Sunday, January 22, 2012


Friday James' most recent Well Baby Check found its way to my inbox.

He is 24 lbs even.

He is 30.6 inches tall.

As usual, he is cute and fine. :)

His nutrition is listed as moderate and he has 8 teeth on the top and 6 on the bottom. It is so hard to believe that when we saw his file for the very first time he didn't have any teeth.

He is still walking alone ,  rolling a ball, crawling up and down and his new skill - dancing!!!! Oh how this Mommy wishes she could see that.

He is scribbling.

He waves Bye Bye and drinks from a cup with some help.

He uses the words Umma (Mommy), Abba (Daddy), Mama (Eat) and Ah ( still have yet to translate this from Korean to English - any takers?)

Hopefully we will only have a few more of these that come from Korea and then the rest will be with our pediatrician Dr. Paul.

We can't wait to meet you James !!!!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Struggling - 2

I am very blessed to have the opportunity to parent James - but that does not take away the daily struggle to live life here when the little boy whom has grown in my heart since we first saw his picture is still half way around the world. Some days are hard. I cry! I get angry! I get emotional! Some days I am just plain mad.... and I don't even know who to be mad at. Some days I want to scream from the rooftops that this was not supposed to happen..... We signed up for the stable program.... the country with over fifty years of smooth sailing. Yeah, what happened to that one?

I am sick of the wait constantly growing longer. They told us January was the new magical month and then they changed the rules again. Imagine playing a sport and everytime your about to make a goal the referree comes out and blows his whistle and changes the rules all over again. Yeah, the whistle was blown - February. 

When we "signed up" the equation was simple. Children need families and we want a child.... sounds pretty simple to me. When did things get so complex ? How did so much change in just a few months. How did we become prisoners to the process???  We fell in love with our little boy.... through pictures and updates he grew in our hearts. Now we love this little boy so much and have no choice but to hang tight on this roller coaster that goes round and round and never ends ... no matter how many times we scream - let us off, let us have our boy and get off. We are stuck.

And it isn't just James. A whole lot of kids are waiting to come home and a whole lot of my friends in the process feel defeated as well. And they pray and hope and wish only to be let down again and again too.

Yes, we are not the longest waiters. About 5-6 weeks of referrals are ahead of us. Yes, we might not wait as long as Eastern. Yes, we are not the first family to ever wait for an EP. But it still is a struggle, more now then ever. I just feel like it is so hard for everyone waiting now because everything seems to be changing. How do we wait while evebrything else continues to change?

But the truth of the matter is, to me, right now - none of that matters. It has been a LONG nine months and we have no end date in sight. We have no idea when James will finally make it home.

When we started the process it was 4-6 months months of waiting form referral. I planned on that. I knew things could always change but how bad could it get? Then the wiating was 6-8 months - I could handle that. Before we knew it the wait was 8-12 months. That much change in just 1 year?!?! Not even an entire year.

I tried hard to stay positive.

When we thought the wait was just 4-6 months we completed the entire nursery. We organized. We painted. We shopped, and shopped and shopped some more. We practiced Korean cooking. We read attachement and adoption books. I was so going to rock the wait. The wait was what we expected afterall.

Then the wait extended. We began to read toddler adoption books. We made another list of things to do around the house. We shopped more and packed and shipped the clothing that would be outgrown. We hoped and dreamed that the EP would come before the end of the year. We loved our boy from half way around the world. Our hearts grew bigger each and every day.
The the wait extended some more. We struggled about what we would continue to tell our daugter. We read more books and some books for the 2nd and 3rd time. We organized paperwork, we journaled, we continued to do home projects. We updated our homestudy and fingerprints. We tried to keep busy but eventually ran out if things to do. Some days I started to worry about if James would ever be coming home. I tried to keep prespective. I tried to think of the gift I had been given. I tried to stay positive as James' Birthday came and then passed.

Oh, and the tulips... .dont get me starte don the tulips. I had them planted after reading the wonderful idea , and i still love the idea, that when we planted the fall bulbs they would bloom in spring just when it was time for our babies to come home. Well, my tulips tease me. They tease me by blooming early. The weather has been too warm and they keep popping through. They have needed to be covered again and again and I want nothing to do with the tulips. My mom takes care of them when she comes over becasue I just don't have any heart left for the  taunting tulips that remind me that James should be home - like yesterday.

Then 2012 came and I had so much hope. I counted down the days and was happy to think we would start seeing movement again....and so far nothing has come. And my heart is hurting. I feel weak from the nine months of being on this roller coaster. I am scared of the uncertainty....The not knowing.... The changes. Some days I feel like those of us waiting now are in uncharted waters.... like day in and day out the ship sailed the same direction.... the waters were relatively smooth and predictable and then somehow something went wrong on the GPS. Like we are floating out in the ocean somewhere waiting for the Captain to direct us back on track.

It has been a long nine months and I have no clue when it will be time for my arms to feel what my heart has known for so long.

And no words make it better. I am thnakful to be matched with James, I know it is in God's perfect timing, I know others have had hiccups along the way..... but it still hurts. The waiting is still hard.

I want my excitement back. I remember the excitement I had when we first started the process. I would chat with my new adoption friends and it was so happy. I would tell family and friends and heck, even the cashier at Gymboree about our exciting arrival that would be coming in the Fall. I miss shopping and planning and designing James' room when it was a happy time... a time filled with no uncertainty.

Now some days I just rather hide from the world because I don't want to explain for the hundreth time that we just don't know when he is coming home. I feel bad for those that started the month praying along with us that James would be submitted just like we were told to plan because no news is certainly not good news in adoption. I feel so defeated. Helpless.

I never dreamed that 17 months after we sent the initial application in that this is where we would be. So in love with a little boy who just needs to come join his forever home.

Thank you for all the kind thoughts, wishes and prayers..... we really do appreciate it.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Latest News

The latest news is that there is no new news. :(

After much anticipation....counting down the days since October....and just wishing the new year would be here so the EP quota would reset we got NO NEWS in the first week of 2012.

It was a long week..... the longest since we started the process 16 months ago. Time just seemed to stand still. They say a watched pot doesn't boil - and my poor pot didn't even get warm this week.

I spent every moment connected. I checked my e-mail 30 times an hour - maybe more. I chatted online and on the phone with my fellow waiting moms morning, noon, and night trying to see if we could crack the secret code to EP's and figure out when we might be submitted and better yet when our babies would be coming home.  I used the little bit of information we have from friends past adoptions to chart the days of the week of prior submissions to see if there was a pattern - Nope, in 2011 submissions came on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday too. I even went back thru the adoption bulletin board and looked up when people started posting that they were submitted throughout the year vs when the actual submittal was. Yes, I am that Adoptive MaMa who is on the brink of insanity and just wants to bring her boy home. Anyway, about 80% of the time it was the same day. Once, people were submitted and notified two days later and another time a batch was submitted and families were not notified for almost two weeks. How great would it be to learn we were already submitted and that much closer to approval?!?!  One can dream, right?!!

I want to thank every single person who sent good wishes, who prayed, who stopped to think of us and offer support during this week and through this journey. We are blessed. We never imagined that the process would lengthen and so many things would change. We never thought James would not be home yet. The support we have recieved has been so great and we are thankful everyday.

I am so thankful to my family and friends who have been part of this journey from the very begining. You have watched James grow up over the last 9 months, with us, through pictures and updates. You have supported us from our first announcement that we had applied to the program and continue to support us daily. James is going to be as lucky as we are to have you all in our life.

I'm also thankful for those MaMa's who already brought their babies home...and are very busy at home loving on their littles.... for the messages that flood into my inbox and onto my facebook wall ..... offering encouragement because they know how hard it is ....because they have walked in my shoes.

I'm thankful for my old friends... friends from high school, college, old jobs, etc.... who continually show up to let us know that they are thinking of us and praying. Some I have not seen in years, but they show up via the internet to let us know they want James to come home too.

And of course my waiting buddies . How would I get through this process without you guys?  Who would I chat with that would be so excited about charting timelines late at night?  Who would encourage me, support me, and understand just how I am feeling at the very same moment in time.  You ladies always get it. I am so grateful that we have each other to lean on. It is amazing, not only did I gain a son through adoption, but some pretty amazing friends as well.

So, its Friday and we wont get any news over the weekend.... Monday is a new week and hopefully it brings great news.

In the meantime, I borrowed this information from a AP friends blog ( which is an awesome resource for all things Korean Adoption.

This explains exactly what we are waiting for (EP)

On the Korean side of the equation, emigration permits (EP) are one of the biggest issues. It is my understanding that South Korea issues two types of travel permits:

■One is permission to travel, similar to a US passport that allows someone to enter and leave the country.

■The other is is permission to emigrate to another country or to permanently leave South Korea for the purpose of settling in another country like the US. In order for someone to emigrate from South Korea to another country, the person needs to obtain an emigration permit in order to get a travel certificate. This process also applies for children emigrating for purposes of adoption. The emigration permit (EP) isn’t the actual travel permit itself, but rather the approval for the travel permit.

In the case of adoption, just as we in the USA limit the number of legal immigrates every year, South Korea limits the number of EP’s issued for the purpose of international adoption. Each agency in Korea has a number and, in theory, that number decreases every year. The Korean government has restricted the number of EPs for international adoption (i.e. set a quota) and has the stated goal of reducing the number of international adoptions each year. By doing so the Korean government has hoped to put more focus on domestic adoptions.

The quota is at the Korean agency level (Eastern, Holt Korea, SWS, KSS), and the number of EPs each agency receives varies by agency and is at least in part a function of their size with larger agencies getting more since they have more babies. Domestic adoption rates may also play a role in how EPs are distributed at the Korean agency level. The EP quota overall has been reduced each year by the ministry. This has caused an EP shortage in recent years and a subsequent delay in travel for some families.

The EP approval isn’t the actual travel permit itself but rather the permission to process the application for the “travel certificate” (note: a travel certificate is similar to our passport). In order for the child to get the “travel certificate”, the child needs to have EP approval first. Once a child’s EP has been issued, it typically doesn’t take long to get the travel certificate.

Getting back to the quota…Each Korean agency has the right and responsibility for managing their own allotment or quota. Last year (2010) according to the US embassy website, all of the Korean agencies ran out of EPs, some earlier than others.

Because the EP quota gets further reduced while the number of children coming into care and getting placed for IA does not proportionately decrease, the problem tends to grow year over year, resulting in a backlog that grows with the impacted agencies running out of EPs earlier and earlier. Unfortunately as the quota declines, it becomes very hard for an agency to catch up because the number of children coming into care for the new year doesn’t necessarily go down. Not only does an agency have the previous year’s backlog to clear through but they have the new children to get through the EP approval process as well. Over the years different agencies have run into the quota problem earlier than other agencies. Though all the agencies have been impacted lately, Eastern has been probably hardest hit in recent years.

Here’s a made-up example to help illustrate the problem:

Year 1 for a given agency….

■Agency is granted 100 EPs

■Agency has 110 babies come into care

■Agency decides to refer all 110 babies

■Agency uses up all EPs by November; only 100 get EP, 10 babies have to wait until Year 2

Year 2 for the same agency…

■Agency starts off with a backlog of 10 babies needing EP

■Agency is granted 90 EPs (reduction of 10% from the previous year’s quota of 100)

■Agency has 110 babies come into care (assuming no change in the number of children coming into care)

■Agency decides to refer all 110 babies

■Agency now has a 110 babies from the current year plus 10 babies from year 1 needing EP or 120 total babies; agency only has 90 EPs

■Agency uses up all EPs by October; only 90 of the 120 babies get EP; 30 babies have to wait until Year 3

Year 3 for the same agency…

■Agency starts off with a backlog of 30 babies needing EP

■Agency is granted 81 EPs (reduction of 10% from the previous year’s quota of 90)


How many times a month are children submitted for EP?

It honestly depends. Each agency in Korean handles things different. It also varies based on the time of the year. For the last couple of years, Holt Children’s Services Inc. (HCS, aka Holt Korea) has submitted more batches in January and into February as they try to clear through some of the backlog from the prior year. After that, the pattern for HCS has been EP submissions about once a month. However, that’s not a hard and fast rule. In June 2011 there was a pause in submissions and no batches were submitted or approved in June for Holt. Other things like audits have also impacted EP submission timelines too. The other thing to consider is the quota; once a given Korean agency reaches their annual quota, unless things change and the ministry grants more EPs, the agency won’t have another EP batch submitted until the next calendar year.

Here is an example from early 2011 for HCS families that illustrates the EP submission pattern. This is based on the EP batches that people on a Korea adoption web forum I participate in have indicated they were a part of are and it may be incomplete (i.e. use for illustrative purposes only):

■EP Sub 1/04/11 EP App 1/14/11, 1/17/11

■EP Sub 1/11/11 EP App 1/20/11

■EP Sub 1/19/11 EP App 2/10/11, 2/11/11

■EP Sub 1/31/11 EP App 3/08/11

■EP Sub 2/18/11 EP App 3/25/11

■EP Sub 3/18/11 EP App 4/12/11

■EP Sub 4/06/11 EP App 4/28/11

■EP Sub 4/26/11 EP App 5/24/11

■EP Sub 5/20/11 – no EPs submitted or approved in June 2011

How do they decide which children are submitted for EP?

The decision as to which children to submit for EP in which batch is that of the Korean agency (e.g. Holt Children’s Services Inc [HCS], aka Holt Korea). It is my understanding that for HCS under normal circumstances, general acceptance date plays a large role in determining when a child is submitted for EP, but it is not the only factor that is considered. That means that EP submission is never purely chronological based on acceptance date. There are other factors such as the length of time a child has been in care, foster family situations, health issues, referral date (e.g. in certain situations there may be a large gap between referral and acceptance such as for a sibling call which may get factored in), etc that are also considered. As agencies get closer to hitting the quota, the factors that influence which child gets submitted when may get weighted differently.

I tend not to look at it as a bunch of families waiting orderly “in line” based on acceptance date for their children to be submitted for EP where mitigating factors bump one family up and another family down. It is more complex than that and not so linear. I’ve always looked at it as a pool of children who all need to come home. They have a certain number of EPs spots they are going to submit at a given time. They review all the factors collectively and individually and select the children to be submitted in that batch based on the factors at play.

In the end, with limited EP slots, it can’t be easy to try and prioritize. Yes, it ends up being largely chronological (or close to it) based on acceptance date as acceptance date is a major consideration; but since acceptance date is not the only consideration, ultimately it is not entirely linear or exactly chronological. I would imagine that coming up with the list for EP submissions probably weighs heavily on the people making the decisions as they know how much everyone wants their babies home as soon as possible.

For those caught in the wait, my heart goes out to you. I personally know how difficult this is as we were caught up in the quota situation while waiting for our youngest to come home. Please know that the Korean agencies are all tirelessly advocating on behalf of the children. They LOVE the children and want to see the children come home to their families as soon as quickly as possible!

Sunday, January 1, 2012


Happy New Year !!!!!!! 

It is hard to believe just how much changed for us in the course of a year. 

The most exciting event of 2011- we became parents again and Zoey became a big sister. In May, we saw James' picture for the very first time, and it was love at first sight. We have loved and missed our sweet boy every single day since.

We spent the entire year "in process" with Holt to expand our family. We started in 2010 and we will hopefully be complete in 2012.

Zoey started school in January and had an extremely difficult time. If it wasn't for the therapies that she needed I don't think she just might have been a preschool dropout. It was a long transition- for both of us. For the first two months I went to school with her and then gradually I left her for a small amount each day. She cried - like hard- every single day for months. Fast forward to September - Zoey loves school. She takes the bus. She even asks to go on the weekends. So proud of my baby girl for accomplishing something so big this year.

We met so many wonderful friends on this adoption journey.... friends from all over the country who I couldn't have imagined doing this process without.

We welcomed into the family a new pet.  Gertie the guinea pig.

We made it to Disney-twice. Once was extra special because we got to meet new friends there.

We completed lots of small projects around the house in preparation for James to come home.

I joined the PTA and became room mom in Zoey's class.

... and we just had a very busy year doing the little things. Sinking our toes in the warm sand at the beach all summer.... building snowmen in the winter.... picking pumpkins and apples at the farm on a brisk day in the fall.... planting flowers on the first days of sunshine in the spring.... messy art projects... getting our hands sticky with you know, all the little things.

2011 was a great year... but the truth of it is, as soon as we learned that James would not make it  hope until the new year.... I just couldn't wait for 2012.

It is hard to put into words how hard it is to wake up each morning and want the one thing in the world that you can't have..... to hold the sweet boy that grew in your heart every single day since you first saw his picture.

It is hard to explain how you could possibly love this little boy so much even though you have never been in the same room. This little boy has my heart, big time, and missing him hurts... big time.

It is hard to wait....and wait even more when time doesn't stand still. James has grown so much the last 9 months and every day that goes past we can never get back. I am thankful for all of the tomorrows we will have together but I want him to come home so we don't miss too many more yesterdays.

Praying that James and his waiting friends all make it home soon. Praying that 2012 is the quickest the ministry ever processed the paperwork and the process moves quickly.  Praying hard.

Praying that James has an easy transition to his new home. We have had months and months to prepare for him, for him to grow in our hearts, for us to love him.... but he has not even the slightest idea that pretty soon his world is going to be rocked - hard. He is going to lose everything he has even known. Praying for his foster family as well as they prepare to say goodbye to the little boy that they have taken care of for almost a year.

2012 I am sure will have a lot of ups and downs as James comes home and transitions into his forever home but 2012 is going to be a great year because our entire family will be together and that is all we need to have a very Happy New Year.

Happy New Year!!!