Friday, July 29, 2011

Attachment - where we're at with that

If you know anyone who has adopted, is adopting or is considering adopting, chances are good you've heard about attachment.  Attachment is when the child feels 100% confident and comfortable in your care. (And attachment goes both ways - the parents feeling 100% confident and comfortable with the child, too!)

There are a million books, DVD's and websites that focus on attachment and it's mandatory training pre-adoptive parents must do for most, if not all, agencies.

You do a little digging on 'older child adoption', which is where Coralie falls, and you'll find nothing but hard to read information. Before finding Cora, our social worker almost scared us out of adoption completely with her older child talk.  Things can go horribly wrong.  Children who are abused, neglected, malnourished and a whole slew of other things - sometimes things that aren't even obvious -  can go on to have a horrible time figuring out the whole family thing.

So imagine where our hearts are when the 'older child adoption' subject gets raised.  People with the best intentions wind up setting us back a bit.  I'm just going to be vulnerable for a minute and share where we're at with this, our thoughts on Coralie and our thoughts on what we need.

Coralie has lived in a facility her entire life.  Unlike most Korean orphans, she did not live with a foster family in a home.  But don't feel sad for her, because she is in an AMAZING facility full of love.  But, she may struggle with figuring out 'mom' and 'dad' and a home and a small family of 5.  She sleeps with 8 other children, I believe, so sleeping might be something we have to be flexible with.  She may not like the idea initially with a bedroom of her very own. Heck, my youngest NOW doesn't like that idea either! Maybe they'll share for a while?  Or maybe we'll do a family sleeping thing for a while.  Parents on the bed, kids on the floor.  Co-sleeping is a bonding thing, and I can only imagine it would help with that.

Cora is going to be going on 5 when we bring her home.  We're still deciding about school and when she'll start. Hopeful that the school will let us sign her up for both Kindergarten and 4K.  Doing a lot of research and talking with ESL teachers as well as parents who have brought home children of this age.  We just can't know until she's home, but if she does come home in Feb, she'll have 6-7 months at home before school would even start.  A great start to her English.

Are we afraid of bonding?  Well, I mean, yes, sort of.  But here's the thing, we're a pretty bonded family.  I'm ALWAYS with the kids.  We're not really one of those families who have kids in and out every single day because my kids and I really like to do things together during the day.  My kids are happy if they have one playdate a WEEK in the summer.  I feel like, they're young and I'm happy to have them at my feet because time is fleeting, fast.  So when Cora joins us, she'll not be far away either.

We are doing SO much research, reading books and videos on attachment, but I'm also trusting in God.  He brought us to her and he's going to weave our hearts together. (Thanks for that beautiful picture, Stephanie.)  Not that I'm not realistic.  It COULD be easy! It COULD be hard.  As our social worker said, "It's a crapshoot at that age."

So what do I need? EXCITEMENT. Because need I remind you how amazing it is that this sweet little girl is now my daughter? (ahhhh!!!) I say this in the most lovable way - I don't need to hear, "Wow.  Well, I know someone who adopted a child that age and it was a nightmare and they divorced."  Really.  I really do not need that. It's counterproductive to us.   I also can't really dig into some of the forums, as wonderful as they might be, if I get the feeling that I'm going to go backwards.

And if any of you out there are adoptive parents and thing I'm not doing my due diligence and might be setting myself up for a disaster, let me also tell you that we're sooooo on this.  We know some of the things that can go wrong, (can't know everything), we know that she'll need to be loved even when she's trying to make us NOT love her so we'll go away and we're very willing to ask for help if we need it. In fact, I've got an attachment therapist in my TOWN who we've reached out to already in preparation. 

Right now we're realistic, but very optimistic.  We've seen so much video, so much info on her personality and we're nothing but elated.  A little nervous? Well, sure, but we'd probably be WAY more nervous to bring home the typical 15-20 month old that would come from the traditional Korean adoption.  We're much MUCH more at ease with her age.

So, if you're an adoptive parent who adopted an 'older child' and you have positive and encouraging things to say to us, spill it! We'd LOVE to celebrate our daughter with you and celebrate your child's positive attachment. I'm always up to hearing happy stories.  Ours may or may not wind up that way, but I certainly think it's better for my emotional well being to continue on the optimistic path that I'm on in thinking we're going to be ok. ;)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

First Care Package!

We've been slowly gathering up items to put in Cora's first care package, but there is a lot of pressure with a first care package!  There is SO much you want to put in it!  How do you narrow it down?  But then, when you hear that you have to pack it into a 1 GALLON ZIP LOCK BAG, it's even more pressure. And I have been feeling that pressure.  

But today, off it went to our agency where, who knows how long it will take to get there???  But I thought I'd share what we put in our care package.  (One of the most fun things I've done so far in this adoption!!)

An adorable photo album to replace the talking one I bought before I knew about the gallon-size photo album thing.  And funny enough, despite this one not letting us talk on it, I like it even more!  See her sweet smile in the window!?  
It holds 12 photos.  Hey adopting parents - it's only 7x5 and squishy! It's ziplock bag parent approved!

I have to be honest.  This isn't one of my favorite books.  Don't you think the parent could just let the little bunny think he loves him more than the parent does?  Really? But the kids have always loved hearing it.
And look at the coolest part?  It's in Korean AND English!  LOVE it! And I hope she does, too.
A VERY wrinkled dress.  Do you know how many ways a size 3T dress can be folded and rolled to fit? Many. Trust me.
Seung Joo loves bags, so the boys picked out these little darling bags.  Panda is from Miles and Bird is from Logan.
Inside Miles bag went the bracelets and the Hello Kitty brush/mirror.  Logan picked out the heart ring and the barrettes. 

We also added in some ABC/123 Stickers and two musical cards that I didn't take a picture of.  One played the Hamster Dance song and the other one played an Alvin and the Chipmunks song.  Both picked out by the boys and danced to multiple times before packing.  Hoping Seung Joo and her friends will dance to them, too!

And in case you don't think that that can fit into a 1 gallon size bag...

We did of course pack it with lots of love and good thoughts as we sent it off on the way.  First stop, MN.  Second stop, Seoul.
It's coming, Coralie!

Prayer Requests

There are three things heavy on my heart this morning as I sit her in the silence, sipping my coffee.  The boys are still sleeping and Dave is out playing basketball.  I love the quiet mornings I get if I'm able to force myself up and out of bed. But this morning, my thoughts are not on happy quiet moments. 

1.  My Silas - There is a major drought going on in Africa right now.  Silas and his family are right in the middle of the biggest affected area.   
"We are already in the crisis. There are areas where people are going with only one meal in a day. There are also areas in Karamoja region where people do not have a meal at all unless they are rescued. That is what is happening, the reality that we must tackle," Ecweru Musa Francis, State Minister, Relief and Disaster Preparedness, explains the magnitude of drought in Uganda.  (from this article)
 Compassion sent the families who sponsor kids in Uganda and other surrounding countries affected an email dictating the severity of the drought right now. They said that this drought is the worst drought in more than 60 years.  40% of the kids under age 5 are affected. (And, what about Silas? He's 8. What's the under 5 thing? Not sure.) 

Please pray for Silas and all of the children and families affected right now.  My heart breaks for them. I'm SO worried about my Silas. He has 6 siblings and only his mom is still alive.  If you have a heart for African children, might you consider a small donation? Even $5?

2.  Haiti - So if you know me, you know that I also have a heart for Haiti that started long before the tragic earthquake.  There is an org that I support and recommend anytime anyone will listen.  It is run by the most amazing girl who started it as a teen. She's only an early 20-something and 'amazing' doesn't even cut it when it comes to her, what she's doing and what's she's done.  Haiti Foundation Against Poverty.

Last week they saw 2,200 people in their medical clinic in only 6 days.  Their shelves are empty.  They're desperate for OTC products such as vitamins, vicks vapor rub and vaginal wash.  The medical director told me personally in an email that that is just a small list of things they are desperate for.  But the magnitude of malnutrition and respiratory infections is very high right now. 

My family is sending supplies and I sent an email to all of my neighbors/friends who are local to see if they wanted to pitch in.  Might you consider pitching in from wherever you are and sending a box on your own? I went to Target yesterday and the Target brand Vicks was only $2.43 and the target brand vitamins were $4.43. Let me know if you want details on where to send.

3.  Korean Adoption - Korean adoption is in a not-so-great place right now and changes are happening and have been happening in the past few months.  Talks of the program closing, a shortage (major shortage) of EP's (what a child needs to go home) and just the general sense of unknown and silence is affecting so many people right now.  One family that I know is rounding 15 months of waiting with no idea what is going on and when they might be able to travel.  Every day she wakes up and thinks, "Is today the day?"  And every night she goes to bed knowing it wasn't.

We're caught up in the EP mess right now, as you all know.  Coralie should be able to come home much sooner than Feb/March, but she can't.  And it's hard.  But we see an end in sight.  Pray, pray, pray that we're right in this.  There are fears and spoken speculation that adoptions are coming to a sudden stop and while I don't feel educated enough to agree or disagree, I pray that children who are matched, children who are waiting to be matched will be able to come home to their forever families.  I'm sort of putting my fingers in my ears and singing loudly so I don't get sucked into the fear right now.

And while we're talking Korea, pray for my sweet Coralie.  We're sending her first care package today - pictures to come!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Family Picture

We're getting our care package all packed up.  One of the items we got is a talking photo frame that is really for younger kids, but it lets you record a message for all 7 pictures.  We took one of the family, including Seung Joo. :)  My hair was in a pony tail 2 minutes before this picture. I'm hugely unhappy with my hair, but she's 4. She won't care about my hair, will she. ;)
I hope she can see herself in it!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Well, maybe I don't actually have to find something to do during the wait....

Feeling more positive about waiting to see Cora today.  Looking out at the calendar, I realize that the time really IS going to go fast.  Check it out.
  • July - Dave's birthday + camping trip
  • August - My birthday + dells trip
  • September - School starts + Korean Classes
  • October - Korean classes + Halloween
  • November - Korean Classes Logan's birthday + Thanksgiving
  • December - Christmas
  • January - New Years + Miles birthday
  • Feb - TRAVEL!?  (Maybe.)
One other good thing is that Miles will be 7 when it's time to travel.  It's good because he will feel so much older than she is, still at 4.  He really wants to be the BIIIIG brother.  And I think with her size, he really will be, but it's just a mental thing for him, too, to see ages 6 and 4.  Ages 7 and 4 sound older. ;) 

And the delayed travel will give us time to take Korean levels 1 and hopefully 2 if they are back-to-back.  That will be SO helpful.  And there will be no rushing.  We'll slowly be able to get ready and when the time comes to go, I believe we'll be ready to go!

Would it be great having her here for all of those things? Well, sure, of course.  But we have plenty of things to pass the time so we're not just waiting.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Eight. Or is it Seven.

I had a glimmer.

Remember, the glimmer of hope I had that Coralie would come home this year.  Because of her age and her situation, I allowed myself to have a glimmer of hope that she wouldn't fall into the EP mess of children with families not able to travel.  (Korean families in process, I know, so stupid.)

Our agency's Korean program director is in Korea right now.  I gathered up the guts to email her, asking specifically if Seung Joo could maybe be considered eligible for some mysterious EP's that are rumored to show up sometimes after EP's run out for special cases.

In my clouded eyes, Seung Joo doesn't fall into the category of children who are getting held up in the process and I thought, we should just ask! So, we did.  (Remember, w/o the government's reduction in EP's this year, she'd be home, say, in September.)  

She told us she was just visiting with Seung Joo, that she looked adorable with her pig tails and she was talking up a storm to her friends in the center she lives in.  I wanted to find peace in that, and I did, but in the situation of unknown, it made my heart miss her.  Does it make sense to miss someone who you have never met?  To know that this women from our agency sat and observed her playing and talking and pig-tailing it up...I could see it, and I wish I could have SEEN it.

She agreed that it was a question worth asking and she promised to do so.  I heard from her tonight - she spoke with the Korean agency big-wig director who said that the glimmer I had should be snuffed out.  Coralie will not be coming home this year.  Though, they said they are very anxious to get her home and will work on her case as soon as they can come January.

So, maybe travel will be in February. 8 months from now.  Well, 7, I guess, right? 7 1/2 maybe?

So tonight I'm sortof mourning the loss of my glimmer because I did a good job of holding on to it.  I know there are SO.MANY.FAMILIES who have currently waited 14 months and SO.MANY.FAMILIES who will be waiting 14 months from here on out.  That's SO hard.

So, what I'm trying to think about is a goal - something I can accomplish in 7-8 months. Something to say, "OK, so you can't go get Coralie until February (hopefully not March!) so while you wait, you'll do .......... to pass the time."

I've started jogging.  I could do a race. Eh.
I could try and get this body back into comfy swimsuit condition.  (Not Gonna Happen)
I've brushed off my Middle Grade Novel that I have 12,000 words in already.  I could finish it! Hmm.
I don't have any remodeling to do.
There's no craft I'm itching to do right now.
Korean lessons.  (Check! They start in September.)

I've got nothing! Can you help me think of some ideas that can pass the time?  Something big.  Something that I could say, "I'd love Coralie to be coming home sooner, but it's OK because I'm going to accomplish -------------".

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Interesting Reflection on Dolls

I've been winning some pretty great Craigslist listings of girl toys - this weekend, polly pockets and barbies.  (Let's be honest - adoption isn't cheap! As much as I'd love to go to the store and buy litttle sweet miss a cart full of brand new toys, it's not really happening.  And that's OK!)

I got a big lot of Polly Pockets yesterday, which included 14 dolls and a huge amount of clothing/accessories/animals go with it.  Then today, I got a lot of like 40 dolls, almost 30 of them being barbies + horses and clothing.  eh, some of them have pretty ratty hair, but many are great and they were only like $1 a piece, so I'm not complaining.

One thing that I couldn't help but realize when sorting through everything was that they are all (Polly Pockets included) white. Most have blond hair.  And it's something that I didn't really think about before.  We bought Coralie a little doll to send in her first care package and I debated sending a cute little doll that spoke many phrases in English (blond hair, blue eyes), thinking maybe she'd learn some phrases, but in the end, I thought sending a doll that looked more like her was a good first step for us.  She's a little mother who loves to do hair etc, so we got her this one. (not really Asian looking...)

And as I looked through the dolls, I wondered, are there Asian barbie dolls?  There are. In the tune of $50. (Korean - Chinese - Indonesia)  But the amount of Asian dolls is limited. We're going to have to be a little creative and look for these options, even if they cost a little bit more.  Oddly enough, from the families who have already traveled to Korea, I hear that the baby dolls in Korea are the typical blond hair, blue eyes dolls we have here.  So odd, right?

If you're a China/Korea family who has some ideas of where I can find more dolls that are of Asian decent, leave them in the comments or email them to me, please! :)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Finally - A Name!

The Famous Red 'Matched' Square!
After tossing around hundreds of names, we have settled on the perfect one. 

Coralie SeungJoo 

(Cora for short)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

How Long Do You Have to Wait?

How long do you have to wait before she can come home?  That's the question of the hour right there.  Here's my brief answer to that, in as simple of a way as I can say...

South Korea has a plan to kick their domestic adoption program into full gear.  If you think about what adoption was like here ages ago - more of a hush, hush, last option sort of a thing - that's, from what I understand, where Korea is today.  But the good news is that, just as it did here, adoption is starting to be more of a popular idea and the number of children getting adopted into Korean families is growing.

The goal is to eliminate international adoption completely.  There have been years thrown around - 2012 was one of them.  Now we're hearing 2016 might be the year.  Adoption is in the front of Korean headlines lately with a new bill passed making it obvious they really do mean business.  And, if the children can be adopted into Korean homes, I absolutely believe that this is best for the children.  I pray that that happens.

(Wait, did I say this was going to be simple?!)

So, in order to eliminate international adoptions, they are reducing the number of children each year that are allowed to be adopted out of the country.  I believe I read that this year had a full 10% reduction from last year.  Once they hit that magic number of children, that's it.  Children will still be referred to families, but the families will know they have to wait until the next year to travel and bring them home because they missed the cut off date.

If you remember, I talked about Agency A and Agency B - hoping we'd be matched with a child in Agency A because travel would be FAST!  Well, guess where Seung Joo is? Agency A.  Guess who is out of 'tickets' already...Agency A.  (Well, agency A, B and the other big agency in Korea, too, I think...)  So, that lightening fast travel...not gonna happen.

It WOULD have happened if we would have requested Seung Joo's file right away and started our process with her right away, but you can't rewind life.  God's time, I try and remind myself.

And I try not to think of the, "What could have been's" and try to focus on what's ahead...and what's ahead is likely a 9 month wait.  That's what we've been told from our agency.  The 1-2 month wait has turned to a 9-10 month wait. (*Sniff sniff*)

But, I'm not completely certain, and neither is our agency. Our case worker said it didn't APPEAR that she'd travel this year, but because she's older, she can't make any promises one way or another.  To me, that's hope.  Something small to grab on to.

And of course, with her age, it would only make it easier to have her home sooner rather than later with school forthcoming.  Would we start her a year late? On time?  If she came home as she could have come home a couple of months ago, she'd have an entire school year of  time to learn the language, bond with us and learn about life in America and STILL start school on time as a typical Kindergartener, but now...who knows what we'll do. 

She's in school in Korea. In fact, their "3K" is 5 1/2 hrs long each day!  My kids went for 2 hours, 2 times a week! I don't know what her "4K" will be like this year, but the reality is that she's learning a lot already.

But, we can't control the timing and just need to pray that God will bring her home at the perfect time, whether that be soon, or right before she turns 5.  No matter what, it will be an amazing time!

Until then, we prepare! :)  She loves (and more importantly, is very familiar with) Hello Kitty so thank you Target for bringing it home! :)  I picked up a new bedspread and sheet set for her bed.  They have a little lamp, clock and wall stickys to, for her own comfort level, we thought we'd bring a little Korea favorite to her very own room.

And we sent out the message to our local friends and neighbors that if they have any clothes/toys their kids outgrew, we'd be happy to "shop" from them.  Because really, I'm a little overwhelmed at what is all involved with welcoming a 4 year old.  I know there is a LOT of things to buy when you are welcoming home a baby, but when we're talking a 4 year old, I'm not sure I'm going know what I all need.  There aren't any "lists" like there are for bringing home a newborn. ;)  So if you have a daughter, fill me in on what they play with when they are 4!