Thursday, April 29, 2010

Another try

Oy, my last posting was kind of pathetic LOL

Let's try again. It's a few days later. Last night Ben Hoyoung (I still can't let go of the Hoyoung) slept from 8:30 p.m. until almost 6 a.m. this morning with only 2 bottles! Of course today he refused to nap, so we'll see how tonight goes.

He's had his initial doctor's appointment the other day and went to the lab yesterday to give blood. I was really dreading that one, but he didn't even blink. He did scream bloody murder in the car seat though. So - giving blood is okay, car seat not so much. Now we get to collect stool samples. Yummy.

We're also scheduling our first post placement visit with our social worker! I can't believe how fast time is passing. The last weeks are just one big blur. Did they really happen? It seems surreal, still.

Ben Hoyoung is practicing pulling himself up to a stand and also likes to yank on my hair and bite my fingers and then gives me the silliest giggle and wiggle. He is also still very interested in the cats' food and not giving up until he can try some one day. He does not however care for the food I make for him. He likes puffs though, which I have been using way to much to bribe him.

The house is still a mess, but I now attribute it to my husband being home from work.

All in all things are really improving around here (I hope I didn't just jinx it) and I am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

It's 2 a.m.

and I've been up for 2 hours. Somehow we can't get that sleep schedule down.

It's been an exhausting week. Ben no longer needs to be carrie 24/7, which is HUGE. He is starting to get into everything. His favorite hobbies include eating paper and trying to get to the cat food.

The house is a complete mess, there is no time to do anything! And off I go - trying to console screaming baby!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

We're home!

Monday morning we hecticly finished packing our suitcases since we didn't get done in time on Sunday evening due to someone's sleep schedule. Then we got in our cab and off we went to the airport. I tried to soak in as much of Seoul as I could during the cab ride and as Hoyoung was sleeping in his daddy's arms, I cried some more quiet tears. I was so happy to finally be the mom of our little angel, but so sad at the same time.

Traffic was surprisingly good, but there were long lines at the airport so I am glad we left early. Our little boy drew lots of attention, and we learned that he a) hates all old people (foster mom said he hates old men, but he screamed at every old person that looked at him) and b) hates the clicking sound Koreans make to babies. All throughout the trip, starting at the airport, we got all kinds of good advice on how to stop the screaming. Like - his bib is too tight, he is not dresses warm enough, is dressed too warm, he is hunrgy, he has a wet diaper. Ugh.

Once we got to the counter, the gentleman couldn't find the reservation for the lapticket. In the meantime, Hoyoung had started screaming so my husband was politely asked to remove the baby from the ticketing area LOL.

After another long line at security we went to find water to make a bottle - all the things I hadn't thought about!

Soon it was time to board the plane, and one perk of having a baby is getting to board first!!!! Yay!
We had bulkhead seating and a bassinet, which turned out useless for Hoyoung, but good for our stuff.

The flight was long. He barely slept and wanted to be walked a lot. He did have periods of giggling and playing, but sitting on someone's lap for an extended period of time is just not comfortable!

After we arrived at Dulles, the screaming baby got us to the front of the immigration line and soon we were on our way home.

It was so strange to be home. First of all - it is so green here! Azaleas are in full bloom and it feels like summer, where Korea felt much more like winter still. The cats were very cautious around the baby, especially the one that can hear! It's hard on them that they now have to share the attention. We took an afternoon nap and then an evening nap and were up for most of the night with the baby.

Today we got a playful baby that loves his high chair (to my surprise) but hates my rice porridge! We put him down at around 10 for what we thought would be a nap but turned out to be a good day's sleep until 4. Needless to say, I slept too, while daddy ran out to Target to buy a few necessities like more wipes and diapers - and pajamas. Afterwards we went a walk and then tried out the pack'n'play, which he really enjoyed.

Overall it was a great day, but really exhausting trying to carry a squirming 24 lbs baby, feed him, change him, get things done around the house and make sure the cats don't wreak havoc on the house. At some point today Freddy was sitting in the palm tree container snacking on the plant, Casper knocked over the trash bin and the recycling bin and was taking out things from the recyling basket and placing them all over the kitchen, and Ben grabbed an openend banana and smeared it all over me and himself.

Now our life as a family begins!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Last day in Seoul

First of all, it is a miracle I've been able to blog from Seoul - when I log on to blogger, everything is in Korean!

Today is our last day in Seoul. I am so sad. I have fallen in love with the city and the country and the people. I've read the same thing on so many people's blogs and I always thought it was impossible to feel such a deep connection to a place you only spent a couple of days in.

I still have some catching up to do here! Ben and daddy are finally napping, so here we go.

The day before we got Hoyoung, we walked back up the Insadong area and stopped at the Jogyesa temple, where the preparations for Buddha's birthday are underway.

Then we made our way back to Insadong, where we ordered a name chop for Ben.

We also got a name scroll and the nice lady gave us ink for free. She said "Korean baby" and gestured that it was a gift. Guess who started crying at that....

Then we tried to find a restaurant that serves grilled bulgogi and finally asked at the tourist information center. I thought every restaurant would have that (I don't know why I thought that), but only very few do. We found one though and it was delicious!

Afterwards we headed to Gyeongbokgung palace, which is huge. You could walk for hours. There were tons of schoolchildren everywhere and we were celebreties. They would come up to us and say "hi" or "hello" and giggle. One boy was especially brave and told me that I was tall and asked if I was a singer (sorry, no) and told my husband that he was very handsome. Was it rude that I broke out in giggles?

Then we headed back to Insadong to go to one of the teaplaces. We were approached by a radio team and interviewed for a local station about the tea place. As a thank you they bought us some pastries. Unfortunately that was after we had already ordered some. They were all delicious and I left feeling a little nauseous from all the food.

We wandered back to the hotel and at night ventured out in search of a suitcase. We ended up somewhere behind the Lotte department store in a maze of narrow roads, neon lights, fashion stores, and food stalls. It was brimming with young people. We ended up at a buffet restaurant that had every kind of food you could imagine and included free wine. I kept on looking at all the gorgeous young Koreans out on a date and it made me so sad that Ben will never take his beautiful date wandering through those lively streets.
It was so amazing to see! Of course we never got the suitcase that night.

It has been very tough since we got him. He cries unless he is carried. He gets into screaming fits and won't stop. He has gas, he is teething, he lost his family. He gets inconsolable. He slept in the bed with us last night, but his limbs go flying all over the place, and none of us got any sleep.
He does okay when we're out and about, so he already went sightseeing with us.

I have such a hard time to put into words how amazing this experience has been. It is so emotional. It's sad and it's wonderful. It's heartbreaking to see our boy scream his lungs out, but it makes my heart almost hurt with happiness to see him smile.

To those waiting, as impossible as it seems, as you get closer to travel, enjoy the wait, enjoy the anticipation. This is the most amazing thing you will experience, soak in every second! One day, just like that, it will be over. As happy as I am about beginning a new chapter in our lives, including our baby, there is definitely some sense of sadness about this journey being over.


Friday, April 16, 2010

Family Day

Yesterday the day we had waited for for so long - and the day that I dreaded in the end - was finally here. Just to repeat myself one more time, it's still surreal to even be in Seoul, never mind getting the baby we dreamed of.

In the morning we bought a bouquet of flowers for the foster mom, I did not want her to leave empty handed. Then we had breakfast at Dunkin Donuts. They're on every corner, you can't escape. And then we walked down to Seoul Station to purchase an additional suitcase for all the stuff we had gotten while in Seoul and some groceries at the Lotte Mart. We made our way back to the hotel, changed, and then headed back out to grab some lunch and then get on the subway towards SWS. I ended up wearing the same outfit as I did the day we got our referral!

We arrived about 45 minutes early, and walked the neighborhood and got some sparkling lemonade at the same place we had lunch with Gary and Lisa just two days earlier.

About 20 minutes before 2 we went into SWS and were asked to wait in a room with two big couches. There was another couple in the other room getting their baby, and the foster mom was pacing the big office and crying. There were also tons of other foster moms and babies at SWS that day, probably for the medical checkups.
Finally, I saw Hoyoung's foster mom and Hoyoung in a stroller. She came into the room and put down lots of bags. She took Hoyoung out of the stroller and turned her back to us and started crying. That's when I lost it and started sobbing too.

The social worker then said that he will have his medical checkup and for us to please wait. We waited. When they came back, the foster mom and the social worker sat down on the couch opposite of us. We asked some more questions, and the social worker showed us the paperwork and the gifts from SWS and then the foster mom showed us some more outfits she had brought. She also brought yoghurt, bananas, strawberries, and some home made rice porridge that he eats every day. She broke out in tears every couple of minutes (which was my cue to cry). My husband started to cry as well.

We went over his daily routine one more time and she told us once more that he loves to be carried on her back. She also pointed out again how beautiful his eyes are.

We asked the social worker if the foster mom wanted to know anything from us, and she just said that she just asks us to love Hoyoung and take care of him. More sobbing ensued.

Meanwhile, the baby was getting very tired. It was past his naptime and he was hungry.
The social worker called a cab for us, and the foster mom fed one more bottle.

Then the social worker said it was time to say good-bye and that we would say good-bye at the elevator. We walked towards the elevator and when the doors opened, she told the foster mom to hand me the baby. She gave the baby to me, I got in the elevator, and all I could hear was her loud sobs. It was truly one of the most difficult moments of my life.

We got in the cab, the social worker told him where we were going, and off we went. At first, Hoyoung seemed happy, but after a minute or two he realized that Omma wasn't there, and he started screaming.

At the hotel, we gave him a bottle, and then he cried himself to sleep for a short nap. He screamed on and off until he went to sleep in the hotel crib at 11 and slept through until 5 this morning when it was time for another bottle.

The most magical moment was when we fed him a banana. Daddy was holding him and I was feeding him little bits of fruit. He kept on looking at us and holding on to both of us and gave us a wonderful smile.

It hurts so much to see him so hurt. I am so sad that he doesn't get to grow up in this beautiful country. I am sad for all that he has lost. I hope we can be the kind of parents he needs to grow up happy and healthy. We are so in love with the little guy.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

We met Hoyoung!

I am neglecting the blog, but we're busy busy busy.
Yesterday was AMAZING.
We rode the very crowded subway (twice someone helped us with directions) - being like sardines has a whole new meaning and then found our way to SWS. Have I mentioned it's cold here? LOL.

There we were sent to the top floor to the intercountry adoptions department. We asked for our social worker and were asked to take a seat. She came out and we handed her our present and then did some more waiting on the couch. It was so surreal to actually be at SWS!
Then I got to meet my online friend Lisa and her husband! It turned out that our foster families lived close together, so we shared a van ride to meet our babies.
The driver actually ended up getting lost in the neighborhood our foster family lives in, so we drove in circles several times. Our social worker made some phone calls and finally she gestured us to get out. We stood in the street for a couple of seconds and then this woman comes out of one of the houses. I didn't even recognize her at first! It turned out to be Ben's foster mom and she was wearing a sleeping baby on her back - our son! I keep on using the word "surreal" - but that's what this was.
We went upstairs and the foster mom pointed at us and said "umma" and "appa" - that's us! We then spent some time on the floor with little Hoyoung. He is amazing! He is HUGE and he likes to eat. At some point the foster mom served us frozen persimmons and strawberries and Hoyoung was really enjoying the food. He gets a bottle every 3 hours but only wakes up once a night for a bottle. He goes to sleep at 11 and wakes at 10. He is really really strong and kept on bouncing. He also chewed on my hands. Little teeth hurt!
We got to ask some questions, but I felt like the foster mom was saying a lot of things about him that weren't translated. It went by so quickly! It was amazing to see where he lived for the past couple of months, and also made me realize how hard it will be to take him away from all of this.

Okay, more later, the husband is rushing me! Last day without baby!

Monday, April 12, 2010

It's almost spring in Seoul

I have to admit that I am a tiny little bit disappointed that the trees are still mostly bare and that it was 43 degrees today. Other than that - it's so great here!

We left the hotel at around 7:30 this morning and walked up towards the Bukchon area, which is a traditional neighborhood that is on a hill overlooking Seoul.

My scarf looks like this because it was wrapped around my head most of the morning. Have I mentioned it's kinda cold?

We then made our way to Insadong, where we stopped for a coffee and some mystery pastries. Then I spent some money on a beautiful painting. We have to go back either tomorrow or the day after, I forgot to buy a name chop for Ben, and also have to get some traditional pottery and wedding ducks.

After Insadong we came to a really cool park, which of course I don't remember what it is called.

We kept on walking and eventually ended up at the Lotte Department Store. It was very nice, but clearly we are not their target customers.
After some more walking we had lunch at a traditional Korean restaurant (where you sit on the floor), and unfortunately they brought us the wrong food and we couldn't say anything. It was good though (at least I thought so).
We walked some more and discovered that we were at Namdaemun market. Where they sell fake Burberry bags. I now own a new hand bag.

And then we made our way back to the hotel - it was 3 p.m. and we had been walking all day. On the way home we caught the changing of the guard at one of the palaces.

We're here!

We arrived yesterday evening around 5 local time after 14 hours on a plane. There's really not much that can be said about sitting on a plane for 14 hours. Korean Air was really great and made the trip bearable. The first 9 hours weren't even that bad, but then it got really uncomfortable. They served lots of food and I ended up watching 5 movies. Other than that, there's nothing to say. The airport in Seoul is great, so clean, and I couldn't believe my eyes that there were NO LINES at immigration.

We took the KAL Limousine (the name is misleading - it's a bus) to the city. We bought the tickets for that on the plane at a 20% discount. It was about 45 minutes until we got to the center of Seoul. We then trecked across Seoul with our suitcases in tow (okay, it wasn't that bad, just a couple of blocks, but it was rush hour and lots of people just got out of work). Oh yeah, if you're looking for me - I am the only person in Seoul in jeans! They weren't kidding when they said that people here dress up.

Our hotel is awesome! It's actually a corporate apartment, so we have a living room and bedroom and a small kitchen. It's all very, very nice. I wish I had this kind of closet space at home!

We ate at the hotel restaurant last night (I had bulgogi salad) and then I was fast asleep by 8.

Today we were up by 4 a.m. and are putzing around our little place. Can't wait for the Western style breakfast buffet at 6:30 and then some exploring of Seoul. Of course we caught a cold spell - today has a high of 43!!!! I foresee lots of shopping of mittens and hats.

Today is the last of our lives without knowing our son.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Happy 9 months baby boy!

Today my baby is 9 months old. It's the last milestone we're missing. He will be in our arms in 6 more days.

What a week it has been!

Last weekend I was nesting like crazy. We had temperatures in the 90's and while I really wanted to sit on my deck, we were pretty busy. We spent a lot of time at Target, the crib was delivered, we painted that old dresser, I cleaned, I washed, I organized. At that point I had no idea our travel call would come Monday.
Monday morning I had this feeling that it would be THE day. It sounds weird, but at some point I took a deep breath and just felt we were going to get TC that day. Of course then I was a little confused when the husband called DC and there was no picture. That wasn't part of my plan.
I told my co-worker "no travel call today". I sent an email to a friend saying "no picture". One minute later the phone rang with my travel call. Our wonderful coordinator was calling from home to let us know that Ben was ready! Of course I screamed in her ear. I have no idea what she told me over the phone! I called the husband who left work to go home where all of our travel information was. In the meantime, all the ladies in the office gathered to make long lists of things I still need.
Well, we got travel booked and leave TOMORROW. I am surprised we actually waited this long, but I was simply not prepared at work.
This whole week has been a blur. I wish I wasn't such a procrastinator. I still have some work I need to get done today.
Thursday was my surprise baby shower at work. The ladies got lucky that we actually stayed around this week! I was overwhelmed by the thoughtful presents little Ben received.

It is so surreal that this is happening. You wait and you wait and you wait, and one day the wait is over. I can't believe that I'm going to meet my baby. I just can't wrap my head around it. What a journey it's been!

As we count down the days to meeting our son, we are keeping his foster family in our thoughts. They are spending their last week with this baby that they have loved and taken care of over the last couple of months. How hard this time must be for them.

Monday, April 5, 2010

TRAVEL CALL!!!!!!!!!!!

The husband called DC today and they said they didn't see his picture. 5 minutes later I got a call from our agency saying he is ready to come home!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! BEST DAY EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

My Imaginary Friend

I think about our son's birth mother a lot. Where does she live, what does she do, how does she feel about placing her son? I am so incredibly sad for her that she won't see this precious boy grow up. I could never imagine what she felt when she placed him, but it breaks my heart just trying to imagine. I could also never imagine how she feels now, I just hope she was able to find some sort of peace, even though I am not sure if that is possible.

We're lucky to have a good bit of information about her, but somehow for me it's not enough. I wish there was more, I wish it was more specific. It's enough to conjure up a picture of her in my mind, but I admit that my image of her is probably completely wrong. You just can't sum up a person on a single piece of paper.
If someone described me in three words it could be that I like reading, sleeping, and eating, or it could be that I love traveling, sightseeing, and photography. One is making me sound a little more boring than the other. Both are correct, but incomplete.
Anyway, I have successfully managed to create a fantasy of what I believe she must be like, and I have developed a deep desire to meet her. In my head we would be best friends, which I intellectually know would most likely not happen in real life. How could she ever want to be friends with the woman who is raising her child?

I hope that maybe, one day, we will get to meet. Maybe, one day, she will be able to see her son.