July 16, 1997:
I'm glad we don't have 36 hour days everyday (well, at least when we are transporting a baby from China to the US). Actually, Kristina did very well. The first time she ever flew in a jet, when the crew ask us to put on the seat belts, we put her in a seat and buckled up. As parents, we knew what was best for her, right? She screamed bloody murder the entire landing.
After discussing the pros and cons of seat belt buckling vs. her blood curdling screams, we decided I would carry her in my lap and buckle the seat belt around us both. Trust me, this is the way to go. She was fine on all her plane trips from then on.
We got up at 5:30 AM, had a nice breakfast, got on a bus to the airport in Guangzhou and hopped onto South China Airlines for Hong Kong. There, has had been previously anticipated, we waited for 8 hours just hanging out at the airport. Part of the entertainment for the day, however, consisted of my need to buy Kristina a seat on the return flight home. We did not have that option when we booked the tickets before leaving but often seats become available when it gets closer to the time to fly. Linda's dad reserved us a seat for her and gave me the reservation number. He, however, was not able to purchase the ticket for us. I had to do that once we arrived at the Hong Kong Airport. This is where the fun began.
The obvious thing to do would be to go to the United ticket counter, give them the confirmation number, smile happily as they processed the ticket, pay the money, and go get a bite to eat with the extra Hong Kong dollars you have jingling in your pockets. Things are done differently here.
In China, the airline that brought you in must do the ticket purchasing for you. So I had to go back to South China Airlines (which was quite a hike away), and tell them my story. A lady from South China Airlines told me to give her the baby's passport and my credit card and she would process the ticket for me. She asked me to wait in the hall and she would be right back.
25 minutes later, I began to get a bit antsy. Why didn't I get her name? I had sent my family and friends on to another waiting area. I was sure they were getting concerned. Finally she showed up. Her name was Stella. She asked me to sign something for the ticket and I hurried to connect with Linda, the baby and our friends.
Soon our 8 hour layover in Hong Kong drew to a close as we boarded the 747 for our trip quite literally through the night into the previous day (we would arrive roughly 2 hours before we left even though the trip was to take 12 hours). Kristina slept 6 of those 12 hours and she did very well all her waking hours (except when we needed to change her diapers - surprisingly, she doesn't like us to do that roughly 50% of the time).
After dozing off and on through the 12 hour flight, and trying to find my misplaced earphones so I could actually hear what the actors were saying in the movies we were watching, we arrived at the San Francisco Airport. A friend from the Bay area who previously had adopted a child from China was at the airport video taping our reunion with our family. She has been a tremendous support to us. We were also greeted by my mom and Linda's mom and sister who came to pick us up and greet the baby for the first time. Kristina was a charmer for them all (although she did not want to be held by anyone but us).
It is hard for anyone to adjust to changes but for a baby it must be especially difficult. Everything is on a non-verbal communication level. She must have wondered why the day was so long and "Where are you taking me now," and "who are all these people smiling and ogling over me?" and "what do you mean you want me to go to sleep? Didn't I just wake up a few hours ago?" and "So...is this where we're gonna live now?"