Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Flight Details

Going to Korea:
We are leaving Memphis International Airport on Friday, December 31 at 2:26 PM on United Airlines Flight 6231.
We will arrive in Chicago at 4:16 PM. We will have a 9 hour layover, so we'll be leaving the airport to have a little dinner in Chicago and maybe see some sights.

We will leave Chicago O'Hare International Airport on Saturday, January 1 at 1:00 AM on Asiana Airlines Flight 235.
We will arrive in Seoul, South Korea at Seoul Incheon International Airport on Sunday, January 2 at 6:00 AM (the flight is a 14 hour flight and we will be crossing the International Date Line; that is why we lose the day.)

Coming Home:
We are leaving Seoul Incheon International Airport on Friday, January 7th at 6:50 PM on Asiana Airlines Flight 236.
We will arrive in Chicago O'Hare International Airport on Friday, January 7th at 4:40 PM (this flight is 13 hours, and thanks to crossing the international date line again, we'll arrive before we left, ha!)
We'll have a little over a 4 hour layover in Chicago and will depart O'Hare at 9:03 PM on United Airlines Flight 6121 to Memphis International. We will arrive in Memphis on Friday, January 7th at 10:45PM.

We have a lot of friends and family who have asked if they can come to the airport to Welcome Zoe home.... ABSOLUTELY! I know several families have already told us they'll be there. I'm counting on some of you to take some pictures and video of us coming through those gates and being united with our boys... becoming a family of 5 at last.

I provided you with Flight Numbers so that you can track and make sure it's running on time. We'll see you when we get home.


P.S. We're planning on blogging while we're in Korea, so stay tuned. :)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas without Zoe

I never imagined we'd be spending Christmas without Zoe. We were so close, but didn't quite make it. I have had peace about how it all worked out, but I can admit: I had a really big cry last night.... it was more like a sob. Her stocking was hanging by the fireplace and Santa brought her gifts. Her Christmas dress (okay, dressES) were hanging in her closet and she has presents wrapped under the tree. The only thing missing was our girl. I would've liked to see her under the tree, opening her gifts and getting into her brother's stuff today.

I had a great day with the boys, but I was constantly thinking of our daughter. I was constantly missing her. I just want her home NOW. Knowing we're 6 days away from going to get her was no comfort today; I just need my baby home.

Sweet baby girl, it's hard to believe that in 1 week: I'll be looking at your sweet face in person and we'll be together forever. I can't wait for you to be home to join the madness that is this house sometimes. I can't wait to open your Christmas presents with you and to sit on the floor playing with you. Your brothers are excited to introduce you to M&M's and Hershey's Kisses. Your daddy spent a good 30 minutes today playing with your Little People Airplane that Santa Claus brought you... he called it "Asiana Airlines". (that is the name of the airlines we'll be flying to come to Korea to bring you home.) We missed you today, sweet Zoe, and we prayed that you had a great Christmas in Korea and that you are safe and well! We love you!
~Daddy, Mommy, Robert & Andrew

Merry Christmas from the Sloan Family

Michael, Paula, Robert, Andrew & Zoe

Monday, December 20, 2010

Let's Talk Attachment...

We have all been waiting a long time to see and hold our baby girl. We’ve had about a year to prepare for the changes we will experience, to learn as much as we can, to contemplate what adoption will mean to us as a family, and to anticipate the changes we will experience as our family grows from a family of four to a family of five. We have started to come to know and love Zoe Grace through the photos and updates we have received from our agency. It is hard for us to believe we are still strangers to her!

While we are preparing a place for her in our home and hearts, Zoe has not even thought of leaving where she is. She is happy and content in the loving arms of her nannies and caregivers. In just a few short days, Zoe will be experiencing the loss of everything she has ever known. We anticipate that this will be a very difficult time for our little girl. We ask that you keep Zoe in your prayers.

As Zoe's arrival is approaching, we wanted to talk to everyone a bit about bonding and attachment. We are thrilled that everyone is so excited to welcome our new daughter. That said, we want to make our expectations clear from the start, so that there won’t be any confusion, misunderstandings, or hurt feelings after her arrival. We have talked a lot with our social worker and agency about this transition and have done a lot of reading about ways to make healthy attachments with adopted children.

As hard as it is to say, please enjoy her from our arms for a while. Zoe needs to recognize us as mom and dad before she is ready to be passed around. This is a small window of time we have to develop an appropriate bond. She will be a much happier baby if we give her time to grieve her losses and then form a forever bond. There is no set length of time for this, but we will be able to tell by her reactions whether or not she is ready to be held by others.

We still invite you to say "hi" to her, talk to her and play with her (keeping in mind her reaction of course); but, for a while, we need to be the only ones to feed, diaper, bathe, cuddle Zoe. She will be grieving the loss of her environment, nannies, caregivers, language, and familiar foods, etc. This usually lasts for at least a few weeks, but grieving episodes could occur for months after her arrival. Grieving episodes are intensified by over stimulation, so we need to keep her world quiet and small for her first weeks with us as she begins to bond with her forever mommy, daddy and big brothers.

We have been so blessed by this gift. We want to make sure we are doing everything we can for Zoe to feel secure. It is important to remember, in her short 14 months of life, she's lost her birth-mother, the nurses and staff at the NICU (where she spent several weeks after her premature birth), her first foster family in Dejong (where she spent 3 months) and now will be losing her nannies and caregivers at the Reception Center (where she has spent almost 11 months). We know many of you have bonded with her just as we have! So many of you have prayed daily for her and we do not underestimate the bond or love you feel for her. We hope you understand our need for this special time with our baby girl.

If you have any questions, please call or email.

Thank you in advance for understanding!

Michael and Paula Sloan

Here are a couple links that might help you understand attachment a little better:

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Starting to Nail Down the Details .... I'm Getting EXCITED Now!

We confirmed our flights with Holt USA who confirmed with Holt Korea and we're good to go!

Since we're flying into Seoul at 6AM on Sunday morning, we'll have time to get checked into the Holt Guesthouse (it is in the same building as the Reception Center) and spend some time visiting with Zoe. We'll grab some lunch and do a little exploring of Seoul and do a little shopping. (I'm already making my list of Korean treasures that I want to bring home!)

On Monday, January 3rd, we'll have our City Tour. Holt provides this service and it lasts about a 1/2 day. We'll tour a palace and see some other sights and then grab some lunch. I hope our tour guide can help us find the name chops for the kids. We'll spend the afternoon visiting with Zoe some more and will spend another night in the Guesthouse.

On Tuesday, January 4th, we'll move from the Holt Guesthouse to The Somerset, which will give us a little more room to spread out. We'll get all settled in, do a little more exploring, grab some lunch and head back over to Holt for our meeting with Zoe's caregivers and with DJ, our social worker and we will receive our girl at last!!!

We'll spend Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights in the Somerset. We'll fill our days playing with Zoe, getting to know her, video-chatting with the boys and exploring her birth country with her. We know we're taking her to the North Seoul Tower and to the Teddy Bear Museum one day. We'll find some stuff to do and will make good use of the Children's Play area at the Somerset.

On Friday, January 7th, we'll catch our flight to Chicago and back to Memphis! I can't wait to see her little face when she sees her two big brothers for the first time. She's been carrying around that picture of them for months and now she can see them in person. They can't wait to hold her and play with her. Our family will finally all be together! We are all so EXCITED!!!!

Zoe Girl, we're coming to get ya' and your daddy said he'll share his Bulgogi with you! We love you baby girl and we can't wait to see you. We'll see you in 17 days. ~mommy and daddy

O LORD, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things, things planned long ago. -Isaiah 25:1

Five Stockings

This year, there's something new at the Sloan house. There are 5 stockings hung in anticipation of Santa's arrival. I think Santa might have a few goodies to put in there for little Zoe although she won't be here on Christmas morning.

Zoe's is the snowman stocking that is in the middle. I love it and her big brother, Robert picked it out just for her!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Travel Plans.... more waiting... I'm getting good at it.

Well, If I'm going to talk the talk, I gotta walk the walk. I said I trusted Him. I said I knew He'd put us in Korea when He wanted, and that I trusted Him to work all things for our GOOD!

I went from sheer bliss and excitement from the moment of our travel call to completely nauseous when the realization that getting Zoe home for Christmas was looking bleak. Here's the deal... $4,000 tickets (per person) is not an option. Period. Flying with 4 layovers, zig-zagging all over the country and not being on the same flight as Michael wasn't an option. Period. The cheapest we found, ended up being $2,500 and he couldn't secure us a flight home from Dallas, so I suppose we were supposed to hitch-hike back to Memphis from there. To complicate things even more, we had a very small window of time we could get there and receive her before the social worker in Korea was leaving for a personal trip out of the country. With the social worker in Korea being out from the 24th through the 1st, the week after Christmas was out too. I'm not sure if there is another social worker there or not, but this is what I was told. We had to get her before DJ left or wait until the new year.

I spent all morning on the phone with Lisa at Holt, Erle at Azumano Travel and googling flights from every possible airline that flies from the US and Canada. Travelocity, Orbits, FareCompare, etc. you name it, we tried it, when we actually attempted to push some tickets through on a quoted flight, it would kick back and say that flight wasn't available any longer or the rate would jump from $2,000 to $4,000. I was feeding Erle flight numbers and cities that we thought we could get out of... all SO CLOSE, but NOT CLOSE ENOUGH. It just wasn't doable.

I called and emailed several times with Lisa at Holt who encouraged us to look at booking in January after DJ got back and all the holiday travel was over and flights could open up. Back on the phone with Erle, we found some flights leaving from Memphis on Friday, December 31st and coming back home the following Friday, January 7th. We are actually thrilled with the airfare we could secure with the "New Year" rates and we're able to stay in Sweet Seoul a little longer than we would have been able to if we had flown over, picked her up and hopped back on a plane to come back home in time for Christmas. Talk about craziness, a 48 hour trip to Seoul would have been just that! I can't justify spending $6,000 on tickets to a country that we wouldn't have been in long enough to see. Since Seoul is 14 hours ahead of us, and flights are 14 hours from Chicago, leaving on a Sat, we will not actually arrive until Sunday, so we lose a day. But the cool thing is we leave on Friday night and come home on Friday night... ha!)

To add another whole layer to this complicated situation, my mom is having surgery the 22nd (next Wednesday) and I was really nervous about being out of the country during her surgery. Maybe this was God's way of ensuring that I'd be here for that. I don't know.

Maybe He has something special planned for us. Maybe He'll have us sit by a specific person on the plane. Maybe He'll have us meet someone in Korea that He wants us to. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I am not in control. The more and more I try to spin my wheels to control a situation, the more and more frustrated I get. He's got this. He has a purpose. Maybe one that I'll never know, but what I do know is in 16 days, I'll be boarding a plane to Chicago that is bound for Seoul to meet my daughter and bring her home forever.

I've been really upset about this off and on today. I (of course) wanted to celebrate Christmas with my new precious daughter. I of course wanted her home 3 months ago, heck I wanted her home 8 months ago. I can wait 16 more days. 7 day trip to Seoul, sounds PERFECT to me. Oh, how much fun we'll have experiencing Seoul with Zoe.

Christmas presents will be waiting for that beautiful girl when she arrives home, and that beautiful Christmas dress too. Since her dress has the 3 wisemen coming to see Jesus.... I don't think they showed up right away, so I think it'll still be suitable for January. :) And don't think I won't put it on her and take her to get her pictures made in it either, b/c I SO WILL be doing that in January.

Thanks to all of you for your encouragement and support today. It means a lot to us.


P.S. Flights are leaving Memphis to Chicago on Friday afternoon, December 31st. Then we're headed Chicago to Seoul on Saturday, January 1st at 1AM. We will arrive in Seoul on Sunday at 6AM and we'll head back on Friday, January 7th. We'll be arriving back at the Memphis airport at 10:45 PM on Friday, January 7th!

Shout it from the rooftops. We got our TRAVEL CALL!!!

Just got the call that Zoe is ready to come home!

Now it's time to start booking some flights!

The National Visa Center had a little more to say today!

The NVC (National Visa Center) opens at 8:30 am EST each day. I have been calling them since Zoe's Visa Physical to check on the status of her Visa. Every morning for the past 7 days, I've been told, "No packet returned; no visa issued".

Well, TODAY, our friends at the NVC had a little something different to say. The woman asked for the case number, the child's name, and date of birth. Then she asked me to hold.... for a pretty long time. Usually they just type it in and say that nothing is new and that's it, so I wondered if she had some new information.

She came back to the phone and said "Congratulations, your baby is coming home! Her visa was issued today!" Then that sweet lady started to choke up. I could tell she was crying. I was too. Then, like a complete goober, (I think I was in shock) I said: "so the packet was returned?" and she laughed and said "YES! Everything is done. Your baby is coming home". I thanked her and hung up the phone.

Oh, what beautiful words. Our baby is coming home.

Now, RING PHONE RING! Holt USA opens at 8:30 Pacific (10:30 our time), so the official travel call could come this morning in just about an hour.

Praise be to God for this Christmas MIRACLE!


The Wait at the End of our Journey

The wait at the end of our journey has been one filled with anticipation, but also peace. I know we must have a lot of people praying for us because I have peace that God will have us in Korea at the exact moment that He chooses.

I frequent the adoption forums through our agency and the support, advice, and wealth of information I've received there, but mostly the encouragemnt I've received from these other adoptive parents has been the best thing for me. Here at the end, they have been our cheerleaders. "Team Zoe" has totally warmed my heart posting guesses for our travel call, some of the ladies are giving up chips and cokes (thanks SeoulMama) and christmas cookies (thanks perfect timing) and coffee (that's a big one from 3heartstoshepherd) until that call comes... and now I think a few more are joinging the FAST for TRAVEL CALL now! How amazing is that?!?!? Complete strangers coming around us to cheer us on here at the end!

We've been busy finishing up our last week of homeschool before Christmas break, making Christmas crafts, baking yoummy goodies to share with friends, singing Christmas songs and wrapping gifts.

During this Christmas season, we are choosing to have JOY and trusting that He will have us in Korea when He wants us to be there. Maybe He will have us sit by someone specific on a plane, maybe He wants us to cross paths with someone specific so that we can be a blessing to them.

I don't know when the call will come or if Zoe will be home for Christmas or not, but what I do know is that I have faith in the One who does know, He is in control and I trust Him completely to work ALL THINGS for my GOOD. Obviously, we want Zoe home now; we want her in our arms now, but ultimately, we are not in control and I have peace that His timing will be perfect!

We're hoping for that call this week, but whenever it comes, we know that there is a beautiful Korean girl who will be in our arms and our hearts forever. We thank God everyday for the gift of this precious daughter.


Friday, December 10, 2010

Michael and his Korean Won

A sweet friend gave us some Korean money left from her trip to Korea and told us to pick up Zoe a little something in Korea. The money totals 15,000 Won. (which is about $15 US Dollars)

Michael was cracking me up running around shouting "We're Rich! It's Fifteen Thousand!" Crazy man, he's worse than the kids. Sorry Zoe, this is what you have to look forward to...


I love this time of year. I love the anticipation of it all. I have to admit, I always find myself thinking of Mary during the Christmas season. I wonder what that young woman must've been feeling. Every emotion from fear to excitement and everything in between must've been racing through the mind of the woman who would give birth to the Savior. I can't even fathom that, but as a mom, I feel like I have a connection with Mary.

I'm feeling more anticipation this year than any year before. Not only am I looking forward to spending another Christmas with my incredible boys, I am anticipating that we will have a new little one in the house on Christmas morning too. As we are purchasing the last few Christmas gifts and preparing to travel to the other side of the planet to bring home our baby girl at last, I can't help but be filled with every kind of emotion. I can't really describe it as anything I've ever experienced.

We've begun packing bags, packing up gifts for those who have taken care of our girl and preparing for the boys to stay with family while Michael and I are gone. Yet, sometimes I find myself sitting in Zoe's room in tears praying that God deliver her safely into my arms soon. Thanking God for the gift of a daughter and for sustaining us in this journey, I find myself at a loss for words. (which is rare, I know.)

This has been a wild roller-coaster of a journey. I am forever changed by it. I've always been a "to do list" kind of person. I see what needs to be done, and I do it. This whole time, I've been checking things off the list, but as crazy as it seems sometimes, there is a CHILD, a BABY at the end of this journey. There were days where it seemed surreal. Actually, it always seems a little surreal. I can't describe the feeling(s), but there are days where this journey seems like a dream, but it's not. It's real. And we are REALLY at the finish line. It's time to bring our girl home. It's time to have her in our arms forever. And I am filled with anticipation.


P.S. the picture is a hand-made, hand-painted ornament from my sweet adoptive-mommy friend, Leah who is waiting for her sweet Aiden to come home. We are taking Aiden a care package from his family for his birthday and Christmas. Praying for Aiden to come home soon!

Sweet New Photos of our Girl

Some of the Holt USA staff went to Korea with the Christmas Gift Team and they got to visit with Zoe and the other babies at the Reception Center.

Erin, from the Waiting Child Program at Holt and Lisa from the Korea Program have both been a huge part of our journey to Zoe and have been a part of our story to Zoe and now they are part of her story in Korea too. Erin said "Zoe is very, very cute and sweet and we told her that her Mama loves her very much and will be there to get her soon! "

Here are a few of the 20 pictures they sent to us! What a blessing in these final days. We're almost to the end now and the next pictures you see of our girl will be with us holding her.

Now Ring Phone, Ring! It's time to get our girl!


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Embassy Appearance


When I called the National Visa Center yesterday morning, I heard the words "oh, I see her picture" and "she is a beautiful baby" from the man on the other end of the phone. I've read where others have been here before, but nothing prepared me for that moment. I wanted to jump through the phone and see that picture for myself.

He comfirmed that Zoe made her Embassy Appearance, so add that with today's Visa Physical and all they need to do is send put those documents in the file (Packet 3 or P3) and send it back. It could already be back at this point for all we know.

We are thinking we could receive our travel call as early as tomorrow! EEK! I thought we might not ever make it to this point.

I'm up to my ears in laundry... trying to keep it all clean so when THE CALL comes, I can throw it in the suitcases bound for Korea!

We are at the finish line now! I think we're a little excited!

Zoe, we're coming baby girl!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Let's Get Physical, Physical...

GREAT! Now I have an Olivia Newton John song in my head!

Okay, enough with that, Zoe's VISA PHYSICAL has been scheduled for December 8th! That's next Wednesday! (which really will fall on our Tuesday.)

She's going to bop on down to see the doctors and show them what a big girl she is! Let's pray we get a nice doctor who does NOT request that we sign a Class B Waiver (it's just a form saying we know exactly all about her health and every little thing; which we do, so don't waste our time!)!!! The Class B waiver could hold us up about 1 week and we don't have that week to waste, so let's get on with it, shall we?

Mama needs that baby girl to wear this dress this Christmas. (Zulily $25!)

It's going to show up at my doorstep next week, so having a baby to put it on would be nice.

Basically this is it. Once they finish up that Visa Physical, that packet of papers (P3) will be sent back to the Embassy (it was logged out September 30th, so I'm sure they're ready to have that back... it's about time) and she'll have her Visa Interview. I know that sounds like a lot, but this stuff all happens REALLY FAST here at the end and now that the ball is rolling, we're praying that it just keeps us rolling us through to the end.

Basically, we're estimating that we could get a Travel Call anywhere from next Friday 12/10, perhaps 12/15 (which several friends are predicting since it's 1 week from the visa physical) or maybe 12/22 (IF we need a class B waiver, we think this could be our date!).

All this excitement is really getting to me. I feel like I'm on a rollercoaster, but this ride is about to end and the REAL RIDE begins... being a mommy to 3!

Keep praying friends! We're almost there!


Thursday, December 2, 2010

EP APPROVAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Do you know how long I've waited to post those words??? Almost 8 months. It's been almost 8 months since we saw our girl's face for the first time... and we are so close to having her home now!

This was THE. BIGGEST. STEP. and it is done. Good thing too b/c I was getting WEARY! I think I had a tantrum-fit this morning over the EP situation and how WRONG I think it is that they limit them when these babies are already released for international adoption and matched with families. We got the word this afternoon that it was approved yesterday (12/1/2010).

So, we made it. Now we just need to wrap up all the little things here at the end and sit back and wait for that TRAVEL CALL!

What a wonderful day!!!
"Oh give thanks to the LORD for He is good; for his lovingkindness is everlasting!" ~Psalm 107:1

Monday, November 29, 2010


We are hosting one last fundraiser to help bring Zoe home!

We are having a Chick-Fil-A Spirit Night!!!!!

Where: Chick-Fil-A at Wolfchase

When: Tuesday, December 7th
5PM until 8PM

We are partnering with Chick-Fil-A in Wolfchase (the one by the mall) and Holt International to raise our last little bit of money to bring Zoe home! Please come out and see us and help us bring our girl home!

Here's how it works: YOU come by Chick-Fil-A on Tuesday, December 7th between 5PM and 8PM and tell them you are with us (The Sloan family adoption) and they will donate 20% of your sale to Holt International and Holt will apply that money towards our family's adoption specifically.
Easy enough, right?!?!?
You don't have to cook dinner next Tuesday and you help bring our girl home!
Now, help us spread the word!

P.S. Don't forget to tell them you are with us, so we get the credit for your sale!

See y'all next Tuesday,

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Guess who's mama has her all packed and ready to go?

That'd be this cutie's mama!

It's all there. I think we might need a bigger suitcase though!

It only weighs 28 pounds... and we can have 50 pounds per bag, so while we're at Grandmoo's and PawPaw's (my parents) next weekend, I'll see if they have a bigger one for Zoe. We're taking lots of gifts for Holt Korea and a couple care packages for other babies too, so we'll fill 'em up!

Come on EP approval and a TRAVEL CALL! This mama needs all 3 of her babies under the tree this year!

I'm a blog slacker, but I've been BUSY!

I'll catch you up tonight; I promise! Meanwhile, check out the tutu-table I made for Zoe's room...

And a tu-tu for Christmas... let's hope she is here in time to wear it!

And last, but not least some leg warmers (like baby legs) to keep her warm this winter!

See, I told you I've been BUSY! More later tonight... we're off to preschool!

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Journey of Two Families...

In my previous post, I wrote about the day when we saw Zoe's face for the first time. I was drawn to her. There was something wonderfully special about that little girl with the pony-tail standing up on the top of her head and sitting in that purple bumbo. Well, we weren't the only family who was interested in her. In fact, Eun-ha was on that photolisting less than 12 hours and 5 different families requested her file. We were one family of five. All of the families were sent her complete medical files, background info, etc. and each family can then decide if they want to proceed or not. We had her file reviewed by a few different doctors and decided to proceed with her adoption. Well, over the course of the next few days, 2 other families said they were interested in her adoption too. In fact, one other family was interested, but with 3 families already willing, they bowed out.

Basically, when a family says they want to adopt a "waiting child" (which Zoe was... we saw her face on the photolisting), there are a ton of questions to answer. Think essay questions on how you would parent the child, how you plan to raise the child who is a different race (assuming you are not Korean), how you plan to care for the child in light of their medical or other needs, etc. I set out on a mission to answer these questions. I cried over those essays. I really had to mentally put myself into the role of her mother and answer questions on how we intend to raise her as her forever family. Emotions were running high. Once all the interested families completed their questionnaires, each family had a phone interview with the Waiting Child Program, and a committee would meet and select her family. Talk about nerve-wrecking. Looking back, that time has become a blur.

I can never fully explain the feeling I had knowing how deeply I cared for that baby, yet knowing she may or may not be ours forever. I cried A LOT, I prayed A LOT and I didn't sleep. I was a mess. I trusted that God knew how this would play out. I trusted that He knew what was best for our family. I believed with all my heart that God would not bring us to this point to leave us. Regardless of the outcome, He would sustain us and would eventually bring us to the child He chose for us... even if it wasn't this baby that I had come to love. At the time, we had 3 photos of her. We knew her story. We knew her name . I took hope in the fact that even if we were not chosen, this baby would have a family. She was no longer 1 of the millions of orphans without a mommy and a daddy. She would be someone's chosen and cherished daughter. Honestly, I wanted her to be MY chosen and cherished daughter, but I gave it to Him.

About a week before committee met, I had posted on the Holt Forums Board that we were going to committee for a baby and a woman contacted me saying that she thought we were going to committee for the same baby. We talked online through email and I came to enjoy my online chats with this mom, Ramsey. Ramsey is a mom to three beautiful girls and is an OBGYN. (Yeah, that was a little intimidating!) Her husband is Sheref; he's a pediatrician. (okay, that's doubly-intimidating!) I prayed that God would give this baby to one of our two families so I could always know she went to a great family! (since we didn't know who the 3rd family was.) Some people might have thought that it was strange that I was talking to "the competition", but I didn't see it that way. We are both moms; we are wives; we are both on this adoption journey to our children and we shared a love for the same baby. We both thought our phone interviews were weird and awkward and plain terrible and I was sure that the doctors would be given this baby and that somehow God would heal my heart and help us move forward to finding our child. Then the news came that the third family decided not to proceed, so it was just us and Ramsey's family. I had more peace knowing that one of our families would have her, but it still wasn't an easy time.

The committee met and (obviously) we were chosen to be the parents of Eun-ha. God knew. He knew all along. I was grateful and excited. We had a daughter, but I knew my new friend would be sad. I knew she wanted her too. I prayed that this sweet family would fine their baby soon! Just a few weeks later, that family got matched with this little cute boy!

Just this past week, Sheref went to Korea to bring that cute Charlie home. After 3 girls, I think that boy will be a lot of fun for them! Charlie and his daddy are safely back home. Here is a pic of all of them together... How cute are they!?!?

While Sheref was in Korea, he went and visited Zoe. Too bad he didn't smuggle her home in his carry-on bag, but he visited with her, took some photos and 4 videos for us. Here is a picture he took of her. She's wearing an outfit we sent. Yeah, I think I saw my husband fall in love when he saw her wearing that Daddy's Girl shirt.

I just think it's amazing how things have come full-circle. Zoe will soon be home to our family, Charlie is safely at home with his forever family and I have a special friendship with a mama I've never met in real-life. I can't wait until the day when we can get our families and Korean babies together.

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." -Jeremiah 29:11
God had big plans for us and for these two babies. Things happened just as He knew they would and two families are changed forever! Kinda' cool if you ask me.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

EP Submission

It was exactly 189 days ago when we saw this face for the first time.
Our lives would forever be changed on April 29th, 2010 as I looked
into the face of what I was SURE was my daughter!

It was a long, agonizing 21 days until we found out that she would be ours forever!
On May 20, 2010 we were chosen as the family for this precious one.

We hurried up to complete our home-study and on July 14th, 2010 we received our official referral and acceptance papers for sweet baby Eun-ha Seong!

And today, 189 days later, we were notified that our EP has finally been submitted.
Yes, we still need to wait for it's approval and the last few little thing to be done
after that, but we were honestly beginning to wonder how much longer we could wait
for our submission. We are thinking there is still hope to have Zoe home by Christmas!

This sweet baby needs her mama. And this mama needs her baby under our tree at Christmas this year! Thanks for all the prayers, friends. Let's pray for a fast approval and then a super-fast travel call!

Our prayers are also for our friends who are still waiting on their EP submissions for their babies. Please pray the Korean government will resolve this issue and let these kiddos come home to their families.

"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us." (Ephesians 3:20)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

One Less Video

Another adoptive mom that I met through our agency's forums created an awesome video in honor of National Adoption Month. The video features many children adopted from South Korea including our precious Zoe!

Zoe's Birthday Celebration

We spent last Thursday night celebrating Zoe's first birthday. It was a fun evening as a family thinking about the one Sloan family member on the other side of the planet and not safely tucked in her bed under our roof. Happy Birthday Sweet Eun-ha Seong ... soon you will be Zoe Grace Sloan and we'll have many more birthday celebrations together! We love you!

I made this "Happy Birthday Zoe" banner!
We went out for a traditional Korean meal... these are the side dishes they bring to share.
Robert and I were practicing our Korean poses.
Daddy and Andrew are ready to eat some Bulgogi!
We brought a picture of Zoe along since it was her birthday, afterall!
Andrew and his choppies!
Robert and his choppies and sticky rice... his favorite!
Daddy was in heaven... Spicy Chicken Bulgogi
Mommy decided to try the BiBimBop with Chicken.
The boys made this awesome cake for Zoe. It was REALLY good and moist... which I think is why it started to crumble and lean a bit. It was made with love!
Wishing for Zoe to be home soon!
We recently ordered Zoe's stroller and it even arrived on her birthday.
Robert with one of the toys the boys bought for her birthday.
Andrew opening more birthday presents for Zoe!

We had a great night celebrating the life of Zoe Grace Sloan. We prayed for her to stay safe and well until she is in our arms forever! We prayed for her birthmother who did one of the most selfless and bravest things she will ever do by giving life to her. We are forever grateful to this woman and pray that God will give her peace.

We love you, Zoe! We can't wait to celebrate your homecoming!
~Daddy, Mommy, Robert & Andrew

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Teach Me Something Tuesday: Korean First Birthday - Tol

With Zoe's first birthday just 2 days away, I thought it would be a good to teach on the Korean first birthday called the Tol.

First birthdays are a really big deal in Korea. In the past with lack of medical information, Korea's seasonal temperature, and many childhood related diseases, the death rate of children was really high. Many children died before their first birthday. After the age of one year, the survival rate increased greatly, making this milestone a very happy one for the child's parents. It is also a custom to celebrate a child's 100 day birthday but in most areas, it is smaller in scale compared to the Tol.

The Traditional Tol Celebration consists of 4 parts:
1. Praying and Giving Thanks
2. Making and Wearing the Birthday Clothes
3. Preparing the Table and Performing the Toljabee
4. Sharing the Food with Guests and Neighbors

In modern times, due to the improvements in medicine, the influence of Western culture, and modern industrialization, the Shamanistic reasons for the Tol celebration have been reduced. However, the event is still celebrated as a time of congratulations for the parents and family.

In the modern
Tol, taking picture is an important part of the event. As many Korean homes are very small, many families rent a room in a banquet hall. The modern celebration includes the child's parents greeting guests, lighting candles on a birthday cake, the Toljabee event, and a toast.

offering tableTraditionally, Koreans would pray to Sanshin (a mountain god) and Samshin (a birth god, also called Samshin-halmuni"grandmother") on certain days following a child's birth (birth, 3-7 days after birth, and 100 days after birth). They believed thatSamshin resided in the cloth surrounding a baby.

To prepare the praying table, the parents placed a bowl of steamed white rice, sea mustard soup (mnyeok-guk), and a bowl of pure water on the table. Next to the table they placed
samshin siru (layered red bean rice cake). This rice cake was not shared outside the family because they believed that sharing this particular item with people outside the family would bring bad luck to the child.

After the table was prepared, the child's mother or grandmother would pray with two hands together. Rubbing her palms together, she would ask for her child's longevity, wish luck to the mountain god, and and give thanks to the birth god. This was acomppanied by repeated bowing. Male family members were not allowed to join in thes ceremony. Only female family members were allowed to participate.

Seoulites perform this ceremony early in the morning on the child's birthday. Residents of some other areas do it the night before the birthday.

Making and Wearing the Birthday Clothes:
Tol clothesThe clothes worn for the tol are colorful, dressy clothes. They differ depending on the child's sex. Both boys and girls wear a long tol-ddi (a belt that wraps around the body twice) for longevity and a tol-jumuni (pouch) for luck. Silk cloth is used to make the tol-jumuni, folded at the top with a colorful thread pull-string to open and close. For the child's longevity buttons are not used.

Boy's Clothes
Boy's Clothes-pink or striped jogori (jacket) with puple or gray paji (pants)
durumagi (long jacket) and a blue vest printed with a gold or silver pattern or a striped magoja (jacket) and a jonbok (long blue vest) with a gold or silver pattern and a hongsadae (traditional belt) over it
bokgun (black hat with a long tail)
tarae-busun (traditional socks)
yumnang (traditional round shaped pouch)

Girl's Clothes
Girl's ClothesGirl's Clothes-striped jogory (jacket)
-long, red
chima (skirt)
-gold and silver printed
jobawi (hat)
tarae-busun (traditional socks)
yumnang (traditional round shaped pouch)

Tol Table and the Toljabee

Birthday Table
The parents prepare a special Tol table to celebrate the child's birthday. The main food includes ddeok (rice cakes) and fruits. Over 12 different kinds of ddeok are prepared, including paekseolgi (white steamed rice cakes), susu-kyongdan (rice cakes coated with rough red bean powder), chapsal-ddeok or chal-ddeok, mujigae-ddeok (rainbow colored steamed rice cake), songp'yeon (half moon shaped rice cakes), injulmi (coated glutinous rice cakes), and gyep'i-ddeok (puffed air rice cakes). Among these, paekseolgi and susu-kyongdan are always included. Fruits can vary according to the season of the birthday. Different colors of seasonal fruits can be prepared and displayed in a row. Also, a bowl of rice, sea mustard soup, and many other various foods can be displayed.

Along with food, other items are needed for holding the
Toljabee event. Items such as large bundle of thread, a brush, a Korean calligraphy set, pencil, book, money (10,000 won bills), bow and arrow (needle, scissors, and ruler for girls) are arranged on the table to predict the child's future.

Table Setting
picture courtesy of ???The birthday child will be placed at the table so that the other guests can face him or her. Parents often sit the child on the bolou (Korean traditional mattress) and several bangsuk (Korean cushions). Since the child is small, this allows for getting better pictures. For the background, a Korean traditional screen is used at the hotel or other banquet hall.

Toljabee Event
Tol table settingsIn this event, the birthday child goes around the table and picks up items that attract him or her. The child's future is predicted according to the what he or she grabs. After placing the child in front of the table, the child's father becomes the guide for the child to go around the table and grab whatever he or she wants. The first and second items the child grabs are considered the most important. Usually Korean parents place the items that they want the child to choose near to the edge of the table. The child's future is predicted according to the items:

bow and arrow: the child will become a warrior
needle and thread: the child will live long
jujube: the child will have many descendants
book, pencil, or related items: the child will become a successful scholar
rice or rice cake: the child will become rich (some resources say choosing a rice cake means the child is not smart)
ruler, needle, scissors: the child will be talented with his/her hands
knife: the child will be a good cook

Sharing Food

After the Toljabee, the parents share most of the Tol food with the guests and relatives. It is a Korean custom that when the guests and neighbors receive the food they say kind words and wish for the child's longevity and good fortune. They also give presents such as a gold ring, clothes, or toys.

Food Meanings
susu-kyongdanEach food type and other items on the table have specific meanings.
paekseolgi (white steamed rice cakes) symbolize a pure and divine clean spirit and longevity.
susu-kyongdan (rice cakes coated with rough red bean powder) are used to ward off evil spirits so that the child can grow without any disease. (Koreans believed that evil dislikes red color.) Koreans believed that if they prepared these two rice cakes for each birthday until 10 years old, the child would not fall down and would grow healthy.
injulmi (sticky rice cakes) and chal-ddeok (sticky rice cakes) are prepared to wish the child to be tenacious and strong due to the stickiness of the rice cakes.
songp'yeon (stuffed rice cakes shaped like a half-moon) Two different moon cakes are prepared. One is left empty and the other one filled. The empty moon cake means the child will grow with a big heart. The filled one means to grow to be wise.
-jujubes and fruit are for the child's descendants to multiply and prosper
-noodles and thread represent a long life

When Koreans are invited to the first birthday of a child, they often present a gold ring to the parents. Friends and colleagues collect money to buy a gold ring. However, the rings are not for the child to wear. Instead, the parents use them later to pay for child's education or other needs.

We're two days away from Zoe's first birthday. We pray (not to a mountain god, but to our Lord) that she has a great birthday in Korea. We pray that she is home soon. Never in a million years would we have ever thought that we would have a child who wasn't at home to celebrate their first birthday. However, we are confident that God will have her home in His perfect timing. We will celebrate with traditional Korean food and some birthday cake. We pray that on the other side of the world, that she feel God's love on her special day! Hold on baby girl, we're coming! We may be apart on your first birthday, but we'll be together for many birthdays to come!