This morning our study tour schedulers had determined that we would be free to explore on our own and at our leisure. We would then all reconnect at the hotel to be transported back to Korea University for our final two lectures.
But this morning's story starts LONG before we even arrived in Korea. One of our teachers from Chicago, Lyn, and her husband, Tom, began the process for an international adoption over a year ago. Eventually they learned that they were paired with a boy in Seoul. The process for adopting from Korea is a lengthy process to help insure accountability of all parties along the way. Lyn and Tom have, through their state-side agency, been in contact with the agency in Seoul. Pictures of their son-to-be have been exchanged. All of this pre-dates even the application process for this study tour.
A few weeks prior to our trip, something came up about possibly meeting her son at some point when Lyn might have time. Arrangements would have to be explored with the Seoul agency to see if schedules would even match up. Once our final "tentative" schedule was made Lyn was able to communicate when she would have the best opportunity. It was not until the day before we left when she and Tom received confirmation that an appointment for the morning of July 5th was set.
Lyn and I, along with a couple of other teachers made fast friends earlier on in the trip and Lyn mentioned this opportunity. I had mentioned that by luck of life I was with friends in Kenya when they formally began the process to adopt two precious children there and was able to take their first "family picture". Lyn then invited me and the other two to go with her: 1) to help be some form of emotional support for her because, in her words, she was going to be a "hot mess" and 2) to help take pictures and video for her to take back to Tom and their families. A couple of days later, after learning that he had previously adopted two Korean children through this very same Seoul-based agency, Lyn asked Professor Peterson to join us as well; his fluency in Korean would also help for translation.
So this morning, the five of us loaded into a couple of taxis and headed off to the Seoul agency for Lyn to meet her son in person. What an amazing time!! Lyn was able to meet and visit with her son's foster mom (who has already fostered three other children in preparation for an international adoption). Further, through the wifi connections at the agency, Tom was also able to meet his son through the wonders of "FaceTime" (as were Lyn's parents and sister). There was not a dry eye during the whole encounter. It was truly a special hour or so.
It will still be almost a year before the whole process is completed and Lyn and Tom are able to bring their son back to the United States. While Lyn and Tom have settled on a name for him (which includes his current Korean name) I am not mentioning it here as they have not communicated it to their family and I don't want them to hear about it from me <grin>.