31 July 2006

Summer Sailing






We were fortunate enough to spend the weekend sailing aboard our friends' beautiful 36 foot sailboat. The 4 of us set sail friday from Marina Del Rey and arrived Catalina's Emerald Bay that evening, about 5 hours later. Paul and Myhanh have become quite the sailors and together, we made a solid crew. We spent the weekend snorkeling in the bay, hiking on the Isthmus, and playing a fun new card game they taught us called Shanghai. Delicious food, great company, and being out on the ocean...
What better way to spend the weekend.

22 July 2006

Fun facts about Korea


Here are some fun facts about Korea from our agency's newsletter.

1. Korean homes usually have a separate refrigerator for storing kimchi (spicy fermented cabbage—a staple in the Korean diet).
2. Most Koreans sleep on the floor on a futon-type mattress.
3. Korean people shop within their neighborhood and don't venture out in search of a bargain.
4. Small businesses are still a large part of Korea's economy.
5. Children in Korea are not buckled in car seats.
6. Koreans walk on the left side of the street.
7. Koreans who smoke/drink do not do so in front of someone who is older.
8. Koreans will insist on paying for a meal if they are the host.
9. The basic foods in Korean families are rice, kimchi, vegetable, meat soup, red pepper paste & bean paste.
10. Holding a bowl in one's hand while eating is rude and impolite.
11. Traditionally, the most important birthdays in a Korean's life are the 100-day birthday, the first birthday (tol) and the sixtieth birthday. As the life expectancy is increasing, the seventieth birthday is also being celebrated as an important milestone.
12. Bowing is a standard greeting for Koreans.

I'll leave you with the national flower of Korea, the Mu-Gung Hwa or Rose of Sharon.
The Rose of Sharon isn't actually a rose, it's a hibiscus. The flowers come in several colors including white, pink, purple, and red. Its blossoms grace the country between June and October.

20 July 2006

Korea's Children

Me and mom circa 1973.

An excerpt from our adoption agency on the children of Korea

In Korea today, the traditional family structure is strong and exerts a powerful influence on society. Unmarried mothers, in almost all circumstances, are met with significant disapproval from their families and from Korean society at large. Faced with the overwhelming task of raising their child alone, without hope of financial or moral support from either government or family members, many single Korean birthmothers choose to offer their child a better life through adoption.

Birthmothers are offered counseling and given choices in their adoption plan. Some birthmothers now specifically request international adoption. A birthmother may choose a family that is comfortable with some level of openness.

When families receive a referral of a child it often includes in-depth medical, developmental, and social history, as well as photos. Children are placed in foster care until the adoption paperwork is finished. When passport and visa are complete, the child is ready to travel.

We have been told that Korea’s foster care system is the best in the world. Foster parents receive in-depth training, support, and medical input from the child welfare agency. In turn, they provide extraordinary care and love for one or sometimes two foster children. There is usually a close-knit relationship between child and foster mother, as they are rarely- if ever apart. Children are typically 6-8 weeks old at the time of referral. Travel times remain at 10-14 weeks from acceptance and wait times for a referral remain at up to 6 months for a boy and 12 to 18 months for a girl.

19 July 2006

Psalm 10:14


Most of you know by now that we are in the process of adopting a baby girl from Seoul, Korea. After months of prayer and consideration, we made the decision on our 4 year wedding anniversary last year. We prayed that if God wanted us to do this, He would need to make it clear. I'll share just a few things that God impressed upon us.

In the bible, it states that we are all God's adopted children.
"He predestined us to be adopted as his sons (and daughters) through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will..."
Ephesians 1:5

James 1:27 also says that we should look after orphans and widows in distress.

And last but not least, Psalm 10:14 (our wedding date) states,
"The helpless put their trust in you. You defend the orphans."

All those years of my adoption "research" were now starting to make sense. More than anything, we wanted to do God's will for our lives. It was then, we began to see this journey as a wonderful and blessed privilege.

The long process officially started in November of 2005. We went through mounds of paperwork, background checks, fingerprinting, health physicals, interviews, multiple classes, and a home visit. Our home study was approved in April of this year and we are now waiting on a referral of a baby girl. This could take another 9 to 12 months. By the time we are able to travel to Korea, she should be approximately 6 months old. Although Korea is one of the few countries that allows us to pay for an escort to bring the baby here, our plan is to experience the country where I was born, meet the foster mother, and document every step of the way.

We very much appreciate all of your support and prayers. It means more to us than you can imagine. As I'm writing, I realize that 5 years from now, I probably won't remember all the details of how we felt and how we got here. This will all be a blur and this blog will serve as a nice keepsake. I hope these entries have given you a little glimpse into our journey thus far. My hope is to record, share, and maybe even inspire those who have never thought of adoption.

The above photo was one of the many awe-inspiring sunsets in Bora Bora last year.

16 July 2006

Christina

Christina came into our lives at the beginning of 2002. She is our only niece and the daughter of Morgan's older brother Ben and his wife, Lucy. Ben and Lucy have a biological son named Shawn. Shawn is 13 years old now and continues to amaze us with his intelligence and musical talent. Christina was adopted from an orphanage in the city of Changsha (in the Hunan Province of China). In the winter of 2002, Ben, Lucy, and Shawn traveled to China and brought her home. As a family, we were delighted and overjoyed when she finally arrived. It took some time for her to adjust to her new permanent family and home but soon enough, she was blossoming into a vibrant, happy, and healthy little girl.

Morgan and I were newly married when Ben and Lucy were going through the long adoption process. At that point, we didn't know much about adoption but as we learned more, we were touched by it. We even discussed how we too, might adopt one day. Because it was so early in our marriage, we put it on the back burner but it never left our hearts.

We believe that adoption was planted in our hearts the day that Christina came into our lives. Ever since that day, I have had a great interest in adoption. So much so that I read books on the subject and watched any related story that I could find. Up until we made the decision to adopt ourselves late last year, I wasn't sure why I had been so drawn towards it. After all, early in our marriage, we thought we'd have a biological child first. Surely, I could've done all this "research" if and when we decided to adopt. Little did we know that God was preparing our hearts for this. It all began to make sense. God had planted this in our hearts from the beginning. We just didn't know it at the time.

Today, Christina is almost six years old. She is a beautiful, loving, sweet, witty, and courageous child. She has had her Uncle Morgan wrapped around her little finger from the moment she smiled at him. When they get together, it's very cute to see them play games like school and tea party. The two are inseparable. We cannot imagine our family without her and we thank God that she was meant for us.

"An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but will never break."
-Chinese Proverb

11 July 2006

In God We Trust

Like most couples who want children, we looked forward to the day we would start our own family. Everyone told us how cute our kids were going to be and of course, we wanted to believe that too. I think we all fantasize that our children would only have the best of our combined characteristics, physical attributes, and personality traits. To a certain extent, we are all somewhat vain and self-absorbed in that way. We carefully planned our life and decided to revel in the bliss of our marriage for the first couple of years. We wanted to travel more and enjoy just being together and forming a solid foundation before we got serious about starting a family. Of course, life doesn't always end up the way we plan. God had another plan for us.

After about a year of trying to get pregnant on our own, we decided it was time to get checked out. I guess we wanted to know medically, if it was possible. We both had some testing done and the results proved that nothing was medically abnormal. The doctors recommended that I take some medicine that would help me ovulate on a regular basis and produce more eggs in hopes of giving us more chances. This is the typical protocol when a woman isn't getting pregnant. Unfortunately, there are some side effects to this drug. I won't get into them here but let's just say, it wasn't pleasant. The next step in fertility treatments were hormone injections. Needless to say, these were a pain in the butt... literally! Morgan had to inject me everyday for about 10 days straight during my cycle. I spent many days in the doctor's office having ultrasounds done. By doing an ultrasound every other day or so, you can monitor your follicle growth to see when the best time of conception would be. Morgan would wait for the call at his office saying, "Come home now!" We went through this month after month but nothing was happening. The injections also had some side effects. Mostly it just made you feel like you were pregnant but you weren't.

Being on a mission to create this baby encompassed most of our third year of marriage. Even though we were disappointed each month, we both had great faith that we would be blessed with a child someday. I can honestly say that I never felt depressed or sorry for myself. Because our faith is grounded in God, we asked for wisdom, courage, and most of all, patience.

After a year of trying different treatments, our doctor recommended the next step... invitro (IVF). We hadn't really considered it. We didn't even know how we felt about it. We have friends who have done IVF and some have been successful, while others have tried 3 or 4 times and have not. There are some very important decisions to make in IVF. It is certainly a personal choice and we respect all those who have gone through that emotional and physical process. I'll never forget driving home that day from the doctor's office. We were both in quiet reflection. The decision of IVF was looming ahead. At that moment, driving down Wilshire Blvd., heading toward the Pacific Coast Highway, a peace flowed over me and I felt God's love and protection. In the months before, I felt that God was trying to speak to me. I was often too busy going to the next doctor's appointment and basically trying to do things my way. One afternoon when I slowed down, stood still, and read my bible, I heard God's voice say over and over..."I WILL NOT FORSAKE YOU" (rather sternly I might add, since I'm a little hard-headed). That afternoon, driving home from the doctor, I remembered that. I turned to my sweet husband and said, "We have another option." I told him that we could stop all treatments and put our full trust in God. He looked at me, smiled, and said that that was the only decision that felt RIGHT. With that, we decided to stop all treatments and doctor visits. We would trust in God's plan for our lives, even if it's different than our own. God had never failed us before. Morgan and I have always felt that we were brought together for a purpose. This was evident in our marriage early on but now, even more so. I felt as if a cloud had just been lifted. At this point, we still did not know that we were going to adopt. We just knew that we both felt free, at peace and excited about what the future would bring.

09 July 2006

What's a Blog?

A blog is a great way to have a simple website and keep an online journal. A blog or blogging is the latest in tech lingo meaning web+log= blog. It's a fun and somewhat easy way to record, reflect, and share, with pictures! I am not a technologically advanced person so I'm thankful that I can slowly find my way around the blogsphere. Morgan is in charge of handling the pictures and giving me input on the entries. Technology... pretty cool isn't it?

Our Story

We met back in October of '94 at a week long business conference. Even though Morgan sat right behind me during that whole week, it took him until the very last day to actually say something more than "good morning" to me. We worked for the same company but I lived in Los Angeles and he lived in Bakersfield. Most of our friendship was built gradually over the phone.
I only saw him once or twice a year at most. We often talked about business practices, ideas, and eventually more personal stuff like family, hobbies, and relationships.

There was always an easiness about our friendship.
I liked the fact that he knew how to laugh at himself. He was ambitious and smart yet humble and sincere. When we met, we were both in serious relationships with other people so our friendship was strictly platonic. Then in '98, Morgan broke up with his girlfriend of several years and decided to make the move to LA in order to pursue a better career path.

At the end of '98 I had just gotten engaged and was getting ready to move to San Diego with my fiance. After being engaged for 4 months, planning a wedding, and living down south, I made a decision that would change the course of my life. I broke off the engagement and ended that 5 year relationship. I just couldn't go through with the marriage. It was the hardest thing I'd ever had to do but once I did it, I had no regrets and knew it was right.

For about 6 months during that time, Morgan & I didn't really talk. He was busy with his new job in LA, meeting friends and adjusting to a new city. We reconnected in the middle of '99 and to his surprise I was no longer getting married! For the first time since we knew each other, we were both single. This does not mean however, that I was ready to date him! I had never thought of him that way and I didn't want to ruin the friendship we had. Infact, it took me a while to come to my senses. I finally said, "Why not date him?" I knew everything about him. He was a man of rare character and integrity, he was sweet, he enjoyed all the things I did, and we had built this great friendship. Not to mention for the first time, I realized he was very attractive (I know, crazy huh?)! Well, as they say... the rest is history. I moved back to LA after 7 months of long distance dating. We were married in October of 2001 near our home in Malibu. I thank God for him everyday. He is the love of my life and the best husband and friend I could have ever hoped for.

06 July 2006

Thoughts on Adoption

Our children can learn that the concept of "family" does not rest solely on biology. They can learn that love transcends many artificial boundaries frequently put into place by humans. They can learn that closing one door can open another door and another and another...
-Caroline Harding, adoptive parent

It has been said that adoption is more like a marriage than a birth: two (or more) individuals, each with their own unique mix of needs, patterns, and genetic history, coming together with love, hope, and commitment for a joint future. You become a family not because you share the same genes, but because you share love for each other.
-Joan McNamara, adoptive parent

I was the 167th child to be adopted from Korea. More than 60,000 Korean children in the last 40 years have made the same journey. That trip across the ocean is much more than a journey of several thousand miles. For those of us who have been adopted, it is the birth into our family.
-Susan Soon-Keum Cox, adopted child

Let go of your ambitions. Come let's change the world.
-St. Francis Xavier

Photo of the water lily taken at the Getty Villa in Malibu.

05 July 2006

Our Wedding Day

October 14th, 2001 marks the beginning of this beautiful journey. It was a perfect and sunny day at the beach where we pledged our handwritten vows to one another. It's hard to believe that was almost 5 years ago. Our marriage has undoubtedly been the greatest blessing and adventure in our lives. I couldn't have asked for a better husband, friend, or partner. As the sun began to set over the ocean that October evening, there our story began.
The two became one...

"I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine."
-Song of Songs 6:3

On Instagram

© Brave Soul. Made with love by The Dutch Lady Designs.