Tomorrow Is A Gift
Boast not of tomorrow, for you know not what any day may bring forth.
~ Proverbs Ch:277 Vs:1



Many things we need can wait The child cannot. Now is the time his bones
are being formed, his blood is being made, his mind is being developed.
To him we can-not say tomorrow. His name is today.~Gabriella Minstral

We witness a miracle every time a child enters into life.
But those who make their journey home across time & miles,
growing within the hearts of those who wait to love them,
are carried on the wings of destiny and placed among us
by God's very own hands. ~Author & Friend -Kristi Larson~

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Toddler Adoption

Read about the unique
challenges associated
with adopting a toddler


The Lie We Love

The Truth about
Foreign Adoption
By E. J. Graff


WACAP
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Woo Hyuk
Welcome Home Woo Hyuk - A Toddler Adoption Story




This is our journey into a toddler adoption. We found this adoption & adjustment experience to be much different than the other 3 children we've adopted & coming into our family. I thought it might be of interest to others in pursuing a toddler adoption. There are many types of adjustments and reactions from children because each child and every family is different. Because of this, each child's adjustment is unique. For all adjustment issues there are three key factors to consider to help decide whether or not your capable of handling the adjustment of a child through adoption, especially over infancy.

(1)Can you allow a child to adjust at their own pace.
(2)Can you set limits when appropriate?
(3)Can you justly discipline the child when these limits are broken?

Our son arrived home from Seoul, Korea on September 9, 1999 at 21 months of age. He was a very exhausted, sullen little guy, who had a trying trip, according to his elderly escort. He had a difficult time separating from "oma", his foster mother, and she from him. He spent most of his flight time, pacing the plane, calling out her name and sobbing in deep despair. He was brought into a totally new enviroment with different people, language, and culture other than he had known in his lifetime. There were possibly physical as well as emotional reactions to this new life. Even an infant, whom has already developed strong associations with its enviroment can have a difficult adjustment to a new enviroment. Symptoms and unexpected behavior such as fussiness, diarrhea and sleep difficulties all manifest themselves in a newly adopted child. Each child needs their own personal amount of time for adjustment. I think this is very important for parents to understand. I felt a good part of the adjustment did take place the first six months after our children arrived home, however, the older the child, the longer the process seems to take. And the disruption of security can carry much further into the child's life. Possibly, even into adulthood. It makes for a much more secure and well adjusted child to allow them to develop and adjust in their own space of time and at their own pace. I don't feel couples should adopt two children at the same time unless they are siblings or closely associated within the same orphanage. During that time of adjustment, I think you need to be open to expecting almost anything. That doesn't mean you don't redirect during this stage. But do so with firmness & empathy. Let your child become comfortable with their new surroundings while becoming accustomed to their new family slowly and as long as necessary, expose them to as few new people as possible. Work slowly, gradually widening the social circle as your child allows. Your agency social worker is there for you to discuss any difficulties and help with advice during your post placement visits. Ours was a great help to us in understanding some of our son's early behaviors. We are so glad we were able to be open with her with our concerns. They are there to help not judge, so don't be afraid to bring up things that may be troubling or confusing you as to how to handle.

Our little guy went through all the classic stages of adjustment that we read and were prepared for concerning the special issues in dealing with a toddler adoption. The book, Toddler Adoption ~ The Weaver’s Craft by Mary-Hopkins-Best gives a detailed and accurate description of why toddler adoptions are unique in their own right. I highly recommend anyone adopting a toddler between the ages of 12 mos. – 4 years to read this book. Please keep in mind though, that the situations in this book cover all areas of difficulties. It is easy to become alarmed over some of the experiences told by parents adopting toddlers. Most toddler adoptions are very successful. I know a couple of the situations described in the book took me by surprise, but I was glad I had been encouraged by our social worker to be well versed on this unique stage of development and how adoption affects the child as a toddler. Alot of children act withdrawn and others may be shy, bewildered and even fearful because of their new and unfamiliar surroundings. Some traits are characteristics of institutionalized children. Children taken from an orphanage do not yet know how to be spontaneous or even interact on a normal emotional level with their new family so you have to allow time.

Our son zoomed through every phase of adjustment at an intense pace, leaving my husband and I exhausted. Many pass through these same stages at a slower pace, taking up to a year, or even longer to adjust. Some children only touch on a few of these issues. Some parents claim their child went through 'little or no' adjustment. All children go through a process of adjusting. Some are just less noticeable than others. All human beings respond in one way or another to new situations. If a parent does not see an adjustment, this can mean that the child simply adjusts well and quickly. A child probably has a strong ability to form lasting relationships because they probably did so before coming into your home. A passive child can also be a child who is suppressing an unpleasant reaction to your family. This can be mistakenly interpreted as being a nice, quiet child. Passivity may also mean an underlyling physical or emotional problem that might not have been recogonized by the foreign adoption worker before your child's placement. I remember reading of one couple who's child was very quiet & well behaved and it was later noted that the child had a significant hearing loss.

Grieving…..

For the first three days Woo Hyuk experienced terrible grieving for his foster mother. He spent much of his time going to all the doors and windows in our house, looking out and crying for her. He would constantly carry his shoes around and hand them to anyone to be put on him, in hopes that we would take him back to Oma in Korea. On his second day with us, I was in our front yard with him and he turned to me and waved good-bye, and walked off down the road with no intention of coming back. My husband spent one afternoon walking for almost an hour around our above-ground pool behind our son. Woo Hyuk was sure that Korea was just around the next bend. He was not enjoyable to take out, as he only had one thing on his mind, finding Oma. His first night was spent crying inconsolably for three hours between my husband and I on our bed, very unhappy, scared, and uncomfortable. He would not accept comfort from us, and would push our hands away repeatedly. His sobs were heartbreaking. It was obvious he was suffering a tremendous loss and his mournful cries were the same as those of someone experiencing the death of a loved one. We could only be there for him even though he would not accept any comfort from us. After all, we were complete strangers to him. After about three hours, he suddenly stopped crying, and crawled off our bed with an exhausted, but determined attitude, and climbed into the toddler bed next to our own bed. Somehow he knew it was his bed. He curled up, and was soon fast asleep. After that first night, he needed either my husband or I present in the room as he was falling asleep. Falling asleep often took close to an hour or more until he learned 'how' to fall asleep on his own. Occassionally, he would cry out from a night terror, always an hour or so after falling asleep, but never fully awaken. My husband or I, usually both, would stay close to him always during these episodes and say soothing words and rub his back. He never seemed aware of us being there, but I think our presense was felt. There are many ways your child's sleeping habits can be changed as they are becoming adjusted to your family. They may not be able to sleep regularly. They may have nightmares. They may be unable to sleep alone, as in the case of our son. He did not have a clue how to get himself to sleep independently. He took daily naps in a backsack on his foster mother's back during the day and slept at night on a mattress on the floor with his foster mother holding him. He had to 'learn' how to put himself to sleep independently. He remained in our bedroom in a toddler bed for a year and a half before we moved him at age three to the lower bunk in our teenage son's room. Some people may think that was too long to transition him, but we felt, for our son, it took that long and were acting in his best interest. We were anxious to get him into his own room but because of this slow transition he has made an exceptional adjustment in this area. Now he sleeps soundly through the night, seldom waking, is fully potty trained and remains in his bed all night. We feel its a good idea to consider having your child sleep with you or in your room at first and gradually introduce them to their own bed over time. Again, allow the child to lead and you will create more security and independence in them down the road.

Resignation…...

After the first 3 days, Woo Hyuk settled into the family routines, challenging each and every one of them over the next couple of weeks. It was as if he was saying, "will you still love me even if I am THIS bad?" It took two days to get him to sit at the dining room table and eat with the family. He wanted to walk around the table and help himself to the food off of others plates. He also apparently never used a bib in Korea, and balked at its usage with us. After about two days of fighting a loosing battle with the bib, we decided to have him wear it around the house, well before his meal, for him to get use to it as he played. That worked, and now you cannot feed him without him climbing into his chair and handing you his bib. Children are such ‘creatures of habit’, at this age, and routine is really the ‘foundation for rebuilding the security’ they lose when removed from their accustomed surroundings into new ones.

Bath time was another struggle and Woo Hyuk was not comfortable with strangers bathing him, and that is what he thought of us as. (note the withdrawl in this photo of Woo Hyuk and I. He was not yet able to give or receive our love. The expression on his face says it all.)

He cried and would not sit down while being bathed the first week; despite the fact that he had been given two baths a day in Korea and was said to enjoy them. He was very uncomfortable and obviously felt very vulnerable undressed in front of people he had not formed an attachment with. My husband and I decided to use a team effort with Woo Hyuk. Since I have always been the full time caregiver, the children tended to go to me over Dad in most incidences. I knew I would need more help since Woo Hyuk was our sixth child, so my husband and I worked through Woo Hyuk’s adjustment as a team effort. We took turns with his care, so he wouldn’t form a strong attachment of only allowing Mom to do things for him. My husband had taken two weeks off from work to help out, and this was crucial for us to form a routine for Woo Hyuk and take care of the other childrens needs and not disrupt their routines. I have always read to my youngest children at bedtime for a half-hour every night. The only way I could continue this routine was to have my husband bath and handle the bedtime procedures for Woo Hyuk.

We realized that if we were going to offer him some sense of security, we would have to establish a routine so his day seemed predictable and safe to him. We routinely went through the necessary steps of caring for him (diapering, bathing, feeding, disciplining him mildly, etc) despite his protest. We never put any strong demands on him during this stage, but took 'a baby steps approach', seeing an accomplishment in every small improvement he made. Lots of positive prasie was given to our son also. Toddlers respond to positive responses and suggestions rather than direct statements. An example would be when it was time for bedtime procedures, we would ask if he wanted to 'pick up' or 'put pajamas on first'? More than likely, he would just continue playing, so we would take that as a sign that we would help him pick up. Language and understanding were difficult, but it was evident in our son's eyes that he wanted to be loved and learn to comply, so he would quickly catch on through our actions what was the next plan in the day.

Honeymoon Phase….

The honeymoon stage was a very brief period for us. During this time, Woo Hyuk was mild tempered and compliant. Taking him out and shopping in the stores, he behaved very well. In church, he sat still and was quiet. He followed the daily routines with acceptance. He was pleasant and smiled often, initiating and responding with friendliness toward others in public. He helped clean up after a day of play and was compliant to the simple family rules we had set down thus far. He went down nicely at bedtime and cooperated with dressing, diapering and bathing.

He was genuinely sweet and sincere, enabling us to see the ‘angelic child’ he was described as from the Korean social worker, and we were all falling in love with him.

Testing phase…...

"A ‘testing phase’ is often described as a period of time where a child misbehaves on purpose to see if the adopting parents will continue to parent them anyway despite their behavior. Although it can strain the patience of the adoptive parents, most parents do survive this period. Finally the child will assimilate into the family and seem like a regular member, not overstressing the family but making reasonable demands on it." The Encyclopedia Of Adoption by Christine Adamec and William L. Pierce, Ph.D

Those first couple of weeks Woo Hyuk needed to be watched very carefully or he would run into trouble. As a matter of fact, his child study profile report written by his Korean social worker just before he left Korea, stated "he was a child that would run into trouble is not supervised closely." He had not formed a full attachment to any of us, and could easily slip off in public, and was more than willing to go off with another person and not look back. He was intensely exploring his new enviroment at home and was into everything! I would go and clean up his recent mess in one room, while he was in another room making a new one! (Take a look at the photo I took when I caught him climbing into our dryer!) We decided to restrict him from parts of the house to keep my sanity by closing the doors of bedrooms and bathrooms.Luckily he had not mastered doorknobs at this age! He had a frenzied, way of going about, never really playing with any one thing fully. We felt his restlessness was a result of feeling unsettled in his new surroundings and with us. Children can experience a great deal of frustration during the adjustment period. They can exhibit changes in moods, especially when required to do something different that what they had been doing. They can have temper tantrums, be hyperactive, restless, and even exhibit what may be considered vulgar activities. These are partly frustration and partly survival mechanisms. Alot will pass when your child learns to trust you and learns some English. We all wondered where the ‘angelic child’ the agency workers wrote of when describing him in Korea. Their words were "Woo Hyuk is a magical child! You cannot help but fall in love with him upon meeting him!" We had a couple of exhausting weeks I thought were straight out of hell, even with the help of my husband taking over when he arrived home from work. I think the hardest part is to spend the entire day with a child, nurturing and caring for their needs, and getting nothing in return. There were a couple of moments that I wondered what in the world were we thinking of adopting this child. I remember dinner hour was especially hard. Trying to get dinner on the table and hearing the loud disturbances in the house between Woo Hyuk and another sibling, and having him constantly underfoot as I tried to work. I felt like our entire family was turned upside down. My youngest daughter, who was five, was in her second day of adjusting to the First Grade when Woo Hyuk arrived. She had confusing feelings. In retrospect, I can see where I should have prepared the children in the family more regarding Woo Hyuk’s initial reaction into our home. The children waited with anxious anticipation for his arrival, and had no knowledge that he would at first be unaccepting of us. My daughter, who is a great communicator regarding her feelings, cried a lot those first couple of days. She thought that she was not a good big sister to Woo Hyuk and blamed herself for his unhappiness. I think parents who have children in the home need to really prepare them for rejection from their new brother or sister at first, and to explain that the new child may initially be very unhappy because they are sad over the loss of what they have had to say good-bye to in their birth country. I think children coming from an institutional life adapt more quickly to the attention they are receiving, finding this a better place to be. You may see sibling rivalry and/or jealousy by both your newly adopted child or a child already in the home. Most especially, by the one closest in age to the new child. The new child naturally receives a great deal of attention at first. The other child may respond by clinging or being moody or acting out. On the other hand, the newly adopted child may begin to experience sibling rivalry when they realize that they are competing for attention. A child that has been in an orphanage among hundreds of children, suddenly receiving a great deal of attention in their new enviroment with only a limited number of other children can be confused. They have probably had to be aggressive to survive in the orphanage. They know how to get attention and competition has been greatly reduced. In our son's case, as in the case of many foster care children in foreign countries, he came from an enviroment in which he was the youngest and only child and received heaps of time and attention from his caring foster mother. They are often very 'grandmotherly' to the children in their care. Our son was rather spoiled in that way and needed time to learn what it was like to be one of others seeking parental attention.

I kept telling myself that 'this too, would pass' and this was just another part of his adjustment into our family. None the less, we had our share of trying days! Woo Hyuk would test us by deliberately doing things he had already learned the family rules about and had been following. An example of that would be pouring water over the side of the tub, never looking at the water spilling on the floor, but intently looking at you and seeking a reaction. Before that, he had learned NOT to do this and was compliant and seeking our approval for following direction. He did the same with throwing food at the dinner table, hitting, and banging and throwing toys.

Sleeping during the day was very hard for Woo Hyuk. We did not press him to take a nap at this part of his adjustment because it was too upsetting to him, even though I could have benefitted from a daily nap! But, we felt he was too insecure yet to be able to trustingly fall asleep in the middle of the day. We also realized that he did not know 'HOW' to get himself to sleep alone. He had slept with his foster mother and brother and always had someone lying with him sleeping. During the day, he napped on his foster mother's back in a backpack while she worked. We felt it did more harm than good forcing him to nap during the day. We tried, but found him to be very upset for hours after, so we gave up. Maybe that is why he slept well during the night. Again, this little ‘creature of habit’ needed many routine rituals to be followed before going down at night. He needed his bottle of water, his music box, a good night kiss from everyone, his bath at the same time after dinner, and a little play after (the famous "five more minutes"!)before going off to bed. If one were missing one of element of this routine, he’d let you know about it! As he grew, we substituted the music box for a cassette player. I believe it helped him learn English quicker too, listening to the words of songs while falling asleep. It also became a substitute from us staying in the room with him. He didn't feel alone when the music was playing. Rituals are still followed now that he is three, but we don't have to follow them as strictly.

Acceptance…...

When this happened, it was genuine and real and there was no mistaking it. He started to fall in love with each member of the family, one at a time. Mom was first, since she was his full time caregiver. This is the way it happens with many children. At first, they feel secure with only a few members of the family or even one. Many cling to the parent who went to the country of birth to bring the child to the US. Even though this person is a stranger, this is the only personal link that the child has with the past. Woo Hyuk had come down with his first cold and this started some positive change of events. I think it was probably because his tolerance was down that he came to me and accepted more cuddling and rocking, and was tired enough to take a nap without putting up a struggle. That was his first nap and he has continued to take a nap to this day at age 3 and a half. He sleeps 2 to 2 ½ hours every afternoon and still has no problem going down at 8:00pm. When he woke up from his nap that first day he was sick, he immediately started calling my name and I overheard him at bed that night whispering, "mommy, mommy…" in a loving way. After that day, he settled in and the phase of testing seemed to dimish. During that time though, I did use the time-out approach by having him sit in the living room reading chair for 3 minutes to help reinforce my "don’t touch" or "don’t hit" discipline. Where communication lagged, the time-out chair definitely made its point! Firmness and consistency were the key to getting to the point we are at today. I knew he was ‘testing the water’ and had no idea what we’d tolerate from him. The only way he could learn was by ‘trial & error’. Somewhere I once read, a child has to taste a food 9x’s before he is comfortable with it and learns to like it. That seems to hold true somewhat with discipline. It was only through consistency that he was able to abide by the family rules. Things became easier with his acceptance of us because he was more willing to want to please.

Appetite…...

I bring this up because a child’s appetite 'is' closely related to his emotions and does have adjustment issues of its own. A child may react to food in a physical sense through the digestive system but also in an emotional sense by overeating or hoarding food. Many children put more food on their plate than they can eat. Many overeat, others hoard what they cannot eat by storing it in secret places. For the health of the child, its important to get a grasp on eating difficulities by maintaining an appropriate diet. The first day or two, Woo Hyuk got by with very little to eat. He was too distraught over the loss of Oma to have any interest in eating. What he did eat, he did so quickly, just to take the edge off his hunger. After those initial days, our little boy had a tremendous appetite. At first we thought it was great. He was a sturdy, solid looking child and we had read from his Korean reports that he enjoyed food. We started to become concerned, however, when we saw that he had an ‘endless appetite’ and was eating as much at the dinner table as our two sons, both of whom are over six feet. He had food on his mind all the time. He was having a bowel movement with every diaper change and showed signs of definitely getting chunky. We brought this to our social workers attention on our first post placement visit and she explained to us that this could also be an adjustment issue and that some toddlers get stuck in an overeating pattern to compensate from the loss in their life. Once we realized this, we started limiting Woo Hyuk to a healthy size portion of food, and refused him a second helping. His well baby check found him to be at the 50% for height and 95% for his weight. We were not concerned he wasn’t getting enough to eat. Children arriving malnurished, coming from an institutional life seem to have a great deal of catching up to do as far as getting a proper diet and nutrition. I would never turn a hungry child away that was seeking to be fed. Mother Theresa once said, "to a hungry child, Food is Love." I think one of the most substantial things you can offer a child who is hungry between meals is a cup of cherrios or other unsweetened cereal, milk, cubed cheese, fruit & vegetables, cut-up in bite size pieces to carry around in a cup. Our son became angry the first and second time we refused him a second helping at the dinner table, but accepted it after that. Many children can become stuck in a preoccuaption phase with food that lasts for many years. Consider giving the child their own dish to possibly create security and dish out the child's serving yourself. I would recommend you treat food in a matter of fact way with your child and not make a big issue or it one way or the other or a 'tug of war' may erupt, creating lifelong problems to deal with.

Our son still loves food, but now has developed preferences and can walk away when full, leaving food on his plate. Now that we've known him for the past 2 years, we recogonize that he is just a lover of food and find alternate healthy snacks to ease his desire to eat. We often give him a small bowl of cut up apples or half a banana and tell him to come back if he wants more. Often he does, but often too, he forgets about the second helping, getting preoccupied with something else. This teaches him not to have 'eyes bigger than his stomach', but also puts 'him in control' of his food intake to an extent. My advice as a parent for the past 22 years, is 'pick your battles' and much can be accomplished by finding alternative ways of allowing your children to make independent decisions, like giving them choices that you decide on. They soon learn from your compromise that they too can compromise.

Language…..

I am sure there is a huge variation in language with children the same age, or any age. Woo Hyuk was a verbal child right from the start.Very language oriented. When he arrived from Korea at 21 months of age, his reports said he was speaking in simple sentences and spoke well for his age. He understood everything said to him. He was talking in our home from day one and would chant things incessantly in Korean, trying to get us to understand him. This in itself can be difficult because a toodler isn't savy enough to understand that you speak a different language. They want what they want, when they want it. And that's usually NOW!! Woo Hyuk wasn't initially interested in understanding 'us', but rather 'wanted to be understood', and would chant the same thing repeatedly. (usually standing next to our kitchen pantry and pointing) My eldest son was dating an Amerasian girl and her mother was Korean. She helped a lot with interpreting what he was trying to say. This was hard for her too at times since much of his speech was baby talk. He would ask for food, for drink, to play, but mostly, "where is Oma?" "Take me to Oma"! He even got so desperate that he asked us to "take him to the old ladies," which we understood, were the many friends depicted in the photo album of Woo Hyuk and his foster mother on outings at the park. We were told in his child study report that he was very close to the neighbors, friends & relatives of his foster mother. She gave him a gift of a beautiful video of his First Birthday Celebration while in Korea, with all of them around the table laughing at his one-year-old antics. We have picked up many simple words in Korean, which is not too difficult to speak, and we’d play games with both the English and Korean words. He seemed to gain comfort by me repeating whatever he said in Korean. I guess it made him feel understood just to hear me repeat the words. It didn’t seem to matter that I was unable to answer his questions. I spoke them back to him as they were said to me as a form of communicating at first. This seemed to comfort him. His foster mother gave him two large, musical trucks when he came and he spent endless hours the first few weeks pushing the buttons, hearing the Korean words and music. I would notice him run from the TV room into the living room with a determined look and choose one of the trucks to listen to over and over again. It seemed to me he needed to hear the Korean words for comfort when the English spoken on the TV got overwhelming for him.

When he made the transition of acceptance, it was visibly obvious that he no longer wanted to hear Korean spoken to him. He stopped playing with the trucks for a few months during this time, and when my son’s girlfriend’s mom came over and spoke to him in Korean, he refused to move or look at her. I asked her to ask him something he would have a hard time not responding to. She asked him if he was hungry in Korean. He made no response,remained motionless, looking downcast toward the floor. I asked in English and he jumped for joy saying, "Yum! Hungry", running to the snack bar.

After two months in his new home, he has all but caught up to what he spoke in Korean, only now, in English. He is putting 4-5 words together to form sentences, understands all that is said to him, and does not use any of his Korean. This is very advanced for the common child, but, as I said, Woo Hyuk tended to be very language oriented. Now, at age 31/2 he is more open to hearing & speaking Korean. We have a number of Asian Markets, run by Korean woman in our community where we shop weekly and Woo Hyuk is happy to hear his native language spoken to him there. Especially when he knows this is the store we buy his beloved "kim-bop" for our weekly Korean meals! :)

Two Years Old-Preschool

Our son, Gabriel Woo Hyuk celebrated his Second Birthday 3 months after he arrived. His adjustment is ongoing. In many way, he is like any average 2-year-old. Curious and active, filled with wonder over every new thing, delightful, verbal, fearful, self centered, giving, loving, challenging, and a joy in our lives. He runs with exuberance for hugs & kisses at bedtime, and whenever he needs an "owey" kissed away. He loves with passion and lets his opinions be known with utter defiance.

He speaks in 4-5 word sentences in English, most times starting with the word, "NO"! He is able to feed himself and has started learning to undress and dress himself, and is using the potty on prompt. I must admit he was a late bloomer with potty training, but we decided not to push it. He seemed, as many parents have said of their adopted toddlers, that he did have some formal potty training while in his birth country, but was so inconsistent, we decided it just wasn't a battle worth fighting. When we did reintroduce the potty to him at age 3, he became completed independent within a week or so. I've been told that many children who were toilet trained in their birth countries do regress after they arrive into their new family. This often takes the form of bed wetting. Fear and anxiety can lead to this and it can also be an expression of anger. Also, a sibling might also regress to bed wetting after your new child arrives. This is a universal means of expressing negative feelings and should pass as the underlying feelings are resolved. What you CAN do is see that the child eliminates after eating and before bed and give them lots of praise over this. Use plastic mattress protectors, pullups or diapers at night for awhile. Very often the cause is unconscious and is usually beyond the child's control in any case. Also, it should be noted that problems with elimination may be caused by medical factors. Many children experience diarrhea soon after arrival due to different foods and drinking water. Parasites that are disrupting the alimentary system also can be a cause for diarrhea. Our daughter from China arrived at age three and could not get enough milk. We had to limit the amount and percentage of milk fat she took in because she could not tolerate as much as she would like to drink. Many Asian children have the milk intolerance. We have learned with our four, that they can drink as much as they'd like, giving small amounts at a time.

Woo Hyuk has formed a strong attachment to his older siblings and runs to greet them when they come in from school. He is back to the ‘angelic child’ described of him in his Korean child reports, and is very loving and affectionate. He asks, "OK?" ("are you ok?") with concern when anyone gets hurt. He seldom challenges the family rules. He is an accepted member of our family, participating joyfully in family activities. He does his share and helps out by feeding the family dog dinner every night. He picks up his toys, often heard singing the Barney ‘clean-up’ song as he works without being reminded. He stays close to family when out in public, and calls for ‘mommy’ to come and get him up in the morning, even though he can get out of the toddler bed independently. When he does need redirection, he always tells us, "good boy, I am" (meaning, "what a good boy I am!"). His adjustment is an ongoing process and we felt it wasn't fully complete until he reached being with us for almost 21 months. Is that a coincidence, since he arrived at 21 months of age and spent that long in Korea with his foster mother? I don't know. But it did seem to be the magical turning point in our lives. Now, as a three-and-a-half-year-old, he is doing super! He sleeps through the night, sharing a bunkbed with his older brother and seldom awakens during the night. He is fully potty-trained and goes to bed peacefully with a story, good-nite kisses and a drink of water. He loves to be independent. He climbs his dresser drawers and selects his own underwear, soxs, pants & shirt and dresses himself before heading into the bathroom and brushes his teeth. He still loves food and hasn't fully mastered neatness,is a bit of a messy eater, as he eats with such exuberance, but eats independently and gives me the 'best compliments on my cooking!' :) He rides a two-wheeler with training wheels, swims well with floates in our above ground pool, races around, jumps, recites the ABC's and 123's and models professionally for a talent/modeling agency. His language continues to be amazing and his natural musical gift of rhythm and love for reciting the words to every song he hears demonstrates that love for language. We went through our typical 'terrible two's' issues, along with the extra fears & insecurities adoption as a toddler brought upon us, but are well into the 'remarkable three's' and the tremendous love a child this age has for his family, & especially his mommy & daddy. We must be told a hundred times a day that we are "the BEST mommy & daddy in the WHOLE world!" He is a joy beyond words in our lives and a gift from God to which we are exceedingly thankful for.

He is loved. He is cherished. He is family. And he belongs!

Woo Hyuk's Adoption Story


CHOSEN - Our Story
Our family's journey into
parenthood through birth
and adoption.

Older Parenting
A child is a gift and
blessing from God
in all seasons.

Arthrogryposis
Our daughter's story
Therapy Splinting Links

Recipes
Authentic Chinese
Korean Recipes
from my kitchen

In Memory
The children we
loved and lost
through adoption

Burke Art
Grandfather & Artist
John G. Burke
12/1/1919-5/14/2007

Dear Children
What in the world
is going on in
Medjugorje?


Our son at age 15