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Back to Korea

By Dan | June 27, 2007

Well, we made it back to Korea. We elected to leave an hour earlier than Anna recommended to make sure we had plenty of time (and to make it easier on her, since that was 10PM and we wanted to give her more stuff for the orphanage). Good thing we did. Major rainstorm slowed the driver, flight time had changed by 30 minutes earlier, and Delta had somehow managed to not associate the Infant-in-arms (IIA) tickets with our tickets on Korean Air’s computer system. In the end, we wound up re-buying the tickets and walked straight onto the flight. We need to get home and to find out what the deal is, but I am so mad at Delta I can’t see straight right now. All in all, it was about $900 for the tickets, so not cheap but not as bad as I had feared. Now we better not have problems with Delta getting the children on board on the Korean tickets, or I think I will go ballistic on them right here.

Yesterday was a decent day for the most part. Did the morning thing, then went to the mall and dropped about $200 on souvenirs, loading down the stroller handles to the max without unweighting them. The kids were very patient for the couple hours we were doing this and started to get restless, so we went to the lake park across the street that Anna had recommended. Very pretty, but very hot. (Actually the park wasn’t so bad as it was shady, but crossing the street in the full sun by itself was enough to make you keel over.) It had a temple / pagoda structure in the middle of the lake, and would have been a nice walk in the evening (when Anna recommended going) had we made it. Since it was hot and we were overdoing it with the kids, we didn’t spend much time tho and caught a cab ride home. Overall, yesterday made the trip a whole lot more positive, but we still can’t wait to get home.

Rest of the day was spent packing. This is always stressful, especially with two overtired kids that don’t sleep for more than an hour at a time. Bath time especially so, as Thanh was particularly rebellious in the sink as he struggled and stood and generally was behaving in a way that he could easily hurt himself. After long enough, he finally pushed Shannon over the edge of frustration. For the first time I think Thanh realized he had made us mad, as after I finished bathing and dressing him (his rebelliousness doing a number on me as well as he continued to struggle) and put him straight in his crib. He howled for a little while and tried to climb out, but after three reprimands for attempting to climb, he laid down without barely a whimper and went to sleep solidly enough that we had to wake him up come time to check out.

One of the most frustrating things about adjusting to life with the boys is trying to figure out what type of parenting they need and respond well to, which compounds exponentially when you think you figured something out only to have it change two days later, or you out of frustration try something that you were warned was not a good choice with adopted children (like letting them cry out in the crib rather than comforting them) and it works better than everything else you have tried for that particular time. I think we (or at least I) am starting to realize the difference between a manipulative cry that will resolve itself and when they get so worked up that you will have to calm them down (whether from manipulation gone haywire or actual distress), but fatigue is making it difficult to identify those situations. It is also frustrating that we have so little information about life at the orphanage, in particular what their actual feeding schedule was (we were told several things, but the most prevalent was a full bottle every 2 hours, which obviously is either not true or overfed), and how they were put to bed. We are playing with feeding schedules a bit (somewhat giving into using bottles as pacifiers if necessary during the plane rides), and I think we may try a 6oz bottle more often instead. It doesn’t make for a neat schedule, but the latest feeding cycle for Thanh he did not spit up at all, nor was he as upset as I though he would be when we reached the end of the bottle.

The plane ride this morning was better than I was fearing. Thanh slept (or at least was calm in arms) about 3 hours of the trip, and consequently I got the most rest I have had in a week at one time. Interestingly enough, my body must be adapting to the minimal sleep, as I am not particularly tired feeling now, although I’m sure if I were to try to sleep I would probably have no trouble doing so. We are checked into the transit hotel in Incheon, but I’m guessing neither of us will sleep substantially in the end. Even so, it’s well worth it to have a sanctuary for the luggage and the kids. The accommodations are minimal – tiny room with a double bed, barely enough space for a crib (that no one will likely use the way it looks). It does have a bathroom with a shower, which could well be a lifesaver for me. Amazingly, Vinh is asleep next to me on the bed, since the room is so quiet it bothers me even. I’m pretty sure that is Thanh’s immediate problem, as he has been sleeping in the stroller as long as he is out in the airport, but wakes within minutes of returning to the room. This could be interesting, when we get home if it turns out that Thanh wants noise but Vinh prefers a quite room. But then again, while we have had minimal success recently with Vinh and his crib, he still abhors it, preferring to sleep in arms, followed distantly by on a bed, in the middle of the floor, or virtually anywhere else.

Also, I think both kids are getting constipated again. We had to return to the glycerin for Vinh yesterday, and he was very bad. Both kids are starting to show general signs of discomfort however, and while Shannon and I have not talked about it I think we will probably stimulate them before boarding the next flight, as it has to be easier to to on the ground. We can’t wait to see a doctor to find out what we can do about that, since we have done everything we were told but the advice only worked temporarily. Also, we will have to get them back onto anti-biotics, as we had to abandon the remaining doses for them. (I was afraid we could not transport it safely as it requires refrigeration. Given the delays at the airport this morning I was probably right.) We also are going to try to find children’s Benadryl instead of the current anti-histamine, as we are not convinced it is entirely effective. Hopefully, a thorough doctor’s visit where we have the capacity to do some actual diagnostics if necessary will provide some answers on some of the behavioral things as well.

There is something that Shannon and I both regard highly as truth, in that God will not give one more than they can handle. We have both lived by this through the last couple years to keep us going. Right now I believe the efficiency of the “business” side of this trip is an example of this from the other perspective, however, in that God is protecting us from truly being in over our heads. We found out from Anna that our group was the fastest they had ever performed, completing in 6 business days and being gone a total of 12 days including travel. Given how ragged Shannon and I are at this point, I truly believe that we could not handle more than we are enduring, and that God has guided the process to ensure that we will not be permanently damaged as individuals or as a family from the stresses of this experience. At the same time, the pessimist in me wonders how much the very harried schedule added was / is adding to the problems, but looking at how the kids have responded in the little bit of off time versus when we are running around to get somewhere (which is to say not markedly differently most of the time, except of course when we are packing up the room), I suspect the truth is closer in the former.

We must be gluttons for punishment, as we have still not eliminated going to either the beach or Susan’s wedding. I’m starting to think I must be clinically insane, but I would really like to make the wedding as it is a good opportunity to introduce the boys to my side of the family. I’m thinking that in the end sanity will prevail tho and we will go home and more or less protect the boys while they heal physically, but also mentally from what must be an absolutely excruciating experience for them. Both can be played by ear, however, and will be in the end.

Shannon just returned after using the Internet somewhere (not sure how with Thanh along) and says she thinks their scabies has broken back out again. This would only surprise me in that neither Shannon nor I have symptoms, but it sure fits otherwise for them as some of the spots have reemerged. This could explain a lot of things about their discomfort and why they don’t sleep for long periods of time. She is currently heading to the airport pharmacy to see if they have Promethrin cream, as we packed ours. (Promethrin is a RX drug in the US, but she said they were willing to sell her Zyrtec so if it’s in stock she will probably get it. We may ditch it before entry tho to make sure there are no customs problems.)

I think thats all there is for now, and Vinh just woke up as close to happy as I’ve seen (only a minor squeak), so thats all for now.

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