Ready to Go Home

We came to Korea to pick our baby girl. And now that we have her, we are ready to go home!

My last post tells the story of our first hours with Sarah. As I commented on the previous post, we had a *great* night. Instead of her normal 4:00-5:00 wake-up/feeding, she woke up at 12:30 a.m. She cried at first, drank a little formula, then was pleasant/playful until we put her back in her crib at 1:30 a.m. She went back to sleep well!

Sarah slept much longer than normal, going to sleep about 1.5 hours early and waking up 1.5 hours later (based on what we were told). She’s pleasant and playful again this morning, so we’re off to a good start and are hopeful that today will be an important day of bonding/adjusting with Sarah (though there could/should still be some rough spots)!

The day’s agenda will be pretty light but will depend a lot of Sarah. We’ll try to get out as much as we can to enjoy our last day of beautiful weather here in Seoul (forecast: Sunny and a high of 70 degrees).

Posts today will also depend on Sarah. I will try to post some photos from our last of couple days here, but it’s possible that I’ll wait till after we get home to do it.

In the meantime, thanks for following us on this journey. FYI, our blog probably averages at least 40-60 views/day. Those numbers have been considerably higher in the last week as we’ve averaged 190+ views/day, including a high of 445 on the day we met Sarah. Again, thanks for following us and, especially, for your prayers!

This time tomorrow morning, we’ll be on a bus to Incheon International Airport where we’ll board a flight to Washington, D.C.

As I said, we are ready to go home and to unite the family God has blessed us with!

In Transition

On Wednesday afternoon, we were taken to meet our baby girl in the home of her foster family. As you may be able to tell from the photo, our meeting with Sarah went very well!

The girl who will be called Sarah was very comfortable with us. While our visit with her included the foster mother and 9-year-old foster brother, as well as the case worker, the meeting went so well that we hoped we might experience a fairly smooth transition.

That transition began about 5.5 hours ago around 3:30 p.m. (Korea time, 2:30 a.m. Eastern Time).

During our one-hour visit, we were asked when we wanted to pick up the baby. We were caught off guard because last time we were told when to pick up the child. We expected to pick her up Friday, but we opted for Thursday afternoon to give us extra time to bond/adjust before the long trip home on Saturday.

The hand off at the SWS offices today was very painful for the foster mother (as we can only imagine!). Sarah was well-taken care by her foster family; we are grateful for that!

After arriving at our room minutes after “the takeaway,” all indications were that it might just be a smooth transition. But we weren’t holding our breath. And for good reason, because about 20-30 minutes later (3:55 p.m.), reality hit and Sarah began to cry pretty intensely.

Thankfully, though, she cried herself to sleep about 20 minutes later (4:15 p.m.) while Joleen was holding her (we got her at her normal nap time). Once in her crib, she slept for an hour.

She woke up and cried some more, then fell asleep again while I was holding her (6:05 p.m.). I put her in the crib, but she slept only about 20 minutes or so. When she woke up, she was in a good mood.

After dinner (takeout from McDonald’s), Sarah cried again, until she fell asleep about a half hour ago (8:40 p.m.). Her usual bedtime is 10:00 p.m., so we’re not sure what the rest of the night will look like. We’re hoping for a good night’s sleep for all of us and an important day of bonding/adjusting tomorrow.

Not surprisingly, Sarah’s not eating well. She had one (part) bottle of formula, but didn’t eat any banana (which she normally eats after a bottle), and she skipped (so far) her nighttime bottle of formula.

When Sarah cries, all we can do is comfort her, and trust that over time (hopefully soon!) she will feel safe and be ready to embrace us as we have embraced her!

As I said, we are in transition.

It is interesting to be experiencing this a second time. It’s emotionally/physically exhausting but not quite as scary as the first time around. And while Ethan made the adjustment fairly quickly (in the grand scheme of things, anyway), every child is different (and we can already see differences, as well as similarities, between Ethan and Sarah). So even though we’ve been through this before, there is still a lot of uncertainty!

Well, it’s just after 9:00 p.m. here. We’re going to bed to get as much rest as we can, not knowing what challenges the next 24-36 hours will bring!

She Will Be Called Sarah!

In case you missed the introduction of Sarah, you’ll need to scroll down or click here.

Randy and I actually chose the name Sarah years ago, when we only dreamed of a child. My maternal grandmother’s name is Sarah. And both Randy and I like the name.

Ethan Quinn received his name as a parallel to the meaning of his Korean given names, “strong” and “wise.” We tried to do the same for Sarah, whose given name means, “beautiful” and “bright,” but we just didn’t come up with anything we liked. Perhaps that’s because we always dreamed of a Sarah.

The name Sarah is very fitting. In the Bible, Sarah was the wife of Abraham and stories reveal that Sarah was a beautiful woman. The meaning of the name Sarah is “princess” and our princess she will be. We discovered yesterday that the foster dad calls her princess!

My Grandma died in 2002. She battled dementia during her last years. The sicker she became, the more my heart longed to give her a grandchild. Now, God has given us our little Sarah. As my mother said to me in an email, “Gram is probably smiling ear to ear.” Love ya, Gram!

The Easy Way?

We learned a long time ago that God rarely does things the easy way in our lives (which is probably true for most people, really). Either that, or we are masochists.

For example, we both (separately) pursued bachelor’s and master’s degrees while we were in a denomination that didn’t require higher education (in our pre-UMC days). When choosing between a Master of Arts program and a Master of Divinity program, I chose the M.Div. partly because it was three years instead of two.

And our journey toward ordination has been no easy route. Part of that journey (which is still in process) included earning Doctor of Ministry degrees. When choosing between four schools, we chose the program that was farthest away and would take the longest to complete. 🙄

We *could* have chosen to send an escort to Korea to pick up our children and deliver them to us in Detroit (a much shorter trip, in case you were wondering). And after having been to Korea the first time, we *really* could have sent an escort the second time around.

But we’ve been told that it’s less traumatic for the child when the parents travel to Korea and begin the bonding process here, because the child is escorted by the adoptive parents rather than passing through a stranger enroute to the parents. (We realize, of course, that travel may not be possible for every couple.)

We also didn’t want our children’s adoptive stories to reflect that we we were willing to travel 7,000 miles to get Ethan but that we chose to take the easy way to get Sarah!

So, we chose to go to Korea a second time, even though that meant being separated from Ethan for a week … and 7,000 miles.

Impressions of Korea

Joleen wrote Second Impressions earlier. The title was a play on words, based on posts we wrote last time we were here.

Since we’re not really restating/rehashing a lot of our impressions, you might want to read/review some of our posts from last time where we reflected on the culture (incidentally, our last trip counted as our “cross-cultural experience” for our doctoral programs at Asbury and the posts were part of our “journal”).

If you’d like to get more of a flavor of Korea from our perspective, see First Impressions, More First Impressions, and Familiar Places. Also, check out Korean Folk Village and Korean Food.

Contextualization and Thou Shalt Not Be Ethnocentric discuss some reflections on the importance and value of culture and how we were impacted while we were here the first time.

One major difference this time has been the weather. Yesterday, it was sunny and warm (60s), compared to brutally cold temperatures last time (February). We were hoping to experience Korea during a different season this time around!

One thing we’ll add about driving in Korea (which we’re not doing, by the way): Last time, I said you’d need to have ice in your veins to drive in Korea. I still believe that. In fact, I think I’ve driven in most states east of the Mississippi River (and a little in Canada) and I’ve never been afraid of driving anywhere. But it would take some real getting used to, to drive here!

This helps explain the need for extra mirrors, which I was fascinated by last time.

And I’m convinced the many delivery people who ride scooters (on the streets, between lanes, on the sidewalks and crosswalks) either have a death wish or at least a certain kind of wiring. Amazingly, though, during all of our time in Korea, we’ve seen hardly any accidents (I think we’ve seen only one auto accident).

We’re planning to get out for another new experience of Korea this morning (and possibly our first subway experience), so we may have some more impressions to add later. We’ll try to post a few photos, but the PC in our room is painfully underpowered, so we may wait to post the bulk of them till after we return home (I’m just glad — really glad — we were able to post the first photo of us with Sarah yesterday!).

Second Impressions

We didn’t put the preparation time into this trip like we did the first time around. We never did find our tour books on Korea – probably in some box somewhere. Part of not planning as much lies in the fact that we are relying on our memory of the first trip. Thankfully that has served us well so far.

Last night at the airport we breezed through customs, baggage claim, currency exchange, and buying a bus ticket and hopping on the bus. Upon arriving at our destination point, we did not wander looking for the SWS Guest House, last time ending up at the police station asking for assistance. This time we got off the bus, stopped at a convenience store that we remembered (right beside the Starbucks) and straight to the guest house.

Washcloths anyone? I almost packed a couple. When we arrived last time it was during the Lunar New Year so the housekeeping staff wasn’t around. We had to ask the night guard for towels. He got us a nice stack and … no washcloths. I wrote if off to no housekeeping. But this time around, still no washcloths. Should have listened to my gut.

Last night as we neared our bus stop it was fun looking around to see what we remembered. I’m anxious to the same on foot this morning. The sun is shining bright, and my stomach is ready to seek out a breakfast spot. As you enjoy your dinner and wind down for the night, our day begins. And we await the 1:30 appointment with our baby girl!

Sleepless in Korea

In preparation for Ethan’s adoption, we were Sleepless in Pennsylvania. That wasn’t as much the case this time, but after arriving in Seoul last night, and going to bed between 8:30 and 9:00 p.m., we both got awake around 1:00 a.m. — and found ourselves sleepless in Korea.

After a while (around 3:00 a.m.), I got up to try an idea to upload our photos to the PC in our room (it didn’t work, but I’m still trying!), and I made a couple roster moves on my team in the Centre Grove Fantasy Football League. 🙂 Then, I went back to bed, and eventually went back to sleep … till 7:00 this morning.

Also last time, Joleen wrote a post in Korea about The Wait. Back then, we had four full days in Korea before we met Ethan (we arrived during the Lunar New Year holiday when the offices were closed, so we took in as much of the culture as we could on those days).

This time, we’re going to meet our girl on our first full day here — a few hours from now, in fact!

24 Hours

We landed in Korea around 4:30 p.m. a few hours ago (Tuesday), which was 3:30 a.m. Eastern Time. We took an hour-and-45-minute bus ride into Seoul and just got settled into our room about a half hour ago (7:30 p.m.), 24 hours after leaving the house.

As we stepped off the plane, I said, “In a sense, it feels like we just got on the plane, but, on the other hand, it was a very long flight (14 hours)!

As long as the trip was, though, it wasn’t as long as the last trip, which took 30 hours, mainly because this time we drove 3.5 hours to Washington Dulles to take a non-stop flight to Korea, rather than making a couple stops (with layovers) last time.

Flying Korean Air was a very positive experience. When we checked in, Joleen and I were given a row of 3 seats, because the flight wasn’t full. That was nice, but it’ll much nicer if they do that on the way home when we have the baby!

We had individual “entertainment centers” on the backs of the seats in front of us, which included news, music, games, movies, etc. We watched three movies during the flight, which helped pass some of the time. Beyond that, service was very good.

Also, just before we left home, we learned that we have an appointment tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. (12:30 a.m. Wednesday, Eastern Time) at the SWS offices where the caseworker will take us to meet our baby girl in her foster home.

I’m hoping to find a way to post photos while we’re here. The PC in our room isn’t cooperating.

Thanks to some very helpful people at the MacNN forum (a *Mac* users forum), I was able to get the PC in our room to cooperate just in time to post our first photo with the baby. I would have brought my laptop (and for a while there I regretting my decision), but we wanted our carry-on items to be as light as possible for the return trip! Anyway, see the added photos from our trip below.

Thanks for all the prayers and comments. It’s bedtime here in Seoul! 🙂

Our Journey to Korea Begins Soon

Early tomorrow morning, we’ll drive to Dulles International Airport (Washington D.C.) for a 1:25 p.m. takeoff. Fourteen and a half hours later, we are scheduled to land in Incheon International Airport, near Seoul, Korea.

This has been an interesting week with, as I’ve said before, mixed emotions. On the one hand, we leave behind the child who was the reason for our first trip. On the other hand, we go to Korea to bring home the newest member of our family (which, in itself, will be traumatic for our baby girl, at first). Those are pretty intense emotions!

It’s been interesting to watch Ethan this week. I’ve been saying that Ethan probably understands more than we give him credit for. He seems to have a sense that something is about to happen. One of his newest phrases this week is, “Don’t leave me” (e.g., when one of us is leaving the room). We know he’ll be fine, but it won’t be the easiest of weeks (at least, not for us).

Because of the 13 hours time difference, we’re scheduled to land in Korea just before 5:00 p.m. Tuesday (Korea time), but it will feel like 4:00 a.m. to us. We should be ready for bed after we reach the SWS Guest House a couple hours later, then we can begin afresh Wednesday morning.

Well, our next post will probably be written from Korea!