March 14th and 15th - The journey home.

It is a very long way to come home, and if you know how difficult the trip to get to Ukraine is, you do not look forward to the actual journey back home. The thing that you keep saying is that I will be home in 41 hours, I will get to see my family and hold my kids. This does not erase the dread of a 20 hour wait at Charles DeGalle Airport (since the Kiev French Consulate would not issue her a one day visa) or the prospect of a very long plane ride with a child who had already voiced her dislike of the trains - very loudly.

There are people that you meet however that make your journey more enjoyable or easier. There was the family, whose little boy sat and watched a dvd with Lera while we were waiting in Kiev. Then there was this very pretty and very nice young lady...
This wonderful person should be on one of those Delta commercials. You know the ones - where the person looks all over the airport and then brings the little boys paper airplane to him before take off?

This girl - wish I had got her name - works at the Delta booth in the Kiev airport. I had gone there to get our itinerary for our trip. We couldn't go to the check in desk for a while so we watched a DVD and had breakfast and were just about to go line up for the the check in counter when this very dedicated employee came running up. It seems that customer service had issued us an itinerary but no ticket. Valeria did have a ticket but not my father and me. She had searched the whole airport (which was very crowded until she found us) and very likely saved me from a coronary when I reached check in. In ten minutes we were off and on our way home.

Lera did very well on the flight from Kiev to Paris. She looked a little uncertain on the take off and landing, but we just kept saying "opah" and smiling and she seemed to get the idea that this was all fun.

Paris. Now I believe I mentioned that the French Consulate would not issue a transit visa for Lera. As US Citizens, we are not required to have a visa to enter France. Lera, however was traveling under a Ukrainian passport and would not be a US citizen until the plane landed in Cincinnati. We had 21 hours between when our flight landed in Paris and departed to the USA. This leads to a problem, because there really isn't anyplace to rest in the airport (and in some, not much in the way of chairs).

I began asking various Skyteam members where would be the best place to get some food and settle in for the wait. 8 different people were less than helpful - although one did tell us that if my dad or I left we would not be able to return until tomorrow, so she would be happy to step out and get us food.

Finally, we were directed to this very nice man. He was at the Transfer - Correspondence desk. I explained what was one and pointed out Lera and he got the most baffled look on his face and said in heavily accented English, "but she is so little!?". He then had us follow him to the Police headquarters for the airport and after showing all Lera's paperwork and him arguing for about 10 minutes, the man in charge called someone and issued a 24hr transit visa for Lera - no charge! I really could have hugged this man.

We stayed overnight and were back the next morning, feeling much better and much happier about France in general. When we had departed the plane from Kiev the previous day, the police were waiting at the end of the tunnel from the plane and searched everyone and checked their passports. When we tried to board the plane, we were asked where did we just arrive from - Kiev- so into a special line we went. Then there were the questions, and more showing of documents.People are really hung up on the fact that I have a different last name than my husband. Security in Paris was no different. After you pass the passport test, you go stand in line to be searched. I don't know about you but the sight of someone putting on surgical gloves makes me nervous in a security check point! For the better part of 10 minutes, my carry on was searched, my coat, and my person. The hedgehog was almost disemboweled because he has a weighted bottom. Then they searched Lera just as intently. She just looked at them and smiled like we were all playing some silly game.div>
We waited on the plane for everyone to be searched so our flight was delayed by about 25 minutes. The window that we had for our layover for Cincinnati was 1 hour and 10 minutes, but we were on our way home and as long as we were in the US, I would be home. 9 and 1/2 hours is a long time for a little girl to sit quietly. She did really well though. We did have a really rough landing though. One of those that go BOOM when you touch down and you are convinced that the pilot misjudged how close the ground was by about 5 feet. Lera started screaming and did not stop until the plane doors opened. So at 4:42pm Minnesota time, Valeria Elizabeth Green became a United States citizen.


When you arrive from a foreign country, you must go through customs (special line for US passports, that you still go through when you are bringing home an adopted child) and then you wait for your luggage. You need to pick up your luggage and then return to the customs office to get fingerprints of your child for immigration. Well, our luggage enjoyed Paris so much it stayed longer - not a surprise to anyone in baggage. We returned to the customs office and attempted to get a five year old to cooperate with fingerprinting. She did great though.


Our plane from Cincinnati was tiny (18 rows of 4). Lera settled into her seat quickly (no real choice, we barely made the flight and if it hadn't been late, I would have been searching for another way home) and surprisingly, trusted us again that this whole plane thing was ok. She really liked the window seat, but once she realized that we were off the ground she closed the shade and wouldn't let me open it again.
I have never been so overwhelmed than by the sight of my son tearing up the baggage claim area at sonic speed and screeching to a halt just 2 feet shy of running over Lera. He had 2 balloons for her and she instantly took to him. She even said, Michael. He beamed. Randy and Caelia were right behind as fast as Caelia's little legs could carry her. She gave me flowers and said "mah? I mist you" Kisses and hugs after so long from your kids and your husband are the kind that you remember always.

10 comments:

Wendy said...

Wow I am surprised that you are still not jet lagged and exhausted from such a long and crazy travel adventure!! I think I would be jet lagged for at least a month.

I do love the welcome home picture.... It is amazing how much Lera and Caeila look alike!!

Wendy
www.saundersgang.blogspot.com

Randy and Sheila said...

I am still pretty wrung out but Lera has been great and Michael and Caelia have been so good...I brought you a present from Macey's christian mother. We had ice last night so I may not get to mail it until tomorrow. She was thrilled with the book you sent her.

The Urbans said...

Beautiful!!! Are you sure those girls aren't blood sisters? This is just too weird.

Anonymous said...

Can't tell you how excited I am to have y'all back at home and moving on with things. Sure will enjoy seeing how y'all grow to be a family. I know those girls are going to love being sisters! And, I'm sure Michael will be a great big brother!

Markay

Amy W said...

I'm crying, what a sweet welcome home from your children!!:)
Amy

WheresMyAngels said...

Glad you made it home! wonderful pictures!

Cammie Heflin said...

These two could be twins! So glad you guys are home!

AZmomto7 said...

Sheila,

Wonderful pictures of the girls, welcome home! You have has such an interesting adventure! Now the girls can get to know one another, always a fun transition...

Kara did not have to be fingerprinted when we got to DC? I never heard of this, I guess all airports are different? Or was it because she looked like a baby?

I am so relieved for you, you are finally done! Now the rest of Lera's life begins!

Randy and Sheila said...

Hi, Kris.

Yelena sent you a present. I need your address, if you would be so kind to send it to my email? Fingerprints are preferred but not absolutely necessary. They don't have much success in getting them from very small children. Lera cooperated though.

adoptedthree said...

Time for some very well deserved rest! What an incredible journey and it is amazing the little "angels" that are put in place during those times that you think no one cares!

Enjoy your new daughter and beautiful family