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Saturday, August 21, 2010

September 3, 2008

Day 5
Ho Chi Minh City, VietNam

Up until this point, the babes weren't really ours.  I mean we had physical custody of  them, but not legal custody.  I won't even pretend to tell you that I understand how that happened.  I don't.  On Wed, September 3, we had the official legal ceremony that granted us physical custody of our new little ones, the Giving and Receiving Ceremony.  We packed up the babes, baby carriers, a diaper bag, gift bags for the Vietnamese officials, (not huge gifts, small things totaling less than $25.  I think ours were pen/pencil sets.) and our documents and headed in a taxi for a government building with our Vietnamese caseworker.  We sat and waited in the lobby for our turn to be called.  I saw many couples waiting for what I assume were marriage licenses and such.  It felt a little like our social security building.
Then the director of the orphanage showed up, one of Jude's favorite people.  And seeing that Jude has been hysterical 2 days prior when leaving him, I was instantly worried if Jude would be upset again.  The director held Jude for a while, he played with him, and they smiled. Peek-a-boo and hugs and kisses.  I just kept thinking how awful it was going to be in this very public official building when Jude was handed back to us.  The screaming of the previous transfer at the orphanage was still fresh in my mind.  But in those moments it was also reaffirmed how loved Jude was and how wonderful and lucky that was!  The orphanage director asked how Jude was doing and if he was sleeping and eating.  We used this unexpected opportunity to ask him a few more questions, like if Jude had and nickname.  He said, yes, something like "crab" or "crabby" because when he crawled in his brace, he looked like a crab.  It didn't sound very endearing when he said it, but the little smiles and giggles as he told the story made me think otherwise.  We also asked about Tess's nickname, and this was the first moment that we understand that her nickname may not have been so endearing.

Then another wonderful ordinary miracle happened!  Jude quietly slipped back into Papa's arms, so unlike what had happened at the orphanage.  Jude leaned his body weight into Papa, sucked the corner of his shirt, and looked for comfort... comfort with his new father.  Jude was attaching with his new Papa.  Life was good.
This day had 2 of my VERY favorite pictures.  
This is one. they way Jude looks at his new papa with trust and reliance just brings me to my knees!  
And I love the grain in the image as I think it relays just how "raw" every emotion was.
  
Eventually our names were called, and we were ushered into a tiny office with an even tinier woman.  It was all suppose to be so official, but it was just surreal.  The "official red book" came out.  I had seen photos of many families before us signing the "official red book."  I think we signed it in many places.  By this point, Tess was quite upset at being held so close for so long.  She hollered and twisted and cried and tried to scratch herself.

We offered our gift to the official, and I kept thinking that surely she had no less than 2,904 other pen sets from previous American adoptive parents.
  
Our Viet caseworker, took our camera and snapped away during this momentous occasion.  We stood before a green curtain with a lot of words I couldn't read, and the Viet flag.  We marked the occasion with more photos.  That little lady looked like she had so so much work to do, and we were keeping her from it.  Watching her stand next to Papa, maybe she was scared cause she only came up to his elbow.  
Then we walked out.
And they were ours.
Legally.
Forever.

When we returned to the hotel, Papa went out to apply for the babe's new passports and to secure our flight to Hanoi.  Both babes fell asleep hard!  It was tiring work becoming a member of a new family.
This is also one of my favorite images from the trip.  She was at such peace when sleeping.

We spent the remainder of the day sleeping, relaxing, and trying to coax smiles from our new little ones.  This was our first smile from Tess.  We had to tickle her to get it, but it was well worth it.  
Don't let this smile give you the wrong impression of Tess's emotional state.  She was far from happy.
Not able to sit at 12 months old.  Toppling over.
This expression was the one Tess had most of the time... for months and months.
Jude's constant drool was a lack of muscle development in his mouth.  

We dealt with the horrific heat by only doing short excursions.  And in the early evening, we took an opportunity to walk around district 1 in the middle of SaiGon and take in the most wonderful dinner.  I fell in love with SaiGon that evening.  European architecture.  Hospitality like I never imagined possible.  Shopping, shopping, shopping, and so cheap.   Cheap food to die for!  It is such a cross between old Europe and Asia.  Very clean and English was spoken most everywhere so it was easy to get around.  We decided that tomorrow we'd spend our first day being tourists!

The babes still had no names.  Rather our precious daughter had a name, but we had decided it wasn't "her" and were starting fresh.  And the name for our sweet boy was a source of great debate.  There'd be time for that later.   We had plenty of love to give, and that was enough for now.
Oh, those fingers she still sucks!

To be continued...

2 comments:

  1. I am really enjoying reading about your trip to get your two babes. I am also amazed by your cooking and photography. Thank you for sharing.

    Nora at We Are Grafted In

    ReplyDelete
  2. loving the recap. Jesse sucks those two fingers too...

    ReplyDelete

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