Thursday, December 31

We Leave ToMoRrOw!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wow. I can't believe that we are actually leaving for Seoul tomorrow. I thought this day would never come.

I will be blogging from Seoul so you can follow along on our last leg of our journey to Eden.

Also, on the right hand side of this blog I have the date and time in Seoul.


Eden's clothes are washed and ready!


Dreaming of the day we will be sitting in that rocker. Won't be long now.



Toys ready to be played with.


I may have overdid it on the baby food.


Bags are packed!


Seoul here we come!!!

Monday, December 28

Getting Ready!

Christmas was wonderful. We had such great times celebrating with family and here at home. I will post more on that later.

I have been busy each day getting ready for our big trip. We leave in 4 days... 4 STINKIN' DAYS! I can't believe it! One week from today we will have met our daughter for the first time. Still can't wrap my mind around that one either!!!!

I have one suitcase packed... all of Eden's things... clothes, bottles, diapers, food, toys, etc. I also have our gifts for Eden's foster family, case worker, SWS workers, and our donations for the babies. Already I think the luggage is too heavy. I have packed all of that in one smaller bag and put the smaller bag inside a larger bag so that we have plenty of room for souvenirs on the way back.

We will be staying at the SWS guest house during our visit. It is nothing fancy but I have heard great things about it. The guest house is for SWS families who are picking up their children or families who are there on a heritage trip with older children. We will be staying right at SWS. This is where all of the SWS workers work as well as where the babies live before going to their foster families. Eden will have lived here for two months. I can't wait to take pictures, thank the workers, and see the babies there too!

We have a plan for each day of our trip...

3rd... We will arrive on the 3rd with the long flight and time change. We will arrive in Incheon around 6:30am. We will head right to SWS and then go exploring. We will see how long we last. I have a feeling we will be very tired!

4th... We will be meeting Eden this day! I am not sure how long our meeting will be. I have heard that they are usually a couple of hours. Do you think she would mind if I just camped out for the day??? :) We will spend the rest of the day sight seeing in Seoul.

5th... This day we will also sight see, do some shopping, etc.

6th... We MAY be getting Eden this day. I will not know until we arrive at SWS. Being that we have a morning flight the next day there is a good chance that we will receive her this day. I am really hoping this is the case. I would like some time with her before having to take the plane ride home.

7th... We will head home. Uggggg... about a 17 hour flight.

7th... We gain a day so it will still be the 7th when we arrive home around 3:00.


Moving on...

I want to share some photos I received from someone I met online. There are some great pictures of Eden with her little guy as well as some other babies. I have cropped the other babies out so the quality in some of the pics isn't great. There are some pics of Eden at 3 months old which I love. What a beautiful little baby she was... and still is. Here are some of the pics I received...

Eden at 3 months.



Eden at 4 months.


Eden at 6 months.


Eden at almost 7 months.


Eden at 7 months.

Thursday, December 24

Merry Christmas, Darling


Greeting cards have all been sent
The Christmas rush is through
But I still have one wish to make
A special one for you

Merry Christmas, darling
We`re apart, that`s true
But I can dream
And in my dreams
I`m Christmasing with you
Holidays are joyful
There`s always something new
But every day`s a holiday
When I`m near to you

The lights on my tree
I wish you could see
I wish it every day
The logs on the fire
Fill me with desire
To see you and to say
That I wish you Merry Christmas
Happy New Year too

I`ve just one wish
On this Christmas Eve
I wish I were with you
I wish I were with you
Merry Christmas, darling



-Karen Carpenter

Wednesday, December 23

January 4, 2010, at 9:30am


This is when I will meet my daughter for the first time. After so many years of waiting, wondering, dreaming... I now know. It is so surreal.

All families meet with their babies and foster families at least once for a short visit before the formal handing over. We will be meeting Eden at her foster family's home. Usually visits are about an hour or two long. I know it will be hard to leave her!!! This meeting is to help with the transition for the babies and foster families. We will then meet at SWS for a formal handing over ceremony on a separate day. This usually happens the night before families leave Seoul or the morning of the flight. Being that we have a morning flight out of Seoul, I think chances are good we will get her the afternoon before we leave. We won't find out when the handing over ceremony will be until we arrive in Seoul.

We will be departing Michigan around 5:00 and will fly into New York. We will have about a 5 hour layover and then leave for Seoul at 12:30am. We will then arrive in Seoul around 6:30am on January 3rd. Traveling to Seoul we will lose a day with the time difference. (Our flight back is sooo much better... no layovers and we gain a day) So that means we will meet Eden the day after we arrive! I am so glad we won't have to wait too long!

Em.. can you believe it??? Another 4... this is so weird.

In addition to Christmas madness... I have Eden packed, the house just about ready, car seats washed and ready to install, money exchanged into Korean money for the trip, all gifts for foster family and SWS workers purchased, and have started to put some things aside to pack for myself. Trying to stay on top of laundry, grocery shopping, house cleaning etc. because Ron's family will be staying here with the boys while we are gone. Busy Busy Busy!!!

Have to run!

Sunday, December 20

Eden Sees Her New Family

I received some pictures of Eden. She is wearing her funny hat which Ron loves. She is holding some of the pictures of us that I sent over to Korea. I thought my heart was going to beat out of my chest when I saw them! After I calmed down, I couldn't help but laugh when I saw her little face in these pictures! She has such a look of confusion/concern. I guess I will need to pack a few more goodies and toys for her to try and win her over!!!! :)



"Who??? What??? Where??? You mean I don't have a say in this???"



"Here look! You are sending me to live with them???"

Friday, December 18

Let The Countdown Begin!!!!

Ron and I were up very late last night booking our airfare to Korea. TWO WEEKS FROM TODAY WE WILL BE ON OUR WAY TO PICK UP OUR SWEET ANGEL!!!! Booking a reasonable ticket for this time of year is next to impossible! We found one that works with our insane schedule and holidays, thank goodness! We will be leaving on January 1st and will arrive home January 7th. We don't have anything else figured out quite yet as far as where we are staying or what our schedule will be once we arrive in Korea but I will keep you posted!

Thursday, December 17

TrAvEl CaLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Just got the call about 45 minutes ago. Our precious baby girl is ready for us to go and pick her up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am in a state of shock and I think my social worker was too!!!!!!!!!!!!! This is faster than anyone imagined!!!!! Don't have any travel dates yet. I am FREAKING OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, December 16

Another Update From Korea

























































Our Eden is now 18 pounds. She is eating baby food... rice porridge with spinach, potatoes, meat and walnut... yum. She also has crushed apples, pears, tangerines and persimmons. She is now sometimes sleeping through the night! She sleeps from about 9:00 till 6:00... oh boy... an early riser. Her foster mother lays her down with a pacifier to sleep at night and carries her while patting her bottom to put her to sleep during the day. She likes a dark and silent room for sleeping and "is very sensitive to sounds, so she wakes up immediately when she hears noise while sleeping"... this will be a problem. She takes a bath at night and "wants to be in the bath tub for a long time and enjoys splashing in the water." She rolls over and over on both sides and sits alone. She plays sitting on the floor for a long time. She crawls everywhere using her knees and pulls to stand up holding on to furniture. She likes listening to music and enjoys playing with a cellular phone that makes sounds. She also enjoys opening drawers. She recognizes her foster family and smiles to them. She likes to be with people and "playing with young girls"... let's hope she likes young boys too! When tickled she laughs and makes eye contact well. She likes going outside and being held on her foster mother's back. She is now cutting teeth and "drools a lot."

Her case worker also added...
"Sei-in is almost eight months old, very cute and lovely baby girl. She is so curious and clever and active. She is now getting very well under the foster family's love an affection. I do hope she is going to meet her adoptive parents soon and grow up happily and brightly in their love and concern."

Tuesday, December 15

Three Months

Today marks three months since I saw my daughter's beautiful face for the first time. We are in the home stretch and I am expecting "the" call anytime now telling us that we can go and pick her up. SWS has been moving things along very quickly. The quickest I have seen is 4 days from the P3 being sent. I have seen a few other SWS families get the call within two weeks of P3... but you never know.

We are about to enter the ninth month since starting our Korean adoption and just like a pregnancy I sure can feel it. This is the point in my last two pregnancies where I felt like I really couldn't take it anymore. The sleepless nights, the "nesting", the preoccupation with everything baby, the let's get on with it already feeling. Just like a pregnancy, knowing that I will soon be holding my baby that I have been dreaming about for so long is exhilarating, comforting, and completely terrifying at the same time. I am nervous about the final meeting with her foster family. I know it will be emotional and painful. I am nervous about making sure I am doing the right thing for our grieving daughter. Sure, I have taken the classes and read the books... but as with so many things in life... until you are living it you don't really know what it's like. I am already losing sleep over going back to work after she comes home. The guilt is all consuming at times. I am nervous how this change will impact my boys, especially my current "baby" who is very much a Mommy's boy. I worry that I will not be good enough and I think that is normal... which is what I keep telling myself anyway. At times I am sure that someone in Korea will realize that this was all a big mistake and that there is no way they are going to let this sweet baby leave the country. So along with all of the joy, excitement, anticipation, and sometimes fear... I also have these illogical thoughts which tend to plague me too. Add the fact that I could get the call at any moment and just like when your water breaks with a pregnancy... all plans go out the window and we will be frantically figuring out the logistics for travel, childcare, work, etc. So if you see me and I have a crazed look about myself, if I jump about 10 feet in the air when my phone rings, if I have dark circles under my eyes from lack of sleep, or if I seem off in another world... it's just that it's the 9th month... and I'm in labor.

Monday, December 14

Packet 3 Sent

The last step of the US side of the process is now complete. Our Packet 3 was sent from the embassy to SWS this morning (or last night while we slept... Korean time) and now we wait for SWS to send it back to the embassy. If the Korea side is all complete then we should get a call soon. There is no way for me to track the Korean side of the paperwork. I can track when the P3 will be returned and when her visa interview is scheduled though. I will keep you posted!

Friday, December 11

An Early Christmas Gift

This morning I received an email from someone I met online who is adopting a little boy from Korea. Her son is from the same Korean agency (SWS) as our Eden. She is in Korea now to pick up her son. Before she left she said that she would be on the look out for our daughter. Sometimes foster families need to bring the babies to SWS for different appointments. Well, I received an email from her this morning that I never dreamed I would get....

"Today we met with our son and his foster mother gave us a bunch of pictures.... your daughter's foster mother and my son's foster mother would get the two kids together to play quite regularly. I have pictures from July of the two kids together. When I get back to the states, I will send you copies.

Just thought I'd share my nice surprise with you! I hope things are progressing along and you'll be able to travel soon!"


Can you believe it???? Eden will have been three months old in these pictures. Younger in the photos than the ones we currently have. This is so wonderful!!!!!

Tuesday, December 8

NVC OUT!!!!!!

Our file was logged out of the National Visa Center and forwarded to the Embassy in Seoul! Another step DONE! Can't believe it!!!! I can't believe we are down to the final steps on our timeline!!!!

Places We Plan to Visit

We are making a list of all of the places we plan on visiting while in Korea. Our agency gave us a list of recommended places and we have been looking online as well. Here is what we have so far....

1. Insadong- This is supposed to be a great place for souvenir shopping. Lots of local artwork in a market style setting. I have read that it is "Seoul’s Greenwich Village" which is right up my alley!!!



















2. Gungbokgung- This is supposed to be one of the most famous landmarks in Seoul. This palace was built in 1394. It was the largest palace of the Five Grand Palaces built by the Joseon Dynasty. The name of the palace, "Gyeongbokgung," translates in English as "Palace Greatly Blessed by Heaven."















3. Namdemun Market- This market is one of the oldest and largest indoor/outdoor markets in South Korea. There at no cars on the streets. I have heard that this is a great place to find deals!





















4. Folk Village- This area is a recreated small village that resembles the architecture and gardens of the area during the Chosun Dynasty. The area contains 5 restored traditional houses, all decorated with authentic furniture and decorations from the period.


Monday, December 7

NVC IN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Our I600 was logged in with the National Visa Center on the 4th!!!! It usually takes just a couple of days for them to then send it to the embassy in Korea. I will be tracking that next! Nice to see things are moving along!!!!!!

Sunday, December 6

My Chirstmas List

I don't want a lot for Christmas
There's just one thing I need
I don't care about the presents
Underneath the Christmas tree
I just want you for my own
More than you could ever know
Make my wish come true
All I want for Christmas is you.












I don't want a lot for Christmas
There is just one thing I need
I don't care about the presents
underneath the Christmas tree
I don't need to hang my stocking
There upon the fireplace
Santa Claus won't make me happy
With a toy on Christmas day
I just want you for for my own
More than you could ever know
Make my wish come true
All I want for Christmas is you
You baby












I won't ask for much this Christmas
I won't even wish for snow
I'm just gonna keep on waiting
Underneath the mistletoe
I won't make a list and send it
To the North Pole for Saint Nick
I won't even stay awake to
Hear those magic reindeer click
'Cause I just want you here tonight
Holding on to me so tight
What more can I do
Baby all I want for Christmas is you
You












All the lights are shining
So brightly everywhere
And the sound of children's
Laughter fills the air
And everyone is singing
I hear those sleigh bells ringing
Santa won't you bring me the one I really need
Won't you please bring my baby to me













Oh, I don't want a lot for Christmas
This is all I'm asking for
I just want to see my baby
Standing right outside my door
Oh I just want her for my own
More than you could ever know
Make my wish come true
Baby all I want for Christmas is
You












Mariah Carey and Walter Afanasieff

Friday, December 4

Eden is 8 Months Old

8 questions for our sweet 8 month old

I wonder....

if you are crawling yet... your foster mother keeps noting how advanced you are...

if you have any little teeth...

if the sound of your laugh is as beautiful as I imagine it to be...

what made you smile today...

if you have a tickle spot...

if you looked at our pictures today...

what your favorite toy is...

if you will ever know how much joy you have brought into the world in your short 8 months...

Thursday, December 3

Change In Plans

We are going to Korea! Don't get too excited... I still don't know WHEN we will be going.... all I know is that we will be. Instead of having Eden escorted here to the states, Ron and I decided that we are going to travel there to pick her up! We are so excited! We will be staying at least four days... probably a little longer. We will fly into Incheon airport... the city where Eden was born... and then travel to Seoul. We will most likely be staying at the SWS guesthouse. This is a "hotel" that is run by the Korean agency that is facilitating the Korean side of our adoption. We have been told that the people that run the guest house speak English and there will most likely be other families staying there who are also adopting. If the guesthouse is full we will be staying at a hotel. We will have a couple of days to take in some sights before meeting our girl. We will probably have one day to visit Eden at her foster family's home before picking her up to take home. I am very excited to meet her foster family as well as see where she has been living for the past five months. We will likely pick her up for good on the way to the airport or the day before we leave. We will receive an itinerary with the dates and times we will be meeting Eden either shortly before we leave for Korea or when we arrive at the guesthouse.

We have been researching and learning as much as we can about this trip. It has been great because it has helped keep our mind busy and not focused so much on the wait for our travel call and our craziness with USCIS. We originally planned on having Eden escorted, but once we heard from other families who have made the trip and what a wonderful experience it was for them... we began to think about traveling. We found a solution to some other roadblocks that would have otherwise prevented us from traveling as well. We will not be taking the boys with us. I know I will miss them terribly, but know they will be in good hands. Ron has been working crazy hours in preparation taking time off of work. This is the busiest time of year for him so it hasn't been easy. Last night he didn't get home until after 10:00! He is adamant about taking the trip though and will do what it takes so that he is able to go. I have to admit that I am nervous for the plane ride. I do not enjoy flying and know that I will probably spend a great deal of time in the bathroom with my nervous stomach and motion sickness... too much information??? Right now I am choosing not to think about the flight and focusing on what we are going to do once we arrive. I will post some of the places we plan on visiting while in Korea at another time.

Another blessing this trip will bring is more knowledge about Eden's homeland. For the past three years we had been learning all we could about China. Everything happened so quickly with our Korean adoption that we really have not learned that much about Korea. In researching for this trip I have such an appreciation for this beautiful country. I am so blessed that when Eden asks me about Korea or her foster family I can tell her so much more than I could if we decided to escort. I will have been there and will have video and pictures of important places and people in her life.

In addition, I am thankful that we can make this trip for Eden's foster family as well. The agency in Korea has expressed that meeting the adoptive parents makes for an easier transition not only for the babies, but for the foster families.

We will be leaving for Korea within two weeks of getting the call that Eden is ready for travel. I still can't believe we are actually going!!! I am so excited!!!

Wednesday, December 2

Finally!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Just received word that our I600 was approved yesterday and forwarded to the National Visa Center!!!!!!

Tuesday, December 1

Still Nothing... but....

I contacted my agency today because we still have not received our I600. Our fingerprints are set to expire on the 25th. I am worried that they may expire and USCIS won't grant our approval. I need to know if we need to shell out the $140 and make the very inconvenient drive to downtown Detroit to update them... again.

My agency responded to my email right away. They said that they had sent three I600 applications all around the same time and mine is the only one that has not been approved yet. Insert Scream Here. They are not worried about the fingerprints as we should have approval by then. If we don't have an approved I600 in our hands by Thursday they will be contacting USCIS. Thank goodness! That will get me through the next few days.

Saturday, November 28

Still Nothing

We still have not received our I600. Another family from our agency received their I600 this past Wednesday. We filed shortly before them however, they received a "receipt" that their I600 was "in process" before we did and now have approval before us. I guess it all depends whose desk your paperwork falls on. We are just unlucky that way... again. This isn't the first time this has happened with USCIS. Our paperwork took forever the first time we applied with our initial I600 three years ago. Everyone else was getting their approvals except for us. Here we go again. It's maddening.

THIS HAS GOT TO BE THE WEEK.

Wednesday, November 25

If You Were Coming in the Fall

by Emily Dickinson

If you were coming in the fall,
I'd brush the summer by
With half a smile and half a spurn,
As housewives do a fly.

If I could see you in a year,
I'd wind the months in balls,
And put them each in separate drawers,
Until their time befalls.

If only centuries delayed,
I'd count them on my hand,
Subtracting till my fingers dropped
Into Van Diemen's land.

If certain, when this life was out,
That yours and mine should be,
I'd toss it yonder like a rind,
And taste eternity.

But now, all ignorant of the length
Of time's uncertain wing,
It goads me, like the goblin bee,
That will not state its sting.

Monday, November 23

Thank You!

Just a quick thanks to my wonderful friends and family for all of their support. On Friday I went to my friend Lynn's house to find an adorable "Hurry Home Eden" cake, a beautiful blanket made by her mother, and other goodies. Best of all was that I was able to play with her two adorable little sweeties. It is hard to be sad when I look at their sweet faces. I hope you know what a special friend you are. Saturday I spent with family and celebrated Thanksgiving. Everyone wanted to hear all about Eden and how she is doing. It is amazing to see the love in peoples faces when I talk about her. I can't wait to have her meet all of the people who are so in love with her already. Sunday my in-laws arrived with gifts from out of town family for Eden. She now has even more adorable things to add to her closet. Thanks to those who have left a supportive comment or sent me an email. Although we may have never met in person, your support is felt and appreciated. I even want to thank the girl at Kroger who gave me a free pink rose for no reason today. Each of these acts of kindness fill the empty parts of my heart and helps get me through the day. I don't know what I would do without you all. I am blessed beyond measure.

Saturday, November 21

USCIS Update

I contacted my agency and filled them in on what is going on. They got back with me this morning (A Saturday!) and assured me that this will not hold anything up. They believe that when our I600 approval goes through the visa center will receive their updated information. See... right now the visa center still thinks that we are adopting from China... they never received the change of country from USCIS that was completed months ago. Our agency is telling me that everything will be fine. Since there is nothing I can do about it I am doing to trust that everything really is going to be fine. We will just have to see.

I received a receipt today from USCIS Detroit office letting me know that the current processing times for the approval we are waiting for is now three months. It looks like a form letter and I don't put too much stock in how accurate this time line is. I have also not heard of anyone waiting three months for approval. Hope for the best and prepare for the worst I guess.

I have accepted the fact that our daughter will not be home for Christmas and although I knew it would be a long shot... it is still a tough pill to swallow. I am going to try and stay positive in that I know that this is our LAST Christmas without her... something I couldn't say last year.

Friday, November 20

Prayers Needed

We have hit a bump in the road. There has been an error in some of the paperwork with immigration. This error solely rests with USCIS Michigan office... not us, not Korea, not our agency. They have been a thorn in my side each step of the way. I don't have the time or energy to explain the whole thing and to be honest I don't really understand it all myself. This is not the first time we have had problems with USCIS. Dealing with them is not easy either. There isn't a human being you can talk to to help you or answer any questions. I thought I lucked out and actually got someone on the line but they just ended up giving me an email address telling me to email my concerns. Nothing has been completed without some kind of drama or error. I am trying to stay positive. I am praying that this will be a quick fix and will not hold up our process in bringing Eden home. Pray for my sanity and for a speedy process.

For what it's worth... I know of two families who are home with their children who received referrals about the same time we did. Both are not from Michigan and didn't use the Michigan USCIS office. Also, approvals from Michigan USCIS were taking between just a few days to a few weeks in September. We have been waiting over three and Michigan USCIS is now quoting an average wait of two months. My head is exploding.

The hardest part of adoption, for me, is not the waiting or the unknowns, or the risk... it is having your hopes and dreams in someone hands. Leaving them to do their job, their part in the process. When they mess up, it's a feeling hard to describe.

Monday, November 16

Two Months

It's been two months since we received our referral. It is hard to believe that we are still waiting for our I600 approval. I thought we would be so much further in the process by now. Since seeing Eden's updated pictures the wait has gotten even harder. Sometimes I look at her picture and just cry. This is so hard. I have been trying to keep positive by continuing to prepare for her at home. This weekend I finally cut the tags off of all of her clothes... some have been sitting in her closet for years. I sorted through the different sizes and washed about 1/2 of her things. Ron put our stroller together Saturday morning. I wrote another letter to her foster family and have contacted work about my leave. Please pray that she will be home with us soon. I don't know how much more my heart can take.

Wednesday, November 11

Update

I was sitting at lunch at work today when it dawned on me that today is a holiday. I realized that there would be no mail. I can't tell you how my stomach dropped! No chance of us getting our I600 today. When I returned back to my classroom and checked my email.... I found this waiting for me in my inbox.....

"Sei-in is sitting alone very well. She’s creeping and trying to crawl. She’s turning both ways. She’s very personable and makes very good eye contact. She makes loud sounds and she’s looking at me. She’s smiling. The foster mother said that in her neighborhood there are other foster families but that Sei-in is much more advanced then the rest of the children. She recognizes her name so if it’s called she looks right at whoever’s talking to her.

Today, Sei-in is 7.8kilos in weight, 69.5cm in length, 41.7cm head circumference and 44.8cm chest circumference."


Check out those dimples!

This is not the outfit that we sent but I think she looks adorable!!!!!

I love her smile!!!!! Don't you just want to kiss that face?????

This is the wonderful woman who is caring for Eden until she arrives.

Thursday, November 5

WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!

Received something in the mail from USCIS. My heart started to race as I opened the envelope. Alas, it was only a receipt stating that our application was received and is "in process." That's great and all... but I soooo wish it was our approval.

Feeling Crabby.

Hope

A family who is with our agency and also received their referral the same day we did received their travel call on Monday!!. They received the call and their child arrived the next day! One stinkin' day!!!! Crazy!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They are located in another state and did not need county court approval like we did so they flew through the process. It is good to know that although things are moving slowly here on the US side, the paperwork that is happening in Korea is moving very fast. This I600 is the last item on the US side that needs to be completed. Hopefully once our I600 arrives we will hear something very soon.

Wednesday, November 4

Our Girl is 7 Months Old

In some ways time is just dragging. Waiting for each piece of paperwork to be processed is torture. However, time seems to have flown by in that our sweet girl is now 7 months old. I can hardly believe it.