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International Adoption Forum


Julie and I will have the honor and privilege to speak at this even promoting international adoption a week from this Sunday. If you have questions about international adoption and are in the central Iowa area, I’ll invite you to come. And if you come up to me afterwards and tell me you are here because of this blog (or you saw my invite on Facebook), I’ll buy you a cup of coffee and let you ask me anything you want about international adoption.

Hope to see you then!


via Instagram

via Instagram


When we started this blog, our goal wasn’t just to communicate about our adoption, but to also communicate all the fun things that happened after we got home. In fact, we even gave out this address to people to be able to follow along on our journey. The problem was, life gets busy and hectic, especially with two very high energy boys. We were very lucky to get a photo on Facebook or Instagram at times. That said, I think I found a way to make this happen.

So, life is busy if not a little hectic. George has become quite the little swimmer (Luke swims, but like most of his life, he swims to the beat of his own drummer). We are excited that God has molded us into a real family, warts and all. And with that, we are excited that we are moving forward.

My goal is to update the blog periodically with stories or facts about the boys, but more importantly, if this works out well, I hope we can post more photos on the blog through the magic of the internet. Regardless, we want to keep everyone who supported us to get George home in the loop as we continue to raise him to know and love Jesus and his family.

‘Ohana Day 2015

Wow, hard to believe – one year ago – we walked from the guest apartment at Ilsan down to Glory House to pick up George – and have him join our family. That first day was rainy in Ilsan, so we pretty much had a quiet day in the apartment. Today was a pretty normal day as well. Although we celebrated at dinner with the same meal we had for our first meal together. Hot dog, ramen, mandu soup. I forgot to take any photos during the process, so here is a photo of the leftovers as well as George polishing off his 2nd bowl.

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There is so much that has happened this past year – yet so much of it is hard to describe. When people ask how it has been, compared to what we thought it would be – the answer has stayed the same. Not as easy as we had hoped, but not as challenging as we had feared. I wouldn’t have chosen some of the challenges – but I wouldn’t change it at this point either. Probably the best lesson learned with both boys – is keeping busy is a good thing!  Here are a couple photos from our days out and about this summer.


Yesterday we were able to finalize the adoption here in the states including an official name change! We kept his Korean name as his middle name, and he is now officially George Gang Cackler. It was important to us to keep the name his mother gave him. We also love that the name Gang means “River” This is extra meaningful as we talk about the story of Moses and his adoption – his mother sending him to be raised by another culture to save his life – and ultimately the lives of many. A difficult choice also made by George’s mother.

In some ways – it just seems like George has always been here. Yet when I think where we were a year ago – it’s amazing how far we’ve come! We are constantly being told how amazing his English is – considering his speech delay, this is a true answer to prayer. Yes, there have been challenges, but thanks to sleep deprivation fog – I think I have forgotten many of them.

Thank you for your continued prayers and support! But now it’s time for celebration cupcakes!


Mother’s Day Letter – 2015

Last year I wrote a letter to G’s birth mother to go in his file in hopes that she would check in with the agency. I guess this has become a bit of a ritual for me to write this letter on Mother’s day. Almost a Mom to Mom chat about what has happened over the last year. After much prayer and reflection – I have felt led to share this letter (with Korean family name information removed) in hopes that it will be helpful for others, and reach other birth mothers. I know how helpful it was for us to read books of letters written by birth mothers in understanding their thoughts and decisions. I have nothing but love and respect for this woman I have never met, and those like her that have had to make this choice. Happy Mother’s day to you.

To my son’s First Mother,

There is so much I want to tell you, I don’t know where to even begin. George (Korean name removed for privacy) is beautiful and active. Yes, we have kept the name you gave him and his family name as part of his name. We want him to have that piece of you with him forever. I can’t imagine how you must have worried about him when you had to relinquish him in order for him to receive health care he needed to survive. Survive he has. He runs and plays. Now that spring has come – he loves to play outside. He is constantly learning and exploring. He also loves school and swimming lessons. . He is even learning to read.

There are so many things I want to tell you about how he has grown in this one year we have known him. He is funny and caring but also had an adventurous side. Can you believe at 6 years old he already LOVES roller coasters? George LOVES life and being active. As I am writing this – he is playing with his brother and is laughing. Not just a little giggle, but a full body laugh. He brings joy not only to us, but to everyone who gets to know him.

Please know we love him. He is ours, no different than his brother. But yet, he is yours. We cannot forget the decisions you made to give him life, not only through birth, but through placing him so he could receive the health care he needed to live. We know you love him with a mother’s love as well. We continue to pray for you. That you are well, that you will receive this letter, and that you may see him yourself someday I pray that we may meet, and you may see and feel your son and I will have the opportunity to thank you in person.


Happy Mother’s Day

It’s been too long since we updated the blog – life has been hectic to say the least. What have we done since February when we last checked in?

We went to Disneyland! In mid April, we went to the Happiest Place on Earth where we played really hard and had some really good bonding time. We all had our moments, but I think we took giant steps on the trust chart. Not a day doesn’t go by where the boys don’t ask if we can ride a rollercoaster today.

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Otherwise, the end of the school year brings with it the school program. George had a starring role on one song banging a drum! He did exceptionally well and we are so proud of him and how far he has come in our first year home.

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Oh, I almost forgot! We also had a birthday in there! George turned six in March. Daddy had to work, but the rest of them went to a Prarie Learning Center and to see how they make doughnuts at Krispie Kreme!

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It’s hard to believe that a year ago, we were in Korea, meeting our little guy for the first time face to face and relishing the blessing of the extra time getting to know him. It was so hard to come home without him, but in a few weeks, we were back and we weren’t leaving without him.

So, for all you who continue to walk this road with us – thank you. If you have made it this far – Happy Mother’s Day. May God bless the house mothers at Glory House in Il San who loved George and blessed him while he lived there. And May God bless George’s birth mother who made a hard choice to make sure her little boy would live. We are grateful.

And to his incredible Mommy who packs his lunch for school every day, puts band-aids on his ouchies, cuddles with him in bed and is his biggest advocate in life – thank you. George has no idea on how blessed he truly is to have you in his life.

Winter Update

Again it has been far too long since we’ve updated the ‘Ohana blog. January and February have been busy with colds, cold and snow, Dr. Visits, more cold and snow and school.

To say George and I were anxious this past week would be an understatement. He had an MRI today to check his spine and some issues there. His charts he came home with showed some concern for Spina Bifida – so they wanted to take a look. As many people have asked “How do they do an MRI on a 5 year old?” The “easy” answer is sedation. Although that of course makes mommy a bit nervous. Thankfully the Child Life specialist helped in making both G and I feel more comfortable. 🙂 The great news is that at the Dr’s first look – the scans all look good. It is great to be able to check one specialist off the list.

Both boys have been enjoying swim lessons and are learning to read. Today, Daddy helped them sharpen their Christmas and Valentine pencils (yes, we’re a little behind) and gave them a cup to keep them in. That along with a notebook to write and draw in and suddenly, they were practicing their name. Hopefully this will encourage them to not only write but record their thoughts. One can hope.

Otherwise, we are slowly getting back into the routine of life. While holidays are fun, they do tend to upset the apple cart. Thankfully, we are in a spell of normalcy. Well, until George’s 1st Birthday with us in about a month. We did celebrate Lunar New Year the other night with a Korean BBQ feast. We still crave the real thing, but it was very tasty.

That’s it for now, thanks for praying with and for us. They are working. George made us a valentine at school. It made us so happy and proud to see how far he has come in such a short time. This is just one such proof of how God is working.


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Happy New Year!

Oh my. Has it really been three months since we updated the world about our happenings? It’s been … busy to say the least. Both boys are in school and work for both of us has been busy. It’s hard to believe that it was only 6 months ago that we were in Korea and bringing George home. In many ways it feels like a lifetime ago and yet it seems like it was only yesterday.

George continues to adjust and for the most part he is doing well. His teachers are amazed at how quickly he is picking up English and adjusting in school. He still has his “off” days there, but they seem to be fewer and farther apart. He is growing more to be part of our family and is slowly acting like he belongs. He remains a daddy’s boy, but has grown close to everyone, including grandpa’s and grandma’s. Overall, we have come a long ways from the end of June. And we are grateful.

Luke is also coming along as well. His teachers have commented that he has come so far since starting school in the fall. He is also a social butterfly and is quick to greet anyone with a big “Hi, my name is Lucas. What’s your name?” Ironically, he doesn’t like to perform on stage and refused to participate in the Christmas program (but was polite in doing so). Still, Luke is growing into a kind young man which is all we can ask for.

Mommy and Daddy remain busy with keeping up with the boys. The whole family came with daddy to work at the retirement community on Christmas Eve and everyone was impressed with both boys and said they were adorable. We had no choice but agree. We hope the photos below support that point.

We hope that you and yours have a safe, blessed and happy 2015. May it be a year that sees your dreams and wishes come true – like so many of ours did in 2014. Happy New Year!

My delayed post – September in review

Thomas posted this morning while I was still asleep – not knowing I’d started this one – it’s all pretty much different information – so you get two posts.  I’m not sure that makes up for the huge gap. But it’s kind of the way we are operating right now.

First of all – apologies for going so long without an update. Time flies! In this past month – we have been adjusting to school routines for both boys. George is still doing a shortened school day – although we are going to start adding time next week with the plan of him attending all day kindergarten by the end of October. George’s favorite parts of school are his time with his ESL teacher, computers, and library.  Lucas is doing afternoon pre-school four days a week and is learning a lot and having a great time. His favorite parts of the day are playing outside and snack ;).

As for September highlights – Lucas turned 5! and we were able to go to the Holt Family Picnic at the Blank Park Zoo. It was a great chance to connect with old and new friends in the adoption process. George got to see and play with his friend from Korea – and us Mom’s always enjoy connecting as well. I think one of the coolest things was that for one day – at the Blank Park Zoo – we were not a conspicuous family. After the first family we saw – George even stopped pointing out the kids that looked like him.

Also in September – George’s Certificate of Citizenship arrived!  Adoption wise that means we are ready to move on to “re-adoption” and his official name change. Since the adoption was finalized in Korea, his name was not changed. I have no idea how long this part of the process will take.

We also joined the local YMCA. The boys are loving it. They both love the opportunity to swim for sure, but also love playing in the Child Watch area (inside, outside and in the gym) while we work out. Scooters in the gym are definitely a favorite. They have almost become like little trainers telling me I need to go to the Y every day.

Thomas already posted photos – so I really don’t have any. But are looking forward to getting more as we get into are school year groove.  Thanks for being patient as we get into our school and work groove. It has been exhausting, but full of blessings.