Friday, April 27, 2018

Sea Foam Green with Polka Dots

Three years ago. Three, long, years ago. I wandered through Target looking for random gift ideas to fill our gift closet.

*Important Side Note: If you do not have a gift closet, I highly suggest you get started on one. Every time I visit a store, I take a look in the various clearance sections, to find things that could be given as gifts in the future. This is a huge money saver and is perfect for last minute birthday invites or those "oops, I totally forgot that is tomorrow!" moments. Also, if you find that something you purchased isn't being used, you can donate it to a shelter or a fundraiser. 

Anyway, back to the story....

Three years ago, I was looking in the children's clothing section. I filled my cart with clothes of all sizes, for boys and girls, and for any season. At the time, many of our friends were still adding to their families and/or had little ones, so I knew that I could find an immediate use for most of them.

When I got home, I began unpacking my finds and organizing them into the sections of my gift closet. One particular outfit stuck out to me. The most adorable sea foam green top with white polka dots, with matching jean shorts with the same green swirling around the legs. I thought to myself, "If I had a daughter, this is what I would want to dress her in". Knowing that we had decided not to have more babies, I packed the outfit away with the rest of our future gifts. 

Over and over again, I would go into this closet, looking for the perfect gift for the baby shower, birthday party, retirement gift, etc. etc. Each time, taking an extra look at that adorable outfit. Each time it would be an appropriate gift, I would consider giving it away- sometimes even putting it in the bag, but I would always change my mind and pull it back out. I couldn't, and still can't, explain my reasoning. It just felt right to keep it.

Each time I was reminded of the outfit, I was reminded of the daughter I felt was missing. Each time, it would rekindle the thoughts that led me to believe our family was not complete.

Fast forward three years. Yesterday, my sweet Maylee- the reason for my hesitation, the reason why our family was not yet complete, wore that very outfit.

It was not deliberate. I have not spent the last three years eagerly awaiting the chance to clothe our daughter in this outfit. In fact, it was buried in one of her dresser drawers. I happened upon it, when digging for one more pair of 18 month shorts.

It wasn't until yesterday evening, scrolling through the pictures of she and I splashing in a fountain, that it hit me how long that outfit had been waiting for our little girl. I can not describe how powerful that realization was. 

Friday, April 20, 2018

Daily Reminders

It's been a while since I posted something. I have been waiting for this grand, interesting topic to appear. That hasn't happened. Each day looks very much like the last. The struggles we had a month ago, are the same struggles we have today (albeit to a much smaller extent) and the beautiful moments of bonding and love are the same (albeit more frequent than before).

Each day is a baby step toward becoming whole again- for all of us. Each day, I learn a little bit more about our girl and these new brothers of a girl that I hadn't known before. Each day, I face failures and triumphs- most of which are not seen or measurable, but felt.

There are so many amazing things that come with adoption and I am so thankful to have found this path, and in turn, our little girl. We are so thankful for the bonds we have created with fellow adoptive families- those connections run deep. I feel like I need some profound words of wisdom, but there really aren't any. We just have to take our days hour by hour and learn about each other in a new way.

As our life settles in and we begin to feel as though each day is more "normal", we realize just how far we've come. From the first week, when all we saw and heard from our girl was sadness and confusion, to giggles and constant chatter (mostly in Hangul). From sleepless nights co-sleeping, to on average two wake ups in her own room, in her own bed. From frequent meltdowns without a clear reason, to more understanding, or as close to it as you can get with a two year old.

All of our relationships are growing and strengthening, and our daily schedules are solidifying and becoming the norm. Our family is adjusting very well for only being two months home, and there are aspects of the past three-ish months that I didn't plan or prepare for.

My body is finally on the mend. With lack of sleep, feeling high stress and anxiety about the future, and a constant pull to focus on everything, my body started to panic. My skin (which has always caused me grief) started looking, well, old. The color was gone, my wrinkles intensified and the bags under my eyes grew in size and darkened. I remember the dark circles with the boys too, but the rest was new. In the first couple weeks home, I lost five pounds due to sleep/eating patterns being off and many other focuses than food. Now, eight weeks later, I have gained it all back plus some. That may not sound like much, but for someone who is under five feet tall, fluctuating almost ten pounds in less than two months is huge. I have felt run down and unhealthy the entire transition.

About a week ago, I started going to bed early. The first step in becoming me again. I can finally get out and exercise- thank you mother nature for giving us sun. Now that I am home and settled, I can meal plan better so we are eating healthier. I am finally feeling a tad like myself.

Life home has been both a huge blessing and challenging. I love my time with my kiddos and I know this will be my last opportunity for this kind of family focus. I miss my work and I miss it dearly. I love the time to bond with Maylee and I miss my time with adults (and middle schoolers). I love the snuggles and pace of being home. I miss the creativity of my classroom. I am so thankful that I was able to take the rest of the school year off to focus on my family and the transition with Maylee, and I did not anticipate missing my work quite this much, nor quite this early.

I am reminding myself every morning and every night (and any other quiet, calm moments throughout the day) that this is special, important time and I need to cherish it. Even when cherishing it is tough. Even when my students email me to tell me of their accomplishments. Even when I am tired. Even when the fighting between siblings is at it's height. Even when the stinker face is the only expression I have seen. Even when the words "no", "stop", "please", and "why?!" are the only things I have said.

All of those "even ifs" have happened today, by the way.

This is special time. Hard. Very hard. But very important special time.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Too Brave

We have all faced painful loses in our lives. We all know the hurt that comes from the death of someone important to us- someone who has helped to shape us into the people we have become. We have all wished things could have been different, that they could have stayed with us a bit longer, that we had said what we needed to, that we could hold them just one more time. It is a universal experience that all humans share.

Imagine the pain you would feel if you had lost both your parents.......four times. Think of the hurt your heart would feel and the challenges that would bring. Now, add being taken from the only home you have ever known- the culture, the language, the sites, smells and sounds. Imagine all of that is suddenly gone. Finally, add being a toddler. All of this pain happened in just two short years. Your first two years of life. This is what you have known.

This is adoption.

This is a happier version of adoption.

Many adoption stories come with so many more hardships.

Our daughter is "lucky".

Actually, I hate that word. Our daughter is not lucky. She is not lucky to have us, she is not lucky to have lost so many people throughout her journey to us, she is not lucky to be loved. Her past is not the product of good fortune and aligning stars. In turn, we are not lucky to have her. We were meant to be her family. We worked hard to bring her home. Luck had nothing to do with it.

Many have/will say that she is lucky to be so young. "She won't remember", "You will be the only family she knows". But that's not true.

She will remember. She will always remember.

Maybe not true memories with her birth mother, or cuddles with her first foster family, or her first steps with her second foster family, or playing with her foster sister while with her third foster family. She may not actually remember these things, but she will always remember that they are absent. That there are so many parts of who she is that won't ever be the same.

Adoption trauma is one of the worst, in my opinion. Mainly because it is the only form of trauma not really recognized as such. So many people see her as being "saved". We did not save her. She had a beautiful life in Korea with her foster family. We took her away from everything that she knew. At this point, her experiences are more in line with being held captive- the opposite of being saved.

Our little girl has been through so so so many hard things in her precious life. She has recovered from things that adults can not cope with.

Yesterday, I watched my brave little girl fill ten-ish vials of blood without a squirm or a sound. Part of me was so proud of my beautiful girl- how strong and brave she is. Then it hit me- no two year old should feel the need to be that strong and brave. Not that I was hoping for screaming and flailing, but she showed no fear or concern of strangers poking and prodding her. None.

Although supporting our little girl has always been a given, we now see a very specific area of focus. We will prove to her that we are not leaving, and neither is she. She doesn't need to be so brave with us. We are safe, her feelings are safe, her memories are safe, and her past is important to us too.

This special little girl shows so much strength and love in her smile, in her hugs, in her giggles and in her tiny hand as she reaches for mine. Even after all that she has been through, she still has such a strong sense of self. She is confident, smart, kind, goofy, organized, and has no problem making her plan known (especially if it is disrupted).

We will ensure that these qualities won't get lost in her grief. We will preserve the truest version of our daughter. We will do all these things by checking our needs at the door- at least when she needs us to. We will be open and honest with her about what we know of her story. We will address the struggles that her trauma will uncover in the best way we know how. We will seek support for everything, because we know that she (and we) are not alone.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Three Weeks In

We have been home three weeks. Part of me wishes I would have done a weekly recap, part of me is glad I didn't. Although so valid at the time, there are some emotions from our first weeks that I do not wish to revisit, nor do I wish to encapsulate and preserve them in time through writing them down. I have felt more mommy guilt in the last three weeks, than I have in my almost eight years as a parent.

The first week home was rough on us- at least Maylee, Joe and I. Liam and Nolan were extremely easygoing about the chaos that ensued. It wasn't until our fourth day home when Maylee had a fever, that we learned that she had an ear infection. This was probably a contributing factor for our traumatizing travel experience, as well as her extreme sadness the first week. We knew that she would be sad and grieve, but the first week was spent with her in my arms, alternating crying, whimpering and screaming. She refused to eat, wanted nothing to do with Joe or the boys, and was only truly calm when sleeping.

This was so hard for us. We thought we knew why, but all of the skills we had spent over a year learning were not helping and we had no idea why. Maylee had been such a happy playful child in Korea and she had warmed up to her brothers instantly, but once home she seemed like a different child.

Again, we were prepared. We knew about the grief, we knew about the confusion and frustrations she would be feeling, but even as newly adoptive parents, this all seemed somehow "not right". Hearing news of her ear infection brought down our stress levels and our hearts were once again at ease. Our intuition was spot on.

Within a couple of days of antibiotics, the little girl we knew from visits and photos began to slowly emerge. She started smiling and giggling now and then, her appetite grew, and the very best sign- she began bonding with Joe and the boys.

Although she was so happy to play with the boys and interact with Joe if I was around, she continued to be upset when I left her sight and when Joe returned home from work. She would whimper or cry, which broke my heart. Of course, I was sad for her. All of this must have been so unnerving and confusing, but I was also so sad for Joe. Like me, he had waited so long and loved her so much and now she was rejecting him over and over again. He was so patient and understanding of her needs, where I found myself being increasingly more frustrated.  It hurt me to see her dismiss her daddy.

For the sake of my sanity and out of pure desperation, I decided to tune out her screams and head up stairs to take a bath and read for a bit after Joe returned home from work one day during week two. The first ten minutes were torture. She screamed so hard and called for me in a voice that could only have come from a place of pure fear. But Joe and I held strong. Soon her cries quieted and by the time I came back downstairs, she was fine- happy to be sitting with her daddy, eating a snack. Every mommy fiber of my being and everything I know about adoption-based trauma told me what I was doing was wrong, and yet it was the right call.

She still whimpers a bit and protests my husband's presence each time he returns home from work, but if I leave quickly, she warms up quickly. During our post-placement meeting, our social worker told us that this is extremely common. She is upset with him for leaving her each day and her response is a direct effect of that frustration. In short, she does it because she loves and trusts him. Such good news for this worried mama!

Now, our little lady loves legos, playing chase, stickers, and rolling around on the floor with her brothers. She gets sad at every oppa drop off and when she needs to say goodnight to them on our way to bed. She loved to eat anything and everything (except extra crunchy carrots and lettuce without ranch). She is sassy and smart. She is cuddly and creative. She loves being outside and snuggling Maizy.

Each day is a bit better than the last. Each day, our bonds get a bit stronger. Each day, our family of five solidifies a bit more.

Last night, when putting Maylee to bed, I kissed her cheek and told her that I love her. Then it hit me, "I actually do!" Not that I haven't loved her all along, but until now, I have loved the idea of her. I have loved the future that I imagined. I have loved a picture and words on paper. Now, I love HER. I love her for the child she is. For the personality that she has. For the new future I see. 

Wednesday, February 28, 2018


It has taken me almost a week to be ready to relive our travels home. Those 48 hours will forever be some of the hardest hours of my life. Ask anyone, this particular piece of the adoption process has terrified me since day one, and for good reason. We headed to the airport early, around noon. Checkout was at noon, so we arranged for the driver Holt scheduled for us, to pick us up at the hotel then. Although our flight wasn't until 6pm, we knew that there would be many time-consuming hurdles which would help to pass the hours. The taxi ride to the airport was nearly an hour, so we were already that much closer to flight time.

We dropped off the WiFi egg, checked in, dropped off our luggage and ate lunch. All of this soaking up some of our wait time. While finishing lunch, our first meltdown of the day occurred, right in the middle of the airport food court. It was a pretty big one, maybe the biggest public tantrum I had experienced as a mama, yet it was nothing in comparison to what lie ahead of us. After finally calming Maylee, we found our gate and decided to continue to wander, exploring the airport to kill more time. We found a Pororo play area, which kept Maylee mildly amused for a bit, then we shopped a bit, specifically looking for snacks to pack away for the 9 hour flight ahead.

We finally found the only convenience store in the entire airport, which just happened to be right next to the food court from earlier, then filled a basket with anything and everything Maylee seemed interested in. We headed back to our gate to wait to board the plane. We played with stickers, colored, and took walks around the terminal to keep everyone's nerves a bay. Finally, it was time to board the plane. We got to go first, as I was "randomly selected" for another security check right before entering the plane.

We got settled on the plane without incident. We were prepared- snacks, activities, toys, kindle, TV/movies, water. Even through take off, everything seemed great. Maylee was calm, happy and I had hope for an easy flight. However, it was already past her bedtime and dinner time and dinner service hadn't even started yet. As soon as the "fasten seat-belt" sign went off, Maylee began getting restless. I unbuckled her and she stood in her space near the window for a bit- happy to be unstrapped.  Then her dinner came. She ate very little and it seemed to make her anxious. She began fussing more and more.

My dinner came and S%$* hit the fan. Her fussing became full out screaming and jumping up and down, resulting in hitting her head repeatedly on the chair in front of her. She also hit my tray several times. Of course, right then, the "fasten seat-belt" sign came on and we hit a pocket of turbulence. More screaming and more of my dinner being jostled. I eventually gave up on eating and sent the tray back, so that I could focus on calming Maylee. Finally the seat-belt sign went off and Maylee and I tried walking the aisles. This worked for a bit, but Maylee was tired, so she didn't want to walk long and started pointing at her seat as we passed. Although, sitting didn't make her happy either. She wanted to be held, but didn't want to be held.

As she became more tired, her screams became louder. Of course, the lights stayed on far too late for her and this already was not the ideal place to fall asleep, so she was not having the whole "just rest" thing. At some point, she and I made our way to the back of the plane, where the most amazing flight staff ever tried to help me distract/calm her. It would work for a minute, but then she would scream and cry again. A bit later, I got her to sleep, but only while I was holding/rocking/shushing her in unison. I spent what felt like an hour doing this, feeling like my arms and back would give out at any minute, and not quite feeling like this was real. Was it real? Did this REALLY happen? Yes, yes it did.

Thinking she was finally out, Cassie prepared our seats for her to lay down and I brought her back, where she promptly woke up more mad/sad/scared than before. This time, her screams were so loud that they attracted several flight attendants in the back of the plane, all trying their hardest to reason with the terrorist that was my toddler. None of it worked. In a last ditch effort, I got the ergo, knowing it helped her to sleep before. We avoided this up until this point, because Maylee hates getting into it and we thought she was already screaming enough without it, but at this point, what could it hurt? We were wrong. New level of screams.

She was so upset that a flight attendant walked right up to us and took her out without a word to either of us. Then Cassie took her so I could use the restroom. When I came out, Cassie had her on her back, bouncing up and down. This had worked! She was falling asleep finally. As long as she was bouncing, she was asleep, but no one could keep this up forever and after awhile we tried to lay her down again. More screaming. This went on for the first four hours of our nine hour flight. Finally, Cassie and I were too tired to stand with her, so we sat with her in the middle and turned on Pororo. Maylee spent the next hour alternating between quiet grunts while watching Pororo and more screams. Right around hour five of the flight, she finally curled up on the seat and fell asleep. Hallelujah!

She slept for about two hours, then woke up crying. I scooped her up quickly, held her like a baby and shushed her until she fell asleep again. I held her this way for another hour or so, even through the "fasten seat-belt" sign being lit multiple times. NO ONE could make me wake that girl up. NO ONE was going to make me belt her in. If it got scary, of course I would have, but there were only a few bumps and her rest and our sanity prevailed. The last hour of the flight Maylee laid with her head on my lap until just before we landed, when she woke up a bit sad but manageable.

After landing, collecting our things, and getting off the plane, we went through what felt like hell on earth. You would think that nothing could have been worse than the flight we had just endured, but you would be forgetting the damn immigration line. We were told to head to a special line to hand over Maylee's visa/immigration paperwork, which would need to be submitted for her to enter the US. I was excited as we zoomed right past the very long line for the average passenger. Finally, something would go faster than usual! Then we found the line we were looking for and there were only three people ahead of us. Score!

Nope. Each person/group in front of us took 20 minutes to be processed. You've got that right, we waited over an hour! Over an hour!!! When it was finally our turn, we handed over our passports and paperwork and were on our way within five minutes. Who knows what the people in front of us needed to accomplish with their 20 minute meetings at the counter, but I was so glad ours was fast. We then had to pick up and re-check our bags. Yep, you heard that right too. Although this was easy and fairly quick, we were all losing control of our bodies and minds. Yet another hurdle- security, then another- three trains to get to our terminal, and another- a crowded walk to a crowded seating area. Finally, we arrived at our plane, more than two hours after landing.

Our wait to board was very fast. Cassie and I each ventured out for a drink and a snack, then it was time to get back on a plane. This one was a breeze. Less than 40 minutes in the air and Maylee fell asleep near the end of it. We spent more time on the plane waiting to go, than we did in the air. Finally, something that was easy. Landing in Portland was like a dream come true. Maylee was sleeping in the ergo, I was nearing delirium from exhaustion, but my boys, family and friends were waiting for us, so I felt the energy to get there quick.

Seeing my boys, knowing that the tough two days of travel were over, and knowing our family was FINALLY together poked holes in the floodgate which had been building. I lost it. I sobbed as I hugged my boys. So happy to be home, too tired to hold in the tears. After my needed hugs, the chatting between family and friends began. Everyone was so happy to meet Maylee, even if she was completely passed out.

At my lowest, most defeated moment on our first flight, I had completely planned to call Joe during our layover and tell him to call off the welcoming committee. At that point, I couldn't even comprehend seeing anyone and felt like it would only make Maylee's experience even more traumatic than it had already been. Although at the time, that totally would have been the right call, I'm so glad that I chose not to do it. I needed to feel/see the love of my family and friends. I needed them to be excited to welcome our sweet girl. I needed it more than I ever thought I would. Even though she won't have those memories, they are special to me.

Putting Maylee in the car began as the plane had- screaming, thrashing, pure hatred in her eyes. But as quickly as she had become upset, she calmed right down and fell asleep before we had even left the parking lot. The drive home was wonderful. Chats with my boys, a sleepy girl in her car seat, and a tired mama "off travel duty". The heaven after the hell.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Our First Days Together

The last couple days have been busy and exhausting, in the best way. Thursday, we had our Visa Interview which was at noon. This meant that we couldn't do much before, as all of the families were meeting in our hotel to head to the embassy together.

We started the day with cartoons and snacks. Eventually, this led to a completely naked girl, refusing to put on any clothes. She is quite good at communicating even through the language barrier. I know when she wants something, and everyone knows if she doesn't. This lack of clothes lasted a long time, until we couldn't take it anymore and needed to get some breakfast. She was not happy about it, but we got her dressed. My sweet Maylee is an awesome eater.

The rest of the morning is a blur. We tried the playroom, but there were too many people and Maylee seemed overwhelmed, so we left pretty quickly. Other than that, I think we just hung out in our room, until it was time to meet our friends in the lobby.

It was so fun seeing everyone again! Three other families were with us- one of them Maylee's foster sister's family, one from Oregon too, and the family that we met for dinner earlier this week. It was the best to have gone through all of this together. We shared so many memories of our court trip and now here we were with our new babies. So surreal.

The Visa Interview was a breeze. Nothing to worry about at all. Just simple questions and a wait. The kiddos ran around each other and parents doted on them. I was hoping that Maylee would be excited to see her foster sister, but it looked as though they were both in shock. While they interacted a bit, neither showed signs of excitement. This made me so sad.

After our Visa Interview, we went back up to our room to drop off our things and headed down to get some coffee. Little Miss got a pudding cup (we doesn't Starbucks have these in the US??). We planned to venture further, but the wind was blowing and it was too cold, so we headed back and ordered chicken from the front desk. We visited the playroom again. This time it was quiet and she had a blast. Her silly side really come out then.

Bedtime we tough. Maylee was grieving so hard. She kept yelling for her appa (foster dad) and ayia (foster sister), over and over again. It was almost two hours of sadness and confusion. Our little girl has been through so much and the grief is so hard. She wants comfort, but not from me. Then she wants me to hold her, then she doesn't. She knows that I'm the one who took her from them and that makes it hard to want comfort from me.

Yesterday, we tried to stay busy. We all do better when we're busy. There were a few things Cassie and I wanted to pick up before heading home, so it was our errand day. We started with a walk to the square where the Olympic shops are, but they weren't open yet, so we went to a coffee shop to kill some time. Maylee had fallen asleep in the ergo, so it was a calm was to rest. After picking up some souvenirs and playing in the snow a bit, we headed to the subway station.

I wanted a hanbok for my sweet girl. Holt gave us one, but it is for a much older kiddo, so I needed one that will fit her in the next few years. Hanboks are the traditional dresses worn by Korean kiddos on their birthdays and other special holidays. Out destination was Gwangjang market. This is the best place to go for street food and a variety of shopping needs. We wandered the aisles of food and fabric for a long time. We finally found the perfect hanbok, then headed back to the food area for a snack.

We found one with kimbap and tteokbokki. Maylee loved the kimbap. I loved the tteokbokki, which is very spicy. After our snack, we headed back to the hotel. Mommy was losing steam quickly and needed a break. We played in our room for a bit, then went down to the playroom again.

Finally, it was dinner time, so we headed back to Insadong. I found the last few things I needed and we ate at a tiny restaurant, hidden in an alley. Maylee had hit her limit though- her crazies were showing, so we hurried our meal and headed back to the hotel for our nightly routine of bath, snack, bed. This time, bedtime was a breeze. She was too tired to grieve and laid down and went to sleep. 

We are leaving Seoul today. We are leaving Maylee's home, the only home she has known. We are going to begin our journey to her new home and forever family. By this time tomorrow, we will be in Seattle, just a 45 minute plane ride from home and my boys. I have missed them all so much and can't wait to see all of our babies together. Finally!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018


Yesterday was a whirlwind of activity and emotion for everyone involved. Although we have been waiting for so long and were so ready and excited for the day to come, it also brought doubts and fears and grief. I woke up nervous, but okay. Then my husband decided to write me too many sweet messages and I broke down. Cue a shower to sob in silence.

After collecting myself just enough, Cassie and I headed to breakfast. It was so strange knowing it would be our last before Maylee would be joining us. After breakfast, we headed back to the bookstore a few blocks away. I got some gifts for the Holt staff and a few things for Maylee. On our way back we stopped for our second coffee of the morning. It was extremely cold out then and we needed warmth more than anything.

By this time, we had about two hours until our meeting. We headed back to the hotel, requested a taxi, and headed upstairs to pack for the day. I have struggled for many weeks on how to write to the family who loves our girl just as much as we do. How do you thank someone for being their mommy and daddy while you couldn't be? How do you share just the right words to show that you will love them forever and be your family always? Well, due to procrastination, I had about ten minutes to write this note. It was not enough, but it never would be.

We scrambled downstairs to meet the taxi and I spent most of the drive packing the gift bags for the staff. All of this rushing was so good for my nervous mama heart. We got to Holt about 45 minutes early, so we waited in the coffee shop in the basement. Babies and foster mamas rushed by throughout our stay, which offered the best possible distraction. So soon it was time to head up. Maylee and her foster family had not arrived yet, so I gave the staff their gifts, then waited nervously in our meeting room.

I heard them coming before I saw them. Happy greetings and excitement seeped into the room through the open door. Then, in walked my daughter and the loving couple who have been her support for so long. They all looked so happy to see me and Maylee gave me several hugs right away. We chatted for a bit- talking about Maylee, their family, our family, Maylee's foster sister, and exchanged gifts. They had so many clothes, toys, snacks to send with us and to be honest, who knows what else. I still have yet to open those bags. All the while, Cassie was taking so many special pictures of our time together.

Soon it was time to head down to the Holt doctor. She did one last check up for Maylee, then sent us on our way. We headed back up to that special room on the second floor and continued to talk. But all too soon, we were headed out to meet the van that would take us back to our hotel. This was, by far, the hardest part of our entire process. Maylee loves her foster family, Joe, Liam, Nolan and I love her foster family and separating Maylee from them was heart-wrenching.

The second we reached the van, I lost it. I hugged foster mom so hard and just sobbed. I did the same with foster dad and then quickly whisked Maylee and I into the van. It was such a rush of emotions- excitement that our sweet girl was finally with me, grief for her and her foster family, terror of what our life would look like in the coming days, relief that this long, hard process was finally coming to a close.

My little Maylee was so brave. She waved goodbye to her foster family- they prepared her so well. She smiled at me while I cried, giving me the strength to be brave too. As soon as I had it together, the grief hit her and she began to cry for her foster parents. It was as if she knew exactly what was happening and it had hit her in that single moment. The tears only lasted a few minutes, then we found ways to distract one another. Finally, Maylee snuggled up to me and fell asleep.

Once we made it to our hotel room, Maylee explored and played with some of the toys I had laid out for her, but all too quickly our feisty girl needed a change of pace. We headed down to the playroom in the hotel. That didn't last long. She loved it and played well, but there were other adults and children there, and I could see it was confusing for her. She is still learning who I am supposed to be to her. I am still not her mommy in the sense that I am to the boys. That bond and role needs to develop with time.

We headed back to the room and Cassie went to get us dinner. Maylee and I wandered from toy to toy, window to window, while we waited. After dinner, we went for a walk. This was a the best experience! Maylee loves piggy back rides, so she rode on my back in the ergo. This gave me a bit of a break from her massive energy stockpile, but still felt like a bonding experience. After returning to our room, Maylee took a bath and got into her pjs. I tried to keep her up a bit longer, since it was only 6:30, but within a half an hour, bedtime with needed.

She and I laid on our bed watching Korean cartoons on a very quiet volume. She found some snacks that her foster family had packed, and even though we had already brushed teeth, she nibbled on them while she faded. As she neared the point of sleep, her grief got stronger. She began calling out to her foster family and pointed at the window, knowing they were out there somewhere.

I tried to comfort her, but she did not want me to touch her. She slowly laid down and soon her cries were quieter, then fewer and farther between, until she finally closed her eyes and fell asleep. That was 8pm last night. It is now 5:30am and she is just starting to show signs of waking. Throughout the night, she would cry out here and there, but would go right back to sleep on her own.

Yesterday, while it was the most emotional day of my life, it went much smoother than I had anticipated. I don't know what is ahead for today. We have our Visa Interview and Maylee will be reunited with her foster sister while we attend our interviews together. While I can't wait to see them together again, I know that this may throw a whole new focus of grief into our world.