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Sunday, July 14, 2013
A sweet friend that we met through the adoption process, who also happens to be an adoptee came to San Antonio for a visit! I am so grateful for this friendship. We battled the Texas sun and saw the most important sites of the Almao City. The best part of the trip though, was being able to talk in person. I would like to say that we chatted through the early morning, but I think that motherhood has made our bedtime hours change just a tad. Like all good things it came to an end too quickly, but I know we shall see each other soon!
Thursday, July 4, 2013
...the week has gone soooo quickly, in some ways it will never be enough time, but I know there are two special guys waiting for me at home, which helps prepare my mind for saying goodbye.
We quickly eat breakfast and then wait for my family's friend to take us to the airport.
When we get to the airport I check my luggage, return my wifi router, and exchange my money. Then my parents and I sit and wait for my niece and 3rd sister to say goodbye. Not all of us could fit in the van, so my sister and niece take a bus. They finally arrive. I hate goodbyes. I really do. I avoid them at all costs, but there is no way to avoid this one. Before we head over to security I have my niece take one last pic. When I stare at this picture, it makes me chuckle because when I first received pictures from Korea, I did not think I looked like my Korean family at all...now, I know there is no doubt that this is my family, too.
As we walk to security, I can tell my omma is getting emotional. My 3rd sister keeps repeating in English "no crying" which makes me laugh. I take a short video...I am touched that my niece sheds tears. I know that my omma is holding it in. Quick hugs are given and I get in line.
For those of you who are familiar with Incheon, you know that once you get past the initial check people cannot see you, and it is there that I allow myself to cry. I cry for never having enough time to make up for years lost and I cry in fear always wondering if this will be the last time that I see my aboji and omma. My sister writes and tells me that my omma is sobbing in the car...As I wait in line to board the plane, another passenger remarks how it is raining and how Korea must be weeping because we are leaving...
and although I am ready to go home to see my husband and son, I cannot help but wonder when will I return...
Tuesday, July 2, 2013
My final night is my favorite night! We are finally going to noraebang!!! Karaoke! We walk to the main street by my family's home and we turn into a stairwell, and there it is! The air conditioner is turned on high, beer is served, and once the song starts the lights go off and the disco lights come on.
It was the most fun I've ever had doing karaoke! My niece who happens to be the same age as my youngest sister in the U.S. has a beautiful voice! In my opinion her voice can rival any K-Pop star! And, really we can all sing fairly well, just call us the Korean version of the Partridge family...just kidding.
At one point in the night my sisters pick a song and motion for me to come and stand between them. I have no idea what the words are, but the feeling is of love and friendship...
...and what did I sing? Well to be honest I'm totally out of the loop when it comes to popular songs...if I'm in the car driving to work I'm usually listening to classical music before the work day starts to calm my nerves and after work, I'm listening to the Broadway music channel, and according to Matt I lived in a cave listening to music growing up, LOL ... so when it's my turn to sing I have to find either musicals or "oldies but goodies".
One of the oldies but goodies that I pick is Hey Jude...and by this time, the majority of us have imbibed to make us more confident...however, as you know alcohol affects people in different ways....
The adoption story affects everyone. However, for most adoptees, it is a very one sided story. Many adoptees hunger for clues to their past, in hopes they can fill in the blanks that many people take for granted. For 35 years I believed that my mother was a young single/unwed woman, and then I believe that I continued the story in my head that she went to college, graduated, and had a family of her own...so as I've mentioned before, it was very shocking to find out that my parents were married and I was the youngest of 5 children. During the time before I met my family there were many one sided discussions going through my head. However, people cautioned me, with good reason, that my Korean family is probably going through similar emotions. The age range between me and my 1st sister in Korea is similar to that of me and my youngest sister in the US. To think of having to have said good bye to my sister the day she was born is unbearable. Up until we started the adoption process ourselves I would have probably scoffed at the idea of "loss and adoption", I admittedly lived in a "bubble", but now I know that with great joy, there also comes great loss.
My throat is killing me, but they want me to keep singing. I oblige, but now I cannot look at their faces while I sing because I realize my trip is coming to an end.
“Music is the universal language of mankind.”
Monday, July 1, 2013
I was with my family for a week, and we walked the neighborhood every day, but I have to be honest, I'm not sure if I could find their home. There are so many alleys and streets, that it's hard for me to remember. I am intrigued by the buildings and noises that you may hear coming from the other side of the walls....
I am fairly sure that this is some sort of school.
I am fairly sure that this is some sort of school.
Plants are appreciated. People seem to have potted plants everywhere.
I am always intrigued by the beautiful gates, wondering who lives behind them, what does it look like.
My family in Korea are entrepreneurs. My 3rd sister's salon.
The hills are in my family's neighborhood. To be honest, I'm not sure how people are able to drive let alone walk these steep hills during the winter time. Last year my omma had knee surgery. I can't imagine her walking these hills and then walking the 3 flights of steps up their apartment. However, if anyone could do it, she can.
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Sunday, June 30, 2013
...sorry it's taking me awhile to blog. Jet lag really kicked my butt this trip, I am going to attempt to finish blogging about the trip this week.
After I met with Gavin's foster family I met my nieces in front of the Hamilton Hotel in Itaewon, and from there they took me shopping. Our first place to visit was Namdaemun. I realize that I didn't snap a picture there, other than me in my new glasses. I wish I had looked at more frames, but I was so thrilled that I didn't have to pick our wire frames with the special nose pads, that I just bought these. I will definitely be purchasing glasses every time I return to Seoul.
After walking around Namdaemun we walked to Myeong-dong. If you love cosmetics and fashion, then this would be heaven for you. For me, a non shopper it's intense. Mobs of people are walking through the streets. Girls are standing outside of shops shouting about the free samples that you can get from inside the store. You should at least visit once, even if it seems insane!
My nieces tell me that they are hungry, and that they want pasta. So, I treat them to a dinner at an Italian restaurant.
Apple pizza? No red sauce, just cheese apples, and dough. Pretty tasty if I say so myself!
We continue to wander around Myeongdong-this sign makes me laugh.
We continue to wander and ride up the many escalators at Lotte Department Store and look out at the street below.
The event that brings the most laughter to our excursion is getting our pictures taken in a photo booth. I am laughing so hard I can barely breathe because in the photo booths there are "blue screens" and my dress matches the blue perfectly, so when the pictures are taken I am wearing whatever is in the background. We quickly take the pics and I am told to calm down because I'm laughing so hard, LOL! Afterwards they are quickly adding little pictures and deciding which poses are best. A fun time has been had by all!
Later that night I am sitting on the floor with aboji and 3rd sister. We are comparing our hands. We notice that all of us have the same lines on our hands. I have always said that I wanted to have pictures of my Korean family to know why I look like I do...
Sunday, June 16, 2013
The other day I had the opportunity to visit with Gavin's foster family. It was so special to see this amazing family who helped nurture Gavin for 15 months of his life. We started our visit at a traditional Korean restaurant. The pictures don't lie...it was amazing!!!
Next I had the honor and privilege to visit their home. They wanted me to see where Gavin had been living. The gifts I brought were appreciated, but what was priceless in their eyes was any photo in particular a flash drive filled with video and pictures. I literally saw his foster mom and aunt playing tug of war with a photo magnet until I showed the aunt she had one too. I was told that this happens whenever pictures are sent.
We feel so blessed to have this relationship. They are an important part of Gavin's life. When Gavin wonders what his life was like and what he was like as a baby living in Korea, they will be able to give him this precious gift. They will always be a part of our family and an important part of Gavin's life.
Saturday, June 15, 2013
Today I spent the majority of the day at Eastern Social Welfare Society. My trip happened to coincide with the Dillon Birthland Tour, which was a real treat. I only spent a few hours with the tour group, but loved every minute!
The first item on the agenda was meeting Dr. Kim. I will always regret that I didn't meet her father when I visited in 1994. I believe he was a great man who loved us all. It was wonderful to hear her speak. After that we took a tour of Eastern. We went to the various offices in the building and said hello.
After that we went to the file room. Eastern started adoptions in 1973. So although I'm not part of the first wave of Korea I'm in the first decade of Eastern. There are 2 rooms filled with files. This is a picture of files from the past. It is actually two rows deep of the filing cabinets and files on each side of the shelves. In the room next door are all the files that are "current". Again the shelves are 2 rows deep with files on either side.
Onto the afternoon! It was now time to do a file review. I had never seen my file, so I thought that this would be the perfect visit to do it. To be honest my file was thick, but about 2/3 of it was filled with correspondence from the last two years in regards to reunion. 1/3 of my file was from my adoption. I saw the home study reports and the post placement reports from my parents' social worker. It was interesting to see what had been written about my parents and then my adjustment to America. The most interesting piece of paper was a handwritten paper in the back with a red thumbprint. That was my intake form. I so wanted a copy. I tried to convince the social worker, but she said she couldn't. She wanted to know why I wanted it, I'm not sure she understood. The most interesting thing about this story though is she said I only saw that paper because I met my birth family...which makes me wonder for my friends who aren't in reunion and have done file reviews...
Finally I had a translated meeting with my omma and 3rd sister. It was nice to have one conversation where we understood everything each other was saying. There was a lot of laughter during our conversation. I wish there were more translations of conversations, but I'll just say that sometimes I'm thankful to not know what is being said, lol.
Thank you Eastern for a wonderful day! I will be back soon!
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
The last few days have been passing by in a blur. It feels like we've been going non-stop since I arrived. Questions or doubts that I've had in my head have vanished in regards to my Korean family ,and who I am is being confirmed every single day.
One of the main ways that my parents are showing their LOVE for me is an endless stream of food. Whether it's the scrumptious meals omma is making or the endless snacks that they keep giving me.
The language barrier is a challenge. But, everyone is doing their part to try to understand each other. Tomorrow we will have a translated meeting, so hopefully the important questions and statements will be expressed.
I have always had difficulty with good byes and it's going to be very hard leaving even though my heart is in Texas. So, I push that to the back of my mind and plan to enjoy each day to the fullest while I'm here.