Monday, November 21, 2016

Hello from Thailand!

Friends, please forgive me for the delayed update here on my blog! The past week held a lot of unexpected challenges that took so much of my time and attention. (Par for the course it seems with this adoption!) My plan was to update my blog with several things I've been waiting to share, and to post a blog the day before we left for Thailand - but it just wasn't possible. Instead, we spent hours and hours on the phone with 3 adoption agencies, US Immigration, and our State Senator's office trying to figure out why our final approval has been delayed. We made phone calls in the daytime and packed at night... and didn't go to bed at all the night before we left the country. I'll share more about that later - but right now I am thrilled to tell you that we are already in Thailand!

Our last day and night at home were filled with messages from friends, texts, phone calls (I'm so sorry that I couldn't reply to all of them - but every message meant so much to us!) and unexpected visits. One precious friend stopped by to give us a beautiful weighted blanket she made for Kate (thank you Katie! We love it!!!). Our across the street neighbors stopped to pray for us in their driveway, let us try out our Lillebaby Carrier on their kids, and gave us lots of goodbye hugs (Love you Anderson Fam!) And our next-door neighbors, The Clantons, came by with more hugs, more prayers, and the sweetest cards!

The oldest boy and girl (Harris and Margo) wrote part of their cards in Thai (they've been trying to learn Thai so they can talk to Kate!) and even included a donation of their own money for our "adoption fund". I cried reading their sweet cards, and cried again when they prayed for us on our back porch. We completely hit the jackpot with our neighbors you guys! They are like family to us. I can't even begin to explain all the ways they have loved and supported us through this process! And as you can see in the video below, Kate has some pretty excited playmates who cannot wait to meet her! (This is Piper and Olive - who are just 2 of the 13 kids on our block!)

We flew out of Birmingham Friday morning at 6am. Because of all we'd been dealing with last week, I honestly didn't have time to let the significance of our travel day fully sink in. One of our mentors used to preach about how God doesn't do things quickly - but He does things SUDDENLY. I can definitely say this has been true in our case! After waiting, working, and praying for almost 5 years - I was shocked to find that our travel day was suddenly here! My parents dropped us off at the airport at 4am, and that's when I started to get emotional. Our bags were packed and we were on the way to our baby girl! It seemed so surreal!

I let the tears fall when our plane lifted off out of Birmingham. This was it - our last moment in our city as a family of 2. We flew from Birmingham to Detroit, Detroit to Seoul, South Korea, and then finally from Seoul to Bangkok, Thailand. And all along the way, precious friends wrote so many encouraging comments on our social media posts. Thank you all for cheering us on! We have never felt so loved and supported in our lives!

My sweet Mama Bear made me this shirt, and it seemed appropriate to wear it on the day we left to get our Baby Bear! Every time I saw myself in the mirror wearing it, I couldn't help but smile. I've never had anything that said "Mama" on it! And I was completely shameless all day on our travel day(s) - showing anyone and everyone pictures of our baby girl and letting them know we were on the way!

After 30+ hours of traveling, we finally landed in Bangkok at 12:40am (Sunday morning) took a 1.5 hour cab ride to our hotel in Pattaya, ate some mango and sticky rice, showered, and finally fell asleep around 6am.

Right now it's Monday evening for us (Thailand is 13 hours ahead of CST). We've spent the past 2 days trying to get over jet lag, emailing people about our final adoption approval, getting reacquainted with the city (so that we know where to find what we need once we have custody of Kate), and trying to enjoy our last few days that we'll ever have "just the two of us".

The view from our balcony in Pattaya!

We've slept (a lot), run errands, taken walks in the sunshine, had a quick stop at the beach, and enjoyed a one hour foot massage for only $6! We've also eaten plenty of mango and sticky rice, cheap, fresh sushi, banana rotees, and watermelon shakes.

Over the next few days, I hope to catch up on my blogging (so brace yourself for a lot of posts this week!) so that I can share everything I want to share here before we meet Kate. Once she's home, I plan to print out this blog for her - so I don't want to miss anything!

In the meantime - for those of you who are friends and family - don't forget to follow along on Instagram! I'll be posting blogs as often as I can, but I try to update my Facebook page and Instagram accounts daily. My username on Instagram is ErickaBJackson, Rusty's is RustyAJackson, and Kate's is MissKateJackson. If you follow Kate's account, you will have to be approved. (Her account is the only place we will be sharing photos of her face, due to specific regulations for Thai adoptions.) So for those of you with nicknames on Instagram (versus your given name) - be sure to shoot me a message letting me know who you are and how we know each other so that I can approve you!

The countdown is on! Just 3 days left (including today) until we meet Kate! 

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