The bottom line is that we are safe and sound, with kiddos in our home now, and they are hard to find in the dark because they blend in perfectly. You can stop reading now.
Here's what really happened.....
We left the guest house at 6pm, after a wonderful Ethiopian dinner, and got to the airport shortly after. The airline desk was unmanned and we had to wait several hours just to get checked in, get a wheelchair for Joni (we asked 3 times), and be able to go through security. We were really praying that all the baby food we were bringing in larger-than-4oz containers would not be confiscated. Praise God it wasn't.
We met a mom in Addis who gave us some kiddo-Dramamine. She and her husband are American, just finished a 9-year teaching assignment in Ethiopia, and were on their way to Kenya with their kids. She was right-- it really did help with the ear-popping thing, and neither kiddo got really fussy during takeoff or landing. I am a fan.
We had booked and requested and re-requested a bulkhead row, or exit row, or anything that would give us more space with the kids. Nope. Because the airline's computer system was down, and because the particular airline is rather inept, we were not even seated together as a family. I think the flight from Addis to Frankfurt via Jeddah, Saudi Arabia was about the most hot, cramped, and miserable I have experienced. I ended up with a headache, sitting on the floor in the food-prep area with Jayce, just trying to survive, flight attendants sneaking sympathetic, concerned glances at my pathetic form. I had a moment promising God that if He just got us home, I would never adopt again, or even fly internationally, for that matter! Not a serious prayer, and He knew it. But there were many "what have we done????" questions running through my head. Thankfully we had a 3 hour layover in Frankfurt.
Frankfurt had it's own challenges, but we were blessed by a very kind airport dude... or whatever those people are that wheel wheelchairs and help old people with their luggage and wear little burgundy vests. Anyway, this guy went over-the-top for us, didn't let us out of his sight, and carefully toted us through all the hoops and barrels of an unfamiliar airport. We tried to tip him well, but he sincerely declined, saying it was his pleasure and honor to help us, he appreciated what we were doing, and was blessed to be of service. He was a serious breath of fresh air. May his tribe increase.
I laughed at one checkpoint. One of the airport staff looked at me holding Jayce (Philip was a distance away), and asked if "my man" (husband/boyfriend/whatever) was black? "Um, no, he's that good looking white guy over there!" Oh, the look of confusion was priceless.
Because we had kids and a wheelchair (Joni can't walk very far at all), we were part of the "pre-boarding" group. Standing in line for that, Jayce began screaming, and the lady ahead of us glared and covered her ears. Um, sorry ma'am. I tried to hand out my little ear-plug packets. She took one then declared the candy "disgusting". <Insert rolling eyes> May her tribe decrease.
We were not able to secure bulkhead seating ahead of time in Frankfurt either (remember, the airline's computers crashed). Praise God that once we were on the plane, there were a few empty seats and the stewardess asked if we wanted the extra bulkhead seat with a bassinet! I couldn't say "YES!" fast enough or loud enough! That also meant that there were two extra empty seats between Philip and Joni, which gave them space to spread out a little. One of the attendants was an adoptive mom herself, and had brought her daughter home from Ethiopia 6 years ago. She was able to pull a few strings for me and allow me to stand in the back even though I was technically in the way of the other attendants.
In the first few hours of flight, they fed us lunch while Anya and I were sitting in the bulkhead. We were eating, playing and laughing together.... and then she pooped. All of a sudden, there was poop all over her, all over the carpet, the wall, her blanket, the airline's blanket, and the airline's pillow. All. Over. Everything. I don't think Philip initially believed me when I motioned to him and said I needed help. He cleaned her up, and I scrubbed poop out of the airplane's carpet and bagged up the mess. May I never have to do that again. I felt sorry for the folk around us that had to smell the lovely smell as they ate. People were very gracious. It's not like there was anything I could have done about it. It was still a frantic moment.
I was SUPER thankful for the earplug packets on that 10 hour flight. Jayce set up a wail and refused to be comforted for about 4 hours. The health of his lungs has only increased in the last months. People seemed understanding, many accepted earplugs, and one lady commented how adorable the note was, and how we "have the love of everyone on this flight". Aww!
Standing for hours at a time in the back holding a screaming, kicking and fighting Jayce, I had a good chat with God, asking for His grace and peace. As I questioned the sanity of taking Jayce away from everything he knew and thought about his pain and frustration at his current circumstances, I realized my own position before God in a new way. Sometimes we scream and fight against God, thinking we want our familiar life of sin back, and struggling against His best for us. I am so humbled that He continues to hold us, restraining us when necessary, and doesn't write us off or put us down or walk away. Before, Jayce had no family, no hope, and no future. That isn't really what he wants to return to, but he doesn't know it yet. It is what is familiar for him. Without God, we have no Abba, no hope, and no future. It can be a familiar place, but it is nothing compared to what God offers us as we abide in Him through the blood of Christ. That change and growth process can be painful.
20 minutes before we landed, both the kids finally fell asleep. Really??? Of course they woke up the moment we touched down. We somehow survived customs and immigration. I say "somehow" because I have never been stretched to my physical limit like that before. I had gotten about 5 hours sleep over the course of 30+ hours travel, was pushing a wheelchair with one hand, and carrying a (very heavy, large) child with the other arm, and having to navigate twisty lines and endless distances. My back felt broken, frozen into a kink, and there was no place to rest until we were able to recheck our baggage and make it to our gate. All thoughts of having a welcoming party in Portland were gone. I was DONE. I had just given birth to twins, and didn't even have all the birthing blood and goop cleaned off of me yet. I was still in the birthing room, and there was no one that I wanted to see me in that state. We hadn't even had time to snuggle as a family yet. I almost burst into tears a dozen times.
My mommy flew to Seattle to meet us during our long layover there. It was blissful, and just what I needed. Coffee, my mommy, and an extra pair of hands and eyes to help with the kids. Joni was in much pain from the flights, and so she went and lay down to sleep for a while. Anya and Jayce liked my mom right away, and Anya fell asleep on mom almost immediately. Mom, of course, was in heaven meeting her grandkiddos for the first time. She declared them beautiful, and couldn't take her eyes off them. She refrained from changing the very poopy diaper, though. Anya had used up allllll her extra clothes on the plane, and was wearing her last pair of pants during the layover. She went through 4 diapers in as many hours. (I have an appointment for her tomorrow morning at the pediatric clinic to do something about the diaper issue.)
The last flight from Seattle to PDX was fast and uneventful. Praise Jesus. Anya slept on mom the entire way, and we had a very small welcoming committee at the airport. It was just Philip's dad and sister (who brought our car up to the airport), and my Gram with a family friend who brought her. Thankfully, everyone else was understanding and was mercifully absent from this last stage of the process.
We got home, and as soon as everyone left, I burst into tears. Nothing was "wrong" necessarily, just a lot of pent up emotion and stress and exhaustion. The kids were awake until midnight. Philip and I were falling over we were so tired. Today we had a few visitors, most of them were brief. We went on our first family outing: a walk with our double stroller. It felt nice. I am not sure the kids were a fan, but they will have to get used to it.
I have some pics, but I'm once again exhausted and will maybe add some tomorrow. Please continue to be in prayer as we all adjust in the coming days.
Oh, Anya said her first English word, "monkey" last night. It sorta came out "ma-hey", but that's ok.
We do want visitors, but please text ahead of time to ask if it is a good time. Please plan to stay only about 5 minutes. Jayce does best when he is not the center of attention, so please refrain from making a "fuss" over the kids, although Anya does a little better with new people. Thank you!