...after almost 21 months of waiting. Jonah has been with me for about four hours now, so far it is going amazingly well!!! We had our custody meeting in a small meeting room at our agency's cafe and since they have Wifi, we were able to FaceTime with John not long after his foster mom left. Jonah knew exactly who he was and kept saying "Appa, Appa (daddy in Korean). He also calls me omma and seems to recognize me. So far no tears from him, we will see how he does when he wakes up from his nap. He is so amazing, he runs everywhere, he is very curious, and such a sweetheart. Visa interview also went really well, so the last official part of the process here in Korea is complete! Please keep praying for my little boy's heart and also for his foster family, they loved him so much.
I am sitting at LAX right now, next stop Seoul!!! I take custody of Jonah on Friday at 11am (7pm Thursday Arizona time, 10 pm on the east coast). His Visa interview is scheduled for Monday and we fly home Tuesday night. Prayers for a smooth transition are so greatly appreciated!
At 6:58 this morning my phone rang... I let out a shriek as I ran to pick it up. It was the call we have been waiting for- FINAL APPROVAL!!! We are now officially and legally the parents of Jonah RiYoon! There was a time when John and I thought we would never be parents and now we have two sons. I can't stop crying - so overwhelmed with joy and relief.
"The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy." Psalm126:3
I am so sorry to all those who have followed our journey and to my family and friends that keep up with us through this blog for having to take down blog posts and for not being able to post updates from Korea. Just prior to our first meeting with Jonah, we heard that officials may be monitoring social media and would not look favorably upon posting pictures or details about our adoption process so I needed to be cautious. Now that we are legally his parents I hope to be able to post some pictures and details about our trip.
Overall, we had a great trip. Joshua is a fabulous traveler. He did so well on both plane rides and touring around Korea. He also handled the meeting with his foster mom really well.
Our court date went great. We had the nicest judge. He told us we had
approval at the end and that he thought we would be great parents for
Jonah (almost made me cry). We still had to wait for the written
preliminary approval, but it was such a relief to know we had approval.
We are living proof that you can still get
approval with a somewhat disruptive, not perfectly behaved
child. Joshua only got a 20 minute nap and the court was running late,
so by the time we got in there, he was not at his best! As soon as we
got in, he loudly pronounced that he was hungry, wouldn't sit still,
kept talking, etc, but the judge didn't even blink an eye over it.
The most difficult part was the meetings with Jonah. Our
first meeting with Jonah was especially difficult; he was very shy with me and wouldn't
interact with me at all. It was way beyond normal two year old stranger anxiety. It was obvious he knew something was up and he wanted no part of it whatsoever! Who could blame him. He was much more receptive to John though, which makes complete sense because he is closest to his foster mom. He and
Joshua also did not get along very well. Our social worker visited him last February and we know from her description that the way he was acting was very out of character. It makes me sad that we didn't get to see his real personality prior to his world being completely turned upside down.
second meeting with Jonah was much better. He still overwhelmingly preferred John, but I did have a great moment with him taking turns blowing
bubbles, I would blow some air, make a face, and he would just crack up.
Made me so happy! I was just so grateful for this; he actually gave me
eye contact and it just made me feel like eventually
everything will be okay. The most challenging part was the two boys,
they did not get along well at all. Let's just say that we are calling
it a win, since there was no blood.
In all seriousness though this will be one of the most challenging
aspects of bringing Jonah home; the level of violence was way beyond
brothers fighting as brothers do, so PLEASE don't tell me they are just
fighting like brothers. Brothers may fight, but they still share love
and a bond which Joshua and Jonah do not yet have. We would so appreciate your prayers for their relationship. I will be heading back to Korea next week!
I made many of my prior blog posts drafts and will republish them when/if we receive court approval. I needed to take them down because they contained pictures of Jonah and could possibly be seen by officials in Korea. I am sorry.
...has almost come to an end! We leave VERY soon for Korea. We will meet Jonah on August 23rd in Korea (9pm Eastern, 6pm AZ time on August 22nd in the U.S.). Immediately following our meeting with Jonah, we will meet with Joshua's foster mother and possibly foster father. I am hoping he will be there; Joshua was very close to him and even though it may be difficult, I think it may be good for Joshua to see him.
Whether to visit with Joshua's foster family was a difficult decision. Many kids from Korea seem to enjoy looking at pictures of their foster family, but Joshua completely shutdown after coming home and did not want to look at them. He went through a period around 16 months home where he would finally look at their pictures and even hung them on the refrigerator, but that didn't last long. When I would ask Joshua if he wanted to visit them, he would tell me no. We have been praying about this and asking others to pray. We have seen God move in answer to prayer. Joshua has been talking about going to Korea, even telling his teacher he was going on "two airplanes" when she asked if he was going on an airplane to Korea. And when I asked him who we were going to visit, he told me, "Mrs. Choi" and seemed completely at peace about it.
We have also seen God moving in preparing Joshua's heart for having a brother. Prior to very recently, Joshua would answer no when asked if he wanted a brother. Now whenever we read a story that has a mommy animal and two babies, he says, "That's me, that's Jonah, and that's you." :-)
After our meetings, we will sight-see and hopefully have at least one other meeting with Jonah. We go to court on August 28th at 2:30pm (1:30 am Eastern, 10:30 pm AZ time). So pray for us before you go to bed on August 27th!
We would appreciate your prayers so much. We have already seen how God is working in answer to them. Please pray for:
Safe, smooth travel and for Joshua to do well on the long flights
Meetings with Jonah and his foster mom go well, able to ask questions and get answers that will help tell his story of his life in Korea
Meeting with Joshua's foster family go well, no anxiety for Joshua, and for him to be open to them
Fun time as a family in Korea seeing the sights
Court appearance go well and that we would be able to satisfactorily answer the judges questions and receive quick approval
Joshua be well behaved in Court!!!
I can't believe we will finally be in Korea meeting Jonah! Here he is receiving his 2nd birthday care package - love his little smile. Can't wait to meet my sweet boy!
We finally have a court date for Jonah. After EP approval, our paperwork was submitted immediately to the court. It only took them two weeks to assign us a court date. It is much further away than we had hoped, but at this point we are just happy to be moving forward.
We go to court on August 28th!!! That means we will fly to Korea some time the week prior because we need to be there 4-5 business days ahead of our court date to meet Jonah and give the Korean agency time to file some paperwork with the court.
We are finally going to get to meet our son!!!!!!
By the time we meet him, we will have waited 19 months from the time that our acceptance paperwork was sent to Korea. Since both John and I need to appear in court, all three of us will travel to Korea for the first trip. Then we will all come home and I will go back 3-5 weeks later to bring Jonah home.
We applied for Joshua's passport a little later than we should have, though with enough time given the projected processing times. We were waiting because we were hoping to receive his certificate of citizenship in time to send it in with the application. We are still waiting on it, so in June we realized we needed to go ahead and apply for the passport without it since it is not technically required (just makes it easier). Please pray we quickly receive Joshua's passport with no delays.
Also, please be praying that God prepares all of our hearts for Jonah and his heart for us. Jonah will have lived with his foster family for two years by the time we get to bring him home. Pray also that Joshua's heart is ready to be in Korea again and visit his foster family.