Friday, June 30, 2017

THE JOURNEY HOME

My computer died on me and it has been so frustrating because I have really wanted to finish posting about our adventure to bring Vivien home. Thankfully Brent got me set up with a new computer and soon I hopefully will be all organized and up to date on my pictures again.

So we woke up on Friday morning April 14th and had our last breakfast and we packed up our bags. We then left our room which had been our home for almost two weeks. We met a guide we hadn't yet met in the lobby and she had all of our necessary paperwork to take Vivien home. She also accompanied us to the train station and I am so glad she did. I had bought our tickets online after unsuccessfully trying to buy them earlier in the week in person because I didn't have enough cash. When we got there it didn't take long to realize that we could not pick up our tickets to Hong Kong in Guangzhou, but we had to pick them up in Hong Kong. So we had to buy tickets again. Without our guide, I'm not sure we would have ever figured that out, because the train station folks were not helpful or nice about it. Having to buy them again would have been fine except I again didn't have enough cash! So we ran around with our cute guide trying to find a place to exchange money. We were all frantic because we didn't have that much time and Stella was all freaked out that we were going to have to move to China. And of course poor Vivi was screaming because I had walked away. Finally when we found the money exchange I calmed down enough to remember the extra money I had put in a little pocket for emergencies...and I realized all that fuss was for nothing because I had enough money the whole time. Sometimes over planning works to your disadvantage in China, because if we had just shown up and bought the tickets like all of the other people we would have had no worries. Anyway, after that is was pretty much smooth sailing thank heavens.

Vivi was adorable in the train station as she played with our luggage. She thought pushing those babies around was the best thing that could have ever happened to her.



Vivi was very good on the train for the most part. She liked the adventure. It was right at nap time though, and she did not want to go down for a nap. But after screaming really loud for about 30 seconds she found her thumb and she was asleep fast. The train ride felt really fast and in no time at all we were back where we started in Hong Kong.





When we arrived this fellow approached us and asked us if we needed a taxi. I was immediately wary of him and yet also very impressed with his gumption. He told me he would charge us what I was expecting to pay and he didn't care if some of the money was Chinese, which was great for us, because that is what we had. I was still leery, but he smiled and said he was like an Uber and so I just thought, fine lets go.

You know, I really felt like angels we watching out for us all of the time, and this "Uber" situation could have gone really bad, but it actually was great. He zipped us right to the airport and was pretty hilarious. He told us there was no traffic because of the Easter weekend. It was strange to all of the sudden be in a country that celebrated Easter. I was so happy to be there and be so close to the end of our journey. Stella got pretty car sick, but other than that out drive was easy peasy and he actually charged us less than what he told us. After getting all checked in to our room and settling down I realized I hadn't been this happy to be anywhere in my whole life. Everyone was speaking English and I had a hamburger for dinner and I just felt like we were going to be home soon and I was really thrilled.

We decided to take Vivi to the "heated" pool. It was very cold, and she liked it fine. We didn't stay long though because we were pretty tired and we had an early morning ahead of us. But still it was Vivi's first swim and she looked adorable.



As we left our hotel that morning a family was also coming out of their room and the college aged girl was wearing a BYU sweatshirt. So of course I started to talk to them and they were on our same flight home. It gave me something to focus on rather than the looming 12 hour flight. While at the airport, we had to go through several security checkpoints, but we made it to the gate and Vivi had her Chinese passport and Visa and she was ready to fly.


Within the first 15 minutes of being on that plane, I had already decided that this was going to be the worst 12 hours of my life. Vivi did NOT want to be buckled in her seat. She screamed like crazy after being buckled. She dumped all of the fish, and yogurt melts all over pretty much right away. I had gotten out all of my distraction toys to try and appease her within the first half hour and she was still furious. Thank heavens for Brent who was able to hold her on her lap and let her settle down a bit for a good few hours.

My TV, that had been my saving grace on the flight to Hong Kong never worked on this flight. That was so frustrating, but there was nothing to be done about it so we just dealt with it. When it was working for a few minutes I made the mistake of watching a movie that I assumed would be edited for content. It wasn't, and my TV froze right in the middle of a very inappropriate moment. I was mortified and I had to call the flight attendant over for help. He was all annoyed about having to fix it and I looked at him and said: "It is frozen on boobs!" I was holding up a blanket and Brent was laughing at me, I was soon laughing so hard I was crying. I also think I was real crying at the thought of spending the next 11 hours holding up a blanket to cover my screen. Thankfully the rebooted it and got rid of the offensive image, but my TV never worked again and I couldn't even turn it off to get rid of the glow from it. Lame.

Once Vivi realized that no amount of being annoyed was getting her off of the plane she settled into it. I would put her down for naps on the floor and she would scream and then fall asleep. Unfortunately she never slept for long. When she woke up just a little and realized she didn't know where she was she would freak out. She got more sleep than me though, which was none. To get through the flight, I kept picturing my house, and imagining finally being home. It didn't seem to help much at the time.

But we finally made it to breakfast which is right before you land. Vivi ate it up and I couldn't believe we had survived. I felt so much closer to her after that flight because I felt like we had gone to war together. I can't be the first adoptive parent to feel that way, and I am sure I won't be the last.
Then oh my goodness I couldn't believe it we landed in Seattle! It was amazing! We had a short wait in immigration where there was absolutely no issues with Vivi's paperwork. As soon as he told us to go ahead I had to giggle to keep myself from bursting into tears. We did it! We brought our baby to the United States. So much work, time, money, frustration all comes down to this random nice guy saying welcome home, and its about as surreal as it gets.

We had to get our bags and recheck them for our flight to SLC. I was pretty annoyed when I had to throw away like 5 bottles of unopened Evian water. Grrrrrrr. But as you can see, months later it doesn't bother me at all. ;)





We had a decent layover in Seattle, but it wasn't too bad. It didn't feel too long. Vivi was in great spirits charming everyone around her. I was pretty much delirious, but I was awake enough to call home to a few people and brush my teeth. 

Our last flight was extremely short and Vivi was asleep before we even took off (she screamed first of course). I thought I would just crash with her, but I was either too tired or too excited so I watched TV and we then bam, we were home. 

I sent out a text that we had landed and I got texts back that I should hold up because not everyone was there yet. Bless my family, but I didn't care. I didn't rush, but I didn't wait any longer than necessary to get off of that plane. Before we got down the escalators there was my dad being the greedy greeter that he is. He was obviously determined to see his granddaughter first before anyone else. Vivi took one look at him and let out a scream. I knew then that the adorable friendly Vivi that I was toting around the Seattle airport would not be joining us for our big welcome home moment. 

So yeah, it wasn't the beautiful tearful happy reunion I had imagined. It is funny because I never had expectations for anything in China, but I did kind of have some expectations for our reunion with our family and it wasn't anything like I pictured. Vivi would not let go of me. If anyone gave her any attention she freaked out. She basically was the worst version of herself in that moment. I know nobody really cared, and they didn't expect her to have survived such a journey without some tears, but I knew this was the only chance most of our family would have to meet her before we bunkered down for our adjustment period at home. So I was bummed that she wasn't doing her tricks, but also at the same time I was too tired to get that worked up about it. We were home and she was home and it was glorious.

Tyler took pictures for us, so he isn't in any. But then neither is Brent because he was off doing who knows what. :)
































We took her and our tired selves out to the car. Tyler had brought our car and I honestly didn't recognize it. I may or may not have been too tired to legally drive, but I pressed on. And by some miracle we made it home. Vivi screamed the minute she was buckled in her new car seat and she didn't stop until we got home. In fact, both Stella and Vivi were crying the entire way home. It was just as picture perfect as you would imagine. :)

And then just like that Vivi walked in the door and instantly acted like she lived there. It was so weird. She just seemed at home. After staying in the hotel for so long I was thinking she would think she lived there, but the minute she was in our house she seemed so content. It was really nothing short of a miracle really. Within seconds of being home she had grabbed all the remotes and found a bottle of Windex and I never could figure out where she found the Windex. Our little rascal was into everything!






It was the Saturday before Easter, it was about 3 PM and we didn't have any produce like items. So I decided before I got too tired I would run over to Einstein's and Sprouts for some food to get us through the weekend. It was then, while walking into my precious neighborhood Sprouts that I allowed myself to really accept that I was home. I started to cry and I was so happy. We did it! Holy cow that was hard and we did it! We were home with our girl. I knew it wasn't going to be easy to be a new mom of a young toddler, but I felt so hopeful and happy in that moment it fueled me for at least two hours until we crashed at 6 PM.

I woke up an hour later with the worst charley horse of my life, but after that I didn't move until Vivi woke us all up at 5 AM Easter morning. Life as I knew it was never going to be the same.












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