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Visiting with Keegan’s foster family at their home

Posted by on July 10, 2013

Today (Wednesday, July 10th) was a long, wonderful day. Kai
awoke at 3am and couldn’t get back to sleep. My wonderful wife got
up and stayed up with him to let me get a couple more hours (I only
had about 3 at that point). I just couldn’t get to bed. I was up
watching videos and reading online. I kept telling myself I need to
update this blog, but I just couldn’t do it. My head was all over
the place. I’d start writing about how Kai is processing all the
change that is happening and then I’d think about how it’s going to
get very real in a day and a half for all of us but especially him
and I’d get stalled. He’s waited over 16 months for his baby
brother to come home. Kai was 2 years, 10 1/2 months old when he
first saw a picture of Keegan and has been in love ever since. 16
months is a very long time for a 2, then 3 and now 4 year old. And
these past few days (since our drive started to the airport), it’s
hitting Kai for real. He’s still very positive about it, but he’s
also concerned…about sharing and getting bit again. We’ve had a
few light to medium talks about what kind of change is coming and
agreed that while change can be a little bit scary it also will be
wonderful. I won’t go any further into it, but what is going on in
his mind is multi-faceted, challenging, expected, and wonderful.
I’d sit and meditate and pray on how I was going to handle this
early transition for both Keegan and Kai. It brings me great
confidence and comfort having the most amazing wife leading us
through the hourly challenges of loss, grief and attachment for
Keegan, as well as Kai experiencing both our adoption of Keegan but
also his impressions on an adoption that wasn’t exactly the same as
his story. It also gives me great happiness that Keegan was with a
most wonderful foster family while waiting for us (more on that in
a bit). Once I’d get blocked writing, I’d read and watch about
other, recent family/gotcha day experiences. This would result in
me getting emotional and even more blocked from writing because so
much was going through my heart and mind when thinking about our
upcoming family/gotcha day. How wonderful it will be for all of
us…how hard it will be for Keegan…how hard it will be for
foster mom (and family)… Then I’d start watching my latest
addiction, – Simplifying Korea one
Tip at a Time
. This is a site by a young man, a Korean
American, raised in New York and relocated to Seoul about 10 years
ago. His experience (though I’m not knowledgeable about his entire
life experience) as a Korean American living and learning about
Korean culture is very interesting. He and his friends and
colleagues are very personable, friendly and intelligent about how
they share about Korean culture. Long story short, I was not
getting anything done on the blog, was thinking a lot about the
days to come, and not getting any sleep. So, we awoke early this
morning, Wednesday, July 10th, had breakfast, and spent the morning
in the pool. Kai really loves the water and especially loves cold
water and moving from hot to cold to hot and back to cold again. He
insists on finishing in cold water too. He’s always been this way
including in showers. This has always been interesting to us
because we do not like the cold water and he has always insisted on
sticking his butt in a cold shower at the end of a shower. And as
we understand it, the Korean saunas are full of the hot to cold to
hot and back to cold experience. Anyway, we spent a few hours in
the pool. Then we went to lunch and since we had a visit with
Keegan and his foster family today, we knew we had to get him a nap
so we did some strolling around and let him fall asleep in his
stroller for a couple hours. Then, in the mid afternoon, we left
for our visit (starting out at Holt). We found that 3pm is a
difficult time to get a taxi because it’s one of 2 shift changes in
a day (12 hour shifts) and when planning a long ride, it’s not in
the interest of the driver to take on our trip unless you get a
taxi that is owner/operator. A very kind gentleman that was walking
by noticed us and came over to talk a driver into taking us. His
name was Simon, and yet another example of Jeong here in Seoul. We arrived about
15 minutes early for our visit and decided to take a peek in the
baby clinic in case anyone was there. To our surprise, there was
only one family there and it was Keegan along with foster mom and
dad. So, we had a nice greeting, and then all went upstairs to see
DJ. She was going to come with us for our visit, but needed to
change plans to accommodate changed itineraries due to the recent,
awful airline crash in SFO. (Prayers constantly going out to all
the affected families and gratefulness for the amazing survival
rate for such a severe accident.) Keegan’s foster dad drove us all
to their home. We had quite a fun car ride playing peek-a-boo and
just smiling and tickling Keegan. When we arrived, we were welcomed
into their beautiful home and immediately Keegan took us on a quick
tour of the bedrooms and settled in where many of his toys are. We
played, and played and played. Mrs. Park brought us some delicious
watermelon and beverages, and then we played and played and played.
There was some biting (which we expected) and lots of playing. Kai
was very conscious of the possibility of being bitten so much so it
became a game where as soon as Keegan would scream or open his
mouth wide, Kai would scream and run which would cause Keegan to
chase after him. There was some block tower building and knocking
down, peek-a-boo, knocking balloons around (he really loves
ballons) and some really nice cooperative puzzle/shape fitting
between Kai and Keegan. Right in the middle of playing with one of
those spherical shape toys where you have to fit shapes into them,
Kai says, “I treasure you Keegie”. Awe!!!! We teared up
immediately. And, I happened to have been recording video so I have
it forever for them both to watch! And of course, seconds later, a
pulling contest over said toy. I’ve posted it below for your
viewing pleasure:-) Mrs Park’s daughter-in-law and her precious new
baby (just over 100 days old) joined us and was very helpful in
translating and sharing so much about Keegan including what he
loves, his routine, but also how much he’s affected them as a
family. Very wonderful impact on everyone and we are so fortunate
to have had this opportunity. After of couple hours or so of
playing, Mrs Park made us a delicious dinner. I’ve never had
bulgogi that tasted so good! I mostly stuck to bulgogi and rice
(and delicious Korean melons for dessert) because I can’t take
chances on kimchi due to my allergy to shrimp, but Christina is
still raving about how it’s the best kimchi she’s ever had! During
dessert, the family presented us with some gifts. They went to
Insadong to have a stamp made with our family name on it as well as
a beautiful card with our stamp on it along with the stamp for
happiness. The shop where they had it made is called Myung Sin Dang
Art Shop. It is a family shop that has been in business from
generation to generation. At present, it is managed by Lee Si Kyu
and Kim Myung who are married couples and very famous artists with
regard to Korea traditional arts. Their art shop was even visited
by Queen Elizabeth II and many national guests. We had toured this
shop a couple weeks ago as well as just over 3 years ago and it is
quite beautiful. I forgot to mention, during the drive to their
house, Mrs Park presented Christina with two photo albums filled
with pictures of Keegan at all ages. One of them is a home made
album that has pictures of us (that we had sent them over the
course of the last 16 months) integrated integrated with many
pictures of Keegan and their family. And the other is a
professionally made album entitled, “My Daddy”. So heartwarming! (EDIT: Christina says the studio name is “My Daddy”. Doesn’t change anything though and still melts my heart.)
Looking through it brings us so much happiness and when we think
about how much he has been loved by this family, it brings so much
joy to our hearts. When I get time over the next few days/weeks, I
will try to take some pictures of it and post it here. We stayed
quite late (practically into Keegan’s bedtime) and I really didn’t
want our time with the family to end. We had such warm, engaging
conversation about many things including Keegan, jeong, and family.
Mrs Park’s son recently shared their family motto with me and his
wife brought it up again tonight and hopefully doesn’t mind me
sharing it here, but I think it’s beautiful and everyone should
hear it, “When one’s home is happy, all goes well”. It was time to
be on our way. We all walked together from their home, through a
beautiful playground (Kai wanted to do some climbing), and out to
hail a taxi. While walking, there was a beautiful little girl that
was maybe 8 years old standing on the sidewalk with her mommy. When
she caught my eye, here eyes lit up, she looked at her mommy,
received a nodding approval and then looked at me, stood up very
tall and very delightfully said “Hello” in English with a big
smile. I replied, “Hello”. Her eyes were beaming; she got to
practice her English with me and clearly this made her happy! I
then said “안녕하세요” which phonetically spelled out in English
characters is “annyeonghaseyo” which of course is hello in Korean.
She smiled the biggest smile I’ve ever seen. As we walked away we
waved to each other and her mother joined in. Then, as we crossed
the street, again, we continued to wave to each other for a minute.
What an unexpected, delightful exchange. Shortly after, we were in
a taxi and waving bye bye as we pulled away. Here’s what is planned
for tomorrow and this should give you even more of an idea why we
so appreciated today. First, our family/gotcha day was originally
planned for today but since the Park family invited us for this
visit, it was rescheduled for tomorrow. Having us over was so
wonderful for so many reasons. Getting to know this wonderful
family that has been our son’s family for almost the first two
years of his life is such a blessing. We also gained valuable
insight into ways we can help Keegan grieve and transition into his
life with us. I know how hard it is going to be for Mrs Park and
her family as she prepares tonight for our family day tomorrow. So,
on top of all the obvious reasons we appreciate them welcoming us
to their home tonight, we are appreciative because we know it’s
going to be a hard night tonight and days to follow for them. So,
tomorrow morning, we will all meet at the Holt office where we will
have one more time together to talk and learn about Keegan as well
as have one more doctor’s office visit with him. Then, we will have
our appointment at the embassy to apply for Keegan’s visa. This was
also moved up and hopefully we will have it tomorrow. It should be
interesting to go to that appointment (and lunch after with DJ and
one or more other families) immediately after we get Keegan. We
fully expect him to be upset and just in time for nap time that
won’t be happening. I am also thankful that DJ and the other
families will understand that we just got him and haven’t even had
one day/night with him where he’s already had one or more good
cries, some comforting, a bath, some playtime, some sleep time at
night, maybe some pooltime or outside time, etc. So, if it looks
rough, please know that we have it under control, because, we have
faith. We have faith in each other, our family and God. We have
faith that Kai is full of love, fully understands (to the extent
possible) how our lives are going to change for the better (he’s
had quite a long time to think and talk about it with us), and is
ready for us to be a family of four (plus our furry Calvin of
course so a family of five). We have faith that we have the most
amazing extended family and friends. And we have faith in Keegan;
knowing it’s going to be hard, and fun, and we as a family will
forever be there for each other. It’s going to be yet another
beautiful start tomorrow to a most amazing adventure together.
Car Ride
It Down Keegan
Treasure You Keegie

7 Responses to Visiting with Keegan’s foster family at their home

  1. Cheryl Lafferty

    This is so beautiful – thanks for sharing your journey! Will be praying for you all, as well as the Park family, in the days and weeks ahead, and we can’t wait to meet Keegan when the time is right!

  2. Silvia


  3. Michelle

    I am the daughter-in-law of Mrs Park. It is so good to be able to keep seeing the photos of your family including Keegan. I think that today is a big day for you. Have a wonderful day. 🙂

    • gandalf

      Hi Michelle,

      Yesterday was a very special day for us. Thank you to you and your entire family. I didn’t get to look through the photo albums until I got back to the hotel last night. Very touching; love it:-)

      With love,

  4. Jessica

    What a beautiful story! <3

  5. Grandpop

    I am very Proud of all of you! Not only because of your capacity of giving & sharing all this Love; but also your ability to have so much empathy with others.

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