Yeah, wishing that I could return to Ethiopia soon? Not so much. At least, not in economy class!
We were able to secure the bassinet for the flight home, and it was sooooo helpful! The flight was pretty uneventful, and both girls behaved well, baring some minor meltdowns during some very tired moments. I was glad to be on US soil, though!
So, if you’ve not traveled internationally before, here are some things to know about your arrival in the US. On the airplane you will be given a blue customs card. This is the only thing you need to fill out in terms of paperwork. Keep your passport, this blue card, and baby’s sealed envelope of papers handy when you exit the plane.
For those arriving in Dulles, you will exit the terminal and take the tram/shuttle thing to the main terminal. From there you will proceed directly to the Customs and Border Patrol Inspection area (just follow the signs.) There are special lines available on the far end for US citizens. Wait in this line. When called to the window, you will need to present your blue customs card, passports for all parties entering the US (including baby), and your packet of papers. The CBP officer will request you open the packet of papers, and then will proceed to stamp the passports and paperwork with your date of entry to the US.
Next up is baggage claim. I found the US baggage claim to be faster and easier than the Ethiopian baggage claim! Load up your luggage on a cart and follow the big arrows towards the exit. Have your blue customs cards ready. You will be directed to the Immigration line. They will take all your passports, customs card, and paperwork. You sit down and wait.
*Note* If you are at Dulles, and you need to go to the bathroom, use the bathroom that will be on your left as you face the exit at the baggage claim area. Your wait in the Immigration area can vary, so use the bathroom first!
Once they review your papers, they may ask you a few questions (ie- are you bringing food into the country, etc). They keep your packet of papers and customs card, and then you are free to go! Exit the terminal and welcome to America!
I was so glad to use an American (read- sparkling!) bathroom and to stand in American (read- understandable and well-marked) lines! I didn’t realize I missed the US so much until I got here: ) I was so glad to be home!
We met up with John and loaded up the car for our 2 hour drive home. Anna really didn’t like her car seat, but I sat next to her in the back seat, and that helped. We stopped at McDonalds after about an hour because we were all hungry! Anna had her first bites of a hamburger, nuggets, fries and milkshake. She didn’t really like any of it except the fries: )
It’s hard to believe we made it home- unscathed and actually so much better as people- so much more aware, informed, and compassionate. I have so many ideas about how we can help make this world better, and I want to teach Abigail to be a “do-er” not just an imagine-er. I can’t wait to see where this path takes us next!