2018 was definitely a year of change. If you’d told me at the beginning of the year so many changes would be happening, I would have thought you were crazy. Through it all, thankfully, we still were able to prioritize our trip to Korea in October/November.
We’d been looking forward to the trip to Korea all year. This was the first time we were going to meet Jaeyoon, Whitney’s nephew. The summer flew by and it looked like everything was all set for our upcoming trip. Then in mid-September, I was offered a promotion at my job, which was going to require us to move across the country. I’d moved from Pennsylvania to Tennessee five years prior and swore I did not want to move again. Well, I accepted the promotion, which meant we were going to have to move from Tennessee to Maryland.
We both were dreading moving, but knew it was the best choice. The clock was ticking fast because I only had a few weeks until I needed to report in Maryland. The entire moving process just sounded exhausting and we still wanted to keep the trip to Korea on the calendar. We were willing to postpone going to Korea only if we absolutely had to. We found a realtor who specialized in selling homes in our neighborhood. We met with him and asked if there was any way we could still squeeze in our Korea trip. He was fascinated with Whitney’s reunion story (because he had a sister who was also adopted from Korea) and told us not to worry, that our trip was a priority and we would schedule around it no matter what. He was meant to be.
Fast forward a month and it is suddenly the week of our trip to Korea. I was already working in Maryland and Whitney and Yoda were with her family in Ohio. Our realtor worked his magic and scheduled our closing date two days before we flew out of Nashville to Korea. Whitney and I met in Nashville and then flew together to Korea where the chaos began.
Upon arriving in Korea, our transportation from the airport to Seoul fell apart and we had to arrange for another mode of transfer. We finally arrived at our hotel and got to see Whitney’s family, including her nephew. Jaeyoon pretty much was a ball of energy when we first met him. At first, it was interesting seeing how he commanded the room and all the adults did whatever he wanted. After a while, I started to get a little frustrated from it, but it was simply because I didn’t understand the culture and how children are handled in Korea by their parents.
Growing up, I was the oldest in my family and only had one younger sibling. It’s been such a great experience being able to get to know Seongbae, Whitney’s older brother. Seongbae is older than me and I remember when I first met him a few years ago, he wasn’t married yet and was mostly into IT and computers. We didn’t get to spend much time with him the first few times we went back to Korea. But since getting married and having Jaeyoon, he has definitely made his family the priority and I’ve seen a huge change in him. Since he’s Whitney’s older brother, her family has me refer to Seongbae as hyung. He’s become a real family man and wanted to spend good quality time with Whitney and myself before we had to leave.
Seongbae asked if we wanted to spend the day with him, his wife and Jaeyoon. This is the first chance that we had to spend a sustained amount of time with him and his family, so of course we wanted to. It started out with them picking us up and we drove around an hour away from Seoul into the countryside. They took us to a beautiful lake where we walked around with Jaeyoon. The weather was perfect with not a cloud in the sky. They asked what we liked to eat and I told them I love bulgogi and japchae. After visiting the lake, they took us to a famous restaurant that served the best bulgogi and japchae. The food really was amazing and I could understand why there was a line to get into the restaurant. We then went to a famous coffee house. To finish out the day, we went to one of the largest malls in Korea. There was an arcade in one of the stores and I got to play Seongbae in basketball. After the mall, they drove us back to the hotel after a long day that flew by. It was so nice getting a chance to spend that time with my new family and to see Whitney bonding more with her older brother and nephew.
I was on such an emotional high after spending the day with them. So many “what ifs” about my past and adoption entered my mind. Up until that point, I really did not give it much thought about going back to Holt and talking about a birth family search. It was the furthest thing from my mind. But after spending a day with my hyung and his family, I made a last minute decision to want to visit Holt.
Stay tuned for Part Two of this blog entry…
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