Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Timeline and Paperwork Process From Here

I forgot to say that he's coming home to us, probably, this fall: October or November! They estimate 3-4 months, probably closer to 4.

I also forgot to see that from Friday, July 17, to Thursday, July 23, we didn't have a photo! We were absolutely dying, and six days couldn't pass soon enough! Thank goodness we were at the beach on vacation, so we were pleasantly distracted for those six days (kayaking, biking, beaching, hopping waves, making sandcastles, reading books, etc.). We drove from Bethany to Baltimore and back on Thursday, to meet with Margie and to pick up Matthew's file and of course, see his ADORABLE photo! It was a great day. The only day it rained our entire beach week (perfect!). We found a great organic soup restaurant--mmmmm....fresh, homemade soups and vegetarian sandwiches, operated out of a converted Baltimore row house near our adoption agency. It was absolutely charming. Cold rooibos tea and a wonderful mozzarella caprese sandwich on the freshest bread EVER! Jeff had a white bean soup that was too garlicky for his taste, but it sure looked good to me. And we found a great organic market right next door (we had some time to kill before meeting with Margie). ANYWAY, I digress!

I dropped Matthew's photos and medical paperwork off at our new pediatrician's office on Monday afternoon: a Dr. Elaine Lee in Olney. She and her partner, Dr. David Miller, came highly recommended to us. I hope we like them! The front office staff was great, which sometimes is the most important thing, as they are the only "gateway" to the doc! They were so friendly, and they were passing around Matthew's photos, oohing and aahing and saying how cute he was. They have been very accommodating, as Dr. Lee will be away on vacation starting next week but we really need her to do this review by week's end, so we're meeting with her tomorrow morning at 9:00. They managed to squeeze us in. I don't expect her to have any concerns, but our caseworker said it's a good idea to just meet with her regardless, to get a sense of her and to interact with her, b/c establishing a good relationship with your pediatrician early on is so important.

We've also started the process of getting re-fingerprinted with Customs and Immigration Service (CIS). We had to send an email to some DHS office, and supposedly they will snail-mail us an authorization letter that will allow us to appear at the CIS office (it's in Wheaton, MD, near Glenmont metro, for those of you in the DC/BALT area). You get a one-time free re-fingerprinting, so thank goodness no exorbitant fee this time! (The first time was quite exorbitant just so they could roll your finger pads on a computer screen!) Of course, we still have to endure the long line, but that's OK. We can live with that.

And of course there is yet another mound of paperwork that I'm not even complaining about, as completing it brings us ever closer to Matthew. How's that for motivation? LOL!

I am taking 3 months' maternity leave, and Jeff is taking 1 month. Then, when I go back to work, Jeff will be on paid sabbatical for the spring 2010 semester! He does have to do work, but he doesn't have to teach, which is huge, and he's not expected to be physically there. So, Matthew will be doing part-time Daddy Day Care, part-time regular day care from Jan to June 2010. Then from July on, he'll be in full-time daycare (or nanny care; not sure yet). I'm following some nanny leads but I'm not sure we can afford a nanny, and I may be way too early to pursue nanny leads at this point. Even the day care centers are telling me to call them closer to the date. I'm telling them July 2010 and they're looking at me like I have six heads. I guess there is such a thing as being OVERprepared!

They say that we can send Matthew small gifts, starting now! So I'm going to find him a little stuffed lovey or something, and a blanket, and I'm also going to make him up a little scrapbook with everyone's photos, so his foster mom can show him our pictures and familiarize him with his new and forever family! Then when he comes to us in the fall, they supposedly send those things back with him! We can also write letters to his original foster family in Busan as well as his birthparents, so I'll be doing that as well in the coming weeks. I am so thankful for his birthmother! Her presence in the world enabled us to have our son! She is constantly in my thoughts these days. I have so much respect for her and the incredibly selfless thing that she and the birthfather did in making an adoption plan for Matthew. I think birth parents get a bad rap, overall. It's an incredibly responsible, mature decision to come to, and probably one that they did not come to lightly.

That's all for now. I have to get back to work. These are the most details I've provided thus far, as this venue just feels more "right" for all the intricate details (versus mucking up my email messages with too much info). So some of what I've been saying is repetitive, and you may already know it, but this is by far the most detailed account of our life since July 17, 2009! What a ride it's been!

I am so, so happy!

Matthew Seong-jin Halverson

Hello, everyone! We have the greatest news: On Friday, July 17, 2009, at 5:45 p.m., we were matched with a baby boy from Korea! It was the day before we were leaving for Bethany Beach for a week, so we were able to tell my entire family in person (which wouldn't have been likely, b/c we are usually four hours away from any of them)! We called Jeff's parents immediately that evening, popped a bottle of champagne, and then (somehow) managed to resume our packing! Here's how it happened:

I got home from work at 5:30ish that Friday. My cell phone started ringing, and I saw it was from Margie, our caseworker. I picked it up, and she said, "Kathleen, are you and Jeff both there at home?" Of course, I knew immediately why she was calling! I said "Yes." She went on to explain that she had just called our home number but no one answered, which was weird b/c we were both there! Anyway, she said, "Hang tight. I'm going to call you back on the land line. Both of you pick up, OK?" So I hung up and my heart was frantically beating, and I could barely contain my excitement.

The home phone rang, and we both picked up a receiver. Margie gave us the best news we've probably heard in three years: They had a referral for us...a little boy named Seong-jin, which means "bright and true." He was born 3/2/09 and weighed 7 pounds, 11ounces. He is perfectly healthy, with round chubby cheeks and spikey black hair and gorgeous dark eyes! We got two photos (both of them taken when he was 12 days old): One head shot of him sleeping peacefully, a truly angelic look on his face. This photo speaks of peace, and it's my favorite of the two (even though his eyes are closed). The second photo is a full body shot, with him dressed in (literally) about 10 layers of clothing, so he looks like a bouncy little bowling ball. Margie said he has that "look" that says "10 layers" to her. Apparently, Korean parents like to keep their kids really, really, REALLY bundled up, convinced that they are always cold. Or at least, that's my guess. I can't post the photos here, as we signed an agreement saying we wouldn't post the photos to public or quasi-public sites such as Facebook, blogs, MySpace, YouTube, etc. If you'd like to see him, I can e-mail you his photo, no problem (that was cleared by our caseworker), so just let me know offline via e-mail and I'd be happy to show off our son!

We will rename him Matthew Seong-jin Halverson. Originally we were going to use the middle name of Christopher (in honor of the son we lost to stillbirth in 2006), but we do think it's important to preserve some of his Korean heritage by using his Korean name as his middle name. I think Christopher would understand, and he knows that he is remembered always in our hearts! The guilt factor kicked in for a few days, but in talking it out with Jeff, I saw that this decision was the right one to make. It doesn't mean we love Christopher any less, or Matthew any more. And his name would have been too long had we included Christopher after Seong-jin, which we were originally going to do.

Matthew Seong-jin is from the city of Busan, in southeastern Korea; Busan is a very urban, bustling port city of 3.66 million people. It's a very tropical area of Korea; Jeff said the climate probably has a Florida kind of feel. It reminds me of Hawaii or coastal Maine (two of my favorite places!), in that the base of the mountains jut right up against the shoreline--which is one of my absolute favorite geographical features ever! Best of both worlds! So you can go hiking high in the mountains and then chill out on the beach or hang out at the pier, all in the same day! And they say that people from Busan speak in a different type of Korean dialect that the Koreans from Seoul (which is northwest of Busan) have trouble understanding the folks from Busan sometimes. Busan is supposedly a more industrial, blue-collar city (maybe comparable to Baltimore or Pittsburgh, I'd guess?), whereas Seoul is more white-collar corporate (think Washingon, DC, or NYC). At least, this is my supposition based on the reading I've been doing. ANYWAY...

I'm not sure if people know where our choice of the name Matthew came from. It's kind of a cool story, admittedly a little "out there" for folks who are firmly grounded on Planet Earth (which often I am not!).

I could earn brownie points with my mom and tell you that it is in honor of St. Matthew from the Bible, but I'd be lying. Truth is, I wrote a poem (most of you know I'm a closet poet/journal writer and have been keeping a journal of random writings and tons of poems since I was about 12), years and years ago, before Jeff and I were even sure we wanted kids at all. It was called "I AM AT THE WINDOW." Look Letters 3 through 9; they spell "MATTHEW." Pretty cool, huh?!? And the poem was essentially about the fact that I felt his presence, our child, waiting at the window of our lives, and I knew he'd be coming to us someday. It was the beginning of my yearning to be a mom, and I haven't stopped since.

So now, all of a sudden, my friends are asking for invite lists for showers, and my family is planning a Welcome Home Matthew party for sometime in the Dec/Jan/Feb timeframe (depending on a lot of things--his/our adjustment, readiness for travel to PA, his personality, etc.). And all of a sudden, happiness just fills my heart with the most intense, shining light that I think my soul has ever felt. There is a sense of optimism, of true, unfettered hope, and a sense of gratefulness for the blessing that has come to our life in the form of our son.

I'll blog separately about the various "next steps" in terms of paperwork. This posting is getting entirely too long.

If I find the poem, I'll consider posting it, although I'm usually very private about sharing my poetry with others.

Thanks for listening, thanks for checking back on this blog time and time again, and thanks for giving me the feeling that people really are reading my blog postings and really do care about our whole adoption journey. This is Posting #75, a nice memorable number whose significance I'll determine somehow (I'm pretty superstitious about numbers).

I keep listening to Sarah MacLachlan's song "Ordinary Miracle" and thinking how right that feels.

"It's not that unusual, when everything is beautiful, it's just another ordinary
The sky knows when it's time to snow, don't need to teach a seed to grow, it's just another ordinary miracle today.
Life is like a gift they say, wrapped up for you everyday. Open up and find a way to give some of your own.
Isn't it remarkable? Like every time a raindrop falls? It's just another ordinary miracle today.
Birds are meant to have their fling, they always make it all while spring, it's just another ordinary miracle today.
When you wake up every day, please don't throw yoru dreams away.
Hold them close to your heart. Because we are all a part
of the ordinary miracle...
Do you want to see a miracle?
It seems so exeptional that things just work out after all; it's just another ordinary miracle today.
The sun comes up and shines so bright, and disappears again at night.
It's just another ordinary miracle today."

I am so humbled by our son Matthew and the incredible blessing and gift that his remarkable, selfless birthparents gave to us in giving him life. May he always be protected and guided throughout his life, and may we be protected and guided as we navigate this incredible journey called parenthood.

I feel so blessed, my friends. So very, very, very blessed. Putting the magnitude of this feeling into words is simply impossible for me to do.

People keep telling Jeff and I how lucky Matthew is and how selfless we are. On the contrary, we feel like WE are the lucky ones. WE are the blessed ones. Matthew Seong-jin is a gift and a miracle, plain and simple. And we already love him beyond any description that warrants words. May God and the universe protect him and guide him to us safely in the coming months.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

No News Yet (But Getting Close!)

Hello, everyone. Wow, the last time I wrote was June 12. Sorry for the long gap. But no worries: Not much has happened, really. The biggest news to date is the fact that our dear friends Margaret and Tal got their referral a few weeks ago and are ready to welcome adorable little Michael to their family. Margaret tells me that they will be traveling to Korea sometime in the fall. They were supposed to make their big announcement at the parent support group meeting Tuesday night (and I was anxious to do a check-in, to see who, if anyone, might still be ahead of us), but it got cancelled b/c Catholic Charities was without power and phone, so they had to vacate. Oh, well. Next month!

Backing up: Margaret and Tal are close friends from our parent support group--and the only other couple in our playgroup who doesn't yet have their kids! So we tend to hang out with them a lot at playgroup, as neither couple has a kid to run after yet! They were the couple who we were kind of using as our "marker" or "landmark" or "milestone" (whatever you want to call it), because their paperwork was officially in Korea in March, just 3 months before ours was (our magic month is June). So, only a 3-month difference. I kept telling myself, all this time, "When Margaret and Tal get their referral, I know we'll be close...maybe even at the top of the list!" So their good news is OUR good news, too!

We are fairly certain that we are indeed "next," so keep those prayers and positive thoughts coming! We absolutely cannot wait to be matched with our little one and begin our life together. I think it's going to become so much more real once we get that referral and we have a photo to constantly look at (parents tell me that once you get that photo in your hand, you are looking at it a gazillion times a day and dreaming of the day when he will be in your arms) and background information on him. Right now, he's kind of "conceptual"--we know he's out there but we have no idea what he looks like, what region he comes from, etc. And I'm a visual person; I like to visualize, to have a person's face in my head. So I think, for me at least, our journey will become SO much more real once we learn who he is, what he looks like, his Korean name, etc. Then we can really start letting loose and not holding back our excitement. I do think that there is a level of "holding back" that is happening because we are afraid we'll jinx the journey, ya know?

My friend Debbie is getting ready to soon travel to Russia yet again (she already did the first trip and met her son Lucas at the orphanage), this time to stay for a longer time and to BRING HIM HOME! Not sure when it's going to happen but it's definitely going to be soon. She and I are taking an infant/adult CPR course this weekend at Holy Cross Hospital. It's a double-benefit for me, because with my yoga teaching, I really SHOULD be certified in CPR and can't believe I've waited this long to do it.

What else? Nothing really, that I can think of. Life is plodding along, ever busy, ever filled with activity. We were in NJ for the Fourth, visiting my brother. He lives in a lake community, so we watched fireworks on the lake shore there; it was the quinessential "small-town celebration" and was wonderful: Brought back good memories of growing up in my own small town in PA and going to the fireworks show at good ole Dunmore High (my alma mater).

We are heading to the beach next weekend, for a week, with my entire family (parents, siblings, spouses, and kids). We are staying in South Bethany (DE), in a large house that is literally spitting distance from the beach. We walk about 200 feet to the walkway that takes you to the beach! I can't wait to just chill out and spend some good quality time with my nieces Jessica, Anna, and Ava. Jessica is so excited; she keeps on saying "Aunt Kath, we're gonna be together for a WHOLE WEEK!" She's my little pal. We've started writing letters to each other back and forth via snail mail, so she can practice reading and writing her letters. She just loves getting letters that are addressed only to's the cutest thing.

So, that's the latest update. Continue to check back on my blog regularly, because I really DO think this match is going to happen within the next two months or so!

Love and light to all...