Going through it {Welcome Baby}

“ You can’t go over it, you can’t go under it, you’ve got to go through it. Uh-huh! We’re not scared.”

That little mantra comes from one of my kids’ favorites books and it has been on repeat in my head for the last several weeks with one exception. The kids from the book who are going on a bear hunt bravely declare that they are not scared, but with timidity, I kept thinking about just how scared I was. I finally took a sigh of relief this past Friday.

Let me back up to the day that little mantra started playing in my head. I was roller skating, yes, roller skating with a bunch of gangly fourth and fifth graders from my son’s class. As we wrapped up the event, I asked a teacher to take a picture of an unenthusiastic Greyson and me. As she handed my phone back I noticed I had a few missed calls. They were all from the same unknown number, and I had a voicemail. The kids took the bus back to their school and I hopped in my car to head home. I was thinking that I hated the smell roller rinks left on your clothes as I tapped the speaker button to play my message.

It took me a minute to register that it was a caseworker from an agency near Detroit asking me to call her back as she had good news to share with me. Now, I’ve heard that it’s typical for the labor and delivery process to get quicker with each child you have, but no one ever said that of an adoption process. Yet, we had been through a four year process with Charlie, to a thirteen month process for Sawyer and now it had been six short weeks since we began waiting in this adoption. Surely, this was not the good news the caseworker meant, but I intended to find out. I called her back immediately.

Thankfully, I was around the corner from Ron’s office so I pulled in and headed to find him. He wasn’t in his office, but I took a seat at his desk and began to furiously scribble notes as the caseworker talked. Ron walked in a few seconds later with a confused look on his face, and I mouthed the words “BABY!” and pointed at my phone. Sure enough, there was a pregnant women who wanted to meet with us, and could we drive across the state next week? We could, so we did, and there we met the birth mom of our fourth child.

When we started waiting in September I just had to ask the average wait of families at the agency. I was given the politically correct answer that of course they couldn’t ever really say, but it seemed to be somewhere around six to fourteen months. I did the math in my head and liked where that put us, past the busyness of the holidays, past the trip we had planned to take in January and into spring or summer where it’s easy to get out with a baby. Yet, here we were meeting a brave, spunky women who had needed to find a family quickly for her baby because she was due in four weeks. Again, I did the math and asked “Your due date is on Thanksgiving?”.

We didn’t even wait those four weeks to meet our baby. While I was still trying to wrap my head around it all, I got a text from the birth mom one Friday morning. She would be getting induced. … today. Which was a little more than a week prior to her due date. Sometimes I wonder if God thinks its fun to mess with me. Kinda seems like maybe He does. This whole scenario was so far away from what we had envisioned, and lets be honest, what I had planned. I kept telling people when we started the process “I have no expectations,” and I certainly didn’t expect THIS.

THIS being that this adoption was not a clear cut situation. THIS being that while we were able to be there an hour after the birth to meet our baby, he would not be coming home with us. Yes, we were allowed to stay in the hospital with him until he was released, but he would be going to a host care (think agency foster care) rather than home to our family. Goodness, I cried about that. It seemed unfair. I have grieved missing the first year of two of my kids’ lives, and swore that this time it would be different. It was different. We could visit everyday, but there were strict rules put into place. We couldn’t be with him longer than two hours a day, less than that on the weekends, and our kids were not allowed to meet him or visit with us. Of course they had gone over all of these scenarios with us, but we were told it was pretty rare for a baby to go to host care. I just didn’t expect for both his birth mom and his new family to be leaving the hospital without him. Again, the little mantra played over and over in my head. “You can’t go over it, you can’t go under it, You’ve got to go through it.” And I felt scared.

There we sat; Ron and I in a hospital across the state falling madly in love with our tiny 5 pound 6 ounce baby, while his first family sat in another room just down the hall. We kept him with us at night, but he would visit her during the day. We visited with her too, met her parents, and her nana. We all cooed over the baby. It felt a little surreal. Then just like that it was time for her to head home. The lump in my throat grew as we wheeled the bassinet into her room for the goodbye. She picked him up and held him close, tears streaming down both our faces. Then she bravely handed him over to us and out she went. I can only describe this as the rawest form of true love I’ve ever witnessed. She put her own desires aside for the needs of her baby. She holds a piece of my heart.

We woke up the next morning in the hospital feeling anxious and discouraged. Today the host family would come to take our baby home. After a few restless hours, the caseworker walked in and immediately my lip began to tremble. “Can’t go over it, can’t go under it, got to go through it.”

Ron says I am being dramatic here, but I don’t know how else to define what happened next. An extreme presence of peace was ushered in with the host mom. It was like Jesus walked in with her. She had a warm, welcoming smile. She empathized with us and although I bawled when she put my baby in her car, I was certain he would be loved. God has been so good to us. Our wonderful host mom told us to come as often and as long as we wanted, she sent pictures and texts daily, and most importantly, she loved on my baby. I don’t know what kind of person signs up to take on a newborns schedule, but they are some kind of wonderful. It wasn’t an easy couple of weeks, but this family certainly lightened the load.

Our final step in this process was court, not for us, but for the birth parents. Without going into too much detail, this is where all the issues came into play. Legally, certain steps must be taken in order for our baby to be able to come home. We knew there were concerns, but the agency felt they had a good handle on the situation. Forty eight hours before paperwork had to be sent, I got a call. The caseworker explained that things had not gone as planned, it was proving more difficult to get everything in order than originally thought. They had had a meeting with their legal team. If things didn’t turn around in the next couple of hours, court would need to be rescheduled. The caseworker said “if you have people willing to pray, I’d contact them now”

That is exactly what we did. One of my prayer warriors said as she was praying, “ Thank you God that you are in the midst of the details, that nothing escapes your eye.” So yes, we were going through it, but we were certainly not going through it alone. I am so thankful for faithful friends and family who covered us in prayers, watched our children so we could make visits a reality, and constantly checked in on us to see how we were doing. They helped carry us through.

Nine hours after my original phone call from the caseworker, late in the evening, she called again. They had a break through, they had dug up new information, and just a few minutes before she called me, all the time sensitive paperwork was completed. Only God, only God. We give Him the Glory for moving on our behalf. One week later, this past Friday, court went on without a hitch, and our sweet boy came home to brothers ecstatic to meet him. I choke up just thinking about all the emotional ups and downs we have experienced these past five weeks. When I asked the birth mom the reasons she selected our family, one of them was that she wanted him to have a large family filled with boys. She said “I think he will fit in great with your crew.” We couldn’t agree more. Marge, maybe not as much.

God never ceases to amaze me with His plans, His purposes, and His timing. We give Him praise for our fourth son:

Bennett Ray-Isaac Cook

Ours

Little buddy bravely joined our family today, although to us, he’s been ours since we got his picture nine months ago.  I found a quote a few weeks ago that resonated so strongly with me. It’s been on my mind the last few days as we prepared to travel. It goes like this:

 

Your identity is simply who God says you are

Love it, especially for all our boys. Before they were anybody else’s, they were and are His. 

 

 Over the past few years I have come to dislike the phrases: “ so lucky”  “how blessed” and “saved”  in regards to adoption. While I understand them and typically they are well intentioned, they leave a bad taste in my mouth. Mainly because we are the lucky ones for getting to add another adorable boy to our family. We are blessed to be chosen to parent him and Jesus already did the saving, so I will just do the parenting through His grace. 

 

It’s true our family has been made by unconventional methods, but the way they came to us, does not make them who they are, it’s just one part of many that make up their story. To us, they are just our sons and today we added a third to our family.  

 

He is doing pretty good, lots of crying right after we got in the taxi but he calmed down once we brought him into our hotel. We have not seen a lot of smiles although we did hear his little voice a few times. We were told that his foster family has been preparing him and telling him about this next step in his life. They are awesome! 

 

We got to meet the foster dad today as he came with the mom to the agency. They broke my heart, so in love with our boy. We gave the mom a bouquet of flowers although there aren't really any proper ways to truly thank her. We walked out with four bags filled to brim with stuff and she made food for Sawyer for the next few days. Everything was neatly prepared and put in containers.  Naturally, I was crying when it was time to say goodbye. His foster dad took his cheeks in his hands and planted a big, huge kiss on his forehead, whispered to him in Korean and stood back. At first his foster mom did not want to hold him again. I had picked him up and he was doing well in my arms, so she didn’t want to disturb him. I told her “really it’s okay” and she took him and held him close as tears filled her eyes. A tight squeeze and big kiss then we all walked to the elevator and he was handed back to me. He cried and cried as did I. Such wonderful people!

 

He has done very well, ate dinner and played in a bath. He cries occasionally but is really doing excellent so far. We are just waking up and slept okay. I included some pictures of the flowers, beautiful flower shop, "american" section at the grocery store across from our hotel and of course him.

 

Welcome to our family Sawyer Nathaniel Harang Cook 

 

 

 

They said four weeks...

It’s good that I can type this journey out and don't have to talk to everyone to share it. Right now I have a bad cold and if you could hear my voice, you might mistake me for a chain smoking man. So I am thankful for words on paper.

 

Last week I talked with my caseworker as a follow up from our first trip. We also discussed some legal documents regarding Charlie and his legal name. I’ll spare you the boring details, but seriously if one division of the government could talk to another division and they could all get on the same page, that’d be great. Enough said. So, when she called me yesterday, I figured it was a follow up from our previous conversation.

 

She asked how I was after hearing the condition of my voice over the phone and I explained about the cough thing. Then she said, “well get better soon because you are due back in Korea two weeks from today.”  That news did not help my cough. After getting myself back under control and clearing my voice, all I could say was “WHAT?”

 

With Charlie, they told us to expect 4-6 weeks. It went just like they said, we had been home almost four weeks when we got a call that we needed to be in Korea in about ten days. They told us the same thing this time. We've only been home ten days. We booked flights last night for thirteen days from now.  We will be home with Sawyer six days after that. This process!! It’s so hard on a person who likes to plan, like me. But my goodness, am I thrilled! He is coming home!

 

So last night as I lay on the couch, willing my body to get better, for the fifth night in a row. I got thinking about God. I just really like Him, even if He keeps throwing me curve balls. Why is this time around going so fast compared to last time? I don't know. Why has this time been pretty seamless and last time it was as crooked as can be? I don't know.  What I do know is His faithfulness is the same. 

 

You might remember my post about us believing to get Sawyer home in November. That didn’t happen, another thing to add to my “I don't know why” list. You might also remember me asking for prayers because we were told that best case scenario we would hear something in March and worst case scenario would be June. I was devastated and worried because we had vouchers from last year's Spring Break that had to be used before April. All I could see was situations out of my control, but if I’ve learned one thing, He works best where I have no control.

 

Here’s what He did in those situations.

Less than two weeks after we were told March would be the soonest we would hear anything, I got a call telling me we moved through that portion of the process in record time.

Six weeks after that, while at a retreat about adoption, I got our travel call. 

Instead of hearing something by March we traveled IN March.

 Ten days after being home (yesterday) we got our Visa call. 

We will be home with our third son before May.

Last night we went to book our flights and found out that the remaining balance of our vouchers (they were worth almost $6,000) were, in fact, still useable. They expire in five days. 

Ron came out after talking on the phone with the flight desk for over an hour and said: “guess what our grand total is?” I hate guessing games and I can hardly talk so he just told me. Six hundred bucks, which includes us riding home in FIRST CLASS!! The only time I have ever ridden in first class was when we got bumped up on a pretty short flight a few years ago. It was awesome, this will be more awesome. The attendant told him for some reason it was actually cheaper given all our miles, points and vouchers to do first class. Ron didn’t argue. 

 


My best case scenario falls short compared to His provisions. Do you see why I not only like Him, but trust Him?


 

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I know this next part is difficult, I am aware of what raw grief and fear look like in the eyes of a baby who doesn’t know what is happening to his world. I know that sleepless night and long days are coming. These times take a toll on marriage and families. I don’t deny that while this all sounds fun, most of it is not.  Adoption is costly on every level for everyone involved.  But since He has proven himself over and over and over again, I can say with confidence, I know He will be there for this, too.  

 

Thank you all for your prayers! I don’t really know how to express what they mean to us, but it’s a lot. This next part is the hardest, especially for Sawyer. It seems that most people think that the process of getting your child home is the journey. When in the fact the journey is just beginning. Please continue to pray. 

"Behold, I am the lord the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for me?"    Jer 32:27

 

Next Stop. Korea!

His cheeks are legit

I'm sitting in my hotel room the last night before we fly home, without him.  Him being the little, squishy boy I had the pleasure of meeting this week. Boy number three! In some ways these last few days have been a whirlwind, in others, time moves so slow. The day to day of finding ways to fill the hours until our next chance to meet him or court session are long, but the times of importance when we get to be with him are fast.

 

Of the seven full days, we spend in this country, only two hours are spent with him. The first hour was spent at his foster home, which was lovely. The second hour was spent a few days later at the adoption agency, not as lovely.  Monday we arrived at the agency at 9 am and found out that his home was a forty minute cab drive away from where we were. So, the caseworker loaded us into a cab and away we went. We drive through the city of Seoul, out onto a highway and towards a suburb just outside of Seoul.  A few more turns here, some stop signs there and we pull up to a building. It all feels so real and surreal at the same time.

 

  “His house is just there, on the first level” our caseworker points as she leads the way towards the door.  We don’t wait long after knocking before his foster mom opens it. She must have been watching for us. So much is going through my mind. I wonder if she feels the same way too. This is not an easy thing, and it’s her first time fostering any child. We are not the only ones with mixed emotions.

 

 I remember to slide my shoes off before walking through the door  and there dressed in a black and purple sweatsuit stands my third boy, Sawyer Nathaniel Harang Cook. He is adorable!  In the pictures we have of him, he appears to be big,  especially his cheeks. Everyone who has seen his pictures always says “ look at those cheeks.” In reality, he is little and very much a baby, but the cheeks, they are legit. 

 

One look at me and he begins to cry and I think I might as well, but instead I just crouch down and say “hi”. He is not impressed and runs to his “ Eomma”,  which is mom is Korean. He drags a bag of Duplo blocks behind him. We all sit on a mat on the floor.  We exchange some pleasantries, give them some gifts, but I can’t really wait anymore. I reach out to brush my hand against his head. This causes some more crying. He was very wary of us. I imagine he has never seen people that look like us. An emotional, blonde haired, white girl, invading his personal space, but I brought bubbles and that piques his interest. We blow and pop and play for a bit until he grows tired of them. Then he and Ron play while I ask all sorts of questions to get a handle on his life. I want to know his likes, dislikes, schedule and his favorite things. 

 

It turns out he doesn’t really care for beef, will tolerate pork, but loves chicken and soft white bread. I can’t help but laugh, he’s my twin.  He also loves the outdoors, dogs and playing with his foster brothers. I feel a bit of the tension in my shoulders release. He is going to fit in so well at home. After we are served some strawberries and juice he lets me hold him, he even waits for five full seconds before letting out a wail. That was okay, it was enough time for me to snuggle his neck and plant a kiss on his cheek. The clock moves so quickly and already it's time to go. Some waving, bowing, kissing and a thank you then we’re done. Not too bad.

 

On Wednesday, we get to have our second meeting. This time at the agency.  He is already there when we arrive, drinking his bottle. He is preoccupied so it’s much easier for me to hold his hand and rub his head. Eventually, he finishes and I pick him up. He pouts his lips out and makes a whining noise, but I ignore it and bounce him around. He’s not happy about it, but he lets me continue to hold him.

 

 We go to a small room off of the hallway. Our caseworker says that the foster mom will stay the whole time and that we can play with all the toys in the room. It’s awkward and hard to play with a baby that really just wants to go to his mom. He doesn’t cry as much as we expected and we even get a bit of a laugh from him. He is quite shy and very serious. It’s as if he can sense that his life will soon change. His foster mom kept giving him bouncy balls and telling him to bring them to me , Eomma. I absolutely hate the look of question in his eyes. He looks confused at her when she points to me and says “Eomma”.  My heart sinks at what is to come, so much heartache. He loves her, as he should, and he has no clue that in a few weeks his world will be flipped upside down. There is no way around the pain, we must walk through it, but not yet. Soon the hour is over and I attack those cheeks with kisses. I thank his foster mom  again and wave goodbye one last time.

 

Finally, Friday is here and it’s court day. Back to the agency we go. This time, we pile into a van along with two other families. We travel a few minutes until we reach the court building. We sit for what seems like forever before they start calling us in. Each couple must go in by themselves. We are told our judge is new to the adoption side of Family Court, but that he is a kind man. We find this to be true. Through the interpreter, he asks how we will manage three kids, as “that’s a lot”. I feel myself squirm a little. I don’t have the answers and I assume it will be how I handle most things in life, prayer and chocolate.  You take it one day at a time, right?!? 

 

He has a few more questions, he asks me in particular some things about raising children and then asks Ron why we have enough land for a farm, but he is a funeral director and not a farmer. Ron handles himself well, meanwhile, I’m like the little kid in school who’s trying not to let the teacher see them laugh. I just keep picturing myself with livestock…

 

Then that’s done as well. We walk out and into the subway system. We have thirteen stops before the station to get off at our hotel. Mostly, we just kinda stand and stare into space. I feel tired, it’s been a big week topped off by a big morning. I am so thankful that it’s all gone well and as big as some of these moments are, I have a much bigger God walking with me each and every step of the way. He is faithful and I lean on that as we travel back home while the chubby cheeked baby stays here. 

 

While a lot of the trip is serious and emotional, not all of it is. We have had some fun. Seoul is hard to explain. It’s just huge, with people everywhere! There are also plenty of things to do and see there. We’ve hiked mountains in the dream forest, walked among ancient palaces, visited the Olympic park, explored a traditional village, strolled along the hundreds of shops, drank tea and sampled all kinds of different food. The cultural experience is amazing. 

 

 A huge highlight of our trip was traveling to Busan,  where Charlie was born. Because as if meeting your third child is not emotional enough, we decided to see where our second child was born. Have I mentioned how tired I am?  Busan is a coastal city with a very different vibe from Seoul. It is a really beautiful place and I treasure getting to see it. I feel so privileged to have caught a glimpse of this amazing place and these wonderful people.

 

Mostly, I am just so challenged and grateful to God through this journey. It is so much more than I could have ever imagined.

Not the call I was expecting

This is not the post I was expecting to write.  I was expecting to be writing an excited post filled with travel information.  Instead, I am feeling vulnerable and struggling to form words for my thoughts.

July seems like a long time ago.  We received a referral in July.  It included a picture of a chubby baby that we now call our son.  After formally accepting our referral both Ron and I felt an urge to pray for November.  I didn't receive a whole lot of instruction, just pray.  In August, I started reading the book The Circle Maker.  It's an excellent book, I really enjoyed it and felt spurred to "Pray Big" as the author put's it.   So that's what I did, I prayed daily and fervently for a November court date.  I took notes from the book and felt like I was reading it for this appointed time.  After all, we felt such a heavy impression to pray for November.

The last day in November came, the call did not.  This past Friday I was working the Christmas Shop at our kid's school.  I am on the committee team for the event because any committee that entails large amounts of shopping, is exactly where I should be. So I had to be there most of the day. Midway through the morning I checked my phone and saw that I had a missed  a call and had voicemail from my caseworker. My pulse quickened and my palms started to sweat.  This was it!  I just walked out of the gym leaving my station and the kids to pick out whatever gaudy gift they wanted.  I couldn't wait.

Once outside the gym, I hit play and listened to my message.  My caseworker rambled on and on about an urgent email they received from Korea the night before.  We were required to get a new set of fingerprints.  This time from the FBI, not Homeland Security even though we had a set done a few months ago.  Those were irrelevant now.  She wondered could we get this done ASAP, could I call her back to discuss, could I do this all by Monday?  Our paperwork was up to move forward but could not unless we got this done.  It was a short window and she did not want us to miss it.  Again, this was not exactly what I thought I would be hearing. 

I finished out the afternoon at school, helped clean up and went home.  I called Ron and told him everything.  I then set up the appointments (thankfully this could be done the next day) and put Charlie down for a nap.  Next, I just sat down on the couch, perplexed.  I am still perplexed.

Not only did we not get a travel call, after talking with my caseworker I found out that best case scenario we might travel in March.  Worse case scenario we will travel in June.  I sucked in my breath and said "June, seriously?"  She went on to say that all the families ahead of us had waited eleven months to travel and June would be eleven months for us.  JUNE!   The warmth of June seems so far away from this chill of December.  I have no idea why we felt such a need to pray for November.   We really believed God would do it.  I still know He could have done it, but I just don't understand why He didn't.  Especially after all the confirmations we saw during the month of November.

We received three cards from different people in November.   They all said that God had laid us on their hearts and they were praying for us.  We also had a young woman approach us while we were walking Marge at a park.  She admitted that while she felt uncomfortable doing this, she believed God wanted her to pray for us.   She wondered "Was there anything we were specifically believing God for and could she pray over us?"   For real, that happened!   In addition, through a series of random events we were informed a local church found out we were adopting and wanted to support us.  We do not attend this church. Last week a $2,000 check arrived in the mail from them.   For real, that happened, too!  God was moving on our behalf left and right. 

As I sat on the couch reviewing all of this in my head, I wondered if I had missed Him completely?   Did I interpret His will according to what I wanted it to be?   I had spent the last six weeks with a restricted diet as a form of fasting.  Not so that He would do what I wanted but as an act of faith in accordance to what I believed He was doing.   Why did I, a girl who has an unhealthy love of sweets, give them up?  Was it all for nothing?  I wish I had some clear answers, but I don't.  Do I feel sad, mad and confused?   Heck,  yes and then some, but do you know what else I feel?  I feel thankful, grateful and assured that He is still good.

Thankful because after I sent out a text to our families with this update my dad called me a few seconds later.  I answered and he just said,  "Smooch, (apparently I can't outgrow that nickname) I love you."   Then he listened as I cried, encouraged me and pointed me back to the goodness of God.  He's a keeper.  My mom called as well only she was mad about the situation. The kind of mad that lets you know she loves your kid like you do and wants them home too. It's endearing.  Then came the text from Ron's sister.  She, more than most, knows what it's like to spend time on your knees speaking the Word of God over your child.  She encouraged me as well.  His parents let us know they would continue to pray, too.  I then texted my two dear friends who also happen to be neighbors.  One came walking across the street moments later with a bottle of wine in her hand and embraced me in a hug.  The other showed up later that night with an entire cake.  Clearly, the sweet fast is over.  Thankful for them all.

Grateful because while this was not what I had wanted to hear, it is news.  We now know where we stand and where our paperwork is in the process.  The not knowing is brutal and now I have some direction.  That is more than I had before I got the phone call.  As Ron reminded me, at least we are moving forward, slowly, but forward none the less. 

Assured because through the roller coaster of emotions I felt on Friday, I also felt Him.  He never leaves, ever.   He was there when I wasn't ready to talk with Him about it and He was there was I ready to yell at Him about it.  He is good even if I don't understand His ways.  I can trust Him because he has proved His faithfulness to me over and over.   He is worthy of my praise simply because of who He is. 

Now, I have a choice.  Over the last few months, I had purposely carved time just about every day to pray.  Do I continue to sacrifice other things to find time to spend with Him?  Let's be honest, It's easier to make the time when you think doing so might help you reach a goal.  Now that I know that is not going to happen will I try as hard to meet with Him? Heart Check...

Maybe I will never know what all of this praying was about. Maybe I will find out in a few months that something specific was happening in November and my part was to be obedient  and pray it through. In any case, while this is not at all how I hoped it would go,  the time spent in His presence is.

 

What the heck is "Orphan" Sunday anyway?

I talk and wonder. I read and wonder. I search and continue to wonder. As I am talking and reading and searching, I am also trying to be very careful. Careful to be sure what I say is clear and accurate. I want to give voice to issues but not say too much. To inspire, but not shame; making sure what I say has a positive effect on the little boys that call me mom. I want to do right by them, but most importantly, I want to do right by Him.  So, I'm nervous because I talk and blog about a group of people that I am not part of and that leaves me wondering what exactly should I be saying?

It's November and if you are someone involved in adoption or foster care then you know that this month is about awareness. This month is the month that churches in our country host "Orphan Sunday". Not gonna lie, I hate that title.  It's not a bad title, it's just that most of the time it's an inaccurate one.  I like the term Adoption/Foster Awareness better.  I struggle with the title because our kids, who we added to our family through adoption, are not orphans.  They have birth families living around the world, people who could someday show up and into our lives. I do know that some children are waiting because they are in fact true orphans. In either case there is a need for a home.

A few weeks ago, I got up and spoke at my church. My goal was to inspire other people to open their eyes, hearts and homes to children who need  them.  I was instructed by the pastor I had been working with to sit in the second row of the sanctuary. Some time during the middle of praise and worship I turned and looked around. We attend a large church, there were a lot of people in both services. I was nervous. Later after it was all said and done I realized that the crowd was not what I was nervous about.  My nerves came from my desire to say the right thing. I am still learning what that looks and sounds like. 

I read a lot on adoption. The last few books and articles I have read scare me to death. They consist of viewpoints from adoptees themselves. They include first hand accounts of adoptees thoughts and feelings.  Some of it is so good and some of it is so sad and all of it makes me second guess myself and blogging about adoption.  Yet, the fact remains, too many kids do not get to experience growing up in a family. So, what's a good balance of bringing people into awareness about the need and not making it about any one individual child? I repeat: I am still learning what that looks and sounds like. 

I am hoping that in sharing my heart about the journey of adoption, I have not overshared about my own children. The story of their life, is just that, theirs. But the prompting of the Holy Spirit that moved us towards action and involvement in adopting is ours. This is a balancing act with  some pretty heavy packages.  

What I want it to look like is this:

- The journey I share is honest and raw. It is packed with emotions because we are dealing with God's most important creation, people.  

- The words I say are kind, considerate and filled with grace. 

- God's faithfulness is revealed in both the lives of the adoptive parents and the adopted child.  

- It does not involve me telling every little detail about any of my kids.

- It does not involve any one "right way" for my kids to process, grieve, share, not share, care, not care about who they are and how they came to join our family

- It does include me relying heavily on Jesus and His Word, daily.

That is what I want it to be, but I know that mistakes will inevitably be made along the way. Mostly, I want to glorify God and protect the heart of my children at the same time.

So, lets be aware. Aware of the need and the way we present it. Aware of adoptees and their right to privacy as people, not as a campaign.  Aware of the questions we ask and things we assume. Aware of the parent's who are protecting the children they love. And as we navigate through our lives let us be aware of our Heavenly Father. For He meets us all right where we are and loves us just the same.

Prayer Warrior's

We adopted a baby. Well, I thought he would be a baby, but after nearly four years of waiting he was closer to a toddler. It was a grueling process with a lot of roller coaster moments. The biggest moment came while we were in our son's birth country, but that's also when a few prayer warrior's showed up.

The list of things that went wrong or took longer than expected while we were adopting is too long to cover.  If I were to recap them all, you would get bored, but I assure you it's many. The good news is after almost four years we finally received a travel call and a court date. We traveled half way around the world to meet our son. Origionally, we were only suppposed to travel one time. It should have been a quick trip to pick up our son and bring him home. Over time though, the government decided that the regulations should be changed and that two trips were now necessary. 

That's hard to hear. You wait and wait and think that when your time comes to go, you get to bring the baby home.  That wasn't the case for us. We still waited and waited, but then we had to go and meet him, have a court session, fly home, wait 4 weeks for approval, fly back and THEN take him home. You dont really get a choice or a say in the matter. You do what you have to do. So we did.

I received an email midway through our fist trip. We had met our son for the first time the day before and were madly in love. I was still running on adrenaline when my inbox flashed that a new message had come in. I openend it and read that once again regulations had been changed. Now, in order to have your adoption finalized, you would need a full psychological evaluation. I immediantly thought this would not apply to us. We were in country and had our court date in 2 days. There was no way this would apply to us. Turns out it did. Unless you had already had your court date, this would apply to you. We were 48hrs late. 

The real issue was that they were still figuring out all the details of this new rule. The list of test's they were going to require would not only cost thousands of dollars but were only available in certain states in the US. We would have to go home, wait until they figured all the kinks out and then schedule our testing. We were told it could take up to 6 months to finalize.

So, here we were going for a second visit with our son the very next day and now realizing that it might be months until we would get back to see him again. Months of him growing without us. We would miss even more milestones than we already had. He would bond even tighter to his foster family. We cried, we got angry, we called our caseworker, we cried some more. Then we stopped and knelt down and talked to God. Next, we put a plea out on the blog for prayer. Like really intense prayer! We asked for people to believe with us that a miracle would take place and we would be exempt from this. The peace of God filled our hotel room and we rested well that night.

The next day was tough. I held that sweet little boy and cried my eyes out not knowing when I would get to hold him again.  The following morning as we geared ourselves up for our day in court, three women texted us saying they were on their knees praying. This is a big deal because not only did they take time to talk to God on our behalf but it was the middle of the night at home. They lost sleep, they dragged themselved out of bed, they showed up half way around the world, for us. I tear up now just thinking about it.

We found out that we were meeting with the kindest judge and all the agencies loved working with her. Our caseworker and interrupter accompied us into the court room. The whole thing lasted about 7 minutes. Then we waited in the hallway for about thirty minutes. Our caseworker came out and said in broken english "I do not undertsand why, but the judge feels that you have been treated unfairly and she is waving you through. The judge is exempting you from these new regulations". We really couldn't believe it. It happened though, her ruling held firm. We went home the next day and returned 4 weeks later. This time we traveled home with our son. 

I learned after our court session that almost 30 other families were meeting with judges that day. Of the thirty families only the three that saw our judge were exempt. Not only did some prayer warriors show up on our behalf but God showed up too. It reminds me of the verse that says " where two or three are gathered in my name, so I am also".  Showing up for one another does not always have to be in the physical. We can be on opposite continents and different time zones. There are many ways to show up for another. I am so humbled and grateful for those women who did show up in prayer for us. I am much more sincere now about actually praying for others when they ask for. It touched me so deeply that someone would do that for us.

 

Dear Foster Mom...

 

Foster : to help grow or develop; to provide the care that a parent usually gives to a child: to become the foster parent of a child.

"Please include a letter of thanks for the foster family, but keep it short"

That is the suggestion from our adoption agency when you send your child a package. Make sure to include a letter of thanks for the foster family... " but keep the letter short", hmm. 

Where do I begin to start in my gratitude for a women who is currently acting as mom to my son. How do I express my overwhelming appreciation that she is willing to open her heart to him,  knowing that she will lose him. It's a gift for me to know that she is making his well being her priority. He is safe and loved. She is doing all the things that I am unable to... "but keep the letter short."

Little ones get placed into foster homes for a number of reasons. Sometimes, like for our baby, it is because paperwork takes time. He has a family waiting for him but we aren't allowed to go get him without the proper paperwork, signatures and approvals. So he needs a place to stay.  For others it's  because someone in their lives couldn't or shouldn't be in charge of their care.  Maybe the only person responsible for them has passed away, abused them, or neglected them.  They come with hurts, baggage, uncertainty, anger, fear, and in need. That's when foster parents step in...   "but keep the letter short "

I have some friends who are currently fostering children. I watched as they became certified and trained to take in the little ones needing them. It's a tough job. A job that requires thick skin and long hours. You may end up learning, hearing and seeing things about their past that will leave you speechless.  I imagine taking care of a child  while their future is being determined is tough. On one hand you would hope and pray for the broken world they come from to be permanently mended so they could return home. On the other, you bond with this child and worry about the possibility of a relapse in the adults they go back to. Or in our case, the foster mom knows very little about us; other than that we will take this child out of the culture and country in which he was born. Travel half way around the world and into a life where everything is completely different.  She must worry for him and his adjustment.... " but keep the letter short".

I have always heard so many people say "I would love to help but I could never foster."  I have said this on more than one occasion and I get it, I really do. It's a lot.  But, I was also never going to adopt from Korea again, either. Then God aligned my will to His. I am eating my words.  At this stage of life, we do not feel called to foster, but knowing that someone was willing to do it for my child keeps the idea in the forefront of my mind.   I have great respect for people who are fostering. They are a perfect example of being the hands and feet of Jesus. 

Our greatest fulfillment lies in giving of ourselves to others
— Henri Nowen

So, to those of you who are willing to be the ones  that cuddle them, hold them, ease their fears, feed  them, change them, comfort them, teach them, talk to them, read with them, make them laugh, wipe their rears and their tears, listen to them, prepare them, nurture them, correct them, play with them, bathe them and in general just be there for them when we cannot be...

 

In short: I say thank you, so very much.

It's a...

I had mentioned a while ago that our adoption agency said this time around our process would be fast, like lightening fast. I didn't believe them. I am still not certain I do, but so far they have lived up to some promises.

When we received our referral for Charlie, our caseworker told me that referrals come in on Friday's. So this time  around I did not think about "the call" except on Fridays. This past Friday marked 12 weeks that our paperwork was sent to Korea but it's not like you are automatically put on the waiting list. Your paperwork gets processed and translated. I imagine that can take some time. We were told referrals were coming in anywhere between 1-6 months after the paperwork was submitted. So, really anytime. This past Friday came, I made sure to have my phone on loud but it never rang. Then Monday came.

Monday is the only day that I work, I look at my phone at lunch and I can hear it buzzing with an email or text during the day but often times we are pretty busy so I don't check it. I heard it ringing around 3:45 and did not think any thing of it. After all our patients were gone and we were wrapping the day up, I pulled it out to see who had called.

Missed call : Adoption Agency... Lump in Throat

I gasped and walked to the back leaving my coworkers to stare. We had some issues with paperwork so I told myself that was why they were calling but the lump did not go away. I called back, line busy. I called my caseworker's cell phone, it went to voicemail. I walked back to my co-workers and explained the situation. Everybody got excited and I told them not to, that it was probably just a paperwork call.  I gave it 5 more minutes and then headed to the back to call again and this time she picked up. She started the same way she had when she called about Charlie "I have good news for you".

It is such a surreal feeling to learn about your kid over the phone, my caseworker started talking and I was listening but not really hearing. Thoughts like  "It's not Friday" and  "I'm standing in a sterile procedure room at work" were running through my head and I had to force myself to focus. She rattled off information quickly, weight, height, birthdate and current age until she finally  said "Oh, I should have started with it's a boy. '"She gave me some more information, I cried and then she said she was emailing me pictures and the paperwork. The phone call ended and I sat in the quiet room for just a few seconds soaking it in, thanking Jesus and blowing my nose.

I called Ron before I headed out to tell my co-workers and his first response when I said we got a referral was "But, it's Monday". He was wrangeling 4 kids at the time because we had our nephews for a few days. It was a quick call and a promise to head home and over to the pool where he had the boys swimming to burn off some energy. I drove home and then to pool all with the knowledge that I could see him if I opened my email but I waited. For us, opening the email is kinda like the moment at the hospital when they lay your baby on your stomach and you get to see them. I wanted us to be together.

I met Ron at the pool and with kids running around, strangers splashing nearby and the sun beating down on us we opened the email and layed eyes on our little boy for the first time. And let me tell you, he is a ball of chubby goodness. We laughed at the size of his cheeks, crazy hair and curious eyes.(I wish I could share his picture) We rejoiced over God's faithfulness and gave Him thanks for entrusting us with another child.  We have named him Sawyer and we are already so in love with him.

The day you get "the call" is so fun.  It is filled with a lot of emotion and phone calls/texts to family and friends.  So far everyone we have told has asked us how long until we get to travel. When we started the process just 5 months ago my caseworker told me that at the rate things were going we could most likely expect a baby home before the end of the year. I called this week to check current time frames and wouldn't you know it, things have slowed down. It's hard to hear about changes in the process when you are waiting for a referral but once you have that picture hanging on your fridge it becomes nearly impossible. Travel times after acceptance of referral are  9-12 months for the first trip. NO! JUST NO! He is only 6 months old right now and if we were to travel before the years end he would still be under a year. So this is the point where I begin asking for prayer again. Even though in comparison to our last process this is very fast, we want him home!

In addition to that our travel vouchers from our spring break fiasco expire in April. We believe that God provided us those tickets for our trip to Korea. They are worth $5,200 and would cover our first set of flights completely!! I know He is bigger than any government, I know He goes before us, I know His faithfulness first hand AND it's still really hard to walk out those beliefs.  So, this week I am busy filling out more forms, dreaming of meeting him in person and praying. Please join me!

Greyson is thrilled about having another boy so "he doesn't have to play with barbies" and Charlie points at his pictue and says "Hi baby". Three boys will be quite an adventure. This week while our nephews were over and all the boys were running around in the back yard with their bike helmets on (who knows why) I was informed they were creating a boys only club. So I guess it's fitting that we are having another boy because in the words of Greyson "No girls allowed". I did sneak into the club to take a picture of their sign informing everyone that boys rule....shhh.



A Holy Gotcha Day

Today is Gotcha Day in our house! One year ago we were in a playroom at the adoption agency in Korea listening as Charlie's foster mom gave us words of advice, a few mementos and a final hug to our son as she placed him in my arms...forever. It is a powerful memory and I love to think about it. I have been thinking about it all week and as I did the most beautiful comparison dropped into my heart.

A "Holy Gotcha Day"

I hate to admit this next part but it's the truth...Our church does an alter call almost every Sunday and because I grew up in a Christian home and attended a Christian school this practice of an alter call is such a regular thing to me that sometimes, more than I care to admit, I am not impacted by it the way I should be. But when I think of it in relation to my experience with Charlie's gotcha day, I am immediately humbled.

God our Father gets to celebrate Gotcha Days every day, he gets to have people all over the world make the decision to "be placed in His arms'. Whether you know it or not you are His, created by Him for His good pleasure but somewhere along the way you have to make the decision to believe, receive and follow Him. The day you do the Bible tells us "The Heavens rejoice" over you, because God loves you so much that He considered you worth dying for and when you get the revelation of what He did for you... How Sweet it is.

I think about the elation we felt that finally, finally Charlie was ours, he was part of our family. He will help shape and mold our family into something better. He brings with him his personality, wit and charm that add another dimension to our lives. We in turn as a family will help shape and mold his life too. In the same way we as Christians enter into a family with fellow believers on our Holy Gotcha Day. We now get a whole new support system, the "Body of Christ," which is full of talents, gifts and abilities that add flavor to our life's journey.

 I am not sure I will look at an alter call the same again. When we realize that each one of us are children of God and  He is ecstatic when we enter His family. I know that just like we longed for Charlie and grieved over how long the process took, He too grieves over his Children not yet "home". It gives me a new perspective on things. This stirs my spirit with an urgency, I have what others need, people searching for significance and value can find it in my family, in His family. And when they do, what a reason to rejoice every single time.

But we must be careful that we are being an example of the kind of family that people wish they were a part of, I know some days I am guilty of being a short tempered mom, that my thoughts or actions do not correctly display my deep love for my kids.  Likewise, are we as Christians being light in a dark world? Are we displaying our Heavenly Fathers attributes of goodness and kindness? Not in our own strength, striving for perfection but rather letting go and letting Him work His abilities through us. Are our hearts broken by what breaks His or are we calloused to it. I hope I will no longer be, I pray that just as I celebrated my boy becoming ours, I can celebrate others becoming His because truly what could be more important in this life.

I have learned so much this year, struggled with a lot of emotions and I have been stretched as a mom, wife and Christ follower. This year has been different from what I expected but I am thankful that through it Jesus is meeting me every day with His Grace, sustaining me with His presence and growing me into what He wants me to be. I am also so thankful that Charlie is growing. His speech is beginning to increase and become more understandable. In the last few weeks he seems to be listening to explanations of why the answer is no or not right now rather than just immediately freaking out. He is funny! He completely gets silly behavior and loves it when we are goofy. He is smart! I am blown away at how much and how quickly he figures things out and I am truly humbled that Jesus decided to let his life story become part of my life story. Happy Gotcha Day Charlie John-Hanung, We sure do love you!

One Year ago and Today

One year since our first trip - an update and thoughts on my mind

My mind is tired this week, it feels like it has run a marathon. Somedays I wish I didn't have to think about adoption, this sounds funny but when you are an adopted parent and navigating the first year they're are a lot of things to  weigh and consider every single day. Add to that the fact that we are in the middle of the paperwork process again, meeting with caseworkers, psychiatrist appointments and reliving our first trip to Korea all this week alone and it's only Wednesday! On top of this I have started one, possibly two, very big projects that have to do with adoption (more info on those another time) plus fighting a nasty chest cold and then just everyday life makes me want to crawl into bed and sleep away a day. But since that is not an option, I write because it relaxes me.

We have had a lot of people ask us where we are at, I think because I used the term lightening fast in my last blog some people got the idea that we might have a baby home by summer. This is not the case and that is okay, we have two boys that keep us hopping the way it is and I am still getting used to the idea of three kids in our family. But here is where we are at so far. The paperwork that we are responsible for is complete minus one piece. We have our mandatory Psych eval tomorrow and our home study was done yesterday. Once both of those get written up by the professionals we can apply for immigration fingerprinting. This is the last step that needs to be accomplished before our dossier can be sent over to  Korea. This is the governments deal so its all up to them as to how long it takes. I am hoping that our paperwork will be complete and sent the first week of May and I believe that is a realistic goal. Then we wait for a referral, which we were being told is still happening at a fast rate but could be up to 6 months.

Also, so many of you have mentioned how excited you will be for me to get a girl or that your sure I am asking for a girl or girl this and that....   We are not requesting for a certain sex even though having two boys and adopting previously from Korea would allow us to set a preference, we are not. How many of us got to choose the gender of our biological children? I didn't and that is why we are not requesting this time. My heart has changed in this regard from our first adoption to this present one. It feels funny to me to even consider asking now. I know plenty of people who do specify and that is their choice but for us we don't feel like it is our choice. This whole adopting from Korea caught us off guard so much so that I am certain God has already picked a child out for us, who am I to argue with Him?

As I mentioned above we have one piece of paperwork left to do and truthfully I have been putting it off.  We are required to send a photobook and write a letter to the birth parents. The photobook is done and even that is sorta weird. I completely understand that is gives some type of healing to the mom to have a picture of the family that will raise her child but it almost seems showy like here is a picture of our home and our smiling, happy family doing so many wonderful things together. It makes me feel bad but then to write a letter on top of it?!? Seriously, what the heck am I supposed to say, thanks, I am sure your child will be fine... How glib. We have to follow protocal and it can only be one sided so then that makes it even harder.  I had to write one for Charlie too and ironically it was the first thing I did but I have learned so much since four years ago when I penned that letter that I feel this time around it is harder.

I want to tell her so many things, express my heartache for her, ease her mind, fufill her dreams that she holds for this baby. Promise her the world for this little babe that we will both always love as only a mother can. I'm crying now, I cry everytime I think of doing it. I will let her know that at milestones and birthday's my mind will always go to her, how I wish I could let her know about not only all the big but all the little things. I will wonder if our child carries her smile, eye color or dimples. So many questions left unaswered, so much heartbreak. Truly though the thought that keeps me awake at night, the thing I never get out of my mind is her salvation. Has she met my Jesus? Is He helping her heal through this painful process? Does she know that He is the Creator of the world and yet He sees each tear that falls from her eyes? This is what is hardest on me. I will make sure she knows that her baby will be introduced to Him, that our life is all about Him. I will make sure she knows she is prayed for all the time. The greatest thing I can think of is that if my kids never meet their birthmoms this side of heaven that in Heaven one day they can have a family reunion. A reunion filled with JOY not despair, PEACE not doubt and LOVE not fear.

So the best thing I know to do is fufill my promise of prayer, what can I do but pray? I will pray for seeds to be planted and faith to be made strong. Pray that God in whom I have HOPE - a confident expectation of good is as His word says in Rom 8:28 Working ALL things together for good. These thoughts lead me to other thoughts though; are you being bold in your walk with Jesus? I am not near as bold as I wish I was. Are we showing the world Jesus though our actions and words?  Are we really willing to take a step out of our comfort zone to talk to someone or pray with someone who we dont know? I just need to think of my children's birth family and it give me a desire for boldness becasue you never know who God places in your life to reach for His Kingdom and what type of reunion you may get to witness in heaven becasue you dared share Jesus!

Never say Never!

I remember looking at Ron while we were wading through the anxiety and fear of our first visit in Korea, being told that we may wait months before bringing Charlie home. Being completely exhausted and scared. I looked at him through tears and said "I just want to take our boy, go home and NEVER come back" I thought "I will NEVER do this again."The never part didn't have to do with adoption, we knew we would adopt again someday but not with Korea and probably not even internationally. We felt burned by the process.

If you read my blog you know that the last 9 months have not been easy, unexpectedly hard but right from the start we began to pray about our next move.  The process with Charlie was long and we wanted to start thinking about where/when and how our next process would go but we have learned alot about God's timing through adoption about so we wait. Well truthfully I was so ridiculously overwhelmed that I wasn't sure I wanted more kids and I was certain I couldn't handle more any time soon.  As with alot of things, time made it better, not perfect but better. So in the last 3 months we have been praying alot about what to do.

We really thought domestic adoption would be the right choice, it seems easier to me, faster and I don't have to take airplane rides that last 14 hours! We kept meaning to call a few agencies but never had that peace we experienced with Charlie, even in the hard, we had peace.  So we waited. Then 3 weeks ago we had Charlies 9 month home visit and at the end as our local caseworker was putting her shoes on she stops and tells us that she wasn't going to even mention anything because of our previous experience but she just felt like she should say something. She told us that an agency in Minnesota they work with contacted them regarding the many waiting children in Korea and that basically they're too many kids and they need more families. So they are reaching out to families who were interested in Korea at some point or have adopted before to see if they are interested again. Our caseworker says " would you like the information?" I am sure you can see where this is going...

Rewind a few weeks before this  conversation and I was "introduced" to a women on Facebook who had question about adopting from Korea, we messaged back and forth a bit and towards the end of the conversation I learned that she was working with our same agency out of Connecticut and that the time frame they were given was quick, like lightening fast. I just chewed that bit of information over and sorta forgot about until our local caseworker brought up Korea at our home study a few weeks ago. Little things here and there, coincidences you could say, or He was beginning to prepare us.

So we took the information from our local caseworker and called our agency in Connecticut, we prefer to use them since we have a history and have never heard of the company in Minnesota plus I wondered if they had heard anything similar news. Turns out the process has steadied again. My caseworker told me and I quote "I use your family as a worse case scenario when telling families that this process can change at any time, I want people to be prepared that it can get hard and your case was one of the hardest I have ever seen." Seriously??  So, I dared ask the question about time frames.  Currently, once paperwork is finished and sent to Korea the average referral is taking 1 to 6 months but the last three families she has worked with so far in 2015 all received referrals in less than 6 weeks. AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH! It's hard to swallow, we waited 23 months for a referral! Of course there are no guarantees, of course it could change, of course I'm terrified and of course we are starting the process again.

I wish I could be a fly on the wall in some homes after people read this, we have already encountered things like " you really want to do this again ?"  and "wow, just wow" or  "do you love stress in your life ? ". Still others have cheered and been thrilled.  And the answer is, we asked God and believe this is his answer. Even though I thought I would NEVER be doing this again. You have to admit, He's got a sense of humor.  We ask you pray for us as we start again.  Stay tuned, I'm certain God will do amazing things this time around as well.

Greyson was very excited and Charlie, well he was busy playing games







Up Up and Away, It's Charlie's 2nd BIRTHday!

Last year at this time, I was just so sad. I was so sick of it and was heartbroken that Charlie would not be spending his first birthday with us. This year was so much better! This year he did sit on my lap and I did get to sing Happy Birthday to him. It was wonderful! He seemed to be aware that something was different about the day and he was a little nervous throughout the day. He doesn't love attention from people, unless its Ron or I, so he did not know how to handle it when everyone stared and sang to him.  But overall between the trucks, airplanes, books and other fun stuff he got, I think he did pretty good.

Ron and I on the other hand were emotional off and on all day.  Adoption is something that God has ordained, He understands it because he sent his son down to take on human form and then of course, He adopted us. That doesn't make it easy and it has it's costs. It exists because something was broken and needed to mended. I for one am so thankful that God showed Mercy and infinite love on us, enough to let his own son die so we may live. To mend the broken in our world but redemption is painful. All these thoughts roll around in my head.  Joy, pain and loss.

And if I'm thinking about them then I know for certain that His birth mom has these thoughts. The thought of her is what makes me the most emotional. Mostly because I'm certain we both celebrated Charlie's life but she is without him, with only memories. I am one the that gets to create so many memories with him. It doesn't seem fair and I hate that Charlie will have to reconcile all of this someday too. He is so loved by people all over the world but someday when he is older, all of these thoughts will roll around in his head as well.

That is where I let go and let God. I can't do it, I can however consistently point my son to God. Let him know who He is in Christ. Make sure his significance and self worth is rooted in Jesus. Celebrate his birth mom, who she is to him and the importance of her in his life.  Mostly, I want to celebrate Charlie and the things he brings to our lives. He is a determined little boy and as we celebrated his second year of life, I can't wait to see what this next year will bring for him.

We had an airplane party for Charlie, he loves them. We played pin the propeller on the plane and decorated paper airplanes. We ate traditional Korean food, ate cupcakes and most importantly we gave thanks for Charlie John- Hanung!

Walking it out

I was at a shower a few weeks ago and the host had each person go around the room to explain how they knew the "mom to be" except this was a baby shower with a twist. This "mom to be" was waiting to get the call to travel to Korea to bring her daughter home, a daughter she has been waiting five years for. So for this reason the sharing portion of the shower was much more personal than most showers I have been to. Of the fifteen women present only two of us made it through our introductions without crying. Each introduction was more like sharing a short story and most of those short stories were inlayed with various versions of faith being strengthened or bonds tightened because of watching this women walk out her faith.

As I sat listening to each women talk, I felt the spirit of God whisper to me " This is what obedience does" and "This is what being willing to do what I ask of you looks like". Soon it was my turn to share and I was definitely one of the criers. I cried because I too had been in the same place the mom to be was currently in, the waiting, anticipation, excitement and fear. The past four years have changed me, my thinking and my faith.

The rest of the shower went great with presents, food, laughter and fellowship but I have not been able to get what the Lord spoke to me off my mind. I just keep marveling at how God uses my son's life and her daughter's life to touch others. I have been thinking about how different things could have looked if either of our families had given up the adoption process. If we had decided this grueling process was too much, how not fulfilling the call He placed on our lives could have changed others lives. You see, when we are obedient to God, it becomes a catalyst for Him to move. His plans will get accomplished in one way or another but if we are willing to be obedient  and step out in faith what else gets accomplished? I believe that other peoples lives can be transformed and changed, people we  don't even know. By saying yes to God we open the path for Him to use our life stories to influence others.

I know this to be true because all the women who shared at the shower said that watching this families adoption journey had in one way or another proven God's faithfulness to them or made Him more real in their lives. I have had similar stories shared with me during our journey of adoption as well. People who I have never meant have read my blog about trusting God through our adoption and on more than one occasion I have received letters from people expressing that what the Holy Spirit led me to share had helped them take a step of faith and act on what God was calling them to do. So in this particular journey that has caused tears, heartache, pain, joy, smiles and relief I have learned that the most important factor is obedience.

Being Obedient is hard, it means not getting our way and not always understanding the way He has chosen for us. It means trusting. But ultimately by doing what He has asks of us it means that we will be in His will and that is the safest and best place the be. When I am in His will I can hear His voice speaking to me which is so vitally important as I parent both my sons. I can be the mother He called me to be and help them navigate their lives by pointing them to Jesus and lets be honest, I could use all the help I can get. This parenting gig is hard but then to throw in adoption, bonding, racial issues and cultural differences on top of it....sheesh! I need to make sure my heart is at a place of obedience at all times so I can be ready for the hard questions, the fear, the anger that will no doubt come because as redemptive and beautiful as adoption is, it is painful. My sweet boy who has been through so much already in his young life will encounter more as he grows and he will be looking for truth, love and guidance.

As we close out this month of Adoption Awareness, I encourage you to be listening to what He has called you to, if you choose to obey, it will change your life!

I realized that because we were never able to post anything online before getting Charlie home, I never posted pictures of our first meeting him.  Here are some pictures of our first meeting. This is what walking out obedience can look like:

                                                     Finally got him to come sit by me

                                                           He let Ron hold him too

 This was the at the adoption agency on our second visit. He was looking at pictures of Greyson on my phone.

This is right before we had to say goodbye and did not know yet when we would be back to get him but God was so faithful in that situation as well.

Oh be careful little tongue what you say


Do you ever say something and as soon as the words are out you wish you could just grab them and stuff them back inside? I have that sometimes, typically its not because I am trying to be mean but usually because I just didn't think. I know the words I said might leave a bad taste in someone else's mouth and I feel bad about it. Although sometimes, I may not even know I said something that could be offensive.

In today's society you can't get far in a conversation without eventually offending someone or their beliefs, their "rights". And some of it is so out of control, you can't even think differently than others without being called a hater  but that's not the type of "talk" I am referring to.  The kind I am thinking of is the naive or ignorant  phrases people utter who typically mean no harm but end up causing some type of harm.

I like to think that I don't get offended too easily by people who ask questions about our adoption or Charlie. I know that most people who are asking are doing so because they care. I don't mind questions because I hope it opens a conversation up about adoption and possibly even Jesus. But I must admit I have had this question posed three times and each time it makes me wince a little.  I am thankful that Charlie is little and doesn't understand yet. The question goes like this:

"Where did you get him at"

Okay, now I know that when people see our family together obviously he is the only Asian in the bunch so it is a logical question but when its just Charlie and I, it amazes me that people don't stop to think that maybe my spouse is Asian or that I am watching someone else's child for the day. I guess people don't think about it though and they want to know. The reason I wince at the question is because it makes it sound like we went down to Walmart and picked him up on aisle 3. It's a loaded question one that can bring up the past  with its hurts, obstacles, pains and joys. Typically it's followed with "do you know anything about his family"

I have kept calm all three times and answered that "Well, he was born in Korea" at which time two of the three people that asked caught on and one even apologized and said "I'm sorry I don't know the correct terminology or adoption lingo"  I have gotten better at saying that while we do have some information on his family, that part of Charlie's life is his. If someday he wants to share any details he may but we will let him decide that. Children who are adopted go through things that people who weren't adopted will never understand.  Their life existed before they came to their forever family  and that part will always play a role in shaping them, its part of them, part of their life story but it is not the only thing that defines them. Being adopted is only one part of what makes Charlie who he is and who he will be but when people only ask about things regarding him being adopted it can be frustrating. I want to tell them, he loves music and the bath. He is happiest outside, he is stubborn and smart. I do not want how he came to us to be the only thing people focus on. I also want to tell them about Greyson because usually he is standing right there and not a lot of people ask about him. Our words have such power to hurt and heal, bring love or hate, cast judgment or understanding that we must be careful with them because these little people, who are listening to what we are saying, will grow up to be big people and what we've said about them gives definition to who/what they will come to believe about themselves and I want it to be good.

The truth about Charlie is that first and foremost he is a Child of God. If he becomes nothing else in life that would be enough, to be loved by God.  But it's not the only thing that the Word tells us about who are, here are some examples of what Jesus says we are:

Redeemed, Righteous, Holy, Complete, A New Creature, Healed, Chosen....Adopted
just to name a few.

November is National Adoption month or I have also heard it called Orphan Awareness, a lot of churches have a service dedicated to the cause and to bring about understanding. So I hope this post brings some awareness into how you speak and what you say. I write with myself in mind, I talk a lot and have no doubt hurt people along the way by my words and truthfully I am sure I will do it again but my prayer is that the words that I say will promote love especially to other people because you never know how what you say may affect someone. I want to have words of life that point others especially my boys to Jesus.


Part of the Family

This week we have some friends who are in Korea meeting their daughter for the first time. I have been thinking and praying for them all week and I know the anticipation they are feeling. Thinking about them so much has me reviewing our trips to Korea which leads me to analyze the time we have been home and our journey as a family of four so far.

Last week our caseworker came to do another home study, she is a sweet women and doesn't mind saying what she is thinking. When she was at our house, Charlie was being his busy self, running around, wanting a drink or a snack and climbing on everything. She was observing all of us interact with one another and after a little while she said "Well, I think that it seems like he has always been here." In truth I don't agree because the months may be fast but the days can be very long but later that night plus a few more times during the week I pondered her comment again. I thought to myself, does it seem to outsiders that he has always been part of our family? I think that while I still have a lot of doubt and worries about wether he is adjusting okay, talking enough, feeling loved and connected the bonding process is in fact going pretty well.

This week we were at Greyson's soccer game. Charlie and I were at the play ground before the game started and I told him it was time to go, naturally he was not happy about this, who wants to sit and watch a bunch of 5yr olds attempt to kick a ball verses running wild at the playground. I was trying to convince him that we could go get a snack or his drink and he wasn't having it but then I said "Daddy is on his way, want to go find Daddy?" He stopped trying to throw himself out of my arms and got a huge smile on his face, the women walking next to us noticed and said "Well the thought of daddy makes him happy" and I thought about my caseworkers comment. Most children look forward to seeing their dads at then end of the day or during the middle of the day when it is unexpected and Charlie was no different in this case. He's aware of whom "his people" are and he is eager to see them. Moments that seem so normal to others but are big milestones in regards to the adoption process make me smile.

The last few weeks I have noticed that Greyson has stopped treating Charlie with kid gloves, stopped seeing him as new. They are beginning to fight, a lot. Charlie at 21 months of age is very aware of what buttons to push to anger Greyson and it seems he takes some pleasure in doing so. This week I have had to tear Greyson's toothbrush out of Charlie's mouth and give it back to Greyson. I have had to put Charlie in the chair (numerous times) for unplugging the Wii while Greyson was playing.  My conversations go like this:

" No Greyson if Charlie can't have crackers ten minutes before dinner what makes you think you can?"

"Can you please just let your brother have a turn too?"

"Don't take them from him"

"He is still little, he doesn't understand"

"No Charlie, thats Greyson's"

"Charlie, don't hit, thats not nice"

" Oh Oh Charlie, don't dump his water all over his floor"

"No Greyson that's Charlies" and my personal favorite...

" Greyson if you say butt, booty, fart or penis one more time in front of Charlie your are going to be in deep trouble"

This phrase equally stresses me out and make me laugh. If you are or have raised a little boy, you know all about the potty language. It makes me laugh because honestly it's funny but it stresses me out because Charlie is really trying to talk but he is not making a lot of correct sounds yet and I am just waiting for him to finally get the P sound down and start saying penis all the time. Anyways, as much as kids fighting can be annoying and frustrating at this point in the game I am thankful for it. They are really starting to act and sound like brothers. That makes me smile.

So, maybe my caseworker was more accurate than I originally thought, maybe it is starting to feel like he has always been here. Soon our friends will start the very tough beginning phase of bringing their daughter home and acclimating themselves to each other but now I can honestly attest that it gets better, it won't always be so hard, you will enjoy family time again and eventually it will feel like they were always part of your family just like we dreamed, hoped and prayed about for years. And  like almost every time I think about how things have or have not gone as planned in this process the verse we started with pops in my head : He who calls you is faithful, He will surely do it. We can certainly see his hand at work in our family and that makes me smile too.

Here are some photos of my two boys acting like true brothers

Did not get ONE shot of them together smiling....

                                              MOM! He is trying to get my toys again!

                             They look like angels but its only because we were out for ice cream

               " Greyson please stop bouncing so high and making him fall down every other second"

                                                   Not willing to wait for his turn to drive

                                                                Both love the water

                                            Hmmm, no one is watching, guess I will just get these treats

Pinned Ya

"Don't tell me I can't have his half of the Apple!!!"

Like I said: Makes me Smile 

My Brave Boy

This week marks 3 months of being home and so many times I have wanted to sit down and blog, its therapeutic to me and helps me arrange my thoughts. I have even opened my computer twice to start typing but never logged in because in all honesty what I had to say was not worth reading or worth me writing. To be perfectly honest I've been angry. I have grumbled, complained and been negative, exasperated and crabby. I am still not at a place of being back to myself completely but I am a lot closer than I was several weeks ago. The lack of sleep played a big role and the constant sickness. I do not do well with little sleep, I need it, I have always been that way. Too little sleep and I make mountains out of molehills, I cry easily, I snap quicker and I usually end up sick. I have been all of that and more the last 3 months but 3 weeks ago we turned a corner. We are all sleeping through the night and he is napping everyday(que the Hallelujah Chorus). The scary mommy is a lot less frightening with 7 hours of sleep but I can't blame my poor attitude all on sleep deprivation. I think if I am honest with myself I have been angry at God.

Charlie is a little tornado, he whirls in and creates messes and whirls out to go cause more trouble but he is darling. I have worked with many children in in my life and I can truly say he is the loudest toddler I have ever met. He is mischievous beyond words and he has the best giggle around but having him in our lives is not at all what I expected and I can guarantee he didn't see us coming either and that is where the anger comes in. I am angry at the timing, I am angry but almost more sad at the age difference between our boys. I hurt for what Charlie has gone through and I am angry he had to go through it. I think deep down that while I knew all along the trials of adopting a toddler and had taken classes and read books about it that I thought for us it could possibly be different. Ron and I talked about that a while ago that we both had unrealistic expectations of how it would go, after all the two times we met him it went so well(right like you judge anything based on two hours). I think we had wanted this for SO long and dreamed about it for years that our mindset had been clouded. I want to point out my feelings have nothing to do with Charlie, while he can be challenging he is a very typical busy 19 month. My feeling had to do with God and His plan, one I still don't understand.

I have played the if only game so many times since we brought him home.

-if only the process had stayed true to the original time frame

-if only he had been under one

- if only he and Greyson were closer in age

- if only we had not been out of the baby stage for so long

- if only things had gone my way...

But they didn't, none of it went the way we would have chosen and all along I had unshakable faith, He told us to adopt and that he had a child for us so I believed him, plain and simple. He said He would do it and I believe He will do what He says He will so I trusted(for almost 4 years) and then we got him home and BAM it all went away. My faith and trust, my peace vanished. I questioned Him, His timing, His ability, His reasons. No wonder I have been angry. I sat angry for a few weeks and then slowly when I actually found time to pray or read my devotions I would see the error of my thoughts, I could hear His gentle prodding, I read about the Isrealites and what became of a whole people group who decided to let anger and grumbling rule their lives. They didn't get to enter into the promised land. David speaks of his soul crying out in anger to God and then a Selah or pause and when he writes again it typically is about repentance. My hardness started to crack a little and throughout the last 5-6 weeks I have prayed and been reminded of ALL the good and in a few times truly miraculous things He accomplished to get Charlie home. I started to really enjoy Charlie and I am getting the hang of life with two kids. Just last night I was thinking about blogging because I am not so angry anymore, although I would be lying if I said all my negative thoughts had vanished and my attitude was chipper all the time but I'm getting there.  I feel like this adoption journey is in some ways synonymous with my journey with Jesus. Just as Charlie had no idea what was coming his way, we too cannot predict the future. We can't see the big picture and we can't control our situations in life but we can trust in Him and His plan for us. We can trust it is good based on his character that we get to know through a relationship with Him. Trust cannot be formed without getting to know someone enough to begin to trust them. I can trust Jesus because I know Him although I don't always understand His ways. I can't see the big picture of my life just like Charlie can't see his and all he knows is that life is very different but everyday we earn his trust a little more by building a relationship with him. It takes a lot of work but it is happening. I have periods of my life where I take two steps back rather than moving forward in my walk with the Lord. These past few months are a perfect example of that and Charlie has a few good days and then a not so good day but when He does trust us and lets go it's awesome. When I trust my heavenly father and let go the results in my personal relationship with Him are awesome as well!

I could learn a thing or two from Charlie, although he has his anger and his fits he is a fighter in every sense of the word. He doesn't give up, which will suit him well in life, we just pray his tenacity gets put towards positive things but everyday since the day we have gotten him he has laughed, smiled and dared to trust us a little, thats more than I can say for myself. He has been through the ringer and yet when he wakes up in the morning he is ready to face the day and move forward with his little life. He is letting us into his world and showing us who he is, he has accepted that he is now stuck with us. He is brave. This little 19 month old, who is very smart, has been completely erected from life as he knew it, thrown into a world he doesn't know, could not understand the language that was being spoken to him, was very sick, has been to the doctor 18 times, had surgery, had 7 vials of blood taken and just last week received 5 shots but he continues to learn and trust a little more that he did the week before. BRAVE!

 I got choked up last night as I rocked him before bed, he was groggy with sleepiness and I studied his darling little face with his almond eyes, pouty lips and wild hair. I didn't feel any anger then, I felt thankful. I'm so thankful he is home, I am thankful that Jesus picked us to be his forever family. I am thankful we are sleeping! I am thankful that God is big enough to handle my anger but gentle enough to bring me out of it.  I was hesitant to share all of this because I never want to deter people from adopting. There are SO many kids who need a home and love but last week at church our pastor said something and it resonated with me. He said "Some people believe that being honest about your struggles will make other people untrusting of God, but it is just the opposite" I think thats so true. Going through the last few years and now living out the beginning stages of having Charlie home have been anything but easy but I can attest to God's goodness in my life and I still wholly trust Him.

I thought I would include a video of that giggle and some pictures of life with Charlie as a little tornado, if he isn't supposed to do it, he does, if its dangerous he jumps head first into it, he loves to conquer and hates to be told no but boy do I love him!

First Week Home

WOW! I feel like that word doesn't begin to describe this week. First, how can we have had our boy home for a whole week already and at the same time this has been a very long week!! There have been moments that were expected and some that were completely unexpected.  In moments of complete exasperation I have quickly forgotten how long we waited for him to be home and just as quickly I have been brought to tears as I wake up to his sleeping little body nestled in to mine. My nerves feel raw and my emotions are up, down and all around. So much of this process has been very hard and this next phase is no different. I hope that I do not sound like I am complaining but this is what plucking a little toddler out of his world and setting him in a completely different one looks and feels like...

I am reminded of what it is like to have a new born this week, the exhaustion that comes from taking care of one little human being but my "new born" is just new to us he is not a tiny, sleepy baby. He is an opinionated 16 month old with the sleep habits of an infant. He also likes to be carried as if he was a little baby, he does not want to be put down.  He needs about as much help as an infant as he is in what I would call "survival mode" and just kind of shuts down at times.  On top of not knowing us and not knowing English he does not feel well, at all.

We took him to the doctor in Korea and as I blogged he had a pretty nasty ear infection, we got medication for him but on the plane ride home it leaked. Ok, quick side note, so many have wondered how that long plane ride went and much to our surprise it went absolutely perfect. Our little guy slept 8 hrs and when he wasn't sleeping he was happy and playful. YAY! Anyway, I called our pediatrician last Friday and asked if they could replace the meds and they did without seeing him. I had no idea what he was on since it was in Korean so they called in Amox but by Sunday I could tell that he was not feeling great again. We went in for a general check up on Tuesday and I mentioned a slight cough and low grade fever and pulling at the ears, I was told that he had fluid but that it should clear. By Thursday he had a 101 fever and was so crabby and coughing pretty bad with a constant runny nose. Back into the pediatrician we went and apparently his ear was now very red and bulging and it was determined that he needed a different antibiotic which leads us to this morning when he woke up with a rash covering his face, hands and back. OH MY WORD!!!  In case you've lost track that is three times in four days.  I'm certain after this week we are very close to meeting our deductible... They told me, when I took him back in, that he did not have foot and mouth nor did it resemble an allergic reaction but rather some form of virus that is coming out through his skin. We were told that bronchitis and rashes were very common with international adoption as these kids go through so much and their little bodies just start to react. I am nervous especially at night as he coughs so hard he gags and his little face is just one big, red mess. He's a sad sight.

Speaking of sad, he is, so sad at times. It makes me tear up now just thinking of his little face when he grieves. He gets his big bottom lip out and shuts his eyes tight, almost as if he squeezes hard enough that his surroundings will be different when he opens them. His tears come quickly and often and are big and soon his whole little face is wet. It is hard to watch and I don't know how to comfort him. We bounce and sing, sometimes it works and sometimes it does not help at all. He calls for Oma often especially when he is upset, it is hard to know who exactly he is wanting when he cries for Oma as he is directing his attention towards me when calling out.  When he is not upset I repeat "MAMA" over and over while pointing at myself.  He has started to try and say it but his instinct is to say Oma. He is starting to mix the two and it is very cute, when looking for me if I am out of eyesight he will say Omamama. Makes me chuckle, poor little guy is trying.

We are all trying and sometimes we get it just right and he smiles and giggles but a lot of times we don't get what he wants and he throws himself on the ground and cries his heart out. He has no problem letting us know when we don't do things the way he wants it done and he very much wants things his way a lot. Greyson is trying so hard too. He is eager to please him and just wants him to be happy. I was very unsure of how things would go between the two boys. Greyson is a typical first born and is always trying to do the right thing and can be a tattle tale at times and quickly points out when others are doing what they aren't supposed to be, so I worried I would be annoyed by Greyson telling me all the things Charlie was doing wrong all day. It has been the opposite, he runs and gets stuffed animals to help the tears, he is quick to comfort and try to get him to laugh and just last night as I was visibly overwhelmed with more crying and coughing and trying to get Charlie out of the bath in one piece, I came out to the kitchen to find the table cleared and my decorative dishtowel shoved back on the oven, the table wiped, well everything that was on it was "wiped" onto the floor... I looked with bewilderment at Greyson and said " Did dad come home?" He said "No mom, you looked like you needed help so I cleaned the kitchen for you." Be still my heart, how blessed I am! And that would be why we are at the ice cream shop tonight and Greyson got whatever he wanted. I am so humbled by his sweet spirit and willing attitude and it has truly helped me this week.

So I think I have portrayed some of the realities of adoption.This is hard and physically exhausting. Even now as I write this blog, Charlie has woken up twice with bouts of coughing and crying, he has only been in bed for  2 hours. We are gearing ourselves up for another night of lots of crying and sleeplessness. If we get more than 3-4 hours that would be wonderful. Honestly, I feel like I knew the idea of this little boy much better than I actually know this little boy. If that even makes any sense. We have learned that he loves to be outside and so weather permitting we have taken a lot of walks and that is when he seems happiest.

 Through it all though I am reminded of God's faithfulness and that He is seeing all of this and He is present during the sobbing, fits, anger, pain and joy. He will not leave us as we try to love Charlie the best way possible and He will not leave Charlie as he learns to trust and love us. It amazes me that when the moment is so tough a certain verse runs rapid though my mind and I take 5 deep breaths, keep going and how when we sing praise songs while comforting Charlie we can see a marked difference and he begins to calm down. I remind myself daily that this too shall pass and that in the smiles we do get from him I know that : He who calls you is Faithful, He will surely do it.

Today, with a barky cough, runny nose and rash covered body Charlie seemed happy. He woke up and smiled at me, he let me put him down numerous times today and I only saw 2 fits of frustration. He played earnestly with Ron and Greyson after dinner and laughed a lot. Looking at the long run and keeping myself positive I know that soon we will have found a rhythm and I so grateful that this Mothers Day both my arms will be full. I think that for a little boy who really does not feel great, not sleeping well and is scared that today was remarkable in that after only week we saw some of his true personality and that makes this all worth it!

These pictures don't display this week well, in fact they look to prove me a liar BUT the few times he has smiled I have been quick to grab it on camera, so here are a few shots of what gets us through the rough stuff:

The American Spectacles!

 We are done!! Besides the Flight Very Well we have all the correct and long but his Visa Paperwork.

Ours He is and he is now legal to Come Home.

Fact About Tonight that I got teared up while feeding him his bottle. He was so tired, snuggly and fell asleep in my arms. I just looked at his little Face and thought, WE DID IT!

Thank You Jesus!!

And we started with the verse popped in to My Head, "He Calls you is Faithful, He Will surely do it".

Today was interesting to say the least, we were such a spectacle! We get a lot of looks going out in public, people notice us and then I watch their eyes to see Charlie's face, I think they are looking to see if he is Korean or not. When they Realize he is (he is in and he is faced inward toward a Carrier Me) they Stare More.

We learned that Charlie does Not like Car Rides and TODAY we learned that he likes the Subway, for About 4 min.

Our trip to our agency today took about 25 min. So its bad enough but now they Stare Stare Because people that goes in the Carrier Charlie, Charlie Come out of the Carrier, 

Charlie flings his body backwards, to the Ground Chucks Things charlie, charlie screams, makes goofy Faces Ron, Ron and Erin Sing , Erin bounces .... At one point we both just started laughing because not only are we in a moving tram, its at least 80 degrees and we have umbrellas, coats, diaper bag and purse plus a very unhappy baby and we were sweating and making idiots of ourselves.

too worked up We TRY to Not Get it all and then stop right before an About Our Final Old man, who was staring the Whole time, he comes over to U.S. exits before the Tram.

His Eyes are glistening and U.S. gives a Thumbs up and he says "Thank you for your kindness" then takes Charlie's hand and says "Happy!"

Almost I started crying. He got it and was such a tender, sweet moment from a stranger.

 We finally made it to the agency only to get packed into a car for 30 min, Sigh! C

Fell Asleep harlie About 10 minutes away from finally the Embassy. 

Because there was a line Huge Outside the Embassy and it was raining but we got we were ushered right in American, we also went up to a room which was SO HOT and waited.

About The Entire Process took 2 hours during which we met some really Completing all their Families Adoption Lovely.

unconsolable One Poor little guy was so distraught and his parents just looked, we later learned that they had picked him up and he had Only a few hours earlier and then awoke to Unfamiliar people fallen Asleep.

I Felt so bad!

Another Family was cracking up from the South and had U.S. with their "Bless his heart", "Ya'll" and "So precious" Twenty seconds every phrases.

They had been in Korea for 4 weeks and had gotten to Visit their daughter every week for a few hours, she was very happy and easygoing with them. I asked how long they had been in the process and she said 13 months start to finish. I literally almost decked her but she was one of the sweetest people and its not her fault our process has been so long. We also met a women and her mother with their little son as well. It was nice to spend some time hearing others stories and swapping. When it was our turn we had to go up and hold up our right hands and swear that everything we had filled out was true, we were asked a few others questions and then just like that ... done. DONE! Then I

was back in the T and then back on the Subway Car, More Stares, Screaming and Singing and finally back to Our Hotel room. 

Charlie was happy to be back and was very fun for a few hours, we are learning that he has quite the temper and does not like to be told no ... ever!

He is in to everything and anything he can Get his hands on, his favorite thing to do is thrown .... anything!

Very Vocal About He is whatever he is doing but he is also Very Sweet and Smart.

Would We Only do Something once and if he saw us then he would try and succeed a lot of the time. He is now running up to us with outstretched arms and when we pick him up he smiles so big. He has a darling little laugh and this is the second night in a row that he has gone to bed with no tears and not calling Oma. YAY!!

We did get him in with a doctor today before the Visa appt and she took one quick look in his ear and stated that it was very nasty and infected. They gave us an antibiotic, drops and a decongestant. I am so thankful that we decided to have him looked at but feel bad we didn't do it sooner. Hopefully Will he be feeling much better by the time we fly which is coming so soon!

I am so excited that we have and then we just Get One More Day to Come Home!

Although we have been stuck in the room a lot and the weather has been very rainy, we have had some small wonderful things happen this trip as well.

From the sweet man on the Subway, to the little old women who kept hitting me offering me her seat since I was holding Charlie (little did she know that Charlie prefers me to stand, yes we have some work to do when we get home) to the absolutely wonderful staff at the hotel we are staying at.

The whole staff has been anticipating us coming and they lined up when we came back with Charlie the first time, they all come running over every time we go into the lobby to ask how he is and how we are doing. They ooh and ah over him and the concierge desk sent up a hand written note with warm wishes and promises to pray for us (thanks, we need it) with a fresh fruit bowl and gifts of toys for Charlie. Truly, caring people and genuinely kind. I am feeling emotional tonight as I recount this week, its been so big and exhausting but the good kind of exhaustion. We are looking forward to having our sons meet each other as well as our family and friends. We are so grateful to God for Charlie and are loving getting to know him, fits and all, more each day!

                                                     We visited an aquarium yesterday

                                                Beautiful view of the sunset from our room

                                             View from one of the tallest buildings in Korea

                                              also the building that had the aquarium

                                             Charlie just checking out Seoul, we are on the 40th

                                            floor of our hotel, quite the view!

 Wasting time and energy running the hallways over and over

 (no judging about no pants)

          Our Happy Boy!

Gotcha!

It has been whirlwind two days, we arrived in Seoul on Thursday night and got to our hotel and grabbed dinner then went to bed.

We slept pretty well and then got up and got some groceries and things for our hotel room and then got ready to go get our little man.

We arrived at SWS about 10 min before 2 pm. He was already there and playing in the playroom. He was happy and played well with Ron while I went over things with his foster mom. She gave us each gifts and had a large bag filled with Charlie's favorite foods and his very special blanket. She is such a wonderful women but I could tell she felt uncomfortable and seemed just a bit distant. She stayed in the play room for just a few minutes and then left so we could hang out with him. He let me pick him right up. After 10-15 min our caseworker came back in and asked us if we would like more time or if we were ready to leave. We said we were ready and so we packed everything up and went out to the elevator. On the way out his foster mom took him and spun him around once and whispered in his ear then patted him and kissed his cheeks. At this point I couldn't hold back the tears and gave her a hug she just smiled and patted my back. Ron hugged her as well and we got into the elevator. He did not know what was going on but was happy to look at himself in the mirror. As the doors closed I saw his foster moms face fall and she started wiping the tears. I think she wanted to be happy with him the last tim he saw her but I will not soon forget the look on her face as she turned away. We are so very grateful for her and for the love she have to him.

We had a taxi bring us back to our hotel and in the busy traffic it took just under 40 min. He did well at the beginning but towards the end we could tell he was agitated, we were about 3 blocks from our hotel and he puked all over Ron. Poor Baby and poor Ron, he is not used to cars and had car sickness plus he has a pretty good runny nose and low grade fever so he was / is not feeling the best. He was fine after that. We were even able to take him out for dinner. After dinner he was very tired but we wanted to keep him awake for a while so we played and played. Then we put him in a bath, we were told he loved the bath but I think he felt very overwhelmed and just started crying.

We got him warmed up and in jammies and fed him a bottle and he fell sound asleep but after about 45 min he got startled and then the crying began. He cried and then he started to wail and call for Oma (mom) over and over so at that point we were both crying pretty hard. I am thankful that he let us comfort him and after about an hour he finally settled down and slept. He wrapped himself up his special blanket from home and went to sleep. Although he slept very fitfully and tossed and turn he slept from 10-7:45. We are very tired today as we did not sleep well. He moved all night and although we set pillow around him on the bed (he was having nothing to do with the crib) I was worried he would fall off the bed so we were up off and on all night.

He woke today with a fever and we can tell that he does not feel so good, he is very timid today and quiet. We have gotten a few laughs and smiles but not much. We took him outside and for a walk for two hours around our hotel just to get some fresh air and out of the room. Only he would PUT U.S. Let him down a few times.

I do not Think Outside he has playing with much Experience.

Seoul is really beautiful right now with everything in Bloom.

TODAY The weather was low 70's with a slight Wind and it was so nice to be outside. 

We headed back inside as we could tell he was getting tired. When he gets really tired his big bottom lip comes out and he whines for Oma. It breaks my heart but all in all for him not feeling great and not knowing us, he is doing remarkable. We are hoping for a good night of sleep tonight and that he will be feeling better tomorrow. Our Visa appt is on Tuesday and then we fly home Thursday morning. We are taking one day at a time but will be very thankful when we are home.

It seems so surreal that he is finally ours and we are giving God Praise and Glory for his life.

Finally, here are some pictures of yesterday's Gotcha Day:

                                                        At the adoption agency

                                                                  Car ride to hotel

                                                     Nap at hotel with his special blanket

                                                       Finally calmed down and resting