Friday, October 31, 2008
I'm thinking about this because I'm handing out Halloween candy right now and two teenagers just came to my door that I'm pretty sure were Korean. We don't have many Korean people in this area, so I had to totally hold myself back from asking them if they're Korean, where they live, what their mom makes them for dinner, if they speak fluent Korean, how their mom celebrated their Tol (first birthday), if they've been to Korea recently, if they know where to buy Korean board games and if I could just come hang out at their house for a while.
That's what I THOUGHT. What I said was "Happy Halloween, bye!" and then I ran in the house before I gave into the urge to follow them home. :)
Shawn has a Korean employee at his pharmacy who is the nicest guy and every single time I see him I want to ask him a million questions. I saw him today and he explained Korean New Year to me and the facial differences between Chinese and Korean people. He seems to enjoy answering my questions and talking about Korea, but I always have to stop myself from just following him around the pharmacy all afternoon like a freak. I need some Korean friends, but I don't know many Korean people here. (which is why I get so excited when I see any!)
I've been studying Korean culture a lot lately and I just can't get enough of it. I've always loved Asian culture anyway, but since I've been trying to learn more about Korea I just love it even more. I want to learn Korean songs, I want to learn how to play Korean games, I want to learn about Korean holidays and I want to find Korean toys for Clarissa. I want to just GO to Korea and live there until they give me my baby. I wonder how long I could sit in the lobby of the adoption agency before they would kick me out...
So anyway, there you go. I'm officially going insane. So if you're Korean and you live in Boise, watch out. If you're walking down the street and see some crazy lady chasing after you, it's probably just me. Just give me a Korean recipe or explain a Korean tradition to me and tell me to go home, OK? :)
Thursday, October 30, 2008
But I was just watching TV and I saw a commercial for the movie Journey to the Center of the Earth and it's now on blu-ray 3D! It comes with the glasses and everything. We missed that movie in theaters, and I really wanted to see it.
So even though it's Office night I decided it would be way more fun to surprise the kids with a fun movie night tonight. We have the new TV and we haven't tried a blu ray movie yet so I think this will be the perfect opportunity to give it a try.
So the White's are having movie night! Today is the last day of school for my kids, track break starts tomorrow, so they'll love getting to stay up a little late to watch a movie. We'll order pizza and then snuggle up and watch a movie. I'm totally looking forward to it, I want the kids to hurry up and get home from school so I can tell them about it!
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
The first thing we did when we got there was to go into the corn maze. Every year we try it and every year we get lost and give up. But THIS year, I'm proud to report that we actually made it through the whole maze! Yay! The kids really enjoyed it, we had a good time maneuvering our way though.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Saturday morning our 42 inch plasma TV broke. It's been doing weird things for a while, the screen has been turning black occasionally and Saturday morning it went out completely. When we bought it it was really one of the bottom of the line Plasma TV's at the time, we were just moving into this house and arranged our entire family room so that the furniture would face the fireplace, and then it just made sense to mount a TV above the fireplace. But plasma TV's were insanely expensive at the time, and after just buying a house our TV budget wasn't exactly large.
Anyway, that's more than you needed to know about our TV. The point is, it died. And Heaven forbid we be without a TV in our family room for five minutes, so we made a family trek to Best Buy to buy a new TV.
After spending the morning comparing, measuring and discussing every single plasma TV in the universe, we finally settled on a new TV. Our old TV was 42 inches and not an HD. Plasma TV's have gotten way better and way cheaper since the last time we bought one and they're pretty much all HD now. Plus our old TV had big speakers on both sides of the screen, so it was bulky. New plasmas are generally lot sleeker with smaller frames around the screen, which means that while we could only get a 42 inch TV to fit in the space above our fireplace before, the same space will now hold a 50 inch.
So after hours at Best Buy we came home with a ridiculously large 50 inch plasma HDTV. I'm pretty sure that I can now count John Krasinski's nose hairs while I watch The Office, and isn't that what you've always wanted to do?
Since we already had the other TV mounted on the wall, we decided that we didn't need those pesky Best Buy people to install our TV. Oh no, we're TV experts we could install it ourselves.
A 50 inch plasma TV weighs 80 pounds, and I'm a big baby. It sounded like a great idea at the store, but there's no way I was going to be much help mounting an 80 pound TV to the wall. It was time to call for backup.
Shawn's best friend is another pharmacist at Shawn's pharmacy, and he was our go-to guy for TV installation. What was supposed to be easy enough ended up involving a trip to the store to buy new screws, not being able to find the right screws, then realizing that they had the right screws all along...and at mightnight they FINALLY had the TV mounted to the wall.
And then to make an extremely long story short, we realized that we really know nothing about HDTV. First we realized that we had hooked it up with the wrong cables. Turns out coaxial cables don't transmit HD signals. Who knew? That involved a trip to Best Buy to buy ridiculously expensive cables. That's when we discovered that our DVD player doesn't have a port for the ridiculously expensive cables. Our DVD player was old and crappy anyway, so we decided to upgrade and get a new one. But WAIT! If you have a new 50 inch HDTV, why buy a DVD player when a blu-ray player is MUCH cooler (according to the Best Buy salesman)?! That led to an afternoon of discussing blu-ray players, and eventually to us buying one. We're such suckers.
THEN if you have a new 50 inch HDTV and a new blu-ray player, it's a really great time to upgrade the DVR, and as long as you're doing that, you might as well upgrade all the DVR's in the whole house. That fortunately didn't cost us anything, just a trip to the cable company to switch out boxes.
So after four days of hanging TV's, buying cables, researching blu-ray players, switching out DVR's we finally got everything put together. And then you know what we discovered? That our cable company really doesn't have that many HD channels and the channels that aren't HD really don't look all that great on a humongous HDTV.
*SIGH* We're idiots. I'm just going to put that out there now. :)
After a call to the cable company, they assured us that that's normal and in the future they will be adding more HD channels, and in the meantime after playing with the settings on the TV we've decided that the other channels are fine. The TV looks great and movies look amazing on it, but I still kind of think we were insane to start this whole project in the first place, since the majority of our TV channels aren't in HD.
And then this morning I woke up, got Josh off to school, sat down to mess with the TV a bit more and thought to myself, you know, the TV looks all nice and new and the DVR and the blu-ray player look really great, and now I hate the decor on the bookshelves that surround it all.
So Matthew and I just spent the morning at Target buying pretty things to put on the bookshelves and the bookshelves are now redecorated.
Have you all read the book If You Give A Mouse A Cookie? I'm wondering if I could contact the author and ask him to write a book about buying a new TV. If you give the Whites a TV, they're going to have to buy new cables to go with it...
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Nope, probably not a lion. :)
Friday, October 24, 2008
So I was all excited about The Office being on last night, I herded the kids into bed a little bit early, I got all in the mood to watch some Jim and Pam...and then I turned the TV on and found out that Boise decided that they needed to have a live local political debate and that it needed to be on Thursday night at 8pm and that it needed to be on NBC. WHAT?! I'm sorry, but I can not vote for any politician that does not appreciate the importance of Office night. Therefore I'm afraid that I can not vote in this years local election. So there.
Ok, so I'll still vote, but I'm holding a grudge.
Remember last month when we got to go to Josh's school for a little awards ceremony? Well we go the letter again to attend, this time for Matthew! So this morning we got to go back over to the school to watch Matthew get the academic acheivement award for his class and I've honestly never seen him more proud of himself. Cutest thing EVER. He knew that today was the day, so he woke up at 6:30 this morning and came running into our room to announce that he was getting dressed. The ceremony was at 8:30. No need to rush. :)
I got up around 7:00 and he was right there reminding me to hurry and get in the shower so that we wouldn't be late. Then he helped me find clothes to wear. Then he helped Josh find his clothes. Then he found everyone's shoes and told us to hurry up and get our jackets on.
So there we were, at 8:10 am, sitting in the empty lunch room on the front row, waiting for everyone else to show up so that Matthew could get his award. I'm pretty sure he thought he was being awarded a medal of honor or the Nobel Prize.
8:30 rolled around and everyone showed up and we sat through all the other awards (of course they start at 5th grade and work their way down), and FINALLY it was Matthews turn. His teacher got up and announced that he was the academic award winner of the month and he proudly marched up there and shook the principals hand and accepted his certificate. Then he stood up there proudly while they announced the rest of the kindergarteners and he kept giving us the thumbs up sign. I LOVE that kid.
On the way home I remarked to him how proud I was of him because he got an academic award, which means that his teacher thinks that he's doing a really good job in school. And he said "OH! That's what it was for?!"
I LOVE being a mom. My kids find a way to make me laugh every single day.
Right now it's 1:56am tomorrow in Korea, and it's 49 degrees. I hope Clarissa has warm pj's on and I hope that there is someone to smile at her when she wakes up.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
OH! I do have something fun to blog about actually! Every now and then Shawn gets a few perks for being the manager of his pharmacy and a few days ago he got an iPod touch as an incentive prize from one of his suppliers! Shawn isn't into electronics all that much and he already has an iPod nano that I bought him for Christmas last year, but his big computer nerd of a wife is TOTALLY into them, so he passed his iPod prize onto me! Yay! I'm totally obsessed with fun electronic gadgets, I love stuff like that. I already have a regular ipod, but I'm totally over the moon about my new iPod touch. I'm amazed at how cool it is and all the neat things it can do. There are all sorts of fun games and applications, I can get internet on it, I can check my e-mail on it and all sorts of other fun things. I know, I already have a laptop that does all those things, but when you're a big electronics nerd you can't have too many gadgets. :) I'm going to put episodes of The Office on it. You can't have too much Jim and Pam in your life. :)
I even set my iPod touch to tell me the time and weather in Korea. I just checked, at the moment it's 6:56 in the morning (tomorrow) and it's 48 degrees. If Clarissa has been born I hope that she's warm. It's cold outside. I hope that someone is loving her and keeping her safe. I hate not knowing for sure.
Ok, so maybe that's all I have to blog about today. There is a new eposide of The Office on tonight! I wish Pam would come home. Seeing her and Jim talk on the phone is just not the same. They need to get married and have little Jim and Pam babies already. :)
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
It's feeling real to me now. I feel like it's suddenly in reach and it's actually going to happen!! The wait has been extremely difficult for me, but ever since they moved the date up a little bit, it has really kind of renewed my spirit. I know that it's only a few months closer that in was, but that's just what I needed to hear to keep me going. Four months doesn't seem long to me at all, especially since half of that is through Thanksgiving and Christmas, and those months always seem to fly by.
Someone in my comments yesterday suggested that I print out this blog so that Clarissa can read it someday. There's actually company online that will turn your blog into a book, so I've been thinking that that's what I'll do. I think after she gets here I'm going to take all the posts that are about her and I'm going to have them made into a book that she can keep. Then someday if she ever goes through a hard time about being adopted, she'll have that book to read, to remind her how much she was wanted and loved. Adoption is a wonderful thing.
Monday, October 20, 2008
You are born to be loved, you are being loved in your life.
You are born to be loved, you are being loved in your life.
Through our meeting, God's love that has been from the beginning comes to bear fruits.
How great is our joy becasue of you in this world!
You are born to be loved. you are being loved now.
You are born to be loved. you are being loved now.
Is there any sweeter phrase than How great is our joy because of you in this world? I've been toying with the idea of having a mural painted on the wall in Clarissa's room and if I do I think I'm going to have that phrase painted across the top in Korean. One way or another I'm going to incorporate that phrase in to her room. It's just so perfect and beautiful.
There is another Korean song that I found today that I'm completely in LOVE with, but I have no idea what the words are!! It's called "In Our Hearts" by Jinyoung Kim. It's from a Korean childrens CD and it's sung by a little girl. I don't have the slightest idea what the words are, but the song made me cry. It's just so sweet and beautiful. If you get a chance, it's worth listening to, you can get it on Itunes.
And if anyone out there speaks Korean or knows someone who does and wants to translate that song for me, I would be forever grateful and would even offer to pay you for your time. I Googled but found nothing. I really want to know the words to the song, both in English and in Korean.
Oh, and on a different topic, my blog got a cute little award, yay! I'm supposed to pass the award on to someone else, but I didn't get a chance to think about it enough today, so I'll post about it tomorrow.
Off to do some more Googling! :)
Saturday, October 18, 2008
This morning we got up bright and early and went to the Saturday market. It was a little chilly this morning, but it warmed up by late morning. We had a good time and I had a pretty sucessful day selling my photography! I didn't sell very many pieces, but one that I sold was a great big framed piece. So far it was the most expensive thing I've sold, so I was pretty excited about it! I also got to meet an internet friend while I was there, which was really fun! Yay for internet friends! :)
After the market was over we packed up our stuff and went out to lunch, bought Josh a Halloween costume, ran a few more errands and came home. When we got home I needed to do something on my laptop, which has been falling apart for awhile and I decided that I couldn't take that thing for one more minute. Things keep breaking on it and the last straw was the the fan just broke and now it overheats and shuts off if it's on very long. At this point it's a lost cause, it's just not worth getting repaired, but I have to have a good computer that will reliably handle Photoshop and the million other things I do with my computer.
I've been researching new laptops for a while and I knew which one I wanted, so we went on a city wide search. Several hours and much frustration later I located the one I wanted and I should be happily posting on it tomorrow when I get a chance to get it all set up. Yay!
Oh, and here's the funny thing that Matthew said today. On the way to the Saturday market Josh told us a joke (which I think we've all heard before, but we didn't tell him that). Why is ten afraid of seven? Because seven eight (ate) nine! We all giggled over his clever joke, at which point Matthew had a joke of his own. Why is ten afraid of eleven? Because eleven twelve thirteen!
I love that kid. :)
Friday, October 17, 2008
The kids are home from school today for parent teacher conference. I went to both conferences and it went well. It's always nice to hear that your kids are polite and doing well in school. I'm proud of my kids.
Tomorrow I'm doing the Saturday market again! So if you're in downtown Boise tomorrow morning, be sure to stop by the market and say hello! Wish me luck! :)
Thursday, October 16, 2008
I got information today that our adoption agency is lowering the expected wait time for boys from 18 months to 14-17 months! They said nothing about girls, but between that and the fact that I've seen 15-16 month waits for boys AND girls lately, that's really good news, right?!
I might just be getting excited about nothing, but I literally take every single piece of information I get from the agency and hold on to it for dear life. Waiting this long for an adoption to happen should be classified as cruel and unusual torture, lol. I just want to open the mailbox and find an envelope with her photo in it. I want her to finally be a real person. Our family is ready and there's a space in my heart where Clarissa ought to be.
So lets all hope that things really are speeding up, and in the meantime all I can do is wait and pray. I pray for peace for her birthmother, I pray that Clarissa is growing safe and strong, and I pray that I don't have a complete nervous breakdown before she finally gets here, lol. Even though I don't have a photo to look at or a baby to hold, Clarissa is a part of my life already. I hope that later in her life if she struggles with her adoption, she'll understand how much she was loved and wanted, even before she was born.
UPDATE: OK, it's an hour or so since I wrote the first part of this blog. I e-mailed our contact from the agency to ask her what the wait is looking like for girls and she said that it's a 1-3 months longer than for boys! She said that she was pretty sure that we'd be receiving our referral sooner than we originally though. So that means that we could potentially be receiving our referral as early as February!! That's only four months from now! And if that's the case, because babies are five months old before they're eligible for an international adoption, it means that it's possible that Clarissa has already been born. Now THAT blows my mind! I know it's only a matter of a few months, but it's suddenly just seeming so reachable now. It's starting to seem real.
I'm really happy about life today. :)
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
I only have two dental checkups before then.
I'll get my hair cut five times between now and then.
There are six major holidays to get through.
I have a whole list of ways I count. So when I go get my next haircut I can remind myself that it's only going to be FOUR more haircuts until she gets here. That doesn't sound very long, right? I've never been more excited to schedule six month dental checkups. I have one in November and then by the next time I have to go it will almost be referral time.
So today I was watching a rerun of The Office, which everyone knows I'm totally obsessed with, and it occured to me that right about the time the season finale comes in the spring it will be referral time. So every week when I watch The Office I can remind myself that I'm one Office episode closer to Clarissa. I'm normally bummed when the season finale is over and I have to go all summer with no new Office, but this time I can't WAIT for the season finale.
So there you go, I know it sounds silly, but the more small milestones I can count past, the shorter the wait feels. By the way, there's only seven more mortgage payments until May! Woohoo! :)
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
See that little counter to the left? The one that says how long we've been waiting for Clarissa? Yeah, I worked on that for four hours yesterday. Go ahead, we'll take a quick pause while you laugh....
I saw someone else's blog that had an adoption counter on it and I thought it was a cool idea, so I decided to get one for my page. It took me all of five minutes to Google blog counters and I found a ton of them but I didn't like any of them. They all had kind of an obnoxiously loud Myspace look to them and they just didn't look like they would fit my blog decor at all. I'm oddly picky about things like that. I like to design things and I'm ridiculously stubborn about things turning out the way I see them in my head.
So I searched forever and I think I must have looked at every single blog counter on the internet. I had an idea of something really pretty and simple, maybe with a graphic I created behind it, with pretty fonts and colors that matched my blog.
So there's how I spent my quiet Monday afternoon. By the time I was done I had a headache and I was really cranky. When Shawn got home from work I showed him what I spend all day working on (mostly to explain why the unfolded laundry was still sitting in the same place he left it when he went to work!) and he pretended to be very impressed with my efforts. :) I love my husband, he'll cheer me on even when he has absolutely no idea what I'm doing or why.
So while you're on my blog today, be sure to admire the adoption counter. Ohh and Ahhh and be very impressed with how amazingly clever and talented I am. Isn't it the most beautiful counter you've ever seen?!? And if you know how to make it prettier (Mike, that means you), I would be your best friend forever if you would pass your knowledge on to me. :)
Monday, October 13, 2008
The weather seems to be warming up again, which is nice! I like cold weather, but I'm not quite ready for it this early in the year. We haven't gone to the pumpkin patch yet and I don't want to freeze when we go! I'm good with the snow, but let's at least wait until November.
The house is feeling awfully quiet today with the kids gone. I think it's a good day for me to work on a project, but I don't really have one that I'm in the middle of right now. There are many things that I SHOULD be doing, but not really anything that I WANT to do. I think we all know that feeling!
OH! Here's something to discuss! I got the weekly update from the adoption agency on Friday and two more people got their referrals last week with a wait of 16 months! I'm starting to see more now that are less than 18 months. Not MUCH less, but that would be two less months that I don't have to obsess about waiting! If we have a 16 month wait, that would mean that Clarissa would be born next month and we'd hear about it in March. I need to stop thinking these things though because then I'll just be sad if March comes and goes and we don't hear anything. My birthday is in April, a referral would sure make a nice birthday present, wouldn't it?! :)
Oh, and speaking of March, we just found out that we've been invited to go to Memphis again in March by one of the companies that Shawn does business with at the pharmacy! Every year they invite their top buyers to come to Mempis for a few days (where the company is located) and they spoil us rotten. We got to go in February for the first time and it was SO fun! They paid for everything, put us up at the Peabody where the famous march of the ducks is (cutest thing EVER!), we got to see an NBA game in a skybox where a chef was brought in to cook for us, and we really just had the coolest trip ever. My mom watched the kids last time and she's agreed to do it again this time, so it's just a few days for me and Shawn to get away by ourselves. I'm super excited that we've been invited again! The only problem is that it means I have to fly across the country again and I HATE to fly. I've got to learn to suck it up though, just in case we decide to fly to Korea!
OK, so there are all my random thoughts for the day. I thought maybe I'd come up with something more intersting to talk about, but I guess it's not happening today! I'll go find myself a project to work on and maybe it will give me something to blog about tomorrow. :)
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Am I the only one that kind of misses high school sometimes? Most people say that they'd never want to go back and do it again, but I think I would! I would love to rewind life and spend a day back in high school. Life was pretty simple back then. Being the overdramatic teenage girl that I was, I'm sure that I probably didn't think so at the time, but looking back, it really was a fun and free time of my life.
Not that life now isn't fun, because I really do enjoy where I'm at, but it's different now. Josh is always telling me that he can't wait to grow up because then he can do what he wants and I keep telling him that being a kid is the time when you really get to do what you want. When you're a grown up you have to pay bills and go to work and do laundry and mow the lawn and feed people three times a day. I think every parent tells their kids to enjoy their childhood and to try not to grow up to fast, but I don't think any child ever listens until they grow up and realize that their parents were right!
I wish I could go back to high school knowing what I know now and REALLY enjoy it. I didn't know it at the time, but life was going to change in huge ways for me when high school was over. I lived in the same house for pretty much my entire life. I had a good family and I graduated with the same kids I went to Kindergarten with. When I was in high school I really thought I had life figured out. I was going to go to college to be a psychologist, marry my high school boyfriend, live in the same town I grew up in and nothing was ever going to change.
Then high school was over and I hated college, I got dumped by the boyfriend, my dad got cancer and passed away, my mom got remarried and sold the house I grew up in and EVERYTHING changed. Going back to the town I grew up in now is kind of weird. Nothing is the same. My friends are gone, my family is different, and someone else lives in my house. It took me a few years after all that upheaval to really process it and deal with it.
Wow, I'm really a downer today! What's up with that? A weird high school dream has put me in a funk! I love my life now, so I don't know why I'm in such a weird mood today. I rarely think this much about the past, I only ever get in this funk when I have a weird high school dream or sometimes when I go back to the town I grew up in and realize again how much things have changed. I'm not unhappy with how my life has turned out at all, so I can't explain the weird mood I'm in today. Someone tell me that I'm not the only one that occasionally gets this way! Does everyone do a mental rewind of their life on occasion?
Maybe it's just the gloomy weather outside that is making feel out of sorts today. It's been pretty dark and cloudy outside for the past few days and today it's making me feel dark and cloudy. I'm going to go make some popcorn, snuggle up with Shawn and the kids and watch a movie. I've had my trip down memory lane and now I'm going to focus on the kids and the exciting future ahead.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
So here he is, my newest bird friend:
Friday, October 10, 2008
Crackers, cheese and Uno. The perfect way to spend a rainy afternoon. :)
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Korea Aims to End Stigma of Adoption and Stop ‘Exporting’ Babies
Seokyong Lee for The New York Times
SEOUL, South Korea — Daunted by the stigma surrounding adoption here, Cho Joong-bae and Kim In-soon delayed expanding their family for years. When they finally did six years ago, Mr. Cho chose to tell his elderly parents that the child was the result of an affair, rather than admit she was adopted. “My parents later died believing that I’d had an affair,” said Mr. Cho, 48, a civil engineer who has since adopted a second daughter.
Now, with South Korea becoming more accepting of adoptive families, Mr. Cho and Ms. Kim feel they can be more open, with relatives and nonrelatives alike. Ms. Kim, 49, attributed the change partly to the growth of other nontraditional families, like those headed by single parents or including foreign spouses.
“We feel attitudes have changed,” she said.
Just how much, though, is the critical question as the South Korean government is pushing aggressively to increase adoptions by South Koreans and decrease what officials consider the shameful act of sending babies overseas for adoption. Since the 1950s, tens of thousands of South Korean children have been adopted by foreigners, mostly Americans, because of South Koreans’ traditional emphasis on family bloodlines and reluctance to adopt.
But last year, for the first time, more babies here were adopted by South Koreans than foreigners, as the government announced recently with great fanfare: 1,388 local adoptions compared with 1,264 foreign ones. What is more, South Korea — which still is one of the top countries from which Americans adopt — has set a goal of eliminating foreign adoptions altogether by 2012.
“South Korea is the world’s 12th largest economy and is now almost an advanced country, so we would like to rid ourselves of the international stigma or disgrace of being a baby-exporting country,” Kim Dong-won, who oversees adoptions at the Ministry of Health, said in an interview. “It’s embarrassing.”
To bolster domestic adoptions, the government last year began offering $90 monthly allowances per child for those who adopt children up to 12 years old, as well as more generous health benefits for the children. Even greater health benefits are now given to adopted disabled children.
The government also made it easier for South Koreans to adopt. Single people can now qualify, as well as older ones. Until last year, prospective adoptive parents could be no more than 50 years older than the child; now the age gap has been increased to 60 years. In addition, the government has made foreign adoptions more difficult by imposing a five-month waiting period before children can even be considered for overseas adoption. It also increased payments to foster parents to try to keep children inside South Korea longer and increase their chances of being adopted domestically.
The government’s goal has received much media attention and popular support here. But adoption agencies and some adoptive parents and experts say the government’s new policies are concerned less with the children’s welfare than with saving face. Increasing the age gap and allowing singles to adopt have lowered the standards for domestic adoptions in a way that could be detrimental to the children, they say, even as the government has created unnecessary obstacles to foreign ones.
“The government is hung up on numbers and on South Korea’s image,” said Lee Mira, who oversees domestic adoptions at Social Welfare Society, a private, nonprofit organization that is the second largest adoption agency in South Korea. “When North Korea taunts South Korea by saying we’re selling Korean babies to foreigners, it hurts the pride of South Korea.”
Since 1958, when South Korea began keeping track of adoptions, 230,635 children have been adopted. About 30 percent were adopted by South Koreans, while 70 percent found homes overseas. Two-thirds of all foreign adoptees ended up in the United States.
While orphans made up a majority of adopted children in the two decades following the Korean War, children born to unwed mothers have accounted for the largest numbers since then.
South Koreans who did adopt tended to hide their children’s origins from the children and others.
In recent years, adoption agencies have conducted campaigns — some featuring movie and TV stars — urging adoptive parents to tell people about how their families were formed in the hopes that more openness would lead to less prejudice. The government’s efforts got a boost when some celebrities adopted and went public with the news.
Still, many adoptive parents choose not to share how their families were formed, according to adoption agencies, with some engaging in elaborate ruses to pass off the children as their biological sons or daughters.
A middle-aged couple now living in a suburb of Seoul learned long ago that the husband was sterile. But he was reluctant to consider adopting, unwilling to accept his condition and afraid of the lingering prejudice against adopted children. In a Confucian society that still values bloodlines, where many people keep detailed records of their ancestors, he was worried that adopted children might face difficulties in their careers or with marriage prospects.
So when the couple decided to adopt three years ago, they chose to fake a pregnancy, as many adoptive parents here do. The couple moved, and the husband, now 43 and a real estate agent, switched jobs.
The wife, an employee at a telecommunications company, began wearing maternity clothes over a special pillow, made by a company recommended by the couple’s adoption agency.
All was going well until a colleague the woman had confided in spilled the secret to a supervisor.
“I was so hurt and embarrassed by that experience,” she said. “I would like to adopt a second child, if only to go through the experience in a proper manner this time.”
Given the bias against adoptions, some couples who are initially open become more guarded as their children grow older.
Yoo Hae-yon, 48, has told relatives and neighbors that his two sons, now 4 years old and 18 months, were adopted. But he has since become worried that the boys will suffer in a society where television shows typically portray adopted children negatively, as schemers who end up damaging families.
“My sons haven’t been teased yet, but that will be a possibility in elementary school,” Mr. Yoo said. “So once they start school, we won’t disclose their adoptions. And in junior high school or later on, we’ll let them decide.”
Holt International, a private American adoption agency that has long been South Korea’s leading agency, welcomed the government’s new financial incentives for families but said that trying to curb foreign adoptions would risk hurting the children least likely to be adopted by South Koreans: older ones; the disabled, who still face severe discrimination; and boys, who, once preferred by South Koreans, are now considered by many to be less devoted to their parents than daughters.
“The changes could end up postponing the adoption process of those children,” said Lee Jin-hee, who oversees domestic adoptions at Holt here.
And Huh Nam-soon, dean of the social welfare department at Hallym University outside Seoul, said changing the standards for domestic adoptions could cause serious problems in the future.
“How many of those adopted children will end up in orphanages because of broken adoptions?” she said.
Ms. Huh, who has researched the history of South Korean children adopted by Americans, said that, in general, they had found good homes in the United States, even though some struggled with their identities.
Mr. Kim, the Health Ministry official, acknowledged that the history of American adoption had been largely positive. But he said that the government believed that South Korean children would be happier if adopted by South Koreans and that it would stick to its goal of phasing out foreign adoptions in four years.
Agencies and adoptive parents said the goal was unrealistic, if only because very few disabled children had been adopted here. Last year, only 40 disabled children were adopted domestically, while 500 went abroad.
“We wouldn’t feel confident adopting a disabled child since we even felt overwhelmed adopting a healthy one,” said Kim Chang-shik, 37, who, with his wife, Yoon Yeo-rim, 38, adopted a daughter four years ago, after the birth of their biological son. “I don’t know whether it’s because I’m Korean, but I’m grateful that foreigners are willing to adopt children who can’t find homes here.”
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
So today I'm going to force myself to think positive about other things. I've got to remind myself why life is good to get myself past the pity party. So here we go.
I LOVE fall! Love. It. I look forward to October all year long. I love the leaves, I love the change in the weather, I love all the Halloween excitement, I love watching the squirrels steal all the walnuts off our tree, I love turning the fireplace back on, I love getting into bed at night under a heavy down comforter, I love everything about it. I like colder weather. I'm miserable when I'm hot, but I love being cold. I love blankets and sweaters and hot chocolate and fireplaces. Fall just makes me happy.
I love my kids! I love spending time with them, I love hearing their stories about what's going on in school, I love watching them play together, I love it when Josh reads books to Matthew, I love their giggles, I love to snuggle with them, and I love watching them learn and grow. My kids rock.
I love Idaho. It's safe, quiet, pretty, the people are friendly, the mountains are beautiful and I feel like it's a safe haven in the big scary world.
I love my house. This house kind of fell into our laps and we got SO lucky. It's a nicer home than I ever thought I'd own in my life. I love our yard, I love the storage space, I love the neighborhood and I love having room for the kids to run around.
I love that I have a pile of books on my shelf waiting to be read. I love that my cat keeps wanting to sit on my lap and purr. I love our fun family traditions. It's supposed to rain or snow this weekend, so it's time to make rainy day stew. I love rainy day stew.
I love my church. I love that I have something in my life that gives me so much peace, even when times are tough.
I love our family. We don't have much extended family that we spend a lot of time with, so sometimes I feel like it's just the four of us on our own, and there's something fun about that. We spend a LOT of time together, just the four of us. I love that we're so close to our kids and I love that the four of us enjoy being together. Family bonding time makes me happy, and I'm glad that I married a man who has the same views on family that I do. I love that he's always eager to be an active part of everything that goes on around here. I love that he loves the family bonding time as much as I do. I love that our kids are growing up being really close to both of their parents.
So there you go. A list of things I love. There's no reason to have a pity party when life is pretty darn good, right? I have to keep those things in my head and push myself through the hard times when I think that I would literally swim all the way to Korea if it meant that I could finally hold Clarissa when I got there. But I know it doesn't work that way. She'll be here when the time is right and then I'll have a whole lifetime to enjoy her.
If the 18 month timeline is accurate, Clarissa's birth mother is around 6 months pregnant now. I wonder if she's decided on adoption yet or if she's still struggling with what to do. I wonder if she has family support. I wonder if she's still with the birth father. I wonder if she's thinking about me the way that I'm thinking about her. I wish I could be with her. I wish that I could feel Clarissa kick, I wish I could see an ultrasound and I wish that I could somehow express to her birth mother just how grateful I am for her sacrifice. Adoption is a beautiful thing.
Monday, October 6, 2008
A few weeks ago I was bored and browsing Craigslist. I love Craigslist, you never know what you're going to find there. In my browsing I happened to come across a listing for a cabin rental in the mountains about 90 miles from here. There's literally nothing I love more than renting a cabin in the woods. We do it a few times a year and we love it. Anyway, this listing was for an absolutely AMAZING cabin for a ridiculously low price. Renting cabins isn't cheap, so I'm always on the lookout for a deal. The place that this cabin is located is a great place for skiing in the winter and a great place for boating in the summer, but there's not a whole lot going on there in the fall, so the people that rent out that cabin totally slashed the price for the month of October and it was just too good to pass up so we jumped on it.
I love love looove being up in the mountains. I love nature, I love wildlife, I love being in the middle of nowhere and I absolutely LOVE fall, so a trip like this is pretty exciting for me! We packed up Thursday morning and took the beautiful drive into the mountains to the cabin.
In case you've never been to Idaho, let me just say, Idaho is a beautiful place to live. We live in a medium sized city, so we have all the benefits of city life and then we can also hop in the car and be up in the amazingly beautiful mountains in under an hour. The mountains here are beautiful all year, but in the fall it's absolutely spectacular. I don't know why people tend not to visit that area in the fall, because they're seriously missing out on some amazing scenery.
The cabin we stayed at was really great. It was totally in the middle of nowhere, which we love, and we had a really great weekend doing some family bonding.
Here's the view out of the back of our cabin:
Before we went, the people that own the cabin told us to be sure to bring our bikes because they had a bike trail behind the cabin. That brought up a really good opportunity for us, because we've been trying to teach Josh to ride a bike for...oh, about four years now.
Let me just say this about Josh. That kid is amazing. He's freakishly smart, he taught himself to read when he was three, wrote his autobiography when he was six (seriously!) and he's just a wonderful, funny, sweet kid. But when it comes to outdoor sports or anything that requires a lot of coordination, the poor kid really struggles. He's had a bike for years and we've tried everything we can think of to teach him to ride it, but he's struggled with it more than anyone I've ever seen in my life. Every summer we start out determined that this is going to be the year, but it always ends up in a lot of frustration and the bike eventually goes back in the garage.
So we thought that this weekend, while we were out in the middle of nowhere with no distractions, it just might be the perfect time to get the bike back out and give it another try. Part of Josh's problem is that he's afraid to practice on cement because he's afraid he's going to fall and get hurt. Well the cabin we stayed at had a big flat area that was basically dirt and short weeds and it was the perfect place to practice. Once he realized that if he fell he was only going to fall in the dirt, he was a lot less worried.
So he practiced. And then he practiced and practiced and practiced some more. I don't think I've ever been so proud of that kid. It breaks my heart to see how much he struggles with it, but he was more determined than ever this weekend not to give up.
Shawn ran along behind him while Matthew and I cheered him on. Over and over he fell down and over and over he got back up and tried again. And to his surprise it finally started to click! And since my camera is practically glued to my hand, of course I got photos of the momentous occasion! :)
It's exciting to see how proud he is of himself. For most kids, learning to ride a bike is something that takes a few days of practice, but I'm not kidding when I say that Josh has been trying to learn for years. I think we were all starting to wonder if it was ever going to happen! He's a determined kid though. When he puts his mind to something, he gets it done, even if it's hard.
So we had a really good time watching him learn and cheering him on. He's still got some practice to do, he's still working on steering, but for the very first time he's able to get on a bike, push off and ride short distances without help. I couldn't possibly be more proud of him. I don't think any of us will forget this weekend, cheering Josh on while he finally learned to ride his bike. It was one of those priceless memories that will always stay in my heart.
We also had more fun adventures on our trip! We've rented cabins in the mountains many times, but this cabin was in a different area than we usually spend our time in. And what I discovered was that all this time I've been missing the very best bird watching in the whole state! I can't believe all the amazing birds I saw while we were there! Most of the birds we get in Boise are brown. I see finches and robins and things like that all the time. They're pretty and I love them, but I'm bored of brown birds. I'm always on the lookout for rare or colorful birds. I found both on this trip!
On our way there I saw a flash of blue on the side of the road so I screamed at Shawn to stop the car. You would think something like that would scare him, but by now he's used to me suddenly screaming at him to stop the car when I see something possibly photographic on the side of the road. It doesn't phase him anymore. My whole family is used to taking unexpected detours on roadtrips so that I can get out and take pictures. Anyway, I got out of the car and I could see bluejays in a tree!! Bluejays are pretty rare in Idaho, so getting to see one is pretty cool! I could see them, but not well enough to get a picture of them, unfortunately. I was on the side of the highway, for one thing. With semi trucks speeding past me, it wasn't exactly a spot condusive to complicated photography. So you'll just have to take my word for it, I saw bluejays! :)
Ten minutes later I was screaming at Shawn to stop again. There was a hawk on a fence post! There are quite a few hawks in Idaho and I occasionally see one flying overhead, but I rarely get to get a good look at one. They're absolutely gorgeous birds, one of my favorites. Unfortunately the hawk flew away just as I tried to take it's picture and I was so bummed that I missed it, but two minutes later we saw another one...and another one...and eventually six more! For some reason there were a ton of them hanging out on the fence posts on the side of the highway. That's a pretty rare sight! So after making Shawn stop a million times when I spotted one, I finally did manage a photo that I'm really happy with! Isn't this a stunning bird?! I love it.
Then when we got to the cabin I was in the for another surprise! Bluebirds!!! Mountain bluebirds are the state bird of Idaho, but I've lived in Idaho my entire life and I've never actually seen one, so I was SUPER excited to see a whole tree full of them right behind our cabin! You should have seen me out there, stalking blue birds. They don't tend to stay in one place very long and they weren't really very excited about me following them around, so getting a good photo of one was really next to impossible. Many many MANY failed tries later, I had sucess! This is a female though, and isn't nearly as striking as the males. The males are super bright blue, but in true male fashion they weren't about to stop and pose for photos. :)While I was stalking bluebirds, I also came across this pretty bird, but I haven't had the time to identify it yet. I'm thinking maybe some type of chickadee or something? Does anyone know what this is?
So we taught Josh to ride a bike, I saw some beautiful birds (and we also saw a deer!), we took some beautiful drives along a gorgeous lake, and it was a great weekend. On Saturday it poured rain for a while and we all curled up on the couch and watched The Goonies and ate popcorn. I love that movie, it's a total classic from my childhood, so it was fun to watch it with the kids. I still remember seeing that movie in the theater for the first time and I'm pretty sure that I wasn't much older than Josh!
We were actually supposed to come home yesterday morning, but we were all having so much fun that we called the owner and asked him if we could stay one more night. I'm pretty sure that we'd still be there now if the kids didn't have to go to school and Shawn didn't have to go back to work. No one really wanted to leave!
So I think that's all of our adventures in the mountains. There was bike riding, bird watching, Wii tournaments, movie watching, popcorn eating, scenic driving and lots and lots of family bonding. Life just doesn't get any better than that!
And being the momarazzi that I am, I took a million pictures of the kids, so I will leave you with photos of the two sweetest faces in the world. :)