Thursday, May 27, 2010

New Normal

I'd like to introduce you to my son. His name is Ryan Kaon, and he is from South Korea. He doesn't resemble me much ... but I think in the long run he'll be quite happy about that. He's the best person I've ever met.

Let's see ... how to condense the events of the past 7 months into a paragraph or two. The trip to Korea was great - and our time there was enjoyed immensely. Seoul is a beautiful city, and is huge. We covered quite a bit of ground in the two days we had to ourselves prior to meeting our son ... and we can't wait to go back.

We met our little Kaon (pronounced Ka-Own) on the third day of our trip. Our case worker joined us for a cab ride through the mess that is Seoul traffic to the foster family's home (one of the ubiquitous high-rise apartments that outline Seoul). How incredibly surreal to be halfway around the world, in the most foreign of places, jet lagged, and on our way to meet a little boy who would become a permanent fixture in our lives from that moment forward. Weird! The door opened, and there was this little boy with a fistful of his foster mother's shirt, clutching to her for dear life ... he looked at us and seemed to instantly recognize that something about us was different. Tensions were high all around - we were quickly ushered into the cramped little apartment (after removing our shoes, of course) - we sat on the floor and were handed glasses of orange juice. Little Ryan stared at us with a very concerned look the whole time these brief preparations were made.

Then, they set him down, and eventually he crawled over to each of my wife and I while our case worker translated his daily habits from Korean to English. Everyone's tensions subsided, and Ryan began to smile, laugh and cautiously approach my wife and I for ~5 second visits before returning to the safety of his foster mother. Eventually my wife got to pick him up and hold him for a good long time. The most touching part of this experience was the obvious love and care his foster mother (and foster brother ) had for him - this was completely unexpected - but it completely blew me away. Our little boy has been in the best of hands since the day he was born ... as I've said in other forums since we got home, he is so fortunately unlucky.

We left the apartment after about an hour, forever changed. Our "gotcha" day was two days later. A quick signature on a form was followed by a worried little baby being passed into my wife's arms. We were quickly rushed to the elevator by our case worker ... the elevator doors opened ... Ryan's crying, babbling foster family gave him one last hug and kiss, his foster brother kissed him on the foot (transforming my wife into a sobbing mess) - we got in the elevator and the doors closed on the image of his foster family saying good-bye. It was exactly that fast, and that blurry. Polarized emotions and extremely bittersweet all around.

The elevator arrived at the ground floor and we exited as a family. Unsure of what to do next. Unsure of how we felt. Just like any family that leaves the hospital for the first time with their newborn infant.

So, all in all it was an overwhelmingly emotional experience, but in the most positive of ways. We are so fortunate to have had the opportunity to have that experience and to enjoy all of the experiences we have before us.

We've been home nearly two months. The flight home was horrific - Ryan screamed for ~12 of the 14 hours we were en route! Borderline traumatic at the time, but sort of funny now. We all got sick as soon as we got home ... which sucked worse than I can even describe ... a rough start indeed. But, after recovering we found ourselves in the most sweet of situations - we were at home, with our son, as a family.

Ryan has become more comfortable every day. He smiles, babbles, is close to walking, and seems to be very content. We are really lucky in how well he has handled the transition ... he sleeps through the night, and eats everything we give him. Our new normal is coming into increasing clarity every day, and we really like the view.

It's crazy that we're already through the entire process. It seems like just yesterday that we met with the adoption agency for the first time ... totally unsure of if / when we would actually pursue adoption. Now it's all behind us and we're able to confidently say we made the right decision. As you can see in the pictures, he is such a happy little boy ... we'll do our best to help him over the inevitable rough spots associated with adoption, and to provide him a solid, unshakable foundation that he has not yet come to know in his short life. And we'll enjoy the ride from beginning to end.

Thanks for reading.