In the third of our series, we present the edited diary of Mary Ella who is in Korea with her husband Wayne, only hours away from meeting their long-awaited daughter, Hee Young (Leelee)—at least that’s what they think…
Day No. 5, June 28
We didn’t really know what was going to happen today.
Our social worker, Mrs Kang asked us to come to her office at 9:30 am. We admitted to each other that we were both extremely nervous. In the elevator, we discussed the possibility of seeing our baby that day. When we arrived, Mrs Kang put us in a waiting room with toys. About ten long minutes later she came in and said she was ready. We must have looked confused because she explained that we were going to the foster mother’s house.
The drive there was full of nervous chitchat. Mrs Kang is around 30 years old, a beautiful woman with an open and kind face. She is the one who wrote the reports we have received on our Hee Young. She places around one child per week. I can’t imagine the difficulty of her job and, yet, the pleasure too.
On the journey we expressed our concern for the foster mother, Mrs Ra. Mrs Kang merely nodded and told us that the foster mother had been worried that Hee Young might make strange, and we would have to hold back a bit.
We also spoke a bit about Canada and the places she has been. When I mentioned that I grew up in the US, she politely said that she knew that I had. I was embarrassed as I remembered that she knows every detail of our lives. Of course, she had read our homestudy. How strange a feeling that is—we know nothing of her.
We turned off the main road and drove into a very nice residential area with many playgrounds. It pleased us thinking that Hee Young had enjoyed these things. As we drove up the road, Wayne excitedly asked if that was our baby. Mr Kang confirmed and there was our little girl, wrapped in the arms of a very loving woman. We jumped out of the van and ran to see her. She was so content and happy. She gave us a good stare and we held back so as not to frighten her or offend Mrs Ra. The line between two mothers’ custody at this point was unclear. Mrs Ra turned and motioned for us to follow her. We walked several flights up to the top floor apartment of this lovely building. I wanted to reach out and grab my baby’s leg—I just needed to touch her!
Mrs Ra turned and gave us the chance to gaze upon the most beautiful sight. When she handed her to me, she smelled and felt unbelievably good in my arms. Finally, after all this time of imagining what this moment would be like, it was better than anything I had dreamed of.
I looked at Wayne to see if he was holding up any better than I was—he was just as emotional as I was. When Wayne took Hee Young, she smiled immediately and reached up to explore her Daddy’s face. She was so tiny.
Mrs Ra handed us a perfectly folded linen cloth to dry our tears. Both women were so respectful of us and our emotions. This room was jammed packed with it; you could cut it with a knife.
I had expected that when her foster mom was out of her sight that it might concern Hee Young, but at this point she seemed anxious to check us out. We played and hugged. It was very reminiscent of the moment Willem came into the world. There are no words needed.
When I presented our gifts, I suddenly felt ridiculous. There was nothing in that package that could convey our feelings toward her, or the enormity of what was happening. I told her thank you in as many ways as I could.
We sat and played for a while. Mrs Kang took out a form and asked Mrs Ra some questions. She would relay bits of their conversation. Hee Young takes 160 ccs in a bottle, she doesn’t sleep much during the day, she likes to go outside, she sleeps on her back and likes her hand held. Hee Young was still exploring Wayne during this conversation. I enjoyed glimpses of my husband bonding with his daughter. I was so grateful he was there.
Then Mrs Ra took Hee Young from us. She disappeared into a room and returned holding the doll we had sent from Canada. She showed us how they had played with this doll. It was touching and sad to watch their interaction. Our hearts felt her pain. This has to be the toughest time for her. I pictured her in that apartment alone, without the little girl that had not been out of her sight for months. What would she do? What would people on the street or in the stores say when they saw her without Hee Young? Was it going to open up the wound she was trying to mend?
I cannot describe what it was like in this small room. All I can say for sure is that this child has united us for a lifetime. The love we share for her will be a lasting bond between two families who cannot communicate verbally, but know so well the pain and joy and love we share for this one little girl. We may never see each other again, but I suspect we will be in each other’s hearts forever.
Read more in the Diary of an Intercountry Mom series.