Monday, October 27, 2014

Our Journey to Owen: Court Date and Coming Home

Playing a little catch up since the last few days were so busy that I had no blogging time but want to document the rest of our trip.

Friday morning we woke up early once again. At this point we had developed a little morning routine, which seemed to begin around 5 AM after we could lay on the hard beds no more. We would check things online then try to get ready to kill time until the coffee shop on the corner opened at 7. Then Mitchell would walk down and get us some coffee. This morning we had to get up and get moving because of our court date. We walked to find something for breakfast and ended up skyping with Lukas while we were getting breakfast. We then went back and started getting ready for court. The nerves definitely started to hit even though everyone had reassured us that there was nothing to be nervous about. Our social worker had told us several times that because we had previously adopted from Korea our judge would look favorably upon us and court was just a formality. Even still the nerves hit for me while we were getting ready.

We walked over to the agency around 9:40 and headed up to the 7th floor. We sat down with another couple that ended up being from Canada. We chatted with them for about 10 minutes and swapped stories and details about our processes. Around 10, we were told it was time to leave for court. There were 4 couples from our agency, 2 from Canada and 2 from the US. The other 3 were very nice and we enjoyed talking with them. We ended up riding in the car with the agency worker while everyone else rode in a van. Looking back, that was totally the Lord working that out for us. We were able to talk with her and ask questions. It only took 10 minutes to drive to the court house. We went through security, rode the elevator up, and were seated in a hallway in the order we were to see the judge. We were 3rd in line. At this point I felt confident that everything would be fine and just enjoyed talking with one of the other couples. The first 2 couples went in and came out fairly fast. And then it was our turn. Dum, da, da dum…

Outside of court house

The door we walked in to see the judge

We walked in and were told to have a seat across from the judge. To our right was the agency worker and a translator. Our judge was female and was dressed in a black robe. She began looking at our paperwork and talking to the agency worker. It didn’t take but just a second to realize there was some confusion about something. I didn’t understand anything she was saying but I did catch “Canada.” They continued to talk rapidly back and forth with lots of confused looks. Then the clerk took our paperwork over to our agency worker to look at but by then I had figured out that she was confused about where we were from. We spoke up and told them Mitchell was from Canada but we live in the US. That cleared that up and then she dove right in on us, literally. It really did not go anything like we had expected. She picked some very specific things out of our homestudy that were concerns to her. We were stunned. She had some real concerns about whether or not we are prepared and equipped for another child. We answered her questions the best way we knew how and tried to reassure her but she has asked us to submit some additional paperwork to her in the coming week before she will issue the preliminary approval. By the time we walked out of there I was reeling. I just wanted out of there as quickly as possible. On the way back to SWS we were able to talk to both the interpreter and social worker and they reassured us that we did not need to worry. We just needed to get the additional paperwork and everything would be fine. (This is where it was such a blessing to be riding in the car with the agency worker and interpreter. If we had been in the van with the other families we would not have been able to talk with her and get some reassurance on the way back.) It still was not what we had expected. We had been given a list of possible questions that we may be asked and none of the ones we were asked were on that list. It really seemed like we were in there forever but I think it was only around 10 minutes. Please help us pray that the additional paperwork the judge has asked for will be enough and that she will issue preliminary approval. Then our 14 business day wait can begin and then we should get a date to go back. Our agency reassured us we should go back in 5 weeks. I’m holding on to that and hoping and praying it will be happen just like that. If not sooner.

After we returned we changed clothes and ended up walking back over to the agency to talk to Owen’s social worker just to make sure everything really would be okay. Can you tell I was concerned? We ended up talking with her and the agency director and they both reassured us and told me not to worry.  I really did feel better after talking with them.

We messaged our friends, Dan and Judy, and made plans to meet up again. Before we met up with them, we walked down the street to find lunch and decided to try McDonald’s. It was really good and some french fries were exactly the comfort food we needed after court.The restaurant was packed and we thought the food tasted better than the usual McD’s. It was cheaper too! Our 2 meals only cost 7500 won, which is around $7.50 US.

McDonald's Delivery Bike

After lunch we met up with Dan and Judy and went off to “live it up” on our last night in Seoul! We jumped on the subway and headed to Insadong Market again. It is my favorite market and we wanted to take Dan & Judy to it plus there were a few more gifts and souveniers I wanted to pick up. We shopped around and walked in stores and just soaked in the atmosphere of Insadong. We ended up finding a little coffee shop to sit in and have something to drink. We so enjoyed just sitting there and chatting with our friends. They were such a blessing to us and I have no doubt the Lord handpicked them to be in Seoul with us.

Showing the popular Korean pose: the peace sign! :)

Huge ice cream cones!

Street Food: Hotdogs fried with french fries on the outside

After walking and shopping some more, we took them back to the Korean buffet we ate at earlier in the week. It was so good we knew we wanted to eat there again and knew they would enjoy it too.

After supper, we jumped back on the subway and headed to N Seoul Tower. We went there during our trip to bring Lukas home and had kind of decided we would wait and go on our second trip this time. But since we had never seen it at night and because we had friends we could take there, we decided it was a perfect “last night” thing to do. I’m so glad we did. For one thing, I think I had the best laugh of the week on the long climb up to the cable car. We were laughing so hard we could hardly walk. It didn’t help that people much older than us were passing us on the long climb. All we could do was laugh! It really was a very long, steep climb and we found out how out of shape we really are!
We finally made it to the cable car entrance, bought our tickets, and waited to ride. It was a beautiful ride but I had to concentrate on looking out at the view and not looking down at how far up we were. Plus we were pretty packed in that cable car which was a little unnerving. Once at the top, the view was amazing! It was so beautiful and seeing Seoul all lit up was something I’ll never forget! We were disappointed to find out that the wall of locks we had placed Lukas’ lock on in 2011 had been taken down and moved. There was no way to find his lock. I’m not sure we could have anyway but we wanted to try. When we go back we are going to place locks for both boys there.

After a while we walked back down, which was much easier, and rode a bus back down to the bottom. Then found a subway station and rode back to our station. At this point it was late and we were worn out but we had lived it up!  It was a fun last night and I’m so glad we stayed out with our friends. We figured we had the plane ride to rest. Ha! That’s a joke.

The next morning we were up at 4:30 and hurried to pack up and leave. We had to get on the KAL bus back to the airport at 5:30.

We made it back to the airport much quicker than on Monday. That early in the morning there was no traffic and no rain either. We were there in plenty of time to check in, have breakfast and just wait for our flight.

We flew out at 9:20 and I’m not going to lie it was a loooong flight. It seemed longer than the one going but was actually about an hour shorter. We didn’t sleep at all so it just seemed like forever. This time I also didn’t have an empty seat beside me so it was harder to get comfortable. I watched a Lord of the Rings movie, Sense and Sensibility, and Maleficient on the way back. Even after all that, it still seemed like we would never land. They did feed us constantly, which I guess kind of helped but eventually I was just so tired nothing sounded or tasted good.

We finally arrived at 10:15 AM Atlanta time and were absolutely exhausted. We went through immigration and customs, ate lunch, and still had several hours before our flight to Raleigh. I tried to sleep in the airport but it was just so noisy and everytime I would drift off they would come over the loud speaker and make an announcement. I think I dozed a little on the flight to Raleigh but not much. By the time we landed in Raleigh we had been up for 24 hours.

We somehow drove back to Goldsboro and met Lukas and my parents and brother at a restaurant for supper. I was so glad to get my hands on my sweet boy. I think he was pretty happy to see us too. He practically sat on top of me during supper and continuously told me he loved me. He’s pretty much been glued to me ever since.

We somehow made it to bedtime but it was an early one. We slept all night and felt much better Sunday morning. I think being up for 24 hours actually helped with getting back on our time zone.

It was an amazing trip and such a whirlwind. Its hard to believe in a week we went halfway around the world and back and met our precious second son. There were moments on this trip I will remember forever. Seeing Owen for the first time. Hearing his sweet little laugh. Holding him and loving on him. Experiencing the beautiful country that has given us both of our sons. Making new friends and exploring Seoul with them. The list could go on. As surreal as it is to realize we have traveled to Seoul and back again, it really is hard to accept that this time we came home without our son. This trip was so familiar in so many ways from our trip to bring Lukas home. But it had one HUGE difference. We came home empty handed and left a piece of our hearts in an apartment in Seoul.

As we walked down the hallway at RDU to the meeting area my mind went back to that same walk we took with Lukas. That time our family and friends were waiting to meet him and my eyes filled with tears just remembering that special, sacred moment. That was a moment I will never ever forget and the emotions came rushing back. Plus there were just the emotions of taking that same walk this time without Owen and without anyone waiting, but it will happen again. With him. And with our loved ones waiting to meet him. I cannot wait for that day.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Our Journey to Owen: Day 5

Today was another BUSY day! I think we walked over most of Seoul today! :) It started out around 5 AM for us. We tried to sleep later but just couldn't. We hung around the guest house (and skyped with our little buddy!) until around 8:15 I think then headed out for Namdaemun Market. It was a little chilly but the sun was out and we enjoyed walking around looking at all of the things for sale there. You name it, they have it! From clothes to jewelry to food to socks to handbags to you fill in the blank, it is there! We did buy a couple of t-shirts and a new hanbok for Lukas. We stopped after awhile and had a coffee break to warm up.

After Namdaemun we headed back to get ready for our visit with Owen. I do have to say that I am so proud of how well we've done with the subway this time. It was so confusing last time but we have rocked it this time! :)

We walked over to SWS around 1 and our little guy was waiting for us. They took us into the playroom and we were able to spend about an hour with him. The foster mom stayed with us for part of the time then she snuck out to give us time alone with him. He is such a fun, happy little guy! He has the most contagious little laugh. He LOVED knocking over block towers and would just cackle when they would fall. He also thought the huge stuffed bear in the room was hilarious too! He is definitely a fan of a stuffed animal-which is the exact opposite of his big brother! He is one busy little guy and was into everything! He is a quick mover and is going to keep us on our toes! When the foster mom left, he started to whine when he realized she was gone but he let us comfort him. He never got really upset but would cry and whimper some. We did get some really sweet snuggles during that time. After a little bit he seemed to be getting tired and started to get fussy. We would distract him and then he would start again. His foster mother came back in and he calmed down and went straight to her. He is very attached to her but we are so glad that he is. You can tell he loves her dearly and she feels the same way. We then chased him around most of the SWS office because he was done with the playroom but he continued to just not be happy and you could tell he was ready for a nap. Right at 2 the foster mom slung him on her back, wrapped him in the carrier, and he waved goodbye to us. It was hard to tell him goodbye but I told him we would be back very soon. He is such a sweetheart and I contemplated just putting him in a suitcase and bringing him home but I figured that would probably not be wise. ;)

After they left we found out a few details of how to prepare for court tomorrow and then we also found out that there should be no birth mother issue after the court date. We should be able to return for him in about a month! That was a relief!

After our visit we met up with our friends Dan and Judy and took off for some fun! We headed to Dongdaemun Market and toy alley! It was definitely a toy paradise. I would never be able to get Lukas out of there! We walked around the market for awhile then headed to find something to eat. We found an Outback and that just sound really yummy to all of us so we ate there. Dan and Judy have been such a blessing to us on our trip. The Lord could not have picked a more perfect family for us to be here with. We have so much in common and I believe we have made some lifetime friends.

After eating we just walked and walked and walked and walked! It was dark and everything was lit up and we just enjoyed walking and looking at everything. We walked a long ways and I really don't know where we ended up but we found a subway station, hopped on, and headed back to our area. We had lots of laughs tonight and it was just so much fun! We're planning one more afternoon/night on the town tomorrow night before we leave on Saturday.

I can't believe tomorrow is our last day here! I'm so ready to see my Lukas but sad to leave this beautiful city that we love so much and even more sad to leave sweet Owen here. But thankful that it shouldn't be long before we can come back and take him home!