Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tuesday: Visa Interview

As I said in the previous post, Owen had a wonderful first night. He played well after waking up and completely cracks us up with talking on the phone. This boy loves using a remote control as a telephone and just chatting away. He does it constantly and it is so stinkin cute!

We ended up just having a slow morning in our room, which was nice. We skyped with Lukas, Gramma, and Granddady and, well, that went okay. Lukas was overwhelmed by finally getting to see Owen and had decided ahead of time that he would only talk to mommy and daddy. And that is what he did. He pretty much ignored Owen and just kept interrupting to ask or tell me something. This is a lot of change for that sweet boy and I'm afraid he's going to really struggle with all of this once we get home and little brother is a reality.

While we were skyping Owen started fussing and acting tired. It was hard to believe he was ready for a nap but he went right down again just like the foster mom had said. We're still amazed.

He woke up happy again and we got ready quickly so we could eat lunch before going to SWS. We were unsure how he would react to being back at the agency and wondered if he would think we were taking him back or if he would think he was going to see his foster mom.

He likes riding in the carrier on his daddy's back and doesn't make a peep. We arrived and went upstairs and he started to fuss just a little but calmed down. We met another family from NC who was there adopting their second Korean son and saw another family we had met on our previous trip. We weren't there long before it was time to load up in the van and go to the embassy.

We got in the van and Owen started crying. He continued to cry for most of the ride. We've decided he must not like riding in a car. And we have no idea if he's even ridden in one before. The foster mom could have taken the subway everywhere so we think he may be scared of the car rides. Not sure what that means for when we get home.

We arrived at the embassy and the social worker confiscated all of our electronic devices. So no pictures from the visa interview. After going through security, we were ushered upstairs into a waiting room with probably around 10 other families. Thankfully they sort of had a play area for the kids. The kids wondered around and the parents swapped stories from the last few days. It's pretty incredible how fast you can get to know someone just because of your similar experiences. You can form a bond quickly just because of the grueling process you've survived over the last 2-3 years. We really enjoyed getting to talk with the other parents and how can you not enjoy watching that many adorable little kids play together?

The interview only took about 5 minutes and involved us showing our passports and holding up our right hands to take an oath that all of our information was correct. We then had to wait for the visa to be processed which took quite awhile longer. I'm not sure how long because I was busy chasing Owen around and trying not to die from a heat stroke. It was so hot in the waiting room. Finally, the social worker handed out the visas, passports, and immigration packets and we were free to leave. We exchanged info with a couple of families and then walked outside to our van. I put Owen in the carrier hoping he would fall asleep because it was past time for his nap. He started crying again once we climbed in the van but after a few minutes went to sleep and slept all the way back to SWS. We enjoyed chatting with the other families in the van and the ride passed quickly.

We then headed back to the hotel and ended up eating our supper in the restaurant downstairs. Owen had a few important phone calls to make once we got back.

We gave him his first bath tonight in the kitchen sink and he did pretty good but did not like getting his hair washed!

After that he stayed so fussy that we decided he must be tired. It seemed too early for bed but I got him ready and gave him his bottle. Both of his naps were short today so we thought he may just be tired. He finished his bottle and perked up for a few minutes but then grabbed his blanket, stuck that thumb in, and laid on the bed. He laid there for a while quietly and then just went to sleep. He was asleep around 7:20. Hopefully we won't regret letting him go to sleep so early.

Tomorrow is our last day in Seoul and even though we hate to leave this beautiful country that we love so much I am so ready to have my little family all under one roof. I miss Lukas terribly and cannot wait to get home to him. Also, I'm more than ready to get the plane ride behind us. It will feel so good to be HOME as a family of 4!

Monday: Owen Day!

This is the first chance I've had to sit down and recap the details from our day yesterday so let's rewind the last 24 hours...

We woke up early once again, excited and nervous about all that was about to happen. Owen and his foster mother were both heavy on our hearts, knowing this was their last few hours together. After having coffee and getting ready, we had a prayer time together for Owen, his foster mother, and us. It's hard to put into words all of the emotions this day holds. As I said in the previous post, its just a very bittersweet day.

We left our hotel and headed back to Paris Baguette for breakfast around 9:00. We didn't have to be at SWS until 11 but we wanted to make sure we were there in plenty of time. {On the day we gained custody of Lukas we got lost trying to find SWS, had to stop in a Starbucks and call them, and ended up being almost 30 minutes late. We were determined that would not happen this time!}

Breakfast at PB just wasn't as good to me this time because my stomach was just feeling full of knots I did try to snap a few more pictures this time:

This is what your coffee comes in! Not sure why but I had to take a picture of it for Lukas!

After breakfast we headed toward SWS and as we did the more nervous I felt. I emailed my daddy while on the subway and told him how I was feeling and his reply: "Piece of cake. Been there done this before!" Easy for him to say! :)

We arrived at the agency about 25 minutes early so we stopped to take one last selfie of just us.

After that we headed upstairs to the Post Adoption floor. I had pictures of Lukas for his birthmom file and his foster mother. I also wanted to find out the best way to send updates and ask a couple of questions about his file.

Finally it was time to head up to the 7th floor. We walked in and it was a flurry of activity. I think it was the busiest I had ever seen it. There was a family there to have a playtime and then I think there were about 4 custody transfers about to take place. Our social worker saw us and came right over and told us that Owen had been given a different social worker and that she would handle the custody meeting. We were then asked to sit down and wait until Owen made his appearance. It was just a few minutes and there he was! He looked over at us and then looked away. We didn't see any recognition of us at all. But the foster mom saw us and pointed us out to him and again he just kind of looked away. We couldn't decide if he really didn't recognize us or if he realized what was going on and was ignoring us.

The social worker began taking his current measurements and then they took him downstairs for one last checkup.

While we waited they moved us to a different room. This was one we had never seen before in our visits to SWS. After a few minutes the foster mom and Owen came in the room. He continued to ignore us and just played as the social worker went over some things with us. We had to sign an official paper transferring custody and then the social worker asked the foster mom a few questions for us. We told her to tell the foster mom thank you and not to worry about him. We also told her that we would send updates and pictures of him for her. She then said she was not worried about him and that she could tell we were good people and would take good care of him. She said that she wished that he would grow up to be a good person. By then I was a teary mess. It was so evident how much she loved him. We were then given all of the items we had sent him, a hanbok from his foster mom, some clothes, diapers and formula. We were shocked and ecstatic to be given some clothes from his birth mother. That really put me over the edge. I never expected to receive such a treasure. 

After that the social worker said it was time to go. She ended up calling us a cab because we didn't think we could lug everything back to the hotel. That ended up delaying the goodbye by a few minutes. But then it was time. I hugged the foster mother and told her thank you in Korean. Of course, I was a sobbing mess. The next thing we knew, it was an exact replay of taking custody of Lukas, with one exception: Owen was very aware of what was happening. We were out at the elevator and it all began to happen so fast that it's almost a blur. She tried to give us Owen but he was having none of it. He just grabbed onto her and hugged her as hard as he could. It was heartbreaking. Finally she gave him to me and we stepped into the elevator. He was falling apart and so were we. He was reaching for her and crying his little heart out. She just stood there crying and waving. Again, it was one of the hardest things I've ever done or experienced. He continued to cry and was inconsolable as we waited downstairs for the cab. He kept looking around for her and just crying like his heart was broken. The cab arrived and he continued screaming the whole way back to the hotel. Thank goodness it wasn't a long drive. I did manage to get a picture of the cab as it drove away.

We went upstairs and he continued to cry for probably the next 20-30 minutes. It's hard to remember. He was just so upset and nothing we were doing seemed to help.

I just cried along with him, prayed the Lord would comfort his little heart, and loved on his as much as I could.

I thought he was going to sleep but all of the sudden he sat up and started playing. He even gave us some little smiles. We were amazed and wondered how long it would last.

We were able to take our first family picture-minus Lukas. Not long after that he started acting tired, grabbed his blanket, began sucking his thumb and went to sleep exactly like the foster mother had said. We were in awe. 

He slept for around an hour and a half and then woke up happy. He is truly amazing. I wasn't sure how he would react after waking up to find we weren't just a bad dream but he was fine and really has been ever since. We decided to get out and walk around for a little while. We rode the subway to Seoul Grand Park but by the time we got there it was cloudy and cold and I realized this wasn't such a good idea. We did go inside one of the buildings and let him walk around and then we walked around outside for a few minutes. We then decided it was just too cold and it was getting late. Mitchell picked him up and started walking.

After just a few minutes we realized he was asleep. Poor little guy. It had been such a rough day and he was exhausted. We were in shock, though, because Lukas has never done this. He's never fallen asleep on his daddy's shoulder. He has to be in bed or in his carseat to sleep. No where else. So this was new territory for us. Mitchell enjoyed every second of this.

We rode the subway back to Yeoksam Station and decided to eat at McDonald's. Owen needed to try some french fries! :) By then he had woken up from his little catnap and was a happy boy once again. He ate some french fries, chicken nuggets, and babyfood fruit. I tried giving him a sippy cup and he did great with it and seemed to like drinking the water. We then headed back to the hotel. After the cab ride earlier, I had finally figured out where our hotel was in regards to SWS and finally knew how to get back without using the subway.

On the way back, Owen dozed off again. We figured he was so warm and snuggly in the carrier that he just couldn't help it.

He played for a little while after we got back and then it was bedtime. We were a little nervous about how bedtime would go because that is when things really fell apart each night with Lukas. His grieving always started at bedtime. But Owen went right to sleep. He stuck his thumb in his mouth, grabbed his blanket and just laid there for a few minutes looking around. He then just went right to sleep and slept all night until about 5, when he woke up crying. I really think he didn't know where he was. I put him in the bed with me and he went back to sleep until 7.

We are just amazed at how well he has done. He seems to be such a happy little guy and after the initial grieving has seemed very content with us. I feel like we're just waiting for the other shoe to drop and the honeymoon to end. We know without a doubt that so many people have been praying for him and for us. I also think his foster mom had been preparing him for us.

It's hard to believe that he is finally ours. Now if we can just get home to our other little buddy we can be complete.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Sunday in Seoul

Our day began very early this morning. I think I woke up right around 5 and couldn't get back to sleep. We had a snack and started getting ready, while waiting for the coffee shop downstairs to open. After we had our coffee and finished getting ready for the day, we skyped with Lukas. Boy, do I miss that sweet little guy. I can hardly stand to think how much longer it is before I can get my hands on him. He's having fun with Gramma & Granddaddy but continues to ask us when we are getting Owen. He is so ready to see him and I can't wait to see his reaction when we are able to skype with Owen. We are planning to get their first glimpses of each other on video.

Since this was our first ever Sunday in Seoul we decided to attend a church service. We know of several adoptive families that have visited Onnuri English Ministry while here and so we were excited to visit and attend their service. On the way we stopped and had brunch at Paris Baguette, which was so yummy. We hadn't eaten at one since our very first trip in 2011 and it was even better than we remembered!

The cases were filled with beautiful cakes that I just had to get a picture of but I really should have taken a picture of everything else they have. Sandwiches, pastries, donuts, breads, coffee, juices...actually I could go on and on. It's amazing how many different items they have that are just laid out in kind of a buffet style. You grab a tray with a pair of tongs and walk around and choose whatever you want. Its actually a very good thing that we don't have one close to where we live!

After PB, we set out to find Onnuri. We left a little early just to make sure we didn't get lost. It was very easy to find based on the directions from their website. When we arrived their musicians were practicing so we just sat down and listened.

Our daily selfie!

The service began at 11:30 and I am so glad we came. It was such a blessing. The songs were ones we knew: Sovereign by Chris Tomlin, Never Let Go by Matt Redman, and Lord I Need You by Matt Maher. They were the most perfect songs for my heart today. I needed to hear them and needed to sing them. After the praise and worship time, Pastor Eddie Byun spoke from I Peter 4:12-19 on remaining faithful through trials.

After the service we were able to meet him and introduce ourselves. We told him why we were in Seoul and his face just lit up. He asked us several questions and then asked to pray for us and our family. It was a very special time and we were so appreciative of him taking the time to pray for us.

After church, we hopped back on the subway and went to Dongdaemun Market to "toy alley" once again. We went last month but there were a couple of Pororo things I wanted to find for the boys and that is the best place to find toys. We would never get Lukas out of toy alley. Never. It is a kids paradise and there were kids everywhere today. 

We went back to Lotte World Mall again after that and had a very early supper at On The Border. Just picture an American and Canadian having Mexican in Korea. Makes perfect sense, doesn't it?

Since our morning began so early we decided to make it an early night and were back to the hotel by 6:00. It is now 7:30 and Mitchell is snoring. I think that means we will have another early morning tomorrow.

I'm so tired but have so much swirling in my head on this last night before we take custody of Owen. I can't help but think of his foster mother who is spending this last night with him. I know tomorrow must be heavy on her heart. She has been loving and caring for him for a year now. Last month it was obvious that they love each other very much and my heart breaks when I think about the goodbye that is coming tomorrow.

We've done this before. We know how heart-wrenching it is to take a child away from his foster mother. There will be many, many happy moments that will follow in our life with Owen Hyeonsu but sadly tomorrow is not one of them. His world will break into a million pieces tomorrow and he will leave all of his comfort and security behind. 

When I think back to the day we took custody of Lukas I could still just sit and cry. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done. Adoption is a beautiful thing but it is born out of much pain and loss and tomorrow we will be reminded of all our boys have lost in becoming our sons. I never ever want to get over or forget that. They have both lost so much, and, yes, I know what they are gaining, but there is still a trail of pain and loss that is a part of who they are. So tonight I sit with my eyes filled with tears and my heart filled with a prayer that our Sovereign God, who chose me to be the mommy to both of these precious boys, will begin tomorrow to weave a tapestry of beauty from the ashes.