Kristina's school physical and immunization record verified. Hours passed as we lingered in the crowded waiting room to be seen. She has born this type of waiting for weeks, and was anxious to be done with it. When we were finally called back, the attending nurse and doctor looked at the translated shot record and asked where she was from. I told them we had just returned from Ukraine on Saturday. "She's adopted?" the doctor asked. I nodded and the nurse shouted, "Praise the Lord! You know, Jesus is pleased with that!" I laughed out loud at her unabashed display of praise. Another nurse came in and began asking questions for her brother and his wife who are considering international adoption. I scrawled a few websites and my email on a pad and encouraged her to have them contact me if I could help in any way.
Today we spent several hours at the Social Security office applying for a number. Once a child reaches the age of 12, they must apply in person. I didn't want to take her out of school and have to take a day off of work to accomplish this, so we decided to take care of it today. Afterwards we took her to school and got her registered. Nervous excitement kept her at Robert's side as I completed yet more forms. Tomorrow will be a whole new adventure for her. Mrs "Cupcake" (as the children call her) had already arranged for Kristina to have a place reserved in Hannah's class. I'll let you know how things go.
I sent the kids to bed an hour ago, but I noticed a dim glow coming from under the doors in the girls' room a few moments ago. I investigated to find them painting each other's nails by nightlight. I gave my sternest warning and they guiltily crawled back into their beds, flapping their hands to make the polish dry. It looks like tomorrow will be a busy day. I'll post photos and video of our journey home in the next few days. Thanks for hanging in there with us!