Thursday morning we had our appointment at the ICAB to pick up James's visa and passport, and to sign papers that would officially give us custody and allow us to take him out of the country. Our liason and the driver picked us up around 9:15 and off we went. The ICAB is in this little house in a rather run-down neighborhood. It's not in the main part of the city where you might expect to find a government office. It wasn't anything formal, we just met with the social worker, signed some papers, got a whole bunch of paperwork for immigration, and that was it. They also gave James a little Philippine flag and a toy jeepney, both of which he loved.
After the ICAB we went to the mall to buy some souvenirs and have some lunch. James did great in the mall. He really didn't seem overwhelmed or bothered by anything. We had lunch in the food court, and while I would have liked to try something actually Filipino, I didn't know what anything was! And our liason wasn't really helpful. The food court was so loud, and she talked so quietly, it would really have been pointless to ask her to explain what things were. We walked all around the room and found a Belgian waffle sandwich stand! They were quite good, actually! But the whole time we were eating, this lady at some other stand was ringing this bell. Think Salvation Army bell, but instead of outside Wal-Mart, inside a busy food court. It made me want to rip my ears off!! We also made a quick stop at a grocery store for some bottled water and Pringles :)
They took us back to our hotel and we just hung out in our room all afternoon, watching movies, playing, and skyping again with the kids from the roof. We ventured out on our own for dinner, walking down the street to see what we could find. We ended up at a little cafe just down from the hotel. We got James some pizza and he ate more than I had seen him eat up to that point. Jason and I both had grilled chicken sandwiches. Adventurous, I know.
Since we had to be up and out by 3:00am, we put James to bed around 8, and we had the same reaction as the night before, but not as intense or as long lasting, thankfully. Jason stayed with him and I took my turn on the couch. I put him to bed in his clothes for the next day so we could just scoop him up and go. When I picked him up he woke up pretty quickly, and was quite pleasant considering what time it was. We got to the airport and through security easily and with plenty of time. But I have to say that the international terminal in Manila is not my favorite. I think we went through security at least 4 times, the last time being right before going into the boarding area. They don't let you take in any food or drink, and you have to go back out to use the restroom and then back through security again. Thankfully though, we didn't have that long of a wait, and James was excited to fly again.
To be honest, I can't remember if he slept on that first flight, or just watched movies! But the flight to Japan was uneventful. Jason was in the row in front of us, and another mom sat next to James. Her kids were across the aisle from her, and she had to ask people to move so that she could be there. The airline really did not do a good job at accomodating parents with small children! When we arrived in Japan we had to get off the plane and go back through security. Since we were in the back of the plane there was a huge line. But the very nice people in Nagoya went through the line and pulled out all families with small children and took them to their own line, so we did not have to wait long. Oh, and I forgot to mention before, by this time James had figured out that he needed to show his passport anytime we went through security, and he wanted to do it himself! He kept a good hold on it and showed it at all the right times. He's very observant and quick to figure things out once he sees it happen.
Our layover was brief and since they let families with children board first, we didn't wait long. When we got back on the plane, Jason had new seatmates, a couple with an infant. If you remember, his seat was the middle seat. So this couple was also separated from each other, with an infant!! (Delta, you really need to work on that!) The dad asked Jason if he minded switching seats so they could be together. This guy was willing to give up his aisle seat, and Jason was happy to oblige. After talking a few minutes, the guy realized that James and I were behind them, separated from Jason. So they kindly offered to switch seats with James and I, so the three of us could sit together. Do you know how much I prayed that someone would have favor on us so that we could sit together???!!!! God loves adoption!!!!!
The flight was as good as a 13 hour flight can be. James did really well, mostly watching movies. I did give him some melatonin at some point and he slept for a little while. I also tried to keep him entertained with the backpack full of things I had brought. Unfortunately, most of them did not interest him for long, if at all. But in the end we survived!!
We arrived in Detroit and spent about an hour and a half or so in immigration, but they finally got to us and let us through without any trouble. We got our luggage, got some brunch at Chili's, and waited around for a few hours. Right by our gate (well, what we thought was our gate) were some little playhouses for kids. James loved them and played in them for quite a while. Some other kids came over and it got hairy for a few minutes because he didn't want them coming in, but eventually he decided to play with them. He was very bossy!! The kids were kind to him and the older ones did whatever he wanted, but the little one was not so easily persuaded! Finally I had to take him away and we went to our real gate to wait. The flight to Pittsburgh was short and sweet. A very special family (who is also adopting a little boy, from Haiti) was there to greet us at the airport, along with my parents and the kids. James took to his new brother and sister right away, and I was so happy to finally have them all together!! We stopped at Steak and Shake for dinner on the way home and everyone did great. We got home and found clean carpets, thanks to my best friend, decorations, cupcakes, and some other surprises. We let James explore for a while before getting everyone ready for bed. He went to bed ok, but didn't stay asleep for long!! And you've probably already read what happened from there :)