We woke early on Friday morning and went down to breakfast. If I have not mentioned it yet, the breakfasts were amazing. my personal favorite, besides the amazing coffee, was the options for fresh fruit juice; watermelon, cantelope, grapefruit – pick your poison. We sat in the covered outdoor table and enjoyed our last morning in this country, lingering longer than we had any other day.
Finally we took our luggage downstairs and checked our room one last time. It was just your average hotel room, but it was the first home we ever shared as a family, and it felt strange leaving. We left a thank you note with some cookies for the front desk staff who had been so helpful all week and said goodbye. So many of them had gone out of their way to help us – Estuardo, Maria Jose, Paolo, Erick, Rossy, and several others. Estuardo even went shopping for us at the grocery our first day while we stayed with our new daughter. They were professionals, certainly, but they were genuinely kind individuals.
We loaded our luggage onto the airport shuttle and left. We checked in at the airport and got our boarding passes, and made our way through security. Then we waited. The airport was barely air-conditioned and uncomfortably warm. We passed the time by chatting with a young Guatemalan women named Daisy who was returning on our flight to her home in Las Vegas. She was nervous about customs too. She held Yosi some and played with her on the seat where she sat between her and Lyndie. I wandered around the airport until it was time to board.
On the plane Yosi did better than she might have, only crying occasionally. We gave her a bottle during take off to help her ears pop. After three hours in the air we set down in Atlanta and began our trek through customs and immigration. As it turned out, it didn’t take nearly as long as I had feared. We would have made it through in time even with our original tickets, before we changed them. We said goodbye to Daisy and another adoptive family we had met while waiting and headed to our plane to that would take us home to Ohio.
The plane was very small and everyone on board was tired. It was almost 11 p.m. Yosi was finally starting to act cranky. Across from us sat a man in his mid-forties who looked like he didn’t go in for the cranky baby show. He was sunburned and wore a Nascar cap and a cut-off work shirt. His tight jeans bore a proudly shiny belt buckle. And he wanted nothing more than to sleep. As we lifted into the air I was worried how he was going to respond if our now wailing 8 month old didn’t calm down. And yet every time I looked over at him he was looking at Yosi with a distant smile, a fatherly compassion on his face I hardly felt myself. It reminded me we really know nothing about people from their appearance, and our assumptions only serve to close us off from those around us.
We landed in Dayton and walked off the plane onto the tarmac. Inside the terminal we stepped aside and let our fellow passengers file past. This was our final few minute alone as a family of three. At the other end of the airport, waiting with signs and smiles and way too much noise would be our much larger family. It would never be just the three of us again.
Lyndie changed Yosi into an outfit she had prepared, pink and flowery and frilly. We put Yosi into a sling around my neck and walked down the long, nearly empty concourse and stopped just before the final turn that would reveal our waiting relatives. We took some deep breaths, smiled, and kissed. This was going to be a big moment for Yosi, even though she didn’t realize it and wouldn’t really know what was happening. These people were her family now too, and they couldn’t wait to meet her. We rounded the corner and walked toward them.
It didn’t take long for them to notice us. They had signs. They covered the entire end of the hall so other passengers had to go around the sides. I believe there may have been hopping up and down from a few individuals. Lyndie videoed while Kari, her sister, came forward and smiled close to her new niece. We had been clear to everyone they wouldn’t be holding her tonight, but they got as close as they could. Grandparents, great-grandparents, aunt, uncle and miscellany all crowded around to greet the little baby they had been praying about, looking at pictures of and donating time and money to bring home for almost a year. Lyndie’s Dad tried to play peekaboo with her, Yosi squeezed her new grandmother’s nose. The kid took it like a champ. She smiled, eyes wide.
An older Mexican women who had been talking with our family while they waited squeezed through the crowd and looked at Yoselin. She said some sort of prayer in Spanish and pressed her thumb to Yosi’s forehead in a blessing. Then she disappeared into the crowd and we never saw her again.
We got our bags, loaded into our car, and said goodbye and many thank yous to our family. We drove home, exhausted but content. At home we showed Yosi her new room, her new crib, and laid her down to sleep. It was over. We were home, and now we were three.
1 – Preparing to Travel
2 – The Longest Two Hours Ever
3 – Love and Terror
4 – So, Shall We Cry?
5 – A Peaceful Shore
6 – Fear in a Foreign Place
7 – Feeling Really Stupid but Too Tired to Care
8 – Venturing Forth a Confident and Effeminate Man
9 – Eduardo
10 – Embassy Day
11 – Final Sights and Saying Goodbye