Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Trip Home

When we looked around our apartment on Friday to make sure we'd packed everything, I told Shawn, "Well, there is nothing bittersweet about leaving!" We were so anxious to get home with our precious cargo.

The initial flight from Belgrade to Zurich went very well. Bogdan seemed to have none of the issues with his ears that I was anticipating. He wasn't a big fan of sitting in his seat, but didn't protest too much. 

In Zurich, we boarded a bus that took us to the terminal and then a train which took us to the other end of the airport. Let me just say, the Zurich Airport is cool! The train was awesome with video and sound effects and was my favorite part of the whole trip. We exited the train, went up a flight of stairs and went through security again. Then we hiked to our gate, were stopped at passport control while we gave tons of information and then repeated it all for each passport. The officer was Serbian and was very nice and thanked us for adopting a "child like him." 

As we exited passport control, we saw they were boarding our flight. So much for buying a water bottle. We attempted to board, but were stopped because Bogdan's name on his passport was in cyrillic and the name on his ticket was English. They made us step aside and I was momentarily alarmed. But, thankfully, common sense prevailed and we were allowed to board. 

Here's where I put a plug in for Swiss Air. Wow! The plane was new, so the seats were so much more comfortable. The entertainment was awesome. Each seat had a screen on the seat in front of it with a remote control. We were able to choose from a huge variety of movies, tv shows, music, or games along with which language we preferred. (On our Lufthansa flight on the way to Munich, we had only a few English channels and could only watch what was playing in real time.) The food was actually pretty good and they fed us a lot - no pretzels there. Our snacks included white chocolate ice cream, guyere cheese, and fresh croissants. They gave Bogdan a stuffed plane, a block toy, and a back pack to entertain him. But the real reason I recommend Swiss Air is because the coffee is good. 

Bogdan was unimpressed. He whined and cried for most of the flight (about eight of ten hours.) We were unable to distract him for more than a minute or two at a time. We had given him motrin in a bottle before the first flight, but flying really didn't seem to bother his ears, specifically. He did have about four really nasty diapers during the flight, which was unusual for him. Thankfully, he is a quiet crier and not a screamer, so I don't think he bothered the other passengers much. It wasn't until the end of the flight that Shawn realized he was probably having a reaction to the milk. The milk in Serbia tastes very different than the milk we are used to here in America. I think the Swiss milk was closer to what we have. At this point, he will only drink milk (and only from a bottle) and he had a lot of it during the flight.

He did not sleep the entire trip to Chicago. Once in Chicago, we waited in line to get through passport control. Bogdan did great! He just sat in his stroller, taking his socks and shoes off and throwing them until I finally just put them in my carry on. There were 35 lanes available and about 17 of them open. Just as we arrived at an open lane, the officer next to our lane told ours, "I'm going to the bathroom." I looked behind us and saw another 100 people standing in line. Really? Bathroom break now?!? Ugh.

Our officer opened our packet from the Embassy and put it in a pink folder and sent us to the next area. We handed off our pink folder and were told to take a seat. There was one man processing the folders. There were approximately fifteen families to be processed. Sigh. We amused ourselves by watching the customs officers search bags, hoping against hope they wouldn't search ours. We had nothing to hide, but another delay would've sent me over the edge.

Thankfully, our names were called and we were told, "You're all set." It wasn't until later we realized that meant Bogdan is now an American citizen. No fanfare there. Our bags were x-rayed, but not searched and we headed for United to re-check our bags. The clerk couldn't find us on our flight home. I was starting to get irritated when we miraculously appeared on her list. 

Bags checked and boarding passes in hand, we waited in line for security which seemed like utter chaos. Made it through, found the nearest family bathroom, trekked to our gate, and shared a McDonald's meal. At this point, we had been awake for twenty-three hours and Bogdan had been awake for twenty. He was still smiling and throwing socks if he could get his hands on them.

We finally boarded our flight to Indy. Before we even taxied to the runway, Bogdan slumped over on me and fell fast asleep. It was 8:30 pm EST. He didn't wake up until 6:00 am. He completely slept through de-boarding, buckling into the car, meeting the siblings, a diaper change, and being laid in the pack-n-play.

We were exhausted, as well. It was so good to see the friends that met us at the airport and, especially, our two oldest daughters who were there, as well! We arrived home to handmade signs welcoming us home, an amazingly clean house thanks to a few good friends, and some very wound up children. The two younger kids were already asleep. So, so happy to be HOME!


  1. Tears in my eyes...hoping this is The Strathman Story soon....

  2. Welcome home, so thankful you are all home together. What a beautiful journey. I can remember you following our story and how much I just knew you would be hearing this call. Thankful you all listened. God bless and may the transition be easy.