And so Thursday was the official reason we came to Korea, our court meeting. We needed to be at the agency at 12:20, so we took our time getting up and then went for a long walk/jog down at the river again. We got back to our room and showered and then walked down to a little cafe for brunch. We came back to our room still with time to spare and so we did a lot of our packing. We have way more room going home then we did coming here since we are not bringing all the care packages home,
It was finally time to get all fancy in our suits which we did. After getting ready it was about time to leave and so we headed out. Along the walk to the agency we saw our good friends Amy and Anthony and their son Jackson at the same brunch place waiting for food. I grabbed a quick photo with Amy on our way to the agency building. Amy and I have messaged back and forth almost daily throughout this journey and it has been such a privilege to share in this journey with her and get to call her a friend.
We got to the agency and waited with a few of the other nervous families that were there a few minutes early. After a few minutes our social worker came to us and handed us a piece of paper with the schedule of which family was which and also told us we were in van 2. Once everyone was there they started to lead us outside, but I stopped everyone and asked for a quick group photo. There were 8 families going to court with us, 3 of them have adopted from Korea before and had their little boys with them.
When we got out to the vans we learned not only were we assigned a van but also which row to sit in in the van. It kind of made me laugh a little, we were in van 2 row 2. I realized though as we were driving that it was likely because the same vans were going to take us home and so they put us in based on how they were going to drop us off after it was all done. It was our first time being in a car since being here, and I’m just really glad that I don’t have to drive here on a daily basis.
We parked in the basement of the court building and had to walk through a metal detector and then go up to the 5th floor. After everyone made it upstairs the person from the agency and the translator met and talked with us after getting us all arranged and sat in order in the chairs. It was about 1:20 at that time and the first case wasn’t until 2PM. We learned that our translator had been a foster father for many years but in 2012 when the special adoption law went into affect and the foster families went from having a child for 3-4 months to having a child for over 2 years he said his wife got too attached and it broke her heart so much when their little child left that they had to stop being foster parents. He said he wanted to continue to help adoption and so he started being a court translator for the adoption cases.
I think the 40 minutes of waiting was one of the longest 40 minutes ever. We all milled around and talked and laughed some as we tried to stay as calm as possible. When I tried to go to the bathroom there were two doors and the sign was not the clearest and I ended up walking into the cleaning closet. Oops! Finally about 10 minutes before 2 a court official came out and checked our passports and then a few minutes later the first family went in.
We were the third family and everyone around was chit chatting and working out their nervousness, we just sat quietly. We were both pretty nervous. Finally we went in. It was a large square room, there was a table where the translator and the lady from the agency were sitting on the right, and then there was a table on the left with two chairs and a microphone on the right. We sat in those and then on the other side of the tables were the court recorder and then beyond her was the judges table and Judge Lee was sitting there with a stack of papers and a microphone. I don’t remember the order of the questions that we were asked, but we were asked if we had met our son and if we still wanted to adopt him, we were asked how long we had been involved in the process, we were asked our plans for child care, and then we were asked a number of questions about why we wanted to adopt if we had 2 biological children at home. We answered that I was adopted and so were my brothers and it was something that even before we were married we had planned on doing. This seemed to surprise the judge a lot. She asked me a few times how long I had planned on adopting and why. She also asked that since I was adopted and wanted to adopt I must have had a positive experience as a child being adopted which also seemed to surprise her. And then she turned to Clint and said in effect “Ok I understand why your wife wants to adopt, but why do you, you were not adopted?” Finally I think she was ok with the answers that we gave. She also asked us if we were physically fit enough to chase after 3 boys! I think those were all the questions we were asked. At the end she told us that she thought JoonSoo would be happy and grow up in a good family with our two other boys.
I think I was sweating so much by the time we walked out, but it was a huge relief. We waiting with the other families and celebrated with each one as they came out as well. I think I had been told that the judge usually sees cases in about 5 minutes but all of us were before the judge for over 10 minutes. And then we started the van ride home. Let’s just say again I’m glad I don’t have to drive here. I think I actually nodded off a little bit in the van ride home, which is surprising given the crazy driving.
We got back to our place and got changed into comfy clothes and then texted another adoptive family that has court on Friday about plans for dinner. We met up and Deborah knew of a great place that served beef stew and so we headed there. Deborah speaks Korean and helped us figure out dinner. We had a bone broth soup, Clint and Deborah and her husband Jeff had the plain kind, I got mine with some dumplings and rice cakes in it. They also ordered us kimchi pancake and some extra dumplings. We had an excellent meal, and even better conversations getting to know them better. The place we ate was in the college area and outside it was buzzing with all sorts of lights and music and people. We walked to a shaved ice place afterwards and then just walked around a bit. It has been such a blessing to encourage each other through this process through email over the past number of months and then to finally meet and share time together.
And then we came back and crashed. And so that is why this blog is written the morning after! But it’s still Thursday in the US. Today we pack up and head home. And wait for our approvals to come through.