Friday, June 27, 2008

Vietnamese Prime Minister visits U.S.

Dear Sam,

This week the Vietnamese Prime Minister, Nguyen Tan Dung, visited the United States. Here is a news story about his meeting with President Bush. They mostly discussed trade, but human rights were also mentioned, as was international adoption.

A press release from the White House about the meeting has this paragraph about international adoption:

The President expressed his commitment to continue the development of intercountry adoption cooperation between the United States and Vietnam that ensures the best interests of the child, respects his or her fundamental rights, and prevents the abduction and trafficking of children. The Prime Minister underscored that Vietnam shares these goals and stressed that Vietnam will speed up preparations for an early accession to the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoptions. The Prime Minister also welcomed U.S. technical assistance in facilitating this step.

It sounds like the U.S. is really pushing VN to join the Hague agreement in order for adoptions to continue and eventually resume. We hope and pray that happens and that ethical adoptions will continue from Vietnam. One reason we chose China initially is that, with the number of international adoptions from there, we and Sophie would find support from other adoptive families. And I've seen how important the local Ethiopian adoptive families' group has been for some friends here in Chicago. We hope there continues to be other families with adopted kids from Vietnam in the future--until, of course, Vietnam can take care of all the orphaned children in their country.

This week you also turned 8 months old and we received new photos of you. You definitely look older and you are drooling, so we think you might be teething. We are starting to get antsy and are really hoping we can travel in August sometime (late July would be good too!). The sooner the better!

Love, Mommy

Sunday, June 22, 2008

A reason to party

Dear Sam,

About 50 people who can't wait to meet you gathered to celebrate the good news of our referral on Saturday (Summer Solstice) at a party/shower for your Mommy and Daddy. It was a beautiful summer night and we spent much of it up on the roof deck at Jon and Kristin's, who graciously opened their home for the party.

I am pictured above with the six hosts (from left): Leigh Ann (and John) Drevs, Amy (and Andrew) Manion, Kristin Kenefick (and Jon Ross), me, D'Arcy (and Mike) Ryan, Karen (and Jeff) Radtke, and Lourdes (and Jason) Campbell.

The party had a Vietnamese theme (thanks to input from Linh Lawler). The "Chuc Mung" sign means "Congratulations," while another one said, "Hoan Nghenh (with a little "hat" over the "e"), which means "Welcome."

The food (from Tank Noodles, a Vietnamese restaurant in Uptown) was awesome! We had pork and chicken sandwiches (w/extremely hot peppers!), egg rolls, a yummy shrimp salad and fried rice (made by Lourdes). Desserts were Vietnamese sweets (not a huge hit, honestly) mini-cheesecakes (made by Amy), lemon bars (made by Jeff) and those chocolate/peanut butter/Rice Krispi balls (made by Leigh Ann). There was a keg of Leinenkugals and limeade, with or without vodka. Finally, there were Jello shots, made by yours truly.

We got lots of nice gifts, including some big stuff, like the high chair seat and Wee Rider bike seat. We got some really personal gifts, like a CD of my brother-in-law reading Dr. Seuss (complete with sound effects) and a painting of mother and child from my friend Staci. We got lots of practical stuff, like onesies, wipes, and sheets, plus a bunch of really nice books. We also got several Target gift cards, which will come in very handy. The one gift that made me cry was the little baseball glove and ball from my parents.

Here's who attended:
Mommy and Daddy
Jon Ross and Kristin Kenefick
Amy and Andrew Manion
John, Leigh and Josephine (7 months) Drevs
Karen and Jeff Radtke
D'Arcy and Mike Ryan
Lourdes and Jason Campbell
Delia Seeberg and Liam
Suzanne Fox and Ed
Jane and Michael Ungari
Kaycee, Erik and Vivian (5 weeks) Glavich
Kristi, Bryan, Aubren, Silas, Ealin and Conrad Kubicki (from South Bend)
Nina and George Wilfred
Charles Isaac and Karlin Sloan
Toni Lesowitz
Mark, Michelle and George Hanafee
Kate, Scott, Rainee and Huey Flynn
Jerry Eichhorst and Stephanie
Mike Polizzi
Flo and Greg Merkl-Deutsch
Dan, Linh and Gabrielle (4 months) Lawler
William (sans Maria who was sick) Hussey
and Michael Donovan and Margery who came but couldn't get in the gate

There was such a feeling of community that night--so many people who have supported us throughout this long journey to parenthood and who will be there for us once you get home. And so many little kids who can't wait to be your playmates and friends! We are truly blessed.

Friday, June 20, 2008

To Sam, with love

Dear Sam,

Today your Dad and I sent you your first care package--all the way to Vietnam. We sent you some pictures of us plus a blankie and a teddy bear (knit by me) that we have been sleeping with for a week so that you might get a little used to our smell. We also included a letter to the orphanage director, translated by our friend Linh's dad.

Today your Dad worked hard all day at his kayak job, which is a good thing because the Fed Ex to Vietnam cost $102!!! (Plus we just learned we have a very expensive car repair in our future, but that's another story.)

Next week you will be 8 months old! Maybe our agency's in-country worker will bring you these little gifts by then. I hope you are continuing to grow big and strong.

Love, Mommy

(cross-posted on Spiritual Knitter, since there's knitting content.)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Let the countdown begin!

Dear Sam,

Last night we got the email that says that USCIS in Vietnam has received our I-600 paperwork and has logged it in. So now we start counting...

The letter says that "most determinations will be completed in 60 working days." But the family from our agency who just traveled (to the same orphanage) got their approval in just 30-some days, so we are hoping we might be as lucky.

Our plan is to be prepared practically to travel as early as late July, but be prepared emotionally for it to be as late as September or--I hate to even say it--October. Let's hope we're caught rushing to get ready to travel early!

Love, Mommy and Daddy

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Sam's first gift

Dear Sam,

The first gift we received for you after your referral was from your Auntie Amy, Uncle Andy and Jack, Kevin and Clare. I was at their house for dinner after teaching, and on my plate were two polka dotted boxes from Gymboree. In them were these two cute outfits: a plaid shorts outfit with polo shirt and matching hat (for at the lake, Auntie Amy says) and matching PJs with crabs, pails, shovels and sandcastles on them. They are both size 12 month, so not sure if/when they'll fit you, but we were happy to hear that you're up to 12 pounds now. We got updated photos and video from Caroline Tricarro-Parker of the Catalyst Foundation, which works with LSS in-country, who was there with another family getting their daughter from the same orphanage in Ho Chi Minh City.

The video is so adorable I can hardly stand it. You smile when Caroline talks to you, and when she says, "Say hi to mommy and daddy," the smile just makes me cry. Then she says, "They're back in Chicago. Go Cubs!" and you break into another huge smile. Sometimes I watch the video without the sound and talk to you. "We'll be there as soon as we can," I say. Dorky, I know.

Love, Mommy

Monday, June 09, 2008

Paperwork arrived!

Dear Sam,

The next, very important step in our adoption has begun. Today our paperwork for the final investigation (by the U.S. government in Vietnam) arrived in Ho Chi Minh City. Any day now we should receive a log-in date. Then we can start counting. They say that the average time from log-in date to approval is about 40-some days, but there is some controversy about whether that is calendar days or working days. I do know that another family with our agency got their approval in 30-some calendar days, so that's possible, if there are no questions about your paperwork.

Once we get this approval, we will be traveling soon to get you. It could be as early as late July, but more likely will be August. We'll start counting the days as soon as we get word of our log-in.

Love, Mommy and Daddy

A note to all commenters: Thank you so much for all your well wishes and congratulations. It has been so helpful to have friends and family who have supported us through this ordeal of a journey. We'll try to keep you updated on this blog on our continued program toward Sam and Sophie. --Heidi and Ed