Kerrie's Return Trip to Korea
In May, 2000, Justin (15-1/2), Kerrie (3-1/2), and I made a return trip to Seoul, South Korea. Our main purpose in making the trip (aside from doing some sightseeing we had been unable to complete on previous trips (April 1997 to bring Kerrie home and June 1999 to bring Nicholas home) was for Kerrie to be able to reunite with her foster mom, Mrs. Park, Ok Soon and for Justin and I to visit with Nicholas' foster mom, Mrs. Kim.
I am forever grateful to Duk Kyung Um, Korean placement coordinator at Dillon International, Tulsa, Oklahoma, the agency we used to adopt Kerrie. Duk Kyung arranged for the visit with Mrs. Park for us, and she also arranged for social services at Eastern to take us to see the hospital in Seoul where Kerrie was born and for us to do a files review. One of the things I appreciated about working with Dillon is the fact that, even though your adoption is complete, you are not "forgotten". Their service to families continues on through adulthood even. I also am grateful to Peg Studaker at , Children's Home Society of Minnesota , St. Paul, Minnesota, the agency we used for Nick's adoption. Both ladies have been and are fabulous!!
We left Minot, North Dakota on Northwest Airlines to Minneapolis and then Los Angeles, where we caught Asiana Airlines all the way to Seoul. While in Los Angeles, Colin, who used to be on staff at Holt, the agency we used to adopt our daughters, Emilee & Jenna from China, stopped by to visit with us at the airport. He is in LA to get a masters' degree and it was a real treat to see him! We were able to witness a custodial workers strike/march through the airport, which was pretty interesting.. We didn't know what was going on when several armed policemen marched through looking all stern and we were thinking "oh no" but it turned out they were just there for the march...
Kerrie did SO well on the flight over to Seoul! She slept, ate, played and did not fuss at all. She was a regular little trooper!
We landed at Kimpo International early evening and, after clearing customs and changing some money, once again it was a pleasure to see the same driver we'd had the last two visits waiting! We stayed at the new guesthouse at Eastern and what a change! Everything was just wonderful and Eastern was, once again, wonderful hosts.. They are so kind and gracious..
We were pleased to meet Steve & Debbie Keighton that evening--they were there from Virginia to bring home their 6-month-old son and they knew someone I'd "met" on the Adopt_Korea email list... There were two families from Australia and another family from Wisconsin who'd come in to adopt and I so enjoyed meeting all these families at the guesthouse. We also met an adult Korean adoptee who was there, along with his wife and infant son and his parents, to reunite with his birthfamily. Boy did I learn a lot from visiting with he and his family.. I was also able to meet his birth brother.
We did some sightseeing at Itaewon--took the subway as far as we could, #28 on the blue line, and WALKED the rest of the way. It was a bit further than we thought it was, still Kerrie tromped right along and didn't make a peep... (We took the taxi BACK!).. I took the time to buy some Korean name paintings for Nick and Kerrie from the artist who's stand is outside the Hamilton Hotel--for anyone going to Korea to adopt, make sure you go and get name paintings there. The artist is so talented, works quickly and beautifully, and the name paintings are amazing!! We have them hanging in our living room now.
We also took a return trip to the Korean Folk Village--something we thoroughly enjoyed. Kerrie loved watching the Farmers Dance and we got it on video this time (we didn't have a good camcorder when we traveled to bring her home in 1997 and we didn't go to the Folk Village in 1999). I love the souvenir shop there and bought a bunch of stuff! One of the ladies behind the counter asked me if she was adopted and I said 'yes' and she put her hands fingertip-to-fingertip and bowed several times and, with tears in her eyes, thanked ME... I was overwhelmed and tried my best to explain that it was I who should thank Korea for the "privilege" (and we do count it a unique and wonderful privilege) to have her as our daughter forever... Almost exclusively, wherever we went in Seoul with Kerrie, we were warmly received!
The main highlight of the trip was, of course, reuniting Kerrie with Mrs. Park! She brought Kerrie a gift and we brought her one and to see Kerrie sitting on her lap again, some 3 yrs later, was just the neatest thing and difficult to put into words..
Apparently we were the only family who had brought their child back to Korea, whom she had fostered, or one of the only families. We don't regret the time and expense in the least. Our family considers our children's foster mothers (we've adopted children who have been in foster care three times--twice in Korea and once in China) to be part of the family. We feel very strongly that we owe a debt of gratitude to these women who gave our children such wonderful love and attention during the earliest days of their lives, gave of themselves knowing it wasn't permanent.. To that end, we will bring each of our children back to visit their foster parents--Kerrie was a start--and we will, several times a year, send letters, cards and photos in to the families. This is the very least we can do!
We were also able to visit with Nicholas' foster mom, Mrs. Kim. She was still teary-eyed when she talked about him. We had known that they were very attached to each other and, while Nicholas' initial transition into our family was difficult because of this attachment, we felt this was a good thing because it meant he had already formed a loving, trusting bond with another adult and could do so again with us. Mrs. Kim gave us a framed/matted 8x10 professional portrait of the entire family (Mrs. Kim and her husband, 2 married daughters and a son who was in the SKorean army)... This now hangs in our living room in a place of honor. She told us through our Eastern interpreter that she wanted us to have it so Nicholas would never forget her and we assured her that we talk to him about her daily and we promised her he'd be back to Korea to visit one day (which he will)...
Another highlight of the trip was visiting the hospital in Seoul where Kerrie was born. It was located clear on the other side of Seoul, in the east, about 1 hour away from where Eastern's offices are located and past Olympic Stadium. It was kind of neat driving past the stadium and seeing it finally.
We were able to meet a counselor at the hospital, the head of the hospital (a woman's health and obstetric hospital) and a labor and delivery nurse. We were given a tour, sat down and visited in the offices and were very well-received. They clearly remembered Kerrie's birth (due to the fact of her arm condition) and were very gratified to see how well she was doing. It was a pleasure for us to relate to them that, despite the fact of having been born with only part of her left arm, she was in no way "disabled" or "handicapped", that she was accomplishing everything any other child her age was doing and that we rarely, if ever, thought about it! We are glad we had the chance to meet these people who were with Kerrie when she was born.
Another thing we enjoyed was visiting with both of the Dr. Kims, father and son, and having lunch with Eastern staff. Dr. Kim Duk Whang is a dear, godly man in his 80's who is very active even.. I'll never forget his relating of how, when his legs are OK, he goes into the mountains surrounding Seoul at 3 am every morning to pray for the children in their care. During our lunch with Eastern staff, we met a family visiting from Canberra, Australia with their 20-year-old daughter, who had been adopted from Korea as a 5-month-old baby. Kerrie just kept looking at her and I remember thinking that, in 17 more years, that was going to be me with a 20-year-old Korean daughter... It will probably come much sooner than we want!
It was somewhat emotional leaving Seoul the 3rd time--we feel we left part of our hearts there. Our family can never be grateful enough to the wonderful folks at Eastern Social Welfare Society for their role in allowing us to adopt Kerrie and Nicholas and also to the government of South Korea who allows for the adoption of some of their precious children each year. To us it's truly a privilege we do not take lightly, for we recognize that the countries who place children for international adoption don't have to and they don't owe us a thing...
Shortly before we left the guesthouse for Kimpo Airport in the Eastern van, we witnessed Dr. Kim Duk Whang lay his hands on a 3-1/2-month-old baby girl who was returning to Colorado with her new mom (the mom had traveled alone so her husband could remain with their 5-year-old son). The baby was in her foster mom's arms and she was crying and so was the new mom as she stood there and filmed.. I started to cry too.. You could really sense Dr. Kim reaching out and holding on to the throne in that prayer as he stood there, hands on that tiny baby girls' head and praying a heart-felt prayer. To know that my children, Nicholas and Kerrie, had been the beneficiaries of the care of this wonderful man is something else.
We know we will return to Korea not once more but on other occasions, for Korea is a part of our family. If anyone reading this, who has a Korean child, is considering such a trip, I highly recommend it!!
Kerrie Alene-HyeWon Breuer, 3-1/2 yrs old, meeting her foster mom, Mrs. Park Ok Soon, in May 2000, 3 yrs and 1 month after she left Korea to come home with us to the USA!
Justin, 15, myself, Kerrie, and Mrs. Kim, our son, Nicholas' foster mom. She asked us to promise we would bring Nicholas back and we assured her we would (and we mean it)..
This is a photo of Kerrie sitting outside the hospital where she was born in Seoul.
Here are both Kerrie and I at the hospital with the hospital administrator, a labor/delivery RN and a counselor.
Kerrie playing "peek-a-boo" behind a tree at the Korean Folk Village.
Justin, 15-1/2 and Kerrie, 3-1/2, at the Korean Folk Village. This was Justin's third trip to Seoul!
Kerrie, sitting on the outside of one of the buildings, at the Korean Folk Village.
Here's a neat photo of Kerrie with Mrs. Shin, who had been her social worker at Eastern prior to our coming to bring her home in April 1997.
This is a photo of the Olympic Village--we passed this on our way to visit the hospital where Kerrie was born...it's on the other side of the Han River, which bisects Seoul from west to east.
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