Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A very exciting day at our house...

At age three years, nine months, Miss Hillary Ashton got her FIRST haircut :o) To say that she was excited about the event would be a huge understatement. We have been in the "talking about it" stage for several months and we finally made it official last Thursday.

We had a nice lunch together and then walked over to the salon. Here she is right outside of the salon:
Photobucket
Waiting patiently for her appointment, I would love to know what is going through her mind in this picture!:
Photobucket
A little more waiting...reading the paper:
Photobucket
I don't think this sweet little smile left her face the entire haircut!
Photobucket
Discussing how she would like her hair cut (notice the smile!):
Photobucket
Nothing dramatic, just a little shape up. If possible, I think she looks a little more sassy:
Photobucket

So sad, so very sad...

The fact that it happened wasn't very surprising, but it still hits you like a ton of bricks. The MOU (memorandum of understanding) between the U.S. and Vietnam will not be renewed. The current agreement between the U.S. and Vietnam expires on September 1, 2008. What exactly does not mean? No more adoptions from Vietnam. According to the U.S. embassy, referrals will continue until September 1, 2008 which means that children currently referred and any future referred children (before September 1, 2008) will be allowed to join their forever family in the U.S. Why has this happened? Read here for all of the devastating details. Many of these things have been whispered about for over a year on the adoption forums and blogs. Baby selling, kidnapping, forgery of adoption documents, deceit, bribery, all of the horrid whispers have been confirmed. The associated press has began reporting bits and pieces of the devastating truth. The news reports that referrals will only continue until July 1, 2008, but I am hoping
the embassy's report of September 1, 2008 is accurate. Although, I can only imagine that referrals will slow down amidst all of the accusations and finger pointing.

It is sad for the prospective adoptive parents that invested years of paperwork and lifelong hopes into the process, it is sad for adoption agencies that have established relationships with Vietnamese officials and orphanages, it is sad for the ethical men and women in Vietnam that have earned a living by facilitating adoptions with the U.S., it is sad for hotels, shops and restaurants in Vietnam that have come to rely on adoptive parents from the U.S. as a steady source of income, it is just...sad. However, it is devastating for the kids that will wake up and go to sleep hungry. It is unimaginable for the kids that will not have the chance to know the love of a family.

It is horrible for the adopted kids that will grow up wondering...was I kidnapped? Was I taken from my mother because she didn't have enough money to pay the doctor? Did my family sell me to the orphanage? I can't even imagine.

I have already gotten a few inquisitive looks and questions in the last few days..."Is she from...vietnam?" "Oh, I saw the story on Yahoo this morning." ""I can't believe they are selling babies over there." I can only imagine what was going through their minds while staring at Sophie Le.

I give all thanks and praise to God that I was lead to Dillon International for our Vietnam adoption. I respect and trust my agency. I believe they did everything in their power to ensure that every child they placed with a family was truly in need of a home. There were many times throughout the process that I wanted things to happen quicker. I wanted "the call" to come months before it did. I wished that they would process the paperwork faster. I am thankful they didn't cut corners, I am thankful they made sure all of the paperwork was in order, I am thankful.

In an adoption world where 85% of the adoptions in Vietnam are due to "desertions," I find it encouraging that my agency's percentage is much lower. I can't know for sure what that number is because I don't the circumstances behind all of the adoptions, but almost every other family I have been in contact with has a letter from their child's birthmother, birthfather or both. Of course there is always a chance these letters are fraudulent and that will always be in the back of my mind, but I honestly, truly believe they are true and correct.

In a country where the capital sees more abortions than live births, I can only imagine what will happen when adoptions to the U.S. are no longer an option. Was the possibility of their child growing up with a loving, caring family the encouragement a few birthmothers needed to continue their pregnancy? Please keep the children of Vietnam in your prayers. I have been there, I have seen them, I love them.

In the Mail...

I snail mailed a cd of our dossier documents to Gladney last Thursday (minus our homestudy and 171H). Our caseworker will review everything and make sure all of the t's are crossed and i's are dotted and then we will start the authentication process. I think the timing will work out well since our homestudy should be ready in a week or two. We should be able to have everything sent off at about the same time, Lord willing the 171H comes in the 11-12 days we are hoping after fingerprinting!

We are still discussing room situations. I would like to get the girls in their new sleeping arrangements soon so they will be comfortable and settled in before the new child (or children) arrive. I have no doubt Hill will adjust fine, but we are both a little worried about Le. She does not like change. I plan to take the front off of her crib this week and then eventually move her in with Hill upstairs in a toddler bed or possibly bunk beds. I would love for the girls to be able to share a room and giggle all night together :o) I am just know sure Le is old enough for that yet, she may end up having the playroom as her room.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Homestudy...DONE!

We had our homestudy visit yesterday afternoon with our social worker, Andrea. The girls did pretty good :o) Hillary Ashton started getting a cold yesterday morning (she stayed home from school today) so she was not quite herself. She acted very shy (very unlike herself) and flipped around alot. Sophie Le was also not quite herself. She was extremely outgoing! She giggled and smiled the whole time. She even climbed on the couch and sit right beside the sw. You would have never guessed she is the shy one :o) It was great seeing her so open and comfortable.

Our sw was super nice, but once it got to the individual interviews I was wishing we would have just paid the extra $500 and got Kimberly, our Dillon sw, to do our homestudy! It is an awkward feeling having someone you just met ask you about your childhood memories, your parent's parenting style, to describe your parents, etc. It is just things I never think about so it is kinda hard to come up with an answer. I just don't remember answering those types of questions before. Probably did, just blocked it as we did the many delays & frustrations of Sophie Le's adoption. It did help that our sw was, as I said before, really nice and easy to talk to! It was also very fascinating to hear about the work she does with domestic adoption, more specifically counseling birthmothers.

One other "interesting" thing that happened yesterday was we found termites at our house! A few hours before the sw was scheduled to arrive, I saw some by the door in the garage! Ugg!! What great timing. We have had them twice before, but thankfully the damage has been very minor. The last time we found them was about this time last year, also in the garage. We were packing the car to leave for the airport... within the hour to go to Rome. What great timing these little boogers have!

One of the documents that we had to send Gladney was our Vietnam homestudy that Dillon completed. I glanced through it and was surprised to see that Hillary Ashton was seventeen months old when we did our last homestudy visit, the exact age Sophie Le is now. What a coincidence!

Our sw said that we can expect to receive our completed homestudy in about a month...yea!! As soon as we get that, we will make an appointment for our fingerprints in Fort Smith. We asked her about the current wait time and she said that referrals are coming in about 3-4 months (once you are on the list). How exciting!!

We have almost all of our dossier documents ready to go, still waiting on our life insurance letters. I am not sure why these are taking so long.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Getting Closer to "The List"

We have made great progress on our application and dossier requirements. We had our doctor's visits today & yesterday. The blood tests weren't fun and I am glad that part is over. I just hate needles! As long as these TB spots don't get big over the next day or so, we should be okay :o) Our general doctor is so great. He is very supportive of adoption and has expressed his desire to adopt many times. He gladly filled out six forms for us today, yes SIX, and didn't charge us for the visit (he didn't charge us for the adoption physical for Sophie Le's adoption either).

Our homestudy social worker called last week and scheduled our home visit for next Monday. Yea! I am not sure, but it sounds like we will only have one visit. That would be great. We are hoping to be on the waiting list sometime in May or early June! The wait time for a referral is quoted at 3-5 months, but is expected to increase to 4-6 months soon.

Things seem to be going so much smoother this time around. I guess things are easier when you have cheat sheets :o) For example, last time it took three letters written by two people at BlueCross to get a medical insurance letter that was acceptable for our agency. This time I was able to call the lady directly that wrote our letter two years ago, she changed the date at the top of the original letter and I received it in the mail the next day! Nice!!

On the other hand, things seem to be getting even more complicated in the world of Vietnam adoptions. Read the latest here. I understand and applaud the folks that are trying to eliminate (or reduce) corruption, but this is just crazy. I can't see how this change is going to help. What about the kids that have been living in the orphanage for years? What about the mothers who don't want anyone to know they had a baby? If they have to travel to HCMC or Hanoi to get the DNA test, it will be hard to keep it a secret. This new rule just seems like it is going to cause alot of stress and confusion for the birthmothers and adoptive parents and still not help do anything about the questionable abandoned baby cases. I definitely don't have the answers on how to make things better, but implementing changes like this doesn't seem positive. Hopefully there will be some answers soon to the many questions that are out there right now. Prospective adoptive parents are still trying to recover from the I-600 changes and now this, my heart goes out to them. For the record, I think the I-600 changes were great. I wish the form could be processed quicker, but hopefully they are working on that.