Tuesday, September 18, 2012

First week Home - family of 5!

Well, we have been a family of 5 for a little over 1 week now.  So far so good.  Jacob is adjusting better than expected.  He calls my husband and I the Korean names for Mom and Dad, he loves his siblings and the family dog, and he does not seem to be afraid of anything!  We have taken him to the grocery, church, and a marriage conference.  Jacob fits our family so well.  He loves cars, spicy food, and going out and about.  It is like he has been here forever. 

He is a sweet kind little boy with a big heart (loves sharing his snacks - he proved that when we arrived at the airport with wonderful friends to greet us.  He greeted them by handing out snacks to everyone present.  He has even been sleeping through the night (a few bumps trying to adjust with going to bed at crazy hours, but now we are on schedule.  He was a very lucky little boy who had a wonderful foster mom - she did an amazing job with him!

Our family has been trying to slowly get him adjusted.  We started by sleeping on the floor with him and now we all sleep together in our bed (for now).  Now, he is starting to get interested in his bed - the last 2 nights he has been laying there for 10 mins or so - he wants to be like big brother and big sister.  We ate on the floor until a few nights ago - as they do in Korea.  Now, he is at the table with the family.  He wasn't a big fan of the car seat to begin with but when he found out that you go places when you ride in that seat he is now a big fan.  He loves loves loves being outside (as you will see in the pictures below).  His diet hasn't changed much - still feeding him Korean with chop sticks (which seems to make him very happy).  We are trying to expose him to other foods, but so far just Korean or fruits and veggies (healthy little guy).

Overall, he is adjusting very well.  He is a healthy active little boy.  We are all so in love in with him - welcome to America Jacob! 

In his car seat - yes, it is purple, was big sister's (I will get a new cover soon).

 Riding his 4-wheeler that someone at Brian's work got him (he loves it)!

Him in his bed testing it out!

Going for a run outside!

Playing at the sand table with his brother and sister!

Stacking blocks with big brother!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Gotcha Day

Well, September 6, 2012 was our Gotcha Day for Jacob.  Our day started by us just taking it easy then we headed to Eastern to serve in the Baby House.  Unfortunately, we underestimated our train ride and only got 30 minutes with the babies - but that will be 30 minutes we will never forget!  It really breaks your heart to see 60+ babies (some 2 to 3 in makeshift cribs).  They are crying and just wanting human touch and affection.  They are so low on staff that some babies even had bottles balanced in their crib to help feed them.  Crushes your heart to know that Jacob was here for a period of time.  The babies were so sweet - you just wanted to take them home with you.

After we finished there we were off to take custody of Jacob.  The meeting started with 30 minutes of play and we got to meet the foster mom's daughter-in-law and her two kids.  They also proceeded to give us all kinds of food, snacks, and gifts.  It was so sweet.  They also gave Brian an energy drink (guess she knew he would need it to keep up with Jacob).

Before we left the play room we left for a prayer at the front door of Eastern and he took my hand (we thought, wow, this is going to be easier than we thought).  When the prayer was over everything just happened really fast.  He said his goodbyes while the Eastern social worker told us to get in the van then she quickly told us bye and handed Jacob to me and shut the door.  He was okay until we started to drive away and then the grieving began.  It was hard to watch, but understandable (he loved her and she loved him).  We both held it together but I couldn't look back at the foster mom (because I was on the edge of tears).  My husband said she was smiling as we left (I'm sure being strong for Jacob).  I did have to quickly pass Jacob to Brian because he was grieving so bad (he is so strong).  Before the ride was over, he was asleep (thank goodness - so we looked normal entering the hotel).

After that he woke and cried another 3 hours and called for his foster mom then back to sleep again.  As hard as it was, my husband and I just took turns holding and loving him.  It was during that time we requested prayer from some of friends.  The most amazing thing happened when Jacob woke up (keep in mind these awesome individuals were praying from midnight on here in the US).  He sat up and played with me then we ordered room services (traditional Korean meal) and we all ate together on the bed.  It was such a precious memory.  Then we just went to bed and got up the next day for the airport.  There were no more tears from there on.  I'm telling you, the power of prayer is amazing - God provided and knew exactly what we needed and what Jacob needed.

Jacob was awesome on the plane - he loved it.  He sat in Brian's lap the entire trip and watched Korean cartoons and ate and slept (it was so sweet to watch).  When we arrived in Nashville, some of our amazing friends were there to greet us.  Jacob was so sweet with them.  He shared his snacks with everyone there and had a conversation with our friend Derek in Korean (so sweet - his face lit up when someone could really speak Korean to him).

The introduction to the car seat did not go very well though and we just decided to do what we had to do to get home.  I held him in my lap and we just prayed if we got pulled over the officer would understand, but we didn't have any problems.

He loves his siblings.  They have been playing and laughing and having a great time (they love him so much).  He started calling my husband Mommy and Daddy in Korean and he loves seeing all his pictures in our house (believe it made him feel more at home).  He loves animals and him and the dog seem to understand each other (he can put her in her place and she is a big dog).  He put a snack in his mouth yesterday to get the dog to kiss him (so no fear).

I just wish we could put all he has done on this post, but there is so much.  He is an amazing little boy who has the best heart - so kind and loves to share.  He is also so quiet.  Yesterday we took him out for the first time for some groceries and he finally accepted the car seat (a little crying but then he was like let's go).  He loved being in the grocery cart.  That trip really helped me see that I can get out with 3 kids and survive (yes, Brian was with me on this trip, but at 1 point he walked away and we were alone - it was doable).

He has really started to bond with me - which is awesome (when you have waited for this child for 14+ months).  He looks for me and when I'm not there he gets really upset.  Bottom line, we are so glad he is in our lives - Korea taught me a lot and Jacob is teaching me tons.  We will miss Korea and can't wait to go back to see his foster family in hopefully 5 years.  We are still eating Korean and did find out that he loves pizza tonight (he wanted a whole piece to himself.  We all love him so much and can't wait to watch him grow (God has special plans for this little guy - he is our miracle number 3)!  We are now a family of 5 - feels so good to finally have everyone here and safe.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Day 3

Once again we made the most out of our time learning about Jacob's homeland.  We started our day at Gyeongbokgung Palace.  This place was amazing!  You cannot put into words how wonderful this was to see and how large it was.  For $3 each and we had so much fun seeing a structure that was built in the 1300s.  We met a Korean History professor, he was so excited to meet  Americans who were interested in the history of the Palace.  We really enjoyed speaking to him. It took quite an effort to break away :)
We also got to see the changing of the guard - it was amazing to watch the detail the men put into this event.
Brian with a Palace guard - needs a hat.
Next we sent to Seoul Tower.  You want to use the cable car (otherwise it is a very very long walk to the tower).  We had a wonderful time getting to see all of Korea from the top of the tower and also putting Jacob's lock at the tower.
One view from the top of the tower

Jacob's Lock

We finished up the day at Seoul Station/Lotte Mart for some dinner and shopping.  Once again we had a wonderful traditional Korean meal.  The Korean people really take pride in their food preparation.  This meal was similar in style and presentation to the more expensive meal at the Museum (for a fraction of the cost).  We have been spoiled by Korean food.

Later at Seoul Station we had a Korean pastor approach us and hand us a gospel track.  We talked for 30 minutes or so.  He was so excited to hear of our faith experience and how similar our worldviews were.  He was part of a group starting a church in the downtown metro area.  It was a great conversation.  So cool to see how God allows people to cross our paths to encourage us.  He was very pleased to hear we were adopting little Jacob Cho.

We are so amazed there is no waste in South Korea (there are no trash cans in the streets).  That sounds unusual, but they recycle everything (I mean everything)!!!  There are bins for plastic, food, paper, cans, glass and vinyl.  We have much to learn here.  If you don't want to recycle you have to buy a special bag at the convenience store for 'other' trash.  It is not cheap.  In practice this encourages people to reuse as much as possible. More on this later.  It really made an impression.  We absolutely love this country - so clean, so easy to get around for little of nothing via subway, and the people are so quiet and sweet and helpful.  This is a trip we will always remember and be sure to share our experience with Jacob.
Recycling bins (you carry your trash until you find one of these bins)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Day two...

It's actually the beginning of day three - but we were wiped out last night after a lot of walking and tons of RAIN.  We were caught in what felt like a monsoon on the way back to the hotel (shoes, pants soaked even with our umbrellas). Before I go into detail of day 2, below is a video from our first meeting with Jacob:

And a pic of him playing with Brian:

We started the day by heading to the National Museum of Korea. The Museum was massive and amazing (pictures cannot even do it justice, which is ok as they wouldn't let you take them inside).  We loved the Pagoda Garden that was outside.  It was such a relaxing walk and the craftsmanship amazing.

Other things on the walk included some of the following pictures below:

A sweet Japanese couple took our picture and we in turn took theirs

Thought this was interesting - an outside gym in the middle of the garden

The museum is a must see - didn't post any pictures but you get a lot info about the culture and their heritage - plus there is an amazing authentic Korean restrurant in the Museum (food was amazing).

Next, we headed out to see Cheonggyecheon Stream.  This is suppose to be a relaxing area to walk, but due to the rain starting they had it closed to the public (below is a picture):

After leaving Cheonggyecheon Stream we went to Namdaemun Market for some shopping.  I picked Jacob up some Pororo Peguin cars to play with and me some comfy $7 shoes.

As you can see - just about whatever you might want (fabric, clothing, shoes, toys, meats, etc).  It was amazing to see how many little shops were in this area.

Upon leaving Namdaemun, we headed to Shinsegae Department Store  (which was a good place to go during what we thought might me just a little rain).  Shinsegae was amazing.  It's a very high end department store with a full grocery on the bottom level.  They had all the luxury brands - Prada, Gucci, Coach, etc. 


The funny thing is when we left Shinsegae to try to go back to our hotel, we got caught in this loop that became so not funny by the time we finally found the subway system.  We entered what we thought was a subway entrance to only be caught up in more underground shopping.  The subways are Very deep underground...

Finally, we past by the world cup stadium on the way home.

So now we start day 3.  Off to see Gyeongbok Palace and Seoul Tower.  More to come - we love, love, love Jacob's homeland.  The people are so nice here and the food is great.  Tomorrow is the huge day when he leaves foster mom to go home with us... We are so excited and so nervous.

Monday, September 3, 2012

We are here!!!

Yesterday was such a sweet moment we had been anticipating for months and months.  After a long long flight, we arrived here at 10pm on a Sunday night.  We love, Seoul!  The people are so polite and very helpful.  The city is super clean - even the subways and taxis are amazingly clean.  It is unbelievable how clean everything is here!  The flight was not awful. Outside of flying first class, not sure anything should have been much better.  We flew United Airlines so we had a couple of stops (which was nice) as it broke up the trip a bit.  The food on the flight was better than expected and it felt like they fed us all the time.  We watched Men in Black 3, The Avengers, Mirror Mirror, What to Expect When Your Expecting, and Dark Shadows.  Tokyo was a great stop - purchased some amazing chocolate and got some Yen for the kids as keepsakes.  I use to think German chocolate was the best, but I have changed my mind after visiting Tokyo - they have great chocolates!  Amazing - it just melts in your mouth and everywhere else too.
Little store in the Tokyo airport

We arrived in Seoul after 10pm local time (later than expected we we were delayed).  We breezed through immigration and had a driver waiting for us.  This was nice as we probably didn't have the mental capacity left to figure out how to get to the hotel on our own. We crashed hard in the room for just a few short hours and then it was time for the day we had waited for - to meet our son Jacob.  Brian had intended to take the subway and had the route all planned out - but the concierge at the hotel gave very different transfer directions and we lost confidence and decided to opt for a taxi.  We had no margin of error so we grabbed a taxi. The driver spoke no yeong-eo, so we got across we needed to go Hongik University which was nearby our destination (Eastern Social Welfare Services).  There was a security checkpoint at the entrance and our driver was not going to be denied.  He and the guard had a very spirited conversation with Brian in the middle, but finally he just let us out. Which the help of GPS we quickly found Eastern.
Waiting to enter the building!

As we entered, they directed us to a little cafe and we filled out a few more papers got our official immigration packet for Jacob (they were emphatic that we were not allowed to open no matter what).  Their cafe was great - I had a blueberry latte and Brian had a mocha.  Then the moment we had waited for - all kinds of emotions, will he like us, will he respond to us, what will it be like...

He greeted us by bowing then we proceeded to play, play, play and we talked to his foster mom (we all sat on the floor near his foster mom - which seemed to help let him accept us and his foster mom kept stressing we were his Mommy and Daddy).  He is so sweet, strong, and super smart for his age (we were so shocked at his language skills).  He loves spicy food and cars.  He let me catch him on the slide and Brian played with him in a little car. We all played kitchen (was such a special sweet time)!

Brian and Jacob playing with the little car - we have to get one of this when we get home (I'm thinking birthday present when we get home)!!!
Me and Jacob playing kitchen (his foster mom in the foreground - a sweet sweet woman who will forever be part of Jacob's story).
Overall a great meeting!  His foster mom was very interested that I had been cooking Korean dishes and she seemed to really like us.  Now we are off today to enjoy the country and learn more about his homeland. We will next meet (and finally leave) with him on Thursday.  

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Headed to Korea!

As I write we are waiting to board our flight to Tokyo and then to Seoul.  We are so excited!  In less than 24 hrs we will meet Jacob for the first time.  We will post more soon.