Friday, November 30, 2007

Visit with Santa and Allergist Update

Today I took Lucy to get her picture made with Santa. Like an idiot, I forgot my camera. I bought one of the ones they took, but wish I had my own. We talk about Santa a lot. She recognizes him and says, "HO HO HO" in a VERY southern accent. The last HO is really drawn out. I am really going to try and catch it on video because it is one of her cutest tricks to date. She was so excited when she saw Santa. She was literally screaming HI! at him and would follow it up with a HO HO HO! Precious. When it got to be our turn, she marched halfway to Santa and realized she was a little scared. She started backing up slowly, trying to figure the best way outta there. I reassured her and set her on Santa's lap. She cried a little, but nothing major. I was really impressed. I had to take a picture of our copy of the picture because our scanner is screwed up. If this is not the best Santa you have ever seen, I want to see your Santa. Seriously, his hair and beard are real. Santa's identical twin apparently lives very close to us!

We had our allergist appointment on Wednesday. They actually don't think she has allergies. They took a swab from inside her nose and the doctor looked at it and said it doesn't look like allergies. We told him all of her symptoms and he thinks it is acid reflux. He said she has all of the classic signs. We started Prevacid that night and have had no throwing up at bedtime for three days now! She has coughed a bit the past couple of nights, but never enough to make her sick. He said it could take up to 2 weeks to see the full effect of the medicine, but hopefully it will work much quicker. I am really praying we have found a solution and she can be done with the night coughing and sickness. If in 4 weeks she is not showing significant improvement, they will proceed with the full blown allergy testing, but I really think this is going to be unnecessary.

Tomorrow Lucy is 16 months old. We are less than a month away from our family day. When I think back on our adoption, I can't believe that we have been through the process and had her home for a year. It is amazing how time has flown. I really can remember our trip to Vietnam so clearly. It seems like it was just the other day. She is just the greatest blessing we have ever known.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Christmas Pics

We have been trying to get a great picture of Lucy smiling by the Christmas tree to use for our Christmas card. It is not that easy. I finally got a perfect one! I am not going to post it on here until after we send out our cards so it will be a surprise! Here are some from the photo shoot that we got the one we are using from. She had on one of her cutest outfits, but you can't really see it because the picture had to be horizontal for our card.

My new favorite thing to do with Lucy's hair is put it in piggies but not pull the hair all the way through - like this:

Here are a couple of pix of my favorite Christmas decorations in the house

The wall of Christmas Krinkles

Our mantle

We are taking Lucy to the allergist this afternoon. I am really hoping that it goes okay. She has such a hard time with the doctor. We are praying that they find something that we can do in order to help with her constant chest congestion.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hate that I am just now getting my Thanksgiving post up, but we have had all of Justin's family in town this week. It has been a blast. Lucy and her cousin, Austen, have had such a great time. She is getting better about sharing and playing nicely. They took a bath together tonight and splashed to their little hearts' content. It was so cute. She LOVES having her Nana and Grandy here and has thoroughly enjoyed all of the attention. She is going to be very bored with Justin and I once everyone leaves tomorrow.

I have so much to be thankful for this year. Most of all, my husband and daughter, our families, friends, and all of the love and support that we have in our lives. I am thankful for Vietnam, Lucy's birth parents, her roomies from Vietnam, all of the friends I have made through our adoption, and the opportunity to adopt. I am blessed to have a beautiful home filled with beautiful memories. We have an awesome church. Really, my life is so full. I could not ask for much more.

Lucy had her 15 month appointment this week on Monday. Remember how I talked about how I thought she was really going to have packed on the pounds because she eats all day long? I was wrong. Still not breaking 20 lbs. Almost though, she was 19 lbs 15 oz, which is basically 20. It put her in the 5th percentile for weight. BOO!! She was in the 90th percentile for height though. Crazy girl. She still hates the doctor and is going to be really upset when she finds out we have to take her to an allergist. She still has a cough and congestion in her chest. Everything else is clear, so the doctor is thinking now that it is allergies. The weather is really cold here now. I wish it would just decide what it is going to do and stick with it. I know the going back and forth between warm and cold is not helping.

In very exciting news, all of our Christmas decorations are finally up!!!!! Nana and Grandy helped put lights outside this year, and it is so beautiful. I will post pictures of it all on my next post. Since we were in VN last year for Christmas, we had everything decorated by November 6th. We got it all up on Monday of this week. Lucy is constanly oooooing and ahhhhing at the trees. She has been really good about not messing with the trees, which is very suprising to me. I got everything out of the garage last Sunday and had the kitchen counters completely covered in stuff when she woke up from her nap. I brought her into the kitchen and she put her hands on her heart and gasped. She could not believe all of the pretty things. I wish I had it on camera since Christmas is so huge for me and her reaction was so precious. I think she is going to have the same love of Christmas that I have.

Here are lots of pictures from this week with family and a few from the park last week. There are a whole bunch. Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Basketball Game Fun

Lucy absolutely LOVED the basketball game so much. She watched the game, cheered when the crowd cheered, danced when the music was playing, ate and ate and ate some more, and just had the best time. We went thinking we would leave at half time if she could even make it that long. The game didn't start until 7 pm. She is generally in bed asleep by around 8 and more like 7:30 when she doesn't nap well (like yesterday). So I was thinking we would be lucky to make it to half time. I was so wrong. She lit up when we got there and did not stop for the entire game. That's right, we made it through the entire game with a happy little pumpkin. She was so happy that she let everyone in the suite hold her and snuggle with her. She buttered everyone up to give her more fruit or get her a little closer to the action. The people there that we didn't know well did not believe me when I told them that she was usually shy in public and never let strangers hold her. She was a total social butterfly. I was so proud of her and just really enjoyed watching her interact with everyone and have so much fun.

We did not get home until about 10:30 and she started crying when we put her pjs on her, but that was the first time she had so much as whined the entire night. She has been catching up with sleep today - a three hour nap and in bed asleep by 7:15. We would not normally ever let her stay up so late because I don't want to pay the price with such a sleepy baby, but she just rolled with it and was the best baby ever. Everyone there kept telling Justin and I that we were so lucky to have such a good baby. We happily agreed!

Lucy has been eating like a horse lately. It used to be like pulling teeth to get her to eat. Recently she has been eating what feels like from sun up to bed time. When she is not eating, she is frantically signing eat, more, and please. We have been letting her eat all day. She prefers fruit over all else, which is at least healthy. I am quite certain when we go to the doctor on Monday for a well visit she is going to have grown quite a bit.

Nana and Grandy are getting here tonight, and we can not wait to see them!! Lucy is going to be so excited when she wakes up and they are here in the morning. Lots of good spoiling for her this weekend.

Here she is at the game and the one and only picture I took at her hair cut. I would have posted it yesterday, but it was on my purse camera and I didn't feel like finding the cord for it.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Hair Cut Pictures

The hair cut went very well!! No real tears. She sat on my lap and ate some fruit. She buried her head in my chest a few times, but she never had a real meltdown. Let me be perfectly clear here though, the hair cut took literally about 2 minutes. She just trimmed up the back a bit. It is not a major change at all, but it looks cleaned up. Most people would not even notice, but I definitely can.

The weather here is so crazy. It has been really hot lately. Yesterday we had our air conditioner going until about 5 pm. Then all of the sudden the wind started blowing really hard and it got cold. We had our heater on at night. Today it is in the 50s, which is cold for us since it has been in the 80s every other day for a week. And we wonder why Lucy can't get rid of this darn cold.

We are taking Lucy to the Mavs/Spurs game tonight. I have no idea how she is going to do. This is her first sporting event. I hope she is like Addison and LOVES the Spurs. We'll see.

Here are some pictures. The ones in the red dress are pre hair cut and the ones in the pink stripe dress are post hair cut. Notice her adorable new tennis shoes.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Nothing lightens the mood a bit like a little laughter. For those of you who follow this blog, I usually post videos of Lucy laughing because it makes me so happy and I hope it makes someone else smile or giggle a bit. So here you go, two very happy videos. Can you tell she LOVES to be chased? And for those of you who commented several posts ago about how big she was looking, you are right. She is so tall and looking more and more like a little girl and not a baby every day. She is really skinny, but she has been eating like a horse for about a month now and I can tell she is putting on some pounds. One day those ribs won't show!

In big Lucy news, she is getting her first hair cut tomorrow. We are only letting them trim the back up. It is getting a bit scraggly back there. Be looking for pictures. I am 99% sure she will cry the entire time. She seems to be extra scared of strangers when we are out in public. For instance, she cried when the shoe lady measured her foot. She did get the cutest new tennis shoes the other day. They make her look so big!

Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Share Photos - Free Video Hosting

Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Share Photos - Free Video Hosting

Thursday, November 08, 2007


I knew that my last post would stir things up a bit, but to be perfectly honest, I had no idea it would make such a buzz. I am GLAD that it did. I wish that the commenting would have stayed to mature, productive discussion, and for the most part it did. But man there were some uncalled for things said. And just so all of you haters know, I am sleeping SO WELL now that I have gotten this emotion out and actually done something to make people more aware of the corruption. The acupuncture has definitely helped, but this has helped so much more! WARNING: I have a few more things to say about this, so if you can't handle it, stop reading now. This is not going to be a post about Lucy's adorable little life. Also, I have been forced to not allow anonymous comments any longer. I am not going to promote anyone hiding from the agency they used or the corrupt practices of certain agencies working in Vietnam, and I can't take another round of the immature personal attacks. You had your chance, now I feel the need to protect myself a bit.

I started this blog as many adoption bloggers did, to share our experience with our friends and family. One day, I will figure out how to get it all printed out and bound into something so that Lucy can have it. She will be able to look back on how we got to her and what her early childhood was like because I have chosen to document it. I want her to be proud of what she sees. I want her to look back and know that her mom stood up for what is right for the children of her birth country. I want her to know that I asked the hard questions, that people don't want to ask or see. I want her to know that yes, we did ask ourselves hard questions in order to choose an agency that eventually led us to her. I want her to know that I helped bring awareness to this awful situation. I want her to know that she is allowed to voice her opinion. Finally and most importantly, I want her to know that we love her so very much. So far, I have accomplished my goals of what this blog is supposed to stand for.

Last night as I was rocking her and she was drifting off to sleep, I just sat there wondering so much about her birth parents and how she ended up in the orphanage and then with us. There are so many questions that I would give anything to have answers to. I agree with Rachel in that there is no way to know for 100% positive that your adoption was perfectly ethical. No matter what agency you are with. I do agree with this. I think that it is important to do everything in your power to feel the most confident about your adoption that you possibly can, given the unknowns. To me, that means going with an agency that has a clean record. One that has not been constantly shrouded with doubt and questions about their ethics. One that has not been issued NOIDs. One whose families are not writing on their public blogs how they are most likely going to get a NOID. Choose an agency that is respected and honest. I obviously know how difficult it is to choose an agency. We did it, twice. But the fact of the matter is, the information is out there. You might have to take longer to find it, but it is available. I also want to state as I did in the comments, I was VERY tempted by one of the questionable agencies. I spoke with them multiple times when we were in the middle of our switch. I was told about babies that were available right this second, that we could travel within 4-6 weeks, etc. So the carrot was in front of my face, but I ultimately chose not to bite because I could not look past the issues at hand (which were nothing like they are today). I was close, really really close though.

I was criticized for my "tone" in the last post. I think a lot of you should go back and read the post again. I know it is my questions that got you so worked up. They were very pointed and went straight to the issues at hand. No beating around the bush. Were they harsh? Yes, they were. Did I mean everything I said? Yes, I did. If you can find a way to skirt around these questions and not honestly answer them, you are part of the problem. If you can talk about baby buying and birth parents not consenting to the adoption of their child from the country that you are adopting from without getting extremely emotional and worked up, I don't want to discuss it with you. In my opinion, you are not upset enough about this situation. You are still in the mindset of making excuses for your agency or you are still willing to overlook all of the red flags to get a baby home, despite the very obvious problems. I am tired of the excuses. TIRED!

I also want to address some of the arguments that are constantly brought up. So many people are saying that they agree with my stance on this, but they don't like all of the arguing and finger pointing. That we are supposed to be supportive of one another, not attack one another. I think that I have been more than supportive to the adoption community. I am all for the support of legal, ethical adoptions. I always have been. I will continue to support those of you working towards this. I am not going to support those who enable what is going on in Vietnam to keep happening. I am not going to be supportive of any agency who has done things wrong and illegally. I most definitely am not going to stand by and say things like, "Baby-buying is happening...I'm certain of that. How difficult is it for agencies to investigate whether an adoption is legit or not? They certainly don't want to hold up the process since there are so many of yourself...who want their babies as quickly as they can. " How can you so nonchalantly say baby buying is happening and that we shouldn't put our agency out to investigate it? It makes me physically ill to just throw that out there in a manner of - it's happening, so deal with it. All that matters is that we get our baby asap. Did I want a child quickly? Sure, I wanted her home as soon as possible, but I would have NEVER compromised my integrity in order to get her here. I would have never let myself think that if baby buying is happening, she can get home a little quicker, and be okay with that. It is not an adoption agency's job to get babies home as quickly as possible. Does everyone understand that? It is their job to get the babies home who need homes and make sure that they do everything in their power to make sure it was done in an ethical and legal way. As I said in the comments, we received Lucy's referral 4 months after signing with our agency. It would have been even quicker had we not stepped out of line for 1.5 months. The reason was simple - our agency did not have paper ready families at that time since the program was so recently reopened. Their current wait time for an infant girl is 12-18 months. Things are not like they were when we were in line. It has changed. Wait times have increased. This should be with any agency, especially given the influx of people to the Vietnam program from other international programs. The entire Vietnam program is overwhelmed with the sudden enormous increase in PAPs.

I am also tired of the excuse that all people go into their adoption with good intentions. It is not their fault that they ended up in this situation. I will say I agree with the fact that most people have great intentions when adopting. That does not give anyone a hall pass when it comes to what is going on or enabling these agencies to continue doing what they are doing. Has it ever crossed your mind that possibly your AGENCY does not have the best of intentions? That they are in it for the money that they are making. And how do they make more money? Hand out LOTS of referrals, promise quick referrals to PAPs who are often too emotional to look past this temptation, and promise super fast travel. The more families who travel, the more money. So what happens when the immediate referrals have all been given out? Go and find some more babies. This is where the problem is. They are getting babies any way they can, and it is the child and their family who is so greatly suffering. If it is too good to be true, it most likely is.

If you want a great read, please go to Nicki's post on this issue. She is brilliant and level headed about this. It is really an awesome post that everyone adopting should read. There are some great questions there. Things we should all think about.

I think that I have said everything now that I have been feeling as this has unfolded. I prefer to keep the discussions productive. Please don't list statistics if you don't know that they are fact. I am not promoting spreading rumors or false information. Please don't attack me on a personal level. This is not about name calling or claiming that I am better than anyone else. My interest is the children and having the actual real orphans placed in loving homes in an ethical and legal manner. Nothing more, nothing less.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Vietnam Adoption Ethics

I have not weighed in on the recent happenings in the Vietnam adoption world, but I am going to address it now because this is SO important. This is so sad to me and I have a hard time putting such intense emotions into words, but I am going to try. If you are adopting or are considering adopting from Vietnam and have not fully educated yourself on exactly what is going on, you should not be adopting. It is simply unacceptable to turn the other way and pretend that this corruption and illegal behavior is not going to effect you. It is unacceptable to put your personal agenda before the needs of a child or a birth parent. It is unacceptable to not education yourself on this and do something to bring awareness to the situation. This is scary stuff and needs to be talked about. Many of my readers are family and friends who would not know what is going on, so I am going to give a brief update for them.

There have recently been many families stuck in Vietnam. They have their child with them, but they are not allowed to come home to the US with the child. The Vietnamese government has allowed them to have their Giving and Receiving ceremony, which means that in the Vietnamese government's eyes, the child is legally theirs. Sounds great, right? Well, the US govt. also has to approve your case, believe that the child is a true orphan, and issue the child a US visa, or else the child is not allowed in the country. When you are in VN, you used to have 2 US embassy appointments. The first appointment is to file a piece of paperwork called the I-600. This allows the US govt. to look at all of the child's paperwork and documentation of how they became an orphan and LEGALLY declare them an actual orphan. They have just implemented changes where this appointment is now taken care of stateside, which is great because it is going to stop families from getting to VN, spending time with their child, bonding with the child, and then seeing these problems unfold and not being allowed to return home with their child. The questionable cases will be exposed before travel clearance is given. Once the child is declared an actual orphan by the US govt., then you apply for their visa. Once you receive the visa, you are free to leave with your child.

So, the families are stuck in VN because the US government found things in the child's paperwork that seemed suspicious or questionable. It means that the children could possibly have been BOUGHT from birth parents and that their abandonment paperwork is not accurate. These families have been issued a Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) and they will not, at this time at least, be getting a US visa for their child. They will either be coming home without the child that they have spent many weeks with or they will be moving to VN to stay with the child. There is a possiblity that this could be overturned eventually and the child will be able to come to the US. There is a possiblity that there was an innocent mistake made in the child's paperwork and it will be fixed. But there is also a HUGE possiblity that the child was obtained in a manner that is in no way, shape, or form legal by the US standards of adoption. Please go to Pho for Four and read Laurie's post about this and also go to Voices for Vietnam Adoption Integrity to read more about this and what is going on in VN right now. There is some great information on these sites about adoption ethics.

The US embassy issued a statement regarding all of this on there website. To read it click here. Here is the most alarming part of the statement:
"We strongly endorse international adoption as an important option for Vietnamese children who do not have permanent families. We are deeply concerned, however, by confirmed cases of child selling, and by evidence that children are being released for adoption without the consent of the birth parents."

Do you understand this people? There are confirmed cases of children being SOLD and confirmed cases of the birth parents NOT consenting to their child being adopted. Not only is the child going to another family, but they are going half way across the world never to be seen or heard from again. Can you imagine being an extemely poor parent who is trying your hardest to take care of your child and being preyed upon because you have a baby that a wealthy (by VN standards even the poorest of people adopting from their country are still extemely wealthy) foreigner wants and will do almost anything to get? I can hardly even stomach this. It is going to be hard enough to explain Lucy's past to her with the limited amount of information that we have. I can't imagine having to also question whether or not her adoption was legit and trying to explain that.

Here are the questions I pose to those of you who are ignoring this warning and continuing to work with agencies that have been issued NOIDs and are constantly under investigation.

1. Are you so incredibly selfish and only care about YOURSELF getting a child so much that you are willing to take the chance of your child being wrongfully taken from his or her birth parents? Is it okay with you that there could be a mother somewhere in Vietnam constantly mourning the loss of her child in a way that she did not actually consent to? Please remember that the purpose of adoption is to find a loving home for a child who ACTUALLY needs a home. Not to find any child to fulfill someone's dream to become a parent.

2. Do you plan on being honest with your child about his or her past or are you just going to act like nothing strange happened during the child's adoption since that will be easier on YOU? These children have already been through so much. They deserve the truth. They deserve to know their past and how they ended up where they did. It is our job as APs to provide this to them and help them as best as we can to process the information. I personally will never be able to fully understand Lucy's emotions regarding her adoption. I have never been through it. It is our job to be there for her and listen to her and provide a support network for her. It is not going to be easy, but I can promise you one thing, I will always be honest with her about it.

3. Is your quest to become a parent so great that you are willing to put every person who is in the adoption process from Vietnam at risk of not being able to adopt their child, despite the fact that they have gone about their adoption in a legal and ethical way?

4. Do you think that you somehow deserve your child more than someone else, so it is okay for you to use a corrupt agency and fly through the process at break neck speed?

5. When you get the offensive question (that I can promise you will get, we have been asked at least 3 times already) of how much did your baby cost, are you going to be able to honestly tell someone that your baby cost nothing and it was the process of bringing her home that actually cost the money?

Please feel free to answer these questions for me. I would love to hear what you have to say. If you can somehow convince yourself that you are doing nothing wrong working with one of these questionable agencies then you have some serious soul searching to do. PLEASE THINK ABOUT THE CHILDREN!!

So, my plea is this. Stop using these agencies. Stop endorsing child trafficking. Stop making mothers who want to care for their children give them up. I have full faith in the agency that we used for Lucy's adoption (VORF). I know that they are ethical. I know that their in country staff is not out looking for babies to buy. Were they a perfect agency to work with? No. I don't think that there is such a thing as a perfect agency. There were times that I felt there was a breakdown in communication. There were times that I was so frustrated with them that I couldn't see straight. But through all of my frustrations, I never questioned the ethics or legality of our adoption. And why do I feel so confident about our adoption? When we were at our 1st Embassy appointment in HCMC, the lady interviewing us told Justin and I that VORF was a wonderful agency. That their client's paperwork was always flawless and perfectly translated. That their in-country staff (who was at the appointment with us) was always professional and friendly to work with. And finally she said that they were actually worth the money that we were paying them to facilitate our adoption. We felt pretty darn good after hearing those words come from the Embassy workers mouth. Can you say that about your adoption? I hope so.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Sleep Update

I have now had acupuncture twice for the insomnia. I go again on Friday. I am VERY VERY happy to report that I have slept really well (for me) for a week now!!!!! Can you believe it?!?! I don't know if it is the acupuncture or the herbs I am taking, but something is working. It feels so great to get some sleep. I am a new person. I feel great. It is such a relief to not be freaking out about going to sleep when I get into bed each night. I am not anxious about going to sleep at night. WOO HOO!!

Lucy STILL has congestion. It is a little better, but not great by any means. Tonight is the first night that she has not coughed for a while after she went to bed, so maybe she is finally getting some relief. Justin is all better. Thanks for thinking about my little sick family. I have been so fortunate to stay healthy.

I got to go to the Razorback football game this weekend. We beat South Carolina and the game was so much fun. Lucy stayed with my mom and dad and she did so well. I was really proud of her. Of course, she loves any time that she gets to spend with either set of grandparents because they love to spoil her! When we came to Little Rock, she was so excited to see my mom, as always. My dad was at the golf course when we got in town. When he got home, he was standing at the top of the stairs and started talking to her. Her little face lit up and she screamed, "HIIIII!!!!" and literally ran full force over to love on him. It was so sweet. She has always loved my dad, but this time she was just so excited to see him. She is so lucky to have so much love in her life and we are so lucky to have such great role models.

New words added to her vocab since I last posted: up, here it is (all one word - heretis), hi there, and birds. I think that is all. She imitates so many animals with actions: alligator, bird, crab, elephant, lion, beaver, lizard, rabbit, gorilla, monkey, giraffe, donkey, and penguin. She makes the sound of cow, cat, snake, horse, and sheep. She likes to pretend like she knows nothing when I get the camera out, so I am having a hard time documenting this. She is in love with a painting of Ringo Starr at our house and a card board cut out of Elvis at our neighbor's house. She will go to the hall and point at Ringo if we ask her where Ringo is and ahhhhhh at him. She seriously loves him! Daddy is so proud. She is trying to jump all of the time and thinks it is hilarious. She still can't get off the ground, but she gives it her all. She has stopped napping very well and therefore has moved her bed time up to 7:30 on her own. She simply can't stay awake any longer than that. I am trying to keep her progress updated, so I believe that is all for now.

Here are some really cute fall pictures from today. I got so many smiles today. Lee Lee was making her laugh.

Never drink and drive!

Carrying her worm instead of riding it

The best toy in the world - a TV box