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Thursday, May 31, 2012

We Are Home!



I just wanted to let everyone know that we are FINALLY home! Sorry I've been missing from my blog lately. It has been a tough week so far, but we are making small strides.  I plan to post more about our Jack and trip to Korea once we get our nights and days figured out. ;) Thank you to everyone who has prayed, provided meals, and run errands for us. We are so grateful! Please keep praying for our attachment and for us to get off of Korean time! Love to you all!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Travel Call!




This morning we received the two most beautiful words you can hear in your adoption journey, TRAVEL CALL!!!! In pregnancy terms, it means my water broke! :) We are leaving this Saturday, May 19th for Seoul and arriving back home in Charleston the following Saturday, May 26th! Praise the Lord! It's really happening!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Letter to John



When Bryan and I decided we wanted to start a family, I thought that once I found out we were expecting, I would write my child a letter. Well, it's been over five years since I've been wanting to write this, but I finally was able to do it! This is our letter to our son, John.


Dear John,

We have not held you or even met you yet, but I can tell you that your father and I already love you! We have waited for you for such a LONG time. We prayed for a child for many years and on December 27th, 2011, we were blessed to know that God handpicked you, John Dohyun, to be our son! We named you John, because it means, “gift from God,” and we knew that is exactly what you were. Your birth mother named you Dohyun and it means, “kind hearted way,” and I’m sure that is what she desired for you in your life. 

There are so many things we wish for you to know. First of all, we want you to know you that we will be there for you and ALWAYS love you, no matter what. God has placed this unconditional love for you in our hearts, and there is NOTHING you could do to make that go away. Please know too, that we will do everything we can to be good and wise parents, and always have your best interest at heart (even though you may not think this sometimes). ;) Remember though, that we aren’t perfect, and because of sin, we will make mistakes. But even when we do make mistakes, God can still use them for His purposes and for your good. We pray that God will guide us in raising you, and help us to be humble, quickly asking for forgiveness when we are wrong, and for you to be open to give it as God has called all His children to do. We also pray that we would impact your life by being a Godly influence for you. May we exhibit His character in our marriage and our lifestyle, so that it would be what you desire.

Ever since we saw your face, we have been praying for you and the life you have ahead of you. We have prayed for God to protect you and keep you healthy; that He would make you strong physically and spiritually.  But by far, our biggest prayer for you is that you would come to know Jesus and receive Him as your personal savior.  Even now, we pray God will create in you a desire to know our Lord and to take joy in serving Him. These verses in Ephesians, sum up what we aspire for you... 

Ephesians 3:16-19

"I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your heart through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge —that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." 

As you grow older, we know that you will have questions and doubts that come with your adoption.  Please know that when you do, we will be here for you, to support you and answer any questions you have.  More importantly though, know that God will always be here for you. Although we love you very much, God loves you even more!  He knows exactly what your heart feels and can help you through it; we pray that you will be quick to let Him. As wonderful as adoption can be, it is a result of a sinful and broken world. But my son, you do not have to be broken with it. God can fill the wounds of your heart with His spirit.  You may not have been born from us Jack, but you are our son, given to us by our Father in heaven. You have been entrusted to us and us to you as part of God’s perfect plan. And He has a perfect plan for you too (Jeremiah 29:11). Adoption is just a part of your ever growing testimony.

My sweet boy, I cannot explain to you what joy it will be once you are home and in our arms. We feel so blessed that out of all the children in the world, God has chosen you to be our son and has given us the privilege to love you and raise you as our own.  May our God who chose you for us, show favor on you and draw you close to Him.  We love you Jack!

-Mommy and Daddy


Friday, May 4, 2012

Our Attachment Plan



As we wait for our travel call any day now, it is very important for us to prepare our family and friends of what is to come and inform you of our attachment plan. Although we are very excited to meet Jack and finally have him home, he is about to go through one of the hardest things you can ever go through.  If you have had a 16 month old or know of one, imagine if you will, you are that child. This is an example of what might go through your head:

You have had a family (foster mom (Omma) and foster father (Appa), and two foster brothers) for as long as you have known.  Even though this family has loved you and been there for you, you do not understand that they are not a permanent family...you just love them like they are. Then one day, two strangers come into your home.  They look very different than anything you have ever seen.  They smell different and speak a language you cannot understand. They are hugging you and kissing you, but you don't know why. A few days later, you meet that same couple again, but this time they are taking you away from the only family you have ever known and you are scared and very upset.  You finally fall asleep and then wake up and cry out for your Omma! The strangers are there now and Omma never comes. You are then contained on a 14 hour flight, all the while, you are searching and grieving for your family. You reach out for others to take you back to your family and resent these strangers for taking you away. You finally arrive in a foreign land, where the sights and smells are different. You arrive at the place they call "home."  They feed you strange foods and sing strange songs.  They don't do anything like Omma and Appa.  They don't seem to understand what you want or they don't know what makes you feel better.  You miss your family.

Of course this just an example, but it is very common for an adopted child from Korea to feel these things. We do know that Jack is very attached to his Omma and Appa, and has stranger-anxiety. So Bryan and I are prepared for the worst case scenario, but will be praying for the best. :) We feel that it is good to communicate this to our loved ones, so they can be prepared as well and to know how to pray for us and support us during this time.

So, what's this plan of ours?

Well, our main goal is to establish a strong attachment with Jack. We want him to know that WE are his forever parents. That we will always be there for him and will always love him. Based on what we have learned through many books, countless hours of research, and numerous conversations with adoptive parents, we have come up with our attachment plan.  The following ways are recommended to help Jack cope with his grief and to help promote healthy bonding/attachment to us.

Our Attachment Plan:

1. Be The Primary Care Givers.

Let me get the hardest one out of the way first. ;)  Bryan and I are to be the ONLY caregivers for Jack. Meaning we are the only ones that will be allowed attend to Jack's needs. This will include changing, feeding, bathing, and even holding him. I know that this might be hard for some family members to hear, as  you want to hold him and help us with things (believe me, we will probably need the help). But it is best that Jack learns quickly that Bryan and I are his parents and that no one else will take him away again. We have even read that an older adopted child may reach out to others, just to test us (his parents) to see if we will still be there for him, making it very difficult, especially for loved ones, to turn him away.  Unfortunately, though, we would ask that you try to resist the urge, and do not hold him, even though I know it will be hard. ;)

2. Small World

This biggest part of promoting attachment of an older child, is to try to keep his world small.  This would include a limited amount of visitors.  Many sources recommend that newly adoptive parents of older children shouldn't have any visitors. However, Bryan and I feel that we have way too many people that have supported us in this journey and are so excited for us, that we can't find it in our hearts to withhold our Jack from them. ;) As long as the visitors are only a few at a time and the visit is kept as brief as possible, we are okay with it.  I promise it isn't that we don't want you there. We are so excited to be parents and want more than anything to show our Jack off and have other people enjoy getting to know him too.  We just have to take it slow for his sake. We promise, once Jack is ready, we will have a huge party where all friends and family will be invited to meet Jack and celebrate his coming home!

3. Routine

Another part of keeping his world small, would be that our regular routine might have to be put on hold for a while.  We aren't sure what this will entail for us until we have Jack home.  But it is possible that Jack could become over-stimulated by going out and doing things. He may reach out to strangers (so they would bring him back "home" to Korea) and become confused by where he is. Being exposed to other people and environments may cause additional stress on him and may prolong his attachment to us. So, we might have to keep him at home a lot, until he trusts us fully. It is recommended that we stay at home as long as possible. We should live as hermits for a few weeks and establish a home routine to help with Jack's anxiety.  They even recommend not working if possible, but that isn't possible in our situation. Bryan may work from home the first week as much as he can, but he won't be able to continue it. Luckily though, I will be at home with him (Praise the Lord!). So, for now, no church, bible studies, play dates, or even grocery trips.  Anything our regular weekly routines used to consist of, may have to be given up for a little while.

We don't know how long this will take, because every child is different. We are just letting God lead us by way of our monitoring how Jack is responding. Once we see Jack has established a healthy bond with us, we will start allowing others to hold him and venturing out into the world.

4. Communication

One big thing to help with bonding is to be able to communicate. Bryan and I will be trying (trying is the key word) :) to speak Korean to him especially at first. We have several phrases we are learning now. Also, we will incorporate a little sign language along with Korean too to help bridge the the gap of Korean and English. Children pick up sign language fast, and this will help Jack be able communicate better if he cannot remember the English word. Hopefully this will avoid some inevitable frustrations.

5. Food

Sometimes internationally adopted children have a hard time making the transition to American food and sometimes they don't. A lot of Koreans don't handle dairy very well, because they don't eat it much there. Jack very well may be lactose intolerant.  We will be cooking some Korean food and slowly incorporating it within American food to help with this transition. Another unexpected thing we will be doing is formula feeding. Koreans feed their children formula well past the one year mark. Jack could be used to 4 to 5 bottles a day still. It is recommended that we continue to feed him his bottle, especially for bonding purposes. Lately though, some foster families in Korea are starting to ween their babies off early now to help them be prepared for their American families. We will see how this goes. If he is still taking a bottle we will continue for a week or two, but probably transition him off slowly, once we get him.

6.  Sleep

In Korea, babies sleep with their foster parents in their beds (mattress on the floor). Jack does not know what a crib is and will most likely not like it. Bryan and I have gone back and forth on what we want to do with this situation. It is recommended that we co-sleep with Jack. Sounds easy enough, but we know it isn't. Bryan and I don't sleep soundly already, and if we have a child kicking us throughout the night, we will not be happy campers in the morning. Throw in some jet lag the first week home, when the child is up all night thinking it is time to play, and you have a disaster on your hands! ;) We decided that once we get home, we are going to try the crib the first night. Some children have done very well, but some have not. But we thought we would at least try. If it doesn't go well, then we would put a blow up mattress in the nursery and Bryan and I will take turns sleeping in there with him, so he doesn't feel scared. Every night or so we would move the mattress closer and closer to the door until we are out in the hall way and then eventually back in our wonderful bed! If he attempts to climb out of the crib, we will make it a toddler bed. If all else fails, he will sleep with us in our bed. Even if I don't get any sleep, I know it is short-lived. I'll just have to look at it as it's just catching up on extra snuggle time with my baby that I've already missed. ;) Just remind me of this when we have him home. ;)

7. Carrying Jack.

We have already mentioned that we will be the only ones to hold Jack for a little while, but another part of that is that if you see us out or come over for a visit, you may find us using our carrier. In Korea, babies are constantly carried. The mothers cook and do housework while the baby naps on their back. This isn't just for little babies either. Jack is still being carried, so he will be used to it. He will most likely be soothed if we put him in the carrier. Being close to mommy and daddy in the carrier also promotes attachment. I don't know how much I will be able to do, because of my bad back, but I will do as much as I possibly can, especially if that is what Jack needs.  So, if you see us carrying around our 16 month old "baby" in the carrier, know it's to help Jack's bonding to us, and we aren't spoiling him. ;)

8. Discipline.

This is a difficult topic to discuss, but I feel I should mention it.  Jack is a toddler and will most likely act up and test his boundaries. But sometimes his behavior will be associated with his adoption. I have read a variety of sources that address this subject and there are several different approaches we could take, but all of them agree that disciplining an adoptive child can be different than disciplining a biological child.  Spanking or just sending them to time out, will simply not work on a child that is hurting from adoption.  Jack, and especially older adopted children, have experienced a major loss in their life that many of us could never understand.  He has lost his foster family and his biological family.  He has lost all he has ever known and some of his behaviors will be acting out against this loss, now and throughout the rest of his life.  Bryan and I have always taken discipline very seriously and had a plan of discipline set for when we were to have a child. But now that we are adopting, there are several other factors we have to consider when addressing this matter.  We are unsure at this point of what exactly we are going to do and will be praying about it constantly. But I am sure, with God's help, we will carefully observe his behaviors and try to figure out what the best means of discipline will be. Until then, please be patient with us and pray for us as we figure out how to best deal with our child when he behaves badly. ;)


All of this will take time as I'm sure you can understand. Once home, we will keep everyone in the loop on how Jack is doing. A lot of the above is worst case scenario, and we may have a totally different experience with Jack. With God, anything is possible! However, we also know that God may want us to have a different experience in order to fulfill His plan. Regardless of what is to come, we will finally be parents to the most amazing Korean boy in the world, and with God's guidance, we can get through anything. Thank you all again for your support and following us on our journey to parenthood. We continue to ask for your prayers as we prepare to go to Korea soon and once we are home and officially in parent mode! :)


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

I'M DUE!



It's MAY!!! That means I'm due!!! ;) This is the month I will finally meet my son! I will get to hold him and kiss his cheeks! I will get to hear his voice and see him play! I will be there to wipe away his tears and make him laugh. I will get to say, ''I love you!" and tell him about Jesus! I will FINALLY get to be a mama! :) Thank you Father!