Thursday, July 02, 2009

Day 5 – Foster Mother Visit

Today was a big day. We went to Holt Children’s Services, the Korean social services agency through which we adopted J. and R.. We grabbed some Dunkin Donuts breakfast sandwiches this morning (much pantomime was involved in the ordering process) and took off for the agency about a half-hour away.

One of the many things that is different about Seoul than at home is the way people park. It almost seems like people stick their cars anywhere they might happen to fit, even on the sidewalk. It would seem that there would have to be some logic to how they decide where it’s OK to park and where it isn’t, but I haven’t figured it out yet. The fact that I can’t read the signs doesn’t help much in puzzling it out.

We arrived at Holt and were ushered into a conference room/auditorium where we were greeted by one of the Holt staff. After that, the president of the agency came in and made some greeting remarks (in Korean, translated for us). He then presented all the adopted families with gifts. R. was called up, no doubt owing to her status as the youngest adoptee present, to represent everyone on the trip in accepting the gifts. These included a Korean flag, a map of Korea, a book about the agency and kind of lanyard with a traditional Korean mask on it. I think she enjoyed being the center of attention for a few minutes. We also presented gifts to Holt, including cash gifts and some baby items for use in their work.

After this we were shown a short film on Holt and the kind of work they do with children, special needs individuals and senior citizens. It’s a very impressive list of things they do. Next, we were introduced to a group of Holt social workers, including Mrs. Shin. She had worked with us in Korea on both kids adoptions and it was wonderful to see her again. She even recognized us 10 years later. These social workers did file reviews with the kids over 13. From talking to some of the other parents, it seemed that some learned new information from the file review while others learned very little. We had gotten quite a bit of information when the kids were adopted, so it wasn’t a huge deal that we weren’t able to participate. I spent a good chunk of my time trying to keep the 11 and 12 year old boys present from tearing down the place.

As the file reviews began to wind down, the foster mothers started to arrive. R.’s came in first, followed by J.’s a few minutes later. Both women were very moved to see the kids again, and were constantly touching and holding them both. R. loved this attention, and J. was very good about taking it in the loving spirit with which it was given. We had interpreters translating for us and we exchanged gifts. A good ice breaker were two photo albums A. had put together for them with pictures of some of our travels, family members and other activities the kids are involved in.

After we talked for a while we were all taken to lunch at a local Korean restaurant. This was a real local place. So much so that we sat on the floor at low tables and ate Korean barbecue, cooked on pots of hot coal right at our table. The food was quite good and the kids, with their foster mothers putting things together for them, branched out into trying some new items.

All too soon, it was time to say goodbye. R. got very emotional as her foster mother left us. J. told me he was happy and sad at the same time. I thought it was a good attitude to take toward these women who meant so much to them in their early lives.

Our last stop on the Holt tour was another Holt building nearby, where they had babies who were not likely to be adopted. The kids had an opportunity to play with the babies. It was very cute to watch.

After that we walked back to the main Holt building, where our bus took us back to the hotel. We had a couple of hours to rest before getting back on the bus and heading out to that Pizza Hut for dinner with the group. Pizza Hut pizza in Korea tastes pretty much like it does back home.

Our final stop of the day was a visit to the Itaewon shopping district. This is located near the U.S. Army base in Seoul and contains a mixture of American chain stores and restaurants and local entrepreneurs. A guy offered to make me a custom suit (special price!) I think it may have been the same guy who offered to make me a custom suit 10 years ago. We picked up a few interesting items, stopped at a Baskin-Robbins for some ice cream, and caught the 9:00 bus back to the hotel.

That’s it for today. More touristy stuff on the agenda for tomorrow!


At 4:33 AM, Blogger Bismo said...

Fantastic. The emotions of the trip are so strong even through your posts... what a special time! - Bis


Post a Comment

<< Home

eXTReMe Tracker