Sunday, November 25, 2012

Funny Little Guy

There's only so much you can ever prepare yourself for from letters, written doctor's examinations, pictures, or even videos before meeting your son. Sure, I could see that he was healthy and seemingly outgoing. I knew Holden was pint-sized, had an infectious smile, had thin and wispy hair and was being taken care of by his foster family.

But, in one week, I have learned more than an entire year of reports, videos and pictures could ever illustrate.

Here's a few of my favorites:

--Little Dude is a Susie Homemaker. His favorite thing to do is pretend he's sweeping the floor with the Swiffer. Sarah even gave him his own Tupperware bowl, spatula, sponge and traveler's mug. He'll pretend to mix a concoction in the Tupperware, then "taste" the spatula, then "clean" them all with the sponge. Screw the football or the stuffed animals, he'd just assume play with mommy's "toys." He even turned the Tupperware bowl into a helmet last night. He also has his own cellphone, non-functioning of course. 
--On the other hand, he's an excellent architect. I'm by no means a childhood development expert, but I can't imagine most 21-month-olds can stack wood blocks 12 high. Even more, he'll stack and organize them two-by-two and three-by-three, or he'll separate them by color. And he puts them evenly back in their tray. I imagine he'll be excellent at puzzles. 
--He already figured out how to take the back off the TV remote where the batteries are contained, he can open doors and he even presses the power button on the TV on an off. (Actually, the last one isn't very amusing.) 
--Remember the old plastic cash register from the 70s and 80s that we all had when we were kids? The one with red, yellow and blue coins that slide in slots and come out as change on the side or inside a till drawer as a sale? Sarah still has hers, and Holden has already figured out which slots they go in and how to get them back out. 
--He's pretty independent. Leave your shoes laying out, and he'll put his own feet in them and walk. He likes to put his socks on himself, he brushes his own teeth and loves bath time, just not rinsing his hair when the water gets in his face. He loves to put lotion on his hands and face. He will take the cap off the stick of chapstick, rub the chapstick on his lips, put the cap back on, then repeat the process over and over. 
--He's quickly learned how to give a high-five and fist bump. Last night, he loved clinking his sippy cup with my glass and "cheers." He's a little overzealous and forceful, however. He needs to be more careful or he might break the glass of the person he is toasting. 
--He knows no English, and our Korean is limited to a half dozen words. But he's quickly picked up "Daddy," "No," and  "Thank You." 
--We knew he had a favorite cartoon, "Pororo the Little Penguin" in Korea, but he quickly latched on to "Thomas and Friends." 
--His laugh is adorable. If it weren't true in his case, it would be an awful Asian stereotype, but when he giggles he covers his high-pitched laughter with both hands. 
--His idea of dancing is pivoting in a circle. He also uses his TV remote as a microphone. His musical talents more closely resemble mine than of Sarah's. Enough said. 
--His only difficulties so far have been his clinging to Sarah and his adjustment to a different sleep schedule. But he has the most peculiar sleep habits. He's a thumbsucker, but that's not the weird part. He also tucks his other free hand under his chin. It's always right thumb sucked and left hand tucked. But about half the time he also sleeps in a crouched or crawl position on his knees and belly.

And that's just a snapshot of his uniqueness. I'm sure we'll learn even more about him in the coming weeks, and we look forward to each of you meeting him.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Home & Heart

Well, Holden Jae Hubbard has been home a total of 5 days now. And, yet sometimes it feels like he has been here for months. And, sometimes, just for minutes.

Travis and I can't really put into words the feelings we have had over the past week. What I can tell you is watching my son be strolled out of customs in the San Fran airport was one of the most precious moments of my life. Seeing his sweet, chubby face and whispy hair brought instant tears to me eyes.

The first night in the hotel, I took a risk and asked Holden to give me a "bobo" which is kiss in Korean. And, he looked at me for a minute, and pushed his sweet lips into my face. I was in love.

This week we haven't done much outside of getting up, playing, eating and sleeping. We are trying to keep his world small for a few days. But, tomorrow, he will meet his Grandma and Grandpa Hubbard for the second time. I hope he takes well to the experience. It will be so special.

Holden is a loving, affectionate, funny child. He loves to cuddle and hug. He loves to study things, and put things together. He loves to be nosy and curious. He loves playing outside and playing with blocks. He is VERY smart, and keeps us on our toes!! He also has a little temper when he doesn't get his way!

But perhaps my most favorite thing right now is how he calls my name...he calls me "umma" which means Mommy in Korean. And, I must admit that when I leave the room, and I hear his little voice say "Umma?", my heart melts. I kind of want him to say it a hundred times.

Isn't that a beautiful story?? I mean seriously. I couldn't CARE LESS that my son wasn't born of my stomach. It means so little. What matters is of the heart, and the way he makes me feel. What matters is the way we love him, and the way we make his world so perfect. Goodness, I love him so much.I know there will be hard times, and frustrating times. I know my patience will be tested because it already has. But, there have already been so many wonderful moments.

And, for the rest of my life, I will thank God for this most precious of gifts. That this boy's life and love was given to Travis and I. We are the ones who get this. And, how very special that is.

We love you Holden. And, we can't wait to see the joys you bring to our lives.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Time Has Come...Holden is Coming Home

For the past two mornings I have awoke to the sun breaking it's light through my window, and into my eyes. 

And just as I try to focus my vision on that perfect light...I remember. Just like a dream you have at night that something happened, but then you wake up and seconds later come to reality. 

I remember, I come to the reality. Our precious prince is coming home. 

The feelings of love I have experienced inside of myself the past few days have humbled me. I am sure now that God gives these feelings to all new mothers. Feelings for your child of deep wonder, protection and love. The gut calling to nurture and know all they are about. To learn the lines in their skin, and the meaning in their cries. To memorize the many looks their eyes can give and discover the many faces they can master and make.  To know in your heart that times are about to be tough. Times are about to be flipped upside down. Times are about to be new and amazing too. 

And, I find myself scared. I find myself asking for patience and peace. I find myself having to push back on our families (who have nothing but love to give) and their eagerness to get to know their grandson, nephew and cousin. Because at first, Holden will need time to just know his new surroundings. He will need a moment to learn his new home, new smells, new sights, and new Mommy and Daddy. 

In short: Holden is a long-awaited dream for Travis & I. And, I know things won't be perfect. I am expecting hard times, and joyous moments. But, I hope in time I can say with complete conviction that I know I was meant to be Holden's Mommy. 

In a short 72 hours, I will touch my son for the first time. I will have our first skin on skin contact since I met him in a picture 13 months ago. I can see the shine of tears glisten in his eyes, and smell him. I can squeeze him, and then pinch myself to make sure this is REAL. His cry will sound like the most beautiful song I have ever heard. His laugh might send me over the edge with happiness. 

Thank you all so much for your support. We know Holden has a lot of friends and family who can't wait to meet him. Something tells me his entire world will be wrapped in layers of love. And, he can peel them back one by one. 

As I close this post, I wanted to share something special. My Mom (Alice) had a dream about Holden nearly a year ago. In the middle of the night, she got up and wrote down the words that came to her. Here they are. I get chills every time I read them. 

"We thought our music had all played out. 
Then, she told us there might be miracle. 
A new song, just we can shout about!
Love has made a lullaby. 
A sweet and beautiful song to our hearts. 


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Things I Never Knew

As we approach Holden's Homecoming date (within the next 38 days to be exact), there are many thoughts that cross my mind. Some that feel good, and overwhelm me with so much emotion. And, some, that still made me sad, stir my soul. And others, I will never forget.

Just over 2 years ago, Travis and I began the adoption process. We filled out a lot of paperwork, paid two $50 fees and asked a few questions regarding adoption domestically and internationally. We went into the process so green. Our spirits were glowing bright with the thoughts of bringing a child into our lives.

We knew we'd just fill out some paperwork, borrow the money we needed, and bring home a babe! SIMPLE AS THAT.

Well, you know what happens next. It was never easy.

From being denied because of my diabetes by several agencies, to being chosen over to another family for the domestic adoption we applied for. From being told we'd bring home a baby from Korea within 4-6 months, to being told it could be 6-8 months. Then, realizing it's going to be more than a year.

From trying to explain why we wanted to adopt (which feels terrible, since you never have to explain why you want to get pregnant!!) to educating our families on adoption. From dealing with petty comments from those who were simply too jealous of us and our happiness to be excited for us, to relishing in happy comments from those true friends who have showered us with positive thoughts.

From dealing with ignorance ( I once had someone tell me they always wanted to bring home a little black baby! REALLY??!) to feeling blessed by those who just "get it." Those who wrote me notes of encouragement, and shared stories of experience. And you WOULD NOT believe the ignorance of some people!!

I honestly NEVER knew how strong I was. I never knew how much $hit I could put up with, and how much spirit was stirring in my soul...ready to fight to protect, love and bring home my child.

Adoption is amazing. Adoption is hard. Adoption is love. Adoption is a vow of strength. Adoption is a mirror to the soul. Adoption is heart. Adoption, next to living with diabetes, is the most challenging thing I have ever done, and nearly completed. And, I am sure, Adoption will be one of the great journeys of my life.
A story who's map will trace the lines of my face, and grow in the heart of my Holden as the years go by. A story that I will be telling for years to come, with depth and soul.

And, as fiercely as we have braved this journey, I know we have many more paths to clear.
Holden will need time to adjust, as will we. But, we pray our souls are in for the matching. And, that our hearts were made for one another.

Our SON will be home in 38 days or less. Oh, the stories we have to tell him. His story is not simple, but it is so beautiful. His story does not begin with a pregnancy, and end with a birth. No.

His story has many pages, chapters and volumes. Some that have already been written, and others that are being told right now. Some pages are still blank, waiting in the wings for the ink to dry.

His life will be that of adventure, variety and history. He will always have a story to tell.

And so will we.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Two years gone by so fast

On Wednesday, I spent my off day volunteering at one of my old stores. I left there to take over my own store in March 2011, but in the last couple months there has been management turnover and they are short-staffed by about 3 bodies.

The new manager there is a close colleague who I highly respect, and with any luck I may soon call him a district colleague again. I'm in a bit of a limbo as I await another opportunity to take over my own store.

But I looked forward to visiting and working with three of the associates I coached and trained two years ago. I was humbled and appreciative of the fact that all three expressed how they missed my guidance and leadership. While I was discouraged for them to currently be going through a difficult time because their leader and my former boss unfortunately neglected them over the last 18 months, I also took it as a compliment that they viewed my departure as the beginning of downturn.

But what made me feel better than anything was the fact they remembered the beginning of our adoption journey. Sarah and I committed to the decision to adopt in September 2010, but it wasn't until spring 2011 we began announcing the decision. But I left this store shortly after in March, about the time we had our home study.

So, it was sincere and thoughtful of them to remember. I was able to show them some pictures of Holden and tell them all about him, and obviously told them he'd be home any day now.

It was also a realization of how long it has been. It doesn't always seem like it's been two years since we began this journey, although when I think about the wait it does seem like it will never finalize. But it seems like two careers ago that I worked across the river in Clarksville.

And it made me realize just how long others have waited, too. Others who may not think about Holden every day, but everyone who thinks about Sarah and I from time to time. We don't appreciate those thoughts daily, but this week I definitely was made aware of that fact. So, thank you all.

And, tonight I'll again go to bed hoping to write on here again tomorrow that I finally get to take that vacation from work I've been dreaming about for over a year.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Another anniversary is approaching...

Oct. 20th will mark one year since we first saw Holden Jae-Min Hubbard's little face.
I was sitting in my preschool class, when my email ring tone beeped away. The title read
"INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION REFERRAL: Pictures and family information."

And, my heart jumped out of my chest.

This isn't an instance where I can say, "man that seems like yesterday." Because it doesn't. That moment seems like forever ago. Almost like it happened in a different world.

I'm sure that is because that moment was so long coming. And, most likely, it is because ever since that moment, we have been waiting for the chubby, round-faced baby to join our family.

The weekend following Oct. 20th of 2011, we met my family at Keeneland to celebrate my birthday. Travis and I wanted to keep Jae-Min a secret until we got his referral checked out by medical professionals, but we already knew.

We knew he was ours when we looked at his pictures over and over that first night. We knew he was ours when we couldn't sit right with the thought of not accepting his referral. Something in my heart hurt at the thought of letting him go.

So, that weekend, we stood in my brother's kitchen before we left for Keeneland. We asked the family to come in and gather around. And, with my heart racing, I listened to Travis tell my Mom, Dad, brother and sister-n-law about our son, their very first grandchild, and nephew.

I think everyone was caught off-guard, and excited all at once. I whipped his picture out on my phone, and showed everyone. Happiness overflowing, we headed to one of my favorite places in the world. And, we drank beer, bet on some ponies and laughed together. But, mostly what I remember from that day, is pulling out my phone every 15 minutes to stare at Holden's pictures...long before he was named Holden. :)

My sister-in-law and I blew his picture up and talked about his cute little smile, and lack of hair. We cooed over his sweet little face. A few days later, we accepted his referral with our agency.

Next weekend, we are meeting my family again at Keeneland for the 2012 Fall Meet. And, again, we will celebrate my birthday. We will drink ourselves into a tizzy, bet like we're rich, and no doubt laugh until our bellies hurt.

And, while we never know what the universe has in store, and we can't predict the future...part of me wonders if God or the powers that be have been waiting too. Maybe waiting until this fun-filled weekend draws near to send world our little man is ready to come home.

Personally, I couldn't think of a more grandiose birthday present.

But, I try not to get too excited, as painful as that can be. Because I don't know when we will get that call.
However, I do know how my heart flutters with the hope in each new day that I might hear the words: "You're son is coming HOME."

I do know how let down we are at the end of each week when we didn't get "the call." And, I do know how important it is to make the most of this time "pre-baby" so that I can be the best mom once he is home.

I'm turning 32 in a week and a many beautiful things to look forward too.


Monday, September 17, 2012

It Will All Be Alright

Well, the timeline is official. 
Holden Jae-Min Hubbard's Homecoming will be sometime between the last week of Sept. and mid-Nov. 

And that, makes us want to SCREAM! On one hand, we want to scream "Yay, yay, yay! Our SON could be flying home in less than 2 weeks!" 

On the other hand, we want to scream, "Why, why, oh why can't you give us a more exact date!!!!???!!" 

We are on the final leg of this tour de adoption, and our emotions are in major limbo. I feel like I am going to lose my grits on our adoption agency if they don't start coming through with some more finalized answers. However, I might as well just calm down (or at least try) because that is not going to happen. 

Our adoption agency most likely doesn't exactly know when our son will travel home, until they know. 

So, we keep going through the official list of "This I Know For Sure." 

1) Holden's paperwork is all up-to-date. When the call comes, we are good as gold. 

2) Holden had his Visa Physical before many children in his travel group. ( Not sure if this really matters, but I like to hope in some way it does.) 

3) We believe Holden's foster mother has completed her end of the deal based on the information we have been given. She has to fill out paper work too. 

So, I guess for the next several weeks, I'll wake up hopeful, and linger on that hope all day. And, when the clock strikes 7 p.m. (4 p.m. where our agency is located), I'll know "the call" wasn't coming on that day. 
I'll wallow in limbo, back and forth, back and forth...ready to be a Mom to, shit! I hope I can do this right. 

But, when I come home that night, I'll recharge my heart. 

I'll come to home to my very best friend in the whole entire world. And, we'll cuddle on the couch, and daydream about our boy. We'll remember our old memories together that we've spent 11 years creating. And, I'll hope that those memories will continue. 

Then Travis will tell me I'm just a worrier, and that I'm going to be the best Mom he's ever known. And, that I'll always be his girl. 

How someday soon, Holden will be part of that love too. 

And, that it will all be alright. Sometimes, that is what you need to hear. And, believe. 

xoxo- Sarah 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

New Mommy fears and a whole lotta love

I've spent the last three hours sitting in some peace and quiet, drinking coffee and chatting it up with other adoptive mothers.

You see, I am a little nervous, and a whole lot of excited to bring my little boy home. I imagine sleepy Saturday mornings cuddled up to a crescent-eyed beauty with little puffs of dark brown hair poking through my sheets. I imagine busy afternoons stacking blocks, working puzzles and getting messy with markers as I watch the wonder of childhood unfold in front of me. I dream about kissing away tears from first boo boos and celebrating special moments like his first English word. :)

But, I fear too. Deep in my gut, I wonder if I have it in me to be the BEST Mommy I can be. I wonder if I can handle the heartache that can and often does accompany international adoption homecomings.

I'm not viewing my world through rose-colored glasses. Believe me. I know this homecoming may not be (and probably won't be) like the movies. Odds are Holden will be all smiles and laughs at the airport, and things will come crashing into a million pieces that first night at bedtime. Our son may not like us too much a first. He may push us away, scream at the sight of one of us, or even bite or worse. And, that, WILL hurt.

He may not want to be held, or comforted by us at first. He may seem distant or angry. And that WILL hurt.
I mean goodness...we have PATIENTLY waited for this moment for two years. That's more than a double pregnancy! We have looked at his pictures, studied his features. We have laid in bed 100 times on Sunday mornings and watched the same videos of him over and over and over again just to hear his laugh or see his eyes light up. I replay the hiccup every time. :) Yes, we are obsessed. We are already in love with this little soul. But, he doesn't know us.

So, this is what I've come up with.

If our son is culture-shocked and frustrated with the sight of a dozen white Americans that look nothing like his current view of the world, who can blame him? If he is scared of new smells, new sounds and a new home, who wouldn't be? If he doesn't immediately feel comforted or content, so what?

He has learned to love another family for the first 18 months of his little life. And, that is actually a GOOD thing!! He has learned to bond. Which means, he will hopefully bond again with us.

With time, these things will change. With love and consistency, our son will find his place. And, Travis and I have so much love to give him. I've taken advice from so many of you. My Mom, my best friend, my sister in law, my co-worker, my extended family and adoptive mommies out there.

But, I think I'll know what to do when the time comes. My gut is honest with me, and her voice is loud.

It's funny how these things work. Holden wasn't created by our genes. He didn't bloom and grow inside my stomach. He has never laid against my skin, or felt my lips kiss his. He has never felt Daddy's hands brush the hair out of his face or gently rock him to sleep. He has never seen a picture of his grandparents or heard their voice. YET, love is overflowing for him here in Kentucky. I'd venture to say, he is adored. Absolutely ADORED. And, that will help shape his new world. Adoption is such a beautiful experience. It is hard to put into words how much you can love a little soul half-way across the world.

I can't believe our adoption journey is almost at the point of delivering our son home.

Holden's delivery won't be one of a hospital and pain-numbing medicine. There won't be any doctors or nurses or ice chips. But, believe me. There has been pain. Both physical, mental and emotional. Gut-wrenching at times. And, there has been sweat. And, there will be sleepless nights, and tired tears.

Nothing worth anything is ever easy. I believe that. So, we are preparing for the tough, but hoping for the best. And, we will be happy with the in-between. Adoption has really taught me so much. It has really calmed this old girl down. I am thankful for that.

We need to remember patience. And, we need to allow ourselves time to adjust. It's the common law of human beings. And who knows, Holden might defy all our worries, and come home laughing with us right from the word go.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Holden's Visa Physical is scheduled for Aug. 30th!!!

Hey Friends!
We got some more great news last week. Holden's visa physical is scheduled for Aug. 30th!
That means we are near step 12 on this list!

1. Decide to adopt (began in late 2010)
2. Decide domestic or international (spring 2011)
3. Decide which country (spring 2011)
4. Have home study conducted (March 2011)
5. Apply to adoption agency (May 2011)
6. Fill out legal paperwork granting future adopted child U.S. citizenship (summer 2011)
7. Get child referral (October 2011)
8. Review medical records, and in our case have specialists examine MRIs, videos and  (November 2011)
9. Accept Holden's referral (November 2011)
10. Wait for exit permit submission (some have waited at least a year after acceptance of referral)
11. Exit permit approved (4-5 weeks)
12. Travel call (up to two more months)
13. Travel to Korea (within 2 weeks of travel call)

This is very exciting for us! We have been running around doing last minute things the past week...finalizing room decor, picking out a car seat and  realizing we have NO diapers or wipes!! haha!

Likely, after Holden's physical, he will travel within the next month or so :) It is all becoming so real, and that is exciting and scary all at the same time. Just meeting our little guy will be a like living a dream. I still can't imagine carrying him into his room for the first time. Watching the way his eyes study everything around him.

Whew. So much to think about, and daydream on. So much to prepare for and have in place. Reality is here, and Holden is just steps from being HOME.

-S & T

Monday, July 16, 2012

There's No Place Like Home...

Thursday, July 12th will forever be a special day for us, for my little family of three.
At 1:03 p.m. my email beeped on my phone, and tears flowed from my eyes as I read: "EP Submitted July 12!"

Holden now has his exit permit to leave S. Korea in the Korean government's hands. Soon, they will approve this permit. Then, they will issue a visa physical, and travel certificate. Finally, our son will come home.

Oh, how easy that last paragraph sounds. Easy as 1, 2, 3, right?!?! Well, sure, it seems that way. But, you know all too well the heartache, the stress and the down right shitty moments we've had to go through.

Tonight, we opened up the big book of adoption (a bright pink file we keep our mounds of paper work in). I was looking for the I-600 form that holds our approved fingerprints by Homeland Security. But, I ended up reading through much of the information in that folder. Some of which, I hadn't looked at in nearly 2 years.

I found my original typed list of questions about International and Domestic Adoption. As I read through my list, I felt so far removed from where we started. I had highlighted questions about S. Korea and Ethiopia adoptions, but most of my list was about Domestic adoption. And now, I couldn't imagine doing that. I couldn't imagine our story, Holden's story being told any other way.

I also found the letters our friends wrote for us in the beginning. Travis and I each had to ask 3 people to write letters explaining why they thought we would make good parents. As I read through mine, I cried. I mean I got ugly!! To read first-hand what people think of your character, personality and heart and how it would all make you a wonderful parent is very emotional. I plan to keep those letters forever. For one, because our dear friends took the time to write them. But, also for when Holden's is mouthing off to me 14 years from now, telling me I'm not fair...and I'm "not being a good mother." Cause let's face it, I pulled that on my Mom too. Even when she was being a GREAT mother. I'll use those letters as a pick-me-up!

I also found what I was looking for. We need to re-new our fingerprints before traveling to get our babe.
So, it is with eager hearts we wait to have our EP approved and issued a travel certificate. We pray that things will NOT change again for the worse, and Holden will be home by Thanksgiving at the very latest.

I keep imagining what that moment will be like when I finally meet my son. Now, it is easier to imagine. I know he most likely will look smaller and more tiny that I imagined. He will also probably have a strong attachment to his foster mother. And, I know that will be hard to witness at first. I'm scared to death to rip him away from her, and the love and care she has shown him for the last year. But, I know how much love I have for him. I know how much Travis is eager to teach him.

No doubt, it will be one of the most emotional weeks in our lives. But, those moments are what makes our lives. Absolutely, no doubt about it.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Let us explain the best we can

Remember the last time you interviewed for a new job?

You may have just graduated college, or just finished high school. Maybe you were just applying at a new employer after biding your time and gaining experience at a previous post.

Remember how there was no clear-cut process, answers or timeline for when the position would be filled or how/when you would be notified that you were hired or passed over? Maybe the employer never called back. Maybe you received rejection by email or letterhead mail. This may have been after 2, 3, or even more interviews. It may have taken several months

It's not a perfect analogy, but it's the best I can come up with for trying to explain what Sarah and I are going through and why it's so hard to explain that we have no idea when we will be permitted to fly to Korea to bring Holden home.

When my brother and his wife became pregnant in 2010, the timeline was almost finite. Go for regular doctor visits, have baby showers after 7 months, and expect Baby Brody to squeeze his way out and into our lives sometime between early July and mid August barring any complications. And thankfully there were none, but even for those not so fortunate, birth complications only impact the timelines by weeks -- maybe just days -- and never multiple months or years.

But adoption has no finite -- or even approximate -- timeline. And there are complications more often than not, because there are bureaucracies, legalities and political motives involved.

You all, as have we, think all the time: "There are these babies who need homes and have no parents, so why not just let them come home?"

But, suffice it to say, it's just not that easy. Some of it is to determine if you are fit to parent, some of it is simply bureaucracy. 

1. Decide to adopt (began in late 2010)
2. Decide domestic or international (spring 2011)
3. Decide which country (spring 2011)
4. Have home study conducted (March 2011)
5. Apply to adoption agency (May 2011)
6. Fill out legal paperwork granting future adopted child U.S. citizenship (summer 2011)
7. Get child referral (October 2011)
8. Review medical records, and in our case have specialists examine MRIs, videos and  (November 2011)
9. Accept Holden's referral (November 2011)
10. Wait for exit permit submission (some have waited at least a year after acceptance of referral)
11. Exit permit approved (4-5 weeks)
12. Travel call (up to two more months)
13. Travel to Korea (within 2 weeks of travel call)

So, it can take up to a year to get a referral, in some cases, and another year to bring a baby home. 

Beginning March of this year, the agency has sent monthly emails no later than mid month detailing the progress of all "exit permit" submissions and approvals. An EP is simply a request and permission granted for a specific child to leave South Korea. Each agency gets so many per year ,and we were led to believe ours would be processed by the end of this year, allowing us to travel before the New Year.

Last week, we received an email that indicated the monthly notification that our agency sends out regarding travel permits was being delayed. No explanation why, just that because a new Korean law beginning in August requiring adopting families to appear in Family Court was motivating the agencies to process a larger "batch" of EPs than normal for the month of June and that they would not send out the regular email until all of those families and paperwork were notified.

I am sure that the agency was getting inundated with emails asking when the monthly email would be sent since parents had become accustom to an approximate timeline, which prompted them to send out a precursory email. But that can also work both ways. While it could get some excited that a larger than normal batch of permits would be submitted this month, maybe speeding up a child's travel time, it also could be a cause for concern that the agency is fearful that EP submissions will be cut off soon and they are just trying to cram in as many as possible beforehand.

EP submissions got cut off last October and didn't start back up until March of this year. That's a six-month delay in the process that has already occurred. Without that delay, Holden would already have traveled home, likely in the last 2-3 months.

So, especially for Sarah, the precursory email made us think the worst. So, she sent emails asking for an explanation, and the agency wasn't going to announce anything until all the paperwork for this month was finalized. But they asked us to have a conference call yesterday rather than email correspondence.
During the conference call, the director of the program bluntly said that all of these exit permit quotas are simply because the Korean government DOES NOT want other countries adopting their native-born kids, and while they aren't going to ultimately prevent matched children from leaving, they are going to do everything to deter others from embarking in the process in the future. 

She also explained that they believed before if nothing changed that we would be part of this year's EP submissions and likely travel by January. But they are unwilling to commit to a definite timeline, because things are continuously changing.

We want a timeline and date, and to be able to answer your questions more than anything. But there simply isn't a "for sure." That said, today, our agency finally sent the email detailing the EP submissions for this month. In the email, they detailed that all families who sent acceptance paperwork in September -- and even some from October -- were submitted. That means we are getting very close and just missed this cut.

The bad news is all indications are there likely won't be any submissions again until September at the earliest. But that also means our "hopeful" timeline of by the end of the year hasn't changed, it's just that some of the families just ahead of us got their EPs approved a month or two earlier than they expected. In the end, though, because of how many extra were submitted this month those families may have to wait longer than normal between EP submission and and travel call.

I was able to do a little snooping on our agency's message board to see all the families who were submitted, and one family submitted acceptance paperwork as late as Oct. 28. We mailed ours on Nov. 14. So, we are extremely close, and if EP submissions resume in September, we should be part of no later than the October batch. And, maybe, just maybe, we'll travel before Christmas.

But, for now, we're twisting in the wind, just like the guy hoping to hear about that new job, with no idea when we'll get an answer.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

On Memorial Day, remembering those who preceded Holden Jae Hubbard

For much of my life, Memorial Day involved reflecting on the memories of the singular person who impacted my childhood more than any other: Edsel Hubbard, my grandfather and still the greatest man I've ever known. That was in part because of the special bond I had with him, but also because his and his mother's death a few months earlier were the only ones that touched my family until I reached adulthood.

In recent years, it's unfortunately expanded to include a few other close loved ones like his wife and my grandmother, Midge; my cousin Alicia Colvin; and dear family friend David Dearinger.

Sarah's family has even more loved ones to remember on this weekend, including her dad's father, mother and sister when she was a kid. And most recently her grandfather, Popi, who I got to know for a few short years.

But this Memorial Day not only has me reflecting on my memories of my lost loved ones, but also how they impacted me in becoming who I am and specifically how I have the responsibility to do the same for my new son in a few short months.

The one thing this long wait to bring Holden Jae home makes me appreciate, is the time we will have with him once he arrives. And once he is here, I hope he has many, many years to get to know each person in his life, especially his grandparents.

Because I always have -- and still do -- feel that the time we had to spend with my grandfather was far too brief.

Edsel Hubbard was, coincidentally, a veteran based in Germany during the Korean War, which ended with Holden Jae's birthplace remaining a democratic country. Shortly after, he had 4 kids and worked as a salesman for Prudential until retirement during a different time when our grandparents could retire in their early 50s.

It's hard to believe it's been 22 years since my grandfather died of throat and lung cancer at the age of 60.  He would be 83 on Halloween this year. He's now been gone more than twice as long as I knew him. But for 10 brief years I enjoyed fishing outings, tossing ball, and cuddling up in his lap while he watched Bassmasters and nodded off from narcolepsy he developed from his abnormal sleep regimen during military service.

Those are the things I remember fondly of Edsel Hubbard. But he was more than just my grandfather, he was my best friend. He was loving, endearing, loyal, admirable and as much a family man as any that's ever existed.

My grandfather's death was the greatest pain of my life. His funeral was on my 10th birthday. He seemed so old and wise at the time, and there was no one who could ever replace him -- as a grandfather or a friend -- but he died far too young in retrospect.

It's probably my age and perspective, but neither my dad nor Sarah's dad seems like they're as old as Grandpa Hubbard was, yet both are less than 4 years from 60 and already older than Edsel was when he first got cancer. The same was true of Sarah's grandfather, Arnold Zopfi. One of my greatest hopes is that Holden Jae has the same kind of relationship with Wendell Zopfi and Tim Hubbard as I had with my grandfather. And seeing him with my nephew, Brody, I know my dad is much more like his own father than I ever imagined or gave him credit for when I was young.

It's because of my respect and admiration of my grandfather, my father and my father-in-law that it took me so long to accept this fatherly responsibility: Sarah has wanted to be a mother since she graduated college, while I held out until I neared my third decade. I have such huge footsteps to follow, and I will never live up to the example set by Edsel Hubbard, Tim Hubbard and Wendell Zopfi.

Fortunately, the bar was set so high by that triumvirate that even being half the man/father/friend will be quite the accomplishment.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Derby Weekend Wins and Losses

Well, I spent $18 betting on the Kentucky Derby. And, I lost. My trifecta wasn't a successful bet.
But, luckily, I had a few wins come my way this weekend too. Not in the form of money or things, but in the form of people and stories.

In the form of moments that shape your way of thinking.

Travis and I enjoyed our Derby evening in the company of old, dear friends. Steve and Niki Jones invited us, along with a swell of people, to visit their newly renovated home. It's a precious little shotgun cottage complete  with a fenced in back yard and the cutest little Moon Pie puppy you could dream up.

Among the grilling out and mint julep drinking, I enjoyed meeting new people and reconnecting with old friends.

As the night grew darker, and the "super moon" shown a little brighter, my mind kept drifting away from the party and to my son. As it often does. I wondered what he was doing on this beautiful Saturday evening. I wondered if his foster family had even heard of the Derby.

As my thoughts drifted in and out of Holden's life, Niki introduced me to one of her dear friends who herself had been adopted through a domestic adoption 37 years ago. Not only had this woman been adopted, her brothers and sister were adopted too. Her brothers, both in the USA, like her. Her sister? Well, she was adopted from South Korea 28 years ago when she was 9 years old. Yes, two sisters not by blood, but by love...the same age.

I spent the next hour listening to the story of "Susan." The little girl who came from Korea and into a family of 5. She got to pick her own American name. She didn't look at all like her siblings or her parents. But, somehow, she just fit. And, Niki's friend said (with a chuckle) people better not call her Korean today, because she considers herself American.

Then, I got out my phone, and showed off pictures and videos of my son. It feels good to do that. It feels so awesome to say, "This is my son." And, to feel my heart nearly burst with pride.

As we were saying our goodbyes, I could feel that throbbing in my head. Maybe I had over-served myself and would regret it the next morning. But, I certainly wouldn't regret that night and it's stories.

Once we got in the car, I turned to Travis and said: "Man, it sure felt good to show Holden off."

His response?

"Yeah. It sure does."

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Today, I finished the book "Bloom." It is by a mother of a three year old and a one year old down syndrome child. Her name is Kelle Hampton. I recommend this book to any mother, mother-to-be or woman who loves children.

With that said, I must create for you the picture of me finishing this book in my classroom during nap time.
Here I am reading, lights off and nap music on. Tears are flooding my eyes and dripping ever so softly onto the pages of my $30 book, ruining it no doubt.

I'm trying not to seem sad, as I know my "kids" are watching me. But, this book is so darn beautiful. What Kelle sees, feels and knows about her DS daughter, is beautiful. Her love for life, and all it's imperfections is beautiful.

And while my son does not have DS, this book still made me smile.

I needed to finish this book today. For today, has been a rough day for me.

As many of you know, Holden had some complications at birth. His birth mother was only 4 feet and 9 inches tall. He became stuck in her birth canal upon entering this world. As a result, he did aspirate some meconium at birth. He was without air for a few minutes. His Apgar score was still a 7, and ALL of his tests have come back normal. The doctors assure us Holden is healthy and fine. He was well-taken care of at birth. But, as a parent, you worry.

Holden is amazing. He walked at 10 months. He can run, and walk backward. He shakes his head no or yes at 14 months old. He pretends to talk on a phone. He climbs and falls, and does it again. He stacks blocks, dances and laughs. He is amazing. Is this child lacking? NO WAY.

Reading "Bloom" taught me that all I have to do is love Holden. I can't predict the future. And, I can't change his past. He is meeting and exceeding many milestones for his age. He is right on target for success.

I can rest in the belief that Holden Jae-Min was MADE for me. He was MADE for Travis. He was MADE for Adam Zopfi and Todd Hubbard to be his uncles, and for Lindsay Brown and Danielle Hubbard to be his aunts.

He was MADE for Wendell Zopfi to teach him how to water-ski, and be resilient among life's many obstacles. He was MADE for Alice Zopfi to teach him how to plant a garden, and love his family.

He was MADE for Tim Hubbard to teach him how to drive a tractor, and work hard for what you want. He was MADE for Mary Hubbard to teach him how to count and read, and appreciate his family.

This most precious of souls was MADE for us. This plan was created for us centuries and light years ago. It is so breathtaking to watch it unfold in front of my eyes, and in front of my heart.

How amazingly LUCKY am I to experience a love so deep, that is glows and permeates my life from 6,000 miles away.

And this is only the beginning!! One day soon, I will be able to TOUCH my son's skin. And, smell his sweet, sweaty baby love smell. And, look into his eyes. I will be able to squeeze his toes, and squish his piggy fat legs. I will be able to kiss his sticky fingers and his sweet lips.

I will get to hold him on a 15 hour flight back to home. And, along the way I can finally share with him my worries and concerns as he lived afar. But, I can also assure him of a love so deep, he could never find it's roots. A love that started with a search for a child, but ended with a homecoming. A search that ended with him.

I will finally be able to let him rest his head upon my shoulder. I will FINALLY know the weight of MY child in my arms.

The seeds are sown friends. And, the buds are sprouting. Tiny little leaves are breaking through the soil.

All we wait on now is The Bloom...

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Great Weekend Will Giveway To A Fabulous Week

I've really enjoyed this weekend. At first, I thought it might not be a great one. Travis has worked the entire weekend, and it has been cold and rainy.

But, it turned out to be a pretty awesome one. A "friend" I met on Facebook brought her son home from Korea last week. And, he is around 21 months old. She has been kind enough to keep me abreast of what it's like to bring home a toddler, not a baby.

I have really loved watching the videos she posts, and the pictures she shares. Her son seems to simply "fit" in her family seamlessly. One of my favorite videos is of her son learning his first English word. I love the way he said it, then looked at his Momma for reassurance. And, she affirmed it for him. Other than not really wanting to sleep at night, she said the transition has been wonderful.

I pray Holden's as well as our transitions are as painless as possible.

There is so much to look forward to this week as well!

Travis is turning 32 on Friday! And, my Mom is turning 57 on Saturday!

My secret wish is that we will get updated pictures of Holden before Thurs., so I can frame one and give it to my Mom when I see her. Hard to imagine that little Holdy-Jae will be 15 months old next month!! Ahh. My heart aches just typing that. We need him home. He needs us.

Our first baby shower is less than a month away too!!

One last thing...

If you dont mind, I'd like to ask each of you to say a special prayer. That, we might get a call sooner than later to come pick up our son. That we might have him home by Christmas. This is the prayer and wish of each member in our family. Thank you.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Rough week...what really matters and Sibling Weekend

Hi Friends,

On this cool, spring evening I am feeling reflective.

Last week was a rough week for me. I was feeling slightly overwhelmed with Holden's latest medical check information, all the sweet videos we got, and the news that Holden's foster mother has taken on another baby to care for. So, Holden now has a baby foster sister, two teenagers and two foster parents in his life.

Isn't this great, you might ask. YES! I am very happy that so many people are surrounding my son with attention and love. But, we just felt left in the dark. The other baby has been with them for some time, and the only reason we found out, was because we saw her on the picnic blanket in one of the videos.

We expect Holden will already have a challenging time transitioning from his foster family to us, but now, he will miss the company of another babe. For most parents, this is not a common experience, and it is probably hard to understand.

But, when Holden comes home, his life with DRASTICALLY change. We will not co-sleep with him forever (which is how 90 percent of foster mom's sleep with their foster children). He most likely will be on a bottle until he is 18 months old. He may have never seen the likes of a crib, much less his "own" room. Not to mention, Travis and I look nothing like Koreans, and that alone is enough to scare him to death.

So, as parents, we stress. And, it is a valid, real, tangible stress. I've been rubbed the wrong way a little with people telling me "not to worry" Because these stress points are not about me really, they are about my son. And despite what people who have never adopted want to doesn't make us strange, depressed or in need of medication. (haha)

It makes us in need of kindness. It makes us in need of a shoulder to cry on sometimes. And, it makes us in need of really genuine friends.

And, so this weekend, I hope to remind myself of what really matters. My brother (a friend, too) is coming up to spend Saturday night with me. It's our Annual Sibling Weekend. I make him do it each year. :) But, I secretly think he enjoys spending time with his big sis.

Then, on Sunday, my parents are coming up for Easter. And, I will give them a copy of all the new videos of their precious grandson.

That's what really matters, isn't it? It is not the low points in your day. Or the people who try to bring you down for no reason other than jealously or ignorance. It is not about what others think of our reactions to our son. It is about us. It is about a little boy that belongs to us.

It is about his dark chocolate brown eyes, and his wet, slobbery, perfect lips. It is about his tiny voice, and his mischievous smile. It is about his well-being. It is about our unwavering, intense and indescribable love for him. It is about his Heart and his Soul. It is about us and our new family.

Make this weekend count friends. I know I will.


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Love is really all you need...

Happy St. Patty's Day everyone!

My mom came up yesterday to view some ideas we have for Holden's room. We also went out to lunch together. While eating we people watched out the window. An older man and woman of Caucasian decent walked by with an African American woman (about 20 or so) holding their hands in between the two of them. My mom said, "Look at that, Sarah. She was probably adopted. It looks like they are taking her out to lunch on her break from college or something."

I agreed with my mother. And, I teared up. Adoption. It is just so beautiful. It was just so awesome how that family just "belonged" together. Just one, swift, fluid motion. A path that God laid out centuries ago just for them. I am now realizing this. That adopting Holden Jae was always apart of my life's plan. He was made for me. And, that is so amazing.

We then went to Target, where I picked out some overalls and shoes for my boy. I got up to the register and my mom says,"Sarah, give me the clothes. I will buy these for the precious baby."
What?! I guess money begins to grow on trees the second you have a grandchild!! Then, mom called dad, and he said, "oh, feel free to buy whatever you want for Jae!" Hilarious!

What I am getting at here in all of my rambling is this...
I whole-heartedly believe that all you need to create a family is LOVE. I feel completely at ease in the adoption now. And, I thank God for that. I do have my first-time motherly concerns. But, I know with time, I will adjust, and our life before Holden will be a sweet memory. I am just so excited and happy right now!

We have showers on the way, families that are awaiting a beautiful brown-eyed boy with open hearts, and a countdown to travel to South Korea!

We completed our very last set of paperwork yesterday. Our agency said, "Congrats! You are done with all the paperwork!" Yes, congrats indeed. Nearly two years of paperwork, waiting, agonizing medical information, praying, worrying and being frustrated are over. At least when it comes to adoption paperwork and red tape.

Spring is here, and our hope is renewed. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. And, take the time this weekend to look at your own children and family. Re-claim the beauty you know is there. Remember that this path was carved for you long ago. And, what a special path it is.

Much love,

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Introducing "Holden" Jae-Min Hubbard! (and other updates)

We have finally named our child :)-


We love the name, and we hope he does too. To us, he looks like a Holden.
This week, my mom is coming to Louisville so she can go baby shopping with me. She is really good at decor and painting, so I hope she can help me figure out how to put together Holden's room!

This week, we also named my brother, Adam, as Holden's Godfather. It was a real honor to have him accept this. I know he and Holden will be best buddies.

There have been many rumors about when Korea will allow the 2011 babies to come home. We have heard that  Holden and the rest of the babes will for sure come home this year, but I am not ready to believe that. At least not until our agency confirms.

We want so badly to believe he will be home this year, but we also know how much things change all the time when it comes to Korean adoptions.

Keep sweet, little Holden Jae in your prayers and thoughts. And, if you don't mind, pray for his Mommy and Daddy too. I especially need prayers for strength and courage. I am soooooo scared to fly. And, the closer he gets to coming home, the more panicky I am feeling. It is a fear that will paralyze me if I don't get control over it. So, I can use the prayer.

Hope everyone has a good work week :)

Friday, February 24, 2012

In All Fairness, We Were Warned.

Hello friends, and Happy Friday to you all!
Whew! This has been a LONG week! So glad to be home and relaxing on my couch.

As most of you have seen, we just got some more updated pictures of our Baby Jae-Min. He looks as precious as ever. And, his first year check-up was passed with flying colors!! He is happy it seems, and very healthy.
That news put a smile on our faces this week.

But, I also experienced a first this week that didn't make me smile. And, in all fairness, we were warned this would happen...
For the first time, I had someone make a comment about adoption that really just rubbed me the wrong way.
I, along with many other AP and birth parents, are here to say the following are unacceptable when questioning someone about the adoption of their child:

1) How much did he cost?
Well, HE didn't cost anything, his adoption did. And, that is completely rude. In the words of my friend who has a son adopted from Korea..."This question gets NO response from me." Let's say you just had a C-section and came home from the hospital. I walked in and said, "So, how much did she cost?" Really?

2) Where did he come from? 
He came from God, like all children. He came from the love Travis and I have for each other. He was ADOPTED from Korea, South Africa or etc. I understand this one may make people say, hmmm, I think that's an innocent question. But, if my son was standing beside me, and someone asked me this question...well I think both of our hearts would hurt. Adopted children just want to be from Kentucky, or anywhere else they call home. They don't want to be reminded all the time that they were born somewhere else that to them isn't home.

This are just two I have encountered lately. I am certain I have many more ludicrous comments coming my way. In general, I want to believe that most people are kind at heart, and have your best interests in mind. And, yes, most people are just curious. But, damn, sometimes curiosity does kill the cat. And, rudeness will get you no where.

Luckily, for Travis and I, but mostly for Baby J, we are surrounded by good people. As a matter of fact, just this week, we received several Lifebook letters in the mail for Jae. Letters from his Uncle Adam and Aunt Linds, Uncle Todd and Aunt Danni. And Cousin Brody sent him a sweet handprint picture. (So, sweet.) We also got letters from Gammy Mary and Papaw Tim. Gma and Gpa Zopfi's are on their way.

And, I read these letters, and my heart swells. The love that is and will surround our baby one day will make his world a better place.

Here is a small excerpt from my brother and sister-in-laws' letter that turned on the sprinklers in my eyes:

"We are counting down the days until we can finally meet you, hug you, play with you, spoil you, and laugh with you until our bellies hurt! There are so many great memories that we cannot wait to create with you!."

Such power in love.

For the very few negative comments I hear about our adoption, there are a hundred comments that are music to my ears, and more importantly, to my soul.

Travis and I know who loves us, and what matters in our lives. And, we know what doesn't. We will make sure Baby J does too.

Have a fantastic weekend and much love,


Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Waiting is the hardest part

One of the ways I sold Sarah on creating this blog was to insert Tom Petty lyrics and references into the title and the posts. Honestly, I just thought "Into the Great Wide Open" and "The Waiting" were perfect titles for what we were just beginning to embark on and experience, but it didn't hurt the cause in getting Sarah on board.

But it goes without saying that any future parent probably feels those emotions of uncertainty and anxiousness. But with adoption it's an even longer wait and more unpredictable.

So, while the last year has been a journey of its own, the next year will prove to test our patience even more. 

We were actually referred Jae-Min's profile the week of our fundraiser in Lexington and it took us three months to make his announcement official. And you may be wondering, "why the wait?" 

We needed to have his medical files thoroughly reviewed and any fears alleviated. The last thing we wanted to put ourselves through was having to numerously repeat why we would have had to deny a referral and have anyone else get attached to a baby's picture we might not end up adopting. 

Thankfully, that didn't happen. And I also thank you all so much for your outpouring support, which I had confidence in but that has really helped Sarah overcome all her tiny fears (adjustment, advanced age, and whether our baby from another country would be as accepted).

But it won't get easier. From the pictures below, you can see how much Baby Jae has already grown up. And every glance at each picture is also a reminder of the things we are missing out on (first steps, first words, etc.). Fewer diapers and fewer sleepless nights are decent trade off, though. 

So, thank you for all your continued encouragement and support. It's made a huge difference in our uncertainties just a month ago and the confidence and pride we are sharing today.

Just after birth, which wasn't easy.

He was 8 lbs, not small, so maybe a toddler outfit?

This was at about 5 months.

And finally, this is what he looked like at 9 months, which was about 3 months ago, and at about the same time we received his referral with the pictures above. So, from the time his referral picture was taken above, until we received it, he had already grown so much.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

New Parent Pride--Baby Turns 1 :-)

Good evening friends.

Well, it has been about a week since we announced that baby Jae-Min is going to be a part of the Hubbard/Zopfi family!!

And, we are still so excited! I'm finding it hard to sleep at night :)

What I am loving the most though, is what I never knew new Moms and Dads must feel?!

I LOVE hearing people say, "he is so beautiful!" or "he is just so darn cute, Sarah!"

Ahhhh, I am reeling in so much new mom pride. I can't help it! I am soooooo in love with my little guy, that the fact that you think he is cute too is just icing on the cake!

This past week has been fun for us. Our families and friends can finally talk freely about this boy. And, no secrets are being kept. I have really enjoyed sharing the news with my students. In typical five-year-old fashion, the kids are genuinely happy for me. Without passing judgement, they are simply glad to see Ms. Sarah smile. And, that sweet love warms my heart day after day.

I do want to say again, that it will be likely that Jae-Min won't be in our arms until around the end of the year or later. :((( I know it is not what we want to hear. But, we have to accept it if we want any clarity over the next year. We have to believe that no matter if our boy is 20 months or 24 months, he will be ours. And, the love of a mother and father will be the answer to everything he needs in a forever family.

Please feel free to ask us any questions! I know the timeline is confusing. And, we are happy to share what we know.

HAPPY EARLY FIRST BIRTHDAY my sweet boy!!!! We know your loving foster mother will shower you with gifts on this very special of days. In Korean culture, the first birthday is HUGE! It is a right of passage so to speak. It is called the "Tol"

I also found myself thinking of his birthmother today. Woman to woman, I am sure wherever she is, she is wondering about him. Where is he, and how is he on his first birthday? What has he seen and experienced in his first year of life? I hope she finds peace in the choice she made. I pray she is happy and successful, and enjoying her life too.

He turns ONE tomorrow!!
For more info on it:

Pretty cool stuff!! In honor of Jae, my class held an American/Korean b-day bash for him today! We sang Happy Birthday, and ate brownies. But, we also talked about the hanboks that Korean children wear at birthday celebrations, and some of the Korean food that is served. Um, my students decided cake was better than warm rice at their celebrations. haha.

Taking it all in,

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


We have been keeping a secret.

For months now, Travis and I have been waiting, worrying, praying, losing sleep, biding time, crying, analyzing, dreaming about a boy. OUR BOY!

Introducing Baby Hubbard! Better known right now as "Jae-Min" (pronounced Jay Men), which is his given Korean birth name.

Jae-Min was born on Feb. 8 in South Korea. He is 11 months old! He has three teeth, a sweet, slobbery smile and eyes so beautiful, you get lost in a summer haze just starring at them.

Travis and I were introduced to Jae-Min in a "referral packet" given to us by our adoption agency on Oct. 20, 2011. It is hard to describe the range of emotions you go through when you are sitting in a classroom with 14 children, and your phone dings with an email alert that reads: "Child packet: Materials, pictures and more. It's a Boy!"

Immediately, my heart started beating so fast, and my legs and arms went numb! I clicked on the email, and waited as about 15 pages of info uploaded. Then, without expecting it, the first picture I ever saw of my boy popped up right in front of my eyes.

A tiny, little Korean bundle of joy squinting at the camera as his newborn photo was taken. Yellow from some jaundice and swollen from a long, difficult birth, but as wonderful as the day is long. Little crescent eyes and pouty lips adjusting to his new world.

I called Travis, and we talked so fast I don't even remember what we said! That last 4 hours at work moved as slow as molasses. Once home, Travis and I poured through all of his information. We learned about his young parents who gave him up for a better life. We learned about the area he was born in. We were given all of his known medical information to analyze. And, we were asked by the agency to have his information analyzed by an International Adoption Specialist and a pediatrician.

Jae-Min was carried by his birth mother to a full-term pregnancy. She was 17 when she gave birth to him. Her pregnancy was healthy from what we could tell, and she did seek medical attention. Jae-Min was nearly 8 pounds when he was born!

We have taken the last three+ months to study his file, learn about his personality and foster family. We have been lucky enough to receive a video of him!!! Can I tell you we have watched it AT LEAST 500 times!!!

We have waited to announce his entrance into our hearts because we wanted to have all of his information looked at and checked out by all appropriate parties as recommended by our adoption agency first.

And we are happy, so HAPPY, to report that he appears to be a very healthy, smart and PRECIOUS baby boy! He began walking at 10 months!! He has a great disposition...always laughing and making eye contact. He is a tiny guy...25% for height :) PERFECT!

This secret has been the hardest thing to keep!!! SO HARD! And, the last few months have been very trying emotionally for us as well. Our boy is halfway across the Earth. He is meeting so many "firsts" with another family. He is being put to sleep in someone else's arms. His favorite toy was given to him by someone we may never meet. The touch that is comforting him right now, isn't his parents'. At times, this adoption has made me feel like I am unraveling. In the beginning, my rope was tightly wound. It was strong and sturdy with the fierce drive to bring a baby into our lives.

We have been pushed to our patience limit and back. When we first entered with our agency, Holt, we were told once we got a referral, we'd only have to wait 4 months to bring them home. So, that would have put our baby at about 10 months old. But, over the last few months, the Korean government has made several unfair and frustrating changes in their adoption system. The current wait time to bring a child home from referral is 8 to 12 months. So, for us, that puts Jae at around 18 to 22 months old on homecoming. And, we will be required to finalize his adoption in Korea. We have had to pray for patience and strength daily. Can you imagine waiting nearly 2 years from start to finish for your sweet babe? What I know is that Travis and I share a love so strong for each other, that we will make it through this. And, in the end, we will be much more patient, kinder and better people for it. I can already see such an amazing change in myself. No one is entitled to anything. And, life will hand you lemons. :)

As we entered the adoption process, we realized how green and unaware we really were. Adoption IS NOT for the faint of heart. It IS NOT for those folks who can't stand change. It IS NOT for those who get stressed over the tiny upsets in their day.

So, as we continued on our process (which began in Sept. 2010), my rope felt a little loose in places. We waited 6 months just to be accepted into an agency that would allow diabetics to adopt. Then, it took another 8 months to get our referral of Jae. And, of course 3 months to accept it. And, now guess what?

We have about another 10-12 months before we can travel to Korea to bring OUR baby home. And, who knows, things can always change for the better or worse as far as wait times.

Tom Petty was dead on when he said, "the Waiting is the hardest part."

My rope is worn and tattered right now, but it is also as strong as ever. Infact, it just may be rebuilding itself. When I look in my baby's eyes, I feel a sense of wonder and joy of new possibilities. I feel the best parts of me light up and electrify. And, I sense the tiny fibers of a new love rope begin to develop and grow. And, as they grow, they get thicker and stronger. SO STRONG that these fibers can stretch miles upon miles ... oceans upon oceans ... mountains ... countries ... cities ... cultures ... families ... and most importantly, hearts. Baby Jae-Min has the other end of our rope. It keeps growing, as does he, each day.

Travis and I are so in love with this little guy. :) We look at him and giggle. We laugh at his balding baby hair. We run our fingers over the creases on his eyes and the curve of his lips as we touch his pictures. We sometimes even talk to him. Throw our words up into the heavens with the hope some angel watching over both us and Jae-Min will whisper that love into his ears.

This week we are sending him a care package for his 1st Birthday, which we sadly will miss, too. We have a photo album full of pictures of Travis and I. That's it! Just good old Mom and Dad. :)-

We also bought him a green elephant taggie animal. We are also sending some specials gifts from both sets of grandparents, Uncle Todd and Aunt Danielle and Uncle Adam and Aunt Lindsay.

Goodness, this child is already adored and loved more than he could ever imagine. But, one day he will FEEL it. He will be given the best life possible.

I worried at the very beginning of our journey one major thing: Would we be able to love a child that didn't come from our DNA the same way we would have loved one that we created?

The answer?

Well, yes. Absolutely, incredibly, with all of our hearts, YES.



Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Quick! Make me laugh!!!

Hello friends!
Well, here I am on a Tuesday night. And, I can't believe it is only TUESDAY! I feel like this week has already lasted 100 days.
I think part of that is because Travis and I are feeling a little worn out with waiting. We were told to expect news around the first of the year.  But, alas we wait and wait and wait.
I find myself refreshing my email about 20 times a day. It is extremely frustrating. And, this week, I am finding myself a little (or maybe a lot) down in the trenches about it.

I try realllllllllyyyy hard to stay positive! But, between the waiting game, my car breaking down (looks to be about $1,000 or more worth of damage) and some other random daily shell is beginning to crack. Oh, and Travis is sick. Did I mention that??

I guess what I want people to know is that this waiting is so hard. Unlike with a pregnancy, you are not able to place the time on a calendar when you child will arrive in your arms. Everything is out of you control. My heart wants to pick out baby room colors and fabrics and furniture. But, my mind knows I can't do that yet.
My heart wants to scream HURRY UP! to our adoption agency, but my mind knows that isn't acceptable.
My heart aches so much sometimes, that it tells my mind to be negative and grumpy. And at times, it really does feel like the pieces of this crazy puzzle will never come together.

But, seriously, after a hard day of worrying myself into a sick stomach, I know my time is coming. I know our time is coming. A time to love, live and grow with our new family. And, something else...
After going through this journey for nearly a year and a half now, I can say that I have learned ONE HUGE IMPORTANT THING= EMPATHY!

Never have I looked at people and their life situations like I do now. My mind and heart are much more open to lives unlike mine. I feel a genuine desire to listen, with an open ear. I feel it is my duty to pay it forward. And, I will pay it forward, long after our journey is complete.

Life is precious, isn't it??! It makes it so much easier to let go of all the silly things, when you have such a large worry occupying your heart. And, that for me, has been a good thing.

I've become so much more adaptable!! And, I've been known to be a stickler for schedules :)-
 The universe is preparing me for a crazy-ass toddler!!

So, quick! IF you have someway to make me laugh, say it! Do it! If you can make someone else laugh, please do that too!!! We are all in this together...this thing called LIFE :)