Note: My summary of our trip is not going to be an example of my finest writing. However, I want to record the details – for us and for Baby K – and to share our experience with others who are curious about our trip and/or preparing for their own trips. We have been advised by our agency that we should still refrain from posting identifying photos of Baby K, but I will share those that I can.
The days leading up to our trip were a whirlwind. My brother was married on May 12th in Colorado, we returned to Baltimore on May 14th, and by the time we left for Ethiopia on May 19th, I had also been to Jacksonville, Florida on a business trip. Needless to say, there was a lot of running around like crazy to get ready for the trip. I was so stressed and anxious all week, but by the time we went to bed the night before our departure, our bags were packed and I felt strangely calm. I even got a few hours of sleep.
I’ve never in my life taken so much luggage with me on a trip, but it was all for good reason. We brought this giant pile of donations (well, almost all of it; some will have to go on the next trip) with us:
Thank you to everyone who contributed!
We left our house around 6:45am on a Saturday morning and had a smooth 70-minute drive to Dulles Airport. After parking and hauling all of our many bags into the terminal, we approached the Ethiopian Airlines counter at the airport. At this point I started to get emotional. [This is where Craig would make a smart remark like, “You started to get emotional?!” with a bit of incredulity in his voice. Okay, I’d been uber-emotional all week. But this was my first emotional moment of the day, at least.] We were going to Ethiopia, on Ethiopian Airlines, after being checked in by Ethiopians, and while surrounded by Ethiopians!
We went to the gate, found some breakfast, and spent some time catching up on emails and such on our various devices.
We watched the others at the gate, wondering why the other travelers were headed to Ethiopia. Did they live in the States but want to go to Ethiopia to visit family? Were they returning home to Ethiopia after a visit to the States? Were those other obvious non-Ethiopians going for adoption purposes, or on mission trips, or on business? Who was going elsewhere in Africa? And so on. There’s always such great people-watching in an international terminal of an airport.
Soon enough, the big 777 pulled up at the gate. All of a sudden, things were feeling very real!
The flight, while 13.5 hours long, was as enjoyable as a long flight could be. The service was wonderful and the food was pretty darn good for airplane food, and we thoroughly enjoyed the empty seat we scored between us. As I told Craig, I love him dearly, but I was so thankful to have that empty seat between us on that long flight! We both tried to nap without much success, since our body clocks were not ready for sleep. (Our flight left at 11:15am.)
We landed in Addis Ababa around 7:15am, so the daylight was still new as we approached the city. I got a few snaps from the plane, most of which are terrible photos due to the plane window and the glare from the sun to the east, but at least they show a bit of what we saw upon arrival.
I got chills when we stepped off the plane. We were in Ethiopia, after years of anticipation. And we were so close to meeting our daughter.