Now, intrepid readers, we reach the final entry in our adoption ordeal.
Saturday, January 28.
Our flight wasn’t until the afternoon, so we had enough time in the morning to eat breakfast at the hotel. (All of the food the hotel made was quite good. Free breakfast all week and heavy snacks on weeknights.) Max was able to get everything except a box of Cheerios and two boxes of Kleenex into our luggage. It helped that the Graco Travel Lite Crib folds down to the size of a large umbrella. We departed earlier than necessary because of the unknowns.
Max dropped Jack and I off at the airport terminal, along with the diaper bag (that I had to have my father send because Max didn’t realize he was supposed to pack it), my purse, and my director’s bag. Meanwhile, Max checked the luggage in, curbside, and then went to return the rental car. I was wearing Jack in a mei tai carrier (made by my online friend Twana), which is a lot like a kangaroo pouch. Jack started to fuss, and I knew that if I tried to feed him, Max would come back. Max did actually arrive mid-bottle. We went through feeding and burping Jack, feeding Max, feeding me, and went on to the gate.
The Kansas City airport is the most badly designed airport I’ve ever seen. Everything was together—gates, waiting areas, food, shopping. The problem is, all of this stuff was there without the need to go through security checkpoints. So, post September 11, all of the gates have glass walls separating them from everything else. There are doors every so often, at which there are security checkpoints. All of this means that, even though you may be able to see your gate, you can’t get to your gate until you figure out which security checkpoint you can use. You may have to double back. This meant a lot of walking.
We found our checkpoint. The man there had heard of Antioch, because he used to drive to Sacramento from some place further south. He never asked for Jack’s identifying information. Indeed, Max gave him my boarding pass and Jack’s boarding pass, along with my driver’s license and his driver’s license. The guy didn’t even notice.
I was wearing Jack, because it was easier to carry him that way. The guards wouldn’t let us through security that way. I had to untie him, put the mei tai on the conveyor belt, then walk through with him. I didn’t bother getting him tied back in, because we still had to walk back to our gate, and I needed to use the bathroom. I was about to change Jack, when they announced pre-boards.
Here’s where this gets messed up.
Max, Jack, and I got onto the plane. The flight attendant (FA1) ooohed at Jack and asked how old he was. I said, “Eleven days.” She smiled, but the flight attendant next to her (FA2) whispers something in FA1’s ear. Jack had to sit next to the window in his car seat because of some rule. We were finally settled in, when this guy—I’m going to call him “The Dick”—came over and asked to see Jack’s release form. I got out the court order allowing us to take him out of the state. No, said The Dick, he needs a medical release form.
You may remember from previous posts that I asked the airline customer service woman if I needed any special documentation due to his age. She said no.
The Dick informed us that we had to get off the plane, that the airline would put us up for the night, but we had to have that form.
In my point of view, Max didn’t know what to do, except get extremely angry. I simply told The Dick: “I am not getting off this plane. I am taking my son home.”
The Dick said that either we could leave quietly, or he would have to get the airline police.
“I am not getting off this plane. I am taking my son home.”
The Dick left.
I called our lawyer and left messages at his home and cell phone. (I never did get a call back.) Another man in a nice hat—I’ll call him Bruce—came back and asked for our doctor’s information. I saw kindness in this man and said, “Sir, if there are any loopholes here. We’ve been here for three weeks to adopt our son, and all we want to do is bring him home. I asked the airline customer service if we needed any documentation like this, and she told us no. And on the web site, there was no information.”
Bruce said he would call Jack’s doctor, but I was sure that wouldn’t work on a Saturday.
Bruce came back less than five minutes later. They had gotten through to the doctor’s clinic, and the doctor was going to call them back. However, if he didn’t call back within five minutes or so, we were going to have to get off the plane. Bruce was sympathetic, when I again implored him to do whatever he could so we could take Jack home.
The Dick immediately came over, and said, “I need your word that in five minutes, you’re going to get off this plane.”
Me: No. I am not getting off this plane.
The Dick: Look, I understand what you’ve—
Me: No, you don’t. You may think you do, but you don’t. We’ve been here for three weeks. We are taking our son home on this flight.
The Dick: Look, don’t make this hard on me—
He may have said something there, but all I remember was the full-force wave of irony.
Me: I am not getting off this plane. I am taking my son home.
The Dick left, clearly upset that I just didn’t care about what he wanted.
Apparently, some people were giving Max dirty looks. I just kept looking at Jack, wanting to hold him. I was sure we weren’t going to get home, but I was not going to leave that plane willingly.
More minutes went by. Finally, Bruce came down the aisle with a nice smile. “The doctor is faxing what needs to be faxed to [someplace]. You’re going home.”
I actually kissed Bruce’s hand. I thanked him, and I cried happy tears. Finally, we were going home.
We later found out that Bruce was the captain, and that his name was Bruce, which is handy as that’s what I decided to call him in this entry. FA2 (the whisperer) came back and apologized for the hassle, but that she had been on a plane with a 10 day old baby who had stopped breathing in the air, and a doctor just happened to be on the flight and he kept oxygen over the baby for the entire flight.
And this is supposed to help us… how?
Anyway, Bruce the Captain came on the intercom and said that he was sorry for the delay, but “there was a new baby trying to get home to Oakland.” The people in the row next to us were very kind and smiley. In the end, we were 15 minutes late into Oakland, and the people behind us relaxed a bit when they saw little tiny Jackson.
I usually take Ativan, an anti-anxiety drug, on flights. Not because of a fear of flying, but because my knee is usually in an insane amount of pain thanks to the microscopic amount of leg room in airplane seats. I didn’t take it this time, because it was Jack’s first flight and I was neurotic. And yes, my knee hurt, and I hope to be able to take the drugs next time.
I’m telling you this because in Oakland, our luggage claim was two terminals over from where our flight landed. I was carrying a fussy Jack in his mei tai, my purse, my director’s bag, and Max has his carry-on, the diaper bag, and the car seat. This is a long way to go when you are a pack mule. But, our luggage was in the right place at the right time. The only thing we lost was my neck pillow, which I use to sleep on planes after I take the Ativan. We arrived home safely despite my father not knowing how to turn the lights, windshield wipers, or defroster, and his adamant refusal to use turn signals or drive faster than 50 mph.
Max carried Jack into the house in his car seat. Sassy greeted us at the door. I picked her up, and she let me, so I knew she missed me. I carefully introduced her to Jack, and I think once she realized he wasn’t a cat, she was OK with just letting me pet and adore her. I had missed her terribly.
Jack’s birth mom called maybe 10 minutes after we got home to see if our flight was OK. (S has a fear of flying.) Max and I decided to get Chinese for dinner, but when I went to drive my car, the battery was dead.
The hits just keep on coming.
We found out on Sunday that my father had left the trunk open for two weeks, and the trunk has a light in it, so that was on long enough to drain the battery. Thank Goodness for AAA.
From day one at home, we have been trying to find the new normal. I’m hoping to use this journal to help put motherhood and all that comes with it in perspective.
Thank you for reading.
The End & The Beginning