Ethan Joined Our Family Six Years Ago!

Today is one of our favorite days of the year—Ethan’s “gotcha day”!

Six years ago today, Joleen and I were in Korea and Ethan became part of our family, a day after meeting him for the first time in his foster home.

In some ways, it’s hard to believe it has been six years already. No wonder the number one piece of advice we heard as we prepared to bring Ethan home was “Don’t blink!” It was good advice!

To celebrate, we went to a local play place, where the kids played for a while. Afterward, we went to McDonald’s where the kids got ice cream cones (even though it was at least -13 degrees this morning). At bedtime, we read the story of Ethan’s adoption using a photo book we put together a couple of years ago.

We are grateful to God for his blessings on us!

Celebrating Sarah’s 4th Gotcha Day!

It’s hard to believe it’s been four years since we went to Korea to get Sarah! (See the day we met Sarah and our first hours with Sarah.)

Actually, it’s been a little over four years, but we waited to celebrate due to a cold Sarah battled for a few weeks. Recently, we took a day and went to Slinky Action Zone in Altoona where Ethan and Sarah played for a few hours!

Sarah is now in her second/final year of preschool. Her big brother, Ethan, is in first grade. Both are doing well!

Thank God for our family!

Celebrating 5 Years With Ethan!

Five years ago today, Ethan joined our family!

Of course, Ethan, 8-months-old then, joined our family reluctantly, at the time. We had just met him in his foster home the day before. From there, he adjusted very quickly!

We celebrated his “gotcha day” last night by going to Fun Central, a local indoor play area. The kids played. We ate dinner. The kids played some more before we went home. After we got ready for bed, we read a photo book we put together last year called, “The Story of Ethan’s Adoption” (we also read Sarah’s story because she wanted us to).

We continue to give thanks for God’s blessings on our family!

Meeting Bishop & Mrs. Park

willisesandparks

One of the highlights of the Bishop’s Retreat, which ended yesterday in Lancaster, PA, was the kids getting to meet Bishop Jeremiah Park, and his wife, Lisa, who are both from Korea.

We took a photo with the Parks after the closing communion service. Unfortunately, we had to crop the right side of the picture due to flash glare. We took another shot to correct the glare, but Sarah, who was tired by this point, refused to face forward. For one of the shots, Bishop Park attempted to sit in the chair, but Ethan took it from him. Only a five-year-old would kick the bishop out of his chair!

When we met the bishop and his wife a few months ago, we showed them photos of Ethan and Sarah. We also thanked them for their involvement in our journey.

Before Bishop Jeremiah Park became our bishop last September, he was the bishop of the New York Annual Conference. When we went to Korea to get Ethan in 2008, our bishop, Bishop Jane Allen Middleton, referred us to Bishop Park. Bishop Park put us in contact with a friend of his, the pastor of Holy Flames Methodist Church, near Seoul, Korea (we mentioned Bishop Park in our first cross-cultural experience post five years ago).

Our contact with the Holy Flames Methodist Church, and particularly, the small group we attended our first evening with Ethan, was an experience we’ll always treasure (see Our Amazing Korean Church Family)!

We are grateful to God for our connectional church!

Korean American Day

Today marks 110 years since the first Korean immigrants arrived in the U.S. (see keia.org). In 2005, the U.S. House and Senate named January 13 Korean American Day.

Here’s the resolution (S. RES. 283) by the 109TH CONGRESS on December 16, 2005 …

Recognizing the contributions of Korean Americans to the United States and encouraging the celebration of ‘‘Korean American Day’’

Whereas on January 13, 1903, the arrival of 102 pioneer immigrants to the United States initiated the first chapter of Korean immigration to the United States;

Whereas members of the early Korean American community served with distinction in the Armed Forces of the United States during World War I, World War II, and the conflict in Korea;

Whereas in the early 1950s, thousands of Koreans, fleeing from war, poverty, and desolation, came to the United States seeking opportunities;

Whereas Korean Americans, like waves of immigrants to the United States before them, have taken root and thrived as a result of strong family ties, robust community support, and countless hours of hard work;

Whereas the contributions of Korean Americans to the United States include the invention of the first beating heart operation for coronary artery heart disease, development of the nectarine, a 4-time Olympic gold medalist, and achievements in engineering, architecture, medicine, acting, singing, sculpture, and writing;

Whereas Korean Americans play a crucial role in maintaining the strength and vitality of the United States-Korean partnership;

Whereas the centennial year of 2003 marked an important milestone in the now more than 100-year history of Korean immigration; and

Whereas the Centennial Committees of Korean Immigration and Korean Americans have designated January 13th of each year as ‘‘Korean American Day’’ to memorialize the more than 100-year journey of Korean Americans in the United States: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Senate—

(1) supports the goals and ideals of a ‘‘Korean American Day’’;

(2) commemorates the 103rd anniversary of the arrival of the first Korean immigrants to the United States; and

(3) encourages the people of the United States to—

(A) share in such commemoration in order to greater appreciate the valuable contributions Korean Americans have made to the United States; and

(B) to observe ‘‘Korean American Day’’ with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.

On Friday, members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) released statements recognizing Korean American Day.

According to 2010 U.S. Census data, Asians comprised 5.6% of the U.S. population (representing 46% growth from 2000 to 2010). Among Asians, Koreans are the fifth largest group, making up 0.5% of total U.S. population (Korean population grew 28.1% from 2000 to 2010). See Korean American Coalition for more stats.

In The United Methodist Church, there is The United Methodist Council on Korean American Ministries, which exists for the purpose of strengthening Korean ministries. Our new bishop, Jeremiah Park, serves on the board.

Speaking of our bishop, Bishop Park was the bishop of the New York Annual Conference before coming to Pennsylvania last September. When we went to Korea to get Ethan in 2008, it was Bishop Park (via Bishop Middleton) who put us in contact with a friend of his, the pastor of Holy Flames Methodist Church. We mentioned Bishop Park in our first cross-cultural experience post five years ago. We got to personally thank Bishop Park a few months ago when we met him. The kids will get to meet him next week at the Bishop’s Retreat.

For us, Korean American Day is another opportunity to celebrate God’s blessings on our family!

Celebrating 3 Years With Sarah

Three years ago, Joleen and I were in Seoul, Korea to pick up Sarah (see the day we met Sarah and first hours with Sarah). It’s one of the real highlights of our lives, a blessing for which we are eternally grateful!

Today, we celebrated Sarah’s third gotcha day by going to Fun Central, a local indoor play area, to play and eat pizza. Afterward, the kids enjoyed a cupcake at home.

Thank God for our family!

Celebrating 4 Years With Ethan

Four years ago, Joleen and I were in Seoul, Korea to pick up Ethan. It’s one of the real highlights of our lives, a day for which we are very grateful to God!

These four photos put the hours surrounding the pick-up of Ethan in a nutshell, from the meeting on February 11 to the arrival in State College on Valentine’s Day …

On Friday, the four of us met up with Grammy and Pappy for an afternoon celebration at the Slinky Action Zone. It was an all-day celebration, beginning at Ethan’s preschool (they celebrated his gotcha day in place of his birthday, which is during the summer). After playing at the Slinky Action Zone, we stopped at The Meadows for ice cream before heading home. Here are a few photos from the day.

Sarah Turns Two!

Today is Sarah’s birthday—she’s two! We celebrated Sarah’s birthday yesterday on our day off.

Thanks to Ethan and Sarah’s adoptions, we have lots to celebrate—birthdays (Sarah’s first birthday post) as well as gotcha days (Sarah’s first gotcha day and Ethan’s last one a month ago).

Here are four photos from yesterday’s celebration and four from this morning …

Ethan’s Third Gotcha Day

February 12 is a special day in our family—it’s “gotcha day,” the day we got Ethan (we got Sarah on October 22).

Three years ago, Joleen and I were in Korea to get Ethan, then an 8-month-old baby boy. Each year, we’re able to talk about the meaning of the day a bit more. You can read last year’s gotcha day post here (with links to previous ones).

We celebrated gotcha day yesterday on our day off. We went to Fun Unleashed in State College to play and have lunch. The kids had fun and played themselves out—they fell asleep almost immediately in the car and slept throughout the hour-long drive home.

Here are a few photos from the day’s celebration …

Sarah’s First Gotcha Day

One year ago today, Joleen and I were in Seoul, Korea welcoming Sarah into our family (one day after meeting her for the first time).

This week, we’ve been remembering our trip to Korea last October. That’ll continue tomorrow (one year since our first full day with Sarah) and Sunday (the anniversary of the long trip home to introduce Sarah to Ethan).

We’ve already gotten to celebrate two gotcha days with Ethan (2009 and 2010) and today, we got to celebrate Sarah’s first gotcha day.

Someday, gotcha days will be more meaningful for the kids. For now, they’re mostly an opportunity for us to mark days that are meaningful for us. This morning, when I tried to explain to Ethan the significance of today, saying we were going out to eat to celebrate Sarah’s gotcha day, Ethan said, with a hint of sadness, “But, Daddy, don’t forget about me!” (although I think he meant it literally: don’t go out to eat without me).

Well, we didn’t do a good job with photos today (seemed like we spent most of the driving to Altoona for lunch and then hitting a couple stores before returning home in time for Joleen to go to a wedding rehearsal this evening). Anyway, here are a few photos from lunch at the Olive Garden …