Monday, June 28, 2010

A Visit to the Holt Reception Center

Yesterday (June 27), we woke at our usual time at around 4:00am, but for a change we were able to get back to sleep and didn't wake again until 7:00am. We're slowly getting used to the time change.

We decided to explore some of the areas around the hotel earlier in the day so that we would have plenty of time to get back to our room before visiting the Holt Reception Center in the afternoon. We started our day by walking down to Namdaemun Market.

Basically, the whole neighborhood consists of shops and food vendors lined up on both sides of the street selling a variety of items.

You'll find clothing, small housewares, souveniers, and a variety of other items. The closest equivalent in the United States is a flea market, though that doesn't accurately reflect Namdaemun. The market is such a popular destination that the city estimates that close to a half million people visit this neighborhood daily. We enjoyed walking up and down the various streets, losing ourselves in the maze of vendors for a couple of hours. We weren't looking for any particular items to purchase, just doing a lot of window shopping and marveling in the experience.

As lunch time approached, we decided to leave Namdaemun and look for a good place to eat. As we left the market, we found ourselves at the base of a very unique building (some people call it the zipper building).

One of the many beauties of the city is the amazing amount of unique architecture that we've encountered. Seoul is a very modern city, much of it rebuilt since the end of the Korean War. We have thoroughly enjoyed the beauty in the old architecture as well as the new.

After a delicious lunch at a Korean burger joint (Kraze Burger), we went back to the room to cool down and relax. Feeling refreshed, we headed out to visit the Holt Reception Center. Walking up the street to the main office for Holt, we started to feel the emotions of the moments that we new would follow. We were visiting the place that has helped connect us to our son. Even though it's a non-descript building, it was a wonderful sight to us. We knew that the following day, we would be meeting Zachary in that same building.

We entered the building and asked for our social worker at Holt. A woman was walking with a little boy that looked to be about 18 months. As she directed us to the second floor, she said good-bye (in Korean) and gave us a small head bow. We returned the good-bye (also in Korean) and also bowed. Then the most adorable thing happened...the little boy also gave a small head bow. It melted our hearts. Koreans are very polite. Greetings are almost always accompanied with a bow. Even something as simple as the exchange of money is done a specific way. Money should be handed over using two hands (right hand on top), not one. It's taken a little while to get used to it, but whenever we do it, we can see that they appreciate that we are trying to follow some of their culture beliefs while visiting their country.

We found our social worker and walked with her down the street to the Holt Reception Center, located about a half mile away. When entering the Holt Reception Center, we removed our shoes and put on slippers. This is another part of the Korean culture. Shoes are traditionally removed when entering homes and many other locations. We walked into the room where Holt cares for the children. Currently there are six children (5 boys and 1 girl) that are at the reception center. Through the Internet, Laura knows two of the mothers of two of the children. We took many pictures of the children so that their parents will get a chance to see them. Pictures of the children are very precious to adoptive parents. Many adoptive parents only have a few photographs of their children (we have 5). We know that we would appreciate any additional photographs of Zachary, so we wanted to try to get as many pictures as possible to give to their parents.

When we walked into the room, the kids were eating some potatoes. We sat down on the floor with the children and started to interact with them. Some were shy and some were not. One little boy in particular was very intrigued with Laura. Over the next 10 minutes, he slowly warmed up to her, giving her some big smiles by the end of our meeting. He was an adorable little 11 month old boy that looked very similar to the son of one of the adoptive families that we know in Maryland. We found out that he currently wasn't being considered for adoption. The social worker told us that he had some medical issues when he was first born, but is very healthy now. We don't know why he isn't being considered for adoption. It broke our hearts to know that he may not find a family. If possible, we would have loved to add him to our family along with Zachary. We spent about 30 minutes with the children. It was a special time that we won't ever forget.

As we walked into the hotel after an uneventful subway ride, we happened to meet the couple from Luxembourg that was visiting to adopt their second son. They met their son that day and had them with him. It looked like he was doing great. Seeing the little boy made us think about what our next day would be like. In less than 24 hours, we would be with Zachary. It was a good feeling and a nice end to the day.


The Eaton Family said...

K, I'm getting very emotional reading your posts! You have a very nice way of conveying the events of each day and how much they mean to you. Each moment is an appreciated piece of your most important journey and I can see that you are drinking every one of them in, feeling and experiencing them to the fullest. It is very beautiful. Thank you so much for letting us be a part of this most imtimate and monumental time in your life. Love you so much Bro and can't wait to meet my nephew!

Paula Sloan said...

I am the mom of the little girl at the RC. I am literally sitting here balling my eyes out! I can't thank you enough for taking the time to go see the children at the Reception Center and to take pictures for us is so amazingly thoughtful and selfless of you. Thank you! Now, it's time to see pictures of the two of you with a certain little Zachary in your arms! <3