|YH's self-portrait, taken when he commandeered Sean's camera|
I might have died a little in that moment. I might have held my breath in fear of scaring him away.
We walked out of the agency stunned and giddy. It was like the aftermath of a great job interview, or a fabulous first date. We kept saying things to each other like "He seems really smart, don't you think so?" and "I know Mrs. Shin is concerned about (x factor of his development) but I think once he's in the right environment..." and "Did you see when he hugged that teddy bear? He's so loving..." and "His smile is incredible".
And underneath the giddiness that buoyed us through a shopping trip to Insadong, was creeping dread at our role in turning this boy's life upside down.
The next morning we left the hotel early in order to fit in a ride on the Seoul city tour bus before we had to be back at ESWS.
After our brief gritty detour, we got back on the bus and headed to Namsan Mountain, in hopes of putting a "family love locket" on the fence at the base of the N Tower.
We rushed home with just enough time for everyone to get changed into their best clothes for our meeting. We picked up Nana and headed over to ESWS. We hoped our squeaky clean exteriors would help to show Mr. and Mrs. S that we were going to love YH. We really, really were.
They did a good job.
While the kids played the adults talked. Mr. S wanted us to know that we must be consistent with YH; we can't give in to his tantrums. He wanted us to know that YH probably wouldn't sit still on the plane ride home--we should know that beforehand. He might scream, he might try to run away. He will get frustrated if we don't understand what he is saying because of the language barrier--we should know that ahead of time.
Were they telling us he is a bad child? A difficult child?
No--he's a child they love very very much and they don't want anyone to treat him with anything less than kindness, especially if he doesn't live up to our expectations. I understand that, and I understand why they felt the need to fill us in on his behaviors (pretty typical for a two-year old behaviors) beforehand.
I asked Mrs. Shin to tell the S family that I appreciate all they have done to raise YH, to love him. I promised them that we would love and support him forever--no matter what. That we have prepared ourselves to help him face any future challenges and to meet him where he is; not to push him to be something he is not. I asked her to tell them that we would like for them to be a part of YH's life forever--that we will send them pictures and updates frequently.
They watched YH play with his new brother and sister, and give his new halmoni (grandmother) kisses.
At the end of the hour we took pictures together--pictures of all the people who are united by our love for this little boy.
Umma and the big kids.
Umma and Mom
And the whole of TEAM YH.
I can't even describe to you how important this meeting was for us--for the S family--for YH. I think it made a big difference in everyone's comfort level about the upcoming custody transfer.
I know it helped the S family to meet our big kids; to picture how YH's life will be enriched by having them at his side. To see that they are healthy and smart and well-cared for. That we can raise children who are loving and funny. That he fits in with them, and with us.
Saying good-bye was hard; especially since we knew the next time we saw each other our motives would be opposing. Sean and I would be so happy to hold our son, while the S family grieved the foster child they were losing.
Hard all around.