So the countdown is on! In 3 days and 15 hours, we will finally be setting off for Korea.
While we will certainly be cataloging the trip, the blogs will likely look more like a series of pictures with short, detailed captions as our time and energy will be limited. While I hope these will keep everyone who has helped us reach this point up-to-date, I also hope this can be a helpful resource for the families who are traveling to meet their babies just a few weeks behind us, so we’ll be posting the good moments along with the many mistakes we’ll inevitably make to ensure the next families don’t repeat them if possible.
If you were to come to our house this week, you’d see five suitcases sprawled across the house, piles of clothes–some folded, some not–carry-on items, purses, tiny liquid bottles stored in ziplock bags, the works! We are in full packing mode and while we may each be wearing the same outfit for the next three days, our Korea clothes are organized and zipped tightly into vacuum bags ready to go.
Packing the Essentials
While packing the clothes was quite a chore, this suitcase proved to be quite a beast. This is our largest suitcase and could double as a body bag if it needed to and it is packed to the brim with food, gifts, and paperwork. While we will often be eating out and on the go during our stay, having a few essentials stocked at our Airbnb will help us save some money and have a few comforts of home if necessary. The most important food item we brought was a large bag of coffee along with a GSI french press. Koreans are fans of strong tea and instant coffee and while our loft is literally surrounded by cafes, they do not open until 9:00-10:00 in the morning which is well past wake-up call for us. Also, taking the fourteen-hour time zone difference into account, we don’t plan on taking any chances!
Gifts for Our First Visit with Desi
My diaper bag is by far the largest bag I own and will be necessary to bring all of the goodies we’ve prepared for our first two visits with Desi as well as the gifts we have prepared for the foster family and SWS staff at the orphanage. The items above are what we are bringing for the visitations. The first visitation will be on Tuesday, 3/7 at 1:20 Korea time. We will meet at the adoption agency in Gangnam and ride with our social worker to the foster families house. Here we will be given about an hour to meet Desi, play with him, get to know the foster family, and ask any vital questions that would help us transition our son into our home the following month. The hour will fly by but we plan to enjoy every single second of it! Our social worker will take several pictures of our little family which we will eventually share, but will be a lifeline for us to hold on to when we have to return to the states without our little guy this time around. We will have a second visit with him at the adoption agency later in the week but it has not yet been scheduled.
Gifts for the Foster Family
For the foster family, we filled up a photo box with items that will remind them of our home here in North Carolina: honey from my dad’s beehives, locally sourced coffee, homemade soaps (practical gifts are a favorite in Korea), chocolate, a NC hat for the foster father, and three unity ring necklaces for the foster mother and her two daughters. Not included in this picture is a large picture frame which holds two floating images–one of the foster family with Desi, and a copy of the first image we sent to the family when we were matched. Next to the image of the foster family I designed a decal of South Korea with a tiny heart over Seoul. A tiny, dotted line with an airplane swirls down to a decal I created next to our image which is the North Carolina outline with a little heart over Wilmington. While we may only meet a couple of times, I want them to know we are forever connected for being Desi’s first family.
Gifts for the Adoption Agency
Our gifts to the adoption agency include many similar items to the gifts to the foster family, only with a much smaller frame of Desi to remember him by.
Donations for the Orphanage
While we are at the adoption agency, we plan to tour the orphanage and have prepared bags filled several little onesies and socks for the sweet babies who are waiting on families of their own. It occurred to me as I bought these that many families who went before us brought similar items which clothed my baby long before we were ever matched. One of the hardest feelings during the adoption wait is the desire to protect and care for your baby but having no way to do so. The generosity of other families as well as the agency itself is what gave my child food, clothes, and supplies before I was ever able to, and now I get to clothe the little ones who are waiting for families of their own. It is a very humbling feeling and gives me a sense of deep gratitude for the community of families who are able to love on all of these sweet ones.
The Final To-Do List
Today, our biggest goal is to finish packing the carry-ons with a few essential items which I’ll list below. (Again, this is mostly to help the adoptive families who will be traveling right behind me, so feel free to skip ahead) Our liquids have not been packed yet so you won’t see a few essentials in this list, but at least it’s a start:
- Ipad Mini with a bluetooth keyboard for keeping up with the blog during our travels
- The Connected Child by Karen Purvis–an amazing resource in developing attachment with your child, I’d highly recommend it!
- The 52 Lists Project which is likely my favorite journal to date. I rarely have the time or attention span for long journal entries nowadays but this journal gives short prompts that let you list your answers almost mindlessly. It’s a great way to clear the mind!
- Naptime is the New Happy Hour–a great book for new moms and an amusing glimpse into the role of motherhood
- Slipper Socks
- Compression Leggings–no swollen ankles for this girl!
- Deodorant–This should be pretty self-explanatory for a twenty-hour flight
- Snacks, including fruit leather, granola bars, and almond butter packets
- Chapstick (also, lotion included in the liquids bag)
- Airborne–a vitamin supplement to ward off any viruses in the recycled air. Matt is bringing Lysol wipes to wipe down everything on the plane before we take off.
- Muslin Blanket–lightweight but a nice cover in case it gets chilli
- Desi’s Kindle Fire–This item was around $85 and works almost identically with the Ipad except it has a micro SD card slot so I was able to download about three seasons of “Criminal Minds” and “A Series of Unfortunate Events” off of Netflix with quite a bit of room to spare!
- Travel Guides–I would highly recommend these two over the other Lonely Planet guides. Super detailed and includes addresses to everything!
A Special Request
As we prepare to travel abroad and meet our little guy, we would be so grateful for your prayers and thoughts. This will prove to be one of the most incredible and challenging trips of our lives, and we couldn’t have made it this far without the grace and love of so many of you! We’ve been so blessed these past couple of weeks by family members and friends who have reached out in whatever ways they can from planning a beautiful shower, to sending gifts, to offering to take care of our dog, to house sitting while we are gone…truly we are overwhelmed. We can’t wait to share our journey with you and to embark on this next major step to bringing Desi home!