Thursday, October 18, 2012

grand finale:: one week home

This blog was started for the "seoul" purpose (ha, see what I did there?) of documenting our journey to Gia for several reasons.  
  • We wanted to have a place to keep family and friends updated throughout this nearly 2 year adventure.  We both have family and friends scattered all over the US (or world, in some cases!) and a blog just seemed to be the best fit for updates.  
  • This also gave us a place to offer and receive encouragement.  If you haven't adopted and/or don't know anyone close to you that has, you need to know that it's a crazy emotional time.  If we had not had support from our friends and family, I'm really not sure we would have made it to this end sane.  On the opposite end of that spectrum, it was important to me to give back some of what was given to me, meaning I wanted God to use our story to light another path for another family that needed support.  I'm so happy to know that happened with at least two families!  Maybe there are more, but Gia's story is beginning to hold the hand of other friends of ours walking down Adoption Lane.  
  • Finally, I want Gia to know her story.  I need her to know how God orchestrated every single tear and smile in these two years.  This blog was the best way I knew to record everything so that one day she could read it and know how loved she was before we ever met.  By the way, she was two months old when this blog was started.  I just love knowing that she started her little life around the same time we started looking for her.  :)

With that said, please understand that I may or may not add more to this.  Call me old school, but there is something slightly weird about posting all kinds of things about your kids and family online.  Since the purpose of the blog has been fulfilled, I don't feel obligated to keep it updated much longer.  Sorry.  

I'm happy to email with any of you that have my contact info!

Before we sign off...one more post...

Today marks one week of us being a family of three.  As I sit here trying to think of how to recap this week, only one word comes to mind: full.  

We feel blessed.  Gia has had SUCH an amazing (and easy) transition period so far.  I'm not pretending that we're out of the woods just yet, but the part we were dreading the most is behind us. She is a happy and seemingly healthy little one.  Her first doctor's appointment will be next week, hopefully.  We'll know more medical info at that time.  She is a good little eater too, as we have introduced her basically every southern food I can think of, including black eyed peas.  No cokes, though.  She loves the pups, especially our little 9 lb Maggie.  Gia and Maggie have adopted each other as best buds. Precious.  She is sleeping in her own bed in her own room---YAY!  Huge step for her!  She likes slides, but not swings...yet.  And pistachios are her favorite snack.  I leave you with a couple pictures from our first week together.  

Thank you all so much for being a support system to us!  We can never ever repay you for helping us get our daughter home!  

Hugs have been sent.  Hugs have come home.  And hugs were given tonight at bedtime.

Friday, October 12, 2012

airport welcome

There are no words to express the joy we have tonight.  Thank you all!

If you were able to come to the airport, we thank you for sharing that moment with us.  Even if we did look like a hot mess!  If you weren't able, please know that we had you in our hearts as we left the plane to join the celebration.

We are humbled at the amount of love our family has been shown for the past year or so.  Thank you just simply isn't enough.

Here's a glimpse of the airport reception for those that couldn't be there.  We may just have to crop you in. ;)

Special thanks to Heather and Rusty for documenting this for us!

And yes, we are now...

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Eating and shopping and tea, oh my!

(Kevin here. So it won't sound as smart as it usually does with Mal.. but she will say something at the bottom, so don't miss it.)

It's been a long day, so the easier route to blogging about our adventures is to share photos. Thus, I'll take you through our day via pictures and short captions. Enjoy.

I was excited about the day, so my body decided to wake up at 5:00am. The bad news is I couldn't get back to sleep. The good news is that I caught the beautiful sunrise from our room:

Our first and main order of business today was to take a tour of the city. We were accompanied and guided by our friend, Hyuna. She was awesome. Our first stop was at a the largest palace in Seoul, where Malerie really enjoyed hanging with the guards. And hanging LIKE the guards:

Then I found a piano in the middle of the city, so I played it. No tips were given. They don't tip in Korea. For real. They actually don't. No restaurant, taxi, or bellman tips. Ever. Here's the piano:

We fulfilled our desire to rule a country by dressing up like a king and queen:

An authentic Korean lunch included dumplings, some sort of fried "cakes" and of course, kimchi. Malerie attempted the chopsticks, but after much frustration, the nice lady at the restaurant reluctantly delivered that new age utensil, the fork. We also made sure to sport our family love, war eagle:

Right next to the restaurant was Hyuna's favorite tea cafe in the city. It was super delicious:

The atmosphere was even cooler. We sat on mats on the floor... without shoes (a traditional custom in Korea) by the way. Look:

Malerie was a natural. She even looked Asian drinking it:

And we found a cartoon character, who fell into the trap of taking the stereotypical Asian shot, meaning it couldn't resist the release of the peace sign from its hand. Good times:

There was definitely more to our day but the camera got put away, and it's almost 1:00am here. It's unfathomable that we will MEET GIA in NINE HOURS. Wow. God is so good to us.

Prayers are so appreciated on one of the wildest days of our life tomorrow. Or later today for most of you guys. :) Until then, we sleep. You go to work. And Gia is with us soon.


I just want to share two really amazing moments from today.

Our tour guide was really sweet about us adopting from her country.  It never occurred to me how awkward I would feel walking around a country and knowing that I'm adopting one of their own babies.  I felt guilty at times as Hyuna asked us about Gia.  I'm nervous about what tomorrow will be like as we walk around with her as first time parents.  Anyway, at one point of today Hyuna asked what our baby's name was, so we gave her the Korean name and the American name.  She lit up and said, "That sounds much like a Korean name."  And then I lit up, "Really?!" Apparently Giha is a popular Korean name, and it's pronounced just like Gia.  How fun!  We didn't even know how culturally relevant we were when we chose that name.

The next amazing thing from today will not be amazing unless you know me.  I mean really know me.  I wore tennis shoes all day long.  All day.  No heels at all.  No flip flops at all. Just the tennis shoes.  Go ahead and catch your breath.  :)   But seriously, most every single woman here wears heels of various sizes.  I'm so impressed.  However, not one person wears flip flops, and that makes me all kinds of sad.  

Alrighty... time for some shut eye.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Hashtag Bring Gia Home

(Guest entry from the husband, yo.)

Our twitter feed has been blowing up in the past 36 hours. If you don't have a twitter account, you're a loser, by the way. :) But for real, if you follow Malerie (@malhugs) or myself (@kevinhuguley), just click on the hashtag (#BringGiaHome) and see the insane amount of support and encouragement we've had. I'm sure the odds are likely that many of you that are reading this are the same ones actually sending those sweet tweets. Trust us, they've been both read and felt by us.

Malerie is currently busy working and organizing away (no surprise there...) on our gift bags for the many people we will be meeting over the next few days.. Check it:

Yeah, this "hotel" room is pretty ballin' if I say so myself. I use the quotation marks intentionally, as this is much more like an apartment than a hotel. In fact, that's exactly what it is. A two bedroom, two bath, apartment, which is good for Gia's transition.. seeing that our HOUSE is a two and two as well. :) The main difference in this apartment and our house (other than the fact that it's on the other side of the planet) is the view. At home, we pretty much have the front porch view of a typical neighborhood street. Here, on the other hand...

As for the other hours of the day so far, our adventures have led us around the city, having already walked more than two miles (or 3.218688 kilometers, trying to contextualize, ya know) in just a few hours. In that time, we managed to be typical Americans by stopping by a McDonald's AND a Baskin Robins. We're pathetic. But not as pathetic as the size of those shameful milkshakes they made us for dessert. It was basically a shot glass of chocolate shake. But don't let those food joints fool you. We've been pretty 'local' here with shopping so far. The markets are boisterous, crowded, and awesome. I may take the camera out tomorrow to share more of our experiences.

That's all for now. Seeing that it's around 3am right now back home, I wish you all well, hoping for some Matchbox Twenty to serenade you while you sleep. "She only sleeps when it's raining... and she screams... and her voice is straining..."

Okay. This is why Malerie does this. Bye.


Sunday, October 7, 2012

day 1

Greetings from Korea!

We arrived safely this morning around 4:15 Korean time, meaning around 2:00 for you Americans.  We slept the majority of the 14 hour flight, believe it or not.  I didn't know I was capable of sleeping that much at one time, but the past few days have caught up to me apparently.  And maybe God is preparing me to NOT sleep at all on the way home.  Oh lordy...  

Whatever the case may be, I'm grateful we are well rested because I'm updating this from the Incheon Airport, where is it 6:45 am.  Remember the part where I said we landed around 4:15?  We have been patiently waiting for our van service to pick us up, but that doesn't seem to be happening.  Things could be worse.  I mean we are sitting in a nice airport with free wifi while eating Dunkin Donuts.  Holt's Korean office opens at 9:00 (I think) so we will either call and tell them their van service never showed, or we will get one of the hundreds of taxis/buses/vans outside to take us.  Never fear, we will get to our hotel at some point today.

Today is a free day for us.  We will have our city tour tomorrow in the morning, and then tomorrow afternoon will be another free time for us.  I'm hoping our hotel can schedule us a tour of the DMZ tomorrow.  It's the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea.  I would love to tell you all about it, but I don't know much about it.  More on that later, if we get it scheduled.  I would love to hit up some of the markets today and get some prizes to take back home.  Santa Clause is coming soon, after all!  ;)

Until next time....

Sending Hugs are Here

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

THE call

First of all, let me graciously accept the worst blogger award.  I apologize for being lazy in my updates. At some recent point of this journey, any update felt redundant.  It's just waiting to wait, ya know.  Regardless, we have had some really huge news this week, so I'll start from the beginning...

After checking my email briefly during break, I noticed my sister had sent me a message asking if we'd gotten anything that I could share unofficially.  I didn't have anything to share.  But, for the last couple of weeks I'd been calling DC to ask for Gia's visa update, and I figured that was what my sister was asking about.  So I called DC one more time after reading her email to get a status update and reply to her email.

Me: Hi, can I get a update on my file?

DC rep: Sure, can I have the number please?

<this is when I give the appropriate info so the nice lady can access her file>

DC rep: Oh my, she's beauuuuutiful.  Congratulations.

Me:  Oh my goodness.  The picture only shows up when the visa interview has been scheduled!!  Really?!

DC:  Her interview is scheduled for tomorrow at 1:00.

Me:  Ok, thank you!  Thank you so much!

I was a giddy child for the rest of the day.  I knew that the visa interview was THE LAST STEP before travel call, so we were almost home free.  The problem was that travel call could come one day after VI or a month...no real way of knowing.  So, back to the waiting game we went.

Fast forward to today, Wednesday.

I'm sitting at school working with some kids in a tutoring session when my phone rings.  I normally do not leave my phone turned on or out on my desk, but when a TC is on the line you leave your phone out!  When I check the caller ID there's an Oregon number.  It's Holt.  I knew it!  This was the TRAVEL CALL we had waited for for the last 18 long months.  I asked my kids to give me a minute and answered.

Me:  Hello??  (real anxious because I KNEW it was the TC)
Holt:  May I speak with Malerie?
Me:  Hey, this is she!  (getting extra excited)
Holt:  This is your travel call...
Me:  YAYYYYY!! Oh this is so exciting!  Oh, sorry, go ahead...
Holt:  That's ok, I like getting those reactions for travel calls.

And we proceeded to discuss the logistics of traveling to get the baby girl.

So here I sit with a flight itinerary to Korea sitting in my email.  It's real, y'all!  That girl is coming home and soon!  The cool thing is we will take custody of her on her 21st birthday.  I know it's weird to be excited about that, but we've missed so much already that I'm happy to start spending these milestones with her.

We are still a little bit away from being fully funded, though I know God is working some things out already to take care of that burden.  We have seen his hand in all of this, and I can't start doubting now.

In the next week please join us in praying for Gia and her transition.  That is just so heavy on my heart. I have read lots of stories recently of babies that just didn't want anything to do with new mom and dad.  While that is a good sign of attachment, it's still hard to know that we will be the ones pulling her away from everything she knows and loves.  So, please pray that God will start doing a big work in her heart and mind now to prepare for this change.

Can't wait to update from Seoul!

Sending Hugs

Monday, September 3, 2012

a place of her own

Today our guest room became Gia's room!

My parents were gracious enough to come up to B'ham and help with the transformation.  We emptied all the old furniture and started pulling down boxes of Gia's stuff from the attic that's been there since January.  So much stuff.  I didn't realize we had it all.

We did a lot of work and I am TIRED, but there's still a bit to go.  My plan is to finish the curtains this week, and we are waiting on a piece to come in for her bed.  Hopefully it will all be done before our TC!

Gia now has a place of her own, and I love it.  I've had to correct myself from saying "guest room" and now say "Gia's room."  It feels so weird, haha.

I so appreciate my parents' help, but I also want to share a gift they brought to us.

Can you see that it's her name?  It's written in traditional Korean cultural symbols and it was made IN KOREA!  I don't know how they pulled that off, but I'm in love with it.  It's a really sweet silk (?) scroll too.  So special.  The artist also sent a paper explaining what each symbol means.

Hopefully I will get around to sharing some other goodies from her new room.  For now, we rest.  :)

Sending Hugs