Hi... long awaited post about our trip to Korea follows.
It's going to be brief because my hands are really full. In addition to playing with My Munchkin (new name, seems to fit him better than Sweet Pea) all day, and all night, I am also continuing to supervise electricians and drywall guys for our remodeling project - in progress since our referral, and interrupted by our trip to Korea. Oh yeah, forgot to mention that I am grouting tile, priming walls, putting up moulding, etc... all by myself. During Munchkin Naps.
OK, stream of consciousness follows... sorry about the lack of editing.
So, we left for Korea 2.5 weeks ago on a Monday afternoon. Fortunately, from San Francisco there is a non-stop flight to Seoul every day on United Airlines. It was a 14+ hour flight, but due to a 16 hour time difference, we did not arrive until 6pm on Tuesday. My husband and I were able to use some of the 300,000+ frequent flyer miles to pay for the tickets. This was key because frequent flyer tickets are changeable, as long as you maintain the same city-to-city pair.
So, we arrive and Incheon airport in Seoul. Must say, it has the cleanest restrooms I have ever seen in my life. Even cleaner than Tokyo. It had those toilet seats that cover themselves with a fresh plastic wrapper. It was practically like a spa. So exciting. I sat down and luxuriated for a few minutes after the long flight.
After going through immigration and customs, grabbing our luggage and clearing customs, we found a man waving a sign with our last name. Our agency, H01t, arranged for a car to pick us up at the airport and take us to the H01t Guest House. In fact, I am pretty sure that the driver was a H01t employee, since we saw the same guy a few more times during our visit.
Note: If you are adopting from Korea through H01t Korea, I strongly recommend staying at the H01t Guest House. The rooms are clean, comfortable, and it is well-located near the subway and Holt. The rooms have cribs and baby baths. We were so tired when we arrived that we just passed out.
Next morning we walked around the block to the H01t main office. We tried asking the Security Guard where to go, he asked us what the baby's name was, and as soon as he said it a Korean woman in the lobby spun around to face us. She started to talk to me in Korean -- I had no idea what she was saying, but I could guess. In her baby carrier was a smiling little boy, all dressed in red. I ran over to her (T confirms that, yes, I RAN over without even thinking about it first), saying "Is that him? Is that <INSERT KOREAN NAME HERE>?". She smiled and nodded yes. I knelt down to smile at him -- and he looked into my eyes and broke into the biggest grin while reaching his hands out for me.
And that was it. Game Over. Love at first sight for me.
I had not expected our first meeting to be in the lobby. I had expected something more official, I guess.
The woman was Munchkin's foster mother. She led us upstairs to the H01t Korea offices. The social worker then came in and translated our conversation. The foster mother was very sad, but at the same time she was happy for us and for Munchkin. She clearly loves Munchkin dearly, as does her husband and teenage daughters. She gave us an extensive photo album of Munchin, along with two CDs that contain over 500 photos and 15 video clips. I was very touched that the foster family had celebrated Munchkin's Baek-il (100-day celebration). There were many photos of him in his hanbok, and he looked so happy.
I got to hold Munchkin for most of the visit. He is so freakin' adorable it was all I could do to not bite his cheeks. He is smiley, giggly, and unbelievably cuddly.
We ATTEMPTED to take many photos, but can you believe that our camera decided to crap out at that exact moment? ARGH.
Oh, we exchanged gifts. Lots of gifts. We gave the foster family the strange assortment of items our agency had suggested: Centrum multi-vitamins, Ghiradelli chocolates, Purell hand sanitizer, San Francisco key chains, and organic honey. And even though the agency had NOT suggested it (probably due to their religious orientation), we also gave a bottle of Johnny Walker Red -- according to our Korean friends, JW is very popular in Korea.
We also gave gifts to the social worker and a basket of chocolate for the office staff.
The foster mother gave us gifts as well. In addition to the photo album and the CDs, she gave us a hanbok for Munchkin's first birthday celebration, 12(!) baby outfits, some Korean souveneirs, and a music box.
After 1 hour, our visit was over. Munchkin went home with his foster Mom. We learned that some of our immigration paperwork was screwed up and we'd have to take care of it at the US Embassy the next day. And we also learned that the next day, Munchkin's FIRST foster mom (I did not know there were two until that moment) was traveling 4 hours to Seoul to say goodbye to him and to meet us.
OK... kid is crying. I'll be back in a few days to describe Days 2 and 3 of our trip.