Our journey home went very smoothly! We left the hotel in Delhi at midnight and were on a plane to Amsterdam around 3:00 AM. That flight lasted about 8 1/2 hours. All of the TV screens were broken on the plane, so the kids slept the whole time. We had a brief layover in Amsterdam which gave us just enough time to use the restroom and eat some donuts. Our flight from Amsterdam to Atlanta, Georgia was another 9 hours. We all "watched movies" (more like adjusting and readjusting the kids' TV screen for hours) and slept. Jeff got kicked a lot, so he went through an hour where he was totally grouchy (ha ha!) but the kids were really great the whole trip. When we landed in Atlanta, Ajay and Smita officially became citizens of the United States of America! Amazing!!! Throughout the flights, they recited family members' names on their own without our prompting. They also kept asking if we were in America. When we finally landed in America and we were able to say, "yes, we're in America," Ajay grabbed both of our hands, lifted all of our hands in the air and gave a triumphant cheer! It was a thrill to see his enthusiasm of arriving to America! He yelled, "Yesssss! America!"
We went through customs and immigration where we had to hand over our sealed envelopes from the U.S. Embassy in Delhi. That whole process took an hour which was mostly waiting in line for our turn. We found our luggage immediately, then walked through the doors that all of our friends have walked through before us to greet our waiting family members. It was a great moment! The children ran for their sisters, then hugged grandparents and their aunt. After skyping and facetiming all week in India, they recognized their family!
After taking photos, we went to Chick-Fil-A for their first meal on American soil so that family members could spend a little more time with the children. Ajay tried meat for the first time--chicken. The state where they are from is all vegetarian.
We finally loaded in the van for our two hour drive home. The kids buckled up in seatbelts with little fuss and fell asleep on the ride home. Jeff and I had to switch off driving three times because we could barely stay awake!
We have the most precious supportive friends and an amazing community group from church back home, and they were waiting for us on our driveway to welcome us home and to meet Ajay and Smita! There were balloons on our mailbox and they had stocked our fridge and pantry! What an awesome surprise and a huge blessing! It was great to see friends who have held our hands, wiped our tears, and prayed for us from the very beginning of this long endeavor!
Once inside our home, we gave the kids a tour, showed them their rooms, and pulled out the toys...mainly Barbie dolls. All four of our kids got along great. It was like Ajay and Smita have been a part of us all along...they sort of have been for two years now, just not with us physically until now. Alaina and Ansley kept saying that it felt like dream having them home. They could not wipe the smiles from their faces. So sweet! They are afraid of Willow, our maltese. They have seen dogs on the street, but have never interacted with a pet before.
The kids got baths, slept through the night in our room, got up early and ate a huge breakfast. They ate breakfast burritos, bananas, apples, and dry cereal. Two hours later, they ate a batch of pancakes dipped in tomato soup. They also drank two cups of warm milk and some mango juice. They are building up more courage around Willow and have pet him a little. Ajay is interested in every musical instrument he sees, so he spent some time playing on the piano.
We are seeing a little bit of regression with Smita. She says "Mommy" literally every 15 seconds. I keep saying "yes" and giving her hugs and kisses. I wonder how long this will last. She needs lots of reassuring, and that's okay (Indian head bob) with me. We will reassure as long as it takes. Ajay asked if we were going to Ahmedabad. He asks this everyday. I told him no and he whined. He told me that he misses his caregiver. So sad. On a positive note, they were apparently very attached to their caregiver. She cared for them and rocked them as babies, so she has been with them all of their lives. All studies show that the fact that they were attached to her means that they have the capacity to bond and reattach to us. They were clearly loved at the orphanage based on the way that they are transferring that love to us already. Their caregiver has a name that I considered giving Smita for a first name--it means God's Grace. I did not choose that name, however, because it rhymes with Smita and would sound too funny. We are thankful that the kids were cared for so well and were able to attach to a loving person in their early years. Please keep the kids in your prayers as they become adjusted to our home and family. I fully expect them to go through a grieving process when they realize that we will not be returning to Ahmedabad. They only know what they have experienced and do not yet know the true wonders and joy of a family's love. They will grow to know that love in time, but until then, please pray for their little hearts and minds as they experience huge changes.
Thanks to all of you who kept us in your thoughts and prayers over the last two years and on our trip to India. Honestly, it could not have gone better! All the prayers were answered and God's hand was in everything. We look forward to the day when Ajay and Smita are able to understand just how many people came together to provide for their adoption and to help bring them home to a forever family. We will remember you all forever!
We will continue to post updates on their progress! :)
Grandparents, sister, and auntie wait at the airport for our arrival...
Our family of six together at last!!!