Bill and I were so worried about how Will would do on the flights home to Houston. He was new to us, we were new at being parents of a 3year old, and our travel time was over 24hrs. The trip was a long and complicated one. We traveled from Guangzhou where all adoptions in China are processed back to Beijing (3hrs). Then we flew from Beijing to San Francisco (13hrs). Lastly we flew from San Francisco to Houston (4 hrs). In addition we had about 5 hrs in layovers. The trip we knew would be long and challenging, but we never expected some of the crazy things that happened…..
Our first major crazy event was an initiation into parenthood- THE POOP PARTY that we woke up to, but apparently had not been invited to. Our flight out of Guangzhou was at 5am… we had to be up at 3am. So we prepared by packing and getting Will bathed and ready to basically walk out the door after waking him up. As the alarm went off at 3am, I crept out of bed in the dark to try and not wake Will or Bill up yet… I take the longest to get ready so planned to shower first. As I went into the shower I thought something smelled and thought maybe Bill or Will had let out some gas. I calmly took my shower and got dressed. As I woke up Bill, he said the same thing…”wow, what stinks in here”. That’s when it occurred to me it may have been a poopy diaper. So, we turned on the lights and what we found was more than a poopy diaper in Will’s crib. We found a poop explosion. Will had thrown his poopy diaper on the floor and painted the entire crib and himself in, yes, you guessed it, his own colorful painting material, aka POOP! Bill and I freaked… we now had only 30 minutes to be downstairs… now the fire drill. We grabbed Will and immediately ran him to the shower. He was not so happy to be so rudely awakened and screamed louder than I had ever heard him. Meanwhile, Bill and I were laughing at how crazy our situation was. After the shower was not enough to get the poop out of Will’s fingernails and toes, I finally put him in the tub to soak and scrub. It was a close call, but despite the POOP Party we woke up to, we made it on time for our shuttle to the airport!
Well, if that wasn’t enough of a rough start to a long journey, it only got crazier. The second crazy event was a close call with the Chinese transportation authorities! We made it without any problems from Guangzhou to Beijing, but we almost missed our flight out of Beijing!! It was all because of a little medicine, a camera battery, and some confusion with tickets. What many people don’t know is that we have become great friends with almost all the members of our film crew. They have become extended family members- and like most family there are moments that go well and moments that don’t. Members of our production company that came with us included our two executive producers Ruth and Melissa, our field producer/director Luke, a security personnel, Steve, and two camera men- Jimmy from Houston and Steve from LA. Once we got to China we met up with local production- we had 2 production assistants and a coordinating producer to help our team navigate the language and the country plus a government minder (someone who watches as we film to make sure we don’t do or film anything China wouldn’t want us to—it is a communist country where the government is always watching). We all traveled together. We feel so fortunate to have had such great friends to have made this incredible journey with! Unfortunately for them and us, traveling with cameras and lots of people can get a little complicated in a foreign country!
Mishap #1- We only had a 2 hr lay over in Beijing to board our flight back to the USA. That was clearly not enough. We thought we had our tickets all the way to San Francisco, but when we tried to cross from domestic terminal to international terminal, airport security would not let us thru. We were instructed to leave the secured part of the airport, pick up our luggage at baggage claim and then re-enter. After we got our luggage and went to check in, they told us we didn’t have the right tickets again… they kept shuffling us back and forth to multiple desks and of course we all had trouble understanding. As you can imagine doing this with a 3 yr old in a stroller and our entire luggage was not easy. Everyone was chipping in to help carry luggage back and forth from one desk to the other. After 45 minutes, we finally were issued tickets and told we could go thru security. With little time we ran to make it through security.
Mishap #2- As we started to go through security they pulled Bill, Will and I aside down the far end to a different check point, separating us from our film crew. Still thinking everything was ok, we went thru, were packing our stuff back up when they grabbed Will’s medicine we were given from his foster home. They started yelling in Mandarin and wouldn’t let us go. I tried to communicate it was for our son, but the communication barrier was too strong. Someone who spoke some English said to me we couldn’t go because the medicine was unidentifiable and needed to be tested. We were now down to less than an hour before our flight so I just grabbed the bottle of medicine and threw it in the trash… the security personnel waved us on. Thankfully the medicine wasn’t anything vital….
Mishap #3- So as Bill and I started to leave for the gate and look for the rest of our crew, Bill got pulled aside AGAIN! We didn’t know why only they wouldn’t let us go through now! Of course, my first thought was it had something to do with the adoption… where they not going to let us get home with Will? My biggest fear had been that something would go wrong and now we were so close to being on the plane to the US with our son. We couldn’t understand anything they were saying as it was all in Mandarin. Finally, it became clear that they wanted to take Bill somewhere. Bill told me to go ahead thru to the gate with Will… of course that was the last thing I wanted to do- be separated from my husband in a foreign country where we didn’t have cell phones that worked anymore, didn’t know what they wanted, couldn’t communicate with each other and were running late for our flight. I very reluctantly agreed. Bill found Steve, one of our camera men and the two of them followed the Chinese airport security personnel out of my sight. At least he was with someone I kept thinking. Will and I found the rest of our production crew and went to the gate. Communication with Bill and Steve was impossible. As we waited, the gate called for last boarding call. I thought what do I do? Travel to America without Bill? I know if it were up to him he would have wanted us to go. What was going on?
Meanwhile they were about to close the gates. Bill had told me to get on the flight when we separated, if he didn’t make it he would be on the next flight out. I decided there was no way I was making this trip across the world without him. I decided to wait… I ran up and told the gate attendant my husband and Steve were on their way. They couldn’t tell me if they could wait. Finally, as they were about to close the doors, Bill and Steve came running down the hall… just in the nick of time!
Turns out the problem was with something in our checked luggage. We had put the production batteries in our checked luggage. What we forgot is that China requires you to carry-on batteries on international flights. They had to go to the luggage area and retrieve the batteries.
Sometimes the craziest things happen when you travel with a production crew, but of course these are the things they won’t put on TV… the behind the scenes drama!!
So after a POOP Party and almost missing our flights, we were relieved to be in our seats to America!!!