Once we arrive in Seoul, a driver will pick us up from the airport and bring us to the Guest House at Eastern/ESWS-the agency in Korea. We are hoping there will be space for us to stay there during our trip because it's inexpensive and then we are also right there. On the first two floors of the building is the agency, on the upper few floors is the guest house for families to stay. On the second floor, is the nursery where all the babies have stayed temporarily, until they are placed with their foster family. There are about 50-70 babies in the nursery at any one time. One of the exciting opportunities that comes with staying at the Guest House, is the chance to help take care of the babies in the nursery --to feed, change, and hold the babies that are still waiting for their foster family and their forever family. I can't wait to help with the babies and whisper in their ears that they are loved and their family is out there waiting for them, like I hope someone did for Gracie. If the guest house is full we will stay at a local hotel within walking distance.
The the day after we arrive we will probably get to meet Gracie for the first time. It will be our BIG day, THE moment. Her foster mother will bring her to the agency and we will get to spend some time with Gracie there. That day we will also meet her social worker and the other agency workers that have been instrumental in Gracie's care. We will also meet with the president of the agency (Eastern). The president of the agency is the daughter of the man who founded Eastern. After we meet with Gracie, her foster mom and the agency workers, we are free to tour, travel and explore. Gracie will go home with her foster mother. A day or so later we will be able to meet with Gracie and her foster mother again. After our second meeting, Gracie will again go home with her foster mother.
Other than the couple meetings with Gracie and the agency workers, John and I will be free to sight see. I hope to go to the Korean market, eat lots of delicious Korean food, go to the Koryo Bookstore which is apparently unlike any bookstore there is, go to the Korean folk village and visit some of the many beautiful palaces. We still need to work out all the details of our sightseeing plans. Apparently, there is an extensive subway system that is quite easy to use.
On the last day of our stay in Korea, we will wake up early and meet with the agency president, foster mother and social workers. We will all gather together and a prayer will be said for Gracie and all the children leaving-blessing them in their new life. At that point, we load up our things, get on a van and are transported to the airport. We then get on our plane and fly back to MN on what will be a VERY long flight home (20-23 hours including layover).
As you might have gathered from this description, we do not take physical custody of Gracie until we leave for the airport. From what I understand, the reason for this is because CHSFS (Children's Home/our agency) is actually the legal guardian of Gracie until we finalize the adoption back in MN, 6 months after we arrive home. We are Gracie's parents during that time and make all decisions regarding her care, but the adoption will not be finalized until 6 months after we are home. We will finalize through the Ramsey County courts. It is because we finalize the adoption back in the states that we cannot have custody in Korea until we leave. It is also the reason we will have so much time to sight see while we are in Korea. While we are in Korea there is no legal paperwork or procedures to take care of. This is one aspect of Korean adoptions that is different from most other international adoption programs.
So that is what I understand will happen when we travel to get Gracie. Of course, I will fill everyone in on the details of our trip as we are there because we will have Internet access at the Guest House. I can't wait!!