Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Home at Last

Sorry for the delay, but as you might imagine, there has been a flurry of activity around our house since our return. Suffice to say that we're home safe, and Manu is adjusting to his new home and schedule just fine. Nevertheless, here is a little recap of our long trip home:

Our flight was to take off at 3am, and we were told that we needed to be at the airport at least 3 hours in advance, plus 40 minutes to get there, so we decided to stay up Friday evening and try to get some sleep on the plane. I thought that this sounded like a lot of time, but we had no idea what was in store for us. We had a fairly quiet evening of room-service and a last-chance viewing of Indian television; "Indian Idol" was particularly interesting. At 11:30 we headed downstairs to check out and meet our driver for the trip to the airport. After a fairly uneventful ride on unusually quiet Delhi streets we hit gridlock near the airport. When we finally reached the terminal, we were amazed to find thousands of people, in no particular sense of order, awaiting entry into the main building.

After finding our gate we noticed that everyone seemed to have an itinerary that they were presenting to the security guard to gain entrance. Well, our tickets were e-tickets and we didn't have a printout. The security guard didn't care for our explanation and sent us to a different gate, where we found a similar reception from the guard there. He said we would have to find the Lufthansa office to get our itinerary and pointed to a staircase to the left. We were starting to get a little nervous thinking we were going to get this far and then not make our flight. Leslie stayed behind with the baby as I went in search of the golden ticket. What I found was a long, dark hallway with non-descript, unlabeled doors. After walk-running for what seemed like an eternity, I found an open door with three sleepy looking men wearing Lufthansa name badges. They seemed to know why I was there (why else would I be there) and printed our itinerary. I ran back to Leslie and Manu, and we were finally admitted to the terminal. Baggage check took forever, as well as the security line, and by the time we were at our gate, it was only 20 minutes until boarding, so three hours was about right. This had to be the craziest, most disorganized airport I have ever flown through in my life. Bangalore was a breeze compared to this.

We finally board our flight where this time we are in the bulkhead row where they will attach a bassinet after takeoff. We were in the center row, with other small children in the left and right rows. There were a couple of single seats to the right and left of us, and we could see the deflated faces of the men who took those seats, as they realized the hopelessness of their situation! That would have been me a short time ago, LOL. This was an 8 1/2 hour flight, but seemed much shorter, as we all managed to sleep through the first half of it. Manu was very well-behaved, and only needed to be calmed down a couple of times. Landing in Germany we had a 3 hour layover before our next flight. For the first time since we got him, we were asked to prove that he was our's at the security checkpoint. While we had plenty of proof, it was still a little unnerving. Thankfully we are listed as his parents on the last sheet of his passport, and the questioning stopped there. This flight seemed much longer, for although Manu managed to sleep much of the flight, Leslie and I didn't get much rest. These bassinets are wonderful, because even though Manu wouldn't stay in it while he was awake, when he fell asleep it really gave mommy and daddy a break. On this flight we were seated next to an Indian couple with a small girl. It turns out they were also flying to Lexington. The difference between boys and girls could not be more apparent when we noticed that she would lay calmly in her mother's lap and play, while Manu was squirmy and always wanted to be on the move. But as it turned out, she became very fussy and cried continuously for the last hour or so of the flight, while Manu slept through the whole thing. After a very rough landing, through which Manu also slept, we were officially back in the states. We headed through Immigration with our still-sealed envelope. The immigration officer for our line was giving a foreign couple a really hard time for not filling out some form prior to entering the US, but when we got up to him, his demeanor changed completely and he was as friendly a person as we had met the whole trip. He pointed us to a different section of the immigration department where we handed over the envelope and Manu got his final clearance to enter the country. After another uneventful trip through customs, we re-checked our bags to Lexington and headed out into the main airport terminal.

In Chicago we had a 5 1/2 layover. This was particularly brutal considering how far we had come, and what a short flight we had remaining. We found a Chili's restaurant and sat down for a bite to eat. Afterward we headed to our gate where we found out that once again we would be taking a small jet and boarding from the outside. We took turns nodding off while waiting for our plane to arrive. After a slight delay due to our plane needing service, we headed outside where Manu was rudely introduced to the United States with 15 degree weather. Daddy was also a little cold, as he was wearing was a short-sleeve shirt and sandals. On the plane we slept through most of the 50 minute flight before finally arriving in Lexington, nearly 27 hours after leaving our hotel.

We were met at the top of the escalator by Leslie's brother Brian. Then we headed down where we were met by the rest of the family and friends. This was really special for us to have the people we love help us share Manu's first few moments home. After some tears and congratulations we loaded the bags into the cars and headed for home. Before we left the airport we ran into an airport employee who had checked us in 2 weeks earlier. We had told her that we were traveling to India to adopt, and she was so excited for us, and she hoped that she would be around when we returned. Well she was, so we introduced her to Manu, and she was very happy for us. That was a nice finish to all of our airport adventures. Back home the family stayed with us for a bit so that they could pass-around Manu. After a few hours they left for the evening and it was just us again. We were all wired from the excitement of the last few hours, so we unpacked our bags and played with Manu until he finally fell asleep soundly. I think we got to bed around 2:30am.

Since then we are adjusting well to being home again, jet lag not withstanding. We've made the rounds to introduce Manu to our friends and co-workers, and have taken a trip or two shopping. I'll go back to work next week, and Leslie will stay home for several more. Every day brings us closer together, as Manu gets more comfortable that we will always be there for him. It's hard to believe that our little adventure is over, but the fun is just beginning. I'm not sure how this blog will proceed from here; I'll try and post regularly Manu's exploits as the world's cutest baby! And while I have done all of the writing, the thoughts and feelings conveyed here belong to both Leslie and myself. And to her I would like to close out this chapter by saying, I can't believe this has really happened to us. All of the highs and lows of the last year have been worth it, and I'd do it all over again. I have never loved you more than I do right now. From now on and forever, it will always be me, you and Manu.


  1. Wow! I can't wait meet the little guy, mano-a-Manu!
    Leslie and Jeff, I couldn't be happier for two finer people, and I'm just overwhelmed by the blessing you two will be to Manu himself.
    Welcome home, guy! You're the luckiest little guy in the universe!

    Tim in Tennessee

  2. OK Jeff, you've made me cry! I've been reading these all along, but somehow missed this last one. We're soooooooo happy for you. Can't wait to meet Manu!

    Dawn & Jon
    Indianapolis, IN