Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Best of Summer

This summer was the BEST summer ever.  Seriously, I've been a mom for almost 10 years, and I've never had such a summer as I did this year.  It wasn't some fabulous vacation or new summer toy that made it so wonderful, it was simple awesome family time.  Logan even said this was HIS favorite summer.  Sometimes, simple is best, and we're proof! 
Here are some of our summer highlights.
We spent a few nights with Grandpa and Grandma.
We fed ducks!

We went on our very first family camping trip.  And it was the highlight of the summer.

We went to the Dells.  And water parks aren't really our thing yet, so we did laser tag, go carts, ropes coarse, etc...BLAST!

We lost teeth!!

We left our 9 year old for an entire 3 nights with a teenage youth counselor. No phones, no parents. A little scary. He survived. We also sent Miles to Grandma camp for those nights. Yay for Dave and I!

Dave and I both turned a year older.  The point to note is that HE is a year older than I am.

Bike rides are fun. Bike rides to get ice cream cones are even more fun.
We bowled. Miles won! (Is there an age limit for the bumpers? Thinking not.)

We went swimming.  Oh, did we go swimming. Many, many times.

We went to our amazing FREE zoo. Learned a lot about red pandas, too!

And of course, we spend times thinking about how next summer will be even better, because Cora will be with us!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Owl Love You Forever

We went to Target today to pick up a couple of tees for the boy's first couple days of school.  We're waiting to do school shopping until they are out of shorts.  When we walked past the girl area, Logan stopped and said, "Seung Joo would LOVE this!" pulling out a tutu.  So, we stopped to look and before I knew it, this was in our cart.
I mean, it's LOGAN'S fault, really. How could I refuse?
Check out the shirt.
Guess what I've heard about 10 times in the past hour?

Want to hear a joke mom?
Knock, knock.
Who's there.
Owl who?
Owl love you forever, mom.

Want to see theeee cutest thing of the entire outfit?
I may have missed a lot of years and a lot of cute clothes, but I'm lovin' buying a size 3T for my 4 1/2 year old daughter.  Shipping this out with a new care package soon!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

What Does Your Child Know About Adoption?

This post is for all of the people who read adoption blogs for one reason or another.  Maybe you're supporting a friend or family member who is adopting. Maybe you're considering adoption down the road.  Maybe you just clicked on a link on facebook and got hooked on a certain adoption blog, can I ask you to think about something if you're a parent?

What does your child know about adoption?

Probably most of you will know a family or more in your kid's school that have adopted a child or more.  Maybe your church has a family that, as an adult you realize the kids were adopted.  You probably just assume that the kids can tell just by looking that the child is adopted. (And sometimes not just by looking.)  

Adoption isn't a topic that comes up often, I'm sure, at the supper table, unless you're wanting to adopt or you have someone in your close circle who is adopting.  But with the huge chance that your child will be friends with a child who was adopted, maybe it should come up once.

Yesterday, our family went to look at a used swing set we found on craigslist for the back yard.  (Just thinking about the boys and Cora playing together, building their connection in the spring.)  The boys were all over the swingset and Dave was taking measurements.  (Too big, darn it!)  The family had two little girls, 2nd grade and 5th grade. They were selling the swing set to get a trampoline. 

Our adoption came up and the youngest girl was fascinated by the idea.  "Adopting!" "A girl?"  "Do the boys want a sister?"  "Will she like our play set?"  The mom said she had a friends who adopted two little girls internationally, now teens.

Girl: "Who was adopted?"
Mom: "You know, the girl who babysits you sometimes."
Girl: "Really?"
Mom: "Yes! She was adopted."
Girl: "You mean she was in a cage to get adopted?"


Mom laughed it off and said, "No honey, people are not in cages for adoption.  It's not like puppies. ha ha ha ha"


Seriously we could have heard the crickets chirping in the cornfield. (Wait, do crickets live in cornfields?)

We went on for a few more seconds talking about how adoption works.  Mom was clearly embarrassed, and the good news is that there will probably be a conversation about adoption around the dinner table to help clear things up in her mind.   

The biggest thing that stuck out to me is that this child, 7 or 8 years old, had no idea about adoption.  She truly thought the children lived in cages, and that just about broke my heart.  And I thought, she's probably not alone!  You think about the pet stores, TV commercials and the humane societies "adopting" out the pets, and it's no wonder she thought that's how adoption worked.

What does your child know about adoption?  Because chances are good she has some ideas in her head about what it is and how it works and maybe she's as wrong as the little girl above.  Even if you don't specifically know how it works, having you give them the gist of it would be a great thing.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Emotions Bubbling

It's a funny thing, adoption, and all of the emotions that go along with it.  And the conversations that go along with it.

Like the conversation we had yesterday where the woman asked me if she "has been socialized well?  Cause I hear all kinds of stories about kids that weren't socialized." (Did you cringe at that word like I did?) The woman was harmless, really, and genuinely happy for us, but that was just weird and I changed the conversation immediately.  Apparently someone she knows started the adoption process and decided that because she couldn't know how socialized this child was, she couldn't say yes.  Another post on that coming soon.

I've mentioned before the crazy feeling of missing Cora, though we've never met.  And I can't quite verbalize that to make it understandable.  We have videos of Cora and her little BFF and I watch them and feel like I'm getting a glimpse of her.  Her laugh, (oooh, her laugh!!) and her little voice and her toys she likes to play with.  Her fingers and hair and eyes. The different expressions on her face.  It's a glimpse...just a glimpse. And I long for more. 

And I think about what life will be like when she joins us.  We had an amazing family weekend at Wisconsin Dells this past weekend.  The boys and Dave were in the pool and I thought about when we have Cora with us, how sweet that will be.  We ate at a restaurant with an arcade and the kids were playing and Dave says, "Where will we sit when we have 5 people in our family? Every table is made for four!" She's present, though she's so far away.

And then there's the switching feelings of pure excitement and pure sadness of missing her and knowing we won't see her for maybe 6 months or more.  If my heart feels like it misses her now, what will it feel like when it's 4 months from now. 5 months from now.  And how you get the feeling that that's not the face that anyone wants to see.

"How's it going with the adoption?"  is a common question and we have so many happy things to say, but the second we say, "But the wait is so hard..." the mood changes and really, what can people say who haven't been there? So we try not to go there.

I've heard the comparison of pregnancy to adoption.  In many ways, it is very very similar! Adoption is a joyous, happy thing! Like pregnancy. There is the longing, the anticipation, the frustration, the anxiousness, the feelings of just getting the wait over.  Let's not forget about the comfort food and weight gain. :) (This summer has not been kind to my waistline.)

Just like a pregnant couple has to wait so many month to get a glimpse of their baby, we have to wait so long to see ours. Almost exactly the same time, actually.  

But, the biggest, hugest, as my kids say, difference is that the couple who is able to do nothing but wait for their baby growing in mom's belly knows that whenever that baby comes, it will be day one. They won't miss a beat.

Now, obviously I know that we chose an older child for many reasons, and day 1 isn't an issue for us.  Or month 1, or year 1, year 2 or year 3. But 4! Year 4 IS important to us.  And thus, though we're anxiously waiting like every other expectant parent, we're missing days. Months. of the life we've already missed years of. So, while there are many similarities, the waiting just doesn't feel the same.

But it's all we can do.  Wait. Pray. Gather things. Prepare. Plan. Think ahead. Watch videos. Print pictures and put in frames. Allow the heart, just a little bit, to go there - a place a year from now when there really are 5 people to sit at the table in the restaurant. But just for a minute because it's hard to do that and then wait.

So where are we right at the moment? We are overfilled with joy.  We're excited.  We're expanding. (No, I don't mean my hips. Well, ok, they're expanding, too.) We feel God's presence in our wait.  We trust that God is in control of this entire process.  We miss her. We long for her physical presence and take comfort in her videos and pictures. We wonder what she smells like. How her hair feels. How her hand will feel in ours. We wonder what size her shoes are.  We know that she's a bit taller than Logan's belly button and right at Miles' chest. We're preparing - our home and our hearts. And we're sad that we're in the middle of a political stand that affects our family. But mostly, we're just anxious and excited and joyful and happy and longing for the day our 4 becomes 5.  It is already 5, she's just not here at our table yet. ;)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Name Game

I got an email asking why I go back and forth with Seung Joo/Coralie/Cora's name.  "Wouldn't it just be easier to stick with one?"

Well....maybe! It does seem easy for many people to just go with the American name they picked once they accept a referral.  In our case, our sweet miss is older and her name IS Seung Joo and it's been Seung Joo for almost 4 1/2 years.  No matter if we plan on trying to have her acclimate to a new name, the choice is ultimately hers.  She'll be close to age 5 when she comes home, and that's a tough age to just make a switch.

When we picked the name Coralie, we always planned on her going by Cora for the most part.  But it took us quite a while before we would even call her anything other than Seung Joo.  Because we "got to know her" as Seung Joo.  Today in our conversations, we alternate her names, sometimes using all three in one conversation.  (And, as I do in the blog.)  It's not an intentional way to make you confused! ;) 

Logan ONLY calls her Seung Joo.  Miles is like Dave and I and alternates her name by three.

I told one of the people at our agency what SJ's American name will be and she said, "It will be interesting to see if she ever makes the switch from SJ to Coralie.  Some kids at her age just don't."  And no matter if she does or doesn't, keeping her middle name Seung Joo was important for us in case she ever wants to choose her Korean name as she ages. 

So the reason we keep going back and forth is because we are the only ones who know her as Cora or Coralie. She has no idea that a name will be added to her name, Seung Joo, and we have to be realistic that she might not want it changed.  And of course, if she doesn't, that's totally fine, too!  In Korea, they don't have middle names like we do.  Her name is Seung Joo _(last name)___.  But Joo isn't her middle name, it's an extension of her first.  So, really, we're not taking away her name of Seung Joo, we're just adding a name in front of it. 

Whether she accepts it or not, we'll see as we get there, but when she comes home, we plan on calling her Coralie Seung Joo as she adjusts (Or maybe Cora Seung Joo) with the idea that gradually it would stop at Cora. We would think that as time passes, she'll grow to know and grow accustomed to being called Cora - eventually becoming Cora.  We'll follow her lead without expectations one way or the other.

Until then, you'll continue seeing Cora, Coralie, Seung Joo and SJ here! :)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The long wait for legals

What are legals, you might ask?  Well, I'm not exactly sure.  I gather they are Seung Joo's * documents making her legally able to be adopted. And you can't process the US side of the adoption forms (i600) without them.  They are a must.  Add on the fact that the i600 can take months to process, you can see how getting them is a step worth celebrating.

Sometimes legals are waiting with the child's referral info, sometimes people wait a few days or a week and sometimes some unlucky people wait weeks upon weeks, into months.

Meet unlucky person.

I've been asking around to see how long legals have taken and the answers are all over the ball park.  But one person said 11 weeks. MOST, however, are not NEARLY that long.  Days, even a week or two at most. (Or so it seems.  Just from what I'm gathering.)

We are at 6 weeks of waiting right now.  I know it's not a HUGE deal because we didn't make the 2011 quota anyway, so it doesn't matter if it comes tomorrow or in a month, but I'd just like to make sure there isn't anything wrong that might stop the process. I've been told it isn't the case, but the whole adoption process is a bit nerve wracking, so I'd just sleep better having them.

Keep your fingers crossed they come by by next Friday.  Why next Friday?  Why not? ;)

*Next blog post is on Seung Joo's/Coralie/Cora's name. ;)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Cora's Best Friend

At Cora's orphanage, if I'm understanding correctly, they live in little families.  I believe there are 8 girls in Cora's family who sleep in the same room. While Cora's lived at her orphanage for basically her entire life, most Korean children waiting for adoption live in foster homes.  If they are not adopted by age 3(ish), they are transferred into an orphanage.

About a year ago, a little girl was transferred into Cora's orphanage and placed in her "family".  When I first inquired about Coralie, there was immediate talk from the agency about her and her best friend, who like Cora had the initials, "S.J.".  (Cora's name is Seung Joo)

When we were looking over her file, most of the pictures and all of the video had this sweet little girl in them.  The girls seem pretty much inseparable. BFF's. ;)

So, imagine my heart when we knew that Seung Joo was going to have a home, but "SJ" was going to stay there.  It was a hard fact to deal with.  Both girls have been listed for almost 4 years and those adopting from Korea typically are waiting for a referral of a baby, so I was thinking about anyone who had every shown an interest in adoption local to send her info to.  I couldn't think of anyone.

I belong to a Korean adoption forum, and imagine my happiness when I found out that there was a family looking at SJ's file!  We instantly connected, chatted about the girls (we were still researching Cora's medical records at the time) and we really walked the path together.

This family accepted SJ's file and will be bringing her home!  Best part? They are only about a 4-hr car ride from our house.  They were in our city last weekend, so we had a chance to meet them in person and share our joy for each other's new addition.

We instantly clicked and I do believe that this little SJ is one lucky little girl to be joining such an amazing family.  (It wasn't until after we posed with photos that I wondered what the other people at the coffee shop thought we were doing!;)  When they dug out their picture of SJ, Logan said, "Awww! She's SO cute!!"  She IS, isn't she?

If you want to follow her story, head over to her blog, Bringing Home Mercy.  We're hoping that we might have the chance to travel together! Can you imagine how wonderful it would be to welcome the girls into their forever families arms on the same day?  The airplane ride home? 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Personalities - Oh how they differ

When pregnant with Logan, we didn't find out if he was a boy or a girl.  With Miles, I remember sitting on the table for my 20 week ultrasound, having decided we wanted to prepare for the sex.  Sure, I'll be honest, I'm pretty sure I wanted a girl.  One of each sex. Don't they say that the perfect combo?  But, if they told me my baby was a boy, I was going to be FAR from disappointed because Logan was pretty much thee easiest child to parent.

Logan=calm, easy, good sleeper, content, good eater, loving, caring, sharing, empathetic....all of these things Dave and I pretty much had no problem thinking was from OUR doing.  We were awesome parents! ;) And our son was proof that we knew what we were doing. (hee hee hee)

And a boy it was.  And he came at 40w 2d just like his brother.  Though, Logan's labor was 27 hours and Miles was 7. Logan's was long and boring, Miles' was quick and very, very scary.  Logan came out and was pretty much this calm present child and Miles came out screaming and rarely stopped.  It was literally the second he was born that he showed us that just because he had the same genes and sex did not make him a carbon copy of his brother.

(And thank goodness for that! Cause LOOK at that face! I'm so glad he is who he is!)

As a baby, Miles was intense, had the ability to cry louder than any other baby I've seen (And for longer!), puked all.of.the.time., never wanted to be let down, sleep?  The boy obviously didn't know what that was for years.  YEARS. (It's still common to have him wander in at night.)  We were stretched far, far, (faaaaaaar!) beyond what we thought we could handle.

But now, Miles is 6 1/2 and going into 1st grade and Logan is almost 10 going into 4th grade and the things that I loved about Logan as a baby and toddler are still Logan and I still SO much love his personality!  And the things that were so hard about Miles have transformed in a different way and I SO much love his personality!

Logan is (for the most part) calm, mature, confident and studious. He prefers his feet to stay on the ground.

Miles is wild, brave, confident and so many times leaves us with our jaws open with, "did he just do that?" If he has it his way, his feet will be anywhere BUT the ground.

I took this picture at an amusement park yesterday.  It's one of my favorite pictures of the moment.  Logan was a bit nervous. It was the first ride of the day.  Miles was all, "Let's GO!!"  This is their little selves in a nutshell right here. 
The kids stretch each other so much. Miles learns good quiet behavior from Logan.  Things to do while sitting still.  Logan learns to be brave from Miles.  How to quiet the little voice in his head and just try.

 As they get older and I can see how their personalities came from the moment they were born, not through parenting or molding.  I've been blessed to have a little wild child and a calm sensitive child.  I can not wait to learn what Coralie's personality will be.  

Will she be more like Logan or more like Miles?  Either way, we're the luckiest parents in the world.