Saturday, May 22, 2010

You Had Me At Hello - An Adoption Story - Part 2


It took 13 hours of flying... over Canada, the North Pole, the Bering Strait, the International Date Line, and Siberia to safely reach Tokyo, Japan (without refueling), where we switched planes.  From there, it was another two hours of flying straight to Seoul, South Korea.

At one point, I remember asking David how long we had been in the air..."Six hours," he said, "...and we aren't even half way there."  The magnitude of the distance seemed unbelievable and yet, at the same time, the world seemed so much smaller than what I thought it was.

Once in Seoul, my fears were replaced with "mama bear - looking for baby cub - mode" .  We were so close to this little baby.  It was like one of those dreams where you need to get from point A... to point B... but you are stuck in mud... and you can barely  move...a little bit of anxiety kicked in you could say.

Over the course of a week, we were able to visit little Stan twice and for the rest of the time, we were encouraged to see Seoul and the countryside.  We did just that with as many of our senses that we could stomach!  We took tons of photos and video for Stan...for "someday".

We knew that God had played a huge hand in the adoption from the moment He wrote it onto our hearts when we were only engaged and discussed it.  Knowing that, we were still blown away to find that Stan was being raised by Catholic foster parents.

The population in the city of  Seoul is 10 million.  The Christian population makes up 29%, and of that, only 11% are Catholic Christians.  There are only a small number of foster parents (600?) and to have one that is Catholic ...well, you do the math!

The day before we left...before we were handed our little baby... the sickness hit again.  The share enormity of the undertaking was overwhelming.  We were taking this little baby, out of his birth country, away from his culture, to raise him ourselves.

Even though we loved him to the ends of the world and back, he didn't know us, nor love us.  We smelled different.  We looked different.  We sounded different.  We were strangers and we were taking him away from everything he knew...everything that made him feel safe.

No matter how many classes we took and books we read, still we were not prepared for that moment...

I was afraid to let him down...to let these beautiful people down that were entrusting him to us.  I prayed for courage.

These next pictures are of the morning we flew out.  It was 7am and raining.  It was so heart-warming to see little Stan so happy.  The moment was bittersweet for Mrs. Kim and myself.




As for me, even though I wanted to just hold him forever, I knew that I'd have that chance...forever.  I passed... in order for Mrs. Kim to privately love him while she could.



The agency has a lovely tradition of praying over each and every child that leaves with his new family and Stan received that lovely farewell prayer, too.


Their driver loaded us up in a van. I entered first followed by Mrs. Kim handing Stan to me and bowing to David.  David then got into the van at which point the staff bid little Chang Hoon farewell!  Mrs. Kim and I locked eyes and the look between us spoke volumes. 

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And then we were off...

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Not wanting to upset Stan during the ride to the airport, I kept him facing forward.  Only once he turned around to look at me and did a double take.  We held our breath...no cry?...okay...so far...so good...

I had the time to really check him over.  He smelled sooooo good.  Whatever Mrs. Kim used...it was just heaven scented.  He was perfectly groomed, clean.  His little finger nails were meticulously manicured...not one speck of dirt in his little finger nails.  And he looked so healthy and adorable.  This woman took great pride in the care she provided for our son. 

At the airport, David was like a new groom/new father...nervous and trying ever-so-hard to show he had it together.  (And he did an awesome job escorting his little family home!)
 
Then we were called into security, to have ALL of our luggage checked...and that is when Stan grew fussy!   

Between Stan's needed nap time, a strange woman holding him - (who was fumbling for the paperwork that held his feeding/sleeping schedule) - and being hungry and confused, the small sniffling gradually grew into an awful, uncontrollable sob.  

The people at the terminal...oh! if you could have seen their faces.  Oh yeah!  You knew what was on their minds.  By the time we boarded, Stan was in full hysteria.  If I hadn't had any experience with children, my knees would have buckled from beneath me right then and there and I would have joined Stan in that sad moment.  

I was trying my hardest to comfort him when the IT happened...he vomited...full projectile... all over himself and me ...and I almost cried.  Those spare shirts that I packed in the carry-on for each of us?...well, I hadn't expected to use them that quickly! We had just started and had another 24 hours to go! 

But we made it!  We did okay!  Sadly, Stan cried himself to sleep in my arms where he slept until we arrived in Tokyo.  With a two hour lay-over and a plane switch we had just enough time for Stan to have his ignaural bath in an airport bathroom sink!  I washed Stan and myself in the bathroom sink and then all was good in the world...once again!  (The Asian airports were immaculate - something I was not use to seeing.)

Waking up in my arms...being gently washed and cleaned...being played with...I believe helped him calm down around us.  There were no more upsetting moments for him for the duration of the trip.  And we thanked God!


This picture is of Stan getting ready to take off from Tokyo on our way to Chicago.


We had requested bulk head seats.  Believe it or not...Stan slept on blankets on the floor...slept soundly to the hum and vibration of the engines...almost the entire trip.  (No one on the plane complained!)


After arriving back in the US,  I only panicked once, and that was when we went through customs...I had these awful images that we hadn't been given the proper paperwork that would allow him to enter the States.  But they did!  Whew!

The last and final leg...the one that seemed to take FOREVER was the flight to Springfield...where our other babies were waiting for us.

These are some pictures from the moment we stepped off the plane and walked through the gates...



And he was loved!

All of our wonderful friends were waiting for us with signs, balloons, and hugs & kisses.  For that moment in time...it was truly heavenly!

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Let me say that the adoption story isn't a fairytale.  Oh, it is so beautiful...but it has moments that are unbelievably difficult...moments that make you question yourself or what you just did.  There were many moments where Stan grieved his loss...which was everything he knew...all in Korea. 

You have to go in with eyes wide open.  You have to take the good along with the bad.

When Stan asks about being in my tummy, we tell him that he grew like a flower in another lady's tummy...and was taken care of by the most loving couple.  We tell him that they took care of him till Mommy and Daddy could come and get him. 

No...Stan wasn't born from my tummy...he was born in our hearts...

We will receive many comments...not always good ones.   Being keenly aware of what Stan hears and more importantly, being keenly aware of what he hears in  our response is what needs to be focused on.

People will tell us how lucky he is.  We tend to think that we are the lucky, the blessed, to have him placed with us. 

Stan is at an age now where he is into telling people his adoption story...his version of his adoption story...and it goes something like this: "I was born in Korea.  I stayed there until my mom and dad could come and get me.  Then I got on a plane and puked!"  ...followed by him laughing and people looking at us with questionable expressions!

Will we ever adopt again?  Oh! that would be such a tremendous and welcomed gift...but it is in God's hands.  For now...we continue to thank Him for our little man.

4 comments:

  1. So beautiful! Made me cry tears of joy for you all!

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  2. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story!

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  3. Patty - There is Divine Providence in your visiting my blog. My sister has just had her 2nd miscarriage and adoption is a possible consideration. Your story made me cry. O how I pray my sister has a future with children.

    So nice to "meet" you!

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  4. I know I have your family's adoption account before, but I have to tell you that it is such a beautiful story. And you have such a gift for making feelings understood through your writing. I cried, sighed, and laughed at different times while reading both parts.

    You and your precious Stan are lucky- to have each other.

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