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November 19, 2010

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Today, God allowed us to make yet another amazing Korean connection for our girls. Maybe someday I’ll have another story to tell.
It took me back to a day six and a half years ago I wrote about for a waiting families newsletter…
Full Circle
May 31, 2004 was the highlight of our second trip to Korea: the day my husband and I were invited to visit our daughter Mercy’s foster home. Ten months later, as I write this, Mercy is making baby-jokes in English — “Beep! Beep!” (a nose); “Boo!” (peek-a-boo) — and I’m finally getting her coming-home photos into albums.
The pictures remind me that even getting to her foster home that day was memorable. The chauffeur who safely delivered us through Seoul to the outskirts of town must be distant kin to Mario Andretti. The twisty alleys were too narrow for cars to pass, almost too steep to climb on foot. Our foster mother’s apartment building, like much of Seoul, clung to the side of a mountain.
Inside, the brick building was as clean as a hospital. We started climbing stairs. On almost every landing an apartment door stood open; our social worker explained it meant someone was at home if neighbors cared to drop by. Two double-flights up, she stopped outside an open door: the apartment where our baby had spent more than half of her young life. The small pile of shoes in the hallway prompted us to take ours off before stepping up into the apartment onto the ondol floor. Our foster mother (who we’d met the day before) smiled at us from the kitchen, nodding toward an alcove, one finger held to her lips. Peering around the corner, we saw Mercy wide awake, greeting us near-strangers with a gummy smile.
Our foster mother was caring for two babies under the age of six months. Yet she had hand-rolled platters of Korean treats, cut small towers of fruit and squeezed fresh orange juice. She served us on a low lacquered table on the floor where we sat playing with Mercy. Our social worker cheerfully translated our questions and our foster mom’s stories —like how Mercy enjoyed a quick zip around the block on her foster father’s motorcycle!
Barely announced by a friendly tap on the door frame, a woman stepped into the apartment. She was a foster mom too, living across the alley, who’d come over to say goodbye to Mercy. Riding on her back was her foster son, one of the most beautiful boys I’d ever seen. Even with my own baby on my lap, I was smitten! Our social worker introduced him as Mercy’s “boyfriend” who she played with every day. He was a waiting child; they were praying God would soon find his forever family.
The little boy was five months older than Mercy. While she sat quietly in my lap licking my rings, he cruised the room clapping, waving, patting us on the head. And I thought, “Why is this little boy still waiting? Whatever his special need, it is completely eclipsed by his personality!” Had the law allowed it, we would have taken him home, too! I settled for an extra roll of exposed film instead.
                        One short week later we were back home in Minnesota with Mercy. Our four year old daughter Faith was charmed (and only a wee bit jealous) of her new baby sister. When I developed the film, I discovered I’d taken six and half inches of pictures in Korea! My first sort yielded a short stack of the little boy from across the alley. I sent them to the director of our agency’s Waiting Child program, thinking the photos would go into his file and be given to his family someday. I was surprised a month later to find a note in our mailbox from that little boy’s adoptive parents. A few weeks after we returned from Korea, they accepted his referral. They were waiting to bring him home.
                        His mom and I emailed each other frequently during their long, long wait. Then last December, the fax machine at Children’s Home Society finally yielded the magic piece of paper: he was ready to come home. Into his parents’ flurry of last minute email, I slipped a request: say a little prayer over the babies at Eastern. By that time, we were waiting again for our next referral; maybe one of those babies was ours. She emailed from Seoul that when they toured the nursery, she asked if they could take home an extra baby. The social worker replied, “You can try. But we always check parents’ pockets!” They brought their son home in time for Christmas.
In a few weeks, Mercy and her “boyfriend” will meet again for the first time since those days they played together half way around the world —although at last report, he has already replaced Mercy with another (very kissable) little girlfriend from day care. His mom and I plan to take them to Children’s Home Society to thank the Korea Program staff, and to take more pictures in the place where their American stories came together.
While their stories are coming full-circle, yet another has begun. We met him before his parents did. His parents saw our new daughter even before her first picture was taken. Those babies they visited at Eastern last December? One of them was referred to us last month. We’ve named her Hope. Sometime in July my husband and I will have the privilege of visiting Korea again to bring her home.
Who will we meet in Seoul this time? New friends bringing home their own babies? New babies waiting for their forever families? It may be hard to imagine beyond that sweet face in the photos of the baby you are waiting for. But like that little boy slipping into our lives on his foster mother’s back, adoption comes bundled with the unexpected: other children, other families you will carry around on your heart forever.
(written early spring 2005)
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One Comment leave one →
  1. November 20, 2010 11:29 am

    >Thank you for sharing your memories. Are you still in contact with that family? I wonder who we will meet each time as well.

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