Friday, April 22, 2011
Korea Part 1
To bring everyone quickly up to speed……. we found out a few weeks ago that Andrew’s orphanage in Korea would be closing. It was always our plan to have Andrew visit Korea several times during his adolences but didn’t plan to make the first trip until he was about 8 years old. I had always envisioned him visiting the orphanage and having the opportunity to meet his foster mother & caretakers. With this closing quickly approaching we decided we didn’t want him to miss out on what maybe his last opportunity to see KSS operating as an orphanage. Soooooo… on Wednesday all four of us boarded Korean Air for the 15 hour flight to Seoul. The kids did great, much better than we expected. Especially after they asked “are we were there yet?” 7 times before we even reached the Cleveland airport.
To help combat jetlag and a 13 hour time difference we did our best to keep the kids awake the entire flight. Andrew however, ended up taking a 2-3 hour nap. After two dinners, a couple movies, games & coloring we touched down in the Land Of Morning Calm. Immigration and baggage claim went flawlessly and we were headed via taxi to our hotel, Renaissance Seoul in the Gangnum district.
About 4:30 AM everyone was bright eyed, dressed and ready to see Seoul. I knew there was only one place open at that hour……. Noryangjin Fish Market. An enormous warehouse where live seafood is auctioned & sold to hundreds of local vendors. Sydney’s first reaction was to hold her nose but soon her visual sensory took over as she laid her eyes on every sea creature imaginable. Andrew smiled and said “I love Korea”.
A lovely woman took a real liking to Sydney & her blonde hair and wanted to keep her. She was happy to show off her goods and let me pet an octopus which Matt later purchased & ate! Yep, for 10,000 won we purchased 3 small octopuses which she tossed into a plastic grocery bag and directed us to a small restaurant for preparation. We took off our shoes as we entered the tiny restaurant, handed over the grocery bag and were seated on the floor at a small table. Couple chops in the kitchen and out came the octopus on a platter, still wiggling. Matt wrangled a few with his chopstick; a quick dip in wasabi and down the hatch they went. Ummmm, breakfast of champions. The kids & I decided to pass and enjoyed breakfast at my favorite restaurant Paris Baguette.
That afternoon we headed over KSS (Korea Social Services) to meet Mrs. Lee, Andrew’s foster mother. Making the day even more special it was Andrew’s Gotcha Day. Exactly five years ago Andrew left Mrs Lee and made his way to the US. Her warm smile lit up the room and she entered and said, Min Shik! She said he looks the same but bigger. With the help of an interpreter we exchanged some gifts, email addresses and shared some pictures. She was very happy to hear all about Andrew’s hobbies and school work. We even discussed his asthma as he had been sick several times during his time with her. Mrs. Lee is still fostering children and figures shes had over 50 children in her care over the last 20 years.
Afterwards we headed upstairs to meet with four foster mothers who brought in their babies in for updates. Updates are a progress report of sort which updates the adoptive family of their growth, personality and health. We also toured the nursery and got a baby fix.