Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Part V: Amy's family in Pusan

This is the fifth and final installment in a series of five posts capturing our October 2010 reunions in Korea with the girls' foster families, and with Amy and her family. The third post in the series recaps how I came to meet Amy in Pusan in 2008. Two and a half years later, her family came to Seoul to meet us early in our trip, then graciously invited us to visit them in Pusan the Saturday before we flew home.

We travelled to Pusan on the KTX, or the Fast Train. Because it travels at 300 kilometers per hour (187 miles per hour) and makes limited stops, the KTX crosses the country from Seoul to Pusan in 2 hours and 40 minutes --twice as fast as the conventional train. Despite the speed, we could actually see the country we passed through.

When we arrived, Amy's family met us at the train station and Amy led us to the small bus they had rented so that our family and theirs (each composed of two parents, four children and one grandmother) plus our intrepid translator, could ride together.

While Amy and her two older sisters and older brother got to know our girls in the back of the bus...

... Amy's mom sat down next to Joy and me, began transforming Joy into Amy's twin.

By the time we arrived at our first destination, a lovely park in the wooded hills overlooking Pusan, Joy had decided she didn't mind wearing the hanbok --although it sure made her slippery to hold! She happily wore it for the next several hours, just as Amy wore hers.

Neither Amy nor Joy was particularly keen on posing for a portrait, although we mamas tried!

I love Amy's mother's spirit of determination. She steps right in and makes things happen. It doesn't matter if others around her question her decisions. She does what she knows is right for her children and for her family. She shares her time with those in need, and, as I learned spending hours visiting with her that afternoon, generously shares her heart, too. I was honored to agree to her suggestion that she be the "Korean mother" of my children and I, be the "American mother" of hers.

Amy's lovely, second-oldest sister SeonKyoung, who blogs at Amy's Family, stepped in and helped us out with the girls. She has a tender heart for Amy and despite the fact that I am old enough to be her mother, SeonKyoung and I connected like friends.
Joy thought she would try out  Amy's father's nose. He, being a good father, turned it into a kiss.

Hope, our family fashion maven, was usually found near Amy's oldest sister, who spent the afternoon picnicking in a park paved in crushed stone while wearing a lovely chiffon dress and gold lame heels --with that extraordinary aplomb unique to runway models and young Korean women. She may be Joy's Korean name-twin, but she is Hope's soul sister. (Hope regretted not bringing her signature "sparkle shoes" to Korea.)

Thanks to our extraordinary interpreter, Mrs. J., Amy's family and ours had no problem understanding one another.  

We were at the park to attend a picnic for adoptive families with Amy's family. The picnic was sponsored by MPAK, Mission to Promote Adoption in Korea. Open adoption (where an adoption is publicly acknowledged and the child knows he or she is adopted) is a relatively new practice in Korea. MPAK supports families who have made an open adoption choice in hopes of promoting more open adoptions in Korea the future. Amy's family won  a family portrait contest with this photo:

They received an award at the picnic and we were introduced as the family that had traveled the farthest to attend --all the way from Minnesota.

The emcee explained that Minnesota was "In the far north, right next to Canada --very cold." (In Pusan in the winter, on a very cold day, it gets down to 32 degrees F.)

As you might guess from the expressions on our faces, it was an amazing, wonderful afternoon. In terms of pure emotion, it ranks close to my wedding day. We had done nothing to earn or to deserve the love showered on us, the blessing of being connected with another family on a distant continent living out the mingled joy and tears of parenting special children via adoption. It is so clearly a work of God. Seven years ago, when I flew home from Korea without the little girl we had thought was our daughter, I never dreamed that dark night of the soul was the beginning of a path that would lead through fields of joy.

Of course, the hardest part was still ahead of us, saying, goodbye. I will leave you with a few more photos from the picnic, then the train station.

If the last two photos came with audio, you'd  hear Joy whispering through the glass, "Love you. Love you. Bye, bye." Until we meet again, dear family.


Three Northern Stars said...

Oh Carrie, you needed a tissue warning on this one. Beautiful.

The Ammermann's said...

I agree - beautiful! Now off to get a tissue.(idgienater)

Grace said...

Wow! What an amazing post. That photo of them saying good bye is so bittersweet. I have heard of MPAK too...awesome that you got to be a part of their celebration!

Sarah said...

It looks like you had a wonderful time! What a blessing!

Melody said...

I needed tissues for that post. What a beautiful day spent with your family and new family members. I know you will return and what a gift you all have been given in those sweet baby girls. Wow!!

Tracy said...

OH my goodness... thank you so much. So wonderful to have these connections for your daughter, for your family.