In the fourth of our series, we present the edited diary of Mary Ella, who is in Korea with her husband Wayne, only hours away from taking charge of their long-awaited daughter, Hee Young (Leelee).
Day #5, June 28, continued.
Mrs. Kang had asked us earlier when we wanted to take Hee Young, and we told her as soon as possible. Though, as much as I wanted her with us today, I felt it would be best to let her have one more night as a family with her foster parents, Mr. and Mrs. Ra.
Mrs. Kang spoke to Mrs. Ra and then asked us if 1:00pm the next day would be okay. We enthusiastically said “Yes!” I looked over and could see Mrs. Ra’s sadness. I asked Mrs. Kang if our host was okay with it. She just nodded as if to say, she’ll be okay. I wondered if that were true.
As we drove off, Mrs. Ra stood in the middle of the road waving and holding our sleeping child. We waved back until we could no longer see her. We were completely overcome with emotion and when we turned back around, we hugged each other tight. This first meeting with our baby and her incredible foster mom was so much to process. I noticed Mrs. Kang had been moved as well. We sat silently for a good part of the way home.
We spent the remainder of the day talking about our miracle child and her extraordinary abilities and beauty. We went to a fabulous bookstore and bought her as many Korean stories and folk tales as we could find written in English. We arrived home exhausted and excited for the next adventure.
Today was harder than we ever could have imagined. When we arrived early at Mrs. Kang’s office, Mrs. Ra was already there. Hee Young was dressed in a precious yellow outfit and a funny looking hat. I wanted to reach out and take our child, but I couldn’t deprive Mrs. Ra of her last few moments. Our time would come soon enough. I could see that she was savouring every instant left with her lovely little ward.
When Mrs. Kang arrived, she escorted us into a private waiting room. She said that Hee Young would be checked by a doctor to confirm that she was healthy enough to travel. Wayne and I watched from our room as they laid her on a table and took several measurements. It was the first time we had heard our baby cry. My instinct to run to her had to be squelched.
Mrs. Ra returned in about 15 minutes and we were told that she was good to go. She went over the examination paper with us, and commented how tiny Hee Young was, but was clear to point out that she was in very good health.
We were only required to sign one document. It was a typed page simply saying that we were taking our baby. Wayne filled in the blanks while I shot more photos of these three newly important women in our lives. Next Mrs. Kang showed us the passport and other documentation for Immigration. All of a sudden it seemed real--we were going to walk out of that room as a family!
As we were about to leave, Mrs. Kang gave us the translated letter that Mrs. Ra had written. Wayne and I sat and read it while Hee Young and Mrs. Ra cuddled tightly. If her grief had not been clear to us before, it was profoundly apparent in this letter. It was beautifully and sweetly written.
It began, “Dear cute Hee Young….” She talked about the first moment she held her in her arms, and the day she became a sister to two very happy little girls. She wrote about a nickname they had given her “Titanic, because you outstretch your arms with joy and smile whenever I hug you!” She wrote about how she thanked God for making her meet wonderful adoptive parents, and that she appreciated our precious choice to take care of her. She added that she hoped Hee Young would obey her adoptive parents and wished her to be the happiest person in the world. As we read this we felt her grief right down to our core.
As if we hadn’t already cried a river in that room, I then asked Mrs. Kang to offer Mrs. Ra the chance to say something to Hee Young on video. I do not know what she was saying, but I’m sure she was expressing her love and joy at having the time with this special little being. Her tears alone will tell Leelee about the loving start she was given by this family, and how integrated she has become in their lives. We did not ask for translation, there was no need.
Mrs. Ra had brought a large box in the room with her which had been sitting on the table. We were told that it was a gift that she had bought for Willem. It’s the biggest radio-controlled motorcycle he will have ever seen. It will definitely be his favourite gift from this trip, and so special that it came from our Korean family.
Finally, the time had come to say goodbye. I cannot explain the feelings I had as Mrs. Ra handed the baby over to me. A part of me wanted to jump for joy, and run out as fast as I could, and yet another wanted to hand her back and say it had all been a big mistake. I held her tight and cried so hard watching this broken woman being escorted out.
Read more in the Diary of an Intercountry Adoptive Mom series.