As if I haven't had enough disastrous adventures with international travel, here's another nightmare only closely averted. Back in February, I found a great deal on plane tickets from Beijing to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The flight was with Egypt Air, which didn't make my parents happy, but Kevin & I weren't too bothered by that fact. Plus, there was a nice, long layover in Cairo, which meant that if things were safe, we might even get a chance to leave the airport to see the pyramids. And maybe eat at Chili's or Macaroni Grill or On the Border. A little adventure and some yummy western food...that sounded like a fine plan to me!
Well, last Wednesday, I found out that the best laid plans too often fail. I went on the Egypt Air website to check our itinerary and noticed that our flight had been rerouted. Normally, that's not such a big deal, but this reroute changed our departure airport from Beijing to Bangkok, Thailand without providing any recourse for us to get to Bangkok. Obviously, we can't just hop in a taxi and end up in Bangkok!
Because of the 13 hour time difference, I had to wait 9 hours before I could call the Egypt Air ticketing office in New York. It was a pretty nerve-wracking 9 hours. When I finally got someone on the phone and explained my problem, I was informed that all Egypt Air flights leaving China during the month of April had been canceled. All of them. Every last one. Gone. My only option was to apply for a refund and go back to square one with my ticket search. Not really what I wanted to do at 10 PM that night!
But my desire to see these little boys and hopefully be legally declared their mama became my midnight oil that slowly burned away as I searched for a new flight online. Thankfully, I found a second flight from Ethiopia Air that was only about $150 more expensive per ticket than our previous flight. An additional praise was that the price didn't differ at all if I was leaving in two weeks (which we are!) or two months.
I went to book the tickets but got on error message from the Visa processing service. Thus necessitated another late night international call to a chipper Visa employee, who informed me that since my denied transaction was not yet registered in their system, I would have to call back in another 30 minutes. Finally, I was successfully able to navigate the maze of Visa's corporate call center and had our purchase verified. All the Visa reps were so friendly. After explaining why we were flying to Ethiopia, one wanted to know the boys' names and what else remains in our adoption process. It also made me laugh when our phone call finally ended close to midnight that she wished me to have a good day!
So we're two weeks out with a brand new flight itinerary! Thankfully, the whole situation was resolved in less than a day.
In other news, we heard from our agency that our birth mother hearing took place yesterday and was completely successful. The mother appeared before the judge and relinquished her custody. I'm not sure how to feel about this. On one hand, this is good news for us, as she has agreed to allow a foreign couple she's never met to raise her son. On the other hand, I can't imagine the conflicting emotions this woman is feeling to give up the little boy she carried for 9 months. I'm disappointed that we won't get to meet her and let her know how thankful we are to her. We recognize that she made a great sacrifice in choosing to carry & give birth to him rather than ending his life.
There is still no word if our MoWA letter has been completed yet, but there is no way to know that until we show up for court on April 12. We'll keep waiting and praying!
So that seems to be the theme for these next two weeks...waiting & praying. Thank you to all of you who are waiting & praying with us!