We got up early on February 14, 2008 and left for the airport at 7:00 am (Korea Time). When we arrived at the airport in State College 22.5 hours later, it was still only 3:30 pm, February 14 (Eastern Time). It was the longest Valentine’s Day ever!
Thanks to whoever posted the “welcome home” banner/balloons and shoveled our steps/sidewalk!
If you have followed our story in recent days, you know we were very concerned about the trip home. As it turned out, the 40 hours we had with Ethan leading up to the trip must’ve helped (not too mention, everyone’s prayers!). Under the circumstances, Ethan did extremely well — from getting up/dressed early, to the hour-long bus ride to the airport, to the time in 4 different airports in 3 different countries, to the 14 hours in the air — over the course of an entire day.
Ethan did struggle (and made his presence very known!) on the first plane (mainly during ascent and descent). Amazingly, though, he only had one episode on the second flight, the long 11-hour ordeal. By the time we got to the third/final flight, on board Northwest’s smallest plane, he was out before takeoff and we had to wake up him an hour and a half later in State College (see photo of Ethan after the long trip in the State College airport, as he waited for me to find the car buried under snow in the parking lot and make adjustments to his car seat).
One of our prayer concerns was for smooth connections, including getting Ethan into the country through customs when we arrived in Detroit. Fortunately, all of our planes departed and landed on time (if not early). With our short layover (if you can call it a layover) in Tokyo, we literally went from one plane to the next — not a good thing when the next flight is 11 hours long (Ethan didn’t get a chance to stretch out).
And, we must say, we are very happy with our experience of getting through U.S. Customs in Detroit (actually, Detroit probably has a lot of experience with international adoptions; Detroit is the pick-up point for parents who choose to send an escort instead of going to Korea themselves).
We went through 3 different customs agents — the first one was for American citizens returning to the country, and the last two were for Ethan. The 3 (female) agents were all very kind and accommodating. And by the time we got through all that, we still had 45 minutes to stretch out before the last flight home.
While Joleen and I didn’t get much sleep on the trip (I didn’t get any; Joleen dozed off a little on the long flight), Ethan slept through much of the air travel. I’m not sure what jet lag is supposed to feel like. I feel good (other than the headache I woke up with) after getting 10 hours of sleep last night (I can’t remember the last time I got that much).
Joleen said Ethan was up a couple times overnight but I never heard him (well, once, but Joleen was already up 😉 ). Ethan’s clock has gotta be all messed up, though — Korea Time is 14 hours ahead of Eastern Time, plus he slept a lot of the way home. But he will probably adjust fairly quickly.
We look forward to bonding with Ethan, especially over the next 8+ weeks of our parental leave.
Over the next few days, we’ll try to wrap up our reflections on our Korea experience. Watch for posts on …
- Things we learned on our trip to Korea
- More reflection on our Sunday experiences at Holy Flames and Kwanglim Methodist churches.
- Milestones (dates we’ll always remember)
- A fun post about my fascination with car mirrors in Seoul.
Thanks for your prayers, for following along on this adventure, and for all of your comments! These posts, along your comments, will become part of the story we share with Ethan over the years to come, especially as we celebrate his “gotcha day” every February 12. Thanks for being part of his story!