Sunday, December 24, 2006

Home, Sweet Home

We made it! We got in around 11:30pm Saturday, after 28 hours of flying, layovers, and running through the airport (we almost missed our LAST leg from Dallas to Nashville, but ran on the plane with about 3 minutes to spare). We had a large group (about 15) cheering us on as we left security. It was awesome.

The flight was not fun. He did fine on the first leg (2 hours). Then we got on the big plane (12.5 hours). We had the bulkhead seats with a bassinet, which was just a little basket not tall enough to contain him unless he was sleeping. He cried the first 3 hours. I don't think anyone could understand how long 3 hours can last until you're stuck on an airplane with a screaming baby. He would drift off to sleep, then we'd try to put him in the bassinet and he'd start screaming again. The seats were uncomfortable, but at least we had some leg room. We got about 2-3 hours of sleep on that leg (not near enough). The next leg was 3 hours and he slept for most of it. The rest of that leg he was fine. The last leg was hard. It was only 1.5 hours, but he was wide awake and very active. He wanted to jump and play, which is difficult in an airplane seat. Luckily, the flight wasn't full and the person next to us moved so we could have the row. All in all, it wasn't the worst experience of my life, but I'm definitely not ready to do it again anytime soon.

We're trying to get settled in. I'm completely overwhelmed by the amount of stuff we have to unpack, and coupled with no sleep, we're having a rough time adjusting. There are suitcases everywhere, dirty bottles, clothes, toys, and I really really want a nap! Last night we had Chris' mom stay the night to help us with him so we could sleep. That didn't work. He didn't want to be held by anyone other than Mommy or Daddy. Which is a great sign for attachment purposes, but it makes it very difficult. I ended up sleeping on the couch with him on my chest for 3-4 hours. We both got some sleep, and so did Daddy and Grandma, so it worked. Now we just need a few more hours...and then we can think about unpacking...and then there's Christmas tomorrow...I need some sleep!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Interview is done!

And we were worried about THAT?? We went in the interview room, which looked like one of those rooms you use to talk to someone in jail, with the bulletproof glass and a microphone. We had to raise our right hand and swear that everything in the file was correct to the best of our knowledge. Then he asked if the child was healthy, we said yes, he said ok, that will be $380. Our facilitator will go back tomorrow at 4 to pick up Dylan's visa and we'll be flying home on Saturday!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Wednesday-new pictures

I've finally caught up on the pictures. Everything is uploaded to

Today was uneventful. We stayed in the hotel all day because of my knee. It's pretty painful, but not swollen or bruised. I've been keeping ice on it, which helps.

We did talk to our facilitator. He said we'll be home for Christmas!! Yay!! Our appointment is Thursday at 3pm (Thursday 2am at home, so it will be over by the time everyone gets up on Thursday). Dylan's passport is done and we got to see it. It's a Vietnamese passport. We should get Dylan's visa by 4pm Friday and leave for home at 11am Saturday. We'll be home at 11pm Saturday night, which is 25 hours of traveling. We're quite nervous about the longest leg of the flight (13 hours) and the 4.5 hour layover in LA. But by then the worst will be over. Until we get home and try to get over jetlag, that is.

Anyway, enjoy the pictures!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Perfume Pagoda

We had quite the adventure today! We signed up for a private tour of Perfume Pagoda. All we knew is we would ride in a car for a couple hours, in a boat for an hour, then visit a pagoda. We left out at 8:30am today (Tuesday) and just got back to the hotel at 5pm! It was our longest outing with Dylan and we were definitely not prepared. We almost ran out of formula and forgot to bring any toys! But we made it and we're all happy now.

The car ride there was interesting. We rode out of the city and into the countryside. We saw lots of cattle and everyone had a dog (as a pet). There were cemetaries in the middle of crop fields. They were growing rice, corn, squash, and peanuts. You would see rows of squash, then a grave (above ground, like New Orleans), then more squash. And a cow walking around in it all. It was very odd. They also had some cemetaries with lots of graves, but they were all facing different directions and almost piled on top of each other. Our guide said they bury the dead in wooden coffins for 3 years, then dig it up, collect the bones, place them in a small concrete coffin and worship it. We saw lots of these concrete coffins in shops along the way and they looked like baby coffins.

We ran over and killed a dog on the way, which was very upsetting. The traffic isn't as bad in the country, but they drive the same way. One of the roads was under construction, so it was all torn up and gravel-covered. It was a very bumpy ride. Dylan slept most of the way. He loves movement.

We got to our stop and were pointed to the restrooms. This was not a great experience. Their public restrooms are just holes in the floor that you squat over. Enough said.

We went a few yards and saw our boat. At this point, I was ready to go back to the hotel! It was a small metal boat with a little wooden bench in the middle. Big enough for half a butt cheek. Now, imagine riding this way, with a baby strapped to you, screaming the whole way, your legs falling asleep, for an hour. Yeah, it was not a great time. But Chris was wearing Dylan on the way there (I wore him on the way back). The scenery was beautiful. We were on a small river among some beautiful limestone mountains. I'll try to get pictures posted today or tomorrow (I did get caught up on posting pictures this morning, so there are lots of new ones).

We came to the island where the pagoda was and I was so glad to get out of that boat! I won't go into little details, but we walked and walked and walked and finally got to a temple. This wasn't THE pagoda, but just a small one along the way. It was beautiful. The pictures don't do it justice. Then we walked up a LOT of stairs, some very steep sandy, rocky slopes, and more stairs. And when I say stairs, I'm not talking about like the ones in your house. I'm talking about big slabs of rock that really work your thighs. We will not be able to walk tomorrow. Then we got to the foot of the trail. It was gruesome and we were just now at the foot of the trail?!? It was incredibly steep and I don't see how ANYone climbs it. It honestly would've been a hard workout for the most physically fit person, which I am not! So we hopped on the cable car and rode to the top. We had planned to do this all along, so all the walking and climbing prior to this was a shock.

The cable car ride was incredible. We were hundreds of feet in the air, over mountains and valleys. It was scary, but beautiful. Again, the pictures do not do it justice. We got to the top and found out this pagoda is actually a huge cave! I love caves, so I was excited. It was 120 steps (slabs of rock) down to the entrance. Had I known this adventure would have been so strenuous, I probably wouldn't have gone for it! But we're glad we did it, now that it's over. Anyway, there were worship areas around stalagmites and stalactites in the cave. There was a pure green marble Buddha statue from the 14th century. This pagoda was from that time, and the statue was the original. Our guide was Buddhist (as are 80% of Vietnamese people), so he stopped to pray to the statue. Then we had to climb back up the 120 stairs. I had to stop every 20 steps (yes, I counted them ALL) to breathe. My legs were quivering with exhaustion.

We made it back out and it was all downhill from there. The cable car ride back was full. We had another family in the car with us and I'm sure we were pushing the weight limit on that thing. Dylan was wet by this point and his diaper leaked, so Chris' lap got wet. We got to the bottom and had no where to change him, so I had to use my portable changing pad on the GROUND to change my son's diaper. Hopefully that's the last time I'll have to do that. Poor baby had wet clothes and a wet carrier, and Chris looked like he wet his pants. Then we had to begin the many steps, slopes, and sandy trek back down. It was so slippery and we kept slipping. This is when the 'accident' happened. Luckily, Chris was wearing Dylan, so he was fine. My foot slipped out from under me on one of the steep slopes and I went down hard. My right foot stayed in place, so I came down on my knee, which hyperextended, then fell over on my hip. I thought I had broken my leg. My first thought was, "Oh no! We can't get hurt or we'll have to stay here longer!" Luckily, I was back up and limping down the mountain within 5 minutes. I'm still limping and it's hurting, but I can walk and I'll be fine. I think I gave Chris a heart attack, though!

The boat ride back went much like the ride there. Dylan crying, our legs cramped up (except now my knee was hurting), and the wind whipping harder than we expected. We didn't have enough clothes on our son-just a romper. He's ok, though.

The ride back in the car was uneventful and Dylan slept most of the way. Now we're back safely in our hotel room, hoping for a full night of sleep because we're exhausted!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Sunday's update and random details

We're in Hanoi! This hotel is 100x nicer and the room is 3x bigger. Literally. We have a mini-suite, which is good since we'll be here at least a week. I'm trying not to get my hopes up, but it looks like there's a small chance we'll be back on schedule to come home on the 23rd. We may not know until the 22nd, but keep sending up prayers and thoughts for a speedy process!

I'm still feeling much better. The antibiotics must have done the trick. I still have some stomach issues, but with my history (Crohn's), that doesn't surprise me. I can deal with that-it was the constant nausea that was killing me.

Dylan is doing SO well. He was a real trooper on the 2-hour flight up here. He's such a happy, adjusted baby. He'll say mama and dada and reach up for us. He likes to sleep laying on my chest. He doesn't like for us to feed him, though. He has to be laying flat on the bed or in his crib to drink his bottle. He'll let us hold the bottle, and he'll play with our fingernails. He's teething and likes to chew on his thumb. He doesn't suck it, just chews. I think his 9th tooth is coming in. Other than being fussy when he's sleepy or hungry, he's always happy. He has the funniest laugh and I can't wait for you all to hear it.

I'm going to work on uploading our Cu Chi Tunnel pictures today.

We got his abandonment report a couple days ago. He was found outside the gate of the orphanage on 3/26. They estimated him to be about 3 days old, but we're keeping 3/26 as his birthdate, as that's what his birth certificate says. He weighed 6.5 pounds when they found him. They posted a notice in the paper for any family to claim him and no one did. So we'll never be able to get any information on his birth family. We knew that was a good possibility going into this, so we're ok with it.

We're in the homestretch now and can't wait to come home and see everyone! We decided to extend our work leave until the 3rd or 4th week of January, so we'll have time to get him on a schedule, visit with everyone, and get him used to being in his crib. He seems to adjust really well to new surroundings, so we're hopeful about that. We're really worried about the 13-hour leg of our flight and we wish we were in business class. But we've made it through all this, we'll make it through that!

Have I mentioned the traffic here? It's unbelievable. 90% of people drive scooters, or small motorcycles. The rest drive bicycles or cars. There are lines on the road and for the most part, people drive on the right side, but they completely ignore the lines. It's total chaos. I've never seen anything like it. Crossing the road is a nightmare. They just part around you-there's never a break in the flow. You can't get scared and stop, or you'll get hit. They anticipate where you'll be by your pace and base their driving on that. We did see one accident, after the fact. It was horrible. Big truck with a bicycle under the front tire. I saw a flip flop. The driver was already gone. I have a feeling he/she didn't make it.

They don't have carseats here. One of the pictures I have is from the ride home from Cu Chi. Dylan was sleeping on the seat between Chris and me. No seatbelts, no carseats. I bet he won't care much for the carseat when we get home.

I wish there was some way to show the traffic flow. It's truly incredible. Very scary. And there are no stop signs. A few major streets have stop lights, which count down until they turn green (wouldn't that be nice?), but most streets are just open and you have to cross when you can.

The weather in Hanoi is much milder than HCMC. It was in the 60's last night. It felt GREAT.

There are lots of people on the street trying to sell stuff. They carry these sticks across their back with a basket on each side, full of fruit or souveniers or coconut milk. Some disabled people sit on the sidewalk and hold out their hats for money. Everywhere you walk, you hear, "Sir! Ma'am! Come in, come in and look." They all want you to come in their stores. Sometimes they get rather pushy, but overall it's ok.

The waitresses in the restaurants like to hold your baby while you eat. It's actually really nice. I never thought I'd be comfortable with it, but they always keep them in your sight, and it makes it possible to eat. Anyone who has gone out to eat with an infant knows how difficult it is. That's how EVERY meal is here! Ha!

You'd be amazed at the things people carry on their scooters. We've seen up to 4 people (2 adults, 2 kids) on ONE scooter. We saw someone carrying a desk and office chair strapped to their scooter. We saw two scooters driving side-by-side carrying a plate glass window!! If you could see the traffic here, you'd know how amazing this was! Oh, yesterday I saw someone with a ladder strapped to their scooter. The babies on scooters usually have mosquito net-type things over them and the adults all wear cloths over their nose and mouth. But we rarely see helmets. We asked our facilitator if there are ever any accidents and he said all the time. The morning news tells how many deaths and injuries there were the previous day from traffic accidents. It's really crazy.

Friday, December 15, 2006


Sorry I haven't updated in a couple days. We don't have an internet signal in our room here in HCMC (Ho Chi Minh City-same as Saigon), so I have to sit in the lobby to email. I haven't felt like doing that, or anything else for that matter. I've been incredibly sick. So sick that I started my emergency antibiotics yesterday. I don't think I've been that sick in years. I couldn't eat anything until lunch today. I'm finally feeling better, though. It sure was making the trip miserable. Chris is being an awesome daddy, taking Dylan out so I could rest. I guess the antibiotics worked because I'm feeling 110% better.

We're leaving tomorrow to head to Hanoi. I'm ready for a new hotel (and hopefully a bigger room). But that room wasn't quite so small once I was feeling better.

Today, we went to the Cu Chi Tunnels. That was an amazing experience and I'm SO glad we did it. I almost didn't go because I was still sick this morning, but it passed by the time we got there. Cu Chi tunnels were used during the Vietnam War for the guerillas and the Cu Chi people to hide from American soldiers. It was so weird walking the ground where US bombs were dropped and soldiers were killed. Very spooky. We went in one of the tunnels and I can say that I do NOT want to do that again. You had to crawl through this dirt tunnel and your back and both hips were rubbing against walls. That's how narrow it was. Poor Chris was carrying Dylan, so he had a really hard time. Luckily, it was a pretty short tunnel. They had longer ones we could go through if we wanted, but we really didn't feel the need. Ha! We got lots of pictures, but I don't have time right now to get them on the site. Hopefully, we'll have internet in our room at the next hotel and we can update more often.

We sure are ready to come home, but things aren't so bad now that I'm not sick. We ate at a pizzeria today and it was really good. Well, we have to go to the market for more diapers, so that's all for now. Love to all and thanks again for all the emails!


(This is from Wednesday)

We're in HCMC! And we already had our immigration appointment and got Dylan's picture taken for his visa. Tomorrow morning he has his medical exam (required for the visa) and we're leaving on Saturday for Hanoi. We'll wait there the rest of the time for our final immigration interview and then we'll get Dylan's visa so we can come home!! Still no word on when that might be, but it shouldn't be too long after Christmas.

Dylan had his first airplane ride today. It went really well. He drank a lot of his bottle during take-off and landing, so he had no ear problems. He slept most of the flight (it was only an hour). We kept him awake from then until our CIS (Citizenship and Immigration Services) appointment at 3:30, so he would nap through that. It worked! Now he's wide awake, playing with Daddy, and having a ball.

We had a really hard time when we first got here at the Rex Hotel. Our room was the size of our bedroom (not very big) and had two twin beds and no crib. I called our facilitator and he talked to the front desk to get them to change it. Now we're in an even smaller room, but we have a king size bed at least. And a crib. The cribs here would NEVER pass US inspections. It's crazy. We'll be lucky if he doesn't hurt himself in these things before we get home. Anyway, we got to the second room, I was feeling extremely sick (as I have for 3 days now...uh oh), and our internet wasn't working well, so I couldn't even talk to anyone online. I just about lost it. I think it would all be better if I weren't so sick. It comes and goes. If I don't eat, I'm fine. I went with a 'safe' lunch of mac and cheese, and felt like I was going to die afterwards. We didn't realize how good we had it in Danang. I was sick there, but the room was a suite, and it was easier to be sick in.

We are SO ready to come home. We're trying hard to enjoy the country, but we really miss everyone so much. We miss our pets. We miss McDonald's! No, they don't have one in this country. We just miss home. I can't wait to be able to drink water without boiling it, letting it cool, bottling it, refrigerating it, etc. And brush my teeth with tap water! What a novel idea.

I hope everyone enjoyed the Christmas card. Dylan and I were wearing our traditional Vietnamese outfits that I had made and Chris was wearing a hand-embroidered shirt. You can't see the details in the picture, but it's beautiful.

We are looking forward to going to Hanoi. We may be there a week or two, so I hope we like it. It will be cooler, so maybe that will help with the nausea. And if we have a small room, I will be upgrading! We tried here, but they're booked solid. We've run into lots of adoptive families here. It's pretty cool.

Thanks everyone for all the emails. It really does help hearing from people back home, even with the mundane day-to-day details. It's those little things you miss.

Merry Christmas!

(this is from Tuesday)

Since it looks like we won't be home for the holidays, we wanted to wish everyone a very merry Christman from Vietnam. Please enjoy the photo, and send it along to anyone else who might like to see our first family Christmas picture.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Update on Travel

(This is from Monday, 12/11/06)

We will be leaving Danang tomorrow morning at 6am (Wednesday), flying back to HCMC. We have to be interviewed by immigration either at CIS or the Embassy (one is in Hanoi and one is in HCMC), so we're opting for HCMC since Hanoi is so backed up. We are hoping for an appointment on Thursday, then will get approval on Friday or Monday. Then we still have to fly to Hanoi to get Dylan's Visa and Passport to get him out of the country. There's still no way we'll be home by Christmas, but New Year's isn't out of the question.

We're starting to get a little homesick and miss our families and friends. Dylan is great, but when he's fussy and we're both sick, and everyone we know is on the other side of the world, it makes it a little difficult. He's still such a miracle and I wouldn't trade a second of time with him (well, except maybe the many seconds that he cries before naps! Who wouldn't? Ha!). Anyway, he seems to be attaching really well. He reaches up for us from his crib and he LOVES us to walk him around in our carrier (mei tai). He's pulling up and walking the perimeter of his crib a lot. He'll be walking on his own in no time. We expected him to be delayed, but he actually seems a little ahead of schedule, or right on schedule for his age.

If anyone wants to email us, we'd love to hear from you. It's so nice to hear from people back home, especially when we're cooped up in a hotel room most of the day.

Saturday's adventures

(This is from last Saturday-I forgot to post it)

First off, HE SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT!! Hallelujah, we have an angel! We put him down at 10pm and WE woke up at 3am. We wanted to hold him, so we did. He barely woke up while we changed his diaper, then went right back to sleep. We woke him up at 6am because we wanted to go have breakfast. He's eating a lot now, and we can switch from breastmilk to formula with no problems. Today, we had quite the adventure.

There's a city near Danang called Hoi An. It's the oldest city in Vietnam and there's an 'ancient Hoi An' part of town. We told our facilitator we wanted to tour it and he arranged for a driver to pick us up at 1:30. First we went to the silk factory. This place was amazing. They were breeding silk worms and getting the silk from the cocoon, then making beautiful lanterns, scarves, shirts, outfits, suits, etc. from the silk. It was truly amazing. We got to see each section. Oh, and they had these beautiful silk screen pieces of art. It looked like it was painted. Each one was handmade. The workers had to train for 2 years to make them, and one piece took days to make. We bought 2 pieces at $12 each!! The prices of the items that are made here are really cheap. But a CAN of coke is $2! So not everything is cheap. I had an aoi dai custom made, to be delivered tomorrow morning. It's a traditional Vietnamese outfit. All the women wear them. It's pants with a top that has a long piece of fabric in the front and back that drops past the knees. It's so elegant and classy looking. I can't wait to get mine tomorrow! Babies wear them, too, so I got Dylan one. Boys' are a bit different, but it's still a traditional VNese outfit.

After the silk factory, we went to ancient Hoi An and went on a guided walking tour. It was 2 hours of walking, non stop. And I had a 17-pound baby strapped to my chest. Needless to say, I was exhausted at the end. And this was after a couple hours at the silk factory. My feet are tired, but I'm still the happiest momma in the world. My little man fussed most of the time because we were both sweating, but he fell asleep on the way back to the hotel, and then we played for a while and took a bath. He's really an angel. He doesn't mind a bath. It's probably the first one he's ever had in a bathtub. He loved splashing the water. Anyway, ancient Hoi An was incredible. The Vietnamese culture is just so cool and we got to experience it first-hand. This is the experience of a lifetime and I'm so glad that we're lucky enough to enjoy it.

We're not really too upset about the delay in travel plans. We'll still have our family Christmas at home after we get back, and he'll get to wear his First Christmas onesie then. We're just so blessed to have this angel in our lives. We love him more than anything in the world.

Well, it's 8pm on Saturday, and we're extremely exhausted, so we're heading to bed. Dylan just went down a few minutes ago. Love to all!!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Bad news

The meeting was bad news. We won't be home for Christmas. :-( There is a backup at the embassy where they would be processing Dylan's visa and passport. But at least we'll have him through the delay, and we'll be spending Christmas with our son. I'm still bummed about it, though. I was given a special onsie with First Christmas Dylan embroidered on it and I didn't bring it. I suppose we'll just be celebrating Christmas a little late this year.

He's ours!

Let me start with yesterday where I left off. We walked down to the beach, but stopped at the sand. Then we went and swam for a bit in the resort's pool. It was really nice. Then we walked to marble alley. Danang has marble mountains, where they mine marble and make sculptures. It's really amazing. This alley is a short walk from the resort and it leads up to the mountain. Down the alley, people are hand- and machine-carving the huge chunks of marble. The finished products are beautiful. After that, we had dinner then went to bed early. We figured it would be the last night for a while that we sleep through the night!

We woke up at 4am because we were so excited. We got the gifts ready for the orphanage caretakers, sorted out the diaper bag, ate breakfast, etc. At 9am, our driver came and took us to the orphanage. They were waiting outside with Dylan. Megan's baby was asleep inside. I got Dylan and he started crying! I suppose I would cry, too, if some stranger came and grabbed me away from the people I knew. I felt so bad for him. But apparently it was time to eat. This was interesting.

They brought out the bottle with a spoon attached to the end. They would squeeze out glue-looking stuff and shove it in his mouth, even through his cries. They sang to him and rocked him a lot. He eventually stopped crying, finished the whole bottle, and they handed him back to me. He was zonked out within seconds. They asked if I would change his clothes, which I was wanting to do, so I pulled out his outfit I got for the G&R. It was a 6-9 month outfit. It fell off of him. They just kept laughing about it, then got rubberbands and tied them through 2 beltloops on each side to help keep his pants up. After several minutes, they told us it was time to go. We weren't sure where we were going, as we thought the G&R was at the orphanage. They all said bye to the babies and it was so sad. The caretakers really love the babies and it shows. They didn't want him to go.

We went to the taxi and drove to their version of city hall. It was a conference room with one table and about 10 chairs. There was a man and woman that came in after us that were really dressed up. We thought they were the officials. Turns out they were a wedding couple. We sat there and watched them sign the marriage certificate. It was odd. Then we waited for about 45 minutes, sweating, nervous, no idea what was happening and no one to translate. People kept coming in and out, lots of paperwork was piling up, and it all looked very official. They asked for a document but we had no idea what they wanted. We finally figured it out and I accidentally gave them a copy. They said it wouldn't work, at which point my heart stopped. Then they said, "copy, copy", so I looked and sure enough, I still had the original. We went on to sign about 10 things each. I have NO idea what they said, but I wasn't about to question it!

Finally, at 11, THE official walked in. She was the one that would grant or deny the adoption. By this time, our facilitator was there, and he could translate. They called Chris and I up to the front of the room first and shook Chris' hand, and handed us a piece of paper. She was saying something, then Binh translated for us. He said the committee for the city of Danang had granted our request for adoption of Trung Vinh. They asked that we send regular updates to the city and visit if possible. We promised to send said updates, and they said congratulations, you're parents. At that point, I cried again. Of course. Then they did the same to the other lady that was with us. We then had to make a statement to the orphanage officials (thank you, you took great care of Vinh, he was loved very much, we promise to take care of him, etc.), then we left. We went to the grocery store for formula and diapers.

Dylan has not had any formula since the bottle during the ceremony. He's had two small bottles of breastmilk, which he seems to love. We haven't tried to nurse yet. He needs to spend more time with us first. Oh, and during the ceremony, he wet his diaper, so afterwards, while they were going through papers, I had to change him right there, for the first time ever, on a chair in front of some very important people. Talk about nervous! The whole experience was terrifying, honestly. I was emotionally exhausted afterwards and couldn't even get excited. I was just fried.

The first half hour in the hotel was rough. He was crying and wouldn't stop. He was dry and fed, so we just walked him around. We figure he'll have an adjustment period for a while. He fell asleep at the orphanage and woke up, never to see the only people he knew again (at least not for several months until we come back). Finally, though, he fell asleep. We laid him in his crib and he slept for about 45 minutes, then woke up. I got him up and laid him on my chest on the bed, and he fell right back asleep, so he went back to his crib. He slept a total of about 2.5 hours! Then we walked down to the beach together (with Daddy wearing the carrier!), then came back to the room. We've just been sitting on the floor together playing. Now he's asleep again. It's kind of early (6:45), but he'll be up soon. We have to meet Binh (facilitator's partner) in an hour. We have no idea why, and we're really nervous. Why would he come to the hotel at 8pm after telling us this afternoon he'd see us on Sunday? We're both very nervous, but I guess we'll find out in an hour!

I'll try to get more pictures loaded. I have lots of great ones now. You can view them at

It may be tomorrow before I get around to it. I'm exhausted!!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

We met our son!

We got to HCMC (Saigon) on Wednesday around 11am. We had someone pick us up at the airport and take us to the hotel. They tried to put us in a room with 2 twin beds, but our guide that GT (our facilitator) hired told them we were on our honeymoon, so we got a free upgrade to the honeymoon suite. Too bad we didn't get more time to enjoy it. We were hungry, so we ventured out in search of food. We found the open-air market and did a little shopping. You have to bargain a lot with them (Dad, you'd love it!). We got to the food part and turned around. I really didn't want to see any skinned dogs hanging. Plus, it smelled bad. We walked around the city (within about 3 blocks of the hotel) and bought a few little handmade trinkets for souveniers. We're getting lots of souveniers for everyone, but don't expect too much. We only have so much room to bring stuff home.

We got back to the hotel around 3pm and tried out the restaurant in the hotel. I wasn't feeling brave, so I got a burger. It came with a fried egg on top, which is new to me, but it was good. Chris got some Vietnamese dish with beef (we hope). We walked down to an indoor mall, but all the shops sold the same items. It was strange. We went back to the hotel and crashed. We were asleep by 6pm, since we had to be up at 3am.

We got up this morning at 3 and left the hotel at 4. Our flight was at 6. We got First Class, which was really nice. It was only an hour flight. I wish we could afford First Class for the ride home!! Breakfast on the plane was interesting. It was a pastry with some meat in it. Like a sausage or something. It reminded me of beef wellington.

When we got to Danang, our driver loaded us up (Chris and I, Megan and her dad) and took off. He called Quoc, who assists GT. Quoc wanted to talk to us and told us that we were headed straight to the orphanage. Talk about butterflies in your stomach!

We got to the orphanage and the driver pointed us towards the door. We all walked in and there were 2-3 caretakers playing with babies. There were more babies in cribs. There were about 6 babies in this room. We didn't really know what to do, and since it had been 6 weeks since I got a picture, I wasn't really sure which one was Dylan. So I said, "Trung Vinh?" (his VNese name) and they all started smiling and pointing at the most beautiful creature I've ever seen. He was on the floor, so I sat down and put him in my lap. I couldn't stop crying. Or stop kissing him. His tiny hands, his cute nose, his chubby cheeks. He's perfect.

We stayed there about an hour and a half, just holding our babies. It was really amazing. Dylan has 7 teeth already. Four on the bottom and 3 up top. I think he's gotten another haircut since the pictures we got 6 weeks ago. Two haircuts before 8 months old! He's got a bald spot on the back of his head, but I'm sure it's just from sleeping on his back.

We then went to the hotel. This hotel is absolutely beautiful. We're in a deluxe room with a sitting area, separate shower/tub, 1 and a half baths, etc. It's really nice. Oh, and did I mention it's a resort right on the ocean?? We went downstairs to eat lunch and we both got VNese food. It was excellent. I love the food. Danang is gorgeous, at least the part we're in right now. The way to the orphanage was really run down, but it's not a rich city. The culture is so cool and the people are extremely nice. I just can't wait to hold my son again!!

We're off to walk down to the ocean! More updates tomorrow!

Here's a picture of Daddy and Dylan:
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Monday, November 27, 2006

One more week!!

Seven days to go and counting. Thanksgiving was nice with the in-laws (my family didn't do a dinner together this year). Next Thanksgiving, we'll probably have two little ones in tow. It's hard to imagine. I can't wait to hold my little boy!!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Date changed

We got a call yesterday from our VN facilitator, GT, that he had moved the G&R date up 3 days!! We're now getting Dylan on 12/8. We're leaving on 12/4 and arriving on 12/6. Hopefully, we'll get to fly to Danang that day and visit the orphanage. I can't believe we only have 15 days left before we leave! We have much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Travel date!!

We got it! We're going to become Dylan's officials parents on Dec. 11, 2006. We're leaving the US on Dec. 6 and arriving in HCMC (Saigon), Vietnam on Dec. 8. We're scheduled to be back in Nashville on Dec. 23 (my mom's birthday!). Hopefully things will progress as quick as they planned so we'll indeed be home for Christmas. What a wonderful Christmas this will be!

We should get getting our visas next week sometime. We're pretty much packed, except for clothes we're still wearing and toiletries we're still using. We found out I won't be able to use my breastpump on the plane, so I think we're going to just take the manual part of it. That way, I won't lose the expensive part and it will take up MUCH less room. I just hope I can still keep my supply up while we're there, so I can feed Dylan breastmilk. I'm up to 12oz/day, which is great. Babies his age supposedly drink 24-32oz/day, so I'll only have to supplement half. We're very happy about that. And I have over 300oz frozen.

I feel like there's so much I need to be doing, but there's really not. We've been preparing for this day for so long, there's just not much left to do. We're SOOOO ready to become Mommy and Daddy and we're so blessed to have Dylan in our lives within a month!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


We still don't have a travel date. We were supposed to get it within 7 days after wiring the rest of the money. It's been 15 days. Every day, I email the agency and every day, they say they're still waiting. Last week they said it would probably be between Dec. 4 & 8. Today, I found out our dossiers are held up in Hanoi and they have to be in DaNang before a G&R is scheduled. They're not sure what the holdup is, but now it looks like we're out to Dec. 8-11. Which means not being home for Christmas. We're really upset about this. I thought for sure we'd get our date today, only to find out it's going to be probably several more days before getting it. I know it seems like it's only a few days, but that means the difference in being home for Christmas. It means a difference in airfare because December is more expensive (according to our agent). And worst of all, it means a few days in the life of my son without him knowing us or us holding him. I'm just really upset right now.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Lots of news

It's been a hectic few days since I posted last. Friday I got a surprise baby shower at work. We got our second toybox (we wanted one for the living room and one for the nursery), and a TON of stuff off our registry. It was great and we also got some Walgreens gift cards to buy OTC medicine for the orphanage.

Friday night, I heard from the agency. We're going to Vietnam the last week in November/first week in December!!!! We thought we'd definitely be there over Christmas, but now it's looking like we'll be home!! We're SO excited. We started packing Dylan's stuff this weekend and it's pretty overwhelming. We have a list and it's longer for him than for us! Good thing, because the two suitcases we were planning on checking are almost full.

I got new photos and measurements. He's now 16.5 pounds. He'll be 7 months old in 2 days. Wow. He's getting old, and he's looking older in his pictures. I also got the pictures from my friend that went last month. He looks SOOOO cute and cuddly. I ache to hold him. I don't see how I'll ever be able to let him go and let anyone else hold him. But I know by the time I get home, I'll probably be ready for a little break. Maybe. I've waited SO long for this. I'm so ready.

Here's my friend that held him for me (I hope you don't mind me posting this!!):
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Here he is with his signature smile that I keep falling in love with:
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Here's the "crib" that he stays in:
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Close up of his beautiful face:
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These are from just 2 days ago:
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We also celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary on Sunday. It's been 7 wonderful years and we're both so excited to start the next phase of our lives together.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Missing my little man

I'm really missing Dylan today. Some days are better than others, but today is hard. I don't know why. I'm just SO ready to go get him. I got out the suitcases last night. Nothing is in them, yet, but they're out. There's no reason for us not to go ahead and get Dylan's stuff packed. We certainly won't need it before then. We're still missing a lot of stuff that we need for our trip, but we'll wait until after our last shower before buying anything.

We got the cutest little toy for him from eBay. You Moms of little ones have probably heard of Peek-a-Blocks. This is the hippo that picks up the blocks and stores then under the seat. He can sit on the seat and push around with his feet, or flip the seat up and use it as a walker. It's SO cute. We also ordered the giraffe and the elephant peek-a-block toys. That reminds me-I need to take that off my registry! I had registered for the giraffe and elephant. I've never seen the hippo before, though. I just like the fact that it will get him moving his legs.

I have a friend online that just got back from Vietnam and got some great pictures of Dylan. She hasn't been able to get them off her computer and to me yet, but hopefully this week. They're from the same time frame as the last ones I got from the agency (6 months). She said he was so happy and smiling, but cried when she put him down. She said he didn't look like he had teeth (but she wasn't inspecting him). She said he's a snuggle bug, which makes me very happy. I can't wait to snuggle with him. She said he looked healthy and proportionate. He's perfect! I want to hold him so bad it hurts.

There are only 10 weeks left in the year. We still haven't gotten a tentative travel date (which I thought we were supposed to get this week), but they're still saying December, so that means at the latest, we'll be gone in 9 weeks. I sure hope we're back by Christmas, which would mean we're going in 6 weeks. Only 6 weeks. I really need to start packing. Maybe that will occupy my time.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Baby showers and other stuff

First, we got new measurements on Dylan. He's now 15.5 pounds (only gained a pound this month) and 28" long. He's tall and skinny! We'll fatten him up, though. The milk production is going well. I'm getting around an ounce per session (up from 1/30th of an ounce). And I'm only on week 3.

I had my first baby shower Saturday, Oct. 14. It was a couples' shower at our house, hosted by Teresa and Deana. We had about 7 couples and we played games like making the men drink out of baby bottles and making the men eat baby food to guess the flavor. It was a lot of fun and I got some really great items.

The second shower was Sunday, Oct. 15. It was at church and was hosted by five ladies from church. That one was a bit calmer (no games), but again, I got a ton of great stuff! Dylan is definitely being showered with gifts. The next one that I know about is Sunday, Oct. 29. That one's for Chris' side of the family.

The amount of stuff we have now is almost overwhelming. We're running out of room! We had already purchased several items before the showers (like, enough for 3 kids), but much of it is for older ages, so we can store it. And then there's the strollers and carseats, which take up a lot of room, but won't be stored in the house for much longer. We'll be organizing it a bit more in the coming weeks.

We still haven't started working on the trip yet. I know we should work on a packing list, but the thought of spending 3 weeks halfway around the world caring for a baby for the first time in our lives has been a little overwhelming. I have a couple sample lists, and we've started compiling some items in a drawer that we know we'll need for Dylan. Other than that, nothing. It's so unlike me. I'm so freakishly organized that I like having a list for everything. I have a list of things to work on before travel and one thing on the list is to make a packing list. LOL. I make a list to remind me to make a list. Scary, huh? Anyway, I really need to work on that, but it's hard to get started. The first step is the hardest, right? Honestly, considering the cooler weather we're getting now, I could go ahead and pack my clothes, since it will be in the 80's there! I don't think I'll need summer clothes anymore this year in TN.

We're planning on getting souveniers for family, but if there's something specific you want (for the whole three family members that actually read this), let me know. Things are pretty inexpensive there, but we have limited packing space, of course. We're taking at least one suitcase full of donations for the orphanage, so we'll use those on the way back for souveniers.

Monday, October 02, 2006

First scary mommy moment!!

Friday started like any normal day. I worked, I went home, I pumped every 3 hours. Friday night, I got online and checked my Yahoo groups I'm on. I see a post about a storm heading towards Vietnam. Then I read this storm was a category 4 typhoon (same as a hurricane, just in a different hemisphere, I believe) heading straight for DaNang. It had already ripped through the Phillipinnes and killed dozens of people (the count is now up to over 100). The eye was forecasted to hit Sat. night/Sun. morning in DaNang. My heart stopped. I started bawling and was scared to death. I've never felt so helpless in my life. Here I was, sitting in a nice house, in a nice neighborhood, with beautiful weather, and my precious son was halfway around the world, in an orphanage, with the worst storm in 3 decades heading right for him, and there was NOTHING I could do. It's the worst feeling in the world.

Saturday morning I got up and checked the weather. The typhoon was still a category 4 and still heading for DaNang. I called Carl, our agency director. He didn't seem to be aware there was a typhoon heading for the city (he didn't have access to a computer that day and communication was down with the folks in VN). He said he would try his best to get in contact with GT, our in-country facilitator. He was there with 2 families adopting their babies from the same orphanage. I had heard they had already left and were in Hanoi (northern VN). I knew hundreds of thousands had been evacuated, but I didn't know if the orphanage even could.

All morning and evening, I looked for articles, scouring internet sites, just trying to find any info I could. It wasn't looking promising, though. Sunday morning I got up and saw the storm had hit as a category 2. Several people were dead, dozens injured. Hundreds of homes were destroyed, buildings were missing roofs, people were missing. I called Carl again and he told me he finally got in touch with GT. The babies were all safely evacuated to the hospital in DaNang about 5 miles inland (the orphanage is only 1 mile inland). He promised me they were all safe, but didn't know about the orphanage. Hearing that news filled me with such relief. I don't think I realized how worried and stressed I was until I heard he was ok.

Today I found out the orphanage was badly damaged. The roof is gone, the windows are gone, stuff inside and out is broken. I shudder to think what would have happened if Dylan had not been taken to the hospital before the storm. I thank God that my baby is ok, and hope the orphanage can get put back together soon. I also hope this doesn't delay any adoptions. This weekend made me really realize (if I didn't already) that I'm a mommy and I love and care about that little boy more than anyone in the world.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

3 great things!

1. Our yard sale went GREAT! We made $1250 over 3 days. That's almost enough for a round-trip plane ticket! Thank you SO much to everyone who helped, either by donating items, donating time, or sending up prayers on our behalf. And a big special thanks to my dad and my mother-in-law. They were there before the crack of dawn on Friday to help us set up and stayed all day to help manage the crowds. Even with the thunderstorms and tornado warnings, we had huge crowds. That really meant so much to us to have their help.

Any items left over were donated to another couple at our church who are having a yard sale this weekend to raise money for their adoption.

2. I started the next phase of the protocal for induced lactation. I went to my consultant and she hooked up the pump to show me how to work it, but we didn't expect any milk for weeks. Lo and behold, I had drops within minutes!! It's truly amazing what the human body can do. Here I am, never been pregnant in my life, and I'm producing breastmilk to nourish my baby! It's amazing enough when birth moms can do it, but I just thank God for giving me the ability to provide this special gift to our son and allow me to bond with him in this way. Now we just have to pray I get more than a few drops! I'm saving every drop to freeze, but it's very very little at this point. I have to pump every 3 hours (except at night for now) and each session yields about 1cc of milk. That's 1/30th of an ounce. It will happen, though!

3. We got new pics of Dylan on his 6-month birthday yesterday. My baby boy is 6 months old already!! He's SO beautiful and I love him more every day. His daddy and I are so proud to have him as our son and we just can't wait to get him home. Still no news on travel, but again, that won't happen until a couple weeks before it's time to go. We hope to hear something before Thanksgiving.
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Thursday, September 07, 2006

Update on Dylan!! (and more exciting news)

We got an update today. He's now 14 pounds, 9 ounces and 27.5 inches long. I think he's going to be tall! I'm going to try to post his pictures. The first is from 7 weeks, then 3 months, then 5 months. I wish they hadn't cut his hair, though!!
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Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
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The other exciting news is that we've decided to start the second adoption now. We are #14 on the list for a girl, and are expecting a referral in March/April. We'll travel in June/July. We're trying to get my mom to go with us so she can help with Dylan. I just don't want to leave him for 3 weeks after being home only 6 months. We're SO excited about getting Dylan, then getting Madison shortly after.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Nothing new

No new pictures, no new measurements, no word on travel. Our dossier should be in VN and being translated as we speak. Oh, and we decided we aren't going to name the second baby Zoey. She's going to be Madison Ann, the name we've had picked out for 8 years. I don't care that it's now one of the most popular names in the country-we had it first! LOL. Maybe the second girl will be Zoey. ;-)

Thursday, August 31, 2006

It's good!

The dossier is in my agency's hands, fully authenticated, and complete. Instead of mailing it to Hanoi, they are sending it with their facilitator, who's going to VN in 2 days. That way, it gets hand-delivered even quicker. They expect 10-14 for translating and logging it in with IAD (international adoption department). Everything is moving so fast, it's wonderful!! Every day saved is an extra day with my baby! I would love to be with him for his 8-month birthday on November 26. That's pushing it, but it's possible!

Oh, and the 'rule' about adoptions needing to be a year apart was just my old agency, not a VN law, so we could start Zoey's adoption now if we wanted. If we had the money. We'll have to look through the budget and see how quick we can get it going.

I'm impressed!

I checked FedEx this morning and my dossier left last night and arrived in Ohio this morning. The agency should get it by 10am! That was quick! I was expecting a week. This just means I'm that much closer to my Dylan. Speaking of, another VORF client is in DaNang right now (as of about 1am today, 1pm VN time) picking up her daughter, and promised to try her best to get pictures of Dylan for me and hold him. She won't be able to send the pics until she gets home, but she should be able to let me know soon if she was able to get any pics. I'm so excited! I hope she got lots of pics of him. I don't think I'll ever have enough pictures of my baby until I can see him in person. If I could afford to live in VN for the next 3 months, I'd do it (if Chris could come, too-otherwise, I'd probably end up in the wrong country with my common sense if I went by myself!).

I'm just so excited my paperwork was authenticated easily. At least I hope it was. Hopefully, they didn't send it back so quick because there was a problem. Now I'm worried about that. I suppose I'll hear from my agency today, though. If all is well, it will be sent to VN for translation, then to the adoption center in VN. This is going way too smooth. Please pray it continues to go this smooth. The quicker the paper moves through, the sooner I can hold my precious baby boy!

On another note, I have a good friend that's leaving in 8 days to pick up her son in Russia. She already went there once to get his referral (it works a little different than VN) and she hasn't seen him in FIVE MONTHS! Can you imagine? Holding your son, then having to leave him in another country! It's been very hard for her to wait, but it will all be worth it in less than 2 weeks! Good luck A!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Dossier is being authenticated!

My dossier left VORF yesterday and will be delivered this afternoon to the VN Embassy in San Francisco for authentication. They expect this to take no more than a week. Then it goes back to my agency and immediately to Vietnam for translation! We're getting there!

In the meantime, we're trying to fill our time with projects. We made a mai tei, which is an Asian baby carrier. It's a rectangle of fabric with four straps, one coming from each corner. The baby gets snuggled up against you (front or back), the two bottom straps go around your waist, and the two top straps go over the shoulders and wrap around to tie under the baby's bottom. They look cool and I've heard they're the most comfortable carriers because they distribute the baby's weight evenly and don't hurt your back or shoulders. I haven't taken any pics of it, but if I can remember, I'll do that. Next up is the adoption scrapbook. We've never scrapbooked before, but we want to do one of the adoption process, along with our 'wishes' from a quilt square swap we did. Mom W. is making the quilt for us. We want to do another book of the trip itself, then of course, a baby book. I have an adoption journal to fill out for Dylan with info about us, our families, how we got him, etc. We're planning on making a shopping cart seat cover as well. We have the pattern and fabric already. I also have to start working on a packing list for the trip. I think all that will keep us busy at least a couple weeks. Maybe. Any ideas for the other 3 months???

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Letter to my son

August 24, 2006
My dear sweet son Dylan,

I saw your picture for the first time 2 days ago and I immediately loved you so much it hurts. I can’t wait to meet you. I’m so proud of you and have been showing your pictures to everyone I know. I can’t imagine the pain your birthmom must have felt having to place you for adoption, but I know she loved you very much and only wanted the best for you. I can’t wait to bring you home. Your room is all ready. Your Daddy, Nana, Papa, Grandma, Aunt Tessa, Uncle Cuna, Aunt Jo, Aunt Susan, Uncle Randy, MaSam, Aunt Pat, Granny and Papa House can’t wait to meet you, too. Along with hundreds of other friends and family. None of us have met you, but you’re already loved so much. You’re my son and you’re the light of my life. I just saw your picture a couple days ago, but I’ve felt you in my heart long before now. You’re the answer to so many prayers and so many dreams, especially Mommy’s and Daddy’s. We love you so much Dylan.



Still on cloud nine!

I just can't stop smiling. I have a sinus infection and feel like crap and even that isn't keeping me down. Dylan is just SO beautiful and I love him so much it hurts. I never thought seeing a picture could make me so happy. We faxed in our Acceptance of Referral yesterday, so it's official.

I went home sick yesterday and went to the doc. Then Chris took the afternoon off and we went up to the county clerks, then to the sec. of state. We got it all mailed today. Two dossiers (one certified), notarized referral acceptance, extra passport pictures, agency contract, and a check. CHI will be refunding most of our fees we've paid to them. They're only keeping the application fees. I don't even care. I'm so happy right now, it's worth every penny. It's worth every heartache I've been through. It's all worth it for him. My precious son. I love you Dylan!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Dylan Alexander (born Trung Vinh) was born on March 26, 2006 in Danang, Vietnam. At 6 weeks old, he weighed 10 pounds, 2 ounces. I'm so excited, happy, and absolutely in love with him. He's the most beautiful, healthy baby I've ever seen and I can't wait to hold him! We're hoping to travel around Thanksgiving.

Now, you're probably wondering how in the world this happened. Well, let me tell you. I was reading on a Yahoo group where someone posted they had switched from CHI to VORF (Vietnam Orphans Relief Fund). I contacted her (Susan) and asked why she switched. She told me the wait was just getting too long. I agreed and said I was thinking of switching. She said she thought her agency had 3 little boys available and no approved families that wanted a boy. I contacted them immediately and it was all a blur from there. Somehow, in 3 days, I've cancelled my contract with CHI, signed up with VORF (though not officially since they just overnighted me the contract yesterday and I'm faxing it in to them tomorrow), and got a referral. It's been crazy. We started our dossier yesterday, which consists of a VN application, a commitment letter (we are required to send yearly updated to VN until Dylan is 18), police record checks, verfication of employment letters, medical clearances (no contagious diseases), our coveted 171 CIS approval, and the homestudy. We finished today and are taking it tomorrow or Thursday to the county for certification. Then we take it to the state, then our agency sends it to the VN embassy for authentication. Then it goes with our referral to VN and they start working on translating and getting everything together for Dylan's dossier. It's going to be a wild ride!! We hope to have him home by Christmas.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Yard sale

We decided not to use that parking lot for our sale. Although the traffic would be great, putting it together would be a logistical nightmare. We can't take the stuff ahead of time, so we would be making several trips the morning of the sale. We couldn't just drop it off and go back for more-one of us would have to stay with it. And the driving from where we're keeping everything to this place would take hours for all the trips we'd need to make. So, we're having it at our own house, on a Friday and Saturday. Sept. 22-23. Anyone who is local (family) and would like to help, please do! We're going to need lots of help. Amazingly, we have MORE for this sale than the last one. The stuff keeps pouring in (which we're so grateful for) and it's going to be a lot of work. Between now and then, we're going to bring the stuff over to our house a little at a time, make sure everything is priced, and just store as much as possible in the garage. But it almost fills a 2-car garage right now. This is going to a great sale. We were going to make this the last, but since there's SO much (and over half of it wasn't in previous sales), we'll probably save it for another sale in October or next spring, before we get Dylan.

So hard

I never thought anything in life would be as hard as infertility (other than loved ones' deaths, but those we've experienced are quicker to recover from at least-this just keeps going). But adoption takes the cake. This is horrible. I have avoided saying anything because I don't want to paint a negative picture of adoption. I hear it truly is a wonderful experience. After it's all over, of course. Because that's when you have your baby. Which I don't. I'm miserable. It's only getting worse. I am not handling this wait very well at ALL. It's killing me a little bit at a time. I cry at least once a day. I try to hold back until I get home, so poor Chris has to deal with an emotional mess every night. He's my rock, though. I don't know how I'd get through this alone. We have an incredibly strong marriage, and this process is making it even stronger. It's not exactly how I wanted to strengthen my marriage, though. I really feel like I'm losing my mind sometimes. I was watching an old Friends rerun and one of them found out they were pregnant. I busted out crying. Stupid commercials for birthing suites at a local hospital make me cry. Walking into Dylan's room makes me cry. Seeing a pregnant person upsets me. I can't do baby showers. I tried to go to one last weekend and had to disappear after a few minutes. I just can't handle it. I can't attend my good friend's shower this weekend. She's pregnant after infertility, so she totally understands. I don't think most people understand. And that's ok. I never would have, either, had I not gone through this. I actually had a breakdown at work last week. Talk about embarassing. And once the tears start, there's no stopping them. Chris wants me to mention it at my doctor's appointment this week (I'm going because my stupid insurance company no longer covers the heartburn meds they made me switch to a couple years ago). I really don't want to go on anti-depressants again. Not that there's anything wrong with them, I just don't want to feel like I have to be medicated to feel normal. But at the same time, I can't go on feeling like this. I know I'm no fun to be around. It really scares me that I'll get PAD (post-adoption depression). It's very real and mimics post-partum depression. I try not to think about it, though, because I don't want to talk myself into getting it, you know? It's just something I have to watch out for-a history of depression makes me more prone to it. Another bad thing is being upset has the opposite effect on me with my diet. Most people stop eating. I'm an emotional eater. I'm struggling not to gain a lot of weight. I've already gained 10 pounds that I worked so hard to lose. It only took a couple months to gain that much. By the time we get Dylan home, I'll be a blimp if I'm not careful. Especially with all the delays.

Being the OCD person that I am, I've made a spreadsheet that keeps up with every referral coming through, my current spot on the list (#19 for a boy), and the time elapsed. It automatically calculates the average number of referrals per month (2.3 boys) and estimates when I'll get my referral based on that average and my number. It also calculates my current spot on the list when I add new referrals. Anyway, at the current rate, I should get a referral on 4/29/07 (travel is 4-5 months after that). I did hear rumor there was a referral last week, but it hasn't been announced yet (we get regular updates from the VN coordinator with our agency). If it was a boy, that moves our date back to 3/16/07. So you see, either way, we're screwed. We are still being told 4-5 months from when we get on the list. That would mean we should get a referral in Oct. or Nov. They have had 17 boy referrals since VN reopened to the US in January through my agency. That was EIGHT months ago. And they expect another 19 in the next 2-3 months?!? I don't see it happening. And I just can't make it through another Christmas without my baby.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Off topic update

I had my wisdom teeth out on Monday. Apparently, I am recovering quicker than anyone can believe. I only took 2 pain pills the day of surgery, and went back to work the next morning at 6am. I'm a little sore, but I'm eating normal foods.

We spent all weekend building our veiled chameleon a new 5' cage. We're really proud of it. It looks awesome. It's a wood frame with mesh on the top half and plexiglass on the bottom half. We designed it ourselves. Tell me what you think!

Here's what we built the cage for (he'll grow into it!):

Friday, July 14, 2006

Yard sale and an update on wait times

The yard sale went really well. We raised over $700!! And we have enough stuff left over for another one! We're planning one for September or October. A local business was generous enough to let us use their parking lot in the middle of town, so we'll get tons of traffic!! I'm still working on my thank-you cards, but thanks to anyone and everyone reading this that have supported us in any way. I can't send cards to everyone that has supported us emotionally, because so many have. And we're so grateful and blessed for that.

Now, the bad news. The current wait time for a boy in Vietnam with our agency is 4-5 months from getting on the list until a referral. Then it's another 4-5 months to travel. So we're looking at 8-10 months, minimum. The wait could get longer, but won't get shorter. There's NO way we're traveling this year. We'll be lucky to have our referral by Christmas now. We're both so upset and down about this. Every day gets harder. I'm trying to look at the bright side that at least we'll have more time to save up. And tell myself that I know this just means Dylan isn't ready for us yet. But that doesn't make the wait easier. The hard part is going to be spending Christmas without my baby. I'm defnitely not looking forward to that. And I'm frustrated because I really just want the exact number I am on the list for a boy and I can't seem to get it! They keep telling me I'm #58 (there's been ONE referral in the 4 weeks we've been on the list). But a lot of those are wanting girls. The wait for girls is 18-24 months, as opposed to my 4-5. I guess that's one thing I have to be grateful for. Of course, it makes me wonder if I should go ahead and start our second adoption NOW since the wait is so long. (Don't worry, even if we COULD afford that, they won't let us start another one until we've been home with Dylan for 6 months.)

Thursday, June 29, 2006


I just want to preface this post by saying I know this is not common and most people don't even realize it's possible. However, that doesn't mean it's wrong or not healthy. Everyone knows the research shows breast milk is the best source of nutrition for babies. It's also a great way to bond with a child. And what child needs bonding and nutrition more than a baby from an orphanage? So, I'm very excited to say that we are preparing to breastfeed Dylan! It's going to a lot of hard work, but I'm willing to try if there's a chance of it working. Here's how it works.

I've begun Yaz, which is a contraceptive pill with higher doses of estrogen. It tries to mimic the pregnancy hormone levels and make your body think it's pregnant. Simultaneously, I will be taking domperidone, which is a nausea drug that has a side effect of producing prolactin, the hormone that makes milk. The fact that we have several months (I'm estimating around 6), makes our chance of success very high. I'm also taking a prenatal vitamin and eating oatmeal 3x/week (it seems to increase milk supply). Once we get a referral, we'll be about 3-4 months from getting Dylan. At that time, I'll discontinue the birth control, start taking a couple herbs (blessed thistle and fenugreek seed), and start pumping with a hospital-grade pump. I will have to pump 3-4x/day and work up to 8x/day. After 2-4 weeks of pumping, I should start producing milk. As soon as we get him, I should try to nurse him, but if he doesn't take right to it (which I don't expect him to), I can still pump and feed him breastmilk through a supplemental nursing system or a bottle (though I'm not supposed to use a bottle).

I'm not sure how long we'll nurse him, but I don't really agree with nursing past the age where the kid can ask for it and open your shirt. I'm not in any place to tell other people how to raise their kids, but that just seems weird to me, so we won't be doing that. I always said no longer than 12 months, but he may as old as 10 months when we get him, so maybe up to 18 months old. I'm not sure. We'll have to play that by ear. For now, I'm just hoping this will work. I'm seeing a lactation consultant that specializes in adoptive breastfeeding (and she says it's becoming very popular), and she has had a lot of success with this. I'm scared and nervous about it working, but I'm sure most new moms are.

Only 9 more days until the big yard sale!!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

It's going to take FOREVER!!

We're #59 on the list. Most of those want girls, but there are 'at least 20' ahead of us asking for boys. And that's just with OUR agency (CHI). There are some 20+ agencies licensed for adoptions in Vietnam. And that's just in the US! Crap! I'm never going to get my son.

I've started a protocol to prepare my body for induced lactation. It's amazing that I may be able to breastfeed our son without ever being pregnant! We're really excited about it. And scared. It's a lot of work (birth control pills, other drugs, herbs, lots of pumping), but it will be worth it if it works. This extended protocol takes about 6 months, which I'm sure we have, but it has the highest success rate. Of course, we may still have to supplement with formula, but some breastmilk is better for him than none! And it will help with the bonding and attachment issue, which is critical with adopted children. We have to do things a little different with Dylan than most would with a bio child. We can't let him 'cry it out' because he will have experienced abandonment. We can't use a stroller much (we'll use slings and carriers) because he needs to attach to us and learn we're his parents. There's such a fine line between attachment parenting and spoiling the kid. I think that will be hard for us.

Sunday, June 18, 2006


Sixty-five days after applying to CIS, we FINALLY got our approval yesterday! We're approved for 2 children (if twins are available, but that's rare). Now we'll officially be on the list to be matched with a child. Hopefully they'll tell me how far down the list we are.

We went to our classes yesterday at the agency. We were there from 8:30am to 6pm, learning all about how to put together our dossier (the paperwork we'll get to start on soon now that we're approved!!!), how to claim the tax credit, what types of investments we should make for our kids, how to re-adopt once we get back to the states (not required, but gives us a certificate of foreign birth that makes it much easier to register for school, etc.), and lots of other fun stuff. All day, I kept thinking we may just have that approval when we got home. They had told us it takes 45 days after getting fingerprinted. Guess how long it was? 46 days.

So now we wait (some more). We'll have to put together our dossier as soon as they tell us to go (probably in about a month). The documents have to be less than 6 months old when we get Dylan, and there is a 4-month wait between referral and travel, so I can only assume that if they tell me to start working on it, we'll have a referral within 2 months. We already ordered birth and marriage certs because our social worker at CHI told us it would be ok, but now we may have to reorder them. That's a little frustrating, since that's about $50 down the drain. On the bright side, I sold my SCUBA gear and the wonderful lady that bought it paid $50 more than we agreed on, just because she's that nice. Granted, it was still less than half of what I paid for it and only used it once, but that's my own fault. They call that a stupid tax.

Anyway, between the classes, getting approved with CIS, and making a little money, it's been a great Father's Day weekend! I got Christopher three DVDs. Good Morning, Vietnam, Platoon, and a documentary about the VN War called We Were Heroes.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

A little progress...

We heard back from the senator's office (after 3 emails) confirming our address with CIS is correct now. She also said if we don't have our approval by Monday, let her know and she'll follow up on the status. It's been 9 weeks since we applied and over 6 since we got fingerprinted. Any day now...

We had a yard sale last weekend (not the big one with the bake sale-just trying to clear out some of the stuff we have so far). We didn't do too bad! I was pleasantly surprised. Granted, $300 is not going to hardly put a dent in our $25,000 bill for this adoption, but it's more the mentality that 'it's the thought that counts.' Most of the stuff we sold was our own, but the fact that my mother-in-law, aunt, brother, a coworker and someone at church gave us stuff to sell shows their support and means a lot to us. It shows us that Dylan will be accepted into the family with open arms. My sister and parents are getting stuff together for the next one (they have busy lives and didn't have much notice for the first sale!). I think a couple coworkers and hopefully my sister-in-law will be baking items for the bake sale. I even had a friend out of state offer to donate new items for a raffle. The support of everyone means so much more than anything!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Still waiting

We got Chris' passport last Friday. We're still waiting on CIS approval. And now we're hearing the wait time between approval and referral has gone from a few weeks to 'up to 6 months' though it should take less time than that. I don't think there's any hope of getting Dylan this year. I'm pretty upset about that. In the long run, a month or two is no biggie, but when it comes to the adoption tax credit, it could mean a whole year that we have to pay interest on the money we're borrowing for the adoption.

The yard sale is tentatively set for July 8. We had to keep pushing it out because my parents never have a free weekend, and it's at THEIR house!

Sunday, May 21, 2006


I've made a photo album for everyone to see all things related to Dylan! So far, I only have pics of the nursery, stroller and car seat. I have the link in my profile if you want to check back in the future.

Nothing new here

We're still waiting on Chris' renewed passport. Still waiting on our 171H. Just waiting, waiting, waiting....

We're having a yard sale/bake sale in a couple weeks to raise money for the adoption. We've requested donated items from family, friends and church. Hopefully that will help some!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Fingerprints done!

We got our fingerprints done yesterday. We have a completed, notarized copy of the homestudy. Now we just wait for our I171H (approval from CIS). The letter they sent us says that should take 45 days once they get the fingerprints, which take 10 days to process. So, we have 54 days left! HA! I'll believe it when I see it. I've heard it takes much longer.

Regarding the address problem, we called CIS and they told us we have to drive to the local CIS office to correct the problem in person. First off, the 'local' office is 3-4 hours away!! That means taking a vacation day off work to drive halfway across the state. Second, it's THEIR mistake. Our application is very clear (I kept a copy). They had a typo. I asked when I went to get fingerprinted yesterday if they could help, and they said no, I had to call CIS. I explained the situation and what CIS told me and they said that's ridiculous...but they still couldn't help me. So we called CIS again and spoke with a much nicer person (after being on hold for 47 minutes) who told us she couldn't even look our info up in the system without an application number. And the I600A forms don't get assigned application numbers! So she said we had to go in person. Whatever. I've written a letter and enclosed a copy of our app, as well as contacted the senator's office. They're going to try to straighten it out for us. What a mess! All this over ONE digit that was mistyped. We just don't want to take a chance of not getting our approval because our mailman doesn't catch it next time. We're lucky we got the fingerprint referral, considering it was addressed wrong.

On a brighter note, we've already received two gifts for Dylan (I think the name is sticking!). Dad bought us a used car seat. He cleaned it up and it looks like new! It has the LATCH system, which means the base clicks into these metal loops built into newer cars (my SUV has them, but Chris' car doesn't). The carrier can be detached from the base, so no messing with seatbelts and tying things in. Much faster. Hopefully, he'll be small enough to still use an infant carrier (under 20 pounds). I would imagine he would be, but I've heard of a couple 6-month-old's from VN that were already around that weight! The other gift we got was a big gift basket full of baby boy stuff. They were auctioning several different baskets to raise money for my nephew's baseball league and I told my sister I'd pay up to $50 for that basket if she'd bid for me (I wasn't going to stay at the park all day). She ended up going to $60, then said she wanted to buy it for me as a present for the baby. It's SO cute! It's a wooden box that's painted blue and has an airplane on it. Inside, there was a $20 gift card to Walmart, several blankets, an oufit (0-3 months-may be too small), a digital thermometer, a teething ring, ear suction thing, medicine dropper, bibs, and some other stuff. Definitely worth $60! We're so excited about it all!

We also hit a couple garage sales and got a doorway jumper, a bouncy seat, 27 articles of clothes (sizes 6-12 months), a sling carrier, umbrella stroller, and a pack 'n play. All that for $24!! And it's all in good condition. Some of the clothes still had tags on it. And for those thinking "Quit buying stuff-people want to buy things for your shower!"-I've already heard this a couple times-don't worry. We started with NOTHING for a baby, so there is still a LOT that we need. We're not sure if he'll still be on bottles, but most likely he will be, so we'll need all the stuff associated with that, diapers, diaper bag, etc. In fact, we've started a baby registry at You can search by my name if you want to see! We'll be adding more once we know age and size.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Small update

We got our 'invitation' for fingerprinting today. We should be able to go next Tuesday to get fingerprinted. There's a small glitch in that our address was wrong on the invitation-hopefully we can get that fixed without slowing us down. It was close enough that our postman got it to us.

The impatience is kicking in

I'm tired of waiting. Yes, I know my social worker just got back from vacation yesterday, but I want my homestudy write-up NOW! She's supposed to send me a rough draft so I can check all the details (names, address, ssn, etc.), then send it to corporate for a final check, then get it notarized and send a copy to CIS. I'm still waiting on an invitation to get fingerprinted from CIS, too. Once they have my fingerprints processed (not sure how long THAT takes) and have my homestudy in hand, it supposedly only takes 4 weeks. That's what THEIR sheet said. They sent me a sheet and a receipt for the money I gave them last week. But no appointment yet.

I was reading some posts about VN adoptions and saw mention of vaccinations. I checked with CHI's director and she said yes, go ahead and get started on those. I'm hoping if I hadn't mentioned it, they would tell me soon to do those! One of them (Hep B) takes 6 months to complete the series. I have to have Hep A & B, polio, tetanus/diptheria, typhoid, MMR (done long ago), and malaria (only if we are assigned one of the two outlying orphanages). So, I called my doc and asked if he could do these for me. Nope-call the health department. I called the county health department. They rudely told me they don't handle international vaccinations and I needed to go to the Venderbilt Travel Clinic. I called them and they don't take insurance, but what choice do I have? I just hope my insurance will reimburse me. They couldn't even tell me prices. If it weren't Vanderbilt, I'd think it was shady,'s Vanderbilt! I called a couple other places, but they were just doctors offices and I'd feel more comfortable with Vandy. When I asked them how much the shots were, they said they couldn't tell me specific prices, but they range from $2 to $500/shot. Nice. I hope I don't need that $500 one!! Our appointment is May 12. Fun times!

Oh, and I think we've decided on a name. But I'm not sure yet, so don't hold me to it. Dylan Alexander. I've only told mom so far and she knows a little boy with the name and he's a terror, so she's not too fond of it, but maybe I can change her opinion of the name with my sweet little boy!

Thursday, April 20, 2006


I found this on another CHI Vietnam family's blog.

I hold you in my heart and touch you in my dreams.
You are here each day with me, at least that's how it seems.
I know you wonder where we are... what's taking us so long.
But remember child, I love you so and God will keep you strong.
Now go outside and feel the breeze and let it touch your skin...
Because tonight, just as always, I blow you kisses in the wind.
May God hold you in His hand until I can be with you.
I promise you, my darling, I'm doing all that I can do.
Very soon, you'll have a family for real, not just pretend.
But for tonight, just as always, I blow you kisses in the wind.
May God wrap you in His arms and hold you very tight.
And let the angels bring the kisses that I send to you each night.
-- Unknown

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Two down, two to go

We've gotten two of our four approvals. The adoption agency officially approved us, and our social worker approved our homestudy. Once it's sent to CIS (which will be end of next week because our social worker is now out of town until next Tuesday), they will hopefully hurry up and approve us. Then our mad paper chase starts with all the notarizations, certifications, authentications. Sounds like a lot of stamps. Then once Vietnam approves us, we get our baby!!! We're SO ready for this. I would leave tomorrow if I could.

I went ahead and ordered our birth and marraige certificates. Our SW said this would be ok, so I hope we don't have to do this again. It's not free! We're going to go ahead and get all the other papers together and not date them. That way when we get word from CIS, we can just get them stamped up. Hurry up and wait. This is going to be a LONG 6-12 months.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Running in circles

I feel like everything is happening SO fast! We were locally approved Wednesday and had our first meeting with the director of the agency Thursday. They still have to send our file up to corporate headquarters for final approval, but they didn't see any reason why it wouldn't be approved. We went ahead and mailed our I-600-A, which is the government's form for adoption. It can take 3 months for them to do their part. Here's how it all should work:

The government (CIS) gets my request for adoption. In the meantime, I get my homestudy done (a couple interviews, an in-home visit, lots of worksheets and papers to gather), they send it in to CIS to go with my request. CIS sends us an 'invitation' to get fingerprinted downtown. Then they send me a 171 approval form. Once I have that, I compile a stack of paperwork called a dossier. I can't start working on the dossier yet because nothing can be dated older than 6 months, and CIS may take 3 months from now before they get their part done.

So, once I have my dossier compiled, everything has to be notarized. Then I have to send it all to the Secretary of State and have it certified. Then I have to send it to D.C. to have it authenticated. Once everything is notarized, certified, and authenticated, I send it to CHI and they send it to Vietnam for translation. Shortly thereafter (weeks), we get a referral. This will consist of a picture of the child they have chosen for us, as well as medical information. If we accept, we will travel 3-4 months after that to pick up our baby!

To speed things up, I requested they start our home study ASAP. No problem! We have our seperate interviews on Monday and our in-home Tuesday morning. For the home study, we have to have employment letters, police records, medical statement, financial statement, copies of tax return, life insurance, medical insurance, auto insurance, and many other things. So, it's been hectic.

I spent yesterday visiting our doctor for a statement of health, the police department for a criminal background check (and since Chris wasn't with me, I couldn't get his!), then pawing through my files looking for all the necessary paperwork. We stayed up until 10pm filling out worksheets. We got up at 5 and started working on our autobiographies. Mine took about 4 hours and consisted of 10 pages (single spaced). Chris hasn't finished his yet. Then we took the dogs to the groomer for baths and haircuts. Then we spent the rest of the day cleaning the house. It's sparkling now. All we have to do is keep it that way for 3 days. Tomorrow, we work on the yard (just mowing). Tomorrow should be much more calm. We're pretty much done with the paperwork, except a couple things that have to wait until Monday.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Nursery pics

Many of you have seen these pictures, but we've been working on our nursery off and on since last November. Here are some pics.


I'm not sure what it is about adoption, but I noticed something today. I was never one to say things like, "God showed me that adoption was what I was meant to do," or "God led me to Vietnam." Yet, I've heard myself saying (and meaning) these very things lately. Even just the past few days, I've felt myself grow closer to God and my faith grow stronger.

When I was TTC (which JUST ended yesterday, so it's not like it's been that long), I was angry and thought God was punishing us for something. But now I feel like this whole journey was part of His plan. When we finally have our child, I will appreciate him/her more than anyone ever could who accidentally got pregnant, or didn't have to really 'try.' (Before anyone flames me, I'm not saying I will love my child more than others who didn't have to work for it, I'm just talking about appreciation.) I will realize every second is a gift from God and I can't say I would've felt that way had I gotten pregnant 16 months ago. And I also think there's a very special child that may or may not already be in existence that was made just for me. I never thought I would be traveling halfway around the world to meet that child, but I guess we never know God's plan, do we?

There's my deep thought for the day!

Monday, April 10, 2006

And so it begins

After 16 months of unsuccessfully trying to get pregnant, enduring tests, blood draws, procedures, bad news, more tests, surgery, donor inseminations, and month after month of negative pregnancy tests, we've decided to end our TTC journey. We realize that maybe God has different plans for us than we thought. The more and more we thought about it, the more we realized adoption was our chosen path. We will now begin down this path with hope in our hearts and a lot of love to give to our forever child.

We mailed our application off today to Children's Hope International. We selected Vietnam as our country of choice. There are a few reasons for this. One, you only have to make one trip to the country. With some countries, you make an initial trip to meet your child, then come back without said child, then go back a few months later to finalize the adoption. Two, the age of children adopted out is younger, on average. There is no minimum wait in an orphanage, so we could get a very young infant (2-6 months old). Three, they're just so darn cute! LOL. Ok, that's not a real reason, but they ARE really cute! Four, looking through the choices, we just felt something in our hearts pushing us towards Vietnam.

Now we just wait to hear back from CHI that our application was accepted. At that point, they'll send us some paperwork and tell us what we need to start getting together, as far as documents. They'll assign us a social worker to begin the homestudy and we'll get to endure a stranger examining every tiny aspect of our lives. Luckily, there's nothing bad to find!

As we begin this journey, we'd appreciate all thoughts, prayers, vibes, etc., that this goes quick and smooth and that we can come up with the money, or raise it somehow. It's going to be a long journey, but every second will be worth it when I hold that baby in my arms.