We're headed into October and this time of the year always gets me thinking about adoption because three years ago right now we were waiting for our final paperwork to be completed and waiting for our agency to call and tell us that it was time to go meet our sweet Clarissa in Korea. On October 15th it will officially be three years since Clarisssa joined our family. Can you believe it?!
This blog started out as an adoption blog and I realize that adoption doesn't come up all that much anymore. While adoption will always be near and dear to my heart, it's not something that comes up on a daily basis anymore, so I don't blog about it much.
But it is still important to me and I figured it would be nice to make an adoption related blog post again, since we're heading in October and its on my mind. Kind of a "where are they now" postscript to our adoption story, I guess.
In some ways it feels like it was just yesterday that we picked up that sweet chubby baby at the agency in Seoul and in other ways it's becoming hard to remember a time that Clarissa wasn't a part of our family.
Taking her from her foster mother that day and getting in a cab and leaving the agency was one of the most emotionally overwhelming days of my life. It's hard to even describe it. I was SO happy and so in love with this beautiful little girl and so thrilled to have her in my arms, but at the time same time, I looked down at her, so angry and so scared and screaming her lungs out in that cab after being seperated from her foster mother and I felt terrible! That was a hard day for all of us. She screamed for hours after we left the agency and all I could do was hold her and apologize for turning her world upside down.
I cried when the plane left the ground in Korea. Holding Clarissa in my arms and knowing that she was finally, officially ours was amazing, and knowing that we were taking her away from her beautiful birth country was hard. I cried tears of joy and sadness at the same time. I don't recall another time in my life that I was so happy and so sad at the same time. Emotionally overwhelmed is the best way to describe it. I grieved with Clarissa for what she was losing while I was also celebrating the amazing gift we had just been given. Put that together with the fact that I was more exhausted than I had ever been in my life and I was all over the place for a while.
But once we got Clarissa home she thrived. She might have hated Shawn and I at first but oh, she loved her brothers. She took one look at Josh and Matthew standing there in the airport with a handful of pink balloons and she burst out with a grin that we had been waiting for days to see. She bonded to them immediately and three years later she still absolutely adores her brothers.
Clarissa is doing awesome these days. She's three and a half, full of enough energy to power a small country and happy as a clam. She's absolutely hillarious and I just love to listen to her talk because she comes up with the funniest things. She's the girliest girl there ever was. She loves princesses and anything pink and glittery. She loves clothes more than any three year old I've ever seen in my life. I can't wait until she's old enough to pick out my clothes for me because I have a feeling she's going to have great style. Shawn lets her pick out his shirts when he gets dressed for work sometimes. She loves it.
She loves to play with my makeup and pretend that's she's putting it on. If she gets anywhere near my bathroom she runs in there, puts on Chapstick and gets out my makeup brushes and sweeps them across her cheeks. She loves dresses and shoes and purses and anything girly. I'm constantly amused by that, since I am so much NOT girly. I'm learning. :)
At this point in her life she still doesn't really understand that she was adopted and what that means, but we do talk about Korea a lot and I do mention the adoption in toddler appropriate ways. She has a lot of Korean decor in her bedroom and I like to point it out to her, telling that it came from Korea, just like her. She likes talking about Korea but its still sort of an abstract concept to her. The other day she asked me where I bought my shoes (because that is a typical topic of conversation for her!) and when I told her Target she said "Oh. Is that in Korea?" Ha!
We also keep in touch with her foster parents. I don't know if I've really mentioned that, but we do Skype with them occasionally. We're even Facebook friends, although the language barrier keeps us from communicating much that way. I'm still friends with Jin-Ha, my Korean friend who I met online before Clarissa came home, and she has remained good friends with the foster mother. I'm happy that Clarissa's adoption was able to bring them together as friends. Clarissa was her foster parents first foster child and it was so hard for them to let her go that they decided that they would never foster again. The foster mother actually went to counseling after Clarissa left. I felt terrible for her.
But I'm happy to report that they did foster again. Several times in fact. The last time we Skyped they actually had TWO foster babies! She still struggles when she has to give them to their families but she calls Jin-Ha for support and Jin-Ha goes with her to the agency to help her say goodbye. My life has been richly blessed by those two wonderful woman who are doing so much good for the world.
Because of her experience with our adoption, Jin-Ha now occasionally volunteers at the agency we got Clarissa from, helping adult Korean adoptees reunite with their birth mothers. Last year she spent a week with a Korean born woman who was adopted and raised in France who returned to Korea to meet her birth mother. Jin-Ha was able to be with her when she met her birth mother and help translate during their reunion. I hope and pray that someday Clarissa is able to return to Korea and meet her birth mother and when that happens I hope that Jin-Ha and Clarissa's wonderful foster mother are both by her side. Clarissa has been blessed with so much love in her life.
We refer to her foster mother as her Hanguk Omma, which means "Korean Mom", a title that her foster mother is very proud of. :) Her foster parents don't speak English but have learned a few phrases just for us. I love it! When we Skype with them we mostly just gesture and Clarissa shows them her toys and sings songs and waves. I'm sure she doesn't really understand who she's waving to, but one day she will. I will make sure that she grows up knowing how much she was loved in Korea. I'm so grateful to all the people who came together to love and support Clarissa for the first 8 months of her life. Those people will always hold a special place in my heart.
So while adoption doesn't always come up in our day to days lives, it's still very much a part of us. Josh had to do an oral report on a country this year for school and chose Korea. He was very proud to stand in front of his class and tell them about his sister who was born there.
I will always be so grateful for the opportunity that we had to adopt. I can't even imagine our family now without Clarissa in it. She has truly blessed our lives.