“Welcome Home, Beau!”
It was just about midnight when the Welborns’ flight landed in Tallahassee, Florida, after a 14-hour trip from South Korea. As they stepped out of the jet bridge, the first thing they saw was a sign from Delta’s Tallahassee Airport Customer Service team welcoming home their adopted son. It was the culmination of the hard work of several compassionate Delta people determined to quickly send these parents on a journey to bring home their beloved child.
Hunter and Kelly Welborn first began the adoption process more than three years ago, finally matching with infant baby Beau in April 2020. But COVID-19 shutdowns and travel restrictions brought everything to a halt.
Through the long months of the pandemic, they watched as Beau grew into a toddler, via videos and photos. They finally met their beloved son in person in August – but the wait continued as the Welborns navigated legal requirements in South Korea.
“We got our official legal ‘You are the parent!’ on Sept. 17, and as soon as we got that we booked our flights and said, ‘Let’s go! Let’s go get him!’” said Kelly Welborn, Beau’s mother.
The day they arrived at Tallahassee International Airport, their journey hit another snag: Hunter and Kelly didn’t have their Korean Electronic Travel Authorization completed. By the time they hustled to get everything together, the Welborns had missed their flight.
That’s where the Delta team sprang to action, led by Customer Service Agent Keshia Kitt-Martell, working furiously to get the family on a plane out of Tallahassee as soon as possible and ultimately managing to connect them to a flight from Atlanta to Seoul.
“The ladies at the desk were like ‘We’re going to try to get you on a plane, we have one to LAX, we have one going here, here, here,’ and we were just like — ‘Get us on any plane,’” Hunter said.
While Hunter and Kelly were in Korea, Delta’s Tallahassee team hatched a plan to make sure Beau had a warm welcome when he arrived home. Keisha enlisted fellow Customer Service Agent Marya Denmark, who was adopted herself as a child.
“I really did almost cry when the mom came in because I said, ‘I’m adopted too,’ and wrote them a personal note from an adoptee to the parents,” Marya said.
When the parents and Beau came off the jet bridge, they were treated to a warm Delta welcome in Tallahassee, with a basket of goodies that included Marya’s note and a homemade blanket created by Sharett Cardenas, another customer service agent who is also adopted.
Of course, Beau was most interested in the balloons.
With Beau and his family being local to the Tallahassee area, Marya said she can’t wait to watch Beau grow up in future visits through the airport and continuing to help him and his new family see the world.
“I think his family is just such a perfect fit,” Marya said. “You know when things are meant to be, and you can just feel it? That’s what it felt like being around them.”
To top off that fateful journey, Beau’s arrival in his new home of Tallahassee was extra special for one final reason: As the clock struck midnight, Beau, his family and the Delta family celebrated his second birthday.