Friday, May 17, 2013

Family Day!

1 year ago today we walked into SWS and the only thing I could think was that I felt like I was going to throw up.  I was so incredibly nervous and sad and of course a little excited too.  I wanted my boy so much, but I knew how much this was going to hurt him initially and I dreaded that.  I don't want to hurt my children, but the only way he could become our child was through that loss and pain.  That right there is the hardest part of adoption.

We were greeted by our Social Worker, and soon after we saw DS and his foster family arrive.  We were all ushered into a room (a different tiny room) where we sat on the floor and all awkwardly talked talked to DS because we didn't understand each other.  The Social Worker joined us with some final paperwork which we did quickly.  The Foster Family gave us some wonderful things, tons of pictures of DS, some clothes he had worn, his Hanbok from his first birthday, and, of course, Mong Mong.  His beloved dog that is his immense comfort. 

We thanked them and all sort of started to say good bye.  We headed into the hallway, the foster family got DS ready to go.  When it was time they asked us to step into the tiny (very very tiny) elevator with the Social Worker and then DS's Foster Mom handed him to me.  It was hard.  She had tears in her eyes and his Foster Father was obviously upset to say goodbye to DS.  I got the feeling that the two of them were very close.  The elevator doors shut with DS trying to reach out of them.  He spent the elevator ride trying to push away from me, screaming for his Foster Family and my heart just shattered.  I whispered "Kwen chan ah" which the SW and FM had told me to do.  I patted his back and tried to comfort him.  Nothing seemed to work but after a very long ride (and a stop on one floor where the woman saw that obviously she did not want to share an elevator with us) we stepped out into the construction zone on the 1st floor of SWS.  DS was fascinated and stopped crying until we got outside.  Once outside I wanted to get him in the carrier, but we knew that there was a chance the Foster parents would be out soon and we wanted to get out of sight before that happened.  We hurried down the street, then got Daniel into the carrier once we rounded the corner.  We walked back to the hotel like that and once we got to the main street he stopped crying again because he was looking at all of the cars and trucks going by. 

The hotel room was his least favorite place.  Maybe it felt too home-like?  Maybe it felt confining?  Maybe it made this seem too permanent?  Not sure, but he hated it at first!  So out we went to walk around with him.  The entire time in Seoul he wanted to be carried!  He would get down for a few minutes here or there - in the hotel room or to play on some stairs - but mostly he wanted to be in the carrier all the time.  I am so so thankful that we had the carrier with us.  It was a lifesaver. 

We took walks, went to a beautiful park, picked up a few take out items on the street for dinner (no idea what he would eat - we were told he's picky!), went to 7-11 for soy milk, headed back to the hotel to eat, skype with my parents and the kids, and see what we could do to help him feel more comfortable.  It was quite a day but we survived it and we even saw some faint smiles through the tears (not many, we had no idea what a smiley kid he was for a while). 

Remembering Seoul, Day 3

This morning was pretty relaxed, we explored near the hotel.  Gangnam is a nice area.  It really caters towards business people, but lots of restaurants and easy walking.  A beautiful area to explore.  We met our new friends, Andrew and Ashley for lunch before our 2nd meeting (they were having their second meeting with their sweet boy T, too!).  We went to McDonald's.  It's just one of those places that is interesting to try in other areas.  We got a bulgogi burger.  I'll be sticking with the Big Mac and have my Bulgogi somewhere else, thanks!  But the fries were decent and it's the most "normal" diet Coke you can find.  Mostly it was just nice to sit and talk with another couple who was going through the same thing.

Then we went to see our boy.  He was not happy.  I don't think an hour has ever lasted that long in my life.  It crawled by.  He didn't want to have anything to do with us, but it was worse than that.  He was angry at us.  He would push us away or sort of hit us away with his toy, turn away and try to get further onto his Foster Mom's lap.  He knew something was up and he did not like it one bit!
I could elaborate but really it was just awful.  And that room is tiny!  It doesn't look that tiny in photos but SWS itself is so small!  I think it's so grand in your mind, this place you've thought about for years, and you get there and it's a small office on the 7th floor of a building (OK, the whole building is theirs, but the International Adoption portion is small). 

Afterwards I was depressed.  It was really hard to do anything that night.  We went to the Coex Mall and looked around but I felt run down, sad, and unable to enjoy much at all.  We ate dinner at Outback b/c we couldn't stomach much else.  I picked at my food.  We went home and tried to process everything.  We slept on it.  It didn't really improve things.  I was really sad for our boy, who was losing so much, and sad also b/c I wanted him so much and knew that we were the last people on earth he wanted right then. 

I want to end this one on a more positive note than I did last year though.  Because now I know what 1 year later brings.  It brings impromptu hugs, giggles.  Earlier today he came running into the room laughing and screeching, so happy and excited.  So at home.  Life is good for all of us.  So while this day a year ago didn't end happily, there is a happy ending.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Remembering Seoul - Day 2: Meeting Daniel

Oh the emotions waking up!  A jumble of nerves and excitement.  Snipping at Brian b/c we were going to be late and nothing would be good enough - I'm a joy when I'm stressed, really.... (Sorry Honey!). 

We (finally!) checked out and took a taxi to the Renaissance.  The taxis were so cheap!  We were amazed!  I have heard it depends on which ones though.  We just carried cards around that said where we wanted to go (thank you Concierge at the hotels) and we could take the normal taxis and not look for the English speaking (more expensive) ones.

The Renaissance said that we could check in about half an hour after we got there, so we sat and had breakfast.  Their buffet really is terrific, a decent mix of Western and Korean.  It's very expensive too, but we needed convenience this morning.  After eating we checked in and quickly put our gifts together, got approximate directions from the hotel (yikes) and tried to find SWS.  We obviously stand out because I will never forget the sweet girls who stopped and asked us if we were looking for SWS and gave us directions. :)  We were NOT headed in the right direction so I am very grateful for them!

We got there and sat down to wait.  I took pictures of the white board for friends who were waiting, and I tried to calm down.  We had made it, we weren't late, we were about to meet our boy!  Our son!  It was really hard to imagine that after all this time it was going to be real!  We met DS's Social Worker and got in the van to go to see him.  The first thing I noticed when we pulled into their apartment complex was the playground.  I wondered how much time Daniel had spent playing on it.  He's young but he's a mover and climber.  Our SW encouraged us to take some pictures before going up.  When the door opened there was a woman with a HUGE boy on her back!  I know this sounds funny, but the most recent pictures we had of him were from January.  He looked so much older.  At first glance he didn't seem like the same kid!  But a bit later we could see that the features were the same, just a bit more mature.  We also learned he likes to play rough, he likes to laugh.  My favorite memory is of him feeding me grape tomatoes over and over.  He thought it was hilarious! :)   Most of the connections with him came at the end, initially he didn't want to have anything to do with us.  But we left there feeling more positive, and hopeful that the next day would be even better (oh boy were we wrong...).
He was so busy it was hard to get a pic of his face,
by the time he relaxed with us we wanted to connect w/o the camera.

The last thing we did with SWS was go to see the Baby Reception home. 

The rest of the day was pretty relaxed.  We went out to lunch at a really good bbq place near SWS.  Then we went to see Changdeukdong Palace and in the evening we went on a food tour.  All things I'd definitely recommend. It's hard to find time to do all that you want in such a short time in Seoul.
 We both did well until about 10ish and then we were done each night.  The food tour went longer than that and we were completely wiped out when we got back to our room.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Remembering Seoul, Day 1

So we passed out soon after checking into our hotel (The Grand Hyatt Seoul).  Yes, yes, everyone tells you not to do that, but I know myself, the best thing I can do is catch up as much as possible on sleep so I can enjoy the rest of the vacation (and honestly, it worked).  I also didn't want to leave the hotel room until SWS had called to schedule our first visit (and Brian put up with my neurotic tendencies very well while we were on this trip).

At about noon we woke up and went to get some food.  We ate at the hotel buffet.  It's a great place for a variety of food, but overall it's expensive and not the best food in Seoul by any means.   But it sufficed, especially for this Mama who didn't want to go far from the hotel.  We ate, tried to relax, and enjoyed some familiar and new foods there.  Then we headed back to the room to freshen up, get organized (we were switching hotels in the morning) and wait for the phone to ring.  

At about 2 pm Seoul time SWS called and we were told we would be able to meet our boy the next day at 9! :)  So we prepared to head out of the hotel!  This was our one rainy day in Seoul (which worked out great!) so we went downstairs and the hotel was lending out umbrellas.  We borrowed one and went for a walk.  We found a beautiful walking path and followed it through beautiful trees and flowers until we got into more of the downtown area.  Then we got on the subway (pretty much the nicest subway I've ever seen!) and headed to Lotte Mart at Seoul Station.  We enjoyed this but it was wet and rainy by the time we got there and we were jet lagged and tired, so a lot of the day is a blur.  We bought umbrellas (that we then didn't need for the rest of the trip) and some chopsticks and a few things in Lotte Mart.  Really good prices too compared to a lot of other places. 

We were wet and tired so we took a taxi back to our room and got everything prepared for an early checkout in the morning and then zonked out again!  That jet lag is amazing!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Mother's Day (travel)

A special day to celebrate our mothers and grandmothers, to enjoy my children, but last year brought new meaning to Mother's Day as we boarded a plane towards our baby boy. 

It's actually one year ago today that this happened.  We spent most of the day on a long flight from LA to Seoul.  It was still Mother's Day in the US when we landed in the Land of the Morning Calm (at 4:30 in the morning Korea time).   I was exhausted and excited all at once, but I think adrenaline really kicked in right then.  We got our luggage, exchanged some cash, and went to wait for our shuttle to our hotel.  While waiting we got to chat with a wonderful couple we met before boarding who was also traveling, along with some of their wonderful family members, to bring home their son.  It was such a blessing to realize about half an hour before boarding that we were on the same flight so we met and talked with them, and then were able to see them a couple of times during the week.  :)

We boarded our shuttle and started toward the hotel.  The first thing I said to Brian was "It's so green!" - yes, we did just leave the desert to come here.  I have to say that Seoul was absolutely beautiful.  We got to the hotel and to our surprise we were able to check in immediately (at about 6:30 am! - not many hotels in the US would have allowed that).  We headed to our room and took a nap.  More tomorrow on this day b/c we're moving into May 14th territory. :) 

I want to say that I hope all of my friends and family had a wonderful Mother's Day, and that I am praying for those who are wishing and hoping to become Mothers soon.  Know that you are loved and prayed for each day.  We are so thankful that this Mother's Day we were able to celebrate with a sweet boy who wanted to be with us!  And that all 3 of our kids were together.  We really missed being with Ben and Ella last year.