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Final Adoption Timeline

  • July 25, 2006
    Leave for home!
  • July 24, 2006
    Visa issued
  • July 21, 2006
    2nd INS interview
  • July 20, 2006
    Back in Hanoi
  • July 18, 2006
    Leave for R&R in DaNang
  • July 14, 2006
    Medical exam
  • July 14, 2006
    1st INS interview
  • June 13, 2006
    Leave for HoChiMihnCity
  • July 13, 2006
    G&R
  • July 11, 2006
    Meet Sissy for the first time!
  • July 11, 2006
    Leave for DaNang
  • July 10, 2006
    Arrive in Hanoi
  • July 8, 2006
    Leave for VN!!
  • June 2, 2006
    Received word that we’ll be traveling July 15th
  • April 23, 2006
    Officially accepted our referral
  • April 21, 2006
    Received REFERRAL for the beautiful Quynh Huong
  • April 17, 2006
    Mailed Contracts off to VORF
  • April 10, 2006
    Receivedcontracts from VORF
  • April 4, 2006
    Mailed completed application off to VORF
  • April 4, 2006
    Complete Dossier sent to G.T. Le & VORF
  • April 4, 2006
    Dossier hand delivered for certification
  • April 3, 2006
    Started working with VORF
  • March 30, 2006
    Chose VORF as possible placement agency
  • March 29, 2006
    Dossier all notarized
  • March 26, 2006
    Still no license issued for PLAN
  • March 24, 2006
    Dossier completed!
  • March 6, 2006
    Talked with PLAN about switching agencies
  • February 16, 2006
    Received final dossier requirements
  • February 15, 2006
    Projected licensing date – No license issued
  • January 28, 2006
    The new 171-H arrived indicating Hanoi as cabling embassy
  • January 21, 2006
    171-H arrived today!
  • January 4, 2006
    Fingerprinting appt. for BCIS application
  • December 23, 2005
    Received second set of Dossier instructions
  • December 14, 2005
    Our homestudy has been accepted!
  • November 14, 2005
    Received first set of Dossier instructions from PLAN
  • October 5, 2005
    Hub’s passport is back and correct
  • September 27, 2005
    Final meeting with social worker
  • September 24, 2005
    First meeting with social worker
  • September 15, 2005
    Received Passports with typo in Matt name, sent his back
  • September 9, 2005
    Got the acceptance letter from PLAN
  • September 3, 2005
    Received passing coursework back
  • August 31, 2005
    Matt doctor appt.
  • August 29, 2005
    Nicole doctor appt.
  • August 23, 2005
    Received notice from BCIS needing new paperwork
  • August 22, 2005
    Sent Correction for Erred Paperwork
  • August 19, 2005
    Applied for Passports
  • August 17, 2005
    Sent I600-A
  • August 16, 2005
    Sent back contracts and course stuff
  • August 11, 2005
    Loan funded!!
  • August 6, 2005
    PreAdopt Course received
  • August 5, 2005
    Signed Loan papers
  • August 2, 2005
    Received contracts from PLAN
  • August 1, 2005
    Applied for PreAdopt Course
  • July 30, 2005
    Received info books from PLAN
  • July 27, 2005
    Applied to PLAN
  • July 26, 2005
    Chose PLAN Loving Adoptions
  • July 18, 2005
    Applied for Home Refi
  • Vietnam Adoptions?

    **warning: I haven’t proofed this in it’s entirety (because I have a crying baby right now) so I reserve the right to clarify things if they’re taken (or written) incorrectly.**

    Lately it seems as though you can’t click on a link without getting someone’s opinion on Vietnam Adoptions and their ethics (or lack there of.)  I wish I could say that I’ve had the time and the energy to keep up with the goings on, but honestly, I have not.  While reading today’s NaBloPoMo contribution over at Nicki’s blog I clicked on a few of her many, many links and boy I was really surprised.  The opinions offered were pretty standard but on 99% of the blogs, I could not find the names of their agencies.  Then I realized how few blogs these days are offering the names of the PAP’s agency.  Why is that?

    When we first started the adoption, very few people had problems stating their agency.  But then again, in mid to late 2005 there were only 2-3 of us even blogging about VN adoption. (Nicki, Christina, Chel, and I were really the only ones out there.)  Then as the VN adoption world grew, more and more people started seeing unfair divisions of opinion and possible unethical offering of referrals.   As more blogs that popped up – readers would find that the people who were signed with the questioned agencies wouldn’t state it on their blogs because they were afraid of getting hell from their PAP peers.  Now no one is saying who their signed with.  And it drives me crazy.  Like Nicki discusses in her point #1, “Why do people let their agency decision define them?”  After all, you’re not the first to sign with a questionable agency, and it doesn’t make you a bad person.  What does make you a person of questionable ethics, is that once it has been reasonably established that your agency is not doing the right thing, you defend them, and stay by their side.

    Let me be the first to say, we first went with PLAN.  We started our adoption process back in July 2005 and I liked how PLAN was a local agency.  Vietnam and the US had JUST signed an agreement and everyone was sure that adoptions were going to start up right away and dossiers were going to be accepted sometime in November 2005.  Well November came and went and the first license to conduct adoptions in VN wasn’t even issued until January.  And then came April.  PLAN had verbal confirmation of their license for several months, but the physical thing was not yet issued (and wouldn’t be for several months.)  I’m not too proud to say that I had an itch.  A serious itch for a referral – our dossier was done and were approaching the point in time where we were going to need a homestudy update.  Many of the licensed agencies were handing out referrals left and right, and some even had more referrals than they had PAP’s.  So we switched to VORF.  There our wait for a referral was a mere 2 weeks (possibly the longest 2 weeks of my life!)  Back in the Spring of 2006, 2 weeks for a referral was not unheard of, and was actually on the low side of average.  Travel took another couple of months, but all in all, our entire process from application to arrival home was EXACTLY 12 months.  To the day.  Now PAP’s are lucky (with the larger agencies) if their wait for a referral is 12 months.

    Still to this day, I get about 1-2 emails a weeks asking for my experience with either agency (and I’m sorry if you’ve been the one to send me a request) but I’ve stopped replying to them quite a while ago.  My experience with these agencies in 2005-2006 have NO resemblence to the way adoptions are running currently.  I leave the current state of adoptions in the hands of actual educated AP’s like those over at APV and Adoption Integrity.  And yet it seems that history repeats itself- “Back in the day” we PAP’s only had the experiences of the “older” AP’s.  We heard their warnings of caution and their pleas for ethics but dismissed what they were saying because their experiences were outdated.  Their stories were from 3 years before.  There’s was a different time in adoption world, and a different process.  Surely what they were saying couldn’t be applied to our newer, modern world of VN adoption.  But they weren’t so wrong and their warnings of ethics and accountability went largely unheard.  Yet we find ourselves in the same position that they did not so many years ago.  But now PAP’s have the experiences of AP’s who have been there and done that and had the privilage of staying in the active adoption loop.  So here’s the question:  Why would PAP’s ignore the lessons offered by the AP’s who have the experience to help them?  I was once guilty of this myself so I’m not attacking anyone.  Rather I’m asking those PAP’s who need it, to really take a look at the info their agencies are providing them.  Does it check out?  Is it what other agencies are saying?  Does your agency seem to be the only one saying X when all the others are saying Y?  Hear my words PAP’s: you have all the power.  I promise you, no “veteran” of VN adoptions wants your adoption to fall through; No veteran wants your agency to be shut down; No veteran wants VN to shut it’s doors again.  The veterans of VN adoption (as well as MOST PAP’s) want what we should all want: 100% adoption accountability.  Listen to what they have to say and take their words as a launching pad for your own research.  I beg you not to close your eyes to all of this.  Embrace the changes that are being made and accept that these changes are for the health and well being of all VN’s children.

    I guess this post doesn’t really say a whole lot and seems to go in circles but thanks for reading anyway.

    Thanks and Questions Answered

    I just wanted to post a quick thanks to those of you who answered my question about Sissy’s dry skin. I had NO clue there was such an issue with this. You guys are REALLY dedicated to skin care! I could never do all that! I hardly have time to make dinner every night. haha But I did go check out the lotion section with a little more vigor. I found Eucerin’s PLUS Intensive Repair Body Cream. The first time I used it she was soft for 2 days! Now we put it on after a bath and she’s good until the next bath time. FANTASTIC stuff! Try it. Really.

    And, for those of you who asked how I’m feeling….I’m good. I noticed a few weeks ago that I was getting sicker during the day after eating meat. I stopped eating meat (it’s been several weeks now) and I’m feeling MUCH better. I’m still getting alittle upset in the evenings but I haven’t thrown up at all! I’ll be 10 weeks tomorrow. You know what that means? I’ll be 1/4 of the way done! Yay! Thank you guys SSOOO much for being so happy for us! I was afraid I might loose some readers over it but you guys have been great!

    Oh and Jenn asked about the Japan adoption. There’s an agency named Reaching Out thru International Adoption that has has a pilot program in Japan. They have a waiting child list….they’re mostly school-aged, special needs kids. I don’t know anything about the agency, or their reputation, but I have received some paperwork from them. When we’re ready, I’ll do some more research. I do, however, remember reading about the process and the fact that Japan does not require a dossier. Just a homestudy and a 171.

    This weekend the kids spent last night with their Nanna. Today I’m baby-free until 1:30! I’m off to the mall and the outlet stores for alittle shopping. Right now I’m watching Fatal Attraction. This movie is funny. I don’t find Glen Close attractive at all. haha

    Sissy’s story and other news…..

    Have I ever told you guys Sissy’s story? If you haven’t, here’s your chance, and if you have, read it again, you’ll be rewarded at the end, I promise.

    Hubs and I were married in April of 2001. I was 18, and he was 20. 9 months later we decided to try to have Dee and got pregnant right away. Another 9 months passes (and 90 pounds!) and Dee is welcomed into the Robinson household on October 11th, 2002. Time goes by and Dee gets bigger and bigger. Just before his first birthday we learn that Hubs’s National Guard unit is being deployed and they’re shipping out October 12th, 2003. That’s right, one day after Dee’s first birthday. We had 2 weeks to prepare.
    Thankfully the unit’s first stop is a town several hours. They get to spend the weekends at home and the weekdays there training. During one of those weekends, we get pregnant again (without trying this time). Things are stressful, to say the least. But nonetheless we’re excited and my due date is July 23rd, 2004. Several weeks later I start spotting and we lost the baby. I was crushed but most of all, Hubs was crushed. We chalk it up to stress and move on.
    Times go on. Hub’s unit reaches Iraq in March 2004 and spends 12 months there. Dee keeps getting bigger. They’re sent back to the states in March of 2005….a few more months of training in the states and he’s officially out of the Guard (and home) in June 2005.
    Once he’s back for good, we start talking about our next kiddo. It had been almost a year since my due date but I still wasn’t ready to try and get pregnant again. Adoption came up and started the process as soon as we refinanced our house. Yay!
    When we originally started our homestudy, in September of that year, we asked for a child between the ages of 3 and 4. I was done with babies. Still being wounded from the miscarriage I decided that raising babies was not something that I wanted to do over again. As the adoption reached the referral stage, it was clear to us that a toddler was just not going to happen. Our agency gave us 2 options at this point: 1. we could wait the several months they estimate it could take, or 2. we could agree to look at the one of the files they have of paper-ready babies who were a little younger than we were requesting. We agree, cautiously, to view the files. The first file we open and there she is. Our daughter. We talk about it as I read through her paperwork. Then I realize her birthday is July 25th, 2004; she was born the week of my duedate from the miscarriage! I knew then that she was destined to be ours. We called our agency right away and accepted her. (I called weekly to check in on the little boy who we did not accept. He found a family and lives with them in Maine. His referral was accepted by them very soon after we accepted Sissy. Their blog link is on the sidebar but I won’t tell you which one.)
    I believe that Kinhly was not only meant to be ours but came to us in some sort of cosmic fashion. Our little girl had to do some very important work before she came home; she had to change someone’s life. I can’t even begin to imagine what her birthmom’s story is (although I’ve already started a post addressing that, but that’s for a different time) but I’m 100% sure that Sissy had a HUGE impact on her and her future. Our girl has been very busy in her short life.
    With all that being said, it’s time to announce that we’re adding to the family once again. That’s right all my faithful readers: I’m pregnant. The new baby will be here October 1st, which makes me just over 9 weeks. Since we now have Sissy, she’s healed that part of me that was wounded by the miscarriage. Hubs and I discussed it and decided that another kiddo needed to happen but soon since we’re not getting any younger. :-)
    We’ve gotten alot of “of course you’re pregnant, you guys just adopted and that’s how it happens.” Well, yes, and no. For one thing, getting pregnant was never our problem. And secondly, this pregnancy wasn’t an oops. For the record we’ll be finishing the family with another adoption in several years. Perhaps Japan, Cambodia (if it reopens), or Vietnam again.
    Anyway, I hope you guys can be happy along with us. I probably won’t be posting about the specifics very often, except when there’s something really exciting to say, but now the blog will be taking a slight turn from how we’ve all coped with the adoption and the transition, to how we’re preparing to handle 3 kids! 3!!! Oi Vey.

    At home: Week 1

    Our transition home as been good, all-in-all.
    As for pictures, I’ll get some up as soon as our house isn’t a wreck and my kids look decent. I have a cute picture of the two of them but Dee’s not wearing pants. I might photoshop some pants on him and post it….I’ll see what I can do.

    Sissy: (Yes, we’ve decided to name her Sissy. I know that some people we’re opposed to it but I realize that we can’t please all of the people all of the time…it’s just the way it is. She enjoys it and so do we.) Her transition has been smooth, to say the least. For those families that we able to meet her in-country and were able to see the way she was before, wouldn’t even recognize her today; she SO happy-go-lucky, it’s not even funny! And each day just gets better and better! She’s learned to say “hello”, “goodbye”, “more”, and “no!”….she’s learning by leaps and bounds! Nap and bedtime is a fight still but that’s the way it was with Dee too, so we’re not phased by it. While she LOVES to play with Dee, he can be alittle rough with her still, after all, he’s a 4yo boy. One thing that I was amazed with is her adaptability with company and our roommate; One day we had about 9 people over, both friends and family, and she was totally ok with it. She was sociable and a complete ham! I think we have success!

    Dee: We’ve been preparing Dee for her arrival for about a year and it seems to have worked. He loves her, although he doesn’t like her from time to time. We’ve been explaining to him that it’s ok for him to love her but not like her (all the time.) He was happy to know that. We have a stockpile of toys that are labeled “Dee only”, I’m trying to keep it down to just the big-kid toys but there are other things creeping in that will have to stop soon. Whatever he needs to do to make himself feel better.

    That’s all for now. Dee is spending some one-on-one time with his Nana this weekend, which gives Hubs and I some breathing room from the toy issues. Maybe we’ll see a movie, or go have dinner….as long as my mom is in the house, we’re free to play tonight. Yay!

    Hotel Reviews: Vietnam

    Hanoi: Horison

    Facts: Rated as a 5 star hotel
    At the Horison, rooms range from $95-105.
    Located downtown Hanoi on a gated lot
    Internet available in the rooms via wireless access for free

    Review: The Horison is nice’ish. We stayed here twice during our trip, once at the beginning and again at the end. The staff is not that friendly but they’re good at what they do. Each room comes with a buffet-style breakfast that was one of our favorites. In the lobby they offer a cozy little cafe, serving cheap french bread and tarts, but don’t buy water there…You’ll end up paying about $3.25 a bottle. The pool, while on the small side, is perched on the 2nd floor and features the cool run-off-the-side look. All-in-all, I think this hotel was a little stuffy. The beautiful lobby and second floor are slightly deceiving of your whole hotel experience. On Sunday’s they have a kid’s “fair” in the buffet area that has video games on a big screen and a ball pit; it’s great if you’re taking older kids. Now, I’ve been a little contradictory about how I feel this hotel is stuffy and yet they have a kid’s fair, I know and I’ll tell you, it was the only day we stayed there that I saw the hotel have any life.
    Matt gives the Horison: 3-stars (of 5)
    Nicole gives the Horison: 3-stars (of 5)

    DaNang: Palm Garden Resort

    Facts: Rated as a 5 star hotel
    At the Palm Garden, rooms range from $70-360.
    Located on the beach, 20 minutes from DaNang, in the town of HoiAn
    Internet available in the rooms via DSL cable for free

    Review: From the first time to step into their open-air lobby, you’ll know that you’re in paradise. This place is amazing!! While it’s not actually in DaNang it is just about 20 minutes away in the town of HoiAn. The common area is often over run with dragon-flies (I don’t know about you, but we loved that part if it.) Their pool is very big and features a pool-side bar that’s always stocked with staff to help you with towels or a drink. Just beyond the pool is one of the hotel’s restaurants (they have one open-air and one closed in) and then the white sand beach of the China Sea. The staff is the best; always friendly and personable, it was the best we’d seen in all our stays in Vietnam. The internet is free here and they have 3 computers. During our stay there was always computer space available and there were very few kids staying there. Also of notable significance is their on-site tailor who will custom make almost anything for you in 24 hours. One of our travel companions brought a dress with them that they bought at a high-end American designer for $360, she had it reproduced by the house tailors for $60! And they did a great job. We will be staying here again. The other places I could take ’em or leave ’em, but this hotel is a keeper!
    Matt gives the Palm Garden: 5+ stars
    Nicole gives the Palm Garden: 5+ stars

    HoChiMinh City/Siagon: Hotel Sofitel

    Facts: Rated as a 5 star hotel
    At the Palm Garden, rooms range from $100- 180.
    Located near the embassies in Ho Chi Minh City
    Internet available in the rooms via DSL cable for free

    This place is also nice. With every guest in your room you receive a free buffet dinner coupon and drink coupon for the lobby bar (and the dinner is good.) You also receive free buffet breakfast every morning that you stay, which isn’t bad. They also have a chocolate “bar” in the lobby that offers really great treats but it’s very spendy. The rooms are alright. The internet is about $4 for 30 minutes, as most of the other hotels are. There’s nothing spectacular about their pool but there is a small one. Really what you’re paying for, and what makes it worth just the “nice” review is the hotel’s proximity to the government buildings. All of the Embassy buildings seem to be in a row and are just a stones-throw from this place.
    Matt gives the Palm Garden: 3 stars
    Nicole gives the Palm Garden: 3 stars

    DaNang: Sandy Beach Resort

    Facts: Rated as a 5 star hotel
    At the Palm Garden, rooms range from $95- 380 ($55-180 if booked online)
    Located on the beach in DaNang
    Internet available in the rooms via wireless access for free

    On our way back through DaNang one of the families suggested that we change it up a little and try the Sandy Beach…we didn’t want to rock the boat and thought that it might be nice to get another perspective. It was nice because it reminded us of how much we loved the Palm Garden. The Sandy Beach is beautiful but it’s lacking in some of the areas that made the other place special. For example, all the watering here is done with sprinklers, but the Palm has men out hand watering; the Sandy beach has 2 pools (one near the rooms and one beachside) but their both small, where the Palm has one very big pool. The list goes on…. The internet here is also free but this hotel has ALOT of kids staying at it, which means alot of kids paying computer games and instant messaging their friends for hours on end. I got on the computer 2 times the whole time we were there and it was for only 10 minutes each because there was a line of kids behind me waiting. For those of you bringing your own computer, the private internet here is wireless access only. Also, if you get their standard room with a garden view, you’re going to be getting a nice room but their very “dorm style” and lack anything really “special”. There are private beachside villas available for the $180 (online price) if you’re looking for that kind of thing, but the villa area really is lacking basic lawn maintenance and looks more neglected than it does tropical.
    Matt gives the Palm Garden: 3 stars
    Nicole gives the Palm Garden: 3 stars

    Last note: I know that there was only one 5 star and the rest are 3 stars (as rated by me and Matt) but I have to say that the Palm is the only hotel that got a customer for life. When we go back to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, we will be shopping other hotels.

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