Lilypie Waiting to Adopt tickers

Lilypie Waiting to Adopt tickers

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Vy is for Victory

The war is over, and love won. We are finally home. Tired, bruised and battered, but home. E, if you are reading this in Vancouver, we are so sorry that our itinerary was completely changed and we could not meet you on the way home. We were not able to send you a message before now because our computer was stolen! But we will send you something in the mail from Vietnam. I have much to tell you all about the trip, the country and my girl but first we need a Vietnamese restaurant and some sleep! Stay tuned and thanks for all your support during the craziest of times.

Friday, 16 August 2013

at the beach

It's pretty much impossible to write anything when you're alone in a foreign land with a 5 year old, but a tantrum this morning has opened a small window of opportunity! Vy is wonderful and she has definitely bonded with me and is already giving me alot of trust. I could do without the meltdowns, but they are part of the process. We took the train to Mui Ne for a long weekend, and she is loving the beach, just like her mama. Tomorrow afternoon we return to HCMC for the home stretch. I can't wait to have a normal life at home with my girl!

Still not able to post pictures, but trust me she's cute as a button with a smile that melts my heart!

Friday, 9 August 2013


Introducing my beautiful daughter, adopted on August 9, 2013 in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam! Her legal name is Suong Mai, which was given to her by the orphanage director when she was found. I learned when I arrived here that she is Vy (like the letter v). I think her Canadian name will be Mai-Lee Suong Vy, and I will call her what she chooses! She is worth all the years of misery and I'd do it all again for her.

I was going to add a photo here but for some reason, it's just not happening (not a lot here happens easily!!)

Must go be a dinosaur, even though I want desperately to sleep!!

Saturday, 3 August 2013

one more day

Yep, one more day, but don't think anything starts to get easy at this point! This morning I went to check in online for my flights tomorrow. I have to do it twice, which is the price to pay for a relatively cheap ticket with no code shares. The first time, with WestJet, it was no problem.  Then I logged onto China Southern Airlines, pressed "check in", and got this message: "ticket can but ten and thirteen", with a square at the end. No, I'm not kidding. Fabulous, I have all the time in the world today to crack a code! If this is any indication of how my travels through China will go, I may need that bottle of calming tonic I packed for Mai.

Thank you to everyone who has sent me good wishes in the past few days. It's difficult to explain all the crazy thoughts and emotions I'm experiencing as the time gets closer. It's basically another roller coaster where one second I'm at the peak of excitement, then I plunge into fear and doubt about whether I can give Mai all the things she needs in life, then I flip upside down through a loop-de-loop, thinking about all the ways my life will change, etc. I also can't describe the stress of trying to get a zillion things done right now--mostly things I should have done earlier, but was paralyzed by the uncertainty of adoption and the fear that I would do them and my girl would never come home. But I figure that even if all the things on my list were done now, I still wouldn't feel ready. It's just getting me prepared to be unready for all the big things to come--Mai going to school, Mai getting bigger, Mai becoming a teenager, and all the things after that. This is how love is. It's scary, so leaps of faith are necesary.

Ultimagely, I think that everything is the way it is at this moment for a reason. Mai and Vietnam are my destiny, and just as I committed to fight every day until I had my family, now I commit to doing whatever it takes every day to give my daughter the amazing life she deserves. It starts tomorrow morning, when I crack the code, hitch a ride half way around the planet with the stork, and become the forever mom to the girl of my dreams.

"One day closer till my number comes
We're gonna keep on burning till the night is gone
It's a long ride home."

-Michael Franti


Sunday, 28 July 2013

T minus seven!

I'm leaving in a week this morning to get my girl! For soooo many years, I doubted that this would ever happen. Even last week I was wondering if I would ever make it to Vietnam (it's a long, cold swim and my suitcases are heavy). Now I have flights, a hotel, a passport and a visa, so I've got one week to finish packing, work on my house, and freak out about everything coming in my life. It's over-the-moon thrilling that my dream is coming true, but I've also had 6.5 years to think about all the ways I can mess up and things can go wrong! I just have to breathe and believe. Nothing matters except that Mai feels safe and loved.

"Tell me again about the first time you held me in your arms and called me your baby sweet. Tell me again how you cried happy tears."

- Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born, Jamie Lee Curtis

Thursday, 25 July 2013

a bad day, then a good book

I thought I had flights for Vietnam, but was I wrong.  The travel agent reserved my round trip and I got the itinerary, but he didn't process my credit card so I don't actually have a ticket. He said he reserved Mai's trip, but I didn't get the itinerary and it wasn't charged either. Before I knew that we didn't have tickets, I received an itinerary change. But the itinerary and the change were sent to me in some application called Tripcase, which I don't understand how to use. The "new" flights I got looked exactly the same as the first ones. But then when I looked at my updated itinerary screen, my flight from Vancouver to Guangzhou was gone! The agent had all day today to fix this; he did reserve Mai's ticket and charged it, but I guess that's it. I asked him contact me before he closed today, but he didn't. So right now I am planning to swim to Vietnam, because there are barely any seats left to Asia in August. Oh, and Mai the 5-year-old is flying to Canada on her own.

Next, I though I had confirmed with the Vietnamese embassy by phone that I could get a 2- or 3-month visitor visa. My trip (for which I don't have a ticket) is only 3 weeks, but the Canadian foreign service workers at missions around the world are in a legal strike position, and they are doing rolling strikes. If the workers in Singapore or Ho Chi Minh City strike while we're waiting for Mai's Canadian documents, our trip home could be delayed. When I applied for my visa on Monday, I enclosed a letter explaining the situation and the phone call. When I got my passport back today, it contained .... wait for it .... a 1-month visa. The chances of needing more than a month are slim, but my problem is this: don't offer me something if you're not going to come through. I have spent the past 6 and a half years of my life dealing with lies, fraud, broken trust, and enough frustration and disappointment for a lifetime. While I realize that officials at the Vietnamese embassy have no idea what my travel agent did, and he has no idea what my agency did, and they have no idea what my doctor did, and on and on, all of it is ridiculous. Why is it unacceptable for me to treat my clients this way, but pretty much everyone associated with adoption can treat people this way and still have a job?

It's days like today that fuel my passion for helping other adopters, so I'll do a bit of that now and cool my jets before bed. Here are some useful things I've learned while preparing for my trip/swim:

- Part 2 of the direct citizenship application and the citizenship certificate application cost a total of CAN$175, which you pay on the CIC website before you leave.
- The passport process for children adopted in Vietnam now costs CAN$260 (temporary passport, regular passport, and notarization of something or other). You can pay by credit card, but you have to fill out a form and pay a 3% surcharge.
- The recommended total to bring as gifts for the orphanage and staff is US$200.  In the case of my agency, the representative deals with the gifts for you.
- Green taxis in Vietnam are more expensive than green and white ones.
- My agency is charging a file administration fee again this year. Nobody knew this for sure, despite many people asking multiple times over the past several months. My friend got the letter today, four months after it was expected, and the money is due on Wednesday. I'm too tired to even add a comment here, but you can imagine.

I'll end on a happy note. I found the perfect single mama (or papa) adoption book: God Found Us You, by Lisa T. Bergren. I ordered it online, figuring that "us" was mom and dad, as usual, and thinking I would just tell Mai that in our family, "us" means me, Nana and Poppa and Auntie's household. But surprise! In this book, Mama Fox always knew that she was part of an "us", but she had to wait for God to find Little Fox. It's such a beautifully written adoption story that single Mama Fox is just the cherry on top!

"I started seeing you everywhere, in the leaves of the giant oak and in the bark of the pine. Even in the stars! Oh, how I longed for the day that you would arrive, when God would find us you."

"I think she prayed like crazy that you would be safe, Little Fox. I think she prayed for me as much as I prayed for her." -LTB


Wednesday, 17 July 2013

appointment with the stork!

Our Giving and Receiving Ceremony is on August 9, 2013!  There is a family from Montreal with my agency who have the same date, so it's nice that we'll share that special moment with some new Canadian friends. My plan right now is to stop working on July 31st, travel around the 4th, take a mini Vietnamese beach vacation in Mui Ne while we wait for paperwork, and head home with my girl around the 23rd. It's a long trip across the date line (in economy class, anyway), so I think we'll stop for a day and night in Vancouver. What better place to introduce Mai to beautiful Canada?

After a week of illness caused by the typhoid shot, this news today was just what the doctor ordered (well, actually my doctor wouldn't see me until August, even though I said I would be gone most of August and needed an appointment before I left). I have so many things to do, but travel trumps everything in my world, so hotel and flight reservations are next! Time to empty the bank account and get really, truly JOYful that it's 23 days!!!!!

In other good news, my parcel was delivered to Vietnam and I woke up one morning during "Typhoid Week" to the most precious, miraculous photos of Mai looking at my picture for the first time, seeing her forever family, and hugging her new dolly.  I was told that she was "extremely happy", and her smile said it all. I have no words for how I felt looking at her that morning. But it made me think about how life can change in an instant.

There are horrible ones that we don't expect, like when your family abandons you, or your adoption agency steals your child and goes bankrupt. There will always be that kind, in one form or another, and it's devastating and seemingly impossible to make sense of. But if you dig deep and carry on, life will inevitably send you the other kind. It's the miracle, and it has the power to turn your life around, make sense of every moment that came before it, and confirm that everything in your heart was true all along the way.

July 13th was the 4th anniversary of the Imagine bankruptcy. This year, I didn't even realize until I read it a few days later.

"'Tis but the work of a moment."
-Love Actually