What an absolutely amazing adventure this week has been. I'm sorry that I'm just getting around to blogging, I know people have been waiting for updates! I had this great plan of doing a daily travel log on our trip, but my computer never cooperated. We needed an ethernet adapter for my netbook and I was never able to track one down. We were also SO busy every second of the trip that I had a hard time finding the time to sit down and blog even when I did manage to get computer access! I have a ton of photos to go through and I'll be posting them in next few days as things settle down a bit.
Anyway, you don't want to hear about that, you want to hear all the exciting news! At the moment Clarissa is sleeping next to me, cuddled up with Shawn. She's beautiful, she's amazing and she's forever ours.
Wednesday afternoon we nervously went to the agency to pick her up. We were afraid of being late so we left ridiculously early and ended up being a half hour early for the meeting. We just couldn't wait one more minute!! :)
They took us up to one of the meeting rooms and we talked to the social worker for a bit. There were a few forms we had to sign and she went over the immigration process we'd have to go through at the airport. Then she left us alone for a few minutes while we waited for the foster mother.
I knew that the foster mother meeting was going to be hard, so I spent a few minutes trying to collect myself and prepare, but the second she walked in the door with Clarissa we both burst into tears. She brought her sister along for support and Jin-Ha was also there with her son, who I absolutely adore. We spent the first few minutes exchanging gifts. I brought a bunch of things for the foster mother to take with her, including a pretty gold locket with a photo of Clarissa in it, and she gave us some more momentos of Clarissa's time in Korea, which are really special to us.
The social worker asked us if we had any more questions for the foster mother and she gave us a few more tips on things Clarissa likes and dislikes, and then it was time for the hand off. The foster mother handed Clarissa over to me and we were both sobbing by that point. We took a few photos together, but we both look terrible in them, with our eyes all red from crying.
Then we all went downstairs together and said final goodbyes in front of the agency building. It was hard, I know that the foster mother didn't want to leave. She had told Jin-Ha previously that her biggest worry was that Clarissa would be crying when she walked away. She didn't want her last memory of Clarissa to be of her crying. I knew how important that was to her, so I tried everything in my power to keep Clarissa happy while she walked away. Clarissa was confused about what was going on and she was a little fussy so I just kept pulling more toys out of my bag in an attempt to make her happy until the foster mother had walked away. It was mostly successful, I'm pretty sure that the foster mothers last view of Clarissa was of us waving and smiling.
With our arms full of gifts and Clarissa we made our way back to the hotel. By the time we got into the cab Clarissa realized that the foster mother was gone and she started to cry, and I was super emotional anyway, so it was a hard ride back to the hotel. Having Clarissa in my arms was amazing though. I just kept kissing the top of her head and saying a silent prayer of thanks for such a wonderful blessing. As difficult as it was, the moment she finally became ours was a beautful moment.
We got back to the hotel and Clarissa was pretty upset for a while. I expected that, and we dealt with it. There was a lot of crying going on for a while, so we just sat with her and did whatever we could think of to try to cheer her up. After a completely exhausting day we all fell asleep pretty early with Clarissa between us and we all slept soundly all night long.
This morning we woke up and Clarissa had a whole new attitude. She was happy and smiley and we had SO much fun with her!! Unfortunately it was time to pack up and go home. I have more Korea stories to tell later, but let me just say-we bought a LOT of stuff in Korea! So much that I don't know how we managed to pack it all in our suitcases, but somehow we did. I went a little crazy with the souvineers, lol.
A note about the time...we left on Thursday afternoon, which was more than 24 hours ago (I think?), but because of the time change it's still Thursday! I still don't completely understand the time change, but we've basically lived Thursday twice, so when I talk about today it was really probably yesterday for the rest of you, but it was Thursday in Korea. All I know is that I woke up at about 5am Thursday morning in Korea and now that we're back in Idaho it's 11pm Thursday evening and somehow I haven't slept in about 30 hours.
Jin-Ha came over while we were packing and said her final goodbyes. We will miss her, I'm so glad that we got a chance to spend so much time with her in Korea. She was wonderful to us.
Finally it was time to get to the airport. A van from the agency picked us up and away we went. It's a long ride to the airport from the hotel and I enjoyed getting one last look at Korea. It was emotional for me. This trip was so special to me and I also realized that Clarissa was getting her last look at her birth country. There were a lot of tears shed on this trip. I pretty much cry about everything these days!
We got to the airport and got our stuff checked in and Clarissa was NOT happy with us. I felt bad for her, I know that we were messing with her nap schedule and that she was confused about waht was going on. My biggest fear for months has been that she would scream on the airplane all the way back to the US.
But fortunately I was in for a VERY pleasant surprise! Apparently Clarissa loves airplanes! She was super fussy while we were getting settled in our seats before takeoff and the second the plane left the ground she snuggled right into me and fell asleep. We were lucky enough to get bulkhead seating with a bassinette that we could put her in, so we got her settled in there and she pretty much slept for the entire 10 hour flight from Seoul to San Francisco! What an answer to a prayer. The flight couldn't have been easier. Feeling the plane leave the ground was emotional for me because once the plane leaves the ground there's no going back for Clarissa. She left Korea on a one way Visa, so knowing that no one can come back and take her from us was comforting. The second the wheels left the ground she became ours forever. As sad as I was to leave Korea, it was also really exciting to know that we'd made it. Clarissa is ours!!
We had a tiring layover in San Francisco and I think the air conditioning must have been broken in the airport today because it was a million degrees in there!! It made all of us a little tired and cranky. Clarissa had been a trouper but we were SOOO ready to go home.
Finally we boarded the plane in San Francisco and made the trip to Boise. It's a short flight and that's a good thing because I was so excited about getting Clarissa home that I was practically jumping up and down in my seat!!! We left Korea at 5:50pm on Thursday and arrived in Boise at 5:45pm-five minutes before we left. The time change still boggles my mind. :)
Because I'm overly emotional I started crying as soon as the plane hit the ground in Boise and I cried all the way to exit doors, where the paparazzi of family and friends were waiting to greet us. Seeing Josh and Matthew standing there at the airport with pink baloons waiting anxiously to meet their sister was probably one of the greatest moments of my life. I will never forget walking through those doors and seeing them there. I love my family so much.
As soon as Clarissa saw my mom and the boys and my friends who had come to greet us, she turned on the charm like I hadn't seen before! She was so excited about the balloons and the boys and she smiled and laughed like she understood that the party was for her. My friends took plenty of photos and a small crowd actually gathered to watch the excitement. It was a really fun moment that I'll never forget.
We finally made it home and it's been a whirlwind of an evening getting settled. There were bags to unpack, presents to hand out, we're still trying to figure out what food Clarissa likes to eat and work out sleeping schedule for her an all of that, so I think it's going to be crazy around here for a bit. The boys are ridiculously in love with her, and she's mesmerized by them. No one can make her smile like Josh and Matthew can.
She does also have moments where she's not so happy though. I know that all of this has to be really confusing for her. She'll be really happy and having a good time and then she'll just suddenly burst out crying and be inconsolable for a while. I know that she's confused about what's going on and I know that she's missing her foster mother and her life in Korea. Bonding and attachment isn't something that happens over night. She's enjoying spending time with us for the most part, but I know that the weeks ahead are going to bumpy while we all adjust. We're just rolling with the punches right now. When she's happy I'm happy and when she's sad I'm happy just to sit with her and snuggle until she feels better. We'll get there. She had a pretty big meltdown tonight when it was time for bed and Shawn walked around with her for a while until she fell asleep. I expect more meltdowns in the days ahead, but I hope that as the days pass she'll learn to trust us and feel secure with us. She been through a lot of transitions in her short eight months of life.
So for now I'm going to bed while things are quiet. She's sleeping soundly beside me and every now and then I can't resist touching her cheek or smoothing back her hair. She's here! It still doesn't seem completely real, but I'm loving every second of it. :)