Monthly Archives: May 2012

25 Things to Love about Lily…

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1. She’s so flexible, she can clap her feet together like most people clap their hands

2. She’s so tiny, you can slip her in the high chair without pulling out the tray

3. She is constantly interacting and attempting to build a relationship with us

4. She loves books

5. She has an unbelievably long attention span

6. She is thoughtful

7. She is a good listener

8. She eats whatever you’re eating

9. She is affectionate and loving, but doesn’t need to be held all the time

10. She doesn’t complain about my rice, even though it’s not very Asian

11. She will play kah-koong (Korean for peek-a-boo) for hours

12. She is learning one or two English words per day

13. She tries to make us laugh when she’s in trouble

14. She is a climber (crib, high chair, kitchen table, you get the idea…)

15. She smiles easily

16. She laughs when anyone else does

17. She likes to run around the house in her diaper

18. She embraces routines

19. She has rhythm and likes to bang

20. Two of her first English words were “Good girl!”

21. She puts her face in the water during a bath

22. She persists until she figures things out

23. She is patient

24. She is mesmerized by light

25. After one week, she finally allows her daddy to hold her — patient man

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Pictures!

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Just before we left the hotel for the Incheon International Airport


Playing on the indoor playground with a new friend at the Incheon Airport

Sitting on the pull-out snack tray on the plane — all 16 pounds of her


Listening to Pororo, her favorite kiddie video, on the plane with one-size-fits-all headphones.
Lily calls this video “Po-po-chin”, for some reason we can’t yet comprehend.


Hugging Sleep Sheep while standing at Mommy’s feet on the plane

Talking on a cell phone is Lily’s favorite thing to do, on a plane or otherwise.
For the first few days, she would always say “Umma” or “Oppa” as she put the phone to her ear…


Our three children at Wofford’s baccalaureate service — a triple blessing (to coin a phrase).
My heart is full of thanksgiving as I look at this picture, even if Lily’s eyes are swollen from crying so much.


Lily with her brother, the college graduate. Already she adores him.

Sweet Homecoming…

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We arrived home safely with Sarang, whom we will gradually call Lily. She did a fantastic job on the flights, crying and fussing only a couple of times when she was sleepy. She seems to want to bond with us and initiates warm interaction frequently.

She continues to eat relatively well, if not a lot, and is willing to try whatever we offer her. Everything is a novelty to her and she seems to enjoy every minute of exploring her new surroundings.

Sarang warmed up to her sister about an hour after we were home and they get along famously. She continues to allow her brother to do more and more for her. She allowed him to hold her for several brief periods today.

We arrived home in time to attend the baccalaureate ceremony and college graduation of our son, Whitney, Jr. on Saturday evening and Sunday morning. It was a special time for our family to be together and we are overjoyed Sarang came home in time to be included.

Though we didn’t think it was possible, we love her more with each passing day.

Blessed Beyond Measure…

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We went back to SWS yesterday to purchase some Korean books and to pick up several items the foster mother had forgotten to include in Sarang’s things. She called for “Umma” when she realized where she was, and the director spoke to her in Korean, emphasizing over and over that I was her new Mommy now. I think this was an incredible blessing for Sarang to hear that confirmed again in her native language and from someone she trusted. Sarang has clearly been a favorite at the agency and they are so eager to see her do well. Whitney and I were relieved and pleased that we could walk into their office with Sarang happily resting in the baby carrier on my chest and later turn around and leave again with her saying “ppa ppai” (bye bye) to those she had grown to love with no tears. God is good.

She continues to allow me to comfort her and provide care and asks to be held often. She accepts care from Whitney, but will not allow him to comfort her yet. She is eating and drinking well and is already picking up English words. She plays and laughs and is quite a little techie. We were told her favorite toy is a cell phone, which is so true and she has already learned to pause and start her favorite Korean kiddie video on my laptop by pressing the space bar. She can also make it play again and again by pressing the right mouse click button. She is amazing.

Sarang has a reputation for fighting sleep that we have confirmed, but we are confident that even her sleeping habits will mellow and improve with time.

We couldn’t be happier. We feel this child was hand-picked by God to be ours and He has seen fit to provide for every detail in amazing and wonderful ways.

We pack up and head home with hearts full of the knowledge that we are blessed beyond measure…

Immeasurably More…

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Our God is amazing. He continues to awe us each new day with His provision. When we arrived to visit with Sarang and her foster parents at the agency, Sarang came to me and allowed me to hug her. She was much more responsive than yesterday and I had the idea she was somehow resigned to what lay ahead. The foster mother encouraged her to come to me and it seemed she might be ready to make the transition – much more so than yesterday.

Our visit was amazing. Hyejin had already written down every detail about Sarang’s routine, her medications, her meal and bedtime rituals, her likes and dislikes and everything imaginable to make Sarang’s transition easier. Whitney and I had brought a list of things we wanted to ask the foster mother and case worker, but when we scanned it, every single thing had already been covered. We were overwhelmed with God’s provision and the foster parents’ generosity. They had filled to overflowing more than two large bags of gifts and baby paraphernalia.

There were clothes, shoes, hats, toys, her favorite foods, a handmade scarf, a beautiful custom photo album with pictures chronicling the year she spent in their home, a Korean-English Bible, a tea set from a missionary in their church who’s been praying for Sarang since last summer, and a letter telling her about Jesus…

Words are inadequate to describe the experience of these loving foster parents, who have prayed over and cared for this child, to transfer her to our care in such a manner. The whole exchange was incredibly emotional. After the foster parents had a long and tearful good-bye with Sarang, the foster mother handed her to me. We said good-bye to them at the elevator and Sarang remained calm in my arms for at least ten minutes. I was absolutely amazed at her composure. But as we neared the hotel, Sarang began to cry and call for Umma (the Korean word for mama) gently at first, then more insistent. She cried hard and was even angry from time to time. Mercifully, she allowed me to comfort her and even laid her head on my shoulder and leaned into me. She cried for about 45 minutes, then fell asleep with her head on my shoulder.

After a short nap, her mood improved and we were able to feed her and give her a bath, which she loved. It is clear she is struggling with grief and yet she is trying to open up to us. As the evening wore on, she allowed me to put her down several times and was happier a little longer each time.

We were so relieved to see her smile and be playful, and I’m nearly sure she tried to say “Mommy” one or two times.

She’s sleeping peacefully as I write this.

Indescribable Joy…

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She’s absolutely perfect! Everything we hoped for. Everything we imagined. And immeasurably more… 
     There are no words to describe our joy as we looked up and saw our little 19 month-old daughter standing in the breezeway in a little denim blazer and white hat, her foster mother whispering to her, “Momma, Momma.” We were helpless to do anything but simply adore her. Imagine my delight when she allowed me to stoop down, love on her, caress her sweet face, hold her against me, and take her in.
     Everyone except us spoke Korean during the entire visit though Hyejin, the caseworker, translated from time to time. Trying to make a good impression with nods, smiles and a hug or squeeze of the hand was difficult; but I was encouraged that love is the same in any language and this precious family welcomed us warmly into their home.
     We had such fun playing with Sarang and watching her interact with us and the foster family, each moment more delightful than the one before. Her development is close to being on target, which is unusual for a toddler with a severe visual impairment. She’s bright and spunky — and perfect for our family — and from the very depths of our hearts, we love her and want her. She has obviously been parented with wisdom and grace and these two dear people have sacrificed much by investing nearly a year of their lives to make hers better. It is clear she has been given very special care and that her foster parents adore her. The difference this will make in her life and future (and ours) is unfathomable.
     How we laughed with joy to see Sarang carry around the little Sleep Sheep contentedly and lean in close to listen to the recorded books we had packaged so carefully and sent to Korea months ago. We were amazed at her attention span as she listened intently before turning each page. It was obvious these were familiar to her and that she had grown to cherish them as we’d hoped.
     I noticed the hand quilted blanket we sent folded in her stroller and thought how big God is and remembered His omniscience and omnipresence in Psalm 139:14, “Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well.”
     We are impressed with the Korean agency and how they have managed Sarang’s case. I relished every detail as I was able to question the caseworker on the 20-minute taxi ride to the foster parents’ home. We have been privy to far more information than we ever dreamed. According to information on the Korean adoption agency’s web site, it is estimated that more than 2 million babies are aborted every year in Korea; so it seems God has had His hand on this special baby for some time. We are forever indebted to her young birth mother for choosing life and adoption and to Hyejin, the Social Welfare Society, and the foster family for advocating, nurturing, and providing for her while she waited for a forever family.
     Since we had to leave Spartanburg in such a hurry, we didn’t have a chance to purchase many of the things we will need for a toddler at home. A baby carrier was one of the things I had really wanted to get, because they’re highly recommended to help promote bonding. But, alas, there simply wasn’t time before we left. Amazingly, we learned today the foster parents are planning to give us many of Sarang’s things — even the baby carrier they have been using with her. Imagine that! One of the highlights of our visit was the foster mother helping me learn how to strap the carrier onto myself and place Sarang inside.
     We are planning to take custody of Sarang after a short visit at 4:00 pm tomorrow (Wednesday), but since she is well-attached to her foster parents, we anticipate a natural and expected grieving process. She has clearly been prepared and she knows something is amiss. It is obvious from her behavior toward us that they have told her she is going with us at some point. This is going to be incredibly difficult…
     God has provided for every detail up to this point in unimaginable ways. Why would He stop now? I know He didn’t bring us this far to leave us.
     Now to Him who is able to do IMMEASURABLY MORE than all we ask or imagine…

Great Expectations…

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It is Monday night in Korea. We were able to take it easy today and recover from the long flight and essentially losing a night. We dined early at Gang Nam Mok Jang, a Korean restaurant recommended by the agency. We had Bul-gokee, a traditional roasted beef with seasoning, rice, Kimchi (both staples at every meal), and pumpkin. The server grilled the beef on a gas grill in the middle of our small table as we watched.

There were multiple side dishes, mostly unrecognizable, but we were grateful for the square meal and the opportunity for a little cultural enlightenment.

Afterwards, we shopped a little without finding much and returned to the hotel to retire early. At least one of us retired early.

We have great expectations of the morrow when we finally get to meet the little sweetie who stole our hearts last summer. We are filled to bursting with anticipation. The plan is to walk over to the Social Welfare Society in the morning to meet Sarang’s caseworker, Hyejin. We hope to tour the Baby’s Reception Home, the orphanage where Sarang spent the first 8 months of her life. The three of us will then go together with Sarang and her foster mother to a pre-scheduled appointment with Sarang’s pediatrician. This is an unusual privilege and one we cherish, since there are specific questions we want to ask about her medication, etc. After the doctor’s appointment, we’ll spend an hour or so together with Sarang, the foster mother, and Hyejin tomorrow afternoon.

A second visit is planned for Wednesday. We expect to get to keep Sarang either Wednesday or Thursday, depending on how things go. The Korean adoption agency is very eager for Sarang to make the adjustment slowly. Hyejin has told us Sarang is shy of strangers, so there is much need for God to move in her heart in a special way. This is a critical part in the process and we need a miracle to turn her heart toward us. But I am confident of this very thing, that He who started the work will be faithful to compete it. (paraphrased from Philippians 1:6)

A Mother’s Day…

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We arrived safely at the Incheon International Airport at 5:30 pm on Sunday, Mother’s Day. God is good and His grace is amazing. We lay our heads down tonight in a big, comfy bed with light hearts, feeling immeasurably blessed and beyond eager to see what God has in store for us this week. Our prayer is that all those concerned with Sarang’s transition also have a light heart and joyful, expectant spirit in anticipation of our visits in the foster parents’ home and the ultimate transition into our custody.