Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Postcards From Korea: Translated

So, my father-in-law did a cool thing. Here's the story.

Matthew's foster mom sent him to us with an awesome photo album containing pictures of him from the time he was born up until the day he left Holt (our agency) to travel to us. The very last page contains four photo-postcards, each one handwritten by a member of Matthew's foster family (the mom, the dad, and each of the two brothers). They were written in Korean (Hangeul), so I had no idea what they said, but clearly, they were good-bye messages. I cried when I saw them (even though I didn't know what they said, exactly).

My father-in-law, Ray, asked me if he could bring a photocopy of the four postcards to his barber. She happens to be Korean, and he's kept her in the loop over the months. We agreed that this would be a great idea (we wanted to do it anyway; Lord knows when we would have gotten to it ourselves!), and he took the photocopies to her to get translated.

All I have to say is, Oh my God.

Ray called on a Tuesday night and asked me if I was sitting down. I said yes. He said, "Open your e-mail. I sent you an attachment with the translation of each family member's sentiments."

I won't tell you exactly what they said; that is Matthew's information to share as he wishes when he grows old enough. But I will tell you that the messages were the most loving, warm messages...they seem like the nicest family, and I hope that we will someday meet them and arrange a reunion between Matthew and them. The messages were things like "Grow up good in America." "Go to school." "Be a good boy." "We love you." "Maybe you can come visit us someday."

I cried for four hours that night.

It gave me a renewed perspective on things...from the foster mother's viewpoint. It must have been so hard to say good-bye to him after taking care of him for six months! She and her family truly loved him like a son. He wasn't just a "charge" to her...he was hers for 6 months. It really helped me understand the deep level of grieving that he went through in those first few weeks. And why.

We plan to take several trips to Korea during Matthew's growing-up years. There are entire companies that run trips known as "homeland tours" specifically for adopted kids and their parents...they help you look up birthparents, foster families, any orphanages the child may have lived in (although this is moot in Korea, as all children are in one-on-one foster care), etc. All the friends who have taken homeland tours with their children have absolutely raved about their trips...the emotional intensity, the powerful feelings elicited in all parties, the sense of closure for many adoptees, and of course the sheer fun of the trip (bonding with other adoptive families). And the amazingly beautiful country that Korea is.

And yes, we plan on staying in touch with, and eventually meeting, this wonderful foster family of his, particularly his foster mom. I am in the process of writing my first letter to her. I keep starting it and restarting it, wondering how on earth to put into words the incredible feelings of gratefulness and joy that live inside of me as I reflect on the enormity of what she did for our little boy.

What a reunion that will be.


Dan said...

Wow, what amazing gifts! I hope we're as fortunate when we meet Zachary's foster family.

Mama C said...

Thank you for sharing this. Once again total goosebumps over here. I love how you decided to not share the specifics because that will be his choice one day.
(I have the letter S's birth mom handed me in the airplane and it makes me cry at the first sentence.)
Sending you gratitude for your story, and warmth,

棗子 said...