Sunday, November 29, 2009

Parents in Training

At the end of our last update, I mentioned that we were waiting to hear about a little boy. A few days later, we found out that he had been matched with another family. Because it had been about a month since we first showed interest, it wasn't a huge surprise that we were not his family to be. We were hopeful but realistic. This little boy wasn't meant to be part of our family, but we know that somewhere out there, our child is waiting.

We've been occupying much of our time by attending various parenting classes. Our first class was an infant and toddler child care class on Saturday, October 10th. The adventure actually started a few days prior to the class when we received a call from our social worker letting us know that the Baltimore marathon was going to be run the same day. Our normal route to the adoption agency happened to pass right through the start location of the marathon. Knowing that we wouldn't be able to drive that way, we decided to get up a little earlier and drive around to the north side of the city to bypass the race. Our alternate route worked well. We didn't have any problems getting to our class.

The class was very informative. It was taught by a nurse that is also an adoptive parent. In four hours, she went over an enormous amount of information. The primary topics included:

  1. Physical Care (bonding, bathing, diaper changing, and sleeping)
  2. Feeding
  3. Medical
  4. Safety (childproofing and car seats)

The class was an excellent overview of baby care topics with a focus on special challenges we may encounter as adoptive parents. In addition to the information we gathered in the class, we also were fortunate enough to meet a couple that also lives in southern Maryland. The majority of the couples that are adopting from Catholic Charities seem to be from central Maryland. It's nice to know that there is another family that isn't far away from us. They are a nice couple that we look forward to getting to know better.

In addition to our Saturday class, we also decided to take a series of classes covering parenting skills. For 6 consecutive Wednesday evenings, we drove to Baltimore to attend the "Hurricanes to Hugs" classes. We were taught a systematic approach to raising children using a proven parenting style. There was too much information to cover in this blog, but basically the training covered a step-by-step technique that parents can use for child development. The steps are...

  1. Empathy (identify feelings, needs, and messages behind a child's words and behaviors)
  2. Personal Message (communicate adult's feelings and expectations to the child in respectful and productive manner)
  3. Structuring (break down problems into manageable steps, anticipate obstacles, and develop plan to reach goals)
  4. Reinforcement (increase desired behavior)
  5. Inductive Discipline (guide child's behavior by introducing limits and establishing consequences while explaining rationales that support them)

At first, some of the concepts seemed a little counter intuitive. But as we progressed through the classes, we started to gain a better understanding of the concepts and how to apply them in parenting situations (and other situations in our lives). It's going to take some practice and focus to put the principals into use, but the benefits to our child will be huge.

We know that we are only scratching the surface of what it will take to be great parents. The classes we've taken are just the foundation. We still have much to learn and will be challenged every day as parents, but we look forward to those challenges.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Adoption Rollercoaster

Much has happened in the past month...

Everything started just two days after our last blog update (September 9th). An email was sent from our adoption agency to everybody on the Korean adoption email list. The adoption agency was letting everybody know that there was a little boy waiting for adoption. For those that don't know about the adoption process, this isn't the normal way that the adoption agency notifies adoptive parents of a waiting child. Traditionally, adoptive families are placed on a waiting list that's based on when their paperwork was completed. If the adoptive family is next on the list, the agency will review the file of the waiting child and see if he/she looks like a good match for a waiting family. If everything looks good, the family is notified that they have been matched with a waiting child.

In the case of the email that we received, the little boy was a little older than children normally are from Korea. Because he was older, our adoption agency decided to notify everybody to see who may be interested in adopting the little boy. As you can imagine, we were very excited. At the time, it had been about 2 1/2 months since our paperwork had been sent to Korea. We thought it was going to take close to a year before we were matched with a child. This was an opportunity that we hadn't expected. Laura and I discussed everything we knew about the little boy and decided to let our agency know that we were interested. From then on, we anxiously awaited any news about the little boy.

A few days later (it felt like forever), the adoption agency sent out an email letting everybody know that many, many families had let the adoption agency know that they were interested in trying to adopt the little boy. For us this was happy and sad news. I'm sad to say that from a selfish perspective, it was tough to know that so many other families were interested. This meant that our chances for adopting the little boy were reduced. We've been waiting a long time to start our family (both before and during the adoption process) and it was tough to know that what looked like good news a few days prior wasn't looking quite as good. But from the other perspective, it was happy news to know that so many families wanted to welcome the little boy into their family. We've met so many awesome families on our adoption journey and this just illustrates how much love everybody has to give.

Of the families that expressed interest in adopting the little boy, four were identified as good candidates for adoption. To ensure privacy for the families, the adoption agency didn't release names of the families or additional information about the little boy. We didn't know if we were one of the four families or not. The adoption agency said that they would start by notifying one family at a time. If the family decided that they wanted to proceed with the adoption, that would be the end of the selection process. If the family decided that the match wasn't right for them, the adoption agency would go to the next family on the list. It was very difficult not knowing whether we were one of the families that the adoption agency felt would be a good match for the little boy. One consolation was knowing that our adoption agency is very good about matching the right child with the right family. I certainly don't envy the decisions that they have to make. I know it can't be easy. They do a great job in very difficult situations.

At this point (October 11), we haven't heard if the little boy has been matched with a family. We don't know when more information will be released. It's been tough waiting to hear any additional information. We're not sure if we'll be the family for this little boy or not, but what we do know is that there is a little baby out there that is the perfect match for us. It may happen tomorrow or it may happen months from now, but some time in the future our child will be with us...filling in a missing piece of our family.

Monday, September 7, 2009

September PIPS

We attended our monthly Parents In Progress (PIPS) adoption meeting on September 1st. This month three families had their newly adopted children with them. There were two 10 month old boys from Korea and one 18 month old girl from China...all were adorable. One of the boys is the first child for a couple that we met at the adoption picnic a few months ago. When we met them, they had just received their referral and were proudly showing everybody the pictures of their son. It was nice to see him in person for the first time.

In addition to introducing their newest family member, the parents provide some information about traveling to the country of adoption and some of their new parenting experiences. This month we learned that the Holt adoption agency (that's who we work with in Korea) provides each adoptive family with a bag of baby essentials including diapers, formula, etc. This is good to know so that we don't travel with any unnecessary items. Another tip we heard was that if you're having a problem getting your child to calm down when you first adopt him in Korea, they are often calmed by going outside. The shock of moving from foster parents to their adoptive parents along with a new environment can be difficult for the child to deal with. When you bring them outside, it seems to help settle them down. Who knows if our child will be calm at first or cry. It's good to know that we can try different things that others have tried before us to help him deal with the change.

Our guest speaker at the September PIPS meeting was a pediatrician that specializes in dealing with adopted children. She has three adopted children of her own, so she has extensive experience as both a doctor and a parent. She provided us with a few handouts and decided to have mostly a question and answer session instead of just reciting information from her handouts. Here are some of the highlights...
  1. Before you travel, schedule your baby's first pediatric appointment so that it occurs right after you return. This will ensure that you won't have to wait too long for your baby's first checkup.
  2. The medical care in Korea is comparable to health care in the US.
  3. If children are underweight comparable to their age, it's not necessarily a concern. If a child has a head size that is smaller than the average child of the same age, this may be an indicator that the child may have cognitive issues in the future. The body has a natural defense to provide nutrients to the brain, even when there is malnurishment, so the head and brain can continue to develop at a rate that is close to normal. If there is severe malnurishment, that's when the head and brain are affected.
  4. When you return home, your child should have a thorough exam to include lab work. The accuracy of medical records varies from country to country. Korea is normally has very accurate medical records, but it's best to be sure.
  5. The pediatrician recommended that if possible you find a pediatrician that has experience working with kids adopted internationally. If that's not an option, you can have one of the pediatricians from the adoption clinic at Johns Hopkins conduct the initial exam.

The PIPS meetings are a great way for us to get educated, have fun, and stay connected with all of the other families that are adopting like us. We look forward to the meetings every month. We're looking forward to next month.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Creating Our Nursery - Part I

Yesterday (Aug 29) we decided to get serious about figuring out what we're going to do for our nursery. After doing a lot of research using our highly recommended Baby Bargains book (http://www.windsorpeak.com/babybargains/default.html) and a road trip to Frederick, MD almost two months ago to check out a baby furniture store to see what we liked, we thought we knew what we wanted. We intended to go back to the store to make our purchase, but decided to check out the Great Beginnings store (http://www.greatbeginnings.net/) in Gaithersburg, MD to see what they offered. According to the Baby Bargain book, they are one of the top 21 independent baby stores in the country so we thought they were worth checking out. After looking at the web site we were a little concerned that it might just be a high-end baby store, but we decided to go see for ourselves to make sure that we were looking at all options prior to making our decision.

As we entered the store, our first thought was "'WOW". It was a huge store! The whole center of the store has bedroom sets, with most setup in a small room setting with bedding so you get an idea of how it will look together. I would guess that there were close to 50 different bedroom sets, so it was all a little overwhelming at first. We slowly worked our way through the store, picking up brochures and making note of the furniture that we liked. Several sales associates came by to see if we needed any help, but we decided to make one pass through all the furniture before we got some help. After spending about an hour looking at everything, a sales associate (Brian) asked us if we needed any assistance or would like a tour of the furniture. We took him up on his offer. He showed us around, pointing out various aspects about the furniture. The first thing that we noticed is that he was very helpful but not pushy. Several times he pointed out things we hadn't considered and he also let us know about areas where people overspend on things that really aren't necessary. It was refreshing to work with a sales associate that wasn't trying to push all the expensive items and add-ons. He focused on the furniture that was the best quality at a reasonable price, not the real expensive furniture. As he showed us the different lines of furniture, we noticed that he even though he had no idea which furniture we had liked when we did our first walkthrough, he ended up showing us the items that were on our short list. After showing us around for close to an hour, we decided to do another walkthrough on our own to narrow down our choices. By this time it was around 2:00 PM. We hadn't had lunch and needed a little break to gather our thoughts. We went to a local Korean restaurant (of course) and discussed furniture as we enjoyed our bi-bim bap. I had the traditional bi-bim bap with beef and Laura had hers with seafood.

After enjoying our lunch, we headed back to the store, ready to make a decision. In the end, we decided to order furniture from Munire. We went with the classic chestnut finish in the Essex line (http://www.munirefurniture.com/essex_03.htm). As our sales associate was writing up our order, he let us know that every Saturday they offer a way for shoppers to save 15% off the highest priced item of their order. All you have to do is sing a 30 second karaoke in the middle of the store. Laura immediately looked at me and said that I could do it. The only singing I normally do is in the truck when nobody is around to hear me since I know it won't be a pleasant experience for me or the listener. I've never done (or had a desire to do) karaoke. Since I wasn't very excited to expose my poor singing talents all by myself, I told the sales associate that maybe Laura and I should do a duet instead. He thought that was a great idea, but needless to say Laura didn't like that idea. I carefully looked at all the songs they offered, trying to come up with a song that didn't require any signing talent. As I browsed the list, I saw one with potential. I settled on "the hokey pokey" with the condition that if I sang, Laura would have to do the dance with me so that we could share in our embarrassment. With a little pressure from me, she agreed. I sang the first two verses (left foot and right foot) as Laura and I both did the dance. The sales staff was thoroughly entertained, we were slightly embarrassed, but we ended up saving almost $100. It will be a funny story to tell to our child.

Over four hours after we first arrived at the store, we finally completed our order. You think that we would have had enough for one day, but we decided to continue to immerse ourselves in baby "stuff" by walking around the store looking at strollers, high chairs, and other items that we'll need to get some time in the future. On the way home, we even decided to check out another baby store just to see what they had for baby bedding. That will be the next hard choice. There are so many great looking bedding sets. It's going to be tough to choose the theme of our nursery.

As Laura said, we had baby overload yesterday, but it was a lot of fun. Every time we do something like this, we know it brings us one step closer to the day when we have our child.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Waiting Game

Last Tuesday (Aug 4) we went to our monthly Parents in Progress (PIPS) meeting. While waiting for the meeting to begin, we talked with a woman who is adopting a boy from Russia. She had just returned from her first visit to see her son. She travelled half way around the world, spending almost a week in Russia just to see her son for a total of 6 hours. When you adopt from Russia, it normally takes two or more trips to complete the process. This was her first trip. I can't imagine how difficult it must be to finally meet your future adopted child only to say good-bye because you're not allowed to finish the process in a single visit. I'm thankful that Korean adoptions require just a single visit.

As we do every month, the meeting began with the introduction of the newest adoptive families. There was only one family that was able to make the meeting this month. They had adopted a beautiful 3 1/2 year old girl from China just a couple of weeks ago. It was nice to hear about everything they went through and to see how happy they are after waiting 4 long years to complete the adoption process. Thankfully we won't have to wait that long (but I'll explain that in greater detail in a few minutes).

After getting introduced to the latest Catholic Charities adoptive family, the social worker had more great news to share with the group...there were five families that received their referrals from Korea in the past month. Three of the families were at the PIPS meeting. Each of them had pictures of their child that they eagerly shared with the group. You could see the pride in the parent's faces. As we looked at the pictures, we couldn't help but think what it will be like when we get our first picture of our child. The first time an adoptive family gets to see what their child looks like is at the referral. I imagine that the feeling an adoptive family has when sharing the first picture of their child is similar to the feeling a birth family has when they share their 1st sonogram photo with family and friends.

As I wrote earlier, we hope that we won't have to wait as long as the family that waited four years to adopt from China. When we started our adoption journey, we were told that after we completed our paperwork it would take 14-15 months to get our referral and another 3-4 months before we were able to travel to pick up our child. The good news is that our wait may be getting shorter. One of the five families that received their referral last month only waited one year which is a couple months less than previous families. On top of that, the next families that are waiting for a referral have only been waiting since December 2008. If they get a referral in the next couple of months it means that our wait may get even shorter. It's hard not to get our hopes up. Right now we're not sure where we stand on the wait list. Even though we know how many people at Catholic Charities are waiting for a referral, we have no idea how many families are waiting across the country. Since all Korean adoptions go through just two adoption agencies in Korea, there are many more families waiting to adopt then we're aware of.

It's hard to believe that it's been almost two months since our paperwork was approved. We know that our wait time may fluctuate over the coming months, but we're hopefully optimistic that we'll have a referral sooner rather than later. To make sure we're ready, we're going to start decorating the nursery in the coming months. Stay tuned for updates and pictures on our progress.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Hard Part's Over (or is it just beginning)

Over the last few weeks we've completed a couple big milestones with our adoption.

First, we successfully completed or home study on June 17th. Our social worker arrived at about 9:30 am. We started by going over some of our paperwork to make sure everything was complete. Once this was done, we filled out our medical issues checklist. The checklist is used to show a variety of different medical issues that an adopted child may have. We reviewed each item on the list and had to answer whether or not we would like to adopt a child if he/she had the medical condition. It's was a very extensive list that covers everything from low birth weight to genetic conditions such as Down's Syndrome.

Next, we reviewed the results of the Adult-Adolescent Parenting Inventory test that we took when we had our initial interview with our social worker. We had each taken the test on our own and didn't know the results until the home study. The purpose of the test is to determine your parenting beliefs. We had to answer 40 questions giving a rating of strongly agrees, agrees, disagrees, strongly disagrees, or uncertain. A couple of example questions are...
  1. Spanking teaches children right from wrong.
  2. Good children always obey their parents.
  3. Parents need to push their children to do better.
A couple of the questions were a little ambiguous, so we reviewed them, discussing our thoughts. After that, our social worker met with one of our neighbors who we used as a reference for our adoption. She talked to him for about 15 minutes, discussing our interactions with him and his kids and what kind of parents he thought we would be. We finished up the home study giving her a tour of the house, showing her where our nursery will be. She let us know that everything in our package looked good and that she would discuss it with the other social workers in a few days and recommend that we be approved to adopt.

On Wednesday, June 24th we received some great news...our social worker said that we were officially approved to go forward with the adoption. Two days later (Friday, June 26th), our package was sent to Korea.

So now that the paperwork is complete and on it's way to Korea, some would say the hardest part is done. I'm not so sure. We have a long time to wait until we receive our referral with apparently little to keep us occupied. The waiting might be harder than what we've done so far. To make the wait a little easier to tolerate, we have plenty of plans to keep us focused on our adoption. Everything from trying to learn a little bit of the Korean language to getting the nursery ready. I'm sure the time will pass quickly, but right now it seems like 15-18 months is a very long ways away.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Paperwork, Picnic, and a Surprise

Paperwork
It's been quite a while since our last post. A lot has happened in the past few months. The most important news is that we finished all of our paperwork about a month ago. Everything is now in the hands of our social worker. She is putting together our adoption package in preparation for our home study. During the home study she'll come visit the house and interview one of our neighbors that we used as a reference. After that, the package is complete and get's sent to Korea. Unfortunately we'll still have a long wait, but it's a big relief to know that we've taken a big step forward.

...Picnic
Today our adoption agency held their annual "Catholic Charities Families' Annual Picnic". I would guess that there were around 100 families in attendance. The picnic was in Severna Park, MD at the Kinder Farm Park. It's a beautiful county park that has a large playground, trails, fishing, and a farm supported by 4H that has chickens, goats, pigs, cows, and sheep. Everybody met at a couple of the pavilions for a picnic lunch. The majority of the families have already adopted children. Previously we had met a few couples that are still working through the adoption process like us, so we decided to eat lunch with them. We also met a couple that got their adoption referral about 2 months ago. They expect to be traveling to Korea in about a month to pick up their son. They had several pictures of him, including one with his foster mother. You could see how excited they were to be going to pickup their son in the near future.

It was great being around so many adoptive families. There were adopted children spanning ages from infant all the way to young adult. We couldn't help but smile every time we saw a beautiful adopted child. In many ways all of the adoptive families make you feel like you're a part of one big family. Everybody has either been through or is going through the adoption process. It's like a huge support network. Everybody is always willing to listen to you, answer your questions, or just provide moral support.

...and a Surprise
As the end of the picnic neared, we were in for a little surprise...they were raffling off an item. When we arrived at the picnic, we were given two tickets. We didn't think much about it at the time. After everybody had finished their lunch, they decided to hold the raffle. They drew the first ticket, but nobody was there to claim the prize. The next number was called, and to our surprise, it was one of our tickets. We had no idea what the prize would be. I walked up to the front and was presented with a beautiful cross-stiched baby blanket.

I was speechless. As I brought it back to Laura and showed it to her, I could see tears come to her eyes. It was such a special gift. This is the first gift for our future child. I know that it will always hold a special place in our hearts and will be part of a great story that we'll share with him.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Continued Progress

We're continuing to make very good progress on our adoption paperwork and are getting close to the end. Almost two weeks ago, we went to our first PIPS (Parents in Progress) meeting. PIPS is a support group that consists of the families that are in the process of adopting but haven't completed the adoption. The group meets once a month to socialize and receive information about adoption and parenting. Also, parents that have just completed their adoption come back with their child to discuss how they and their child are adjusting. At this meeting, there was a girl from Korea, a boy from Korea, a boy from the Philippines, and two boys from Ethiopia (adopted together). It was very interesting hearing about their experiences. The most common challenge for the parents was dealing with sleeping issues for both them and their child.

After meeting the new adoptees, we were supposed to have a speaker talk to us about dental issues with children. Unfortunately she got her schedule mixed up and missed the meeting. On the plus side, we got to spend more time talking to the adoptive families. At the end of the meeting, we talked with our social worker and gave her the first batch of paperwork so she could start working on it.

Since the meeting, we've been busy trying to get the rest of the paperwork completed. Last week we had a fire inspection at the house and completed our medical exams. Next week we have somebody from the health department visit the house to make sure we have a safe and healthy environment for raising a child. Today we're trying to get the house looking great to ensure we have a smooth inspection. As you can see, there many steps that we have to take to become adoptive parents, but we know it's all worth it.

We have just a couple more items to complete before the home study (I'll explain that in a future blog). After that, we'll begin the long wait for the paperwork to go through the system and get matched with a child. If we're fortunate, we'll know who we're adopting about this time next year and travel to get him next summer.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Adoption Reminders Everywhere

As we started on our adoption journey, we had a good idea that there would be many things that constantly reminded us of adoption. Whether we're out at a local mall, reading the newspaper, or watching t.v., we're see many things that make us think about our adoption journey. For example, Laura got me a puzzle-a-day desk calendar. A few weeks ago, the puzzle showed the word "Korea", with each of the letters written in a very fancy way. The letters were so fancy that it wasn't readily apparent that the word was Korea. What made the puzzle even more interesting was that when you flipped the word upside down, it spelled a different word. In this case, the word was "America". Whether you believe that it was a coincidence or a sign from God, it was pretty amazing to see something that reminded us of our adoption, but in a place where we least expected it.

Today was another day where a reminder came out of left field. We were watching The Amazing Race and a commercial for California milk came on. Laura was chatting on FaceBook and immediately her attention was drawn to the television. The commercial was of a cow from Korea that wants to travel to California. The cow's name is Soo. Most of the commercial is in Korean, with subtitles in English. We really enjoyed the commercial and found it very cute (and funny). If you want to see it, check it out at the following web site: http://www.realcaliforniamilk.com/content/soo-0.

It's amazing to see so many reminders of our adoption and Korea. Who knows where the next reminder will come from.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Reinvigorated

Sometimes it doesn't take much to get reinvigorated with something that's important in your life..today was one of those days for us.

This afternoon we had a chance to spend a little time with our friends in the Southern Maryland Adoptive Family Network. We were first introduced to them last fall. Laura was talking to one of her customers about adoption and that's how we found out about the group. They invited us to a picnic in the early fall. We had a great time meeting everybody. Now that the holidays have passed and people's lives are back to a more normal pace, they decided to throw a potluck lunch to get everybody back together.

We all met at a church in La Plata and spent a couple of hours eating, socializing, and watching all of the children have fun playing together. It was a great time. Every time we see so many different adoptive families with children adopted both domestically and from various parts of the world, we get reinvigorated. It makes us want to work harder and move faster so that we'll be able to adopt our child as soon as possible.

Well, I'm cutting this post short. Since we're reinvigorated, it's time to go work on our paperwork. :-)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Getting back on the adoption wagon

If you've been following this blog, you know that there hasn't been an update in two long months. Family and friends have been excited to hear about our progress with the adoption. The bad news is that over the last two months, very little has happened. We fell off the wagon (so to speak). Laura and I found ourselves overwhelmed with work and the holidays, so our progress with the paperwork came to a halt. The good news is that our life has gone back to normal (as normal as our lives are) and we're redoubling our efforts to finish our paperwork so that we can get one step closer to adopting our child. Now we're back on the adoption wagon. As we work through the remainder of the paperwork, I'll provide more regular updates. But for now, I'll recap the second day of our adoption training from last November (as promised in the last blog update).

On the second day of our adoption training, our original group split into two so that all of the people adopting internationally were together. We started by talking about how the focus on adoption differs between the parent and adopted child. In the beginning of the adoption process, the parents are extremely focused on the adoption. As you bond with your child, your thoughts of adoption start to diminish. It's always there in the back of your mind...as you teach your child about their heritage, celebrate holidays from their country of birth, etc....but first and foremost you are a parent. For the adopted child, the focus on adoption is just the opposite. In our case, our child will be young so at first he won't know he's adopted. Over time, as we explain adoption to him and teach him about his place of birth, he will become more and more inquisitive. One way that our adoption agency helps with this is by offering homeland tours. When the child is ready, the family can visit his birth country. The whole family has a chance to experience the culture first hand and they may even be able to learn more about the child's adoption story.

The adoption story is basically the information about the circumstances of the child's adoption. It may include information about the child's birth parents, place of birth, or other personal facts. Some of this information we may get when we first get matched with our child. Other pieces of information may be discovered at a later date. The important thing is that in the end, it's all personal information that belongs to our child. As parents, we will share this information with our child when we feel he is ready to hear about it, but we will not share this information with anybody else. We feel very strongly that the adoption story is our child's story to share with others, not ours.

The next portion of our training covered health issues. We learned about mongolian blue spots which is a collection of pigmentation at certain areas of the body. It normally happens in infants and slowly fades over time. It looks very much like bruises, so it's important to be aware of it and share the information with your pediatrician so that there's no misunderstandings as to whether it's mongolian blue spots or bruises. We also found out that we'll have to get some vaccination updates prior to traveling to South Korea. I'm probably good to go (thanks to the Air Force) but Laura will probably need to get a few shots.

During lunch, each person in the group got to go over their homework assignment. I'm sure you're all thinking..."homework assignment". Our assignment was to increase our awareness of our child's culture and share it with the others couples. Some examples of things we could research or do were to...
  1. Visit a market or store related to the country
  2. Visit an ethnic church and talk to church members about your plans to adopt
  3. Research special holidays or traditions
  4. Identify books, foods, or music particular to the country

If you read the earlier blog entries, you know this was a pretty easy assignment for us. We had already done most of these things on our own. We were able to share our experiences with Korean cooking and the Korean cultural festival. We also brought some Korean snacks and shared them with everybody. There were three other adoptive families (2 South Korea, 1 China) that shared their information too. It was a great way to learn more about both cultures. We all had a great time.

At the end of the day, we had our toughest assignment. Each person paired off with somebody else (not their spouse) and was given two role playing scenarios. Each scenario was based on an actual incident that somebody has experienced as an adoptive parent. One person played the role of the adoptive parent while the other person played the role of the person that was either asking lots of personal questions or was saying something inconsiderate (or ignorant) about the situation. An example of a scenario is that the adoptive parent and child are in a line at a grocery store and the next person in line says something like, "Where's he from...are you his real parents?". The goal of the exercise was to understand that as adoptive parents, there will be many times that we have to deal with uncomfortable situations and will have to learn how to respond. The way we look at it, we'll have a chance to educate people about adoption. Most people that ask insensitive questions don't do it to hurt the adoptive family. They are just inquisitive. I believe that if we're able to help other people understand adoption, it will make our child's life just a little easier in the long run.

That's it for the long awaited update. Now I'm going to get back to work on our paperwork. Our goal is to get it completed so that we can have our home study by the end of March. We'll let you know how we're doing soon.