Wednesday, July 24, 2013

China Day Seventeen - Coming Home!

We were up early for one more breakfast in Hong Kong and then we checked out of our lovely Premier Rooms and caught the free hotel shuttle to the airport, about 5 minutes away. We were delivered right to the United terminal and managed to get into the check-in line right in front of a group of 30 schoolchildren. They checked our passports, issued our boarding passes and checked our luggage. Then it was time to go through security and immigration with our Hong Kong departure forms. We made it to the gate with a little bit of time to spare. We definitely attracted the attention of a lot of the schoolchildren with our matching Chinese name shirts and little Davis by our side. Eventually we boarded the plane and our flight took off at 10:30am. Davis's first plane ride and it would be over 13 hours to Newark, New Jersey. He started off in between Grandmommy and Granddaddy and was fast asleep before the plane even took off.

It was a long flight and the Newark crew wasn't as friendly as the ones we had on the way over. But we made the best of it and passed Davis around from seat to seat to try and help break the trip up. Here is he with Daryl watching a movie and listening with the headphones. Fortunately all three boys napped. 

Our flight landed early (yeah!) in Newark. We had to go first through immigration and everyone's passports got stamped. Then we had to take the infamous brown folder of paperwork into a back room for processing. Only Daryl and Davis and I could go, so Grandmommy and Granddaddy hung out with the big boys. It took about 25 minutes and Davis' passport was returned to us and we were free to go. He became a US citizen as soon as his feet hit US soil. The paperwork we turned in was from the consulate to immigration and his certificate of citizenship should arrive at our house sometime in the next 6 weeks (His Social Security card with his Chinese name as already arrived at our house).

We could see the Freedom Tower in New York City from the airport.
Our next step was to collect our baggage, recheck our bags for our domestic flight, find the right terminal and go through security again. After sitting by a gate for almost an hour, they changed our gate to the opposite end of the terminal. And somewhere in there we grabbed dinner in the food court. The next flight left at 6:40pm for Tampa - three more hours until familiar territory. We knew Uncle Kelly and Uncle Nam would be there, because they had kept our van at their house during our trip. We also knew my mom would be there (wearing her matching Chinese name shirt). We had also arranged for a local photographer to capture our arrival home - many, many thanks to Annie Agarwal for donating her time through Red Thread Sessions!  This is just two of the photos that Annie took that night.

We were surprised at the airport by a few other folks as well - Debby Baugher and her daughters Lindsi and Jami and her mother Joyce all the way from Ocala and also our friend and colleague Rev. Sabrina Tu from Tampa, who brought her mother and her two nephews. Sabrina is half-Vietnamese, half-Chinese and had been following our journey. Later Uncle Clark met us at baggage claim. We were so touched by everyone who showed up at 10pm on a Friday night to welcome us home! It was SO good to be back in Tampa and to see such friendly faces!  Uncle Nam took a couple of videos of our arrival. 

I drove my mom's car back to Daryl's parents house and the rest of our crew followed in our van. When we came up the dirt road, we found that Uncle Daniel's crew had come home early from their vacation in Orlando to welcome us as well. Great sign and lots of balloons inside the house!!!! We went in and dug into all of the McDonald's food that Uncle Nam and Uncle Kelly had brought with them. Davis enjoyed meeting his aunt and uncle and cousins.

It seemed a bit surreal to be "home" and to have Davis with us. Daryl and I are so thankful for all of our family and friends who supported us over the last year on this journey to our son. And we are especially grateful to have been able to share the memories of our time in China with Parker, Wesley and Grandmommy and Granddaddy too. It was a wonderful trip and an amazing experience together. 

It took a while for everyone to settle down but eventually we had to force ourselves into bed. Uncle Daniel and Aunt Dawn had planned a big "Welcome Home Davis" party for the next morning and we wanted to be at our best! 

No comments: