Yes, it has been two months since Jones (he now has a code name like the rest of the kids–“security purposes,” you know–but his given name is what we call him and I love that we didn’t change it.) I have yet to even post about his homecoming. I used to wonder, as I read other people’s blogs who had adopted children from Ethiopia, why they didn’t post more about their lives when that child first came home. I wanted to know what the day to day looked like and what emotions they were going through. Now I understand why so few people do–you’re too freaking busy with maintaining a semblance of a normal family life! That being said, I am finally feeling like life has normalized a bit and have the time to sit and write, so here’s the story of Jones’ first day in America:
Twenty three hours of air travel is enough to make anyone see cross eyed, and when you take into account that one of the passengers on this journey had never flown, was leaving the only home he’d ever known with two people he hardly knew still, you’d think it was a recipe for a complete disaster. Not the case, I’m proud to report, for our travels. Jones did amazingly well the entire time. I even slept about 4-5 hours, which is probably the most I have ever slept on an airplane cumulatively in my life before this trip, which is a testament to how relaxed he was on the flight. He was fascinated with the entire journey and didn’t complain for a second. I knew he had to be stressed as he hardly ate anything the entire time but he was content watching movies (laughing the happiest laugh at the funniest parts, which amused the family sitting in front of us), playing with the toys we had saved for the trip, and just resting.
|Finally, we land!|
When we finally arrived in Atlanta, we knew our families would be waiting on us near baggage claim. Jones seemed to sense that something big was going to happen and when we finally did spot our twenty something family members waiting for us, I remember breathing a huge sigh of relief to finally be home, finally off a plane, and finally, finally, finally finished with the hellish process to bring him home. Buddy and Lou were eagerly waiting with signs they had made in hand, smiling from ear to ear, ready to greet their brother. They were all shy around each other at first but I loved that they had met, had played, had started the process of being brothers and sisters. Laughter, tears, hugs, smiles…..love. It emanated from every single person there and I was overwhelmed with how good life can be when you are loved and love.
After the airport greeting, we all headed to Aunt Anda’s house to unwind for awhile before we headed to dinner. One day, I hope Jones can tell us how he felt in those first few hours with this enormous family surrounding him, vying for his attention, wanting them all to play with him. He did great though and while he was shy, he was very curious.
|All his new cousins and siblings!|
|Amazingly, Hayes was home for an audition and was part of the day’s festivities!|
We headed to dinner at a local Ethiopian restaurant where the owner had prepared a feast for us. We wanted to treat the family to an Ethiopian meal to thank them for being so supportive and loving Jones before they even met him. It was such a perfect ending to the day and Jones again behaved wonderfully well. I could tell he was getting tired but wanted to hang on to every second of the day, knowing that his new life had officially begun in the states.
As we were driving home from the restaurant back to Aunt Anda’s house, where we would spend the night, he kept looking out the windows in the car from side to side. We were driving down Rugby Ave. (and anyone reading this who is familiar with College Park knows how beautiful tree-lined Rugby Ave. is) and he said with obvious awe in his voice, “America.” It was my favorite moment of the entire day.
He slept like a champ and the next morning we took our time heading back to the mountains. Grandmother insisted on having us over for brunch and prepared quite a feast for us, no surprise. I laughed as I watched him eating his meal in her home that could qualify as an art museum, eating with her beautiful gardens as his view, and at a table that could have been set for a king. It was quite the scene and so vastly different than anything he had ever known (hell, it’s vastly different than anything I have ever known in my own life except for Wednesday nights during my childhood, when my grandparents would bravely host me and my siblings for sleepovers)!
|Brunch with Grandmother|
We made the trek back north and arrived home to the smell of a turkey roasting in the crock pot. As we walked inside we discovered not only a fabulous dinner and snacks waiting on us but a welcome home sign made by local elementary students, goodies from the fabulous Hazelwood Soap Company, and toys and books for the kids. It was the most incredible thing I have ever seen. THANK YOU Diana, Heather, Amanda, and Katie!!
|All smiles when they found the house decorated|
|Exploring every inch of the house|
|Banner made by Buddy’s old school and classmates|
|Personalized bubble bath–only the best from HSC!|
The kids were so excited to show Jones around the house. As we toured upstairs, he carefully opened every drawer and cabinet, inspecting the contents. He was very respectful and sweet but I’m sure he was wondering, “Don’t these kids like toys?” As soon as we ventured downstairs, he knew he had hit the jackpot. He ran around in the kid’s play room like it was Christmas morning, eagerly checking out every single toy in the room. He was sooooo excited and happy!
We ate dinner and honestly the rest of the night is a blur! We were still exhausted from jet lag and all the excitement but I do remember he slept all night in his bed and didn’t have a bit of trouble falling asleep in his new room. We couldn’t have asked for a better experience from start to finish with bringing him home!