So much has happened since my last post that I get overwhelmed just thinking about all I should share. I have tons to say and share about Christmas and New Years but first thing is first. By far the most important thing that has happened to us is the finalization of Henry's adoption, making us legally and in every other way a family forever. It was quite a journey getting there however and I want to make sure that I get all of the details down now so that I will always be able to share this time with Henry, so if you don't want to wade all the way through the minutia I totally understand- really this is way more info that anybody would want and it's just for my record!
Henry's Adoption Day Adventure
Once we had our six month post placement visit in November we have been waiting on pins and needles for news of a court date. We hit one little snafu when we realized that all of our background checks had expired in October, but we quickly had them redone and once again all we could do was wait for news of a court date. As the weeks passed we debated about what to do about our holiday plans. Typically we spend Christmas in Michigan and we felt like this might be one of the last years it makes sense to do that since Henry is still oblivious to Santa and all that good stuff. So we finally decided that we would make plans to fly to Michigan and if necessary we would change them for the court date. We planned to be in Michigan from the 21st to the 28th and as we boarded the plane on the 21st to get to Michigan we both commented that we were glad we had gone ahead with our plans since it didn't appear we would be getting a date after all. On Thursday morning though I happened to be checking facebook and saw that our good friends who adopted their little boy about week after us from the same agency posted that they had a last minute court date scheduled for the 28th! We were so excited for them and couldn't help but wonder if we had one too! Sure enough buried in my e-mail which had gone unchecked for a couple of days while we were traveling was an message from our lawyer saying that we had a court date scheduled for Tuesday the 28th at 11:30 am.
Immediately we needed to change our tickets, and after explaining the situation to Delta they very kindly changed both of our tickets, to return home on Monday the 27th, even waiving the fee for changing the tickets. We were ecstatic. It seemed like we were going to be legally Henry's parents in 2010 after all! My mom has long said she wanted to be at the finalization too, in fact I remember when I asked her not to come for his birth since everything was still so uncertain at that point I told her she could come to the finalization, that this would the time to truly breathe easy and celebrate our family. So after doing some research she found a reasonable flight from Grand Rapids where she would join us in Detroit and we would all be on the same flight from Detroit to Philadelphia.
We just couldn't believe how great everything was turning out. It was a little surprising since typically, things don't go that smoothly for David and I....
Well anyhow on Sunday there was a GIGANTIC snowstorm on the east coast. Philly got around 10-12 inches and the NYC area was hit really hard getting around 2 feet. Also high winds so all airports shut down and flights cancelled like crazy. Our flight was set to leave early afternoon on Monday so we were worried but figured that by that time flights should be getting in and out of Philly so at worst we would be delayed.
Well the day started out ominously. We were delayed two hours in Lansing- which would give us barely enough time to catch our connector. Our one hope was that surely our connecting flight would be delayed also. When we got off the plane in Detroit they refused to give us the car seat portion of our stroller/car seat combo which we had gate checked, saying it had not be labeled properly in Lansing. While this was extremely infuriating after arguing a short time we felt we needed to run to hopefully get our next flight. While not having the stroller was an inconvenience in the airport, we knew that once we got to Philly our other car seat was in our car. This was just an extra car seat we have for travel so we were extremely annoyed but not too worried at that point.
When we made it to the gate they said the flight was delayed, but that the plane was here, they were just cleaning it and we would then be on our way so we should stick around. In fact David and I were thinking we would surely have a long delay so we went to get some food. We ended up abandoning our order when we got a call from my mom who said they were boarding the plane!! So we ran back to the gate only to hear moments later that we should disregard, the boarding announcement and that the flight had been CANCELLED and we should all go to gate blah blah in order to rebook our ticket. Well gate whatever proved to be a line of about 10 million people all being helped by one lowly Delta employee. After standing in line forever (maybe an hour and a half to two hours) we were told that there were no available flights to Philly until Thursday and in fact they wouldn't even re-book us that far ahead we would have to come back later to be rebooked probably not on a flight until Friday.
This was very discouraging news, but then again we had been thwarted in our family building efforts before and although it was a different kind of thing for sure we had learned the lesson that when things get tough the tough persevere. We debated renting a car and driving to Philly, about a 12 hour drive with good weather and very little stopping and we weren't sure of the weather etc. So I got on the phone to a ticketing agent finally and explained our situation and begged them to get us as close as they possibly could to Philly tonight. After checking everything the man I spoke to finally found a five-thirty flight to Pittsburgh that he would put us on standby for. He felt that unlike the flights to Philly there weren't that many people ahead of us on the stand-by list and we might actually get on the flight. Granted Pittsburgh is a six hour drive to Philadelphia but somehow six hours seemed more manageable. We decided we would fly to Pittsburgh rent a car, drive for a few hours, until we got really tired, get a few hours of sleep, get up early and drive the rest of the way. One other glitch in our plan had arisen earlier in the day when I was on the phone with our lawyer. She told us that we would need the original copy of our marriage license, not something we typically travel with, so we would have to go home and grab it. One more thing to worry about since neither David or I were 100% certain of it's exact location.
Well when we got to the gate of the Pittsburgh flight, the very grumpy unhelpful Delta employee told us that it was a full flight and we shouldn't expect to get a standby seat, and go sit down until the plane is boarded. We thought that this was it. Surely this was the end of the road and we just wouldn't make it. But- all of a sudden she came over handed us three tickets and away we went!! We were so happy!!! When my mom sat down in her seat some people who we had met while waiting and had heard our story actually applauded for her.
After a short flight we arrived in Pittsburgh tired but still slightly euphoric about getting on the flight. That feeling very quickly faded however when we went from one car rental stand to the next to find that each of them had a sign saying there were no cars left. Once again we figured this was the end of the road. No way were we going to make it. As David and I tried to figure out if there were any way we could take a greyhound bus, my mom suddenly managed to get us a car!!! Apparently she had seen someone on the phone with the rental company and suddenly she had a car, so she tried calling the 1800 number and sure enough they gave her a car reservation and she got us a car and luckily a car seat, since ours was on plane somewhere!
We finally started driving and got outside of Pittsburgh when it really started snowing. By this time is was almost 10:00 we were exhausted and figured that we would just pull off get a hotel and get up really early to make it home. So we pulled into a Hampton Inn David hit the vending machine for the first meal of our day. An apple pie and some cheese crackers. Yummy. I washed out Henry's bottles the best I could and we collapsed into bed with the knowledge that we only had two diapers left! The next morning we hit the road at 5:00 am and it was snowing and blowing hard still. But David drove white knuckled until we finally made it out of the mountains and the snow stopped. In fact it wasn't until we were actually in Philly that we saw anymore snow. We pulled into Philly about 10:00 David dropped us off since parking on our street after a major snowstorm is kind of a disaster. I ran in to find the marriage license which luckily was right where I thought it would be. My mom changed Henry into his cute outfit and the rest of just made do in our traveling clothes and we made it to the courthouse with time to spare. With the exception of the moment when they tried to throw my mom out for snapping a photo - apparently a big no no in Philly family court unless you are IN THE COURT ROOM!!! It was one of the happiest moments of our life. In some ways our journey back to Philly is a good allegory for our journey to Henry. Certainly not easy, plenty of roadblocks, and at times it seemed like there was just no way we were ever going to get there. But we stuck with it, and then right at the last minute it all worked out perfectly, and our joy is just immeasurable. I always thought I would like being a mom, but really I had no idea. I was watching the news the other day and it showed a couple who had just won the mega- million jackpot and I thought to myself--I know just how they feel.