2014 Home to Home Program
November 5-12, 2014
When Liz first told me that she had been accepted to the Home to Home Program in September of 2014, I was equal parts overjoyed, excited, and nervous for her. By that point, she had been in contact with her birth parents for about two years through intermittent letters. However, traveling to Korea to meet face to face is another level entirely. I knew that this was going to be an experience that would change her life; what I did not realize at the time was how deeply the trip would affect me as well.
Looking back, I cannot imagine what my life and my relationship with Liz would be like now if I had not accompanied her on her trip to Korea. For although my experience could never compare to the significance of a child returning home for the first time, the journey we took was still one of the most profound and fulfilling events of my life. The things we encountered, the people we met and the connections we made can never be duplicated. Liz could have easily taken this journey alone, as so many other adoptees chose to do; after all, it is a very personal experience. As it stands, I am so, so grateful that Liz chose to share this most important part of her life with me, and I can only hope that my being there gave her whatever comfort she may have needed throughout her journey.
It is hard to describe all of the emotions that I experienced during that week in Korea. Most of all, I just felt so happy for Liz. Seeing her reunite with her birth parents was impossible to watch without crying tears of happiness. Being in the room when she hugged her mother for the first time is something I will never forget.
We were greeted by Liz’s birth family with nothing but love, and I have never felt so welcomed when meeting a group of people for the first time. Even though we were in a foreign country, with a new group of people, with a different language and customs, I felt completely at home. Her family was just so overjoyed to be reunited with her; the genuine sense of relief and that everyone so openly felt was a beautiful thing to witness. Every moment that we spent with her family felt like a dream that I never wanted to wake up from, which made leaving at the end of the week all the more difficult. But it makes me so happy to know that we have gained a whole new family in South Korea that loves and cares about us, and I cannot wait to go back and visit.
The week in Korea just reinforced what I already knew about Liz; that she is the strongest, most loving, kindest and simply the most wonderful woman that I know. I am so proud to be her husband. And I can now see where she got some of her best qualities: her family showed us the same kindness and generosity that I recognize so often in Liz.
We also met five other adoptees from the US and Australia on the trip, and could not have asked for a better group of people to share this experience with. I immediately felt connected with them, even though their journey is so different from what I experienced on the trip. Everyone’s story was so unique and yet the common bond we share through the Home to Home program will connect us for the rest of our lives.
I cannot praise the staff and volunteers of Eastern Social Welfare Services enough for their efforts to make the Home to Home Program the incredible experience that it was. The post adoption social workers were some of the nicest, most conscientious people I have ever met. Knowing the level of emotional intensity that they deal with on an everyday basis makes their efforts all the more incredible. They are an amazing group of women, and it makes me so happy just to know that there are people like them in the world. Additionally, every volunteer translator that we were paired up with was equally fantastic. They were helpful, cheerful, and such a pleasure to be with. Even though we were sometimes talking about sensitive subjects, we never felt as though we could not say it in front of the translators, for we immediately felt comfortable with them.
All in all, I cannot say enough positive things about my experience. It has changed me for the better, and I am so happy that Liz chose me to accompany her on her journey. Every aspect of the trip just felt right, from staying at Eastern’s guesthouse, to the interactions with the amazing social workers, to the babies we held at Eastern, to the time we spent with Liz’s family, to the trip to the Pyeongtaek Welfare Town, to the nights out on the town with the other adoptees. I felt completely at home and surrounded by happiness. It was without a doubt the most unforgettable experience of my entire life. Thank you to all the people who made the trip possible.
To see Elizabeth and John’s click here