Archive for June, 2014


Going Home

Once again, we find apba daddy awake whilst everyone else sleeps. I woke up to use the facilities and my mind kicked into gear as today is going home day.Hopefully, I’ll get to sleep some on the plane, but I’m not going to count on it. But, in less than 24 hours, I should be home with pizza in front of our boys and a weary and tired mommy and daddy. Speaking of sleeping boys, how does this picture grab you?

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We’ve had a couple of very exciting days here since our Visa appointment. Wednesday, we went to E-Mart, the large Korean chain that actually bought out Walmart here and then yesterday, we went back into Seoul for one last stop around the Guest House and to pick up something at the agency office (who, by the way, didn’t know we were coming and looked a little panicked when I dropped by unannounced! Ha!).

I’ll get to more pictures in a minute of our adventures from yesterday but I want to take a moment to share what I plan on this blog becoming now that we have George. In many ways, this blog was a public journal of our journey on this adoption road but what I’ve come to realize is that while we all may live “happily ever after”, that “happily ever after” still contains life. Our boys will still grow and mature, get into trouble and achieve great things for themselves, and I pray for God. But most importantly, Julie and I are forever changed as a result of this first step.

That said, this blog will continue to chronicle our adoption journey because the journey isn’t over. Adoption doesn’t stop when you bring your child home any more than parenting stops when you give birth. For us, the journey is just beginning and I can’t wait to see where it goes.

Also, I want to continue to push for more people, especially we Christians, to consider the plight of the orphan not just in Korea but around the globe. Honestly, we have probably been a little timid at times because we didn’t want to say anything to derail our process. We hope to use this blog to not only provide a better overview of the whole process for those who are interested and to help those considering but also to be a voice for the orphan so every child can have an ‘Ohana for his or her own.

And we have come to realize that George has touched a great many lives here in Korea. For a little guy, he has a big heart and has touched many people, many of whom we have sent to this blog for photo updates. So, I have to keep my word. Pictures will commence in just a moment.

God’s Word says “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (James 1.27, ESV) That’s what this blog will become – and a reminder that God can totally change your identity from that of an orphan who does not have a family to that of loved son (Ephesians 1:5).

And now, pictures!

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Wow!

Okay – so curiosity always gets the best of me on the blog and I go check the stats. We had 440 views of our post “It’s Official” and then another 200 views of other posts on the blog.

Wow! Just thank you for all your support!

It’s Official!

We are thrilled to announce the latest addition to our family – George Gang Yi Cackler. He physically joined our family on June 23, 2014 at 7:31 am but has been a part of the family for a lot longer. He’s a keeper at 37.4 pounds and 40.75 inches. Mom, Dad, brother and George are all doing fine in not still a little bit jet lagged.

Here is a picture:

Thanks for coming along as we close out this first part of the journey. We know that the next phase will be a lot of work but we rejoice that the God that has gotten us this far will continue to bless our family. We pray He will bless you and your family as well!

 

We Made it and ‘Ohana Day!

Well, we are now a little over 72 hours into the great adventure that is Operation Bring G Home (I just dubbed it that, catchy, no?) and everyone except for Apba Daddy is asleep. It’s a little before 3 am here in Korea and I realized that although we updated Facebook when we go here, I have not updated the blog and Instagram has been scarce as well. So, the primary news you’re wanting to hear is that we have G! We are an ‘Ohana (because ‘Ohana means family and family means no one gets left behind – or forgotten!). That makes June 23 officially ‘Ohana Day – the day we all became an ‘Ohana (as an aside, I know most adoption folks call this “gotcha day” but I find “gotcha” to be a bit more negative and we’ve always had a soft spot for Lilo & Stitch – so it will be ‘Ohana Day because I get to make the rules here!) Later today, we will go into Seoul and to the agency offices for some final paperwork and then it’s off to the US Embassy where we will finalize G’s immigration paperwork and maybe some celebration ice cream. Once all that is done, we are free to leave, but will spend the next couple of days just hanging out and continuing to bond until our flight on Friday.

I’m amazed at how well most everything has gone. Yes, there have been moments. Yes, the language barrier is hard. But we are getting by and for the most part thriving. The boys are getting along well – although both have a hard time sharing (I think a lot of that is just being five!). It rained most of the day yesterday which initially I thought was rough, but I am now glad that it happened because we had to be a family in a close quarters. Luke spent most of the day adjusting to the time change. Jet lag hit him HARD as he woke up at 3 am yesterday and was ready to go get G. He ended up sleeping most of the afternoon and evening only to wake up at midnight. He finally went back to sleep about a half an hour ago after waking up G! I put my foot down and said, “I am not taking two tired little boys to the US Embassy today! To bed!”

How would I describe G? Well, he is very much a Daddy’s Boy. He is very clingy to me and that makes sense because he’s had house and foster moms all his life but I think he has lacked that male influence. Every boy wants a daddy and G is no different. He loves TV and playing on the Kindle (He’s a little obsessed with the Temple Run like Pororo game). The funniest part of the day yesterday was Luke and G both singing along with the theme song to Tayo the Little Bus at the top of their lungs in Korean and English respectively (Thanks, Hulu+ for introducing this one to Luke – it’s a bond they can share). He loves noodles and pizza – in fact he was chanting “Pizza! Pizza!” when I came back with supper last night. He’s a daddy’s boy alright.

What else do I want to share with everyone about the trip so far? Well, here’s a list of a few things in no particular order:

  • Asiana Airlines may have a bad website, but their service rocks. They found us and allowed us to board early and the in flight service was awesome. We felt like we were in First Class even though we flew coach.
  • The international terminal at O’Hare is incredible. No lines. pleasant TSA agents and very helpful people. A great experience.
  • Seoul’s airport is still one of the best I’ve been to. Very easy customs and wide areas for baggage claim. And very easy to find people.
  • Daddy can make a pretty decent Raman / Hot Dog / Won Ton soup!
  • Mommy is a saint when she takes the boy so Daddy can nap.

That’s all I have for now. I know this might be a bit rambling – jet lag at 4 am will do that to you. But we are still grateful for your prayers and support. God has heard them and has answered – so far, so good. I know there will be bumpy days ahead, but I’m encouraged by this one last memory. Yesterday, we were headed out to go to the staff worship service here at Ilsan and G looked a little tentative. I pulled out my pocket protocol droid and said “Family” into it and out came the Koran word for family – 가족 or gajong. I pointed at him and then me and said “gajong” he broke into a wide grin and started jumping up and down. He knows. Harry Holt, founder of the very group home I’m sitting at right now and who is buried lest than a five minute walk from here said, “Every child deserves a family they can call their own.” Grandfather Holt, I agree. Thanks for leaving a legacy that kept our little G safe until God got us here to get him. Someday, we’ll meet in God’s Kingdom and I’ll thank you in person.

THANK YOU!

The title says it all. We are on our final step in getting G home.Currently, I’m in a hotel in Chicago waiting on a pizza for supper and in 12 hours we leave for the airport to get on a plane. Then, within 18 hours of landing, we’ll have our newest family member. Luke can’t stop talking about his new brother and we’ll all excited (and maybe a little nervous!)

Words can’t express how grateful we are in you all joining us on this journey. I told Julie on the drive over this afternoon that on one hand I feel like it has been forever ago since we first saw a picture on a waiting child website and we both agreed that God was telling us that he is our son. On the other hand, I can’t believe that we are so very close. Along the way, we have been blessed by the kindness and generosity of our friends and family. It’s been an incredible journey and we are blessed to have you along for the ride.

And most of all, thanks be to God, the father to the fatherless and guardian to the orphan. As much as we love both of our boys, we know that God loves them more. Thanks, Abba Father for letting us parent them and letting them be a part of our lives. 

Please continue to pray for

  • Hearts to be open as we transition and for patience to abound for everyone.
  • Safety for us as we travel and smooth travels.
  • And that we would have a hassle free visit to the US Embassy on Tuesday.

Spiritual Warfare in Adoption

God loves adoption.  I know this because the enemy hates adoption. I know this because we have seen many acts of spiritual warfare this week. Then I googled “spiritual warfare in adoption”  and I saw that we are not alone.

I recognized the insomnia attacks.  We’ve done this before – but he’s attacking stronger this time.  Condo issues (water leak through the dining room and power out for two days so far while they try to find a replacement breaker box somewhere), kiddo that’s at home already is suddenly afraid of sleeping, and lots of other little items with needing to get papers sent in quickly, work and other hurdles.

But again, a piece of my heart is on a mountain in South Korea.  I find myself worried for my son there, and what attacks he may be facing.

The evil one does not want orphans in families. He does not want them to know the love of earthly parents, let alone growing up in a Christian home and learning more about the Heavenly Father.

So Satan, your attacks are just reinforcing in us that we are on the right path. They are drawing us closer to other believers in prayer. They are driving us deeper into HIS WORD. With apologies to Shai Linne – L was singing a little song this morning…

The TV is dead, the lights are dead, the power is dead – but JESUS IS ALIVE!

And, we really needed to clean out the freezer anyway.  🙂

Please join us in praying that:

  • The power comes back on – so we can finish trip preparations
  • For L to overcome his fear of sleep
  • For G – and whatever attacks he may be facing
  • For smooth travel
  • For as smooth as possible transition for our whole family

Please join us in rejoicing for:

  • Housing and transportation logistics simplified!
  • Our new friends we’ve met through adoption groups
  • Thanks for our friends helping out with freezer/fridge space, and  other miscellaneous electrical and kid support.

Working together for His good

Or more accurately, working together for His Glory. As I mentioned in the post Waiting – written just one short week ago, I was a little nervous about several things, including airfare and flights that would allow us to take little mister along with us to meet little guy, timing that would work well for all involved, and helping G through his transition and being away from the place and people he knows. I didn’t even know how to pray – my prayers were just the groans of someone who was afraid. Well, flights are booked – (for 3 of us there and 4 of us back). We are set to stay at Ilsan. Work and church schedules fell into place, and family and friends are showing support in a variety of ways. Thank you!  Last night I told Thomas that my prayers had more than been answered – in ways I was not expecting.  But, God was not finished.

Last night, someone in an adoption Facebook group connected with me and added me to another group. She suggested I post about our son being from Ilsan to connect with some other Ilsan parents.Found that there are even a couple of Ilsan parents right in our corner of the midwest! One mother who responded shared that they had just brought their son home less than 2 months ago – shortly before our first trip, and he was just a couple months younger than G.  They live just a couple of hours away. We said we should get together for our kids to connect. They didn’t live in the same house at Ilsan, but still, would be good for them to connect. Great. Then I started thinking, and wondering….

Let’s flash back to our first day at Ilsan… (insert flashback visuals and music here) On of the social workers and G took us to his preschool in town.  Most of the kids at Ilsan attend the Holt school right on site, but a few of the kids do go to school in town. When we visited his school – he made a BIG deal out of making sure the other kids (it was a pretty small preschool) knew that we were his parents. One of the teachers mentioned that she felt it was because recently, another student had been adopted, and he wanted them to know he was getting adopted too.   (flashforward visuals and music…)

I looked at Thomas and said – “I wonder, if there is any way, this is the other boy that was in G’s class. I’m going to ask.”  Well, we won’t be able to absolutely confirm until they are together (or until I ask the staff at Ilsan when we are there next week :)) But with a little bit of verifying – we are pretty sure that we are now connected with his classmates family, less than 2 hours away. We will be able to get the boys together again.  Soon. They will each have someone their own age, who understands. Who has similar memories and experiences.  Ones that are not the typical experiences for most Korean adoptees. This is downright amazing and we are beyond thrilled. More than we could have ever asked for, or imagined.

And, while so many scriptures could apply here – I want to go back to Romans 8:26-28. God loves these little boys – and is keeping them connected. There are two sets of parents that are giving Him glory today for working this together – and excited to see what His Good will be.

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

 

Don’t worry – I know it’s not going to be all sunshine and rainbows. It will be rough. I will still need a lot of caffeine and chocolate. I don’t even know what else I’m going to need. But for the last few days – God has blessed us. He answered prayers that we didn’t even know how to voice.

Yes. Blessed be the Name of the Lord – God is Good.

Phone call!

After multiple mornings of stalking my phone and checking for messages, I missed a phone call today. I did get it returned pretty quickly though!  We got our Visa appointment!  Woo Hoo! So we’ll be traveling in about 10 days.   I have a feeling it will be both the slowest and fastest 10 days of my life. A lot to get ready for and figure out (travel, work, church commitments, etc.) . Thanks again for coming on the journey with us.

Please pray for peace and calm for us – as well as for George and his caregivers as we all prepare for a major transition. 

Waiting

First to answer the question… No, we don’t know when we are traveling yet.  We are hoping to get that phone call early this week for travel by next weekend. In the meantime, we are trying to prepare as best we can – yet still try to keep as normal of a schedule for work/church/etc. as possible. Of all the waits we’ve had in this process – this should be one of the shortest, however, it is not feeling that way.

So, we continue to try to get things at home (and work) as ready as possible – both for being away, and for coming home. Thomas has explored every flight combination possible, and we wait for the phone to ring on a weekday morning.

Thinking about those first few weeks home is a little intimidating at this point. We really don’t know how to prepare, beyond a lot of prayer. (I was reading Romans 8 today – which has a lot of great nuggets that really apply right now – but here I can’t help but think of Romans 8:26 – 28.

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[i] have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

As we go through this last waiting period please pray that:

  • We receive our phone call soon – and that we are able to arrange for easy (few connections) flights within our budget. We are hoping it works that we can all go and be united as a family – and that having the boys together right from the start will ease in the transition.
  • That the transition home goes as smoothly as can be expected. We know there will be some bumps. Please pray that we handle ourselves with grace – and extend grace to each other and ourselves.
  • That the Holy Spirit guides us through this new to us territory. And that we aren’t too stubborn. 🙂

We really do appreciate each one of you – and all the support we have received along this journey so far. We look forward to sharing more!

 

 

Letter regarding our transition

Below is a letter based on a template from our agency for us to share with family and friends regarding the needed transition for our family after George  (yes, I used his name!) comes home.  Knowing what happens with mail or e-mail for us – we thought posting it here might be the most useful 🙂  If you have any questions – please message or call us – we’d be happy to discuss!  I know it’s a lot longer than our usual update – but we hope you’ll take the time to read and understand, and ask any questions you might have.

Dear Family and Friends,

As we get ready to embark on one of the most exciting events in our lives, we are thinking a lot about the people around us and how much our lives are going to change. Family and friends have always been important to us. We are so fortunate to have such loving, involved family and friends. We appreciate the support and excitement that you have all shown to us as we have made this journey. We’re thrilled about bringing George home! We’ve done a lot of reading, research, and asked a lot of other adoptive parents about this process, and we feel prepared to help him become a well-adapted member of our family.


There are some things about adoptive parenting that are the same as parenting a biological child. There are also quite a few areas that we have learned are different. Through our adoption agency, Bethany Christian Services, books, other adoptive parents, adoption social workers and more, we have learned that George needs a specific type of environment and parenting when he first comes home in order to feel safe and secure and to learn how to live successfully in our family.


While we know that every child is different, we also understand that there are many possible things that will impact our child’s beliefs and behavior when he gets home. These include his health and some of the health issues and examinations he will have on arrival, changes in diet and types, amounts, and schedule of food available, and the shift from living in a group home environment to being part of a family. The result of these things can include behavioral issues, emotional disorders, and a sense of grief and loss from being separated from the only home and caregivers our son has ever known.

Adoption is a traumatic and scary event for any age child whether they are newborn or 10 years old. They’re being removed from all of their routines and familiar surroundings. In order to help George feel safe and learn that we are his parents, we are creating the type of environment that will help promote security during this stressful time.

When George gets home, at the recommendation of experienced adoption professionals, we need to implement specific parenting approaches to help encourage a strong, attached, emotionally healthy family member. He needs to learn that we’re the parents.  He needs to feel nurtured and safe. He will not be used to having parents to love and care for him.

Here are some things we will be doing for our child based on research and experience with other adopted children. We’ll be living a very quiet life with limited trips out and few visitors in for a little while. Social workers and psychologists tell us that when children are first adopted, they may be overwhelmed, scared, and nervous. By keeping our lives very simple at first, we’ll be helping George feel safe. This does not mean that we do not want visitors coming to see our new family member for the first time. We will just have to limit the length of time and amount of people, so it is not overwhelming for him.

We do not want family and friends to stay away from us completely. We just can’t pass our new child around for everyone to hold and play with, and we will have to be mindful of not overloading him with new things and people.


We know you’ll all want to hug, kiss, and help spoil George, but it is recommended that we be the only ones to do that at first to improve his chances of attaching strongly to us. Until we feel he has attached and clearly knows we are his parents, we will need to be the only ones to feed, give him gifts, and meet his needs.  Don’t worry, there will be plenty of time for hugs, gifts and getting treats in the future. High fives and fist bumps are more than ok. =)  


As strange as it may seem, adopted children who act very outgoing and affectionate with strangers is not a healthy thing. It is called “indiscriminate affection” and can mean that they haven’t really attached to anyone. It would not be a good sign that George has attached to us, if during his first months home he will let just anyone take him and hold him or meet his needs without searching for his mom or dad. 

For sure it is going to be a weird and wonderful experience for us. We are so excited and can’t wait to bring George home, so you can all see him and get to know him. Things are just a little different when you are adopting a preschooler rather than having a biological child.  He will be adapting to a lot of new things . . . new parents, new family, new home, new foods, new time zone (totally opposite what he’s used to). That’s a lot to swallow at one time.


We appreciate your understanding in reading this. We’re giving you all this letter, so that you will understand how dedicated and committed we are to helping our new child adjust and adapt during this stressful time in his life.

Thanks so much for your understanding in this incredible journey for our family! We look forward to having you meet George!