o, we are adopting from South Korea. Lots of people have heard of Korean adoptees and Korean adoption, even older generations remember when babies were brought from Korea during and immediately after the Korean Conflict. Initially, babies considered "mixed race" were available for adoption; these were babies predominately fathered by US soldiers stationed in Korea and born to Korean women who were unwed. There were so many babies and children that orphanages began filling up and overcrowding, and western groups formed in an effort to give these babies a chance at a family. 

Adoption from South Korea to the US began in 1955 when Harry Holt, from Eugene, Oregon, adopted eight war orphans from Korea. His work and mission has been followed by Holt International Children's Services. The first Korean babies sent to Europe went to Sweden via the Social Welfare Society in the mid 1960s. For the next decade, most of the children adopted from Korea were fathered by American soldiers who served in the Korean war. But Amerasians, or "mixed race" babies and children, presently account for fewer than 1% of adoptees. (Rothschild, The Progressive, 1988).

Today, four agencies exist in Korea to provide adoptive services. Holt is the largest, then there is Eastern, SWS (Social Welfare Society) and KSS (Korea Social Services). Each of these agencies partner with specific US agencies to provide services to potential adoptive parents here in the US. Our agency in the US is Catholic Charities of Baltimore, which partners with Holt. 

Babies are placed in the care of foster families while they await placement with their forever family. I can't speak for other agencies, but Holt in Korea also has a small place called the "Reception Center", which can house 10 babies, and some babies stay there for a few days until a foster family is found, and some stay there permanently with one-on-one caregivers until placement. 

I tend to post so much about what we are doing now and our process, I thought it might be cool to post about how all of this got started and a little background. Not too bad for my first Teach Me Something Tuesday I guess!
Waiting... 07/26/2010
I'm waiting
I'm waiting on You, Lord
And I am hopeful
I'm waiting on You, Lord
Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait
I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience
While I'm waiting
I will serve You
While I'm waiting
I will worship
While I'm waiting
I will not faint
I'll be running the race
Even while I wait
I'm waiting
I'm waiting on You, Lord
And I am peaceful
I'm waiting on You, Lord
Though it's not easy
But faithfully, I will wait
Yes, I will wait
I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting
I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting
I will serve you while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting on You, Lord

These words might look familiar....it's one of the songs that is getting me through this wait. Today is Monday. Mondays are the best days for those of us waiting. It brings the promise of a new week, a full five days with the potential for good news. A full five days for progress, for something to happen. So far, this particular Monday has not brought any news. But there is still a couple of hours left. And four more days...in the meantime? Yep...worship and serve. And, true, it is not easy, and it is painful, however I am peaceful that good news will come in time.

Hi everyone!!  Thanks for being such loyal "followers" of our website. We will be starting a new website for our family once we get our "travel call" to go pick up Emma. The new site is much easier to make posts to and easier to maintain, which will be nice while we are in Korea and definitely nice when we come home and  have much less time to maintain a website!! Until the Travel Call comes, I will continue to make basically identical posts on both this site and the new site, so that you all have time to link up to the new site.

Email us at thenevarezfamily@gmail.com or email Emily at emily.nevarez@gmail.com for the new site address.

Now we return to our previously scheduled programming....Say it with me Saturday!!

I'm officially making Saturdays "Say it with me Saturday" with new Korean vocabulary. So here goes our first one!!

"Mommy" in Korean is 엄마

It is pronounced "oh-ma" and is used mostly by children referring to their Mom. Adults usually use a more formal form of the word to refer to their mothers.

"Daddy" in Korean is 아빠

It is pronounced "ah-pah" and again, is usually used by children for their Dad. There is also a more formal form for adult children speaking to their father.
"Daughter" in Korean is 딸

It is pronounced "tal" with much emphasis on the "t" sound

"I love you" in Korean is 사랑해요

It is pronounced "Sa-rang-hae-yo"

Yay!! Simple words, but they are soooo important to us right now!

Yesterday was our four-month mark of waiting for our travel call. It will easily be another month it seems, based upon our progress, or lack thereof. The only things that need to happen now are EP approval and Emma will need a physical exam to clear her for travel. She will also need to appear in person at the US Embassy in Seoul to have her picture taken. The physical and the Embassy appearance are easy in comparison to EP. We have no idea if she has been submitted for EP approval. We are praying that she has, since EP approval takes about 6 weeks from submission to approval, then families expect to travel 2 to 4 weeks after approval. We hope to be notified of her approval, so that we can prepare to travel, but we realize we may not even be notified of that. There is a telephone number to call Washington DC and we can give them her case number to find out if she has appeared at the Embassy and if she has had her visa issued. As of yesterday she had neither, which we fully expected since we don't think we have EP yet.

So, we are praying to travel this time next month or by the end of next month. Please pray for us, as the wait is becoming more difficult as we approach the time we thought we might travel. We are officially into the "estimated timeframe" for waiting for our travel call, which is 4-6 months after referral. We appreciate prayers for our little girl, that her tiny heart might begin to be prepared for the difficult and confusing transition that will occur in her world. Prayers for her foster family as they prepare to let her go, and let her become a part of her forever family. I am so grateful for these people who love her so very much and who have made sure that she was safe, happy, healthy and loved the past 8 months. I can never, ever begin to repay them for this gift.

Once we receive our travel call, I will begin a new website for our family. I will post a link to it on the homepage of this website, and also in a blog posting. I feel that once we travel and she comes home, it will be a new chapter in our lives together, and deserves a new website with blog. It will be more streamlined and easier to maintain, as I don't expect to have nearly the free time that I do now!! We will still have picture posting capability, and links. I will likely document our travel to Korea on the new website, but that remains to be seen as to which will be easier to access on the internet from Korea. I will keep you all posted as to which site to follow, and there will be links available to the new website from here.

Thank you all for your prayers for our family, our daughter, and her foster family. We are anxious and excited to meet her for the first time, and we know that she will be home in God's perfect timing.

Adoption is forever. It is a choice that a family makes intentionally, and can never be an accident. Adoption can be a first choice when starting a family, it doesn't have to be seen as a second choice or a last resort. It doesn't have to be seen as something that people do when they can't get pregnant. It can and should be seen as simply a way of building a family. Building a family through love and acceptance, patience and growth. Adoption is a miracle in and of itself, and speaks volumes about the deep love that parents, both birth and adoptive, feel for their children.  Adoption does not come with a guarantee of any kind. There is a feeling among some that it is a "satisfaction guaranteed" type of process, as if you get to hand pick a child that is somehow better than the others or somehow more perfect. There is apparently a feeling among some that adoptive parents have the right to return a child who they feel is not perfect or better than the others. As if they can return a pet that they bought and no longer play with, in an attempt to find another that is more suited to their family. 

What is more incredible is that no one ever seems to sensationalize the fact that biological children have adjustment issues, behavioral issues, and severe physical issues that present challenges to their biological parents. I get asked frequently, "do you worry she will have, you know, problems because she is adopted??" My answer is and always will be NO. No, I don't worry she will have problems because she is adopted. I worry that she will have problems because she is a human. She is a child. She will be a teenager. She will be an adult one day. These are the reasons I worry she will have problems. Not the sheer fact that she was adopted. Yes, adoption brings a special set of qualities into the relationship between parent and child, but it is not a recipe for problems down the road. My next favorite question is "will you tell her she is adopted??" Even if I considered NOT telling her....is there a chance that she wouldn't notice that she is of a different race? I will always be proud of how Emma came into our lives and she will know from day one in our home that she came to us by the miracle of adoption. 

Last but not least, in my emotional rant that has been building in my heart for quite some time. Emma Grace is our child. One more time....with emphasis. Emma Grace is OUR OWN child. I hope that people mean well when they ask...."are you ever going to have children of your own". Please read carefully....there is no way on this earth that either my husband or I could have fought any harder or struggled and invested any more of ourselves into this process. We have given every bit of love and strength and patience, cried many tears and fought many battles to bring this baby girl into our lives. If that is not "our own" then it simply doesn't exist. 

Thirteen years ago today I lost one of the most beautiful, strongest, and kindest women I would ever know. The woman who my daughter would be named after. The woman whose place at the dinner table on holidays can never, ever be filled, and whose voice and laughter echoes in my heart every day. I wish that she could have known my daughter, although I know that she does know her from Heaven. I wish that she could have held her, loved on her, and kissed her chubby cheeks. I pray that my daughter grows up to know what an incredible lady she was named after, and I pray that I can be half of the mother that my grandmother Emma was for my Mom, and that my Mom is for me. Emma Louise would have been 101 this December, and what I would give to have her here when Emma Grace comes home. 

In Memory of Emma Louise Wales Richardson 

I saw our daughter's face for the first time. I can't believe it has been three months already since referral. We are looking at another month's wait at least, if not two, but we've already got three months behind us so we can handle one or two more. That's what I keep telling myself anyway! I feel so incredibly blessed today to have a beautiful daughter waiting for me...

Well, we are moving forward. I think. Maybe. It is already June 10th....in 5 days we will be at the 3 months mark of waiting to bring Emma home, which I pray is MORE than halfway there. Our most current progress report? Our I600 application, which is basically an application on Emma's behalf for a visa for her to come and live here with, is in the hands of a (very nice) immigration officer at USCIS in Missouri. I can actually call and speak to this officer with minimal holding/waiting on the phone, and find out if we are approved yet or not. As of today we are not. A few people have asked me what has to happen to get her home this month. WELL she has to have I600 approval AND EP approval....tomorrow. Otherwise we will most definitely NOT be traveling this month. I600 approval tomorrow is possible, but EP approval is pretty much not possible. A new "batch" of EPs was approved today, from a group submitted on April 15th. We are obviously not in that group, since we weren't informed of an approval today, and there won't be another batch approved for a couple of weeks likely. Not to be a Debbie Downer, but just being realistic that we likely won't travel until July at the earliest. The only One who can get us to South Korea in June is God...and if it is in His will then we will be there this month.

In other news, we received a Well Baby Check for Little Miss Princess two days ago!!!! She is stabilizing weight-wise, at 19 pounds, and is starting to grow length-wise! Her paperwork said she was creeping, but not crawling yet. :) It is soooo hard for me not to buy her gorgeous girlie clothes every chance I get, and I do buy some "all season" outfits in bigger sizes, but I want to buy something for her to wear NOW!!! I just don't know what size she will be when we finally get her in our arms! Until then, I sometimes find myself daydreaming about what it will feel like to be on that plane to Seoul again, only this time knowing that she will be coming home with us.  Whether it is June, July, or August (hope not) or even September (gasp) I know that she WILL come home. Eventually. :)

Today is Emma's 7 month birthday!! I hope her Foster Mama is loving on her a little extra today....and I hope that there aren't many more birthdays in between today and us getting her in our arms! 

We FINALLY received her birth certificate and other necessary legal documents that are required to apply for her visa. We overnighted the documents, our own legal docs (birth certificates, marriage certificate) and the application form to USCIS (immigration office) and they received it this past Monday morning. We will be notified when they begin processing, and we will be notified when she is approved for the visa. The approval will be sent to Washington DC and then on to Korea, which will signal that everything is complete here stateside to bring her home....then we wait on Korea. We are wishing to travel in June, praying to travel in July, and halfway expecting to travel in August. We shall see....it all truly depends on how quickly Korea finishes things up. 

In other, less complicated news, we had our baby shower this past Saturday!!! I decided that I wanted a "non-traditional" shower, more like a barbecue for both guys and girls, with our closest family and friends. I really wanted Javier to be involved and be comfortable being there, and also for it to be a collection of the people who had supported us every step of the way with this journey. We had an AMAZINGLY fun time...and check out the pics on our photo page!! I have spent the last 2 days washing baby blankets/sheets/bibs/etc and now I am putting all of the "finishing touches" on her room. I can't wait to bring our baby girl home...

It's funny how certain things, things that don't seem "big and important" in the grand scheme of things, things that are everyday and ordinary, can be the very things that make you realize how BIG something really is. I have spent the last 5 weeks telling everyone we know about our little girl, about our referral and everything we know about her. We can finally buy clothes with a little face in mind, instead of just the concept of a child. We can pick out our registry, have a baby shower, and decide on exactly which announcements are "perfect enough" to announce the homecoming of our precious Emma (whenever the homecoming is going to be...). Her pictures, the only ones we have so far, are all over the house. They are in our bathroom in pink frames, in the office, the kitchen, the living room and the nursery. I even keep a set in my work bag JUST IN CASE someone only saw them 407 times and want to see them again. A parenting magazine took the place of People and Vogue as my late-night "indulgent" reading. I already drive slower and more carefully and I feel a strange feeling in my heart and stomach when I hear a child cry out "Mommy" in the middle of a store. On a difficult day I can be brought to tears by hearing that one word come out of a child's mouth. Of all these things, all the changes taking place, one thing stands out as the moment that it all became real. 

"Do you have any children?" I can't count anymore how many times I have been asked this by patients that I treat as a nurse. In the early morning hours in the ER that I work in, I was making conversation with a patient while giving some medication. And this time, without hesitation, I answered the question I have answered millions of times before, but this time I said "I have a daughter". In that moment, as difficult as it is to explain, my entire life changed and I realized that I do have a daughter, who is halfway around the world right now but holds every piece of my heart in her tiny hands. I have a daughter who God created just for me, just for us, and as hard as this process has been I would do it all over again and again for her because she is my daughter. The minute I saw her face on our computer screen, the pain and anxiety of the wait for our referral was simply gone. As if we had only waited a day, an hour, or not at all. My "labor pains" had been forgotten, and I cling to the faith and hope that the pain of waiting to bring her home will be forgotten the minute she is placed in my arms. What a day that will be....

For now I have to be patient and wait...everyone says we are "in the home stretch" and "only a little while longer" and I know this is all true. I imagine her doing all of the things we were told in her medical report that she is able to do now. I try to picture her smiling and laughing, patting her chubby hands together, and rolling over trying to crawl. If I wanted to, I could be angry that she is doing all of these things for the first time without me there. That she is doing them with another family watching. Instead, I choose to be so thankful that she is doing them with another family watching, instead of not doing them, or instead of doing them alone, in a crib, with no one to hold her or comfort her. I choose to thank God daily for the amazing foster mother who is helping my little girl learn to love, so that she will one day learn to love us. Until she comes home, I know she is being cared for and loved, and I will be that much happier when it is finally my turn to be there for her.