Day 1: Travel to Hong Kong

I finished my last blog post a little after 2:00 a.m. and quickly fell asleep. I usually sleep very peacefully, but I think the excitement and butterflies in my stomach woke me up a couple times. At 6:00 a.m. I found myself ready to wake up and get our day started. If memory serves me correctly, I think I had maybe 4 hours of sleep before we traveled to China last time. I was able to switch time zones (12 hour difference) overnight last time and am very hopeful that I can do the same this time.

After getting ready and packing up my toiletries, Ryan and I weighed our bags one last time. It is a little tricky because they can weigh 50 lbs. on international flights; however, for our flight Sunday from Hong Kong to Nanning and next Friday from Nanning to Guangzhou, our checked luggage can only weigh 44 lbs. We will need to move some things around to meet those requirements before leaving Hong Kong.

Danette (my step-mom) came to stay with us overnight last night. She and my dad watched Noah and Liam during our last trip to China, and we are so grateful for their willingness to do it again. I received this text message from her yesterday and instantly started to cry. This picture and text illustrate why I was able to get on the plane this morning – the boys are in such good hands! Danette has extensive experience with children in foster care, and she is a licensed social worker who provides counseling services to college-aged students. She understands that Tucker’s history creates unique circumstances and is prepared to give him kind of reassurance and support he needs, as you can see from the picture she sent. She showed up at our house last night with an entire binder of information to help everyone make this time together as seamless as possible. Danette, we are beyond grateful for the effort and love that you pour into our children! I am confident that they are going to have an amazing time with you and Dad!!

Once we weighed the bags, we made ourselves some breakfast and had coffee with Danette. Noah woke up first and was very excited for that this day had finally arrived! He said, “Mom, going to China is going to be such an incredible experience for me.” So cute! Just before 8:00 a.m., the little boys started to stir in bed, so we all went upstairs to sing them our “Good Morning” song. The boys were very excited to see all four of us greeting them in their rooms. Tucker didn’t want to let me go once he was in my arms. Precious boy! We got the kids dressed and went downstairs for breakfast. While carrying Tuck downstairs, he said, “Mommy, I’m going to miss you in China.” I carried his completely limp body downstairs while his head hung as low as it would go. I was fighting tears but praised God for how far we have come. A year ago, I don’t know that he would have felt that way about me. Our relationship has grown so much, and he is such a gift to me! Liam ate his breakfast, and I showed Danette how to make Tucker’s congee. He asked if he could sit on my lap while feeding him. Absolutely! I got all choked up again thinking about saying goodbye to a little boy who has lost so much. Liam was his relentless self and began begging to open his Day #1 present before preschool. We made a compromise that they could open them as soon as we left.

Still a bit glassy eyed from my goodbye cries. 

My friend Lisa got to our house promptly at 8:30 a.m. just as I was really breaking down saying goodbye to the boys. Tucker just held my face in his hands while looking deep into my eyes and kissing me. I think picked up Liam and began telling him how much I would miss him. I was still crying, and he began kissing my tears and wiping my eyes with his sweet little hands while saying “I will help your tears, Mommy!” Then, in true Liam fashion he said, “I will tell you a joke, and that will make you feel better!” And it did. I am convinced that we have the best little guys. After a dozen more kisses for each of them, Tucker began to smile and come out of his gloomy state. Immediately I thought to myself, “So many people are praying, and He is answering our prayers!” Seeing him smiling gave me just the peace I needed to finally walk out the door. Danette began playing their Day #1 video right away, and we received videos of them opening their first gifts, the photo books I wrote about last night. She took them to preschool and sent pictures of them in their car seats, and I saw that Tucker had brought his to school. Danette said he wanted to show his teachers! I am SO thankful that we made those books! Both boys had a great day at school, watched the songs Ryan made for them, and watched the bedtime stories I recorded for them. From the sound of it, they are doing very well!

A quick picture at the Indy Airport

Cutest world traveler ever!

Lisa dropped us off at the Indianapolis airport close to 9:00 a.m. She took a quick picture and off we went! We did not have confirmed seats for either of our flights today and had been advised to arrive early in order to hopefully get seats together. We showed Noah some of the surprises we had prepared for him in his backpack, and while he busied himself with his Lego sticker book, I began reading all of your Facebook comments and text messages. Thank you so much to each of you who took the time to encourage us, cheer for us, and pray for our family! At 10:30 a.m., we stopped at a restaurant. I ordered some soup, Ryan got a bacon cheeseburger, and Noah wanted French toast. The flight from Indy to Newark, NJ was about 30 minutes late to depart, and I was able to sit right behind Noah and Ryan. This was Noah’s first flight since he was 7 weeks old, and he handled it like a champ! Ryan bought him a digital watch for our trip, and Noah is thoroughly entertained timing every single part of our journey. I read several chapters of Relentless Faith by Beth Guckenberger and fell asleep for maybe 15 minutes.

Waiting for our plane to arrive in Indy

A quick snapshot before take off

Noah sat with Ryan for his first flight to Newark.

An hour and 40 minutes or so later, we arrived in Newark. For our flight to Hong Kong, Ryan, Noah, and I all had seats far away from one another. I could feel fear creeping in imagining my little guy stuck between strangers on the plane. I had to make the conscious decision to give it to God and trust that He is good and that He wants what is best for our family. I asked loved ones to pray and let it go. We had to take a shuttle to our new gate in Newark, and once again, Noah timed the driver. It took only a few minutes to reach our correct gate, and we walked straight to the ticketing counter to elicit some help with our seating arrangement. A nice woman named Jennie worked at the counter for several minutes, trying to figure out who she could move so that we could sit together. In the end, she had Noah and me in the middle section with one person between Ryan and us in a different row. She said that passenger would likely be willing to move and to talk to the flight attendants on the plane. We asked the flight attendant how to proceed, and he recommended that all three of us just sit in this row, and when the person arrived, we could sort everything out. You can imagine my relief when our prayers were answered and all three of us were sitting together for this 16-hour flight!

Smiling because we are all sitting together!

As soon as the plane took off, Noah began watching cartoons while Ryan and I watched American Sniper. I’ve been dying to see it since it came out and was excited to finally have the change. With Noah sitting between us, I had to block the screen with my hands a lot of the time, but he was so engrossed in his own personal TV screen that he never even noticed. We had a meal of chicken with noodles, carrots, and green beans, a salad, a roll, and a brownie. It was decent, and Noah even ate a lot of it! After dinner, they turned out the lights on the plane, and I recommended that we all try to get a nap. We popped Melatonin, and Noah fell asleep 15 minutes later. Ryan and I slept for small chunks of time over the course of an hour and a half. Getting comfortable on a plane is tricky!

We should arrive in Hong Kong at 7:10 p.m. Friday their time, 7:10 a.m. Friday your time. We will have been traveling for 22 hours, and unfortunately, we will still need to catch the train to our hotel from the airport. My hope is that we will get to the room, maybe grab some room service like we did last time, and crash until the next morning (hopefully!!). It is currently -47 degrees outside our airplane, and we are flying over the polar cap. We have another 8 hours and 58 minutes until we arrive in Hong Kong. We have flown 3,548 miles so far and have another 4,912 miles to go.

Timing every single step of our journey

Update: I got a great nap…maybe 2 hours, and Ryan and Noah both slept a couple hours afterward, as well. I laughed my way through Date Night with Tina Fey and Steve Carrell. I had seen it once or twice before, but it was the perfect movie to be entertained. I also just finished Still Alice! We read the book for Book Club, and as soon as I heard it was made into a movie, I have been dying to see it. So sad I didn’t get to see it for the first time with my friends, but I couldn’t resist. Forgive me girls!

I am left thinking about all of you who have supported us the past year during our second adoption process. Thank you so much for loving our family the way you have! Our family received so many cards, texts, pictures, and gifts prior to leaving, and I appreciate all of the thought and time put into each one. I recognize how busy everyone is and to know that you praying for our family gives me more strength than you can imagine. So many of you have signed up to make us dinner once we are home and adjusting as a family of six. Thank you!!! I feel like I have an army standing right behind me, and my Father is walking before me. There is not other way I want to meet my son for the first time.

I cannot believe that I am fortunate enough to be entrusted with raising another young man. To be the mother to my biological children is such a privilege, and to be the mother of two more sons who came into our family through other women is such a gift. I feel honored to be chosen for such a task. I pray that each day I become a better mother than the day before and that our boys grow up with great love for the Lord, their family, their community, and the least of these in our world.

In exactly 3 hours, we will land in Hong Kong! I am excited to spend a couple days in this country while adjusting to the time difference. The forecast has called for a lot of rain so we will see what we are able to do while in country. Wish us luck as we navigate the train from the airport to our hotel, switching lines a couple times our carry on backpacks and luggage. Friday night in Hong Kong – should be a piece of cake, right? J

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