(This continues the story of Brandon and Kelsey Martin who, at the time of our interview, were working through the process of adopting their son Han from Korea, but had not yet traveled to pick him up. At the the time of publication, they are currently meeting Han for the first time and will bring him home soon.)
The waiting game due to the coronavirus.
When Covid-19 emerged in Korea, the country shut down immediately. Adoptive families had their court dates pushed to later times. The government resumed operations fairly quickly, and Korean citizens worked from home. Adoption paperwork was getting processed but just more slowly than usual.
Adoptive families are required to meet the child in person prior to the court date. Because of the coronavirus and rescheduled court dates, the adoption agency can’t yet give the Martins an exact timeline on when they can travel to Korea and meet Han and go to court. “We are a lot farther along than we were, which we are incredibly thankful for,” Kelsea said. “Right now we are waiting on a court date which could come at any time.” Korea has enforced a mandatory quarantine, so when the Martins receive a court date, they will have to leave several weeks prior. They will stay six to eight weeks and then bring Han home.
Through Facebook groups and conversations, Brandon has been doing research on other families who’ve adopted from Korea and reviewed their timelines. “We’re hopeful we’ll be travelling mid-August to late-August,” Brandon said. “But it could be later. We don’t know. We’re just hopeful and ready to go.”
Their situation is unusual because of Covid-19. Typically, an adoptive family makes two trips. On the first trip the family travels to Korea, meets the child, goes to court, and flies back home. Then, Korea calls the family about custody, and the family returns for the child on the second trip and subsequently spends two weeks in Korea.
The Martins are taking the delay in stride. “It was unforeseen,” Kelsea remarked, “but at the same time, we could potentially get to see Han more or get to experience Korea and we’re excited because we’ve never gotten to stay that long in another country.
When they arrive in Korea, the Martins don’t know if they will get time with Han or not. It will depend on the agency’s scheduling given the virus. Brandon and Kelsea will be glad that even if they don’t get to see Han a great deal, at least they are in the same country. They are happy they won’t be back across the ocean and far from him for a month or longer.
“If we could have, we would have travelled [to Korea] a long time ago and just waited until we could actually pick him up, just to be in the same country,” Brandon said.
Preparation and resources.
In preparation for their first child and first adopted child, Kelsea and Brandon have read a lot of books, including a favorite on this blog, The Connected Child. They’ve also read Adopted for Life by Russell D. Moore.
Some of their best resources have been personal stories and blogs about Korean adoptions. In particular, the Martins have enjoyed reading For Gideon, a blog about a family’s journey to bring their son home from Seoul.
“I grew up in a pretty big family,” Brandon said. “I have lots of nieces and nephews, and there have always been little ones running around. Everyone is always quick to say, ‘If you need practice . . .’ Growing up, being around small kids, and being a youth pastor, we’ve been around kids, but this is going to be different.”
They know they’re not professionals. They know it’s not how many adoption books they’ve read though they continue to read voraciously on the topic. They know they’ll have to put their knowledge into practice, and it won’t be easy. But they’re excited to see what that will be like.
Envisioning that first meeting with Han.
“I don’t know how to appropriately gauge my expectations because I’ve heard so many different experiences,” Brandon said. He knows that sometimes there are joyous kids running around, sometimes the parents can’t contain their own excitement, sometimes both kids and parents are afraid. For him, Brandon hopes he and Kelsea can keep their parental composure when the fortunate day comes. He feels great excitement and joy, just considering that moment.
“I tend to be an emotional person,” Kelsea said, “so a lot of my concentration even now in preparing for that is not to cry because I don’t want to scare him [Han]. I want to be able to keep my composure while I know it will be amazing.”
They will meet Han for the first time at the adoption agency in Korea. His foster care mom will bring Han into the agency’s meeting room, a neutral environment for children to meet potential adoptive parents. This comforts Brandon and Kelsea because they know Han has been in that same room for wellness checks, so they hope it will be a relatively comfortable setting for him.
When the Martins arrive in Korea, they will start the mandated quarantine. They joke that there only so many books you can read during a two-week quarantine at a hotel. But they are ready. They are ready for the stay, for the hotel, and for the daily delivered meals. They think the food will be nothing too fancy, more like airplane food or school lunch. The former teacher Kelsea jokes she is used to school lunch. Low-maintenance Brandon doesn’t seem overly concerned.
When Brandon and Kelsea finally meet Han, he will be nearly two years old.
Brandon and Kelsea decided to pursue adoption on Orphan Sunday in November of 2018. And interestingly, Han was born just a couple of days before the Martins’ decision. When Kelsea felt an urgent need to adopt in January, Han was ill and in the hospital. Brandon and Kelsea don’t consider these things coincidences.
Real Wood Floors’ mission and commitment.
If you want to know the real story of Real Wood Floors, our passion and purpose, it’s this; we’re working towards the day when every child is home.
In some cases that home is with new families through adoption, but we believe the best solution is often in creating ways for these children to find homes in their own countries. We’re partnering with organizations to find creative solutions to lift children up from the most challenging circumstances and provide not only loving homes, but education and support assistance to give them a better chance to thrive.
We believe these elements are life changing and we love thinking outside the box to find solutions. Just as we love to innovate and embrace challenge in our business, we want to apply the same drive to not only helping individual children, but solving the problem.
What would it look like to join with people who are eradicating the problems of homeless and family-less children in a village? In a city? An entire country? These are the questions we’re wrestling with and engaging with other businesses and organizations to work out. We don’t claim to be the solution. We recognize there are others already making great strides in this mission and we can provide financial resources to help power great organizations to do even more good things.
This is the mission that gets us up in the morning and gives us the drive to keep growing, serving and succeeding.