Before we were allowed to take custody of him for good, we were only able to visit him for an hour each, on Monday and then on Wednesday. I first laid eyes on him and thought, “wow! He got so big!” Like he was a nephew I’d seen in pictures for months before I finally got to meet him. Jude was on his best behavior every time and continued to be for the next several weeks. He sat on my lap and let me feed him mushed up strawberries from a spoon because he was being polite and because he liked strawberries. We played with him and when we left after each playtime, I felt nothing. I almost felt like saying, “Uncle Hans and Auntie Susie will see you on Wednesday little buddy, be good!”
I was a bit alarmed and worried that I had such detachment to this child who was suppose to be mine. They were dead set on giving this human being to me at the end of the week and I panicked a little, and then began doubting myself. Maybe I wasn’t really meant for this… How can I be a mom when I feel like a teenager myself? How can I look into this face and not fall in love right away? Am I dead inside? Then, on the long ride back to the office from the foster home, I was a little bit relieved. I was glad that I had a healthy sense of attachment, and had to remind myself that I would never fall for anyone at first sight, not even if he was a really cute baby. There will be days, months and years before I will truly love this boy, and knowing me, when I finally do love this boy and make attachments, it will be real. I was even surprised of myself for not being overly emotional when he ran out of the kitchen to greet us, but I’m glad that I didn’t over-romanticize the first meeting because I wanted it to be real and lasting, not of whim and circumstance.
It was on a Thursday, when we were finally allowed to take custody of Jude and minute I walked in and saw him with his foster family, I had to swallow down tears. It wasn’t that I was jealous or felt that romantic surge of love for him all of the sudden, but because I felt genuinely sad for them…the foster mom, the dad, the brother and sister and for Jude. For the last year, they were a family and he was obviously happy with him. We sat down and his foster mom told me last minute tid-bits about Jude that she had forgotten to mention when we first met at her house on Monday. It was a little bit weird to be hearing all the details you should already know about your baby from somebody else. I was reduced to a 16-year-old babysitter again, receiving instructions about the baby’s feeding time, bath time, bedtime, and little antidotes to soothe him when he cries. The last meeting was quick, I signed multiple papers and it was so fast, I could have signed up to join a gypsy circus and I wouldn’t have known until I was riding an elephant in North Carolina somewhere. They rushed us out and the foster parents weren’t allowed to come down the elevator with us. We were told, “you go down first with Jude and then the foster parents can leave.” We allowed them to say bye to Jude, but he wandered into the hall with us without even looking back. There were no tears or signs that he will miss them, and we stepped into a tiny shoebox of an elevator cart. Like in some cheesy-Korean melodrama, as the doors slid closed between us, I caught a glimpse through my sobbing tears, the foster parents finally crying for their foster son.
I had no idea what I was to do with a baby, I kind of felt like a dog that chased a car and caught it. What does a human baby even eat at this age? Well…thus far, he survived two months with me even though most days I feel like I’m a delinquent mom, letting him watch violent Halloween Simpson episodes, watching him pick up and eat random food off the kitchen floor, then asking “yummy?” and always forgetting to bring extra clothes and food when I leave the house. I’ve been so use to being busy all day being productive, I was falling into mild baby blues and when a friend asked me if I had cried yet, I replied, “I feel like crying right now.” People have told me parenting is hard, being a mom is hard, but no one REALLY knows until you have an actual baby pawing at you and demanding something (I don’t know WHAT half the time) but SOMETHING every minute of your day. Then I realize that I had asked for this…to be home with this baby…and I almost forgot that he was once half way around the world and I impatiently waited for him.
It’s still only 2 months in and I can’t imagine my life without this little one. Its amazing to me how quickly he attached to me (literally…to my hip) and it’s also amazing that I have fallen in love with someone so quickly for the first time in my life. I finally do love him and sometimes… I even like him. : P Just kidding…but not really. Even now, we catch Hans referring himself as Uncle Hans instead of daddy, but Jude definitely knows he’s not his uncle...we think. I feel I’ve lucked out in some ways… he didn’t cry for 4 hours grieving and passing out in exhaustion, then to wake only to start over again like other babies have in the beginning. He was reserved. I was worried he wouldn’t attach or I wouldn’t attach to him, but we did…we definitely did. The only complains…um…I mean concerns, I have are ones every toddler goes through at his age. People say he looks like a good blend between Hans, my brother and me. He loves Kim chi jjigae (Kim chi stew) just like mom. He’s an Aquarius and a sign of the horse just like mom. Maybe all those things are much ado about nothing, but for some reason God gave us these tiny commonalities to bond me to him. I’m definitely in Haneul’s world or “Haneul-nah rah” (In Korean, the direct translation of heaven is Hanuel/sky world). J