So, where were we? We were four hours away from getting Matthew. It was 4:00 p.m., and the sun was setting over the Holiday Inn Dulles. I waxed poetic about the sunset. Yes, now I remember.
As we were checking in, we got a phone call from our caseworker, Margie, with an update on the boys (remember that Matthew and his little friend Aaron were being escorted by a husband and wife who were traveling ultimately to NJ to visit their son, who lives in the states). They had landed safely in San Francisco. Both babies did wonderfully well on the flight...attentive, calm, and well-behaved. (I thanked God that the escorts had such a pleasant experience on that long portion of the trip!) They were met at the gate by an employee of Catholic Charities, a Sister Ellen, whose job it is to meet babies and their escorts at the gate in San Francisco and usher them through customs, give the babies over to a cadre of volunteer parents (who give the escorts a break and bring the babies to a quiet place in the airport to eat and nap). Apparently, Sister Ellen not only ushers them through the whole process but she gets on the plane that they are boarding and if they don't have an aisle seat, she approaches passengers and asks them if they would kindly switch seats to allow these people with babies to have an aisle seat just in case the baby gets fussy. (And as my caseworker put so well, "Who would say no to a nun?")
I was so relieved that such good care is taken of our children, even in this intermediate, "almost there" leg of the trip!
Both babies slept in San Francisco...they were sleeping when Margie called us, actually! Again, relief washed over me, knowing that our son was getting the sleep he was going to need for this trip, which takes a toll on bodies both big and small, adopted or not! It's a long and tiring journey.
However, there was a slight problem: Sister Ellen reported that the crew inspecting the plane found that it had mechanical troubles, so they were calling in another plane from Los Angeles airport. The plane hadn't even left L.A. yet! So, translated, this meant DELAY. Probably several hours. It turns out that the ground crew had actually fixed the mechanical problem and cleared it for takeoff. However, the pilot staunchly refused to fly this particular plane. He or she insisted that another plane be brought in from L.A. in the interest of passenger safety. I was impressed by that pilot, and we were no longer bothered by the delay!
Although it was fairly likely that they would get out of San Fran that evening, just in case, Sister Ellen called and booked the escorts and babies a flight for the next morning out of San Francisco. Bases were covered just in case.
And there was an additional problem: The escorts would now miss their connecting flight to JFK to meet their son. Their son was very worried about them and had been in contact with our agency. Margie asked that we appoint one of our family members to help the escorts get another flight to JFK, as they spoke only limited English. My father in law, Ray, agreed to do this (and he and Jeff's brother Jason did a great job of getting them where they needed to go, with the help of some airport personnel who they alerted to the problem before the plane even hit the ground).
I immediately called my brother on his cell phone (he was driving from NJ with his wife and youngest child Jack--Ava, their oldest, was staying home in NJ with her grandparents--again, the lengths that our loved ones went to be there with us were staggering, humbling, amazing). And then I called my sister, who wasn't going to be able to make it but she's the one who I always call to vent to, to keep in the loop, just because (I was disappointed she couldn't be there but I TOTALLY got it...she's got two little girls and both her and Brent work). It was just natural to call her and let her know what was going on. Plus she was dying to be there so I wanted to make her feel part of all this.
So in we went to the hotel to check in. Jeff ran out to the drugstore to buy me some saline and a contact lens case, just in case we needed to stay over (we'd share the room with my parents, or get another room and share it with my brother and Kyla...unknown at this point).
Already the adrenaline was pumping, and now I was not only nervous about meeting Matthew and the enormity of it all (including becoming a parent in public at a major suburban airport) but I was also nervous about the now-unknown, still-to-be-determined situation with Matthew's flight from San Fran.
They said they'd keep us in the loop. In the meantime, we had plenty of time to kill. No sense going to the airport when we didn't even know if their flight would be coming in that night. Off we went to the Irish pub in the Holiday Inn's lobby, for dinner. Nothing like nachos and burgers and beer to calm the nerves.
All along, Margie kept calling us and keeping us apprised of the situation. By about 6:00, she told us that they WOULD be coming in this evening, but it wouldn't be till about 11:30 p.m.
So back we went to the room. Which was small and was now attempting to accommodate seven people (me, Jeff, my mom, my dad, Jeff's mom, Jeff's dad, and Jeff's brother Jay). We decided to move the "waiting party" into the lobby where there were couches and chairs and tables and a TV. Jeff's dad was constantly monitoring the flight status--showing me the little plane icon indicating where exactly Matthew was at that moment. I can still see Jeff and Jay and Ray huddled around Ray's laptop, anxiously studying the flight information. So much love and anxiety for one little boy from Korea! We were so excited to have him finally coming home.
At this point, the only certain thing we knew was that Steve and Kyla and Jack were almost there. They had called to say they were really close and would be there in a couple of minutes. They hadn't yet decided if they would stay overnight or turn right around and make the trip back home.
I have to pause here...time for dinner. Matthew is sleeping peacefully, which means that Jeff and I get to enjoy our salmon, jasmine rice, and steamed green beans (and wine!) sans a crying child...ah, the little things...