Saturday, February 27, 2010

Supporting Orphan Children

As you may know I am currently serving as president of Friends of Adoptive Families. We are a non-profit organization comprised of adoptive parents from the Northeast Ohio area that are committed to improving the lives of orphaned children around the world. We will be hosting our annual Evening at the Races Fundraiser on March 6th. If anyone is interested in purchasing tickets or race horses please let me know. Horses are $35.00 and winners receive a $70 pay out. You do not need to attend the event to own a horse. Event Tickets are $25 and include dinner, beer, wine, and dessert. We have a section reserved and hope lots of you join us for a fun night out!!

Just last week I had the opportunity to visit the Korea Social Services orphanage and see first hand efforts of our organization. This year our priorities include, increased funding to help medically fragile children receive much-needed surgeries and specialized medical care in hopes that it will reduce their wait time for a forever family. We also want to continue funding in-country service projects, as well as purchasing basic need items such as: diapers, formula, educational materials and playground equipment.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Journey Home

Sorry it took me so long to update this site. We have been busy recouping, unpacking and everything else that goes along with it. To pick up where we left off.........

We got up about 8:00 AM on Monday morning and checked out our hotel and boarded the Korean Air bus for an hour long drive to Seoul Incheon Airport. We arrived about 9:30 AM and met up with the KSS Staff and our 2 traveling companions at the airport nursery. Nine month old Ha Eun and 10 month old Mi Ran.

The KSS Staff did one last diaper change & bottle before saying their good byes. We rolled through security and turned the girls back so they could wave goodbye to the staff who had their faces pressed to the unfrosted sections of security door window. Our first stop was the restroom. I changed the girls out of the multi layered outfits their foster mothers dressed them in, in order to preserve them for later. I came out of the restroom to find Matt chatting with another couple who was flying home with us who just picked up their 11 month old daughter, Ava.

We boarded a Korean Air 747 for the 14 hour flight to Chicago. A few days earlier I called the airline and scored seats in the bassinet row. A real treat on a long flight. We settled into our seats and as time passed and the passengers coming down the aisle came to trickle we were elated to discover we had all four seats in the row to ourselves. Whoo Hooo!!!! First bassinets, now extra seats, we were on cloud 9, literally. :)

As we taxied to the runway things settled down and we had a chance to get to know our new little friends. Ha Eun, a sweet round faced little girl, full of laughter, and the biggest thighs I have ever seen. Mi Ran was the quiet one, big cheeks and that crazy Asian hair I love. The girls did really great considering the circumstances. They had just left everything they have ever known. Their foster mother is gone. They are handed off to strangers who don't look or speak Korean. And now they are flying around the world. :) But these girls were troopers. Right from the get go they looked us both in the eye and came right to both Matt and I without hesitation. Often times the babies will prefer women over men since in many traditional Korean homes child rearing is left to the mothers. Which unfortunately was the situation the other couple on our flight was experiencing.

The time passed by slowly but we ate, played, watched some TV and the girls slept. This is where the bassinets have their disadvantages. These little ladies could roll over and crawl. So my brain just could not sleep knowing they could easily get up and fall out of there. I did manage to get about an hour of sleep with Ha Eun asleep on my chest but that would that be enough to get me through the next leg of the journey.

We touched down in Chicago with Ha Eun testing out her lungs for the last hour. :) Poor girl, she was tired and really more fighting sleep. Thankfully, a rolling stroller comforts her. :) We spent the next hour in the immigration office waiting for the girls paperwork to be stamped. Given we had a six hour layover we had time to spare. We grabbed a bite to eat and found a quiet place to Skype with the Fike Family.

Thank goodness Matt caught his second wind before I did. He managed to create a corral out of a couple rows of seats & the strollers and the girls & I took an hour long nap. I wish I could say I felt better afterwards but I had been traveling for over 20 hours and had maybe two hours of sleep. I was so exhausted I was feeling quite ill. But there was no time for that the girls needed changed back into their original outfits. We like to present them to their adoptive parents the way they were given to us. We found a big family restroom and got them all changed, fed and ready to go. We mustered up some energy and rolled up to the gate only to find our plane was delayed 1 hour. I guess there was low fog in the area and previous flights were now stacking up at the gate. We plopped down in the gate area along with 4 other plane loads of folks. Our one hour delay slowly evolved into a three hour delay. It was now 7:00 PM and we had been in Chicago since 9:10 AM. The side salad I had partially eaten back at 10:30 AM had long since worn off. But for the last 3 hours we were told to sta in the gate area as we would be boarding soon so there was no time to go get something to eat. I snacked on juice and crackers and the girls took turns sleeping and entertaining the other passengers. By the time we finally boarded most of the plane was familiar with the girls story and were very patient as HaEun screamed her way through taxi & take off. The man next to me was pleased to help out any way he could. Escorts had brought his son from Korea to the US over 20 years ago. Small world! The final leg of our journey seemed to fly by once the girls settled down. We touched down in Akron Canton and I quickly tapped out a text to Bill, our airport greeter who has been waiting for the past 3 hours at the airport with the families.

"Houston, the Eagle has landed"

We dashed into the nearest restroom for a quick diaper change and bottle prep. As we exited one of the ground crew handed us the flight log signed by the captain. They were sad they did not have wings to give the girls to commemorate there flight but hoped this would due. :) How sweet!

This was it. We gave the girls a quick hug and kiss goodbye and rounded the corner. A gasp came over the crowd and the flashbulbs started going off. An outsider might have thought a pop star had entered the terminal. I with MiRan and Matt had HaEum. We introduced them to their new mom & dad and handed them over. The girls did great and happily went right to their elated parents.

Congratulations to the Lim & Fike Families. We couldn't have asked for better travel companions and are honored to be part of their journey.

Welcome Home Claire MiRan & Joanna HaEun.

The entire photo album can be viewed via Snapfish:
If the link doesnt work feel free to email me and I will send over the link.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Last Day

On our last full day in Seoul we headed off to the mall. The Coex Mall is the largest underground mall in Asia. Building underground is very common here. With a city population over 12 million they are running out of room above ground. But all in all it looked pretty much like any other American mall; it even had The Body Shop. We did spot a large crowd gathering around a TV. I wonder what they could be watching? Some major news story? Nope. Short track speed skating. There were dozens of people gathering to watch the South Korean skater take on Apolo Anton Ohno.

Just across the street from the mall is the Bongeunsa Buddhist temple, founded in 794 AD.

We also made a quick stop at Olympic Park, home of the 1988 Summer Olympic Games. Between walking the hilly terrain and thousands of subway steps we are convinced we have lots some weight this week. This must be how Koreans stay so thin. I am not sure what was more rare an overweight person or Caucasian one? On that note we hit my favorite restaurant, Paris Baguette for some yummy pastries.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Emperors and Buddhas

Today we took in the history and tradition of Korea. First watched the changing of the gaurd at Gyeongbokgung Palace.

Then we headed over to Jogyesa Buddhist Temple. We even found a bunch of neat monk supply stores. Who would have thought! But, I guess they have to shop somewhere!

Somethings Fishy

Today we made our way to Noryanjin Fish Market. We learned of this little jem when the Anthony Bourdain No Reservations show traveled to Korea. It took about 4 trains to get there but once the doors opened on the final train we knew we had arrived. The smell of fish permeates even the underground subway.
We did not arrive early enough to witness the auctioning but still got a good feel for the place. It’s a huge warehouse with hundreds of folks pedaling fresh seafood. And, I mean fresh. Every type of seafood imaginable, most still alive and butchered on the spot.

Our sense of smell must be in overdrive this week. For the most part Matt and I would both agree the entire country smells of kimchi. But the past two days our mouths have watered at the smell of cookies in the Samgakji Station. Today we finally tracked down the smell. It was a doughnut looking item with custard inside. Yummo!

This evening we craved some something familar so we went to "All American Burger".

Thursday, February 18, 2010

KSS Visit

I woke up about 4:30 AM this morning. My internal clock is still a bit off but not bad. I feel better today than I have on any other first day overseas. We walked down to Paris Baguette, my favorite breakfast spot before taking the subway over to Korea Social Services (KSS). KSS is the orphanage where Andrew lived for about six months. We had update meetings with six children in their care. We got a very unexpected surprise when Andrew's foster mom, Mrs Lee walked in. I had the opportunity to meet her on my first visit to Korea but Matt had not. She was at KSS to have the other child in her care updated.

After KSS we took a very crowded subway back to Itaewon. We had a traditional lunch; bulgogi with kimchi and all the fixins. And, I got myself a Burberry purse as a birthday present!

This evening we took the subway to Dongdaemun Market, an area we had not explored before. Its the textile meca of Seoul. A huge area with hundreds of tiny stores, each selling a specific item. One was completely dedicated to zippers. Yep! Zippers in every length and color. It was an interesting area but nothing we were intersted in purchasing. We did find a fantastic mandu resturant. With prices ranging from $3-$5 per entree to tried several.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Greetings from Seoul

We arrived in a snow covered Seoul late yesterday afternoon about 24 hours after we left Akron/Canton.

This visit we used Korean Air. Wow, now there is a quality airline! I dont think you would ever find me on Northwest again!! :) The service, inseat television & outlets make all the difference. Anyone who has flown overseas knows the plane is usually trashed by the time is arrives in its destination. But not on Korean Air. Our flight attendants were not only gorgeous they were very service oriented and kept an immaculate plane. I hope we get the same crew on our way home!

We made our way through the very modern Incheon Airport and hopped a bus into the city. Its about an hour drive but not very scenic. This trip we are staying at the Grand Hyatt situated on mountain side overlooking the city.

After 24 hours of traveling we were exhausted so we just grabbed a quick overpriced bite to eat here in the hotel and went to bed. It was only 7:30 PM.

I am now awake again after 8 hours of sleep and its 4:30 AM. Happy Birthday to me!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Headed to Seoul

Matt & I will be departing for Seoul, South Korea tomorrow morning. This will be my third and Matt's second opportunity to serve as escorts for Family Adoption Consultants. We will be accompanying two beautiful baby girls, Mi Ran & Ha Eun back to the Ohio to meet their adoptive parents for the first time. One of which is a family friend so it makes this trip extra special!

We will be departing from Akron/Canton early tomorrow morning and should arrive in Seoul the following evening. A little over 20 hours later!!

We hope to blog during our stay so be sure and check back!

Thanks again Mom & Dad for taking care of the kids while we are away. It is very comforting to know they will be well cared for.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


Sydney's third cheerleading season will be coming to a close in March. Her team has struggled with coaching issues this year but came together today to take first place at the Canton Competition.

Her tumbling has really come a long way this season. She is now throwing a nice front walkover roundoff backhandspring. WhooHoo! Being such a small framed little lady she was thrust into the "flyer" role in the stunt sequences. She was very excited about this in earlier years but this year I think she is feeling the pressure of this position.

I should have more pictures posted soon.