Monday, January 3, 2011
Andrew Brighton Samuels arrived in the U.S. on December 31, 2010. After a 14 hour flight from Addis to DC, about 7 hours layover in Dulles, a short 2-hour flight to Atlanta, and then a 2-hour drive to Birmingham, Andrew finally arrived HOME!
Dad and I had a nice brief trip to Addis to get him. We left Atlanta on Monday, December 27, arrived in Addis on the morning of the 28th. After a day of rest, we went at 10 am on Wednesday morning to go to the orphanage to get Andrew. My beautiful boy was ready for me, and as soon as I held him in the carrier, he put his head on my chest and fell asleep! There was no crying at all--it was such an easy transition! We stayed for an hour or so at the orphanage where they had a coffee ceremony for us. They served us popcorn, oranges and pineapple, barley, and of course, coffee. We talked with the orphanage director, the nurse, and several of the nannies to thank them for the wonderful care they gave Andrew.
We returned to the hotel for a quick change of diaper/clothes and then headed to the US Embassy to complete the adoption process in Ethiopia. We sat in the waiting room for about 40 minutes, and Andrew was content to be held and bounced, talked to, and sung to. Then we were called to the window for the approximately 3-minute interview that completed the adoption, made Andrew a US citizen, and allowed me to travel into the US with him.
That first night, Andrew slept in the bed with me, and I basically just watched him all night. He slept OK, but was up about every 2 hours for a bottle and a diaper change. The next day, we just hung around the hotel, went for a walk in the hotel parking lot in the stroller, and then we went to lunch at the home of our agency's Ethiopian contact. There, we ate authentic Ethiopian food, dressed in authentic clothes, laughed and took pictures with the 2 other families who were on their first trip. Again, Andrew was great--so flexible...quick to smile, happy to be held, easy to be with. After a long afternoon visiting, Dad and I went back to the hotel to pack up for our trip home, as our flight left at 10:15 pm.
The Ethiopian Airlines flight from Addis to DC had 20 infants on it!!! Crazy!! With 20 infants and only 3 bassinet seats on the flight, you can do the math and guess that we did not get a bassinet for Andrew. Fortunately, though, a wonderful flight attendant shuffled our seats (a middle and an aisle) for a row of 3 seats in the center of the plane. So, Dad and I sat on either side of an empty seat, and I set it up with pillows and blankets to make a little play pen of sorts for Andrew. We had space to change him, feed him, and allow him to stretch out and play some. He was absolutely fabulous on the flight! There were LOTS of crying babies on that flight but mine was not one of them!! Honestly, the longest cry he had was probably about 10 seconds, and it was likely because I was too slow at changing his diaper! He was fantastic. We laughed and smiled, walked around every once in a while, and we made it through the 14 hour flight in great condition. I am so incredibly lucky.
When we got home, Mom was waiting for us, along with my 2 sisters, a brother in law, a nephew, several close neighbors and friends. We brought in the new year with my new son!! Extremely tired, but extraordinarily happy!!
Andrew has adjusted so well. He laughs and smiles. I even got him to sleep for 5 hours straight last night! I am learning his schedule:-)
I will write more soon...for now suffice it to say that I am absolutely in love with this beautiful boy. I am overwhelmed with the love and support of not only family and friends, but even strangers who we meet along the way. My adoption experience has certainly had some emotional roller coaster moments, but right now, I'm on top of the world!