Trip 1 is done!

I can’t believe it, but we are home from our first trip to Korea! It was a whirlwind experience filled with tons of sightseeing, yummy foods, cultural experiences, and most importantly, meeting our Maverick πŸ’™

Wanted to sum up our trip for everyone who has been asking for details and touch briefly on what happens now!

β€’ Day 1- we arrived at Incheon airport, got our money exchanged, got our WiFi hot spot rented (for those reading who are doing your first trip soon-HIGHLY recommend doing this. It was $35 for the whole week and with it I could iMessage anywhere), and met our van driver and we were off! We got to our hotel at about 6am, dropped our bags off, and were told we could check in around 1pm so we got our comfy clothes on and set off to explore. The subway system in Seoul is so user friendly and most people use it, so we got ourselves subway cards and headed to my top priority place to see- HOLT! I knew no one would be there on a Sunday, but just seeing it in person I got tears in my eyes. It had been a long time coming. We then had coffee and breakfast (y’all, there are coffee places EVERYWHERE! My dream!) and randomly met up with some friends who are also adopting. We spent the rest of the day doing ALL THE WALKING. We wanted to see everything we possibly could. We walked across one of the huge bridges and got some beautiful skyline photos for Maverick’s lifebook, went to a market in Insadong, and just took in all the sights. We got back to our hotel at 3 and by 4, we were so tired that our “nap” turned into an all night sleep 🀣

β€’ Day 2- this day we started with coffee, then headed to the Gwangjang Market for some souvenir shopping and to meet up with a friend for lunch. This market houses 5000 small shops within an area about as large as a neighborhood market Walmart. Just people and things EVERYWHERE! We got some fun souvenirs, tried lots of different snacks and foods, and enjoyed lunch. We explored the Itaewon area that night and had yummy dessert together.

β€’ Day 3- THE DAY! We met our baby boy this day! We seriously both woke up at about 4 that morning. Half because we were still majorly jet lagged, half because we were soooo excited to finally see our boy! After a little coffee and breakfast, we headed to Holt. My heart sank a little as each child walked in and it wasn’t our little guy, but finally, the very last one in the door was Maverick! As soon as he came in he was off! He ran that room so many times, we got ourselves a great workout. The only time he stopped was for Teddy Grahams and when we forced him to take a picture for the court. I had read that when some meet their kiddos that they don’t click right away, and the feeling of instant love just isn’t there. Much like with some parents after their child is born. The bond develops over time. I was so grateful, however, that this was not the case for either of us. We both fell head over heels for him very quickly! After an hour and a half meeting, we had to say our see you laters. This day it was a bit easier because we knew we still had one meeting left. We went back to the hotel to rest and unload the HUGE bag of toys/gifts from the foster parents and spent the rest of the night exploring Gangnam and got to walk around a beautiful Buddhist temple.

Day 4- Sightseeing. We saw a lot of amazing things this day. We went to the Gyeongbokgung Palace and got to explore all over it with our tour guide. We really appreciated getting to take in such amazing pieces of our child’s history and learning more about his culture. One thing that’s incredibly important to us both is making sure that we keep his culture as a part of his life as he grows. We’re not adopting him to try and make him just like us. Yes he’ll be a part of our family and in every way possible he will be just like one of our biological kids, but we also don’t want to ignore what makes him unique and special either. The fact that Holt International puts emphasis on this and schedules tours for their adoptive parents I think says a lot about them as an organization. Our tour guide also took us to a local market and we got to try lots of different traditional Korean foods as well. We ended that night in Itaewon with some friends who were also there for adoption and we all had dinner together at an amazing Korean BBQ restaurant.

Day 5- Our “See You Later” Day. We again woke up pretty early this day with tons of excitement and expectation. Having our first meeting under our belts, we kind of knew what to expect out of it and also knew what he really preferred and how he plays so we had more confidence this day. Unlike the first day, Maverick was the first one through the door this day and was even a bit early so we got some extra time to play with him. You could tell right away he was much more comfortable with us this day and actually within just a few minutes he walked up to John and motioned for him to hold him. That basically melted me into a puddle. He was much more calm this day and we spent a lot more time having physical contact and closer interaction, whereas the first day had been a lot of chasing him around the room. His little spirit is just so sweet. He reminds me a lot of Karsen at that age. It’s so cool how God plans these things. I believe He handpicked Maverick for us and He knew that our family would be the perfect fit for him and visa versa. Saying goodbye this day was pretty tough. I didn’t lose it in front of Maverick, but I did spend a good part of the afternoon crying. It’s hard saying goodbye to the child you’ve fallen in love with. We were thankful for the distraction of having coffee with most of the other families who would be attending court with us. Almost felt like having coffee with family. People who have gone through the exact same experiences as you for the last 2 years have a way of connecting to your heart pretty quickly. The conversations were so comforting, just seeing that we weren’t alone in our struggles. We pretty much took it easy the rest of that night. Easy going dinner and some walking around. Emotionally that’s about all I could handle.

Day 6- Court!!! We were pretty nervous about this day. Even though we knew court was more of a formality than anything, it’s still very nerve wrecking to do. We went to an amazing bakery for coffee and breakfast and then headed to meet up with the rest of our group. Court lasted about 10 minutes for each family and the questions were basically exactly what we had been told they would be. The judge ended our session with saying “please raise him with a lot of love” which definitely gave me all the warm fuzzies because that felt pretty final. We had lunch with our group this day and spent the rest of the day relaxing and packing to get ready to leave Saturday.

We had a little crazy exit from Korea trying to get out before the Typhoon hit. HUGE shoutout to Delta for working so quickly to get our flight situation handled and getting us out before the weather got really bad. They were serious God sends for sure. We are trying to book them on our 2nd trip just based on their performance that day. It was such great customer service.

All in all we feel our trip was about as good as we could have ever hoped. Maverick took to us very well, our court session went flawlessly, and we got to see a ton of things while we were there. I cannot wait to get a phone call hopefully very soon telling me it’s time to go back. We’re soooo ready!

It’s happening!!! (Finally)

Still a little in shock and disbelief that I am writing this post. We’ve been in process to bring home our little guy from Korea now for over 2 years. There were many, many days where I swore it just wouldn’t happen. The wait has been excruciating and we have felt defeated a lot. However…the email that we have been really waiting for FINALLY came! We have a court date!!!!!

We will be packing our bags and headed to Korea the end of this month! Our court date is actually set for the first Friday in September, but we will have other things to do in Korea that week as well before that day. The most important one being WE GET TO MEET MAVERICK!!!! Any time I think of it I get completely overwhelmed. The sweetest little face that I’ve been staring at and falling in love with every day for over a year will be right in front of me. Sometimes I feel like it’s all a dream and I just need to be pinched and wake up!

So….for those who are always asking how they can be supporting us/praying for us:

1) pray for favor with flights and hotels. Last minute trips to Korea are not cheap so we can use all the help we can get on some lower prices!

2) favor with the court. Pray for us to remain calm and peaceful in court and that the judge sees that our hearts are in the right place in wanting to adopt Maverick.

3) pray for quick turn around time from court to custody. We won’t bring him home the first trip and that wait in between is going to be so tough I know!

4) pray for Maverick’s heart to be prepared for what is to come. As the day approaches, as excited as I am, my heart also breaks knowing he’s about to lose foster momma/family and that he won’t truly get what is happening. Also for foster momma’s heart too as she’s had him for almost 2 years now since he went into the system and I’m sure saying goodbye won’t be an easy thing.

Thank y’all all so much for the support, prayers, kind words, excitement that you’ve given us! We are so grateful for our tribe that has been lifting us up this whole process! We could not do this without you!

LET’S GO TO KOREA β€οΈπŸ’™β€οΈπŸ’™β€οΈπŸ’™

Everybody Stay Calm (But Really I’m Freaking Out!)

So it’s been a hot minute since I’ve updated y’all on where we’re at in our adoption process. This is for a couple reasons. Most people who aren’t involved in international adoption don’t truly get how exciting each little piece of the process is…and really not much had been happening! Butttttt….

We are officially submitted to the Korean court system! We found out last week that we were court submitted on July 4th. For those that don’t quite understand what that means, basically we’ve been waiting for our agency to submit our case to the court system. There was some delay involved in that because of some issues that were out of our control, but now that those are resolved, the ball seems to be moving again! At this point, we are waiting for our judge to set our court date. They will do this once birth parent notification has been sent out letting birth momma know that he is being adopted. Once a court date has been set, we will know for sure when we will be traveling to meet our son! Unfortunately we won’t bring him home on that trip, but it’s really all going to be pretty soon now!

Right now we’re just trying to keep ourselves distracted with enjoying the last bit of summer we have with our other kiddos before they head back to school in a few weeks. And preparing our hearts and minds for Maverick being home very soon. I’ve been so grateful lately for an immense amount of peace that has been given to me. I feel like God is just saying “hey, we’re almost there. You got this!” We’ve definitely been through the ringer with this whole process, but we’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel now!

Starting to put together gifts we want to take our boy in person! How crazy is that??

Please be in prayer with us for a court date that is super soon, for birth momma’s heart to be at peace as she will certainly have some old feelings resurface upon learning about his adoption, and that we will remain peaceful and patient as we near the end!

Another big check on the never ending list!

Soooo big adoption news in the Wheeler home happened this week! We are so excited to announce that we are officially Emigration Permit approved!

Now I’m sure some of you (most of you) are going YAYYYY….what does that mean? Lol. So the cheat sheet version for those asking is basically we now have the legal document that says Maverick can leave his home country with the intent to settle in America. Which is obviously great because that’s exactly where we want him!!! In America with Mommy, Daddy, Bubba, and Sissy! But I’m sure you’re also asking yourself that ever present adoption related question “Now what??”. Let me show you a timeline that will help a lot in trying to explain.

So basically from the time you apply to be in the Holt Korea program to the time you bring your child home is put into a very basic timeline. This timeline only highlights the major obstacles you go through in your adoption process. As you can see, we are very near to the end! And thankfully, based on others past experiences, we also are at the part that is usually a little quicker as well. This timeline represents 2 whole years of our lives. By the time we are done, it’ll represent about 26 months (give or take). The important thing to note is that because we already completed our homestudy update, we only have 2 tick marks left between us and 2nd travel- aka the trip where we bring Mavvy home!!! We are over the moon excited to feel like we’re finally nearing the end of this process and the beginning of our new life as a family of 5!!!

Please be in prayer with us that the court submission would happen quickly and that we get assigned an early court date!!! We want this precious boy home ASAP!!!

How to support adoptive parents!

So, you’re a friend/family member/nursery worker/etc that is supporting an adoptive or hopeful adoptive family! First of all, thank you for even taking the time to read this blog post! That alone shows your commitment to coming alongside of and supporting that family and it is SO needed. But, what now? I’m sure you’ve spent a fair amount of time praying for this family, you may have sewn financially into their journey, you might have told them “we’re here for whatever you need” but what does that practically look like?? Here are just a few ideas for you of things that you can do to lighten the load of an adoptive family:

1) Continue to pray for them, even after placement happens. Most people think “oh the adoption is finalized, our prayers have been answered and all is well!” While bringing baby home is a HUGE hurdle, that is actually where the real work begins. In the months right after placement happens, those parents need you to pray even harder than you have previously! For strength, for grace, for patience, for understanding. They, their children, and this new precious addition are all in a crazy phase of learning how to do life together and sometimes that can be really challenging! Lift them up in prayer and ask them specifically what they need prayer for! Speaking of specifics…

2) It’s AMAZING to offer “anything you need” to a new adoptive family. Your heart in saying that is so beautiful. But let’s be real, that saying gets tossed around a lot and it’s seldom followed up on. Why? For 2 reasons: 1- the person saying it doesn’t follow up, and 2- the family doesn’t feel comfortable asking for what they REALLY need! When offering help to a family, get specific with it. Tell them to tell you what they actually need! Is it meals? Help around the house? Is it a babysitter for the night so that the parents can have some respite time? Is it taking their other kiddos so that they can get one on one with their newest little one? Suggest these things, ask if they need any of it. And then make a plan and stick to it! A community to help support you practically during this time is critical to the success of an adoptive family.

3) Educate yourself! This may sound silly, I mean after all you’re not the one adopting the child. However, if you plan to be in this child’s life in any significant way, educating yourself on what adoptive kiddos go through when they come home is a GREAT way to support them. Many kids who are in the foster system or put up for adoptive placement have emotional trauma, physical trauma, developmental delays, etc. Many, with proper counseling and care, are able to live very fulfilled and “normal” lives but it does take work. Having people surround these kids who not only love them, but have made an effort to get to know about the issues they’re currently facing is an enormous aid in getting them to a healthy place emotionally, physically, and mentally. If you need some ideas on where to start, https://www.amazon.com/Connected-Child-healing-adoptive-family/dp/0071475001/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?crid=2JLCYWJHNXKBS&keywords=the+connected+child+by+karen+purvis&qid=1556153332&s=gateway&sprefix=the+conn&sr=8-1is a great read!!! It’s fairly short and provides a ton of helpful information on bringing home an adopted child.

https://www.amazon.com/Call-Love-Preparing-Heart-Adoption/dp/1589979400

is another great read written by a mom who adopted 2 teenagers after having 2 biological kids of their own! She shares stories from many different foster and adoptive families in her book and is incredibly transparent about the good, the bad, and the ugly of adoption.

If reading isn’t your thing or you’re much like me and just can’t ever seem to find the time, maybe look at some podcast options to listen to. http://podcast.app/the-honestly-adoption-podcast-p140580/?share=ios is one that I personally have found a lot of great information from! There are tons out there though so explore and see what speaks to you.

Again a HUGE THANK YOU for taking the time to read this post. You can make all the difference in the lives of an adoptive family and specifically an adopted child. Just be there, both in prayer and physically. Even when they forget to tell you, they really do appreciate everything you do!

Healthy options for mommas on the go!

We live in a fast paced world and our lives often times feel as if they’re going a million miles an hour. It’s so tough as the organizer of our children’s worlds to remember basic things sometimes for ourselves…like eating! I try my very best to try and pack snacks and lunches for myself when I know I will be out and about for parts of the day, but let’s face it, sometimes it just doesn’t happen πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈ I want to share with y’all some of my top go-to healthy choices when I’m away from home but don’t want to ruin all my hard work in the gym!

β€’ I like to find things that fill me up but don’t take a ton of effort to eat. One way that I do this is with the Perfect Bar. They are packed with superfoods, whole food protein, and are certified non-gmo and organic! You can buy them in bulk, but when you’re out and need a go-to easy snack or small meal, most Starbucks locations carry these in their refrigerated snack section. I grab this and a coffee and I’m good to go! Here’s the link if you’d like to check them out for yourself: https://shop.perfectbar.com/products/dark-chocolate-chip-peanut-butter-with-sea-salt?gclid=Cj0KCQjwg73kBRDVARIsAF-kEH8jPIrV5c8FEqnSgVfFj22Ctlz_-rM4YhC6JUKwj4609PiRWtmkBYsaArH7EALw_wcB&utm_medium=pla&utm_source=google&utm_term=dccpbss

β€’ When it doubt, drink it out! That was so cheesy, whatever it rhymed lol. I really enjoy drinking my calories. I know, I’m weird. But as a busy momma, sometimes sipping on a smoothie is so much easier than sitting to eat a meal. https://www.tropicalsmoothiecafe.com/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=tropical%20smoothie&utm_campaign=Brand%20Top%20Performers&gclid=Cj0KCQjwg73kBRDVARIsAF-kEH8n8CdcWYxGLDOA0NMnjxJ4yGpzG38IlQZyyLb3ij-8AHiXULHz2Q4aAkrbEALw_wcB Tropical Smoothie cafe offers so many healthy options for super filling smoothies and they have something for just about any taste buds! I personally love the Peanut Butter Cup smoothie and the Blimey Limey smoothie myself. Their app has a restaurant locator if you’re not sure of your nearest location and if you use their loyalty points program, you can earn points towards free smoothies!

β€’ Play place staple! Any mom knows, the holy grail of restaurants is Chick-fil-A. Their food is far better quality than most other fast food and their play place πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘ It saves my life on hot, summer days when it’s just too much to be outside. But let’s be real, grabbing a number 1 with a side of fries is a recipe for an upset tummy and disappointment later. My go-to at Chick-fil-A is an order of grilled nuggets with a side salad. I put the nuggets on top of the side salad and top with 1/3 a packet of avocado ranch and a packet of buffalo sauce. I usually either get a bottled water or a diet lemonade there.

β€’ International delight! Sometimes you want a little something different that has a ton of flavor. My favorite for this is Zoe’s Kitchen! https://zoeskitchen.com has so many options for healthy eating! But it’s not bland and sad, it is FULL of flavor and yumminess! I love the Live Med Salad and hummus with cucumbers! They have lots of kiddo friendly options as well. Definitely a win in my book!

Basically I’m saying it’s not easy all the time to eat out and not destroy your healthy eating plans, but it’s not impossible either! Live by the 80/20 rule, give yourself grace, and look for healthy options when you can! Being a fit momma takes work, but it’s so worth it to be healthy and happy for you and your kiddos πŸ’ͺπŸ’ͺπŸ’ͺ

Why the Greatest Day Will Also Be the Worst Day

There are many people that have been very influential in the course of our adoption process thus far. None however, as influential as our Social Worker. For the sake of protecting her privacy, I will refer to her as D. D is one of the sweetest humans I’ve ever met, but this is not the reason that I love her so much. I love her because she is so unbelievably real, even when it hurts.

As we have just recently completed our one year home study update, we were able to meet with D and discuss our upcoming homecoming for Maverick. While it would seem that this would be a discussion all about love and happy times and sunshine and rainbows, it actually is a very difficult discussion to have. Because it’s a discussion about the worst day in my child’s life so far.

When we very first met our social worker, she said something to me that absolutely rocked my world. She instructed us to think of ourselves as legal kidnappers. We are going into our child’s home, taking him away from the only parents he’s ever known, bringing him to a different country where people look different, talk different, eat different, and we say “hey this is your new home, you should be so happy and grateful!” But here’s the thing, he shouldn’t HAVE TO be anything! He should be allowed to act or feel any way he needs to, because his period of coming home to us will be a time filled with grief.

Maverick’s foster parents have been a crucial part of his world for a year and a half now. They ARE his parents right now. Even though we all know that this is a temporary placement, he can’t possibly understand that concept at his young age. To him, he is home. And to him, we are strangers who are pulling him away from that home. As much as this concept is so painful to think about, it’s so important that adoptive parents GET that concept before bringing their child home. We need to mentally and emotionally and spiritually prepare to be rejected, cried on, screamed at, etc. It may not all happen, but it might. And that has to be okay. And we have to be okay. We won’t be. But with God’s help, we can get there.

Eventually, we will come out of the grieving period. We will prove ourselves trustworthy over time. We will show our little boy that we are good, we will provide for him, that we love him more than words can express. But, in the beginning, when we’re experiencing these growing pains, we covet the prayers of our friends. I will appreciate every text and phone call of encouragement. Every random coffee delivery and friendly face. Because it’ll be a time of adjustment and transition for us all. But gosh am I ready. I want that day to come more than I ever have. Let’s get this baby boy home!!! πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™