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Monday, June 30, 2008

Day #32 & the Roller Coaster Continues!

The monsoon storms in Arizona have started to come in. We look forward to this part of summer each year, and it is probably my VERY favorite time of year. These daily storms are intense and breathtaking to watch. They even make the adults giddy, much less the kiddos. Each afternoon the clouds build up and if we're lucky we great wonderful thunderstorms that rattle the furniture. Yesterday we even got a hail! We sit on our porch with a glass of red wine, watch the lightening strike and hear the thunder boom, as the heavens open up and the rain pours down. It is a gift to be able to witness.

Sorry to bombard your week with a ton of adoption crap. And that's exactly what it feels like today... like a TON OF CRAP! Why can't I be strong like Papa?
That was the way I started this entry a couple days ago. I've since had a couple days to cool off.

After weeks upon months of waiting and nothing happening, LOTS started happening last week. It was an amazing week to ride the adoption roller coaster! But with age and maturity, I don't enjoy roller coasters like when I was 10, and last week just left me with a nauseating feeling in my stomach.
  • Monday-a rumor that there were some "very optimistic" meetings making way for progress! YEA! My heart jumped!
  • Monday evening-there was personal email from USCIS to several folks by way of their Senators, that everything in still blocked in TuDu as usual.
  • Tuesday-the world started to spin VERY quickly! (Someone let me off! I'm gonna hurl!) The FIRST TuDu I-600 approval came for a family that had waited 143 days! (Only 83 days longer than the 60 days the US gov't said it would take!) We, the TuDu families all have banded together, were on cloud nine! We could see the light at the end of the tunnel.
  • Wed. morning-there were 8 more approvals for TuDu!!!! This means 9 of the 41 babies come home! Oh my, you could feel the love in the air! And even-keeled Papa started looking at airfares for us in the hope that our time was coming! Could it be true that TuDu was not blocked anymore??? NONE of the approvals were for our agency. I wonder if this means something? None of the special need's babies got approval or the toddlers or the ones that need surgery or the family that is now at 210 day waiting. Hmmm???
  • Thursday morning-the mood abruptly turned. The USCIS, (knowing that desperate adoptive parents would be scouring their emails for approvals?) sent out a NEW round of block letters to folks that already had them telling them TuDu was still blocked and to keep waiting! No, we still didn't get one!
  • Thursday night-the US govt sent out a block letter to BRAND NEW adoptive family, this time on day #44! So surprisingly and sadly our TuDu family grew.
  • Saturday- a lawyer representing many of the TuDu families said we may be getting more approvals next week! (Again I'm feeling optimistic!)
If you're having trouble following any of this, welcome to our world. It doesn't really make sense to us either. International Adoption ain't for sissies! Wonder what next week holds?
So... the ever-popular Guess-the-Block-Letter-Day Game is BACK ON!! Please feel free to keep guessing, especially if your day has already passed! 2 whole weeks between 30 and 45 is a LONG time!
The most recent block letter, received by a family last Thursday, was on their day #44!
Day 12 - Papa
Day 17 - Melissa C.
Day 19 - TB
Day 22 - Livy
Day 25 - Auntie S
Day 28 - Boo
Day 30 - Sunny
We're now on our day #32. Auntie K, you're coming up!
Day 45 - Auntie K
Day 55 - Patch
Day 66 - Me
Never - Michelle

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Day #26 and Nothing Makes Sense

The Prayer

I pray you'll be our eyes, and watch us where we go.
And help us to be wise in times when we don't know
Let this be our prayer, when we lose our way
Lead us to the place, guide us with your grace,
To a place where we'll be safe.

We ask that life be kind and watch us from above
We hope each soul will find another soul to love
Let this be our prayer, just like every child
Needs to find a place, guide us with your grace
Give us faith so we'll be safe

With each week that passes and each rumor that spreads, you'd think that I'd learn not to get my hopes up. But something inside me just yearns for guidance and a place to hang my hopes on, so time after time, I devour each good rumor and hold my breath. Still nothing. Still waiting.
And if all this waiting was just for me, for MY dreams, then it would ok to be let down so many times. I'm an adult with my own faults and sins. I knowingly chose to start this difficult journey of adoption, and I have my own mama and papa to fall to when I need. But these 2 babies (actually 41 babies that we know of in our situation) only have the fault of being born to a mama that decided that she could not care for them and left them at a hospital for someone else to look after forever. This certainly is no fault of their own, yet they are the ones forced to suffer the consequences... forced to feed themselves their own bottles because no one else can... without enough food in their tummies or enough stimulation to want to crawl after an enticing toy... left to spend their days in cribs without a family to call their own, or enough medicine to prevent another round of scabies. And I wonder why it is this way. Why? None of it makes sense when there is a ready loving family for each of these 41 children. a family ready for Sunburn and the Little Man, who wants so desperately to wrap them in my arms, smother them with the mother-love that every baby deserves, take them away from all these consequences, and give them every opportunity. Why? It just never makes sense.

Just to clarify from my last post, our agency WILL reschedule our G&R whenever our approval comes.

In the picture, you gotta love Boo's technique for watering the flowers! No, the flowers are on the ground just where you'd expect them to be and not in the trees.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Today was our Giving & Receiving Day... or at least it was suppose to be.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Day #21 & A Surprise Phone Call

Not that I'm keeping track, but OF COURSE I'm keeping track- Today is day #21 on our wait for i600 approval. Remember back when the USCIS asked for some additional docs on day #3, and the USCIS so kindly reminded us that, "Failure to respond to our request may delay the process of your I-600 petition." Like there was some kind of rush or something! And then we got them all turned in to the office in HCMC in LESS than 24 hours?! Well, apparently there wasn't any big hurry! 3 weeks later, and I'm still repetitively pushing the refresh button on my email with no success. And granted 21 days isn't that long, because the family waiting the longest is now at 201 days! Amazing for the USCIS's 60 day process!

I will say that the majority of the time I still feel like this journey is so surreal. An WHO WOULDN'T?! After all this nightmare of a soap opera involves a Communist 3rd world country, illegal activity on the part of our governmental officials, an international child trafficking conspiracy, and an 80 year old Catholic nun! You should see the glazed over looks on people's faces when they naively ask for the details of the situation, and I try to explain! I would never believe any of it myself if we weren't smack in the middle of it all! I'm just a soccer mom in AZ!

But every once in a while, something happens that reminds me that this whole thing is VERY real. The long time readers will remember the whole Dick Cheney saga! Again, I wrote to our U.S. Senators in early June, and not being able to find a local email address, forwarded the letter to their DC offices. I really thought I'd never hear anything from either of them. But only 7 days later, my phone rang and it was an aid from Senator Kyl's office! My hands started shaking and all I could think was, Boy, I'd better articulate this correctly because I may only have one shot at this! I was shocked! We talked (with his aide) for about 30 minutes, and I explained that we did NOT have the block letter yet, and why we were still very concerned. He knew all the details of the state of affairs in VN already, but didn't seem to know the specifics re Tu Du. It seemed he was taking a special interest in our case because one the special need's situation. I rewrote our letter with his suggestions, and it was linked with a letter he wrote, and he forwarded both the U.S. Consulate in VN. He genuinely seemed concerned and nice and in all of this started to restore a little of my faith in my government.

Again, now we find ourselves in the VERY familiar part of Let's Wait and See What Happens! And we ALL know where that has gotten us so far!

Nevertheless, we wait and see what happens. What alternatives do we have? Hang in there Sunburn and Little Man! I'm trying! Really I am!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Day #20 & Thu Duc Youth Village

Our sweet things currently live in the Thu Duc Youth Village (orphanage) in Saigon and were transfered there at about 6 weeks old from the TuDu Maternity Hospital. Saigon is also called Ho Chi Minh City, HCMC, and is in southern VietNam. It is the only home they have ever known and the nannies and other orphans are the only family they have experienced. We have been told that the orphanage staff has moved their cribs next to one another as we requested.

A family that traveled to Thu Duc in December took these pictures.

Thu Duc orphanage was founded about 20 years ago in 1990 by the grand daughter of Pablo Picasso, Marina Picasso. She founded the orphanage in Thu Duc, VietNam, just outside Saigon, and it was a former military base. It is named "The Village of Youth," and was funded by Marina’s inheritance from her grandfather, Pablo Picasso. The orphanage is still frequently referred to as the Picasso Orphanage even thought the Picasso family no longer supports the orphanage since the Communist party took it over. Actually it has "gone downhill since the government took it over a few years ago," and funding has now drastically declined according to Marina's son, Michael.

The baby room has the youngest infants. There are metal cribs that line the room and form rows down the middle. This picture was taken in December when there were approximately 15 infants in the room. Yes, Sunburn and the Little Man may be one of those babies in the picture, as they were about 4 months old in Dec, but we'll never know.

There is a second room for older babies. All in all, it looks pretty bleak and sterile to me. Clean is good and wonderful, but it looks like Sunburn and little man will need a stimulation and lovin' blitzkrieg!

Considering the record breaking cold winter that VietNam had this winter, and the many orphans that died on account of the cold, we are SO thankful that these babies are in southern VietNam, where it is quite hot year round.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Day #18 & Summertime...

Our summer is in full swing... full of a lot of what's really important, catching butterflies, planing flowers, filling the bird feeders, bedtime stories, riding bicycles, picnics, playing in the creek, fishing, lots of walks with the dog, endless games of cards, pancake breakfasts, climbing trees, chasing lizards, reading good books... I give the kiddos a hearty breakfast in the morn and have trouble "catching" them at lunch, so they usually come in each evening covered in dirt, dead tired, and very hungry. We fill their tummies, soak them in the tub to try to erase the ground in filth, and we read until our eyes can't stay open any longer. These are good days. Maybe eventually there will be 2 more little ones toddling around to fill the days and our hearts even further.

Adoption updates - A lot of nothing... (but our fingers are crossed and our prayers are full)

The VN Director of Adoptions (the big Kahuna) wrote a letter to the US gov't basically saying Come on guys! We've done everything we can do, so come investigate already for the sake of the babies! The tone of the letter is straight forward and definitely calls the bluff of the US, who certainly looks foolish saying they "can't" investigate. The US claimed the letter was a forgery. (Yes, it STILL sounds sounds like a bad soap opera!)

Several different blocked province have recently been cleared, families have gotten i600 approvals, and have gotten their babies! YEA! This is long overdue and hopefully this has laid the ground work for officials to solve the mess in TuDu.
There are so many rumors about TuDu that it's hard to keep them straight. Mind you I have NO way of telling if any of them are true. There's a rumor that there are "going to be" a few approved cases. There is a rumor that the USCIS says progress is being made and can't see this dragging on past summertime. There is a rumor that the VN Director of Adoptions is giving the US a time limit to finish the cases and may pull the children to place them with families from other countries. There's a rumor that the VN gov't it trying to get the cases adjudicated by a different US agency and has forwarded info from MANY cases to Washington DC or Hanoi or HCMC depending on the version of the rumor. And rumors of secret meetings too.

The last 2 block letters were on day 18 an 29, and both were strangely on Tuesdays.
Day 12 - Papa
Day 17 - Melissa C.
We're now on day #18. Sorry Daddy and Melissa. No prize for you!
Day 19 - TB
Day 22 - Livy
Day 25 - Auntie S
Day 28 - Boo
Day 30 - Sunny
Day 45 - Auntie K
Day 55 - Patch
Day 66 - Me
Never - Michelle

Monday, June 9, 2008

Day #11 & A birthday present for me!

My birthday is today, and I got a little present from my agency. No it is not our i600 approval, but rather some new pictures and video of Sunburn and the Little Man. They are both about 10 months old now.

Sorry again for the snip-its that tease you so much. But here are at least a little parts of them.

Here is the Little Man sitting up proudly on his knees. He is crawling all over the place in the video and goes from crawling to sitting on his knees again and again. Here he is holding up the same teether again. I wonder how many teeth he will have by the time we get to hold him. He seems strong and definitely the "gather-er of the toys." In all the pics he has all the toys gathered around him, and she if left with none. I imagine he is already practicing for a house full of siblings.
And again, in the pics Sunburn is reaching out to touch the Little Man, this time to grab on to his leg and shoe. And here is a picture of her blowing raspberries I think. In the video clips she is "screeching" for lack of a better word and playing with her sounds. Honestly, it's the kind of sound you might just find annoying if you had already held your baby in your arms or were next to her on a plane or in a restaurant. But music to my ears. Too cute, and I so wish I could be with her as she plays with sounds and starts babbling. No doubt she is working on her Vietnamese. She has picked up the habit of sucking on her two middle fingers kinda like sucking her thumb but with two middle fingers instead. (I think we have a Uncle T that did that a lot! Right Auntie S????) You can see that she does this a lot as her fingers and thumb are both red from sucking and being gummed. It is too too too cute!

Honesty, I think the agency staff in Saigon must be a little bored and not have much to do with the cases in HCMC being blocked. So they must have lots of time to visit the orphanage and snap photos for us. I don't know anyone who is getting the quantity of photos we get. I am a very lucky mama. I'll take my presents where ever I can get them these days.

Wow! I'd didn't think I'd get such resistance to my little game! I assure you party poopers that it helps guard my heart. That's a good thing.
We're now on day #11
Day 12 - Papa
Day 17 - Melissa C.
Day 22 - Livy
Day 28 - Boo
Day 30 - Sunny
Day 45 - Auntie K
Day 55 - Patch
Day 66 - Me
Never - Michelle (I'm not sure that's playing correctly, Michelle! But I hope you're right!)

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Day #7 & An Email Surprise...

We received an email from the USCIS! My heart just about jumped out of my throat when I first saw it there waiting to be read. I assumed it was the "block letter," but no, the US govt wanted to add more suspense, and it turns out it was only a request for some additional documentation. It appears that they never did receive an addendum to our home study that was forwarded via the INS last summer. Additionally the asked for a lab report that was sent in, to be translated from VN to English. (the report is almost ALL numbers except for the names of the test run, which don't change no matter the language! I was able to understand it very clearly. Again this makes NO sense!) But our agency did translate what they could, (probably only the name of the month and other inconsequential details) and we forwarded the requested docs all in less than 24 hours.

I tell you, to see our name in print, on USCIS letter head, with their signature, literally made my stomach turn. And please don't get me wrong, we really do want them to investigate and make sure our little ones are truly orphans in need of a home. But what I have personally witnessed them do and heard directly from others affected, is not only unethical and illegal, but truly against the best interest of the orphans involved.

And for those of you so resistant to play my "Guess the Block Letter Day," please join us! Most of you know how much I LOVE games, and it really does make me feel better. I actually just wish we'd get it sooner rather than later so we could start to actively fight the battle. Come on my Monkey friend, throw me a banana and play!

We're now on day #7
  • Day 12 - Papa
  • Day 22 - Livy
  • Day 28 - Boo
  • Day 30 - Sunny
  • Day 45 - Auntie K
  • Day 55 - Patch
  • Day 66 - Me
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