Monday in Korea: One more meeting

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9

Monday morning Joshua woke up with a fever — really bad timing considering we had an appointment to meet with his foster mom at 11. I dosed him up with Advil, and let him sleep instead of going down to breakfast, hoping he would feel better soon. I toyed for awhile with the idea of taking a cab to Holt instead of the subway so that he wouldn’t have to walk so much. But when I called Jamie to ask about it, she said it was really far via taxi and would cost a lot of money.

We decided to give the subway a shot, and do our best to make sure he got a seat instead of having to stand. He was still droopy at 10 when we left, but he made it onto the subway fine, and our ride went well. The new Holt building is a couple blocks away from the old one, and despite instructions, we did a bit of back-tracking to find it. By then, thanks to the Advil, Josh was feeling decent.

When we made it to the right building, the doorman sent us towards the elevator, explaining something jumbled about the elevator not opening on the 4th floor? Being from Missouri, I had to try doing it the unrecommended way, only to find that the elevator did indeed balk at the 4th floor. Only when we followed instructions (ride to the 5th floor, then walk down the stairs to the 4th) did we make it to where we belonged.

Toni, a very sweet social worker with an Australian (?) accent, ushered us into the room where Mrs. Che was waiting for us. She hadn’t changed much at all in 11 years, amazingly. It was pretty amazing to see that Joshua was now almost as tall as she, however! Josh was nervous at first, but her obvious warmth toward him soon had him feeling comfortable, and he spent much of the visit smiling. We talked for a little while, catching up on each other’s doings, with her doing lots of exclaiming over Joshua and patting him and smiling at him. She also told us that she prayed for him every day. How precious to know that someone from his early life still cares that much for him.


The social worker asked if we’d like to go someplace to eat bulgogi for lunch. We walked a couple blocks to a clean-looking restaurant where the tables were low, and you sat on small cushions on the wood floor. Each table had a grill in its center, into which they placed a rack full of glowing coals. Bulgogi was cooked for us right at the table, then cut into bite sized pieces with a scissors.

Many side dishes were set around the table as well: several kinds of kimchi, tofu, acorn jelly, plus normal ‘American’ salad. There was rice as well, and beautiful large leafs of lettuce in which to wrap your meat before popping it into your mouth. Yum.

Mrs. Che and Toni made sure the boys were supplied with all the food they could eat.  I remarked on the tenderness of the beef, and asked Mrs. Che the secret.   Turns out she is an accomplished cook, and soon explained to me the ins and outs of excellent bulgogi, one of the secrets of which, apparently, is marinating the beef in rice wine. I am going to try her method, and hope to share a recipe with you soon.

We had a nice visit over our meal, one that left my son feeling really good about the kind woman who cared for him before he came to us.  I was really glad he had the chance to meet with her.

After the meal, she even walked with us to the store, so that I could buy the kind of wine she liked best for bulgogi.  While we were there, she pulled Josh and Ben off to the side and told them to pick out a treat.   They picked banana chips, which she bought for them.  More glowing from the boys.   More confirmation of what we’d seen all week:  that there were a lot of people here who wanted them to be happy and feel loved.

When it was time to say goodbye, Toni pointed us to the nearest subway stop.  Just as we were going down the steps, we turned and looked back, to see Mrs. Che looking after us as we left.  We waved and smiled, and then reluctantly walked away down the stairs, the last of our meetings now done.  But oh, the kindness of the people we’d met.   Our hearts were full indeed.

Part 9

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  1. I especially love the picture where she is standing with her hand on Josh’s shoulder – beautiful time of sharing where the boys came from and her prayers continuing to petition the Lord on his behalf. We are all so much more connected than we seem to realize – thank you for sharing the connections or your family.

  2. Awesome!!!! I am soooooooo happy you can make this trip with your boys and help them connect to their heritage.

    I haven’t been commenting (too much life ^^) but reading and enjoying and smiling about every single post.

    Thanks for sharing your trip with us all,


  3. Awww Mary. This one made me cry. Priceless. The photos are esp. poignant.

  4. What a wonderful trip this has been!
    I’m so glad Josh was well enough to make the visit. It must be very affirming to find all this love from his past life. Something I’m sure he’ll appreciate progressively as he grows and reflects back.

  5. Thank you so much for sharing another poignant moment in your son’s life. These vignettes are so powerful and valuable for those of us who are adoptive parents…like little lanterns that help us on our path of parenting.

  6. This has me tearing up! What a wonderful trip to have made with your sons, such a gift.

  7. What awesome gifts you’ve given your boys! I LOVE how you care for them so specifically and sacrifice for them to know their now AND their beginnings! Your love for them evidently flows from our Father.

  8. Kathrin says:

    How wonderful. You got me all tearing up.

  9. I have really enjoyed your trip posts. PLUS they have made me incredibly hungry! I love Korean food. We stayed with Korean friends here for 2 weeks and have never eaten so well!

  10. I recently attended a lecture given by a Pediatric Psychologist, in which the ped. psych. told us (a group of parents who had adopted from China & Korea) that adopted children really shouldn’t have any relationship with birth or foster families. Having just spent time with my older daughter’s foster family in China – and our having experienced an incredible and very positive reunion – I couldn’t believe what this woman was saying. She told us that such interaction will only ‘confuse the adopted child’, and that it will cause the adopted child to be unsure of ‘who to love’. I wish I were making this up, but sadly I am not.
    I am really appreciative of your post; thank you so much for sharing. :o)

  11. Margaret says:

    Oh, what a precious, precious gift you have given your sons! I cried through that whole post.

    We have one picture of my brother with his foster mother (also through Holt!). There was such obvious tenderness and love about her. I’m sure your son’s foster mother also felt she’d been given a great gift!

  12. tears streaming down my cheeks…mary – what a wonderful trip and thank you so much for sharing.

  13. What a perfect time in their lives to go and see the caring people and feel the love from their early days. It definately shows them how God has taken care of them and protected them all the days of their lives and will continue…..

  14. what a wonderful, beautiful experience for him and for you! how wonderful that you made it happen! beautiful pictures. now he can see his life as a long chain of people who love him.

  15. Antonietta Calento says:

    Just wanted to say, what a wonderfull story. I teared up at work reading it. It warmed my heart.

  16. Linda M. says:

    I’m so happy that I found you & your wonderful blog & family. The pictures are just heartwarming & your stories are matched with the warmth. Thanks for another look.

  17. Lorraine Lee says:

    This account made my eyes misty with happiness. Our is a mixed marriage – my husband is Australian and I’m Singaporean, so our biological son looks like us but Eurasian. We are planning to adopt an Asian baby, and have been worried about the baby getting “stares” because he/ she will look different. Thanks for showing that it can be done successfully. Would love to hear more adoption stories…


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