Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Forever Family!

Forever Family

What a very emotional day for us! I have more pictures, but did not include them to protect the foster mother's privacy. It was very obvious that Yoosung is well loved by all at SWS. Many case workers stopped by to say something to Sam and our case worker made us promise that we'd email when got home. She wants to make sure Yoosung is home safe and sound.

Sam wasn't sure about us at first, but warmed up pretty quickly to Jack. Sam knew something was going on, but not really sure what. We played for about 45 minutes, then met some of the people who helped us bring Sam home. When it was time for us to leave, I could barely hold it together. I couldn't believe that it was really happening, we were adding another boy to our family but I was feeling so sad for Yoosung, his foster mother, and all the people who have gotten to know and love him. Our night went better than I expected. As soon as we got back, Jack and Sam played then we joined another family for dinner. Sam didn't want to eat, so I walked around outside with him. We gave the boys baths tried together at first but Sam didn't know what to do in the tub. Jack tried his best to show him, but Sam wanted the sink (where he was bathed by his foster mother). I carried Sam around on my back to get him to sleep and both boys slept great all night! Each woke once, Jack to potty and Sam had a bit of a meltdown. But all in all our first night as a family was fairly smooth.

Welcome home, Sam Yoosung! We are so glad we are all together!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

And 3 become 4...

June 16, 2008, 7:58 AM
This is the verse of the day on my iGoogle homepage:


Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a
reward from him.

Psalm 127:3


I cannot think of a more fitting verse as we add another sweet son to our family! In just a few hours our family will grow and none of us can wait! 3 pm and Sam will be part of his forever family.

Day 4 - Father's Day, Itaewon again, with Forum Friends

What Father's Day is complete without a lunch at Outback? And in Korea? We learned that the Outback here is superior to the Outbacks back home. First of all, Jack got actual silverware made for kids! Each time we got to Outback at home, Jack ends with with a huge spoon he can barely fit in his mouth. The menu also had lots of things the menu doesn't have back home. And it was open for lunch and not because it was Mother's of Father's Day! We like the Outback in Itaewon!


And Jack did the Sprinkler for Father's Day! Hope it was a good day, Daddy!
Today we met Christa and Steve again and also met another couple from the adoption forum, Melissa and Scott. We all went into Itaewon together and Ian and I were the tour guides. We each did a bit of shopping and a lot of chatting! Christa and Melissa are meeting their kids tomorrow and were oozing with the excitement of that. With us picking up Sam tomorrow, there was plenty of excitement from us too! Christa, Melissa, and I were gabbing like a bunch of middle school girls and the guys chatted quitely behind us. Each of us are glad that the stress of the waiting is just about to an end and are looking forward to the next stages of our families.

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Edited to add a brag on my oldest son.

This trip has been hard, emotionally and physically. We have done a lot, seen a lot, walked a lot. And Jack has kept up the best he can. He's had only 1 major meltdown (at the palace yesterday) and has had a smile on his face just about the entire time! We have learned that Jack is a very good traveler and can be pushed beyond his limits. I am so proud of Jack with how well he has done thus far with all the change, travel, different foods, and excitement. Way to go, Son!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Day 3 - Day with Mrs. G and Forum Friends

Today we spent most of the day with the mother of a friend of ours. We know Migum from Charlotte and were thrilled that she had encouraged us to contact her mom once in Seoul. Mrs. G took us to a palace, out to eat, and showed us about Seoul. We learned more about Korea today than we ever had! There is definitely something to be said for spending some time with a local!

First we went to Gyeongbokgung Palace. It was beautiful! The paintings and scultpures/statues were fantastic. The National Folk Museum is also located here and we visited there too. Mrs. G helped us obtain an English guide to show us around so he could explain everything to us. It was really interesting to learn about Korean history, everyday life, and art. We got to see how the King and Queen lived in the palace although it was cut short by the temper tantrum of a certain 3 year old (This is the first he's had since leaving San Diego so we certainly cannot complain! Jack is a trooper!). Maybe we'll be able to go back and look around some more another day. Once in the car, he started calming down. I think the heat and just being outside so much was getting to him. Mrs. G took us to a wonderful authentic Korean restaurant. We ate octopus, small fish, anchovies, bulgogi, jap-chae, and other tasty dishes I can't name. I tried everything I could, but some of the food smelled so spicy I knew I couldn't tolerate it. Some of the food didn't seem spicy, but the spice built and within minutes I felt my mouth on fire! We learned that you eat rice with a spoon and mixing bulgogi, kimchi, and rice is wonderful (well, I didn't do that for the spicy kimchi!). It was really neat to eat in an old Korean house at a low table and have an authentic Korean meal.

Afterwards, she took us to Namdaemun market and we got to experience that. It was quite crowed with shoppers and the vendors with their goods. I am amazed at how many people are in Seoul, and this market was just a small portion! The market is divided up into sections and each section sells certain goods. All of the kids stuff is in one area, household goods in another, and so on. It was better than any department store in the US!

We also met today, two families I met on an online adoption forum. They both received their travel calls this week and are staying at the same hotel. One family already had plans, but we met the other couple (Christa and Steve) for dinner and we walked around Insadong. It was really fun to meet them in person and we all shared in one another's excitement of the children that would soon be joining our families. Christa and I talked and talked this evening and we are going to go to Itaewon tomorrow together. It is really neat to have another family here that is going through the same thing as us. We didn't get to experience that before so I am glad we are this time around!

Various pictures around the palace. It's amazing to me that something this beautiful and serene is located in the middle of a very busy city!







Friday, June 13, 2008

Day 2 - Itaewon and Meeting with Jack's Foster Mom

This morning we went to Itaewon, a shopping district near the US Army base. We went there when we traveled for Jack and wanted to visit a few of the shops we had before. One of them was no longer there and the other shop was unattended (a street booth). We will be going back to visit the booth to get a name scroll made for Sam and name chops made for both boys. We had fun walking around and taking everything in. Went into Hamilton shopping center and bought a few souvenirs. Then we headed over to Holt, Korea offices to meet with Jack's foster mother.

After we received the travel call for Sam, I contacted WACAP to see if they would be able to set up a meeting for us with Jack's foster mother. We found out the day before we left that we would be able to see her. What a treasure meeting with Mrs. Park was! Somewhere in the communication, it was lost that Jack was going to be with us. When we arrived at the Holt, Korea office she happened to be by the door and she shouted, "Seung Joon-ee!" It brought tears to my eyes! It was obvious that she was very excited to see him and after we sat down with a Holt staff person, Mr. Kim, it was explained why she was so surprised.

We had a lovely visit talking about Jack and how he has been. Mrs. Park said that she really remembers him because he was such a smart baby, and that has continued to be true about our Seung Joon. I had several pictures printed out and burned a CD full of them for her and also had a few little gifts for her. She bought a cute outfit for Jack that he'll grow into (she commented that he is small, something we get a lot!). There are really no words to explain how wonderful it was to see her and talk with her. Jack had to use the restroom and while Mr. Kim showed Ian where to take him, Mrs. Park and I sat holding hands and smiling at one another. Nothing needed to be said, we both knew what the other was thinking, Thank you for this opportunity.

As we were leaving, Mrs. Park and the 3 of us walked out together. She took us into a little convenience store about bought us all ice cream and Jack a juice. I tried to say no, but she insisted. I felt quite honored that she wanted to do something for us, when it was her that did so much for our son. And as she handed Jack the ice cream, he said his first Korean word kamsahamnida, thank you. I don't think Mrs. Park realized it was the first time he said it, but she smiled very big at Jack when he said it, and in my heart I know he was saving it for her.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Day 1 - Meeting Sam

We arrived safely in Seoul after a long flight and all slept good...until a little after 4 am. We laid in bed as long as we could keep Jack there, then got up to start the day. After Ian blew up my hairdryer (with the adapter) we headed down to breakfast. The buffet was wonderful and Jack was a hit with the staff and guests. It's nice to see that his charm extends 'round the world!

And then it was time to meet Sam Yoosung! We took a taxi, which Jack loved; it was really neat to see so much of Seoul. When we were here 3 years ago, we rode the subway so much that we didn't get to just ride around and take it in, so the taxi was a treat for all 3 of us! We arrived at SWS, met Sam's case worker then headed to his foster family's home. It was so neat to see where he has been living for the last year and an honor to be invited in his foster family's home. As hard as the travel is to get here, being able to see where he has been living, meet his foster mother, and talk with her is worth more!

Yoosung is a very happy boy who definitely has an opinion. Sam isn't shy, but wasn't too sure about me when I tried to touch his hand. He warmed up a little more after 15 minutes or so and then wanted me to stroke his hair when he did something good (Jack and Sam were stacking blocks and Sam did a good job). Jack and Sam got along great and were so cute playing together...my two sons were playing together! Jack was so sweet, kept wanting to hold Sam's hand and always let him have a turn first.

Say kimchi! Sam is a very smiley boy!

My sons, Sam Yoosung and John Seung Joon, the first of many cute pictures together!

Sam is very curious and wanted to check out my camera and Ian with the video camera.

Sam was opening and shutting the side door. We learned how to tell him no today, an do.

After meeting with Sam and his foster mother, we headed back to the agency and got to visit the baby's home. It's where babies spend the first couple months of their lives and where Sam lived until he joined his foster family. Sam was very much loved by the staff there and when they heard he had a family, they were all overjoyed. There are no words to describe how grateful I am to all these women who have cared for Yoosung and helped him turn into the happy, curious boy he is.

We cannot wait to see Sam again, especially Jack. He was crying this evening because he wanted Sam! We'll have to wait four more days to see him again; Monday, June 16, Sam Yoosung will become ours forever!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Last Days as Three

Ian and I have been trying to make this weekend very special for Jack. His world is about ready to be rocked so we want to stock him up on as much love as we can! As excited as he is about this trip, I know it will be a bit difficult for him. In addition to losing center stage, I am certain there will be feelings about adoption brought forth. I can't even imagine what is going through his head, but I hope he knows that no matter what it is, we love him always and forever.

We went to Sea World on Saturday and took in as many shows as we could including Cirque de La Mer, which Jack thought was fantastic! We were fascinated by the strength of the performers to hold their bodies and balance on the poles, and each other. Truly amazing. We also visited the Tide pool there and Jack was brave enough to pick up a sea star. He normally doesn't want to touch the animals or fish, so I was very proud of him for trying something new. It happened with little prompting from us, so our little man is getting brave!

Tonight we took Jack to see Kung Fu Panda, and it was great! It was his first time at a movie theater so he was really taking it all in. Jack sat on our laps and just laid back like the King he is, munching on the popcorn. It was so nice to snuggle with him tonight, it's rare these days that I get snuggles for that long. He really enjoyed the jumping around of the characters and thought they were silly. He really got giggling when the panda and the Kung Fu Master were both trying to get a dumpling and were fighting with their chopsticks.

My favorite part of the movie is that the panda, Po, and his father work in their noodle restaurant. The restaurant has been owned by generations of his family, who are all ducks. That's right, adoption was slipped in! It was so refreshing to see that and not have it be a big deal. Father is a duck, son is a panda, that's the family, no questions asked. I don't think Jack caught on, but maybe that will be something brought up on the plane ride. He has a tendency to bring up topics at a later time when it comes to his mind or maybe after he's thought about it for a while...for being only 3 years old, he is certainly very thoughtful.

As we close out our last days as a family of three, I am becoming quite sentimental. I want to remember everything about Jack right now...his tiny hand holding mine, his big hugs, his messy kisses, his bubbly giggles, his sweet voice. Because I know that after I have two little boys running around our home, time will pass quicker than I wish. I am looking forward to what Sam will be adding to our family, but I don't want to ever forget Baby Jack.

Friday, June 06, 2008

I'll show you cannon ball!

We went to the pool this morning and Jack had a BLAST! He has always loved the water, but today he was in heaven...jumping and shouting,
"I'll show you cannon ball!"
(he got that from Curious George on PBS)
Enjoy my little cannon baller!





Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Happy Gotcha Day, Jack!

3 years ago today we became a family of three! It was a day filled with mixed emotions...joy for us that we were gaining a son, sadness for Jack's foster family, joy for Jack that he was gaining a forever family, sadness for Jack's birthmother, sadness for Jack that he was leaving the only home he'd ever known. It was a hard evening for all 3 of us, the day he joined our family; Ian and I were brand new parents and Jack was confused about what was going on. There was lots of tears, both happy and sad, but soon he learned to trust us and we learned to decode his 5 month old cries.

And today as we celebrate being a family, I realize that Jack is starting to understand what adoption means. I am not so certain that he grasps the loss he experienced, but I do know he is grasping the concept of growing in his Omma's tummy and us being his forever family. I know that Sam's adoption process has helped with his understanding and I hope that Jack will be able to share his knowledge with Sam. I hope too, that I am able to help them along this confusing path and allow them experience whatever emotion they need.

As I remember the day Jack was placed in my arms, I can't help but to smile. As the social worker explained to me what was in our blue bag, Jack laid his head on my shoulder. The world disappeared and it was just me and my child. I was finally a mother, and my child was cozying up to me, his forever mommy.

Happy Gotcha Day, John Seung Joon! I am so glad that we got you and you got us.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

HERE WE COME, SAM!!!

Instead of my usual alarm clock (Jack), it was the phone that woke me at 6:20 am on May 29th. And what a wake-up it was! Nothing like starting my day finding out Sam is ready to come home!! Even better than hearing that was Jack's reaction. I went in to get him up, knowing full well I woke him with my excited shouts!

I whispered in his ear, "Jack, guess who's paperwork is done?"

He popped right up in bed, "My baby brother?! He's ready to come home! (starts to climb out of bed) Let's go get him!"

It was so sweet and he is so excited to go to Korea to meet him! Then Friday as we drove to Wal-mart he says:

Mommy, we are going to be Sam's forever family.

Ahhhh, sweet boy! He is really starting to understand adoption and even more important his own adoption process.

We are flying out on June 10th and will returned on June 18th. I cannot wait to walk through my front door as a family of FOUR!!

Hold tight, Sam! We're on our way!!