Thursday, October 29, 2009

Day 7 - Blue, blue, blue

Ever have one of those days that you both look forward to and dread at the same time?  That's how I felt today.  I couldn't wait to get to the Centre, but I was also anticipating having to leave, which made me not want to go.  But, we got in a good six hour day, and I got to rock my baby to sleep for his nap which was a little piece of heaven.

Leaving him was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do, but I am resolved to getting him home soon.  He's doing pretty well there, but boy will he thrive with his mommy and daddy, and life in the U.S. 

Things better start happening soon or they will have one mad mama coming after them.  I actually saw someone that I think may have been with the police department over at the Director of the Centre's office today.  I couldn't help but think it may have something to do with our children.

Once again, my brain isn't functioning too well right now, so I will just post some more photos from today.  Got a joke or a funny story?  Please let me know asap!

One of the nannies from Room 1; they all seem to adore Nate, which is easy to do.  Mom, I tried to do his hair over to the side for you - very handsome.

I love this nanny, Huong!  She is darling and dotes on Nate.

A quick post before going for my last day (for now, hope to be back soon!)

We learned about our little Nate in July 2008, and were over the moon with excitement at the prospect that we could go pick him up in January 2009.  We got photos of him every few months, saw him grow and develop, and started dreaming about who this little boy was and will be.  As time moved on with no progress on the adoption, we started to feel numb to it all.  It was hard to think about him, knowing that we may never get to meet.

We build an idea of who Nate was in our heads.  Every photo of him with food on his face made me happy he was eating, and his full cheeks (while other children are thin) made me picture him going around the room to see who'd give up their food to him.  I could tell by his expressions that he was a sweet and happy baby.

He is all of that and more, but it was amazing to see how he is the little boy we envisioned.  As much as I love holding him, I could watch him interact with the other children, playing by himself and cuddling with the nannies for hours. 

When the opportunity to have some volunteers come to the orphanage came up this summer, I was at first hesitant to even think about coming.  How could I put myself in a situation where I could bond with my baby and then have to leave him?  Would I wonder about him every minute of every day when I'm gone? 

This isn't about me, though.  This is about the lives of 20 darling children.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Day 6 - Early start

We left the hotel at 5:30 a.m. in order to get to the Centre in time to play with the kiddos outside (6-7am).    Another fun day!  Nate had just gotten a bath when we got there so he was a happy boy with a wet head.  He kicked a ball around the courtyard a bit, so soccer may be in his future.  

Once again, I am a bit brain dead, but I did want to post some more photos today, not just of our darling boy, but of some of the other children, too.  As you can tell, they like to use me as a human trampoline - I always have at least two standing, sitting or laying on me.  I would take every single one home with me if I could.

We learned on Monday that two cases may be approved within the next few weeks, but we don't know who they are.  Selfishly, I want it to be Nate, but I will be happy if any of the kids get out and hope that it's just the beginning of getting the other children home.

Also, I had quite an interesting massage today at the hotel by a 80 lb. Vietnamese girl.  First she had me strip down to my underwear right in front of her and she didn't cover me up with a sheet or towel.  She immediately jumped on top of me, and straddled my back.  I was beaten to a pulp and she even walked on me!  Then she had me flip over, sunny side up and she rubbed down every last inch of my chest!  She pulled my hair, too.  Actually, it wasn't so bad, and I guess that's what you get for a $3 massage in Vietnam!

Here comes Pele! Video of Nate kicking a ball.

Loved every minute of this!

Just out of the bath

They are obsessed with my larger than Vietnamese nose!

Day 5 - Going by too fast

I can't believe we only have two more days at the Centre.  Again, another wonderful day.  I feel like a rock star when I enter one of the two rooms where we play (each have 12 children, they're separated according to age and Nate is in the younger room).  We're literally mobbed as we come in the doors.

Nate was quite talkative today.  I haven't heard him babble too much yet, so it was music to my ears, though I had no idea what he was saying.  It made perfect sense to him, though.  He was also talking to the other children too - melted my heart!

And, his daddy and gdad will be happy to know that he's quite a good catcher and thrower (I'd like to think I taught him this - and it's possible that I did).  See the video of the day.

For now, more photos.

Eating Cheetoos, he even shared them with me!

Me with the caregivers from Room 1 - they are darling and wanted several photos with me.  The little guy in my lap is a sweetheart and always touches my face.

Thanks for the toy Kieran, Ben and Drew!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Day 4 - Peek a boo

Got an early start this morning and were at the Centre by 7:15 or so.  I continue to be amazed at how quickly all 24 babies in the two rooms have taken to us.  Each and every one is absolutely wonderful and they have very defined personalities -- and sometimes a case of the terrible twos. 

I'm trying really hard for Nate to not get too attached to me, but it's hard when I see that smile that makes my heart swell; I just want to run over and scoop him up (run out of the room, and get the taxi driver to step on it).  I gave our absent mom's little girl some extra attention today, too, but she actually seemed to be doing fine without her mama around.

I wish I could be more poetic or descriptive in these accounts, but quite frankly, I am pretty emotionally and physically exhausted by the time we get back to the hotel each day.  I have so much to say, but it may have to wait for another day.  Until then, some more photos, and the most precious video yet.

Peek a boo (please ignore the annoying tone in my voice, but Nate seemed to like it).

Nate and Lincoln - two Hoosier boys!

Some of the nannies looking at photos of themselves from the mom trip in August.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Day 3 - Down one mom

The good news is that Nate was feeling much, much better today.  His eyes weren't as red and puffy and he was in a wonderful mood.  So good, in fact, that he's becoming a little territorial with me (which also makes me cry).  He tried to bite two of the little ones who were also sitting on my lap in order to get closer to me (usually you have anywhere from two to five children sitting on your lap, legs or feet at any one time and I've got the bruises to prove it).  He also tried to push one of the little girls off my lap, chivalrous boy that he is.

We colored today;  they did pretty well when they weren't fighting each other for more crayons.  That's the video of the day.

One of our moms leaves tomorrow, and it was awful having to see her say goodbye to her little girl.  We were all crying and even one of the nannies was crying, too.  While my heart was breaking for her, it also made me think that for now, my time is limited with our sweet boy, and that Thursday may be one of the most difficult days. 

There is a call with our adoption agency tomorrow morning, and we're praying for good news.  It would make leaving a lot easier if we knew that it was just a matter of time before these precious little souls could come home to the parents that they deserve. 

Day 2 1/2 - Can't sleep

I am typically a morning person, but this is pushing it a bit.  It's 5:00 a.m. and I am wide awake.  I am praying that Nate is feeling better today.  I am sure it's one thing to feel terrible for your child when he isn't well, but it's a completely other emotion all together when he's not with you -- living with 10 other children in a room with a dirty tile floor, no mattresses in his crib and a room that's at least 85 degrees.

As much as I can't wait to get to the Center today, part of me is dreading it, too.  One of the two moms that I'm with leaves for the States tomorrow, so today is her last day to be with her daughter.  It will be heart wrenching to have to see her say goodbye to her precious girl (who is already betrothed to Nate, little does he know - we already have a great photo to play at their wedding rehearsal). 

We went on a shopping excursion yesterday in Camau City.  One of the darling girls that works for the hotel was our guide.  We visited what we called the Vietnam Wal-Mart; a good moniker in that it had a little of everything, but it was probably one-30th the size.  It's amazing how inexpensive everything is -- from our hotel, which is like $30/day including breakfast (and is quite nice - and I am super finicky about creepy hotels, though one of the moms had an incident where five lizards were in her room the other night) to our cab ride which is also about $30/day for a 1 1/2 hour round trip ride (our drivers have stayed the entire day).  I bought some darling board books and DVDs (the Vietnamese version of Shirley Temple) for the Centre for less than $1 a piece.  The most expensive thing so far has been ice cream.  It cost as much as our inexpensive meal last night (which I think was about $5 for some stir fried vegetables and rice, and a bottled water), but we figured keeping ice cream cold can't be easy here.

The sweetest pea - Day 2

My sweet boy wasn't feeling well at all today.  He has a cold in both eyes; they're red and swollen.  It broke my heart to see him feeling poorly.  He fell asleep on top of me, and then woke up to inconsolable crying, so of course, I started crying, too.

But, before we left (and at least 10 crackers later), he seemed to be back to the sweet pea that he is.  The cars my mom got for him helped a lot, though.  He loved rolling them to me and then having  me roll them back.  I haven't heard him talk very much, not that I'd even know what he was saying, but he did try to say "bubbles" today when we were playing with them.

The nannies who care for the children really are wonderful, but imagine playing zone defense two on ten, 24 hours a day.  They can't possibly give them all of the attention that these darling children deserve.  The other two moms and I are usually mobbed with 2-year olds before we even get in the door.

We've been averaging 7-hour days at the orphanage the past two days, and I expect that will probably continue.  It's much more physically and emotionally exhausting than I was prepared for, but so worth it.

My brain is a little fried right now, so I'm heading to bed, but thought you'd enjoy a quick video from today.

Thanks for the cars, Mimmi!

Nate playing with car

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Words cannot describe - Day 1 in Vietnam

Yesterday was one amazing day in my life.  I met my Nate for the first time.  When we arrived at the Centre, the babies were napping and Nate was out like a light.  His caregiver wanted to wake him and kept telling him that his "me" (mommy) was here.  He was a little bleary-eyed, but came to me easily.  He truly is the most precious little person I've ever seen. 

My battery on my computer is running low (and I can't figure out why because it's plugged in), so I thought I'd just write something quickly and post a few photos.

Hopefully more later!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

More than half-way there

I have a 4-hour lay over in Hong Kong, and, what do you know?  I have great internet access.  So, I thought I'd enlighten you on my journey thus far.  Luckily, it has been quite good, though now I know why I don't make it a habit to be on a plane for more than 7 or 8 hours.  15 is brutal!

When traveling, especially internationally, you can usually find a character or two on your flight.  And lo and behold, I had no trouble spotting one on this plane ride.  In fact, I was almost forced to focus on him.  He was seated one row in front of me, but across the aisle. 

He was quite a large man, and every time he got up from his seat (which was at least five or six times), he mooned me and anyone else in his path.  He apparently thinks nothing of it.  To make matters worse, the belt on his pants, which is not hooked together, whacks me in the head each time he walks by to go to the bathroom.

Sir, excuse me please, but if your belt was fastened perhaps you wouldn't have your trousers down around your knees each time you stand up.  God bless the poor soul who is sitting in front of him and accidentally gets a gander at the front of that moon.  I saw someone push the flight attendant call button and ask for a hot poker to poke in his eyes.  That must have been why.

The other interesting thing that I witnessed so far,  was three Chinese nationals accosted by the U.S. Customs officer on the jetbridge down to the plane.  One officer had a German Shepherd and he was particularly interested in these people.  From what I heard from the one questioning officer to a guy holding a wad of cash, "You understand that you can't take more than US $10,000 cash out of the country, right?"  The offender was either a magnificent actor or truly naive because he looked up at the officer and said, "I'm not sure I understand."  This was better than a Law & Order episode and I would've gladly gawked some more to see what happened, but I had to keep walking so that I wasn't holding up the flight.  And, I didn't see any of them get on the flight...

One hour til my flight for Ho Chi Minh City leaves - going to the orphanage tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Last post stateside for a while

Hopefully, the next posting I make is from my hotel in CaMau (or maybe I'll be able to squeeze on in from Hong Kong or Ho Chi Minh City).  I emailed one of the moms who is already in Vietnam, and they are going to pick me up at the airport, and we'll go directly to the orphanage when I arrive on Friday morning (U.S. Thursday night).

Not really looking forward to the 15-hour flight between Chicago and Hong Kong, but I guess that's what Tylenol PM is for.

Until then...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My reason for going to Vietnam

Meet Nate, one of the most darling almost two-year olds I've ever laid eyes on.  I leave Wednesday morning to go to the orphanage down on the Southern tip of the Vietnam peninsula to meet him and the 27 other babies who live there.  We've been trying to adopt this darling boy for more than a year, but issues with the Vietnamese govt that are way beyond our realm of comprehension are preventing us from bringing him home.

So, we're going to them  Two amazing moms went in August and two awesome moms are there now, and I will meet up with them.

Here are a few pics, but get ready to be inudated when I get there.  Fingers crossed that I can master the camera and videocamera and that the internet fairies are being nice.