Wednesday, January 21, 2009

January 20, 2009: Arrival Day

It was a very historic day indeed. We listened to the inaugural address on the way to NYC. It was moving to know that it was such a historic and memorable day for us AND for America. We couldn't help but feel thankful that our son was coming home on a day that defines the changing of our nation. Welcome to America sweet little Levi.

It was an uneventful drive to JFK thanks to 2 GPS devices! We left later than we had planned, mostly because we'd allowed so much time, and didn't want to sit around the airport. We arrived with about 40 minutes to spare, got the kids some fruit and water to hold them over until we had dinner (which we suspected would be later than usual). We went to the "big orange question mark" that our greeter had said that we should meet under. (It was decidedly big and orange!) :) When we arrived, we saw another family standing on the other side of the desk. They looked suspiciously like us: A couple with their parents, no "real" luggage - more of a diaper bag type bag, nervous, looking around. We knew, from Cecelia that another family was going to be there to greet their son. Just as we were trying to decide if we should introduce ourselves a security officer walked toward Nicole (our friend who was with us) and upon seeing her camera, informed us that NO pictures or video should be taken in the airport! What??!!! None he said. He was quite rude about it, mocking us for even asking why this was the case. We were disheartened to say the least. Finally, after a few minutes of trying to decide if we should introduce ourselves to the other family, I nervously walked toward them and smiled. Before I could even ask "Are you with Love The Children?" the woman came toward me and said "Yes! We are waiting for the same thing you are!" The rest of the family joined me and we congratulated them on the big arrival of their first child, Max, who is 13 months old.

We waited together for the greeter (Gerri) to meet us. We grew more and more nervous as we waited. We knew the flight was on time (10 minutes early, actually!), and that things were running smoothly on our end, but we wondered if everything was really going smooth. It started to seem all too easy. Gerri arrived (a mother to 10 adopted children, 7 of them from S. Korea!) and asked if we had questions. "Can we take pictures and video!?" I blurted out. I explained why I was asking. She told us that the area we were going would not be so crowded and she'd never had problem before with anyone taking video and photographs. We all breathed a sign of relief. We walked over to the arrival board and waited for the "on time" posting to change to "arrive" where Gerri informed us we would walk to the bottom of an escalator (how dramatic!) to wait for our sons. After waiting several minutes after the plane was supposed to arrive, we began to see some people filter from the direction we knew we'd be waiting. Gerri walked over to them and asked what flight they'd come off of. It was OUR sons flight! Gerri led all of us quickly to the escalators and we waited. Our friend Nicole had the camera and the video camera revved up, ready for action! She was a trooper in every way!

We watched everyone come down those escalators. They must have wondered who we were waiting for so attentively. At last, we saw a woman come to the escalator with a stroller and peer down. Our greeter realized she could not go down the escalator with the stroller. We all turned around to the elevators behind us. Gerri reminded us that we could not ambush just any person who walked off the elevator and take their baby! We all had a laugh about that as the elevator was counting down. I can't honestly remember that was so surreal, so fast. The elevator doors opened up and the woman walked out and indicated that the boy belonged to one of us...but which one!!? Neither of us jumped like we recognized him. By size, I suspected that it was Levi, but I wasn't quite sure. He was bundled up in a jacket with his hat on. I checked his bracelet which read his Korean name and our names. "He's ours." I nodded quietly. I could hardly get the words out. I was overwhelmed with joy, love, fear, and nervousness. I picked him up out of the stroller. He didn't cry, he just was VERY, very curious. He kept looking around and touching things - our hair, our faces, our clothing. Everything was new to him. We were amazed that he wasn't crying. I knelt down to show him his big brother and sister and he practically LEPT out of our arms to greet the kids. It was very clear, at that moment that he was in love with his big sister and brother! Gerri and our escort took Steve aside to sign the paperwork and give him the bag filled with all sorts of goodies. I was unaware until later, that a bag had even been left for us! We hugged the escort, took a few photos, and said goodbye. The other family congratulated us and was on their way as well. To be honest...I'm pretty sure they got their baby, but I have no idea! Eventually the greeter left us to play with our son. We played with him for about 20 minutes before we packed up to head home. We'd been told that he was in need of a bottle, so I gave him about 100 ml (1/2 the bottle) and then Steve pulled up in the car. He cried for a very short time when we loaded him into the car seat, but once he saw that Ben and Ella were with him, he instantly perked up, smiling! I sat next to him, where he downed the other half of the bottle and fell asleep before we were even out of the airport. He slept the ENTIRE way home! 4 hours to be exact. We didn't wake him because we knew that he needed the rest and we didn't want him to wake in the car, distressed, where we didn't have any way to really soothe him. We talked all the way home about the experience.
I'll post more later about the first night and first day, but here are the pictures of our special day with Levi!

(You'll have to cut/paste this link into your browser.)


Alicia said...

Oh he's so cute and you all look so happy! Thanks for posting so quickly after your trip. Hope you are having a good 1st day home with him!

Alicia in upstate NY

Colleen Horan said...

I have goose bumps just reading this! I couldn't be happier for you!

Fishin' Family said...

WOW he is SO beautiful!!We are so happy for you and can't wait to meet him!!
Shel, Dan and Abbie

emily said...

oh, angie. i'm here crying tears of immense JOY for your family. i can't wait to have some quiet time to look at all of the photos, and i can't wait to read more! with love from wisconsin.

trina said...

that's so great to hear, Gerrards!! thanks for sharing so soon!!