The day I met Minjeong is a day I’ll never forget. I was in South Korea – the country from which she was adopted. Four years ago, my brother Derek and his wife Gabriella began the adoption process. While the road was long and winding, it was well worth the wait.
When I met Olivia Minjeong, she was 18 months old. I immediately wanted to hug and hold her, but she had a stern pout and cautious eyes that were sizing me up. She had lived in an orphanage, followed by two stays with two different foster families,
and here she was being moved again. Unbeknownst to her, it was for the final time; her family was here to take her home.
That day, four hours later, she was no longer clinging to Oma (Gabriella). Once I had her giggling (not an easy feat), she was voluntarily sitting in my lap as we read her books. Not long after, we fell asleep curled up on the couch like kittens. I woke up with a sweaty arm and neck, where the “little furnace” was resting her head, but I barely took notice. I was enamored that my little niece had finally let me hold her.
It must be ingrained in parents to feel that they have the smartest, cutest baby. I didn’t understand the extent of that clause until now, after discovering that it applies to proud
aunties, too. Her given name, “Minjeong” means “bright and noble” in Korean, and it will be kept as her middle name. It’s a big name, but we have found that it suits her.
Right now, her vocabulary is limited to one-word phrases, with the exception of
“Ee-i-ee-i-oh” – which she sings throughout the house and without prompt. My all-time favorite word-and-gesture combo of hers is when she points to an animal (living or two-dimensional), and calls it, “Bow-wow.” This term applies to all animals, but she is especially drawn to dogs, even if they cower when she sprints over to pet them. Needless to say, we’re getting along just fine.
For parents that are about to welcome the next smartest, cutest baby into the world, we’ve compiled a thorough guide to Beijing’s hospitals, paired with experience from parents who have been there (p53). This month, we also provide you with resources on natural birthing (p68), and ten tidbits you should know before having your baby in the capital (p66).
It has been over four months now, and Olivia has been living happily in Boston with her parents, Derek and Gabriella. She loves her new room, sitting in her dad’s chair, and looking out from atop her brand-new backyard swing set. She recently celebrated her second birthday, for which I helped my mom pick out the cake figurines: farm animals.
Friends have told me how lucky Olivia is to have been placed in our family, but our sentiment is the exact opposite; we are the lucky ones. As Olivia’s one and only aunt, I am ecstatic to be a part of her world and I look forward to many more adventures