Showing posts from May, 2008

To get, v.t.

To come into possession of or obtain by effort or contrivance; earn, gain, or win. --The Living Webster, 1971

I'm pretty forgiving of those people not in the adoption community who fail to use appropriate adoption language. Those who have had little or no contact with adoption cannot be expected to know the proper terms for things. When someone uses terms that are not the preferred choice, I will often reflect back the question or comment with the better term. (Can you tell I took a counseling class in grad school?) But I do have a lot of trouble with other adoptive parents who have not spent time thinking about the language they use in reference to their own children and other's children. These issues intimately affect them and all adoptive parents.

More than once in Vietnam I came across other American adoptive parents (from other agencies - don't worry friends!) who commented to me about "getting" children. For instance, "Oh, you got an older one. I wanted …

We're home


We arrived home yesterday after more travel than anyone should have to do at one time. I don't do well without much sleep and by yesterday evening I was barely conscious. (I'm pretty sure that I have felt better after delivering a baby than I did at 8pm last night.) But we succeeded in keeping ourselves awake until a normal bedtime and after 11 hours of sleep life looks much better.

The plane rides were uneventful...just like you want them to be. Basically on time, all the luggage made it, and the children all slept most of the time. K probably got the most sleep as he slept 9 out of 11 hours on the trans-Pacific flight. It's much easier to sleep if you can actually lie down. (And can I just say it's cruel, just cruel, for the airlines to show advertisements of the lovely fully reclining seats available in first class to the economy class cattle at about hour 10 of the flight?)

The worst part of the trip happened about 2 hours before landing when we hit some ma…

penultimate day in Hanoi


Too tired to do much but give a quick update. Tomorrow night (around 11:30pm), we fly out of Hanoi toward Tokyo... landing in Tokyo around 6am Saturday, and then flying out around noon on Saturday. We arrive home around 9am Saturday morning... having flown backward through time.

Visit the Wise's blog for some pictures of K and Maya playing at the Somerset Westlake pool this morning. While that was going on, B and I walked toward Hoan Kiem Lake, pausing at Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum and the museum of military history. Our goal was the Hoa Lo prison (the Hanoi Hilton), but our timing was bad, and it was closed when we got there. So we met up with the rest of the Currys and the Wise family for lunch... and visited Hoa Lo (with TM) after lunch.

Lunch was supposed to be at a Pho 24 restaurant just south of Hoan Kiem. But after traversing the one block where we were told we'd find Pho 24 (by more than one person!) about five times, we had to conclude that Pho 24 had vanished…

new pictures and quick update


We've finally added some new pictures and video to our photobucket album. Use the link to the left to get there. We'd do more, but it just takes so darn long to go through the various cameras full of photos and then upload them....

Today we ate lunch in a bun cha restaurant that the Wises recommended. (We thought it was one we had visited before, but it wasn't.) This place is a typical Hanoi narrow storefront, but it goes up 4 stories, and we ate on the top level. The staircases to the upper levels are narrow and twisty and they get narrower and twistier as you go higher. The final staircase is more like a ladder. Getting to your table requires that you be fairly small and nimble, without much claustrophobia or fear of heights. E made it all the way up with K in the sling, and the rest of us were toting various parcels we'd purchased during the morning. I took K for the trip down.

The food was fabulous... grilled pork, rice noodles, broth and dipping sauce, h…

We can come home anytime...


because K now has his visa to enter the US. We spent most of yesterday afternoon, well, really, all of the afternoon at the US embassy. We were just expecting to have our visa interview and then come back in a day or two to pick up the visa. But after a very cursory interview...really just enough to make sure J, K and myself were the same people on the paperwork and to sign a couple of forms...we were told we could come back in an hour to pick up the visa. (This was a completely different experience from last time. We had two interviews, the interview was slightly more interrogation-like, and we had to wait two days when the visa would probably be done. I'm really liking this pre-approval business.) Instead of going and coming again, we chose to wait in the little library in the embassy. (It has shelves and shelves of beautiful children's books which look virtually untouched. Who reads them?) Of course, in the world of bureaucracy "pick-up between 4 and 4:30&…

Rain in Hanoi


It's 10:00pm and we're pinned down in the hotel by a monumental downpour that began around 4:30pm. We had just returned from a day in Lenin Park (and some necessary grocery re-stocking) and were about to head to the pool, when the gathering clouds began to spit lightning and spout rain (as, I think, Lear says). So I took my swimming suit back off, and we entertained ourselves in the room. TM left his suit on for another hour, hoping the rain would let up. It didn't; in fact the rain grew heavier and heavier... and we ended up having pancakes in the room for dinner.

We had pancakes because M had found a box of pancake mix at the Citimart while we were shopping and she prevailed on us to buy it for breakfasts this week. At first I wasn't going to spend the money... but it's a good thing we did, since it made for an easy dinner, along with the rest of the pineapple chips, some leftover noodles, the last of the milk (for TM), a can of orange soda (for M and B), …

motion and stillness


During our trip, I've re-read Mark Helprin's book Winter's Tale. (I highly recommend it... worth reading and re-reading... in fact, it demands re-reading.) I won't try to explain the book here, but it is a sort of mystical hymn to New York City, not the prosaic everyday New York, but New York as a sort of platonic form of the ideal just city. Helprin's novel is an attempt to describe a universal economy of the spirit, in which every human action and life is part of an immensely greater whole, which, seen from afar and outside of time, enacts perfect justice. Helprin uses New York, a vast and chaotic city, as a symbol of all human suffering and exaltation. What we take to be individual, unconnected acts, occurring without apparent meaning or logical consequence, are, in fact, all intertwined in a single and perfect whole. The hard part is finding the perspective from which to see that nothing is lost, that all is balanced, and that the universe is just.


sticky wickets in Hanoi


Don't worry. We haven't hit any roadblocks. I just like the sound of "sticky wickets," and sticky is what K was when he finished the lollipop at the SOS clinic here in Hanoi. Today we were picked up by our Holt friends (along with the Wise family) and taken to get K's passport. That was another bureaucratically painless event, requiring one signature. Hardly any waiting, even. And then we went to have K's check-up at the SOS clinic prior to the embassy visit. This was a change to the earlier itinerary, but it worked out fine. First we had to stop for photographs, though, since the passport-sized pictures are not the right size for the visa application. Again, that was quick and painless.

At the SOS clinic, we waited a bit more, but that gave us time for a nice chat with the Wise's. And it allowed Maya to share her Cheerios with K. It would be fun to be able to go back and see how these two interacted in the Bien Hoa orphanage, but here, Maya …

from the back of the Vinamit Pineapple Chips...

"These products have also a good smelling and crunchy feature which gives a good taste and provide more nutritive facts, vitamins, mineral salt necessary to the organism and protecting from the extra glucoza."

(Gotta watch out for those dangerous glucoza!)

Additional note on the prefix "Vina-":
We've noticed a wide variety of businesses and products in Vietnam that have Vina- as part of the name... including Vinamilk, Vinataxi, Vinaphone, Vinamit, and others. At first, I wondered whether these were all subsidiaries of some huge and shadowy Vinacorp that owned everything. However, thanks to the wonder that is Wikipedia, it appears that "Vina-" is just a prefix that refers to Vietnam. I imagine this is like the prefix "Ameri-" that one can find in abundance throughout the US. (Just Google "Ameri" to see how many different products are sold under some variation of that prefix.)

Hanoi's deceptive streetscape


Walking in Hanoi can be an "assault on the senses" (a phrase I ran into somewhere recently). The sounds, smells, motion, and masses can be overwhelming, making it difficult to focus on any one thing. One feels as if one must keep moving, swept along by the flow of it all, but moving in a blur. As a result, we've found that we must walk the same street several times, at different times of day, to really begin to see what is there.

Just this morning, TM and I went out in search of a bit more breakfast. The few yogurts and the loaf of french bread that we had in the kitchenette here had not gone far enough. I knew that there was a fruit stand next to the Somerset driveway, and a bakery across the street, so we headed first to the bakery. Form some reason, though, the door was locked. So I decided to head up the short street that runs right into the Somerset driveway, at a right angle to Thuy Khue. This street connects the another long street that parallels Thuy K…

My parents keep telling me to write a blog post, but never tell me what to write about! So this might be rambling and odd. Being in Vietnam has been (and still is) interesting. Traveling with K and TM definitely gets a lot of attention. When we are at a restaurant the waiters swoop down on K and hold him and feed him. It makes us all slightly nervous because sometimes they take him out of sight. How on earth would we be able to explain that we lost the baby because our server never gave him back?

Yesterday we went on a day long trip to Ha Long Bay. It was fun but definitely would be more fun to do a two or three day trip out there. We had a 3 hour bus ride there, and another 3 hours back, for a 4 hour boat ride. I'm sure my father will write in more detail about the trip. We also took a lot of pictures to put on photo bucket.

As I write, B and K are playing. K LOVES B because whenever B is eating, which is frequently, if K comes up and looks beggingly at B, B will give hi…

miscellanea from Hanoi


We're beginning to find a routine here, which means that we can report a bit more on various doings of late. Our primary theme is...


B has yet to meet a meal in Vietnam that he didn't like... though he might argue that some of these meals have not come as promptly as his metabolism requires. But when fed, he always perks up. None of our children tend to be picky eaters, but B is definitely adventurous. A couple of nights ago, we ate dinner on a dockside restaurant on West Lake (Ho Tay) [Note: I won't try to reproduce the diacritical marks that indicate the tonal movement necessary to correctly pronounce Vietnamese words.] I think it was the Potomac Restaurant... though why it is named after a Washington DC river is beyond me. B had clams in oil and garlic and pepper, and he practically licked the plate when they were gone.

Last night, we ate at Thuy Linh, a seafood restaurant just behind the Somerset Westlake, facing onto the lake. (It took us a day or two to …

More about K


I thought I would share a bit more about K and how he is doing. He is starting to look a bit better after the Elimite treatment for the scabies. All but one of the open sores on his scalp have scabbed over, but there is a large sore in his hairline above the center of his forehead that he keeps scratching open. It is swollen and fairly unattractive. The antibiotic ointment I keep slathering on it doesn't help its looks either. K is still pretty itchy and probably will be for another week. And his hair is starting to grow back. Now when we look at the three large, hairless patches we don't just see scalp but are starting to see little hairs growing in. I am relieved because at least one of the patches was hairless at the time of our second to last report which was ~5 months ago. What if the hair follicles were dead? (Yes, I can obsess about just about anything.)

When you adopt a child internationally, you just don't know what to expect. The medical reports you …

On to Hanoi...


We've been a bit lax on posting, but we're now in Hanoi. Yesterday (Wednesday), our last day in Saigon, was partly spent killing time waiting to go to the airport. We had to check out of the Continental at noon, and then after lunch, we just sort of wandered around and then some of us sat in the lobby while others took a walk and got rained on.

But earlier that morning (Wednesday), B and I went to the Cu Chi tunnels and had a tour. No one else relished the idea of crawling through tight spaces, but as it turned out, much of the tour is above ground, and it would be easy enough to skip the tunnels. We got there early, before the tour buses, and our guide was very nice. We saw many types of painful looking traps used by the Cu Chi guerrillas. All involved pits and spikes in a variety of combinations. (Interestingly, the guide was very clear in saying that the Cu Chi guerrillas were NOT Viet Cong, but were local resistance fighter. However, the guidebook refers to them …

travelling companions


For another view, see the Wise family blog. They're here with us in HCMC (just a few blocks away), and tomorrow evening we all fly to Hanoi together.

Tuesday morning with K


We feel so incredibly lucky, we almost don't dare to talk about it, for fear that the luck will turn. We know that there are plenty of ups and downs ahead of us, but at the moment, we're on an up.

K slept through the night. That alone would be enough, wouldn't it? But he's also showing quite a bit more personality this morning. He gives coy smiles, plays with his new toys, gobbles down the cereal and formula, gives the occasional grunty shout, and is very attentive to whatever is going on around him. He was stoic and serious all day yesterday, even enduring the elimite treatment for scabies. (That involves being slathered all over, from scalp to the soles of the feet, with pleasantly toxic permethrin cream, which must stay on for 8-14 hours.) (Note to Patty -- Scabies may be more icky than lice. Think lice under your skin.)

We spent much of the afternoon holed up in the hotel room, which made E a bit stir-crazy. Then we went out for a walk to the Citimart for…

Meeting K

This will be brief, since K is sitting on my lap as I type... and he seems to want to help.

Obviously, we've been to Bien Hoa and returned with our newest, and smallest, family member. Our connection seems to be bad, and so I can't load the video here that I was going to load. We'll try later, or we'll add it to PhotoBucket, if we can. (Note: I think our videographer assumed that the camera would know which way was up, and so it would rotate the image if she rotated the camera during the filming. It didn't.) We've also posted some more pix to PhotoBucket.

The Giving and Receiving Ceremony at the DOJ was hardly more ceremonial than a trip to the DMV to renew your driver's license. (As Irene said, the wait was about as long, except that you didn't get to take a number.) We did a lot of sitting and waiting... followed by hurried signing. And it was over.

K has been totally calm and serious throughout. He is, perhaps, in shock, and he does seem lik…

New pictures in the Bucket

M and B have already been hugely helpful on this trip. They've helped schlep luggage and entertain TM... and they've become the official photographers. We've posted a few of M's pictures from this morning in our PhotoBucket album (see the list of links). More to come in future days.

We've had our first lunch of pho at Pho 24 restaurant, across from the Ben Thanh market. Earlier, we met up with the Wise family, with whom we'll be going to Bien Hoa, and took a walk to the Ben Thanh market.

E is now busily sorting gifts for tomorrow's trip to Bien Hoa and G&R ceremony.

Random traffic observations: We weren't really in Saigon last visit, so our comparisons may be flawed, but there seem to be many more scooter-riders wearing helmets now. And there seem to be more functional stop lights and cross walks with lights. Maybe we're just in an area with more tourists, and the crosswalk lights are an attempt to preserve the lives of these walking econo…

We're here....

With hardly a hitch, we've arrived in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). Twenty-two hours in airplanes (on the ground and in the air) and very few psychological scars to show for it. Our first flight was delayed leaving O'Hare, but not too much, and it meant that we had a fairly short wait in Tokyo.

TM held up like a seasoned traveller. He was very entertained by Japan Airlines' video options and the video games... even watching the Hannah Montana show in the Disney channel, at least twice through.

Tomorrow should be low stress, but first, we sleep.

We're off!

The next time we post will most likely be from Vietnam. I have conquered the massive 'to do' list: the bags are packed, the house is picked up (it's not clean, but our contractor is hiring a cleaning service to come in while we're gone), belongings of the children staying with friends have been moved, and we even managed a round of miniature golf this afternoon. Now all we have to do is try to get some sleep and leave for the airport in the morning. Those last two items seem the most difficult of the lot. My mind is racing and I'm not sure I will be able to fall asleep and leaving for the airport involves saying good-bye to A, P and D. This is the part of the journey that always makes my stomach clench. I wish we didn't have to leave some behind.

So until we say hello again from the other side of the world....