Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Goodbye to foster parents - Day 5

Today, we met with Stephen's foster mom and dad for lunch. Stephen and his "Eomma and Oppa" were overjoyed to see each other. A really precious moment that I will always treasure was when he was holding his foster mother's hand and reached back for mine as well.

We enjoyed a delightful vegetarian Korean buffet together and afterward had some green tea sponge cake dessert as Ji Hae translated our conversation.

We obviously knew that having to say goodbye to them a second time, even if he didn't know that the second time would be much more final, would be really rough. We all hugged and then separated from them near the hotel. He screamed and cried as Andy held him once again, and neither the foster mother nor I could contain our tears. Stephen calmed down after several intense minutes, but very soon after getting to our room, he fell asleep on the floor of the living room.

Today, I continued to recognize some of the pain that I voluntarily chose to enter into with him when we decided to adopt. He is already ours. His pain is shared by us. We can't fully understand the sorrow that he has been through and will go through in both losing his birth family and now foster family. He can't go back to them, but he can't understand why they aren't here. My tears flowed again tonight as we joined him on the balcony multiple times as he called longingly for the only family he has known, sometimes softly and sometimes loudly. We can help bear his burden along with him, but it is too big for all of us, even shared. We must continually point Stephen to the One who took our true burden, the burden of our sin and subsequent pain, upon himself, bore the punishment we deserved and gave us his righteousness instead as his own adopted and beloved children- Jesus.

Stephen's favorite food, black bean noodles, for dinner

Visa Interview - Day 4

Immigration visa issued!
Our visa interview went remarkably well yesterday. Our sweet friend Ji Hae joined us once again that morning. Stephen fell asleep in the carrier on my back during the 20 minute walk and stayed a sleep for about 45 minutes, which worked out great. (However, it is super sweaty to hold a hot blooded 26.5 lb toddler on your back in a humid, warm place.) We were ushered in to our appointment during the quiet lunch hour and chatted with the 3 other adoptive families while we all waited. After swearing that everything in the application was true and answering a couple of other straightforward questions, we were told it was approved. We waited a little longer for it to be printed and Stephen woke up and shared snacks and played games with the other kids. We were given his Korean passport and immigration visa with his new name. We wished the other families well as we left! He will officially become an American citizen when he sets foot on US soil in Seattle on Thursday.

Later that evening, Stephen laughed and giggled as his siblings sang "Pororo" (a Korean cartoon) and did silly kid antics for him via Facetime.
Garlic fried chicken was so good that I didn't stop to take a pic until it was almost gone

He ran out a lot of energy (and sweated a ton!) in the hotel children's playground.

Thankful for My Amazingly Awesome Hubs

That's my sexy husband right there!

Last night (our first night with him), we tried to let little Stephen sleep in bed with us as he's been used to co-sleeping with his foster mother, but he wouldn't have it and didn't even lay his head down. He whimpered and called for "Eomma and Oppa" (Mama and Dada). Andy let him get up for a bit and he made his way to the living room floor where he put his blanket down and promptly laid down and fell asleep. Andy got a blanket and slept on the floor next to him while I slept in the bed. When Stephen woke a couple times during the night, Andy was right next to him to put his hand on him and reassure him.

Thanks for the monkey backpack, Elsa! ;)
One of the beautiful things about bringing a child into the family, whether by birth or adoption, is how love for your spouse grows as you lean on each other more and in different ways. Yesterday, I needed Andy to hold Stephen as we drove away from the agency. Last night, he knew how to best love our son and help him sleep in the most comfortable way in this new environment. Andy is great at allowing Stephen the space to be free whenever possible and helping him learn to come under our new authority bit by bit. Andy has helped to uphold me emotionally as we both enter into our son's grief as he looks repeatedly for his foster family. It has been wonderful to see Andy loving Stephen as Andy helps him learn to hold hands while we walk on the sidewalks of busy streets, and tickling, feeding, changing, or chasing after him.
Facetime with his siblings for the first time

Monday, September 17, 2018

Gotcha Day - Day 3

Introducing our son, Stephen Alston Dollahite!

It was an emotional, but great day today. We walked around Olympic Park in the morning and then ate Korean BBQ for lunch.
We give this place a giant thumbs up

Acupressure foot path

Olympic monument including eternal flame

This place was so good last time we had to come back

The nerves started to set in as we ate lunch and walked to the agency to pick up our son from his foster parents at the agency. It was heartbreaking seeing his pain leaving his foster family, but knowing that we are his forever family whom he will now be able to get to know, love and trust is wonderful. Too many emotions to write at this time, but let's just say there were a lot of emotions. God's great story continues...
Somehow he had a feeling about what was happening

We watched some Korean cartoons in the hotel after the emotional drive away from the agency

Doing pretty well and enjoying a snack in our room

Orakai - Day 2

Sign reads "Welcome to Korea" in English and Korean

Leaving Seattle

We made it without any issues yesterday evening, praise the Lord. Since we still had some won (Korean money) and our subway cards from last month, we only had to rent a WiFi egg and get on the subway, so it was a much faster process! We checked into Orakai Suites Insadong (which was swankier than I had imagined), walk around the Insadong area, and grab a bite to eat. We didn't sleep so much on the plane and were able to stay up till 10 pm (7 am at home) and sleep pretty well until 7 am (4pm at home)!

Our bedroom

Living area with balcony

Ceramic dolls on parade in hotel lobby

We enjoyed a street vendor's hateok after dinner (thin, hollow bread with cinnamon, sugar, and sesame seeds)
We are SOOOOOO excited for Gotcha Day, Monday at 3 pm (Sunday midnight at home)!!!

Saturday, September 15, 2018

We're going back!! - Day 1

Last Friday, Sept. 7, 2018, we got the news that our FINAL approval was issued from the Korean Family Court! This means the end of the paperwork process for the adoption and nothing stands in the way of our little boy joining our family, only a visa for emigration. We booked tickets in a flurry that day and chose the second of the 3 visa interview appointments listed for us, which was 9/18/18. This means Gotcha Day would be the day before, Sept. 17th, and we arrive the evening of the day before that!

Headed to Seoul via Seattle to bring our son home!

Today, eight days after receiving final approval, we are currently in Seattle en route back to Seoul. While it was hard to wait after getting to meet our little Stephen after coming home, mostly it has just been exciting. We got to see his little face that we had only seen in photos, glimpse his personality, and meet his precious foster family. We knew all along that there would be two trips involved, so it was not a surprise. In fact, we had been told that it would be 3-7 weeks before we'd return, and it was on the shorter end of that for which we are so thankful. It was also a very full month while we waited, with a baby shower given by friends from church to celebrate Stephen, the first month of school + home school, starting piano lessons, and the beginning of the fall soccer season, not to mention the house preparation for little Stephen.

My dear friend texted me today, praying for us to lay down our expectations and worries at the cross. Amen! Aren't unmet expectations the worst?!? But we know that God, who has begun a good work in us, his adopted children, will see it to completion, so this story is GOOD no matter how I may feel that it is going at any given moment or any given day. I feel a jumble of heart flutterings, including excitement, nervousness, happiness to finally bring him home, wondering how all the logistics of sleeping, airports, and plane rides will go...But I don't need to worry, even though I'm tempted, about "how it's all going to work out" because I know that it will be to God's glory. I always need to be reminded of it though, because I'm forgetful. So, I remind myself, and all of us, that God's stories in the lives of his children are amazing. I can rely on that expectation. He is our Rock and Redeemer.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Day 7 – Han River

Weird monster from a popular Korean horror film...

...about to eat Annaliese!

beautiful artwork behind a water feature

Touring the area around the Han river on bikes was so fun on our last morning. Although earlier in the week we experienced a heat wave not seen in the past 110 years, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday were warm, but more comfortable and less humid.

Kakao friends in the Incheon airport
We had a quick lunch, packed up, said goodbye to our dear Ji Hae, and got on the subway to the airport. We left our room at Eastern at 2 pm to walk to the subway station, rode the subway to the airport arriving about 3:15 pm for our 6:15 pm flight, turned in our rented WiFi egg, checked our bags, found our flight was delayed until 6:45 pm, ate dinner, and waited. We got to see two other adoptive families who attended court with us in the airport, and one family was on our flight to Seattle which was fun! 10.5 hours later, we arrived in Seattle (Saturday afternoon - weird to land "before" you took off!) and went through US customs. Fortunately, we had been warned to go to the bathroom on the plane before starting this process. It was not customs that took a long time, it was going through the TSA security check before entering the rest of the airport. Our layover was over 4 hours, and then we had to wait in the plane on the tarmac for the coffee maker to be fixed...heaven forbid we fly without a working coffee maker ;) And finally made it safely to Albuquerque and drove home to Cedar Crest, arriving at 11 pm, about 24 hours after leaving the room at Eastern. Whew!

I have to say, the jet lag has rocked us. We did fine the first night, sleeping soundly until 7 am. But Sunday night was rough for us. Monday night was better, and I hope we're pretty much adjusted now!