Eek. Back a week and haven't posted yet! I blame jet lag. Here's the details!
Monday was the big day...time to meet Little Brother! We
arrived early but our foster mother was earlier. When we walked in,
there he was! At least we thought it was him. In our photos he was sporting a 90s rock star hair cut, but this tiny person was wearing ruffles and a Dorothy Hamil hairstyle. Then he turned and I saw those cheeks and knew it was him.
It was sort of a shock seeing him in person. Totally surreal. For our first meeting, we met him at the agency which I have to say I didn't like. (We met Little Man at his foster home the first time. Much more personal and the baby seems much more comfortable.) The agency was
overflowing with visiting families. There were at least 4 there at the
same time as us and both the playrooms were full, so we just played with
him in the corner in the seating area. One family was actually meeting & playing with their child in the hallway!
Little Man was really great with Little Brother and gave him a toy giraffe we had brought him. He also offered him a mini M&M, which of
course, Little Brother spit out and trailed a blue streak down his cheek
and shirt. Foster mother gave us a dirty look and scolded Little Man in Korean. We weren't off to a good start.
Our social worker was running between all the families
so we weren't able to communicate at all with the foster mother. And
then, when the playroom opened up, they told us we could go in and have "family time", which meant they handed Little
Brother to us and said if he cried they would return.
Foster mother left
and of course, it took Little Brother all of 30 seconds to start
sobbing. Unfortunately that set the tone for the rest of the visit and
after foster mom came back in, Little Brother wouldn't leave her side.
We worked really hard to try and play with him, but he's deeply
connected to foster mother and just wasn't interested.
At the end of our
visit we finally got him to briefly interact with us. He has a funny little laugh and hides his face when he smiles. He sits with his legs spread wide open, nearly in splits, and loves slapping them open and closed very fast, tossing anything that might be between them. He is incredibly strong although not really big. He's running about two pounds heavier than Little Man did at his age. But Little Brother's head is as big as Little Man's head is right now! Lots of brains, I hope.
His favorite pastime seems to be throwing. Anything and everything. If you give him something, it's a sure bet that he will toss it. And he can throw really far! I watched foster mother get clocked in the head at least 4 times with a block. Bless her heart, she never even flinched.
Little Man did pretty well at trying to play with his brother. He'd go up and try to tickle Little Brother, or take a toy to him. Trying to concentrate on Little Brother was a bit tough with our oldest in the room. Little Man did need some extra attention and by the end of the visit, he kept getting into things we had asked him not to, and turning the volume up on one toy really loud. But overall, I thought he handled it beautifully.
At the end of our first visit, I felt OK. It wasn't a great visit, but also wasn't horrible.
Our second visit was much the same. Foster family lives about 40 minutes outside of Seoul so it was a drive to get there. Little Brother and foster mom were definitely more relaxed at their home. We got a few more smiles out of him, but he's a tough character. Just when he started to show interest, he'd quickly turn towards foster mom and turn his back to us. I held him a few times, briefly. Once when the foster mother left the room and I tried to console him. And a second time when we attempted a family photo. Neither time went well for us.
We did see more of his personality. He is shy, curious, and determined. When there is something he wants, he has a singular focus. He's very engaged with his foster mom and it's obvious that the two have a very strong bond. He loves musical toys or anything that blinks, but is such a strong kid that he's broken all of the toys by throwing them! And he's a crazy baby when food is present. The foster mom was holding him with one arm around his waist and shoving food in his mouth with the other. She could hardly get it in fast enough. It was like trying to hand feed a hyena. I couldn't stop laughing as I watched the craziness. I did hold him on my lap for a few minutes while the foster mom tried to jam food into his mouth. He let me feed him a few bites too. He's a great eater but he doesn't like bananas.
He still isn't walking, but he did pull himself up to standing very quickly and easily. We saw him stand alone for a bit, but he's not ready to walk around yet. But he can army crawl lightning fast!
The boys did interact very sweetly at the end of the visit. Little Brother was on his foster mother's back, and Little Man asked to get up on The Man's back. The adults stood side by side and the boys leaned over and laughed in each others faces which was incredibly cute and sweet. A vision of what they'll be like in a few months!
The visit ended quickly, as they all seem to do. Never enough time! Little Man shyly whispered to The Man that he wanted to hug his brother good-bye. Very sweet. Little Brother wasn't exactly sure he wanted to be hugged, but Little Man was undeterred. He then gave him a kiss on the head. Very kind and gentle. So proud of our big boy!
I kissed those chunky cheeks a few more times and got a few smiles. And then we were off.
I can't tell you how hard it was to leave. It's a strange feeling to meet your child and then leave without him. So much different than Little Man's adoption process.
I was also really bummed because I didn't feel like we had gained much ground with Little Brother and felt very anxious for days. Although we only met Little Man once before we took custody, we had such great interactions with him right from the start that it was easy to feel positive during those times of fear and doubt about becoming a parent. With Little Brother, he's much more reserved and cautious. I worry about how our transition will be and know that his expressions of grief are going to be much more obvious and greater than Little Man's were.
As we left, The Man smiled with tears in his eyes and said he knew that everything was going to be OK. I wish I left feeling as confident. All those ugly thoughts about your weaknesses as a parent started rearing their heads. I know that most parents have this experience at one time or another when bringing a child home, adopted or biological. I guess that I'm glad I'm worried. Glad I'm fearful. That means I'm aware of the challenges ahead of us. If I went into it clueless and feeling that it was going to be easy, I'd likely have a shock.
Fortunately, we have many friends who have been through this, and many relay stories about their children that are much more similar to our interaction with Little Brother than to Little Man's. I know that we'll come through the other side one day at a time. Heck, more likely it will be one moment at a time.
I thought it would be much less daunting since we had done it once before. But now, it seems so much harder than the first time. Maybe because we know just how hard it is to watch a child be scared and grieve. Oh, my heart breaks already.
Stay tuned for more about our trip!