Friday, November 27, 2009

Thinking about Van's birth mother

Well so far today has been one filled with emotion. We received the rest of Van's paperwork today with a lot of information about his birth mom and family. The information was bitter sweet as it caused me to feel deep sadness for his birth mother but these feelings were tempered with some happiness in that we have so much information to share with Van when he is older. To all of our non-adoptive friends and family (I say this as adoptive families already know and generally abide by this rule), we will not be offering any information about Van's adoption circumstances as this is his story to tell. Rest assured the circumstances are not bad, just very sad (as any adoption story is). We ask that you please respect this rule and refrain from asking us. Many thanks in advance :)

To Van's birth mother: We thank you from the bottom of our hearts and souls for your very brave and difficult decision to give your child up for adoption. We will have you in our hearts always and raise Van to remember your sacrifice with respect and love. We will love this child with every ounce of our being and try our very best to help him grow into a caring and respectful young man. Although he will always be the child of your blood he will be the child of our hearts. He will be our son as completely as if he were of our blood. He will however always know of his roots and will be raised to be proud of his heritage. We will bring him back to his country of birth for visit(s) and hope that one day he will have an opportunity to meet you again. THANK YOU!!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Well, after calculating all kinds of possibilities it is apparent that a before Christmas travel date is unlikely at this point (unless we get word in the next week). It is time to let go of the dream of xmas at home with the little one. There has been no word from the agency as to when they think we may go over. I have always been a "waiting" parent who tends to avoid contacting the agency unless needed. I'm not sure why I don't but perhaps it has something to do with the long haul we've been through thus far and the feeling that no news means there is no news. So I hang on to the shirt tails of the more tenacious parents who do call and may get a tid bit of news that is helpful to us. I don't think we ever truly believed we would be going before xmas. My hope is that we will be there in January and have the G&R ceremony before Tet. January is not so far away...

On another note I will now follow in the foot steps of post-referral parents who have blogged before us and dive into the pages of the book "What to expect the first year" by Heidi Murkoff et al. Let me share with you all some of the things that little Van should be doing as he enters his fourth month of life:

He should be able to lift his head 90 degrees while on his stomach, laugh out loud (we have a great picture taken of him at 2 1/2 months with a giant gummy smile so I would think this milestone has been reached), and follow an object in an arc about 6 inches from his face. He probably can hold his head steady when upright, grasp a rattle, reach for an object, squeal in delight. May be able to roll over, say "ah-goo", razz etc.

It would be so nice to get some updated pictures of him. This is also one of the items post-referral waiting parents yearn for above all else other than the travel dates. So we can see that they are ok and how they are developing. To remind us that yes there is a little person still waiting for us on the other side of the world. Pictures with the beloved nannies, or that show the sleeping quarters or other aspects of orphanage life are especially coveted. One thing I do know (first hand) is that our children are being taken care of exceptionally well. I know that Van is happy and comfortable and that I do not have to worry in that regard. This is a big relief and makes the waiting that much more bearable.

Meg :)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Van is 4 months today!

Our little guy is 4 months old today :) (well, technically he was 4 months yesterday as Vietnam is 12 hours ahead). Wish he was here so we could see him reach his milestones :(

I hope hope hope we will be with him for his 5th month or, at least, his 6th month!! Only time will tell...

Friday, November 20, 2009


Having a bit of a blah day today. There are up days and there are down days in life but they somehow seem more pronounced when one is dealing with the "endless wait". When you decide that adoption is the route you are going to take to form your family you have to be forward looking in a rather unromantic way. What i mean by this is you have to decide how many children you think you would like to have (birth families also go through this) and you have to plan accordingly. Unlike with birth families you cannot just "try again" once your child arrives. As adoption takes such a bloody long time you have to start putting you name on waiting lists before the ink has even dried on your paperwork from the current adoption. We have always known that we do not want only one child. There are numerous reasons for this but the 2 most important are: First, I am an only child (as were both my mom and dad, which made for a small family considering my mom raised me and I was born overseas) and I have always felt like I have missed out on not having any siblings. It was lonely at times, no doubt about it. Second, and most important, is that I want Van to have a sibling that he can relate to. Who has gone through the same experiences as him. Who will have a similar face to him. Those who have adopted a child from an ethnicity not their own will understand this point. Our little guy is going to grow up not looking anything like us. He is going to face hardships because of this. He will face discrimination and racism, something we will not be able to relate to. We will do our best to protect him and raise him to be confident and happy with himself and proud of his incredibly rich heritage. However there will only be so much we can say and do. We think it is so important that he grows up with someone who is experiencing the same things. Someone he can look in the mirror with and see similar hair and similar eyes, similar life experiences. When we are gone he will have someone else who is his family. A sister or brother to be an aunt or uncle to his children (if he has any) etc.

So, having explained two of the reasons why we want Van to have a sibling, brings me to the planning the next adoption. Adoption these days is complicated. When we first started our journey we were on a small waiting list and adoption was easier. Now there are so many people wanting to adopt that the wait times have become startling. For instance, domestic adoption through CAS can take upwards of 10 years if you want to adopt a child under 4. China is now close to 10 years apparently. When we started with the Vietnam program the wait until referral was about 4 months, now it is supposed to be 3-4 years! Knowing all of this we decided to go a different route for our second. We knew we wanted to stay with Asia (for the second reason above), so we settled on putting our name on the list for South Korea with a different agency. At the same time we have put ourselves back on the list with our current agency because we wanted to be prepared in case we decided we wanted to contemplate a third child (better to be prepared than not). We were on the list to adopt from S. Korea in 2011 (Korea has a quota system so families are on lists for specific years) and all seemed well. However, a family has to be home with their first child for a year before submitting their homestudy for a S.Korean adoption. Well, as people who know our journey know that was meant to be us. This past summer we were meant to be beginning that year home. But things did not work out that way. So now we are, if things go well, looking at starting that year in January 2010. What this means is that we will have missed the window for the 2011 quota as our homestudy would have to be done next fall...well that's not a year. So our second adoption is now up in the air. But since we have become pros at the this waiting game what's another year eh? 2012 quota here we come? Of course we'll be in our 40's by then (yikes!). I'll be 40 and Pat 41. Van will be 3. The question is S.Korea or Vietnam as the wait times will be similar now.

The thing I love about blogging is that allows me to put everything down in writing and look at it. It's not all swirling around in my head. After writing it out and looking at it I don't feel as bad about these most recent turn of events. At least we're on lists and things are moving forward in their own way. Ok, time to refocus back to our current journey. I'm not religious at all but I will pull something from Buddhism that has been helpful to me at many points in my life: Live for the day and appreciate every moment as it happens. Do not spend too much time dwelling on the past or looking to the future.

So we will do whatever planning needs to be done to ensure the future happens as we'd like it to happen, but not spend too much time dwelling on things that are out of our control (easier said than done when it comes to adoption lol)! Onwards and upwards as they say (whoever the mysterious "they" are).

Meg :)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The good and then the bad

Well the waiting roller coaster continues. I received an email from another family who's daughter is in the same orphanage as Van. They received their referral in early June and are still waiting to travel. The agency told them last week that the file was still in the investigation stage which probably means no travel for a while. One of the most discouraging things about this news is that their little one is special needs i.e. cleft lip. Usually these cases are expedited. Oh well, not much one can do but stay positive and hope that things eventually move along. I know that these constant delays are also beginning to irk our agency but there is really nothing anybody can do about it. We know that families are still traveling and adoptions are still being completed so we have to hope that these longer waits are not an ominous sign of potential program closure but a sign that the Vietnamese government is taking extra care to make sure everything about the adoption is valid. I'd rather believe that than Van's file sitting gathering dust on some bureaucrat's desk or Vietnam deciding that international adoptions are too much trouble.

On another note I may have a possibility of a job on the horizon. This causes mixed feeling for me as I'd like to be able to stay home with Van, but I also know that financially it would be better if I had a job as Pat can stay home with full benefits. I can't be selfish...can I? Another reason why this causes mixed feelings is the job is not quite up to my education level. It possibly pays well though and would be in the legal field. Considering that I do not know when we'll be traveling to pick up Van, I think I would be remiss not to try hard to secure this job. The problem is that I have a quickly diminishing window with respect to parental benefits through EI. If the adoption doesn't go through soon I will not be able to collect benefits. Therefore the job, if offered (big if), really should be accepted. Life sure is a complicated beast. One thing I do know for sure is that Van is my priority right now and I will do whatever I have to do to make sure we give the best home and life possible!


Monday, November 16, 2009

The flow of information

I forgot to mention another thing that can help one deal with the wait (or not, depending), the flow of information between waiting families. Sometimes a family will get some information that is also helpful to other families. Such has been the case for us today. Another waiting family has passed on some information that they received, that the Department of International Adoption in Vietnam is going to try and push the paperwork of all waiting families matched to children through before Tet. Tet is usually at the end of January early February. That could mean that we will travel before then. All of our non-adoptive blog followers are probably beginning to see the constant and sometimes obsessive analyzing of every little piece of news and information. It is part of the process which will all be forgotten once our little sons and daughters are in our arms. In the meantime, I'm going to go back to counting days and calculating possible travel dates :)


My comfort book

Ah Monday...well guess what? No news of course lol. As if I expected any. But at least I can look forward to 4 more possible "news" days. I received an email today from another waiting mom with the same agency who has been told an optimistic travel date would be January. That sent me into a panic because their referral was not long after ours and their child is in the South. For those blog followers not from the Vietnam adoption community let me enlighten you on one of the tidbits of information that we think about all of the time. For some reason paperwork is processed faster in the South than in the North. So us "Northerners" are told from the get go that our wait until travel will in all likelihood be longer than the "Southerners". So now of course I am thinking that if a my new waiting parent comrade, who is a "Southerner", is probably not traveling until January at best, then we won't travel until February or March. This of course is all conjecture. What is most important is that I have connected with another waiting parent...someone to commiserate with, yay! Must try to not focus on the negative...must re-focus my energy....

One thing that has helped me bring myself to a happy gushy place over the past couple of years is the book "When you were born in Vietnam" A memory book for children adopted from Vietnam". This little book has so many thumb prints and dog ears from me leafing through it numerous times that by the time Van is old enough to appreciate it there may be nothing left lol. It is really a must have book for anyone adopting from Vietnam. It is filled with beautiful pictures of Vietnam and follows a few families from meeting their children to flying home. I think I've memorized every little chubby baby face, smiling parent and tearful nanny in the book. Whenever I am down and think this process will never end, I dig out my trusty book and think, this will be us one day. Other therapeutic things to do are peer into the closet at the baby clothes for the umpteenth time, rifle through the pile of colourful cloth diapers, gaze at the bookshelf filled with intelligent and thought provoking kiddy books, oh, and my favourite, harness up the dog and walk to Starbucks so as to enjoy a seasonal grande egg nog latte because hey, I deserve it!

On the subject of books, other gems we have found are:

"Children of the Dragon: Selected Tales from Vietnam" by Sherry Garland
"Ten Mice for Tet" by Pegi Deitz Shea and Cynthia Weill
"Vietnam: Journeys of Body, Mind and Spirit" Nguyen Van Huy and Laurel Kendall, editors

Another way I distract myself is by planning where we would also like to go, if we have time, when we head over. This will be my third time to Vietnam (Pat's second). I've visited most of the main areas i.e. Ho Chi Minh, Hue, Hoi An, My Son, Hanoi and Halong Bay. One place that intrigues me is Sapa...or maybe we should spend a few days in Hong Kong...Distracting oneself 101, planning....


Saturday, November 14, 2009

The loooong weekends

One of the virtues that is so important to have when going through the adoption process is patience. Those who know me would probably say that patience is something I can be a little short on. But I have been working on it! Not in a "joining a meditative yoga class" way, but in a "shrugging and getting on with things" way. The various waits with adoption can be hair pulling out frustrating. In retrospect I found the easiest wait to be that for the referral (s) although at the time I thought I would go out of my mind. Lack of information, a common issue with adoption, can make the wait that much more difficult. But all the past waits pale in comparison to the wait for those all important travel dates. When your agency emails you to let you know when you will be traveling to pick up your child. You think about that "holy grail" type email from the moment you first lay eyes on your child and the match has been made. You calculate possible travel dates endlessly..."well, we could be traveling in late October early November if the wait is the optimistic 3 month time frame"...Once the optimistic early travel time frame passes then you continue to re-calculate, always hoping against hopes that it won't end up being the 6 month pessimistic end of the time frame. As time passes you think of your child's age and look at the smaller clothes wondering if you will need to box them. You stare at his pictures endlessly and hope at the very least you'll receive updated ones. Which brings me to my post title...the loooong weekends. By and large nothing happens on the weekends. Really you should not expect any new, emails etc. from Friday (usually morning unless somebody at the agency doesn't check their emails until later in the day) until Monday. Sometimes though, if you are very lucky you may get something Sunday evening due to time difference between Canada and Vietnam, if your wonderful agency reps check their emails. So today is Saturday, so now we will wait and I will begin my anxious email checking again tomorrow at around 8ish lol. Because theoretically we could get that all important email any day now! Patience is the name of the game. Or as our SW says "Hurray up and wait".

Meg :)

Friday, November 13, 2009


Welcome to our blog :)

For those who know us, know how long and arduous our adoption journey has been. There has been great joy and great sadness and the most apt metaphor of our journey so far would of course have to be a roller coaster. We now hope we are finally on the last leg and that soon we will finally be the parents we have so long hoped to be.

A bit about us: I (Meg the main blogger) am a lawyer currently in between jobs (looking forward to my next job of mommy although the "lawyer" job search does continue) and Pat (Patrick) is a civil engineer who works for the City of Ottawa. We live in Old Ottawa East (or Centretown technically). We moved to Ottawa 3 years ago from Halifax. Pat is from Cape Breton and I am from everywhere and nowhere lol.

We began our adoption journey soon after moving to Ottawa and joined our agency TDH in January of 2007. As mentioned there were some bumps along the road but in on July 31, 2009 we were matched to our little son Tran Van Thang (we will be naming him Van Thomas Green-Lewis). Van was born on July 21, 2009, the year of the water buffalo, hence the blog name :), in the province of Hoa Binh in Northern Vietnam. We received our first pictures of him when he was a week old. In the pictures he is actually 3 days old! Any adoptive family will tell you how rare and precious these early pictures are! We received some updated pictures of our handsome little guy at the beginning of October. We look forward to posting all these pictures once we are in Vietnam and the giving and receiving ceremony has been completed and we are finally a family of 3 (well, 6 if you include our 2 cats and dog...whose pictures we can post...:) Pepper, Huxley and Chibi all waiting anxiously for their little brother.

We look forward to sharing our journey with you from this point on! Our biggest hope is that we will be leaving for Vietnam before Christmas, but it is more likely that it will be January. We will try to keep posting before then...for our own sanity lol.