Sunday, July 13, 2008

Why South Korea?

In the year leading up to our second child Ethan's birth I took a workshop to get credits to keep my teaching certificate current. The lady who taught the class, The class was titled "How to use world music and jazz in your classroom." which was right up my alley since my degree is in K-12 music education. The lady leading the class brought along her 9 year old daughter who just happened to be adopted from South Korea. I honestly had not heard of children being adopted from South Korea before this, although I know now that is one of the oldest international programs. I didn't think much of it at the time. I had just found the stories that her mother told about how searching for things to connect her daughter to her specific South Korean culture was difficult. It was much easier to find workbooks and things for young children about China which she had done a bit, trying to let her child learn some about at least an Asian culture. She said most of the books about South Korean culture she had found were too advanced or just were not appropriate for a child.
A few weeks later at a local community center playgroup a mother walked in with three Asian children. A boy and two girls. She hurried in our direction and seemed very excited. I happened to be sitting by a friend from MOPS who had just recently moved to the US from Japan. The lady with the Asian children was excited to see someone from an Asian culture since people of Asian decent do not make up a very big part of the population in our town. She began to tell us her story about how she and her husband could not conceive and adopted a boy from South Korea. "Wow meeting two adoptive parents with children from Korea in one month. Weird!" Still didn't think much of it. She kept telling her story. Once they had their boy home they were surprised to find out that they were pregnant. They had another boy. Then... Yep there is more. They got a phone call a few years later from HOLT adoption agency who they had worked with for their sons adoption. The voice on the line said that the mother of their boy was expecting twin girls and wanted to know if they could be placed with the same family as her first son. That was her family. They were not actively looking to adopt, so the call took them by surprise. I was impressed that an adoption agency at the birth mother's request would even do something like that. Now they have twin girls who are biological siblings to their oldest boy, and of course they were the cutest little things you have ever seen. Wow what a story! Yet at the time I was still pregnant and not even thinking about adoption. I was more worried about how I was going to share my love with more than one child and other worries that the thought of adding a second child to your family gives you.
A month or so later I was chatting on a mom website and the topic of adoption came up. People were discussing international vs. domestic. One lady online, who I had previously befriended, was posting about her niece's and nephews. It turns out her sister and her husband had adopted four children from South Korea.
"AGAIN with the South Korea thing." Chills! It was beginning to seem like a common thread with me lately. I chatted with her briefly about the experience her sister's family had had with adoption and again put it to the back of my mind.
We had prayed for guidance about our decision to adopt and at that point it still kept weighing on our hearts as something we are meant to do.
So when the time came to look into adoption we started to look at the requirements listed on various international agency's websites. Of course the first country we clicked on was... China. That was the plan from back in high school, remember. We were both saddened to see that the requirements for China did not fit our family. We are young and would have to wait to long to both turn 30, the minimum age requirement, and then three years plus from that point for placement. That didn't fit the timeline we had planed for our family. Bummed we sat at the computer saying things like, "Well that is dumb." lol So we went back to the list of countries.
"Hey look at that South Korea. Let's check that one out." I remember saying to John.
"South Korea?" he said. Obviously hearing about as much about adopting from that country as I had less than a year earlier. I said "Yes, I know three different families that have children from South Korea. All the stories began to flood back into my memory. Some of them I had even in shared with with John previously but of course he didn't remember the details about it being South Korea. I soon refreshed his memory. At that point, we didn't know if the program requirements would fit our family. Turns out they did. Almost to a tee. We were within the age limits, we were excited to see the two year plus timeline instead of the three year plus we had seen on the China timeline. Travel requirements seemed to work out better in our minds. The only thing that we did not plan on honestly was the possibility of a boy since we had always talked about China where girls are often the ones waiting to be adopted.
Upon praying about it further we decided to let go of the idea that we were only open to a girl and let God make the decision for us. After all we did not get a choice for our first two children, and God knew who was meant for us and who we were meant for. If we do plan on a fourth family member we would be right on schedule (30 years old) to begin the process for China after we (like we said when we added our second child to the family) "See how this one goes!"
So after all that there was no denying that all signs pointed to South Korea. We discovered that South Korea only works with one agency per state. The agency that works with S.D. is Holt International. We went to their site and found ourselves staring at a list of requirements that would determine our families future, where God was trying to lead us this whole time.
"Ok we get it now. Our child will be waiting in South Korea."
Another great thing about the South Korea program are is that they have the most complete medical history information. They also have children placed with loving foster families while they wait instead of some countries who are only able to provide group facilities.
We did look at the other countries program requirements but our hearts already had made the decision.

"Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west." Isaiah 43:5
I know it wasn't talking about adoption but it seemed fitting.

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