Monday, July 20, 2009
There are few moments in life where one can truly say "this was the best day of my life" and be completely telling the truth. Today was without a doubt one of those days. It will forever be etched on my heart, right along with our wedding day, the day I was baptized, and of course the birth of our 3 precious sons. Even still, I could almost say today was even more wonderful, because God allowed all of us to have the experience together and oh what joy we all had! Here is the story...
Warning: very long post!
July 20th 2009, Meeting Won Sa-Ra
After waking up several times during the night because of excitement over the next day, I finally just got up quietly around 4:00AM and decided to write a little in my journal. I wrote about all the things I was worried about or anticipating about this first meeting with our daughter. And then I gave it all back to the Lord- trusting Him to calm my anxious and over-excited heart! It wasn't long before the 3 boys were up before 6:00 and wanting to know "how much longer" until we met their little sister. :-)
After Randy woke up we got ready and headed downstairs for breakfast, all the while talking and wondering what our meeting was going to be like in only a few more hours. After coming back up to our room, we tried to record a little message for Elliana on video but I think everyone was just overly excited because it didn't go so well and we began to get frustrated with eachother. Well, that was our cue to head out- so we grabbed all of our stuff and the gifts and we did!
We survived another taxi ride into the downtown area of Mapo-Gu where the Holt-Korea office is located and arrived about a half hour early. We headed upstairs and sat in a small room where we waited for Mrs. Lee to come and talk to us. The boys thought I was hillarious, because she had left the door open and every 30 seconds it seemed that another baby was being carried down the hall and I was giddy thinking about one of them being our baby! They were all so cute! Mrs. Lee (Holt-Korea program director)came in and talked to us for a little while and we just chit-chatted about a few different things. All of a sudden she just said, "ok, would you like to meet your baby now?" And we were like "um, YES!!!!" The boys were so cute and amazing, as they were our "media crew" for the morning. Jensen had my big camera, Austin had the video camera, and Nathan had the little point and shoot. We were not going to miss a single moment of this!
A few minutes later, in walks Mrs. Lee with Mrs. Kim (foster mother) holding the sweetest baby girl I have ever seen. Randy and I took one look at her in that sweet little hat and outfit and just laughed with joy. She was wearing this little yellow beanie that Mrs. Kim had knit for her, a really ruffled white top and denim shorts with a Garfield belt and little yellow socks. She had on this tiny little silver bracelet with a heart cut oout of it. And of course the cutest thing was this little crocheted backpack that was held on to her with Garfield suspenders! On the backpack was little hair bows and clips and socks sewed onto the back. It was very funny to see this little baby with a backpack on! She was stylin!
Mrs. Kim almost immediately handed her to me and it was the best feeling- just finally being able to hold her. She was bigger than I thought she would be, but of course still pretty small for an 11 month old. It is funny to me that I didn't really cry at all during this whole meeting, because I ALWAYS cry when it comes to stuff like this. Every gotcha-day video I've ever seen-I can't get through without tears coming down.
And today, when it was our moment it was different.
Today I just laughed and smiled and laughed some more. I could not stop smiling at her and studying her! The boys were wonderful and captured every precious moment and I am so thankful.
We sat down and took off her hat and backpack/suspenders and just stared at her. She is truly the cutest baby I have ever seen. She stared right back at us (another answer to prayer!) and smiled this adorable little smile. It just melted our hearts. She grabbed onto me right away and she liked my necklace that says Omma. It was so sweet when she wrapped her little fingers around mine. She was very quiet- we hardly heard a peep from her the entire time. Mrs. Kim said she was tired because it was her nap time, and if that were true- she is the most easy going baby without a nap that I have ever seen! Oh and she LOVES her daddy (oppa)!
Her foster mother calls her by her full name Won Sa-Ra or just Sa-ra and had a sing-songy way of saying it to get her attention. With her Korean name you don't say the R sound, so it sounds more like Sah-Da. We quickly learned this and after a few minutes everyone in the room was saying it and competing for her attention and I think she was loving it! We probably will be calling her this for awhile even after we get home to ease the adjustment too. Randy held her next and it was thrilling for me to watch him hug and kiss his little girl with such adoration in his eyes- I will never forget it. The boys each took turns holding their baby sister and were a little awkward, but very cute about it. Austin told me later that she was a lot heavier than he thought she would be and that he didn't hink he could hold her for more than a few minutes! They are all 3 already asking how much longer until she can come back with us- I think they have fallen in love as well!
After a little while we put her on the table in front of us to see how well she could sit up, etc. She is definitely behind in her development, but after watching her and interacting with her I don't believe that it is because of a more serious condition, but simply because of her prematurity. She could sit up some, but you have to be right there because she leans to the side and falls over, something more of a 6 month old would be doing. With some early intervention once we get home, I know she will eventually catch up at her own pace. Honestly though- I love that she seems so much more like a baby even though she is almost one year old. She loved being on her tummy too. Mrs. Kim started singing this song to her and as she was on her tummy she smiled and moved side to side like she was dancing to the song- it was adorable and of course we got it on video! At one point Mrs. Kim even got out her cell phone and played the song again while Sa-Ra was on my lap and she started clapping and giggling. She was very happy with all of us, but she definitely knew her Omma (Korean for Mother and what Mrs. Kim calls herself) and her voice.
All too soon our half hour of visiting time was coming to an end. Mrs. Kim gave us some gifts that were very sweet. A beautiful hanbok for Elliana's first birthday celebration, an outfit, the hat and backpack she was wearing today, the blanket and rattle we had sent 4 months ago, and my favorite- two small albums full of pictures! What a blessing to have these and be able to see some of those months we missed out on. Truly, she was very well taken care of. (yet another answer to prayer!) We headed down to the first floor, where there were a ton of babies with their foster moms waiting to have their check-up by the Doctor there. As we waited, Randy held our girl and I snapped some pictures of some of the sweet babies there. There was even a set of triplet girls- what a blessed family who will get to adopt those cuties!
After a while, it was time for Sa-Ra to see the doctor for her final clearance check. I was shocked that she weighed in at 17.6 pounds considering that we just got an update last week saying she was 16.4! The doctor showed us all of her mongolian spots and I was suprised that she has so many of them. For those of you who don't know what that is, a mongolian spot is a birth mark that looks like a bruise that is only found among Asian babies. They go away by the time they are school age, but to some one who didn't know what that was and saw her- a parent could easily be accused of child abuse. Basically it looks like she is bruised all over her back and legs, just so you know. The doctor told us that her eyes were not crossed anymore and to follow up with an apt in 6 months- that was also suprising to hear after all that had to happen before this point! So after that she was cleared for travel! Yay!
Next Mrs. Kim asked us if she could take us to lunch and of course we said sure! Now, just so you know- Mrs. Kim speaks no English and we obviously speak no Korean so we knew it might be interesting. Mrs. Lee from Holt made sure to tell her that we did not eat any seafood, and then sent us on our way. We went with another foster mom and baby, but of course she spoke only Korean as well! They asked me if I wanted to carry the baby on my back to the restaurant and I was more than willing to oblige! :-) Some of the foster moms laughed as they helped me to strap her in the carrier on my back and as we walked out I loved that I was doing it just like them. It was a dream walking around the city with her- weird though, feeling like I was just caring for someone else's baby- and I guess I really was as she still belongs to Mrs. Kim for two more days. She fell asleep almost immediately.
Almost right after we got to the restaurant, Mrs. Kim took Sa-ra from me and held on to her for the rest of the time. I could tell from watching her that she maybe wasn't quite ready to let go of this adorable child and although I might of felt a twinge of jealously, I knew it was a really good thing. Randy and I laughed at how seemingly rough she was with Sa-ra and she was just perfectly content to be in Omma's arms, eventually falling asleep again.
The food at the restaurant was delicious! After yesterday's Korean meal of Bulgolgi and Bibimbop, I was pretty nervous to push our luck by making the boys eat something they weren't too fond of again. But they were very polite as we sat down and really didn't complain that we were going to be eating Korean food again. Well, we were all suprised as we sat down on the wood floor to a little table with a charcoal grill in the middle and the ladies started grilling marinated pork. It cooked really fast and we watched how Mrs. Kim was going to eat it. You grab the meat off of the grill with your chopsticks , dip it in sauce, put it on a lettuce leaf, add other vegetables, wrap it up and eat it. Ta da- it's a Korean lettuce wrap and wow they are yummy! The boys all liked it and even Randy was digging this meal! We ate until we were full and I was so happy to have found some Korean food that our whole family liked!
After lunch, Mrs. Kim opened her gifts that we had brought for her and out of everything she loved the photo album the best. On the cover it had a little opening where I put the one picture I had of her and Sa-ra in it. She saw it and was very happy and patted her heart. The other foster mom who was with us started crying and it was an emotional moment for all of us. At that moment, even though we couldn't speak the same language, we knew what the other was feeling. I was so thankful for her and her loving care of our little one and she was touched that we would think of her enough to put the album together with her picture on the front. She had told us earlier that she has been a foster mother for 15 years and has had around 40 children in her home. We even have a picture with her and Sa-ra standing in her house in front of all these other pictures of her holding foster children. Thank you Lord for this woman who loves each baby as her own even though it is for such a short time.
After lunch Mrs. Kim took us to the Holt reception center where we said goodbye to her and our baby and went upstairs to play with more babies! These babies are not in foster homes, but they are very well taken care of by the nannies at the center and most of them were glad to be held or fed by one of us. This was so neat to be able to do as well and I'll write more about that soon.
We came back to the hotel and I posted those few pictures and soon we were headed out again. We knew that if we didn't, we would all crash and then wake up for dinner at 9pm like we have been doing the past few days. We walked around a lot last night, paid way too much for dinner at Burger King, and came back exhausted. I am happy to report that after 3 days we are finally on Korea time! I haven't been sleeping the best as I have woken up in the middle of the night each night, but oh well at least I can blog while I'm up right?!!
Tuesday we are going to take the bus tour that we didn't do on Sunday and at night we have reservations at the Korea House. It is dinner and a traditional Korean dance show. I am excited because I hear the show is really good! It will be a busy day! Then on Wednesday, we aren't sure what we'll do in the morning, but we'll go to lunch and then pick up Elliana at 3:00PM!
Phew! That was a long post, but I knew that I didn't want to leave out anything because this is our journal as we are on this journey to our baby and I know she will want to read about it some day! It was truly an amazing day that none of us will ever forget. I can't wait until she is a part of our family forever!
More pictures to come soon....