Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Another Day in Seoul

These pictures are from Monday's meeting as we didn't get a chance to take any pictures during todays. I arrived at Holt and Seon-Mi was asleep on her foster mother's back in a carrier. So cute! She said that Seon-Mi was fighting her nap today and finally fell asleep on the way over. Mrs. Lee helped the foster mom take her out of the carrier and handed her to me. She did wake up briefly, but after a few pats on the back, she was asleep in my arms. I held her like this for another 10minutes or so, until it was time to see the Doctor for one last brief checkup. I didn't want to be the one to wake her, so I handed her off to her foster mother and we went in to the office. She did not like being woken up with an exam! She was pretty upset so the doctor worked quickly to make sure things looked okay and see if I had any questions. Her foster mother carried her out and she calmed down right away and was now wide awake. I smiled and told her hello in Korean and she looked at me very suspiciously. Probably because my Korean is so bad! Her foster mom then handed her to me and after a few moments began to cry. So Mrs. Lee asked that she step out and allow me to calm her down. She didn't go far! All throughout that time I saw her peeking around the corner to see what was going on! Very cute. After just a few minutes and some bouncing up and down, she actually stopped crying! I distracted her with some nearby toys and tried to give her a snack. I finally figured out that the snack in the last updated pictures were NOT french fries like it looked, rather a crunchy Korean potatoe snack for babies! I knew no one would give a french fry to a baby! She still was uncomfortable, but warmed up to me somewhat at this visit. The foster mother had dressed her an outfit we had sent (size 6-9 months) and had brought some clothes to give to us and a hanbok. She's very sweet and cares very much for Seon-Mi. I was also surprised to see she had brought about 15 pictures of Seon-Mi when she was a bit younger, before and after her first haircut! I also have a picture of her and her foster father in the bunch. Mrs. Lee suggested that if she gets too upset once I have her tomorrow afternoon, to take her to the third floor of the Guesthouse where I am staying to play with the other babies who are being cared for here and to maybe get some help calming her down by the caregivers. I may just take them up on that offer! The one thing that the foster mother did say was that 2:30pm, which is the time I get to pick her up, is a happy mood for her. So we are all hoping she will be a little better. I'm just happy a little bit of progress was made and I cannot wait to have her by myself! I am of course dreading the goodbye with her foster mother who cares for her so much and who Seon-Mi will miss deeply. I pray we will all make it through that as best as we can.

I am still in shock that I get my baby girl tomorrow forever!

Food highlight of the day - Maryann and I did some last minute shopping at Insadong and stopped at McDonalds for dinner. That's right, McDonalds. Why you ask? Because a little birdie told me that it is not just any McDonalds. That's right, I had my self a bulgogi burger! Korea is awesome and has my sense of humor. Though I liked the idea better than the sandwhich, I could not leave Seoul till I tried it!

It was a short meeting as I had to get to Eastern by 5 pm. Mrs. Lee was kind enough to put me in a cab and tell him where I was headed. But after he pulled into an alley and basically said "Get out", I said desparetly, "No, I did not see it! It should be in English on the sign!" He just kept repeating over and over, "Oh my gosh, oh my gosh!" He finally got out of the cab (with the meter running of course!) to ask a guy on the street who pointed in the direction that we had come from. So I unwillingly got out of the cab and headed in the direction they were pointing. After five blocks, I started to panick when I didn't see it! But as I came up on the next block, there it was in English "Eastern Social Welfare Society". Whew! I almost had a freak out! I walked in and went to the Post Adoption Service center and the social worker saw me and asked if I was My Kyung. I told her yes and she led me into a meeting room. She told me she'd be right back and I was left in the room alone for a few minutes. I noticed that I was sitting at a table with many chairs and just a box of tissues in the middle. I said out loud, "Oh great!". Working off just four hours of sleep didn't help my emotions and I could feel the tears already starting to well up in my eyes. She came back in and started going through my records with me...I recognized my mother's handwriting on the original adoption application. She went through my story saying the day and time and place I had been left. Things that I had known for years. The very last page was a copy of a the note that had been left with me. While I knew this note has existed nearly all my life, I was not sure exactly what it looked like or if it held anything but my birthdate and name. She decided to translate it for me and as I heard her read off my birthdate, time of birth and name, the tears started to flow. I had never before knew the time of my birth, I had never bothered to ask if it was documented anywhere. I'm not sure why. She then translated the remainder of the note stating the reasons I was being given up and went on to say that the note is believed to have been handwritten by a member of my birth family.

Never before did I feel so close to them than I did at that moment.

Though there were no letters or information left from any birth family, I felt their love immensely and was saddened that they had to make the decision that they did. I understand it though, and know that I am in the right place, with the right family. We discussed the chances of any birth family locating where I had been transferred was not good, as they had left me at an all boys orphanage in Taegu and I was adopted shortly thereafter through Eastern. I would not say that is the end of my adoption story, rather an answer to a question I have wondered for years and years...if anyone was ever succesful in searching for me, that is, if they tried to search at all. As I walk down the street amongst the thousands and thousands of people in Seoul, I cannot help but wonder if there is a woman who looks likes me, with the same freckles, the same smile, the same hair, the same blood. Though I do not know her name or her face, I feel closer to my birth mother today than I ever had before. Returning to this wonderful country was the best decision I could have made and if I never find her, I will always be at peace with her decision. I hope she has found happiness, love and peace in her life as I have found in mine.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Words Cannot Describe...

Here she is! Miss Zoey Seon-Mi! This entire day has been full of emotion, but I can finally say, I have met my daughter! And she is more beautiful than I ever could have imagined! She is wearing two different outfits because she spit up a little on the yellow one. She's much smaller than I thought she would be and even cuter! She's got a head full of hair and today was the first day she wore bows and she didn't pull them out!
I am so thankful to her foster mother for the wonderful care she has taken in raising Seon-Mi. There is a strong bond between the two of them and she loves her very much!
The meeting did not quite go as well as we had all hoped though. The pictures above are the few times she allowed me to hold her and she had skipped her afternoon nap to come meet me today. I learned a lot about her personality from her foster mother and let's just say, if she's tired and cranky, don't mess with her! She's just like her mommy! Because the meeting was not what we had hoped for, Mrs. Lee asked me to come back tomorrow for another visit before handing her over on Wednesday. I was not scheduled to meet with her tomorrow. So the foster mother was instructed to give her an early nap and bring plenty of snacks and we'll try again at 4pm Tuesday afternoon. It is clear that she is very attached to her foster mother and her transition will not be easy. I am optimistic about the future though and know it will take a lot of time and effort and we're fully prepared for it. Most of the pictures include the foster mother, so this is all I could share to protect her privacy, but will hopefully have more at tomorrow's meeting - I still have yet to see her smile! I was told she is VERY shy and independent, so today's meeting was quite overwhelming for her. She is still everything I ever hoped for and I love her so much!

Jet lag has really set in tonight, but I was fortunate enough to be invited along with Maryann and Aaron's son, Rai's, foster mother who is just about the greatest character I will ever have the opportunity to meet! She drove us (holding on for dear life!) down to the Korea House for dinner at an amazing authentic, sit on the floor, Korean restaurant that was delicious! And afterward, treated us to a live performance at the Korean House, which was amazing! No pictures allowed, so I'll just have to keep the memories! The entire night gave Maryann and Aaron an opportunity to spend more time with Rai, who is such a cutie and a real firecracker! It is great to see them with their new son. http://maryannandaaron.blogspot.com

Tomorrow is a full day once again and we head out at 9am for the City Tour and will be dropped off at one of the markets for some shopping. I then will travel back to Holt for our second meeting and at 5pm will be taken by taxi to Eastern Social Welfare Society as I have an appointment with one of the post adoption specialists. Wednesday, we're scheduled to hang out with Rai's foster mother again and then will pick up our babies that afternoon for good!

In just the few days I have been here, I have fallen in love with Korea and want to live here forever! I love walking down the street where no one notices me, I'm just another Korean to them! It's the most amazing feeling and one that I never thougtht I'd have or care to have! I am truly blessed as an American citizen, but returning to the country of my birth has made me feel I belong. I love just getting lost in the crowd...

I am beyond exhausted physically and emotionally and hope to get a good night rest tonight. I ask that you all keep Seon-Mi, Rai, Maryann, Aaron and I in your thoughts and prayers as we all prepare to make one of the biggest changes in our lives. I pray that Rai's and Seon-Mi's transition will be smooth, and that their foster mother's can find joy and peace in their love and service for these beautiful children.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Jet Lag's a Bummer!

It's 3am Korean time and I'm awake! I actually just got off the phone with Danny, who is hoping that my international calls aren't costing us a fortune on his cell phone! I was able to sleep from about 10:30pm till about 2:45am. So better than nothing!

Well - today is the day. In less than 12 hours, I will see Seon-Mi's face in person. I'm still not quite sure I believe it yet. The meeting will be 1am Texas time. But Danny insists I call him the minute I get back! I may head over to the Starbucks and use the wireless internet so I can download some pictures. So check for the update later! I'm off to attempt a little more sleep and then figure out the blowdryer situation. :)

Today is THE day.

I have arrived!

Well, I'm finally here! It was a loooooooooong trip! But so worth it!

So first, an explanation on the blog title - Seon-Mi is our daughter's Korean name and Mee Kyung is my Korean name - so put the two together! You got it! :)

Now on to the trip! I have burst into tears spontaneously at any given moment for no apparent reason! This is a highly emotional trip and one that I will remember the rest of life. I am so grateful that I decided to travel. As we were landing in Korea, it became very surreal. This is my first time back since I left in 1984 and I remember nothing from that time. I can already tell you I plan to be back again soon!

The goodbye with Braedan on Friday evening was rough, as this is the very first time I have left him overnight, much less for six days and to add to it, I will miss his fourth birthday on the 29th. But we've decided to hold off the celebration till I get back and he'll get a baby sister for his birthday!

Danny dropped me at the airport on Saturday morning and after waiting in long lines to check in with my airline, I had to pay $50 extra bucks to check my overweight bag! I did not have enough room to take anything out and put it in my carryon, so I had to fork over the $50 bucks. Again, worth it, as I did not want more than bag on the flight home.

Flight to Dallas was uneventful and went quickly and then the wait began - again! I finally get Travel Call after four months and here I am, waiting again! I boarded Korean air at about 11am Texas time and started the looooooooong journey to Seoul. We flew over Canada, then Alaska, then touched Japan and finally landed in Seoul after 14 1/2 long hours. I was ready to get off at about 5 hours. I was able to get a little sleep and had a window seat all to myself. I've decided though that I need to brush up on my geography! The flight attendants were all gorgeous and size double 0's and each and every one of them spoke to me in Korean. Only one of them figured out I didn't speak it and spoke to me in English. The rest of them just kept asking me things in Korean and I just went along with it!

I finally arrived in Korea at about 3:45pm Korea time, Sunday. I was picked up by the nicest Holt van driver, Mr. Kim, who spoke very good English and even pointed out the cell phone rental booth and waited for me while I stood in line. We had a good conversation on the 40 minute drive to the Holt Guesthouse, which included him asking if I knew Tim Duncan since we live in the city that's home to the good 'ole Spurs! We then got on the conversation of cars and he asked what I drove. I quietly said "Honda" and he looked over at me and said, "You know that's Japenese made, right? We Koreans don't like Japanese, didn't you see the baseball game?" (Apparently, Japan beat Korea in the World Classic game). So I quickly changed the subject and asked if he would be the one driving me back to the airport on Thursday and he said, "No it will be the younger driver, but he's just as handsome as me!" Mind you, this was all in broken English, but still so funny!

He helped me into the front door at the Guesthouse, which was great, since the doorman doesn't speak English and he basically took my suitcase, showed me to the elevator and taught me how to turn the heated floors on in my room. Very nice man, just no English! My room is small, but just perfect! I am happy to stay here and feel very safe. There's a single bed, closet, dreser with TV (with English stations), and a bathroom that is just funny! The shower head is attached to the wall with no enclosure. So you just have to make sure that nothing you want to keep dry is in the bathroom and spray down! It should be interesting tryin to bathe Zoey on Wednesday night...:)

I was so grateful when my phone rang in my room! It was Maryann and Aaron from the Holt BB and they were waiting for me in the lobby! We walked around and ate something that can only be described as deliciousness (and because I have no idea what it's called, we just pointed to the picture and said "three of those please!") I had a great talk with Maryann and Aaron and they were kind enough to walk me back to the guesthouse before saying goodbye for the evening. I stopped in at the 24 hour mart on the corner to pick up some water and headed upstairs to give the update!

I am enjoying my time already and actually just met a couple from Paris, France, who picked up their adorable baby on Friday and head home tomorrow. The dad is also a Korean adoptee and they have two more adopted children from Korea at home.

The funniest thing so far has been everyone assuming that I speak Korean! And why wouldn't they?! I am Korean after all! I regret not knowing the language and have had to tell people "sorry!". I have had some looks too when talking to Maryann and Aaron and my English coming out so well without an accent! I was just talking about that with the French couple and he said he doesn't speak any Korean either, and imagine their shock when his French accent comes out! Actually, his wife speaks better English than he and his French accent is pretty thick! Such a cute couple and happy to have met them!

Well, I'm off to bed now. I plan to meet up with Maryann and Aaron in the morning at a bakery, if I can find it! Then we'll go to the Holt offices to drop of some the things we brought. There first meeting with Rai is at 1:30pm and mine is 3pm. I can't believe we will both meet our little ones tomorrow! The day is finally here!

My biggest issue is going to be finding an adapter as I thought the guesthouse had 110 outlets. I was mistaken and have no way of blowdrying my sad hair. I will try and post pics of our first meeting, if I can get to wireless internet. I apologize for any typos - I've been traveling all day!