Monday, November 27, 2006


We hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and have recovered from the overeating.

We have received a few inquiries regarding the names of our old and new adoption agencies. We have no problem sharing this information, but would prefer to do it via e-mail. So, if you wish, leave a comment for us and one of us will get back to you as soon as possible.

Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Broccoli Guy (who's blog you may reach via a link to the right) who recently returned home with their son from Vietnam. What a Thanksgiving!

As for us, our social worker has everything she needs to finish writing the homestudy report. We are hoping to have it this week. If all goes well, we will have paperwork in Hanoi by Christmas!

Also, I have gone on about how we have requested a boy. We have now changed our preference to either gender. Since we are in on the ground floor with our new agency, and they have reportedly just begun working with a new orphanage that might have babies ready for international adoption, it made sense. Our prior choice was based upon the fact that so many more people want girls than boys and was designed to reduce our wait time while with the old agency. We are so much further up a waiting list now that we might be referred a child of either gender. We will leave it to a higher power, though I suspect we will still be referred a boy because we are open to it. It is exciting and we will welcome whatever news comes our way.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Change is in the air

We have heard repeatedly that international adoption involves change. Nothing is certain. We are dealing with two different national governments, impending Hague Convention guidelines, and a state government, to a lesser extent. Anyone want to bet that one of these does not present a wrinkle for us at some point. Such will be out of our control. However, we have changed something that is very much in our control and should greatly impact our adoption process. On Monday, we changed our adoption agency. (Karin took my picture signing the new agency's application.)

We can say nothing negative about the agency we are leaving, particularly our case worker. However, it was becoming more and more apparent that the wait time to get a referral, 10 months to a year, was a result of there being so many families ahead of us at that agency as opposed to any governmental policy over which we had no control. It looked as if we were to be behind approximately 90 families waiting for a referral. Other agencies do not have such long wait times as a result of not having as many families in their programs.

Prospective adoptive parents should note that it is very important to do background checks on agencies to make sure your agency is ethical. It is one thing to get a shorter wait time by virtue of an agency having fewer families in their program. Do not trust an agency that promises quick referrals and quick travel to complete the adoption. Vietnam has procedures in place to ensure that children placed for international adoption are in fact orphans. You should expect this process to take a minimum of four months AFTER you get your referral and before you travel. This timeline has not changed for us. We simply expect our referral approximately 6 months sooner because we are getting in with a respected agency as they restart their Vietnam program.

As far as we know, we are the 11th family to enroll in the new agency's Vietnam program. We have a head start on at least five of those families at this point because we can expect our completed home study within the next week or so. This agency will send our home study report to Vietnam upon completion to begin the process of referring a child to us. This means we have reason to expect the referral of a child sometime next spring as opposed to this time next year. It is possible that the adoption will be completed before the end of 2007 as opposed to late spring or summer 2008 now.

So, we now expect the timeline to now look something like this:

Home study report to Vietnam, December 2006;

Referral of child, April or May 2007; and

Travel to complete adoption, September 07 through December 07.

Who knows, perhaps we will be eating pho in Da Nang next Thanksgiving instead of turkey here in the States.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Blog on....

I learned that it is national blogger month, or something like that. People will blogs are supposed to write a blog post everyday. I am gonna see if November is also carpel tunnel syndrome month. I cannot imagine having the time to write everyday and, more importantly, having anything worth saying.

As to the adoption, we are in a bit of a holding mode now. The homestudy visits are done and our social worker has to write the report. We are also waiting for our passports. I suspect this is a good example of what the wait is going to be like. We have no appointments for the first time in a month or two. In a sense it is nice. In another sense, I have enjoyed being busy and am not really looking forward to the wait. Of course, when the wait is over, it will seem incidental compared to the joy of becoming parents. So, we will make do.

So, what do waiting parents do? The same thing parents expecting a biological child do I guess. Home projects, we'll try to enjoy free time, the ability to go on a vacation, sleeping through the night, being able to plug things in without worrying about those little plastic safety things...

Speaking of child safety devices. My father-in-law and I were in a Babies R Us last Saturday night looking at child safety latches for cabinet doors. We are not even on a waiting list to receive the referral of a child, but we had to have them to complete the homestudy. It seemed a little silly to me to have to worry about that sort of thing at this point in time, but I guess it is better than handing kids to people without exercising any scrutiny.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Heritage v. Culture

No, this is not a lawsuit that one of is working on right now.

By now, you probably know that we have been required to attend parenting classes and meetings with a social worker. Not surprisingly, MUCH attention and dialogue has been focused on the point that we are starting a multi-racial family. There has also been a great deal of attention paid to the terms "heritage" and "culture". I know I have written of this a bit in the past, but it is the interrelation between the concepts that has caused me to revisit this topic now.

In the last meeting with the social worker we discussed in detail how much my Scottish heritage was made a part of my life growing up. I mean, I had a kilt at six folks. Several years in pipe bands, trips to Scotland, and an appearance in the World Pipe Band Championships later, there is no doubt that my parents instilled in my a strong appreciation of this heritage.

Heritage is defined by one dictionary as "something possessed as a result of one's natural situation or birth." Based upon this definition, my son will not possess my heritage or vice versa. Likewise, he will not possess my wife's Italian or Estonian heritages. This is not a bad thing. In fact, the social worker thinks my experiences likely show that we will find it important to teach ourselves and, in turn, our son about his Vietnamese heritage. Indeed. This is where culture comes in.

Culture can be defined as many things, including a way to make some nasty cheese, but I am thinking of it as follows. Culture is sometimes defined as "characteristic features of everyday existence (as diversions or a way of life) shared by people in a place or time." So, a culture can be whatever a group of people share in in their everyday lives.

I have had a lot of fun lately thinking about what our family culture will be like. Now, despite the above, the first things that come to this prospective dad's mind are baseball, football and hockey games. He might like to fish with me, he might not. He will have his favorite movies and hobbies just like any other American kid. That is mission number 1. Raising a happy American kid who will have the faculties to take on the world.

However, another part of our family culture will be sharing knowledge of the variety of heritages that each family member brings to our family. We have already begun to learn about Vietnam. He will taste pretzels made from his Italian great grandmother's recipe, learn Estonian words, and hit some highland games to catch some pipe band music. We will celebrate Tet and are already eating Pho (traditional Vietnamese soup). Our family culture will include sharing these diverse heritages with each other. It is part of what will make our family unique and special.