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