9:12PM EST

Dulles Airport

Washington DC

As the Boeing 767 taxied toward the terminal building, Amanda gathered Nikolas's things. Packing everything back up into the diaper bag, she glanced around and under their seats. Satisfied that she hadn't missed anything, she sank back in her seat and sighed. It had been an emotional two weeks, the plane ride home being no less chaotic. Fifteen minutes into the trip, they had discovered that the baby did not like to fly. It had been a long eleven hours. Thank God Francine had stayed behind to finish some paperwork for them, although Amanda didn't believe for a second that that was the reason.

Lee and Nicky had managed to fall asleep about three hours ago but Amanda had been kept awake by her excitement and anticipation of their homecoming. She glanced at the seat next to her, her heart skipping a beat as her gaze rested on her husband and son.

"We're home, guys." She placed a hand on Lee's arm and squeezed. His eyes fluttered open and he squinted, looking around. Nikolas was asleep in his carrier in the seat next to him, with a death grip on his finger. Carefully extracting it from his son's hand, Lee rubbed his hands over his face.

"Wow. I slept through the landing? That's never happened before." Glancing over at his son, he smiled. "So did he! That's great. Did you get any sleep, Amanda?" His eyes narrowed as she looked away. "Amanda."

"I tried, Lee. You know how I am on the way home from anywhere. This was ten times more intense. I'll get some sleep later." She knew what was going to happen once they got home. He'd *make* her go to bed. 'Oh well, can't hurt to let Mother get to know him right away.' She smiled at the thought.

"What?" Lee asked.

"Nothing, really. I was just picturing Mother and Nikolas together."

Lee smiled also. "Well, you won't have to wait much longer. They just opened the door. Come on." He grabbed the diaper bag from the floor and reached above his seat for their carry-on. "Can you carry Nicky?"

"Of course." She unbuckled the carrier from the seat and lifted it to her hip. "You know, when I had the boys, you didn't need a seat, or carrier. We just held them. I think I like this much better. He didn't even wake up when I unbuckled him. And I can put him down and not disturb him. And it's supposed to be safer in the car, too. I hear they're thinking of requiring them." By now they had reached the door of the plane.

"Amanda," Lee quietly reminded her. "You're rambling."

"I'm nervous, Lee." She looked over her shoulder at him. "When I get this nervous I slip. I'm sorry."

He smiled. "Don't be."

As they walked down the jetway, Amanda could feel her heartbeat quicken. At the end of the corridor, her whole family stood, awaiting their arrival. Nikolas's arrival. She knew her mother would love him, but what about the boys. Jamie had sounded excited on the phone but that was entirely different than having a baby actually living in your house. Phillip she wasn't as worried about, he was hardly home anymore and he really was easy going.

"Well, here we go." As they walked out into the concourse, she took a deep breath and looked around.

"Wow." Came Lee's deep voice from behind her. He leaned forward and looked at Amanda, who had stopped in the middle of the hall. "You okay?"

Amanda just nodded, as she shifted the carrier to her opposite hip. There was her mother, the boys, Billy and Jeannie, and Captain Curt. Phillip and Jamie held a posterboard sign between them that read 'Welcome Home Nicky'. The realization that they were finally home safely with Nikolas brought tears to her eyes.

All of a sudden their family surrounded them. Through the hugs and handshakes, kisses and congratulations, Lee caught and squeezed Amanda's hand. Once again Amanda had changed his life dramatically, and he couldn't have been happier about it.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

When I first heard this song, it reminded me of Lee's life. But as I listened again and read the Chapman's adoption story, a need to use the song the way it was written overtook me. Maybe someday I'll write the other one but not right now :o)

When Love Takes You In

1 John 3:1; John 14:18; Psalm 68:5-6

Written and sung by Steven Curtis Chapman

Sparrow Song/Peach Hill Songs 2001

I know you've heard the stories

But they all sound too good to be true

You've heard about a place called home

But there doesn't seem to be one for you

So one more night you cry yourself to sleep

And drift off to a distant dream

Where love takes you in and everything changes

A miracle starts with a beat of a heart

When love takes you home and says you belong here

The loneliness ends and a new life begins

When love takes you in

And somewhere while you're sleeping

Someone else is dreaming, too

Counting down the days until they hold you close and say I love you

And like the rain that falls into the sea

In a moment what has been is lost in what will be

When love takes you in everything changes

A miracle starts with the beat of a heart

And this love will never let you go

There is nothing that could ever cause this love to lose its hold

When love takes you in everything changes

A miracle starts with the beat of a heart

When love takes you home and says you belong here

The loneliness ends and a new life begins

When love takes you in it takes you in for good

When love takes you in

I found so many stories and articles on the subject of adoption in Russia. Some were heartbreaking, some made me so happy I cried. Here are just a few.

. /~jhoffman/russia/adoption_

.edu/~