Leaving Seoul for now

I am so sad to be leaving without our son Keegan. However it will only be a couple weeks before we can return again and have him forever! I am going to keep this post short (mostly because the van is coming to pick us up soon). I just want to say two very important things.

Kai has really grown during this trip and I think it was an important part of his life journey and understanding his adoption story as well as baby brothers’ adoption story. I am so proud and happy for him and I can’t wait for each and every day with him.

Now that we’ve been through this first trip, Christina and I are very glad this journey has happened exactly the way it has. Perhaps if Keegan was to come home at the age of one we would still have chosen for one trip, but at close to two years old, we are absolutely confident that having this time we just had will be very valuable to all of us throughout the upcoming transitions we are going to have. It’s wonderful to see how strongly bonded his is to his foster mother and while it means there will be some hard grieving it also means he will bond very strongly to all of us. And, it will be much better for him and Kai that we had this time together first followed shortly by us all being together forever.

I could have written that all more eloquently and entertaining for everyone, but all that matters is I said it for now and perhaps I’ll write something better later to ensure our sons really, truly understand how important they are to us and what was going on during this critical part of our lifelong journey.

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Wedding Ducks, happiness name scrolls and more

There was so much more to write (about how we together shopped for some important things like wedding ducks for our sons weddings some day, happiness name scrolls picked out by Kai for his brother with Keegan’s korean and american names, happiness name scrolls picked out by Kai with both Keegan’s and Kai’s names along with the korean word for Brothers on it, etc but I just didn’t have time. Perhaps I’ll take pictures of some of those things and post them in the coming weeks.

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Lotte World instead of Everland

Lotte World!

We awoke this morning with a mission to visit Everland which is kind of like Korean Disneyworld. It has 3 parks: amusement, safari and water. And they all seem awesome! However, we got a bit of a late start and a very helpful man we met while buying tickets for the subway helped us decide we were better off going to Lotte World instead. Basically, by the time we got the subway to Gangnum station, we were going to miss the main bus to Everland that would have dropped us right in front of the theme parks. If we were determined to go, we would have had to take a taxi after the bus and it just would have been complicated and since it was such a hot day we decided to go to Lotte World which is both indoor and outdoor and only a few more subway stops away instead of an hour and a half each way (given our late start).

Lotte World was very cool and what really struck me was the sheer enormity of Lotte . Lotte Hotel. Lotte Tower. Lotte . These buildings were great and it seems to me that 3 companies must own all of South Korea. Hyundai, Daelim and Lotte.

Perhaps I’ll post some pics over the weekend but we really did have a great time. Plus, Kai really wanted to watch a movie and have Papa John’s pizza for dinner so this got us home in time for that and for us to pack (after Kai went to sleep). We leave the hotel in just over 2 hours and I’m just now finishing a couple posts here that I felt needed to be written while it’s fresh in my mind. We missed Everland, but if we can swing it, maybe we will go there the day after we come for the next trip a couple weeks from now.

Here’s a couple pics of Lotte World and also the girl Kai decided to rest his head on during the trip home. He said she’s so pretty he’s embarrassed.

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Family Court – with Details – 6/19

Okay, family court turned out to be really great! I couldn’t sleep the night before because I was so worried, but it was really, really great. We woke early, had breakfast, played some games and then headed over to Holt early.

Because we were supposed to be there by 2pm, I didn’t want to take any chances that the taxi driver would get lost and take too much time and we thought we’d just head over to the Mecenatpolis mall and have lunch and a smoothie before hand. After a near accident with another taxi (within one inch), we were on our way and I was glad I thought to leave early because something might happen along the way right? All is fine and I’m feeling good about our decision…for a bit. Kai took some of these pics, btw:-)

Once we got there, I was regretting this right away because it felt like it was 90+ fahrenheit out and I was wearing a suit and this is an outdoor mall. We found some lunch and smoothies in mildly air conditioned stores but still the walk to and fro were hot especially with a hot 4 year that sweats a lot and wants to be carried when he’s tired and did I mention hot!

Back to Holt, and to gather with the other Holt families and pile into a van for a nice cozy, warm;-) ride to the courts. We had some more great conversation with some new friends along the way too.

Here we are in front of the court.

We waited inside for awhile where it was very hot. Korea is a very eco friendly country and there is a national campaign to keep energy consumption down so even inside the waiting areas and inside the court is was HOT! And it was one of the few times we didn’t think to bring some beverages with us. Even our hotel has a sign up about it being warmer in public gathering areas in order to comply with the national campaign.

Kai was getting a antsy with the hot wait so I broke out the iPad to let him watch Wreck It Ralph only to realize I had forgotten headphones so I had to put it away. Some new friends from Norway came to the rescue though with a little Gameboy (I think) and he and their 5 year old son played games together for awhile. He was great and helped Kai whenever he’d get stuck on a level. Thanks again Dan Andreas and family:-)

In our group of Holt families, we went second. Going in I was a little nervous because Kai was getting antsy again and very wiggly. Quick side note: When we first met Keegan, DJ asked Kai what he will say when the judge asks what he thinks of him. He answered, “He’s a little bit perfect; the little bit is because of the biting part” (he was bit by him a short time before this.) So, on the taxi ride to Holt, we were practicing with Kai again and asked him what he was going to answer to the judge and he replied, “It’s a seeeecret!”. Ummm…I’m sure it’s going to be fine, but I want to know what his creative little mind is coming up with so I ask him if I can guess it and he says yes. So, I try and he replies, “I’m going to say he is 100% perfect and I love him!” Awe, my heart is melting:-) But he wants to surprise DJ. Okay, so now back to our timeline. We get called in and Kai wants to sit on my lap. The setting was quite intimate and comfortable. We sat in a small circle. Me, Christina to my right, then DJ, then a court worker and then the judge and a court reporter on the side of the room. It was as close to sitting and having coffee as it could be without actually having coffee. He asked us some questions most of which we expected and a couple were very specific to our family. No real surprises except for the warmth we felt. He really genuinely cares about the children and our families and that will live with me forever. I want to stop for a moment and say how great DJ is! She’s been so helpful and she, the staff here in Korea, the staff in Oregon and PA/NJ have also been a blessing for us. So, for those that don’t know, DJ is translating for us during this court hearing. Okay, back to our story. So, he turns to Kai and asks, what do you think about your little brother and are you happy? Kai sits up, leans forward and replies, “He’s perfect, and I’m happy!”. I teared up instantly. I am so proud and struck by his maturity, attentiveness (even though he was wiggly leading up to this question) and his directness. He really seemed to understand how important this was for our family and mostly, I really think he decided for himself this is important for him and Keegan. It was amazing! The judge really loved him too. Then Kai interrupted and said “I can help answer more questions Daddy”. I said, maybe there will be another question for you but for right now, the questions are for mommy and daddy. So, a couple questions later the judge asks about our families and will they be happy about our new son joining our family, and before either of us could answer, Kai yells out, “OH YEAH!”. It got quite a laugh and again I’m tearing up both then and now while writing about it. So the judge says we clearly have been doing a great job raising Kai and he’s going to finalize our adoption and smiled very big for us and gave Kai some high fives, fist bumps and shook his hand:-) It was a great moment for our family and I’ll never forget a single second of it. So, it looks like we’ll be returning in 2-3 weeks to take custody of Keegan immediately and work through the visa process! We can’t wait and we may even come back a couple days early because there’s somewhere here we want to take Kai before we get Keegan.

So, after everyone was done (and I heard a lot of great experiences were had), we all (almost all) walked to a nice coffee shop to get some refreshments to cool off and celebrate together. Here we are walking over to the coffee shop.

And a post court magic trick by a new friend:

Post Court Magic Trick and Coffee – small – Wi-Fi

And, a few of us decided (a few weeks ago) to go out for dinner to celebrate together. So, after searching for a long time for somewhere that had Galbi (so Kai would eat), we finally chose somewhere and had a great dinner. Yes, I ate Kimchi:-) And Kai ate almost everything (no Kimchi but he did taste the flavor of it and said it was good but a very wild spicy taste!

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Family Court – teaser

I’m very short on time because it’s our last day here and we are heading out to do something special, but I wanted to let everyone know that we had our day in court yesterday and it went very well. The judge was kind and caring asking thoughtful questions, engaging with Kai and DJ was a great help to us. I’ll write more about it later. BTW, Kai was amazing in court!

Off to Everland

EDIT: New post with details:

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City Tour, Lunch, Shopping, Dinner on Tuesday

We had a nice guided tour of the city today in the rain. Our tour guide was a junior student studying business/marketing abroad in Iowa. This was just the second tour he’s given and did very well. We learned lots of things about one of the palace’s, helped me get new shoelaces for my dress shoes (surprisingly hard to find and once we did, the gentleman gave them to me at no charge!), helped us find a nice Korean restaurant that would server Galbi (Kai really likes Galbi) and did a little shopping with us.

After lunch, we returned to our hotel to get our stroller and returned to Insadong to do some shopping. We had a very nice afternoon picking up a few things we needed to get including traditional wedding ducks for both of our sons (to be given to them when they get married). I also wanted to get Christina a little something special to honor all the hard work she’s done in building and taking care of our family so we found a pretty necklace and a tea set. We may take some pics later of the wedding ducks and post them.

Sorry I’m short on words, but I’m doing laundry and doing quick updates to the blog because we have court tomorrow and I needed to get pictures off or our SD card to make room.

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Nice stroll and dinner after visit with foster mother on Monday

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Visit with Kai’s foster mother

We had a very nice visit with Kai’s foster mother. She was very glad to see him and brought some gifts for him too including a very nice hanbok in Kai’s size.

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Checkup by Doctor Kai

I went to the doctor’s on Saturday night.

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Street music in Insadong

I don’t know if it comes through but they were pretty good!

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