15 months after starting this fantastic adoption journey, we finally arrived home Thursday night (with the little lotus in our arms, forever) via a 25-hour, hop-skip-and-jump, triple-country connection of Guangzhou, China > Tokyo, Japan > Chicago, U.S.and.A. > Nashville, Tennessee. I tell ya, being home in Music City never felt so good.
Our little world traveler – who has now visited three countries before taking her first steps – outperformed herself on this long and busy travel day. It was either a blessing or a curse that four other adoptive families shared the same first two flights as us out of China. But we kept Julia easily entertained in her seat on the plane, with only a few required distractions (and no electronics!) to prevent her percussionist tendencies from bugging the person in the seat in front of us. We got her to nap in the classic airport benches during our long layover in Japan, while Mom and Dad dined on (darn good) take-away sushi. Then she slept 6.5 hours of the longest leg from Tokyo to Chicago, although some of the positions she found looked incredibly uncomfortable. She even taught Dad a good lesson in how to keep a smile when dealing with ever-so-grumpy U.S. Customs officials who confiscated seemingly everything in our diaper bag. All in all, only one small throw-up on our first flight (induced by us trying to force solid foods from the airline kid’s meal) came close to souring the day. Nice work, Jujube!
We were greeted in Nashville by a small welcoming committee, perfectly sized for this timid little Bee. Julia was asleep as we walked up the terminal, and awoke pleasantly surprised to see so many strange, beaming faces (many with tears in their eyes). Truth be told, Mom and Dad were welling up a bit too, knowing that countless individuals (including many critical ones at the airport that night) made it possible for this moment to happen in the first place. And that these sweet people traveled far themselves just to see her in the flesh. It felt a bit surreal to be finally on American soil, with friends and family touching the sweet skin we’d be hogging to ourselves the past 10 days.
Thank you dearly to our friend Neely Catignani – an amazing Nashville-based family photographer (www.neelycatignani.com) – for being at the airport to capture the special occasion. And we’ll be doing a full-on session with her at the house soon, so that the world can see Julia’s perfect little face via the lens of a professional photographer in a setting that’s NOT a hotel room.