How long DO you plan to stay cooped up at home?

I’d say this is the number one question we are asked right after “How is he doing?”.  And it’s a great question that I wondered myself of other adoptive families when we first began this process. That being said when asked I never respond in a way that really gives the reasoning behind why we are keeping to ourselves for a bit. So, in the hopes that I can do a better job explaining to everyone I decided to write it all down. Oh, and if you’ve asked this question please don’t think I’m singling you out..we get asked this multiple times day and it’s a very valid question. I hope you hang in to the end and that it helps you understand why we have chosen this path.

We know that each of you reading this has likely, in  some way, supported, loved and prayed for us. Because we know your care  for Maddox and our family, we want to share with you some information that  we hope will best equip everyone around him to assist us in laying the  strongest and healthiest foundation – emotionally, physically and  spiritually.
In many ways, Maddox is like the children who entered  our family through birth; we will parent like other Christian families  as we bring all of them up in the instruction and discipline of the  Lord. But there will be a few, initial differences. For over a year now, we  have researched bonding and attachment in newly adopted children.
We are confident of this: God’s design is PERFECT! His  plan for parents and children is a beautiful and meaningful picture of  His love for us. Attachment between a parent and child occurs over time  when a baby has a physical or emotional need and communicates that need.  The primary caretaker  meets the need and soothes the  child. This repeats between a parent and child over and over to create  trust within the child for that parent; the baby is hungry, cries in  distress, mom nurses & calms the baby – which teaches him that this  person is safe and can be trusted. By God’s very design, an emotional  foundation is laid in the tiniest of babies, which will affect their  learning, conscience, growth and future relationships. The security  provided by parents will, ultimately, give children a trust for and  empathy towards others.
Children who come home through adoption have experienced  interruptions in this typical attachment process. The loss of a  biological mother at an early age can be a major trauma on their little  hearts.Not only has Maddox lost his first/birth mother he has also lost not one but two sets of foster parents. The last of which cared for him for over 15 months of his 22 month life. The good news is that we can now, as Maddox’s parents and forever  family, rebuild attachment and help him heal from these emotional  wounds. He is overwhelmed. Everything around  him is new and he will need to learn not just about his new  environment, but also about love and family.  The best way for us  to form a parent/child bond is to be the ones to hold, snuggle,  instruct, soothe and feed him. As this repeats between us, he will be  able to learn that parents are safe to trust and to love deeply. We are,  essentially, recreating the newborn/parent connection. Once Maddox starts  to establish this important bond, he will then be able to branch out to  other, healthy relationships.
Maddox has, what may seem like, a lot of structure,  boundaries and close proximity to us. Please know that these decisions  are prayerfully and thoughtfully made choices based on immense amounts  of research and instruction from trusted adoption mentors. We are  doing what we believe is best to help him heal from those interruptions  in attachment as effectively as possible. Why are we telling you all of  this? Because you will actually play an awesome and vital role in  helping our Maddox settle in, heal, and lay a foundation for the future.  There are a few areas in which you can help us:
~ The first is to set physical boundaries. It will help us  immensely if adults limit what is typically considered normal, physical  contact with Maddox. This will (for a while) include things like holding,  excessive hugging and kissing.  Waving, blowing kisses or  high fives are perfectly appropriate and welcomed! Maddox should know that  the people with whom he interacts are our trusted friends.
~ Another area is redirecting Maddox’s desire to have his  physical and emotional needs met by anyone (including strangers) to  having us meet them. A child  struggling to learn to attach may exhibit indiscriminate affection with  people outside of their family unit. It may appear harmless and as if  they are “very friendly” but this is actually quite dangerous for the  child. To share this is difficult for us because we have snuggled, cared  for, fed and loved so many of your children. Please understand that we  want nothing more than to have Maddox hugged, cuddled and cherished by ALL  of you (he’s totally irresistible and huggable). But until he has a firm  understanding of family and primary attachments, we would be so  grateful if you direct him to us if you see that he is seeking out food,  affection or comfort.

Tonight as I tucked Reagan into bed she looked at me and asked why Maddox cries so much at night. She said it hurt her ears and she wished he would stop. I told her to close her eyes and imagine that one day she woke up like any other day. That I dressed her and got her all ready and put her in a car and took her to her doctor’s office. Then these strange people came in. They immediately started holding her and trying to hug and kiss her. They didn’t look like her family. They didn’t smell like her family and she couldn’t understand a word they were saying. Then I hugged her and while I was crying I let the strange people put her in a car and drive away. The family kept trying to show her affection. They took her back to a strange room where they showed her all kind of new toys. They tried to feed her food she had not seen before like seaweed but all she really wanted was mac and cheese.    I asked her to imagine trying to tell them she was sad and wanted to go back to her mother but they couldn’t understand her. Then they packed a bag and took her onto an airplane for a very long time. They got off the plane and drove to a house and introduced her to two little kids who again didn’t look anything like her. They were bigger than her and she couldn’t understand what they were saying either. Days went by and no matter how hard she tried she couldn’t get the people to stop kissing her or to understand that she wanted to go back to get her mother. I asked her how that made her feel. And with tears streaming down her face she said she was so sad for Maddox.

Maybe I didn’t handle this the right way and I, of course, assured her this would never happen to her and we will always be her mommy and daddy but I do think it was important for her to see why Maddox responds to things the way he does. And I think maybe this explanation will give a better understanding to those of you who are sincerely curious why we are choosing to do things the way we are. We certainly don’t have all the answers but we are doing the best we know how for him.  He is processing…a lot. More than we can imagine and as we walk this road of grief with him we want him to know that we love him and that we are here forever. It will take time. How long? I honestly do not know the answer. But slowly he will learn to trust us and eventually love us in return.

We are incredibly blessed to have so many loved ones  around us. We couldn’t ask for a better extended family & circle of  friends for our precious Maddox. Thank you so much for your love and support  over the past year. If you have any questions please feel free to  ask at any time! I promise we will do the best we can to answer you. No question is a dumb one!

Making Our Way to a New Normal..

Today was day 2 of my return to work. You know the stay at home mom gig. : ) I do love my job but yesterday was…well tough. Just being honest. Maddox and I have yet to recover from jet lag. David really needed to get back in the office after being gone for two weeks so off he went and I’ll admit I was a little nervous. We survived and honestly we were all so exhausted by days end that we went to bed before 8.

Everyone got a good night’s sleep last night and I felt ready to conquer the day…and Target. I needed to get out. So we shopped a little. It went well. The key with my big kids is to set my expectations for them before we get out of the car. And yes, I do mean all the way down to who will sit in the shopping cart and where they will sit, who will stand beside the cart and not wander, what we will be purchasing and what we won’t. Sound militant? ; ) The big kids thrive on boundaries and Maddox well he has no clue what I’m saying so he just smiles! : )

I’ll be honest and say that I’m ready to be in a routine. After talking with a few other adoptive moms I realize that I have set my expectations too high but I can’t help it. We are home and I need a new normal. We are getting there and I need to cut myself some slack but those suitcases aren’t going to unpack themselves! : ) 🙂 What a post of random. Excuse it..I am still in need of some sleep.

Here are a few photos from the past two days…which is what you all come here to see anyway, right? ; )

We are Home!!

We left Seoul on Saturday at 11 am and arrived home on Saturday night at 7 pm! How’s that for a quick flight? ; ) Maddox is not a fan of airplanes but we made it. He hammed it up at the airport for our friends and family though! My camera took a fall from the countertop in Korea and my cell phone had a run in with a leaky juice cup so I’m short on pictures.

Maddox is crazy about his big brother (hyeong) and big sister (noona)! They adore him. Reagan is already playing the role of mama and just eats it up when he lets her hold him. Maddox follows Dawson around everywhere he goes and Dawson is loving every second of it. Sleep is a work in progress. He will eat just about anything we offer him but is picky about what he drinks. We are getting to see some glimpses of his personality. SUCH a sweet boy! His foster mother taught him to do the Korean sign for I love you when we say “I love you” in English and it’s super cute! I WILL get that on video soon and post it. He bows and has the cutest laugh..just wish you could bottle it up. He loves being outside and would stay out there all day if he could.

Here are just a few from the last few days:

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Just a little party at 3 am!

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New Kid in Town!

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Checking out his new highchair!

 

Soaking it up!

I feel terrible that I have not updated our blog in a day or so…Ok, not really terrible! I have much more important things to be doing…like playing with my son.

That being the case I will just add a few tidbits from yesterday and today and a photo or two! ; )

Jeong-hwan is doing well. We’ve been through a lot in just the last 48 hours. HUGE strides! As I’ve said, he adores his daddy and tolerates me but we are really coming along. He has not been feeling well. Tummy issues and hasn’t wanted to drink much. We purchased 4 types of cups here and Holt gave us a cup but he would not drink out of any of them. He just takes his hand and pushes it away. Finally tonight he took a bottle from ME. Yes, he is almost two and still on a bottle. That is very common here in Korea and we are not going take anything else away from him right now. He has already lost so much.

Yesterday we only got out in the afternoon to run to the grocery store and over to the Holt office to take some donations and care packages for other adopting families. I’m pretty sure Maddox thought we were taking him back to his umma and didn’t take  kindly to being at the office. He slept well again last night. He went down about 9 and woke up once at 5 for a drink of water and back down until 8.

Today we stayed around the apartment since his tummy wasn’t feeling well. This afternoon he was full of smiles and laughter. It was a fun glimpse into his little personality. We are SO crazy about this little guy and can’t wait to be home and settled as a family of 5!

He isn’t saying many Korean words and we have not heard any of those. Mostly he whimpers and grabs our hands when he wants something. Usually that something is to go outside. He understands when we speak to him in Korean..well most of the time. The other times I’m 99% sure we are saying it wrong. When he gets upset I rock him and sing this song I made up with the Korean words for don’t cry and It’s ok. As terrible as I sing he usually calms right down and lays his head on my shoulder.

Well, I’m off to bed. We have a fun playdate at the zoo tomorrow with two other families. I’ll leave you with a few photos.

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A little bit about our 1st day together!

I promise, promise to write about our day Yesterday soon but I still need a bit of time to process. I did want to share a little bit about our time with Maddox so far. So, I’ll start when we left Holt and just go from there.

Maddox has not been feeling well and his foster mother said she felt like he knew what was going on so he was fussy and upset the entire meeting. : ( My heart was just breaking for him and inside I was scared that he would be terrified of us and just cry for his umma and appa. I know how much he loves them and that was VERY apparent yesterday. Tough stuff!

The cab ride

However, when we got in the cab he never cried again. I guess he was in shock. He looked out the window and ate a few puffs and then laid down on my chest and went to sleep. He slept for a little over an hour and when he woke up he was a happy boy. We just played on the floor for hours and had the best time. He is very cautious and reserved..so basically the exact opposite of our big kids. : )

Back in our room

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Having some yogurt. His foster mother said this was one of his favorites and was so sweet to send some home with him.

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He loves this mirror and wanders over to it every few minutes! If I was this cute I would stand at the mirror too!

Maddox is very drawn to David. He likes men and also was very attached to his foster dad. Here he is checking out David’s facial hair! He would reach out to touch him and just giggle.

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I could just stare at him all day. He brings us so much joy!

After we played in the room awhile he grabbed his shoes and wanted to go to the door. So, we thought we would take a walk around the grounds. We played outside for awhile and then made our way down to the play area here at DMCville. He is SO cautious. It makes me laugh because I’ve never parented a child that didn’t just GO. It’s a fun change. We came back up to the room and ordered a pizza. He had not been wanting to eat but took down 2 pizza crusts like a champ followed by some yogurt. He did not want a bottle or his juice cup and I was worried because he really needed to drink something. Finally David suggested that we try water from an actual cup. He gulped it down. I tried the bottle again just in case (his foster mom said he was taking one in the morning and at night) but as soon as the milk came out of the bottle he threw up. Everywhere! We put him in the shower and got his PJ’s on. We played for a bit longer and he seemed fine.

We were able to Skype with the big kids for a few minutes and it was fun showing Maddox to them. The reception was not very clear though so I’m ready for the real deal. Dawson looked at Maddox and said, “Hey Maddox! Can I teach you how to talk?” It was just precious! After Skype he was clearly tired so I rocked him and sang for a few minutes and then passed him off to his daddy (total daddy’s boy) and David laid down with him. It was about 9pm here. He tolerates me and I can play, feed, change him but if there is a choice he picks his daddy.  He was asleep in 5 minutes and slept until 7 am this morning without waking.

I’ll update more about our day today later on tonight. Our little guy is up from his nap so I have run!

The Last Night

Well, it’s here. This is the last night I will go to sleep with out our Maddox. For 1 year,  3 months and 1 week I have ached to hold my sweet boy. I’ve watched him grow from a precious, chubby little infant..

into a handsome little toddler…

There is so much I want to say and share but I’m just not in the mindset to do that tonight. I can’t keep my mind off  Maddox and his precious foster mom and I just keep imagining her going through his bedtime routine one last time. I’m sure at this moment she is holding him in her arms for what will be the last time she ever puts him to sleep. It just does not seem right. Adoption is born out of so much loss. All these heartbreaking moments must happen for this little boy, my son, to have a forever family. He has lost so much and tomorrow he will lose even more but he will also gain a mommy and daddy that will never have to say goodbye.

Please don’t get me wrong I could not be happier that this day is finally upon us but it’s just not as easy as it sounds….for anyone involved. All of us will be going through big life changes tomorrow and David and I are the only ones that are all that excited about it.

Please pray for my sweet baby boy and the woman he knows as his umma. Pray the Lord holds them extra close tonight and that their last night together is filled with joy and not sadness. Pray we can all be strong tomorrow. Pray for supernatural understanding for Maddox. That his transition goes well and that he allows David and I to comfort him as he grieves this loss. Pray that his foster family can find peace and that we can express our gratitude to them in a way that no language barrier could reduce.  Just pray!

 

 

 

Korea Day 3 ~ Morning {Onnuri English Ministry}

This morning we had the absolute pleasure of attending a church service at Onnuri English Ministry here in Seoul. Those of you from the Korean adoption world are likely familiar with Pastor Eddie Byun from his work on the “Voice of Love” campaign. We really were not sure what to expect but ventured out anyway and I’m so glad we did. We arrived about 30 minutes early and the moment we walked in the building we were greeted with friendly faces. . We sat down and watched the worship ministry warm up and were blessed by their music. Then Eddie (Pastor Byun) , as he introduced himself, came over to chat with us and welcome us to the church. He asked how we found out about the church and we told him the “Voice of Love” campaign and were able to share some of our adoption story with him. He was genuinely excited for us.

Right before the service was about to start we glanced back and saw a familiar face! My friend, Wendi, and her family came in with another traveling family and sat behind us. Wendi was the one who mentioned going to Onnuri and I was so glad she did because it worked out perfectly!

After the announcements, Pastor Byun asked us to stand up… (Gasp) and then proceeded to ask the entire congregation to lay hands on us (along with the other two families) and they all prayed out loud for our families and our new children…some in English and some in Korean. It was such an incredible moment! Then Pastor Byun prayed aloud for us as well and it was all I could do to keep the tears from pooling on the ground.

The sermon he gave was a the 3rd in a series on Marriage he is giving and it was incredible as well. Afterwards we were able to chat with him a bit more about the Voice of Love Campaign. He truly believes that positive change is on the horizon and we are so hopeful for that as well. He asked that we continue to pray and of course we will. So many of these sweet babies need a forever family!

Afterwards, we joined Wendi (and family) and Leigh (and family) for lunch at McDonald’s in the CoEX mall. The food was ok but the conversation was wonderful. I really love getting the opportunity to meet up with other traveling families and hear their stories.

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Wendi (on left) and Leigh (on right) after lunch

By the time we got back to the room ( an hour ride on the subway) it was around 3pm. We relaxed in the room awhile and then headed down to the lobby to meet two adoptive families for dinner. Both are staying here in our hotel. I did not know the Sneller family very well before but they are hearing to bring home their two year old son and also have a 2 year old daughter. Both are just the most precious kids! We so enjoyed meeting their family and their friend, Ellie, that traveled with them. And also, The Brokaws!! Heather and I have been friends throughout our whole process and I have to say I was so very excited to meet her here in Seoul!! She will be meeting her sweet Jax on Wednesday and I’m just thrilled for her. We ended up going to a yummy Italian place right around the corner called BonAppetite. It was a fun night! Here is a picture of the group of us when we got back to the hotel.