Thursday afternoon, December 26, we were complete and ready to go home. Our flight out of Boryspil Airport was at 5:55 am. It would be a long day of travel, but a welcome one. We spent the rest of our afternoon and evening exploring Kiev, buying last minute gifts, and then packing. We tried to sleep a bit before being picked up at 2:45 AM. It was a joy to wake up extremely early that day. We rode to the airport with another family leaving near the same time. We walked into the airport at 4am, checked our bags, got our boarding passes and a final warning from the attendant checking us in to have ALL adoption paperwork ready for passport control! We headed through security without a problem and waited in line for an officer. I noticed how STERN and suspicious they all seemed. More than usual. Maybe it’s the early morning. Maybe it’s the coming to work in the bitter cold of Ukraine. Maybe it’s the training they have. I weighed my options quickly and noticed there was one lady officer. I switched lines. We all three proceeded. She wasn’t chatty but she did pass us through without any proof of adoption. What a miracle. Another adoptive parent going through did not fare as well. She was stuck while they read every document she had. We walked to the gate. Masha’s eyes lit up, and she yelled, “AIRPLANE! AMERICA?” Yes! And we were just as excited as she was to get home. Our first flight was from Kiev to Frankfurt. Luckily we had a 3 hour layover. Masha’s reaction to the plane ride was awesome. She was so excited to go up in the plane and see the lights of Kiev disappear as we flew higher and further away. As we said goodbye to Ukraine (or more probable “see you later”), I know we will return either to adopt again or to visit and show Masha her homeland.
Don't you think her shirt is perfect?
Now back to the happy-to-have-a-3-hour-layover part. It is beyond comprehension to me that you take off from one airport, land at a connecting airport, and are bussed to a terminal where you have to go back through the security process. This is Frankfurt. But to make it all the more pleasant you get to walk 3 miles between gates and terminals (can you feel the sarcasm??) So we set out on our HIKE to the connecting flight and made it with 90 minutes to spare.
The final leg of our journey back to GA began at 10:45 am on Friday morning from Germany. They let us board early with Masha and get settled in for a 10 hour 15 minute (ugh) flight home. It seemed endless. I was amazed at how well Masha did traveling. But...How would she adjust to home? New house? Siblings? All that would be new….clothes, toys, bed, totally different food. Would she enjoy tagging along with Mama and Papa all day every day? We would soon find out. But not soon enough for me. That LONG flight home wears you out.
After 10.5 hours in the air we land in Atlanta and prepared ourselves for Customs & Immigration. Lines were long. And lucky us, we got an overly suspicious and inquisitive officer.
Officer: “WHY were you in Ukraine?” (Embassy packet/Ukrainian passport/adoption paperwork in his hand)
Officer: “How much money do you have on you RIGHT now?”
Officer: “What do you do for a living?”
Me: “Buy and renovate and sell real estate.” (Wondering what does any of this have to do with ANYTHING?)
Enter Officer #2 in full body armor and all weapons to match….
Officer2: “You have a packet?!”
Officer 1: “Yes.”
Officer 2: “I will handle this….follow me.”
Much more pleasant, even fully armed for who-knows-what in the basement of Atlanta Immigration.
He led us to Immigration and set us up to meet with another officer. Within 15 minutes we were cleared and ready to go. Before we went to customs and baggage pick up, Mary Cate took the opportunity to change Masha into a traditional Ukrainian outfit we bought for her. (We had met a sweet shopkeeper in Kiev who took Masha and let her try on clothes while a sweet lady from Odessa translated for us in the store. We shared about adoption as she asked questions and also were able to share about where our motivation comes from. What a blessing!) Masha’s outfit is beautifully handmade, and Michelle had no idea that she had it. She was about to see her for the first time after 3 weeks of being apart J
What JOY filled my soul to walk out and see our family and my BEAUTIFUL wife and (again) new MAMA beaming!
Another child home!
Masha was also filled with joy to reunite with Mama and to meet her new sisters and brothers for the first time. She seemed so genuinely thrilled to be here J
My heart was so filled to overflowing and, as I looked at this scene of family all TOGETHER, I thought about Psalm 127. I looked at all these arrows we are raising up and lighting on fire for HIM. How joyful to have a quiver full!
Or IS it full?.... ;)