Tuesday, September 22, 2015
SeoulForSimon: Part 2: Bukchon Village & Gyeongbokgung Palace . Part 3: Namsan Tower, Namdaemun Market, & Korean Baseball After our first visit with Simon we hit the subway and headed to a part of Seoul called Bukchon Village. Bukchon is located between Gyeongbokgung Palace and Changoek Palace. It features a great deal of art galleries and small stores running throughout limitless alleys and is quoted as being a 'preserved 600 year old urban environment.' We didn't really purchase anything, but enjoyed seeing the interesting shops and buildings. We made our way over to Changoek Palace only to find that it was closed on Mondays and so then walked for quite some time along a main city street towards Gyeongbokgung Palace. We got to watch the changing of the guards and then went into the palace to explore a bit. The "G Palace" was built in 1395 by the Joseon Dynasty. It consisted of more than 300 different elaborately painted buildings. It was beauiful and mind blowing to read about all it has been thru in the last seven hundred years. We then headed over to the Insadong area of Seoul to meet a fellow adoptive family for the first time in person for dinner. The restraunts in Seoul are so different and difficult to explain. There are so many all packed into every building. We spent many conversations mulling over the assumption that rent must be very cheap for so many small stores and shops to stay open when competitors souround them. On this night, as with many others, we ended up going up an alley stairway to the third or fourth floor and heading into a cozy restaurant. There were 8 of us and we lined a wall mixed with chairs and benches. Unlike many restraunts in Seoul, this one had no pictures and no English and so we were very thankful to have our Korean speaking friends with us. We got a wide assortment of food and I was very thankful for my friend attempting to explain my shrimp allergy to the waiter as food allergies are not at all common in SK. I of course also got some version of Kimchi Jigae. This is a kimchi soup that Patrick makes at home for me once or twice a month and I was determined to find the best batch in all of Korea so I ordered a bowl along with our meals at nearly every restraunt we went to. It was nice to sit and eat with great company, but as the long day and jet lag started to catch up we were all eager to get back to our hotels to rest. On Tuesday we woke up and took the subway to an area of Seoul where we would be able to go up into Namsan Tower to look over the entire city. It was fairly hot and humid and we were sweating up a storm even just trying to hike to the cable car building. (We noticed many times that Koreans seem to have a much different tolerance to heat as we were often the only ones sweating! Haha) It was an incredibly clear day in Seoul, which is rare, and so our cable car ride up the hill was beautiful! Namsan Tower is the tallest point in Seoul and quite amazing to look out and see how far the city of ten million reaches. However I got a bit sick and was eager to get back down the mountain. ;) After the tower we headed over to shop at a traditional market called Namdaemun. This market was definitely our least favorite, but I've heard that their indoor shops have more to offer. It was very very busy and loud and seemed to be filled with socks, purses, and sunglasses. Late that afternoon we ventured up several floors to a coffee shop where, as often happened, we were the only customers. We had a humorous ordering experience and just spent an hour or so visiting with the Grays before we jumped on the subway to head to a Korean Baseball game. The baseball game was very different than that of an American baseball game. The stadium and attire were quite similar, but the prices on tickets and food was much lower. The highlight of the game was what my husband referred to as the Hype Man. Basically each side of the stadium (separated according to whom you were cheering for) had a hype man and a few cheerleaders. When your team was up to bat there was CONSTANT LOUD singing and cheering and banging of plastic tubes. The energy was incredibly high and everyone in the crowd participated. It was a lot of fun. My husband and I splurged and each got a team hat and were excited to be able to one day share with Simon all about the game in Seoul. It was a perfect night and we just enjoyed each other's company as we walked the streets back to the subway to head back to the guest house. According to Patrick's watch we had been averaging around seven miles a day or walking. We were determined to stay busy and take in as much of the culture as possible. My husband and I both remarked early on that we felt very safe and comfortable in Seoul. The subway was easy to acess, the people were helpful if needed, and there was so much to explore.
Tuesday, September 8, 2015
The week leading up to departure came very quickly as our days were filled with dozens of to do's not only in preparation for Korea, but also because I can't seem to just focus on a task at a time, but always find myself shoving as much in as possible in order to be more and more settled, organized, and prepared for the changes to come this fall and winter. The night before we left I was filled with sudden sadness over leaving our two older children. Eight nights suddenly seemed like a very very long time to be away from such young children whom I used to being with around the clock. I allowed those emotions, but continued to remind myself of the fantastic care they would receive while we're away and of course was filled with the surreal realities of what we were about to do. On Saturday morning we woke a little after 4am and headed to Kansas City International Airport. We grabbed our friends and photographers, The Grays, along the way and began part two of our adventure to Simon. My emotions, while they held a small bit of dread over the upcoming full day of travel, were primarily focused on the excitement that flowed thru me with the knowledge that we were headed to meet our son in person for the first time. My husband best described the love one is able to feel from simply having photos and videos by comparing it to the same moment he first saw his other children born. You don't know them. You've never held them. But the part of you that knows they're yours takes over your heart and claims them from that point on as part of you, part of your life, part of your heart. Simon has been loved his entire life. I know in my heart that as an infant he had nurses, social workers, his birth mother, and his foster mother who loved him. Who cherish him. He has been loved by us and by our children since the first moment we saw his photo at eight months old. And above all he has been loved by God since before he even was. ---While on the long flights my mind was never far from picturing the moment to come where we will first meet our eyes with his. I wondered what he would wear, would his hair be long and wild (my favorite), would it be pulled back into a traditional pony tail, or would his foster mom have cut it in anticipation for this day. I attempted to control my heart to have no expectations for our moments together. I had read many many accounts of these first meetings and knew it was just as possible for him to be unwilling to come near us as to hug us. I just wanted him to BE. I just wanted to see him. I hoped to get the chance to touch him and connect with him, but knew that moment would eventually come and learned of patience long ago. ---When we arrived in Seoul, South Korea we were all exhausted but thrilled to finally be off the horribly long plane ride. We made our way to baggage, immagration, Wi-Fi purchase, and the subway fairly easily with instructions from previous families and the benefit of all signs having not only Hangul, but also English. Once off the correct train we had a bit of a walk with all of our luggage thru busy city streets in the dark, but after less than 30 minutes of wandering we stepped past a series of shops and were instantly in front of the agency. The building front is very distinctive. I had seen pictures of it many times. The exhaustion and foreign confusion were no match for our sudden rush of emotions when first seeing the adoption agency. I quickly tucked my head in Patrick's chest and cried as I waited for him to whisper another Dumb&Dumber quote to me "we're really doing it, aren't we buddy". ;) It was realer than real. We had arrived and would settle in to the guest house in preparation to meet our son in the morning. ---Monday morning, August 31, 2014, 568 days after first seeing his picture, Patrick and I meet SeoYoon face to face. We were sitting in the agency coffee shop when our social worker said "he's here" and pointed towards the door. When I turned the corner, there he was. It was as if I've always known him. I did not feel anxiety towards him, just peace. I'm sure our smiles were big as we said hello I'm Korean to him over and over. He ran right past everyone and straight to a child sized ride in car to play. It was obvious he was familiar with coming to the agency and loved the car. We least down and smiled and talked to him. The Foster Mother was all smiles toward us. Once the Foster Father came in from parking Simon ran right to him. He picked him up and they explained they love each other very much and he very attached to him because he is a 'man's man' of sorts. :) We all went upstairs and into a play room. In many parts of Korea, before you enter many types of rooms, you must take off your shoes and not be barefoot so we all came prepared with socks. Once in the room Simon's FM sat him at a little table and signaled for me to sit in the chair by him. When I did she took his chair and scooted it right next to me. Patrick was on my other side. He had two cars we played with. Everyone watched as Patrick and I just played and interacted with him. (FM, FF, social worker, & two phtotographers) Simon was in a good mood for the majority of the play date. He only got a little upset when his FF left the room for a bit. Our SW was able to translate questions for us to the FM about Simon's general care. As parents already we are very patient with Simon. We didn't want to force any affection. He was appropriately cautious toward us, but still friendly. After a few minutes of play I snuck my hand on his little back. He didn't flinch or mind at all. I had been waiting for so so long to touch him. Then after a bit I may have snuck a touch or two to his soft curly hair. :) I switched places with Patrick for a while and he did the same. After a bit of play at the table Simon switched to a ride in cozy coupe car. It was quite evident that he loved cars. His foster parents were so wonderful. They kept trying to encourage him toward us. I'll never forget the moment we were all in the floor and Simon was sitting on his FF's lap and he was motioning for him to sit on Patrick's lap maybe. Simon wasn't upset at all, but also not interested in getting too too close. We got out the fruit snacks to see if that may lure him over. Patrick held out the treat to him and Simon leaned toward him and opened his mouth. Something so simple caught me by surprise. How sweet that he saw Patrick already as someone he trusted to stick food right in his mouth. Once he had the piece in his mouth however he quickly disapproved and took it out, dripping with slobber, and held it up and fed it to his FF. The sweet man accepted the gooey offering without a second thought. This made my heart warm and ache. I'm a sap for babies and grandpas anyways and mixed with my baby and this special circumstance it was all I could do not to "AWWW!" out loud. ;) ---We gave the foster family a gift for their baby granddaughter and also a basket for them. The FM asked us the sizes of Keith and Layla, our older children, because she wanted to get traditional hanboks made for them before our second play date. When we parted Simon had lots of sweet "bye bye"s for us and off they went. We were sent straight into a visa meeting where we filed for Simon's US passport. ---I didn't necessarily feel depressed or sad at him leaving, more so just blessedly excited to having seen him and knowing we would see him again very soon. I had zero doubts about our connections and relationship with him and knew with time all would come. God has gone before us. I felt excited that he was so happy and sweet. Also, we were glad to learn more about him - like that she said he was off his bottle, starting to show some beginning potty training signs, loved cars, very laid back, fairly easy going, takes 1 nap, falls asleep quickly, but just needs to be laid with at first, and is a small and uninterested eater. My favorite thing was that he seemed to enjoy Patrick. I dreamed very much for them to bond quickly and deeply, even if it means watching from the side a bit. I love this for them so so much. And of course I wish our older kids could've been present, as I have the same dreams for them, but know (hope!) that'll come very soon. :)
Friday, December 5, 2014
ADOPTION UPDATE!!!! Almost ten months ago we were matched with Simon from South Korea. He is now 18months old, living in a foster home, and seems to be doing well. We get 3 pictures a month in addition to updates about his growth and development. We also get to send him a gallon sized baggie of clothes and toys when we find another adoptive family who is traveling. International adoption is very expensive and timely, but we felt God called us to Simon from the first time we saw his little picture. For the last ten months we have just been waiting and fundraising. It is crazy to think of falling in love with a child thru pictures, but that is exaxtly what has happened. We have really had no idea of a time line other than to watch those that have gone before us. TODAY HOWEVER, we received word that Korea has requested our file to prepare for emigration permit submission! I look at this step as being in the batters' circle. It is exciting because we have had many many months with no movement and now the reality of Simon is starting to return. The file request that we got today tipically comes about 6-9 months before we would get called for korean court and then another call about a month after court to return for custody. So we still have some waiting to do, but we are super excited for this new movement and the red tape updates that'll come more often over the next few months.
Thursday, July 10, 2014
REFLECTIONS...... July came quickly this year. I can't believe it has been a year since Jack was born. The end of last summer was a total blur for me. Every day was not a good day and I wasn't sure if I would ever feel truly happy again. I remember the moment that I was driving and I had a little feeling of lightness with a happy emotion behind it. It caught my grief off guard and it went as quickly as it came. That little moment slowly morphed into me learning to live again as the new me. Slowly a seemingly good day snuck in and over the months another and then another. Eventually, after many months, Id say that I experience more good days than bad. That I have more smiles than tears. It's been hard and confusing, but I have been trying. I was never going to "get over" not having my son. I was never going to see that "it was for a reason". I was never going to fully understand or accept. But God tugged me along He keeps me moving and growing. Sometimes I feel wise and strong and able to reach out and help others while other times I feel selfish, confused, angry, and completely unable to care about much of anything. July approaching has made my emotions more difficult. Each day is a memory of where I was last year at this time and what my thoughts and fears and HOPES were then. I had no idea what was to come or how I would deal. On another hand I look and think "it's been a whole year and you don't have this figured out yet?!" I just fear that I still don't know how to BE. I feel unstable with my grief. I am so scared that it is going to suck me in and any progress my loved ones thought I've made is going to disappear. I'm trying to find meaning. Im trying to allow God to lead me to my next journey. To use this hurt, this love, to glorify Him and help others. I'm trying. I think. I mostly need to find a balance between growing and making my life and Jack's life what it's meant to be and then with dealing with my hurt and anguish. My human nature is wanting to find someone to blame and my God is wanting to help me beyond those emotions. I'm trying to learn to trust Him and work for His glory even though I don't understand WHY. I could ramble on about my emotions for daaaays, but Ill spare you (for now;)) and move on... THE KIDS....... We speak of Jack every day. Layla now also has more good times than bad when mentioning him, but I can see the hurt there for sure. I was pleased that focusing on Simon and his adoption wouldn't take away from Jack or their love for him. Them, just like us and our parents have two totally different parts of our heart for these boys as individuals. Im certain that whatever path God leads our family down will have a piece of Jack reflected in it as our reason for being strong and willing. CELEBRATING....... I'm not looking forward to the 17th or the 20th, that's for sure, BUT Im trying to plan ahead to think of what we should do to honor and remember our boy. Im trying to remember the 17th was the best day if my life and that is reason to celebrate and the 20th was the best moment of Jack's when he was greeted with his Lord. I want to have happy feelings about this anniversary time. However, my current remembrance preference includes a dark room and a giant bedspread over my head for four days, but I know I would regret that so Im trying to plan small activities... We plan to release a stringless balloon again, watch Jack's videos, look at all of his things and scrapbooks, light candles, plant a tree, spend time with our parents, and we will visit Children's Mercy on the 17th where we will deliver the nurses and doctors flowers with Jack Packs and coffee ;) Loved ones have asked what we might want then to do to remember Jack's sweet little life - perhaps light a candle in his memory or release a single blue balloon and pray for all the hurt and hope while you watch it float into the clouds. And most definitely, like always, we invite you to share that time with us. While it may be awkward or unsure, please know that telling us you're remembering Jack is always welcome and appreciated.
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
**I realized my blog is a bit outdated and apologize to my readers who are not my FB friends. An update: ********* We continue to miss and think of Jack every day. This week marks eight months since we held him. I have sent many Jack Packs around the country to pregnant mothers who are struggling to find a balance between grief and hope. ********* Shortly after starting the adoption process, progress in Ethiopia went down hill and we were quickly narrowed and moved to the special needs program in China. We spent about two months waiting and learning there. After a turn of events with our agency we happen to be glancing at a waiting child list for Korea when we found Simon. We requested his file and after reviewing it with our pediatrician and prayers we requested a hold on him. We received initial approval from South Korea. Now we wait for our home study to be approved and submitted and then will get additional approval before a wait that will most likely be over a year before they call is for travel. In the mean time we get monthly health and development updates and photos and are able to send him small packages if we find a traveling adoptive family. After being inspired by another Korean adoptive mommy I decided to journal to Simon while I wait to hold him. *************************************** My Simon- I look at your pictures and think about you every day. I wonder what you're doing. I wonder what your likes and dislikes are. I feel an ache in my heart looking and waiting for you. Please know we're trying. Please we're doing all we can to get you here. I pray your comfortable, happy, and well taken care of like you seem to be. Last night we had our social worker over for a few hours. We talked a lot about you. We talked a lot about Jack. And how our love for Jack has led us to you. We are stronger now. We are ready for you. I've been doing all I can to learn about Korea and adoptions and listening to other adoptees and adoptive parents. We're trying to busy ourselves preparing while we wait. My heart is trying not to be sad, but rather joyous. We hope you like your toys and your photos and your big brother's clothes that we sent. We can't wait to get your next update. We are so excited and proud of how strong and sweet you are. -Mom
Saturday, December 14, 2013
Patrick and I have always had a heart for children in need - for the orphan. We've spent time with children in both Mexico and Nicaragua who were in need of a loving home. When we first married we discussed adoption a great deal. We joined a group at church and learned whatever we could from others. As most of you know, adoption isn't easy. It can be stressful, risky, expensive, and timely. Back then we prayed about it, appreciated the idea of it, but were perhaps a bit scared away from the difficulties that could come with adoption and not even sure where to start. Before we knew it life started moving faster. We quickly got pregnant three times in three and a half years. Boom. Boom. Boom. It was quick, easy, fun, and free! But then our life came to a screeching halt. When Jack was diagnosed, when he was born, and when he died our world stopped moving. We have spent the last 5-10 months worrying, grieving, celebrating, mourning, and picking ourselves up. God has shown He is there. Not always in the way we'd hoped for, but we know He knows better. God gave us Jack. Jack caused us to pause. Jack showed us that we are capable of finding strength and immense love in a difficult situation. Jack showed us we are strong enough. And so when we looked at where our family would go next we were unsure. Scared. Worried. Jack's Trisomy13 is not something that was caused by our genetics, and so we do not have extreme fear of it happening again. People have asked, and yes, we are able to have more healthy children, BUT we feel like God is reminding us of our other capabilities. Our strength. We feel in our hearts that it is time to revisit adoption. We are drawn to our world wide family and responsibilities. John 11 says, "And not only for that nation, but to bring together and unite all the children of God scattered around the world." And in Matthew 18 God says, "And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me." So it is our prayer that God will lead us to our next child. Our arms are open. We have started our Adoption Home Study and after much research are currently finding ourselves leaning towards international adoption from Ethiopia. You have shown that we can count on your prayers and support. Thank you so much for reading. You can expect my typical unedited rambles and updates here. ;)
Saturday, November 16, 2013
November 17th... 2012 - It was a Saturday morning. My 29th birthday. Layla had just turned three and Keith was eleven months old. Patrick let me sleep in since it was my birthday and he entertained the kids and worked at secretly printing off a spa day gift certificate for me. I had secrets of my own as I had been feeling a bit odd and snuck to take a pregnancy test. Quickly the lineS appeared and my first thought was " holy crap". An unplanned baby for a very planned momma. I smiled and stuck the test in my pocket and walked to the kitchen. When my husband kissed me and handed me the gift, I in turn gave him the positive pregnancy test. As the day went on my mind was consumed with this new unexpected life living within. We planned to buy new furniture at Nebraska Furniture Mart that day for our new home we would take over in two weeks. What a blessing that we would have a new home for our newly enlarged family. I still remember that it was me (and not the kids as we feared and warned) that absent mindidly knocked over a huge display of hundred dollar vases while shopping. My husband smirked and I knew what he was thinking, "pregnant brain" And so it began... Happy 29th birthday. 2013- what a year... Never would I have imagined it would end this way. My birthday carries so much heartache. Ive tried so hard to embrace it with open arms. I fear I've hit a bit of a snag. I should be at home with a new baby, just getting into the swing of having three kids four and under. But Im not. I'm galavanting out west spending time - a wonderful time - with my husband 'celebrating'. I can't help but know that if we had Jack with us we wouldn't be here. It is hard to enjoy with that realization. Jack being born on 7-17 would be four months old on my 30th birthday. As I imagine ahead to 31... In 2014... I can't help but struggle to breathe in absolute trepidation for what might wait ahead this next year. I no longer walk blindly thru a trivial life. Yes, I know it will be blessedly beautiful as the last has been. Though I feel scared and weak. BUT... I will wake tomorrow. I will greet the day. And I will rejoice for The Lord is good. I've had thirty strong years. Not everyone has that. This I know. Here's to God for these 30 years, may I work harder for His Glory. And here's to my boy - I promise I will never forget these dates and moments we shared - and while this the passing of time feels like it is shoving me further away from you, know that deep in my being I do realize that it is in fact drawing me closer to the day we shall meet again.