Seoul 2013 : Day Eight

{aka Court!} OK. So why don't we just cover the morning with "yada yada yada" … since I'm pretty sure we all want to get to the important part of the day… the Court Date! Right?! Or… no?

Yeah, I thought so. (Plus, I really don't remember the morning… we were too focused on the court date to absorb anything.)



We arrived at the agency in our business-best at 1pm, amid a surprise snow storm. (Kind of nice that there was snow on our first day and our last day there.) There were six families total, four of us were there for our second children, two were there for their first child. Of the four returning families, three of us had our first sons with us. Of the three children there, one was fast asleep, one was crazy, and one was using the opportunity to have special treats and iPhone time. Can you guess which one of those was Spencer???

After a few moments of idle chit-chat, and anxious smiles and glances all around… it was time to get down to business. They took our passports and made copies, the lawyer introduced himself to us, and then they all bundled us up into vans and sent us off to court. (In case you are wondering, they take you right into the parking garage and then up to the court room in an elevator. We never saw the outside of the courthouse.) Outside of the court room were rows of chairs where they had us all sit. After a few minutes, the translator came around and introduced herself. After that, the lawyer came through and told us in what order we were going… we were the third case to be heard. At this point, I began to breathe easier as all my anxiety was centered around keeping Spencer occupied during the wait. (I had the iPad and cookies in my bag.) After going over the order, we were lined up in order, and the first three families were sent to sit—in order—outside the judges chambers. Spencer and one of the other children were plied with treats and electronics…

After a few moments, the first couple was called in. After what felt like a blink of an eye—but in reality, it was about 7 minutes—they came back out and the next family was called in. The couple smiled and said, "No… not so bad!" as they were ushered around the corner. I wasn't really nervous at all. My big concern was getting to the agency and then getting to court and keeping Spencer entertained while in the courthouse. Well, we had arrived, and he was sitting quietly... playing. I was feeling good. In literal minutes, the next family was done.

We were up!

We had talked to Spencer about what he should do in the courtroom and how he should behave. We talked about this many, many times. Needless to say, we were very relieved when he confidently walked in, bowed, and said "Annyonghashamika!" (The most formal, respectful greeting you can offer in Korean.) We were shown our seats and sat down. The judge smiled at us and said hello back to us.

And then...

… Hyper Spencer showed up.

{Oh. My. God.}

In hindsight… he was not that bad. But, in the moment. Oh. Just… Oh. I could have died.

He wasn't naughty, at all. But the stress and the anxiety just bubbled over in him. In the form of giggling, interrupting, and talking over us. And, he chose to try out a new stand-up routine that consisted of shouting out things that only he found funny. And, the irony? They weren't factual statements. In true five-year-old fashion… he decided to be contrarian to all our statements, just 'cause. At a loud level. Oy.

Luckily, I don't think that the judge is fluent in English. Also lucky is that the translator seemed very skilled in editing out his statements. (I was able to mostly follow her statements as she spoke to the judge.) But what really saved us is that in the middle of his stand-up routine, he was laughing and smiling a lot and interjecting his Korean vocabulary. And he very, very emphatically answered "YES!!! I LIKED HIM!!!" when the judge asked if we had met our child and what we thought of him. (It should be noted that this was the only factual statement from him while we were in that room.)

So, while Doug and I were mortified about his behavior… I think (I pray!) that everyone else in the room just found him charming.

Other than that… it was easy. It was quick, even though it felt like an eternity. The questions were straight-forward, and simple to answer.

At the end, the judge said thank you and dismissed us. And we promptly exited that courtroom…

We met up with the other families and compared notes, and it seems we all had the same line of questions. We all took a big sigh of relief and kind of looked at each other like, "Now what?!" They quickly bundled us back into the van, and brought us back to the agency where we met with our case worker who just wanted to make sure it went ok. (We glazed over Spencer's behavior.) At that point she told us she would let us know when she had received pre-approval from the judge and that would kick off our 14 business day "waiting period" where the case was open to anyone who wanted to contest it. She expected it to be about a week until we heard that. At that point, both she and Spencer's case worker asked if he would be returning with us or not, wondering if they should say their "real" goodbyes or save them. (We told them that we thought he would return with us.) Then we were told we were free to go!

Doug and I decided that snow and freezing weather aside, we needed to walk back to the hotel. Spencer clearly had some energy to burn and we just needed to reset ourselves a little too. It was a pretty quick-paced walk since it was so nasty out… but we got back to the hotel with a calmer kiddo. We changed out of our court clothes, and spent the rest of the afternoon packing up. We ended the night with one of our favorite meals of the trip at a local chain called Blacksmith. It's fare was Italian, but with a Korean twist. Doug and I both had the Galbi Risotto while Spencer opted for the spaghetti marinara… I'm pretty sure it will be one of the few we revisit on trip two. I couldn't stop thinking about that meal for days!

After dinner it was back to the hotel for yet more packing and an early night since we were heading out bright and early the next morning…