Thursday, September 29, 2011

It's a Small, Small World

I have a fun story for you, but there are no pictures to accompany it. But, please keep reading!

On Monday, I was able to meet another family, just 10 minutes from my house, that have adopted 3 kids from Korea. Their oldest is 8 and the youngest is going to be 3 next week. Shortly after meeting the youngest daughter and the mom, we learned that we used the same adoption agency and worked with the same social worker and local office. Since this family has adopted 3 times, I said "wouldn't it be funny if one of your kids' foster moms was Neylan's foster mom?" I said that his foster mom was quite experienced and had been working with our agency for many years. The mom then got up to go get pictures from all three of their foster moms. She gave me the stack for her oldest son first. No match. Then she gave me the stack for her middle daughter. No match. Then she handed me the stack for the youngest daughter. MATCH!!!!!!! I just stared and said "Oh my gosh, oh my gosh. This is her." We both started tearing up. Neylan's foster mom said that he was her 20th child in 10 years of fostering. Do you know how few 20 is? And to meet a beautiful little girl who lives just 10 minutes away who was raised during her first year of life by the same mother Neylan was. WOW!!!!

So, I started flipping through the pictures and had some more moments. She had pictures of the foster dad, brother, and sister. We don't have any pictures of these people and never got to meet anyone but his mom. How wonderful for me to be able to see what they look like. Neylan was very well taken care of and his foster mom told us that he was very loved by his family. To be able to put faces with her words is amazing.

What a wonderful meeting I had. I said we definitely need to get these two kiddos together for a picture that we can send to her. What a fun discovery. Coincidence?? Nothing is coincidence!!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Happy Chuseok!

Chuseok is a national Korean holiday that is celebrated every year in September. It is Korea's Thanksgiving celebration in which the people celebrate the harvest. It is also a big holiday to travel to see family, like it is here.

We recently learned that our local Korean American association has an annual Chuseok festival. This year is was held at a local high school near our house. The entire day is free, so we took advantage and went for the first of what I hope is many celebrations.

They fed everyone lunch that was prepared by some of thewomen. It was delicious and authentic. Grayson really liked it and our Asian- well he picked around the rice and ate the noodles!

After lunch there was a program. We had heard there were lots of things to see like Korean dance, taekwondo demonstrations, singing, and karaoke. What we were not told was that the program starts with speeches from the important people of the association. And everything is in Korean! Since I'm not fluent yet, I don't have a clue what was being said.

We were having a very difficult time keeping our two entertained through the speeches (even with the ipad) so we moved from our seats to standing by the wall. I really wanted to see something entertaining, so with a little bribing, lots of entertaining, and moving around, we made it to the first "act".

The kids did a great job singing Korean songs and were very cute in their hanboks. We met some other kids who had been adopted who also got dressed up in their hanboks. Didn't even think to bring those along. But, now we know for next year. We watched their short performance and then left. It will be much easier to enjoy this in the years to come when the boys are a bit older.

We did get to meet two other families from the area who had adopted. One family traveled the week after we did and is on the forum we participate on. Had no idea! We also learned that there is a Korean Academy on Saturdays that many of the kids attend. They learn some language, music, culture, etc here and can start when they are 4 yrs old. We think this would be a great thing for the boys to do together once they are old enough. We had a good time and look forward to doing more with this association. They were very welcoming and excited to see Neylan.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Three months already!!!

Three months ago (on Friday) we arrived home with this bundle of joy. I can't believe it's already been three months, but I have to say, I am glad we are past it. It has been a very difficult three months for us. I definitely wasn't naive to the challenges that adoption brings, but I really didn't think I would struggle like I have. I am just beginning to feel like I have my head back above water and can enjoy my days a little more. We are getting into a pretty steady routine, now that Daddy is back at work and only one parent is in control of the schedule!

Neylan fell asleep in my arms during the cab ride back to the hotel after being handed over to us. So trusting.
It's too soon to attempt a photo shoot during the first 3 days home

Water play was a daily activity during our record breaking summer of hot temps

The boys began bonding a little more in July, after just a few weeks home

We learned that Neylan loves dogs

and popsicles

He was a bear crawler for several weeks before he learned to walk

He's learning how to use toys more appropriately

I think they will be best friends soon

Some things are better when shared

The boys took a few swim lessons this summer

The bonding and play together continues to increase

They are so cute when they are laughing together

And when they are up to mischief

My love has begun to grow for my new little one and I am beginning to feel like I know him better. It's a process. One that I would do again, just not quite yet.

So after three months:
  • Neylan is sleeping through the night
  • He has learned how to take a real nap during the day
  • He is screaming so much less
  • He only cries for a minute or two before falling asleep
  • He says "Mama" constantly and knows exactly who answers to that name
  • He is starting to say "Dada", but doesn't quite associate it yet with Adam
  • He has learned what he likes and doesn't like to eat
  • He has picked up a few signs, although he doesn't use them often to communicate
  • His receptive language is coming along quickly
  • He has learned to walk!!!!!!!
  • He has been on his first roadtrip
  • He has met his grandparents and aunts and uncles
  • He and Grayson are really starting to like each other
  • He is a great imitator {that's good and bad}
  • He is doing well at daycare
  • He is doing so so so much better at church (our hardest place to transition)
  • He is doing well in the childcare center at the gym
  • He has finally cute a molar!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Only 3 more to go
  • He is off all of his bottles- and doesn't seem to mind
  • He is able to drink through a straw
  • He is handling Grayson's toughening up lessons well
  • He loves music and is doing the motions to some of his favorite songs
  • He answers to his American name {said by Mom and Dad} and his Korean name {said by Grayson}
  • We have already had two post-placement visits from our social worker
We are feeling much more connected and know he is the perfect fit. I know it takes time and can be a very long process for a family to really feel bonded after adoption. I feel like we are on the upside now and for that I am so glad. We can still use prayer as each day with two toddlers is very challenging.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

After the Airport

Tonight I saw this amazing blog post about adoption through a link on facebook from some fellow APs. I recognized the name and then remembered I have done two Bible studies written by this girl. She is so funny and such a good writer. Had no idea she was adopting, but it appears to have just happened. She is very transparent about what real life looks like with an adopted child. It's not easy by any means. But God doesn't call us to easy. So, if you are in the process, recently arrived home, or are contemplating adoption, I encourage you to read Jen's post about life "after the airport". It brought tears to my eyes multiple times as I feel we are walking in the same shoes some days. The past three months have been very difficult for me, but there has not been a moment I have been filled with regret or doubt about our decision to bring Neylan into our family. I get through one day at a time and rejoice, like Jen, on the days the boys go to "school" and I get a mental and physical break! Enjoy her post. She could not have said it any better!

After the airport

A Special Gift

Last week Neylan received such a nice gift from our agency. He got a nice book and a letter. We got a letter too. The book is basically a biography of Bertha Holt, the founding mother of adoption in Korea, Holt, Int, and an international adoption pioneer. She and her husband, Harry, adopted 8 children from South Korea. I am so glad we took the time and had the opportunity to visit Holt Ilsan during our visit. One of Harry and Bertha's daughters, Molly, was who we were able to visit with when we went. An amazing woman who is carrying on their legend in an amazing way. I can't wait to read more about this amazing woman and eventually share this book with Neylan when he is old enough to learn about the history of adoption in Korea.

Adam and I received a nice letter from Holt welcoming us home and into the Holt family. They have truly been a wonderful agency to work with.
The last letter was one addressed to Neylan. It welcomed him into his new forever family and then had a special message from Bertha "Grandma" Holt. She used to send a letter to all the children that were adopted. Her portion reads: I'll always be interested in  knowing and hearing about all the exciting things that are filling your life. I pray that you will be blessed with joy and be a source of great happiness for your family. Remember that you are unique and there is no one in the world like you. My prayer for you is that you will grow and learn to your fullest potential and to know the Lord as your Savior.

I will be putting these things into a special place for Neylan. Several have given ideas for putting together a memory box to hold mementos from our trip and journey, such as his bottles from Holt, coming home outfit, pictures from his foster mom, ticket stubs, etc. Hope to get going on this soon.