A Spence-Chapin adoptive family shares their experiences of their homeland roots tour to Korea.
There are still open spots for this year’s Root Tour to Korea! We have extended the registration deadline to Monday, March 18th. The Roots Tour is a twelve-day guided tour through some of Korea’s most important cultural and historical destinations. It is a chance for Korean adoptees and their families to reconnect with Korea, broaden their understanding of Korean society, and observe its dynamic culture firsthand. An important part of the Tour is the opportunity for adoptive families to visit the SWS office and tour their facilities. Your family may have the opportunity to make arrangements to meet foster family and visit birthplaces. If your child was not adopted through the SWS, we will help you in making contact with the appropriate agency during your visit in Seoul.
This year’s Tour will take place from July 3rd to July 15th. Major destinations include Seoul, Busan, Seoraksan mountain, and Gyeongju, the historical capital city of Korea.
Prior to departure, there will be a full orientation for Tour participants. Homeland preparation sessions are also available to traveling families through the Adoption Resource Center here at Spence-Chapin.
If you are interested in participating in this year’s Tour, please visit the Summer Programs page and fill out the registration form. You can also contact Ben Sommers, the Korea Program Coordinator, at BSommers@spence-chapin.org
The following is another contribution from one of our adoptive families. This narrative speaks to not only the way their trip to Korea was structured, but also highlights the attentiveness of the social workers in Korea as well as the sorrow felt by the foster families as they say goodbye to the children who have been in their care for so long. We received the call to travel to Korea about three months after our official acceptance. We felt overwhelmed. In less than a week, we had to reschedule my husband's work; make arrangements for child care for our two daughters during the week we would be in Korea; make hotel and air reservations; purchase gifts for the foster family and SWS staff; and make sure that we had everything we needed for our son when we went to Korea. However, we felt most overwhelmed by the prospect of finally meeting James after waiting for so long. We began the adoption process more than a year and half ago. We told our children about the adoption once we received the referral and made our official acceptance. We thought we had at least four months before going to Korea to finally meet our son. We were not emotionally ready at the time we received the call to travel. In retrospect, we were fortunate that we were able to go to Korea prior to the four months. James had turned 15 months when we brought him home. A month later, James seems to have jumped to the next developmental stage. He is more aware of his surroundings and more expressive.
We arrived in Korea on a Saturday evening. We met James and his foster parents the following Monday at his foster family's home with our social worker. He was shy but very comfortable at his home and very playful. We met James again the following morning at one of the SWS offices. The office had a bunch of toys and we sat with James (without the foster mother or the social worker) playing with different toys. The social worker, who was very familiar with James, came into the room occasionally to encourage James to interact with us. At one time, he sat on my lap, which surprised me. Later, he sat on David's lap. It was a great feeling. Even though we met for only half an hour, we felt that this time was significant in giving us an opportunity to get to know each other at a place familiar to James but not at the foster parent's home and without the foster mother, who was sitting just outside the office. Further, meeting James both on Monday and Tuesday prior to taking him home on Wednesday, seemed to make the transition a lot smoother.
That Wednesday, while the social worker gave us the documents for our travels, James and his foster mother were meeting with the pediatrician on the first floor of the SWS building. Once the appointment was over, James came up with his foster parents and their son. Their older daughter was in school. At the adoption offices, the foster mother showed us the things she brought for us - James' hanbok, several of his favorite toys, and his clothing, much of which were new. She had wrapped each item carefully and lovingly in plastic bags. Shortly thereafter, the social worker called a taxi for us and told us that we would depart first and that we would say our goodbyes at the elevator. As we were waiting for the elevator to come up, the foster mother was so sad and began to cry softly. James had been with his foster family for over a year and it was clear that he had bonded with the entire family, especially the foster mother.
Part II will be published next week. It discusses the dynamic between James and his siblings and how they have continued to adjust to one another.