Before we left for Korea, the social worker at our home agency sent us an email. In the email she said we needed to go to our Korean social worker's office on Tuesday, January 4 at 11:00 am. Then we'd get to go to the foster family's house and meet Delaney for the first time.
We were very, very excited. The day had finally arrived!
The night before I had gone to sleep at about 7 pm because I was so jetlagged. So it wasn't a surprise that we woke up at 4 am.
We puttered around the room, waiting for day break. I was glad I had brought lots of reading material: a book and a handful of magazines. Mr. RBR fiddled with his laptop. The guest house didn't have internet. We showered. Mr. RBR headed around the corner to a Seven-Eleven for some yogurt while I did my hair.
We had heard there was a nice coffee shop with internet access nearby, so late morning we headed out. We were starting to get our bearings and know the neighborhood a bit. We found the coffee shop easily. It's called Tom N Toms. I was surprised to learn it's a Korean business, because it seemed very western! Along with coffee, tea and hot chocolate--normal coffeehouse fare--they also offered a variety of hot, soft pretzels. My favorite was a soft pretzel twist stuffed with baked apple filling. It was delish! They'd roll and make them right in front of you. It was a neat place.
Tom N Toms became our morning ritual. From there I wrote on this blog, emailed, posted stuff on facebook.
We killed some time until it was time to find our social worker's office. The office was just two doors down from the guest house. We stopped back at the guest house to pick up the gifts we brought and went to find the office. We had to ride a very narrow elevator, and were invited to wait in a room until the social worker arrived. I had made some baked goods before we left for the staff. The room we were in had coffee and refreshments for the staff, so I took out my stash of stuff and set it out next to the coffee.
Several minutes later our social worker arrived, apologizing for being late. She said it's time to go! She snagged a driver and the four of us piled into a mini van.
Seoul is very hilly, and the streets sometimes go over each other, instead of crossing. It was kind of a crazy ride. The traffic was probably pretty typical for a big city. Busy. Fast. You have to be aggressive!
We passed the Olympic Village. I was glad we got to see it. With the weather as cold as it was, we probably wouldn't have ventured out to see it otherwise.
After about 40 minutes of driving we arrived at a tidy, tan brick apartment complex. We made it! Up the elevator a couple floors to the foster parents' home.
They met us at the door. There she was! It was so exciting. So wonderful! Little Delaney was even more beautiful in person.
Delaney's foster parents are in their 50s. They were dressed nicely. She was wearing a dark sweater and a long skirt. He was wearing brown dress pants and a striped sweater. They had little Delaney in what was probably a Christmas dress. It was navy and red plaid. Very, very cute. Although it was warm in the apartment, they had her very bundled up. Delaney even had socks over her tights.
Their apartment was very nice. Slightly smallish by mid-western standards. The walls were all cream, with a lot of built-ins that were dark wood. They had a couch and a chair pushed against one wall, but in place of a rug there was a large "pad" on the floor. Later I saw one of these at the agency too. Perhaps to cushion the knees and bums of little ones? They had some Christmas decor on the wall at the end of a hallway.
Delaney's foster parents clearly adored her. They showed us the games she did, and all the things she could do. They showed us where she slept. The foster mom kept telling us how smart she is. She told me to please be patient with her because she has a "hot temper." Oh, how that made me laugh. I reassured her. I also told her we had experience: one of our sons has a hot temper too!
Foster mom invited us to sit at their dining room table. She had set out a variety of fruits and some homemade tea. Apples, pears, strawberries and persimmons (?) were peeled, cut, and setting out in white bowls. We ate with forks, which surprised me a little bit. The "tea" was cold and fruity. Almost syrupy. Foster mom said she made it herself, and it was good for colds.
We exchanged gifts. I had brought them a nice large, soft blanket (I knew it was as cold there as it is here), some leather gloves for the mister, and a dainty gold star necklace for the misses (Delaney's birthname means Gold Star). I gave them some vitamins (it's big there) and baked goods too. They had gifts for us also. Mr. RBR got a beautiful inlaid business card holder. I got a similar styled jewelry box. We also got tons and tons of Korean Ginsing tea. They also gave us a gorgeous hanbok for Delaney, the dress she wore on her 100 day party, and a photo album of pictures they took of Delaney while she was there.
It was a nice visit. We were there perhaps an hour? We took a lot of pictures, including some of the foster parents and us together. Then it was time to go. We had to leave Delaney behind, which was a little sad. But I knew we'd get her forever very soon.
40 minute drive back to the agency.
When we arrived, the social worker asked if we'd like to see the "Baby Reception Area". Would we? Of course!
In Korea, babies that are available to be adopted spend the first month or two of their lives in the Baby Reception area. They are cared for by nurses around the clock and seen by doctors daily. After they reach about 2 months old, if they haven't been adopted they are sent to live in a foster home. They are only allowed to be adopted by Koreans living in Korea until they are 5 months old. Once they reach 5 months old they may be adopted by people living elsewhere.
So of course we wanted to see the baby reception area--it was where Delaney spent her first 2 months of life! I think I almost fell over when the social worker walked us right to our building. The baby reception area was in the same building as we had been staying. I had no idea.
It was a bit like a hospital nursery. There was a big window in the hallway where we peered in at all the little babies. The little ones were lined up in bassinets, much like a hospital. There was a room beyond the little baby room, separated by glass again, for the bigger babies. In that room there were swings, bouncy seats, and all the items needed for bigger baby care.
It was very overwhelming. All those precious babes. We had a nice conversation with the social worker about changing attitudes in domestic adoption (Koreans adopting the Korean babies). But sadly, most Koreans want to adopt girls, and all the babies we saw in the nursery that day were boys.
Be still my heart. There were probably 15 precious, perfect baby boys there. All waiting for their families.
It was time to part ways. The social worker said we would get Delaney on Friday, then she left.
We headed back to our room to decompress. It had already been such an eventful day.
After a rest, we had heard there was a big mall called Co-Ex. We decided to check it out. On to the subway for my first subway ride!
All the signage in the subway is labeled in Hangul, Chinese and, thankfully, English, so it wasn't too hard to figure out where to go. The tickets are dispensed by machines. It was easy!
Over to the Co-Ex mall. I don't know what I was expecting, but it was just like any mall you'd see over here. Pretty much the same styles of clothes. Stores just like you'd see here. We walked around a bit, then decided it was time to find something to eat for dinner. We wanted something "authentic" but it didn't exist. So where did we eat in the middle of Seoul? Bennigans. Yep, Bennigans. I had a risotto dish, and I do have to say it was delicious. Just not what I was expecting to eat in Korea!
Again, by dinner time I was getting sooooo sleepy. Time to head back to our room. Again I was probably to sleep before 8 pm.