Heart Walk 2013 - Team Zoe's Grace

This past Saturday, we were joined by 34 team members in the Portland Heart Walk!  We ranked #6 in Community Teams, raising a total of $1135.00 for the American Heart Association. 

I am SO proud of team Zoe's Grace.  We cannot fully express our gratitude for our team members and generous supporters for their time, love and donations in remembrance of our sweet girl.  
Lulu preferred to stroll, while we walked.  We plan to run next year!

Zoe's Grace - PDX Heart Walk
Bob & Diana Milne
Eric, Sarah & Matthew Milne
Kevin, Rebecca, Mikayla, Kamry, Mary, Emma & Kyler Milne
Todd, Jenelle, Megan, Kaylee, Jennifer & Samantha Christensen
Colin, Maggie, Ethan & Patty Looney
Kitta, Case & Cohen Bodmer
Alex & Charilyn Dickson
Kelly & Emily Marker
Candace Salisbury
Kristin Roberts
Hanna Hales
Sarah Kotel
Erin Odom

Over 8,000 participants


My sweet friend Kitta very recently lost her sister.  It was such a precious moment when both of these cute girls shared their Zoe & Kiki necklaces with each other.  Sisters are FOREVER.

After an amazing morning at the Heart Walk, we took a 2-hour family nap in our bed.  We then made our weekly visit to see Zoe.  I have said this many times already but I can't help but smile every time I see Zoe's headstone.  It is so lovely.  I absolutely love seeing her beautiful face and placing fresh flowers in the vases every week.  It means so much to have a special memorial to reflect and remember our baby girl.  It is just perfect. 


An Honor

A year ago this weekend, a miracle happened and we were able to bring Zoe home from the hospital... just in time for what would be my only Mother's Day with both of my girls. 

Although we were overwhelmed with her critical condition, including oxygen and tube feeds, none of that mattered because we were finally home together as a family. 

That was and will always be my most treasured Mother's Day. It gave me an opportunity to celebrate the holiday with a new perspective. Instead of needing to be validated and recognized for the sleepless nights, never ending housework, bodily fluid cleanup, tantrum handling, Mac & Cheese feeding days of motherhood, it was a day of recognizing the true gift that I was given the day I became a mother. 

Last year, it wasn't about gifts and cards or breakfast in bed. I had spent the entire night waking up to an alarm every 3 hours to start a tube feed, check Zoe's O2 sats and pray that I could be enough for this child. 

My gift that Sunday was taking a short but monumental walk around the neighborhood with my family. It was so much more than just a simple walk. It was a family moment that I will never forget. I am proud to be a mother, both to an angel and an adorable little 3 year old. This role that I have given is an honor and I am truly blessed be called "Mom" each and every day. 

Happy Mother's Day to every woman, mother, grandmother, aunt and godmother.  We as women have the ability to love and nurture children in a very special way and today is a day to celebrate.  

To my fellow moms of angels, Happy Mother's Day. Although we aren't snugging our babies today, we will be with them again... Forever, in fact.  You are a loved daughter of our Heavenly Father and He knows the pain and heartache you may feel today. From another mom who knows your sorrow and grief, you are not alone. Grab a Diet Coke, have a good cry and give yourself a break <3


Second Chances

It has been a little over two years since I found my birth family in Korea.  My birth mother and I have exchanged many letters up until February 2012, right before Zoe was born.  I never heard from her after that and was questioning my desire to pursue anything further.  I figured she was having second thoughts on continuing our relationship and decided not to respond.

Four days ago, I received a letter from Holt, the agency that managed my adoption and has since facilitated my birth family search and all communication.  The protocol is that I send my letters via e-mail to Holt here in the US, they send it to Holt Korea to be translated and it is then forwarded on to my Birth Mom.  There is typically about 3-5 months in between letters and up until I started looking into other options, I thought that this lengthy process was typical.  Wrong.  Apparently, it does not have to be this way.  After experiencing Holt "forgetting" or in my mind "neglecting" to send two very important letters, one regarding the news of being pregnant and the other regarding the news of Zoe's congenital heart defect diagnosis, I have not been pleased with their service.  Granted, their services are free to Holt adoptees and without them I might not have ever found my birth family.  With that said, I have decided to move forward with other options and take matters into my own hands.  At this point, I don't trust Holt with my future with my birth family.  It is too precious and fragile of a situation.  From what little I know, my BM is around 62 years old.  We have already lost 27 years and I want to learn and know about my roots by birth.

I have a friend that is a fellow Korean adoptee who travels between the US and Korea for business.  She just happens to be in Korea right now and is able to have one of her Korean coordinators translate a letter to my BM over the phone today!  I am so relieved that I don't have to wait months for her to receive my response to her letter.  My friend is going to help me find a way to better communicate with my birth mom and birth family.  This is exciting news!

Letter Received 5.2.13
 My dear daughter Hyo Eun,

Long winter has finally come to an end, and it is now a beautiful spring.  The biggest holiday in Korea, Lunar New Year weekend in February is behind us.  I was so happy to receive your letters, but I was so sorry about the news about your baby.  I just hope that you would not worry too much. I worry that it will harm you any way.  Everything will be just alright.  Don’t worry.  Let’s pray together.  All of us here in Korea are praying for you and the baby. 

My daughter… When I think of you, it brings tears to my eyes.  I know I must have said this many times, but I am just so thankful that you have become a wonderful woman, wife and mother.  I am just so thankful that I am able to communicate with you through letters. Any time you feel comfortable, you can call me at (xxx) xxx-xxxx.  It’s been awhile since I heard from you.  If you could let me know of your contact information, though we may not be able to communicate due to the language barrier, at least I could hear your voice to know that you are okay. 

Hyo Eun, We will be able to meet someday, right?  Please remember always that your sisters and I are here for you. Be strong.  I am sorry that there is not much I can help you with the situation with your baby.  I am praying for you always.

Your mother in Korea, waiting to hear from you

Letter Sent 5.5.13

Dear Umma,

I’m so sorry for the loss of communication.  I last wrote to you almost a year ago and when I hadn’t heard from you, I thought you were having second thoughts about reuniting with me.  I was worried and hurt, thinking that maybe you didn’t want to be a part of my life anymore.  Receiving your recent letter assured me that you indeed still want to meet and be a part of my family.  Of course I still want to reunite with you and I hope that is sooner than later.  Do you still want me to come to Korea?  Or would you like to come here and visit me?  

This past year has been the most difficult time in my life.  My family has endured so much tragedy and pain.  Through it all, we have experienced true peace and the love of God, our eternal Father.  Our baby Zoe Grace was born April 11th, 2012 and had open heart surgery just two days later.  After a month of recovering in the hospital, we were able to bring her home.  We brought her home on many medications, a breathing tube and feeding tube.  At two months old, she had a long term feeding tube placed in her stomach and while recovering, experienced a stroke and multiple seizures.  As traumatic as this was, she recovered miraculously and we were able to take her home a week later.  We had three amazing weeks at home as a family and then she started to struggle with fevers, trouble breathing and getting weaker.  After a few weeks of doctors monitoring her health and watching it rapidly decline, we took her back into the hospital for her second open heart surgery.  She experienced heart block and another stroke.  This episode was too traumatic for her fragile little body and she was then in a coma.  She never got to have her second heart surgery because she never woke up from the coma.  The brain damage was too severe and she was dependent on life support.  We knew her body had done as much as it could, so we had to make the very difficult decision to let her body rest and finally be with God.  She died in our arms on August 31st, 2012.  We had a beautiful funeral service for her and she is buried at a local cemetery near our home.  We visit her grave every week and continue to remember her daily.  This tragedy is heavy on our hearts, but we have managed to keep going and learn from all that Zoe taught us.  We are closer now as a family than we have ever been before.  

I know that this news will be painful, because you love me.  But I want you to know that I am okay.  Although our situations are very different, I have related your experience to letting me go 26 years ago to the death of my daughter.  I’m sure the pain of placing me for adoption was similar to me losing my child.  Our stories are very different, but the pain is still that of a mother losing her hopes and dreams of being a part of that child’s life.  

I know we still have a future in each others’ lives.  This is our second chance.

With all my love,

Hyo Eun


"Dear Lulu"

My heart has been heavy ever since Londyn broke down on Monday night.  I prayed long and hard for some kind of direction.  On Tuesday afternoon, I was laying down with her as she napped.  I couldn't sleep because I was trying to prepare myself for possibly another difficult night ahead... In an instant, a story came to mind.  Ever since that night, she has taken her Gracie book and Gracie elephant everywhere with her.  She wants to read it over and over again.  I read it whenever she asks because it seems to help.  I decided that an even better book would be a story just for Londyn about her own sister.  Thus, "Dear Lulu" was born.  I have stayed up for the past two nights until 2:30am to get this project finished.  Today I had it printed, laminated and bound.  

I hope she loves it as much as I do!

If this labor of love can bring my sweet Londyn even a few moments of comfort, it was most definitely worth it.