I didn't make it online like I thought I would-- though I was up and awake in the middle of the night, as anticipated. . . Our final day in China flew by. We needed to pick up a few things from the little shops near the White Swan, so after breakfast, we troddled off to do just that. We found a soft Chinese Doll at the Charity Shop, and we told Kyndra and Larry we'd pick up one for Cassidy, so that's where we started out. Because so many people had left Guangzhou early in the day, it was really quiet on the streets, and there was a lot of high pressure sales, which isn't really my thing. But we survived it.
We stopped for lunch at Blenz (a Canadian coffee company) before returning to the hotel. The food there was significantly less expensive than at the hotel. Then Marcie napped while Jason and my mom went across the bridge hunting for some toys for Casey. You'd think, with all the stuff made in China these days, we'd be able to find toys easily, but it wasn't so simple. In one shop, the owner wrapped up a toy her son was playing with and tried to sell it to us! Jason told her he didn't want it that way-- no reason to teach her child to hate Americans (even through such subtle measures)! It was also interesting that we really didn't see any boys' clothes-- just clothes for girls.
We finished packing by 4:30pm and set out our bags for the hotel to pick up. Then we gave Marcie a bath. She screamed the entire time. I don't know if she was mad in general, or if she was weirded out by not saying anyone from her orphanage all day, then watching us pack, then getting a bath and a change of clothes. I think I'd have been pretty freaked out if I were her! We went downstairs to catch our ride to the airport at 5:00 and Raymond and Kathy were waiting for us. It was quite a relief to learn that Kathy was going to accompany us all the way to security, making sure we checked in okay (and we did).
While waiting for our plane, we stopped at a local restaurant in the airport to use of the remaining yuan. It was even more expensive there than the White Swan, but we knew it'd be hours before we ate a solid meal again. One of the employees tried to pick up Casey, and Jason told her, "no." I don't know if she was put off by that, but with all the change Marcie was experiencing, she really needed to be our priority.
The flight was a little bumpy at times, but impressively uneventful. There were five families in Premium Economy with newly adopted children from China, and at least one in economy. It was pretty full of businessmen, though. All the babies did very well. Marcie slept on me for about 6 hours, at which time I handed her off to Jason because my neck and back were aching. Then Jason held her for another hour or two, and then my mom played with her for a little bit. By the time they served breakfast, there was only about an hour left in the flight. Marcie didn't cry at all on the plane. We were very proud of her.
As we landed in Los Angeles and were taxing down the runway, people from the Economy section of the plane literally started to line up in the rows next to us. It was unbelievable! The flight attendant stood up and made one of the woman go back and sit down, but once we approached the gate, it was impossible to hold everyone back. Luckily, we were near the front of the plane and able to disembark quickly. I say it was lucky because the lines at customs were long. We were told at the consulate to get in the visitors line, but once we were at the airport, they told us to get in the citizens line, so we did. We were the third family processed through, and when the woman (whose last name was Schneider) stamped Marcie's visa, we could finally breathe easy-- it's official-- Marcie is a U.S. citizen.
Even though our bags were checked through all the way to San Diego, we had to exit the international terminal and get back in line at United's domestic ticketing area. We waited in line for over an hour, while only two agents checked in at least 6 flights' worth of people-- well, more than that, because two flights to San Diego departed just while we were in line. Also in line with us was a family making a red eye flight to Washington, D.C., and another family heading home back to Portland, Oregon. They had both been to Hunan Province for their daughters. Finally we made it through the ticketing line, and then we went on to security, where they threw out the bottle of water for Marcie's bottle (great. . .).
After security, we headed off to our gate, and as luck would have it CPK and Starbucks were closed. I bought a bottle of water at Roadhouse (a bar) and asked them to boil some water for me. We made Marcie's bottle, but she really didn't like it, and she threw up all over herself and all over my arm. After we got her cleaned up and changed and I went off to the bathroom to wash my arm, she threw up again, all over Jason. Lovely. But we were so close to home, we almost didn't care. . .
As the minutes ticked by-- first our boarding time passed, then our departure time passed, then we noticed the kiosk said our flight was "closed"-- we started wondering if it would have been a better idea to just rent a car and drive home. We could've been home by the time our plane finally boarded. There was an outgoing flight at our gate, and our plane couldn't park there until that plane departed-- hence the delay (though United never actually called it a delay). While we were waiting, they called up passengers to collect our paper tickets to speed up the process. When they called "Cheng," no one appeared. Any of the four times they called him. Then, when we got on the plane, we had to move seats because there weren't enough oxygen masks on our side of the plane. Then, they couldn't get the on-board number to match the checked-in number, and they went row-by-row, checking names to see who was missing. Of course, Cheng was missing. When our flight attendant got to our row, we asked if Cheng's bags were on the plane-- and said if they were, we wanted off. The flight attendant laughed, and I told her we weren't kidding. We'd just traveled to the U.S. from China, and I had a nine-month-old on my lap and a three-and-half year old at home. I wasn't about to stay on the plane with bags from a passenger who wasn't also on-board. I probably sounded like a lunatic, but bear in mind that at this point in time, I had been traveling for over 16 hours to get home (I can only imagine how people feel after The Amazing Race). She assured us his bags were not on the plane. I guess they figured out the numbers, because we took off shortly thereafter.
Back in San Diego, Jason's dad, my dad, and Jason's sister Tiffany were waiting to greet us at the commuter terminal. We piled into the two cars and headed back to Poway. Marcie, who has probably never experienced a car seat, was less-than-pleased. By the time we got to our freeway exit, she was screaming and sobbing. By the time we got to our driveway, she was nearly inconsolable. She'd traveled so well up to that point, it never dawned on me she wouldn't like the car-- or more specifically, the car seat. In the driveway, Jason's mom and Casey were waiting to greet us. By now, it was after midnight, and the whole neighborhood was dark. I picked up Casey on my right him to give him a great big hug, and he looked over at my left him and said, "It's Marcie!" like he couldn't believe it was her in person. He was really happy to see her.
Inside, Casey wanted to hold Marcie on his lap, he shared his toys with her, and he gave her hugs and kisses. He was genuinely happy to see her. We finally fell into bed around 3am, and Marcie woke up from 4-5am. Then I got up again with Marcie and Casey at 9am. Transitioning back to Pacific Time will certainly be a challenge with Marcie, but we sure are happy to be home. . . and I'm so proud of how Casey is doing as a big brother. Of course, we'll see how long that lasts!