Sept. 11th - We received the email that our adoption had been approved. It was so exciting. We had less than a couple of weeks to get everything ready and fly out.
Sept. 26th - We board the plane in Cincinnati at 2:45 p.m. From there we head to Chicago with a short lay over. From there we head to Tokyo. 12 hours on a plane. We have a 5 hour lay over here. Then a 6 hour flight to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon).
Sept. 27th - We arrive in Vietnam. It is 11:00 pm their time (11:00 am our time). The first thing I notice is how muggy it is. There was someone waiting for us from the hotel. Very sweet woman.We arrive at the hotel and fall exhausted into our bed.
Sept. 28th - We get up early because we are getting Savannah. Originally the adoption agency thought that she would be taken back to Kien Giang just before we got to Vietnam. However, they didn't. She was still in the medical orphanage and they were going to get her and bring her to us. We received Savannah at 8:00 in the morning. She was dressed in this adorable pink lightweight cotten dress (which I had to give back).
Her first reaction was to just look at us - checking us out. She didn't cry. She is very inquistive and it became noticeable from the beginning. Madame Chau, our adoption facilitator, left us to bond with our new daughter. She said that she would return for us at noon to head to Kien Giang. I did feed her a bottle. I also attempted to feed her some rice baby cereal we had brought from theStates. However, she didn't react well. Come find out cereal and formula are the only things she has eaten. But she doesn't the our cereal. We had to find Vietnamese cereal before she finally ate any. At noon we headed out with Madame Chau and Thy (pronounced Te) our interpreter. It was a 7 hour trip to Kien Giang. Not because of the distance by itself, but also because of the many cars and scooters on the road. Sept. 29th - We went to Kien Giang because that is the province where she was abandoned. This is where the Giving and Receiving Ceremony is required to take place. After the Giving and Receiving Ceremony we headed to the orphanage that Savannah was originally taken to after she was found. She was here until she was about 3 months all. At that age she was taken to the Christina Noble Foudation. The orphanage was the type that housed both orphans of various ages as well as the elderly. The grounds were in needed work but the buildings themselves were clean. In the baby building there were about 3 care givers for about 10 babies (ratio in the states in day care centers is one to every for). Our interpreter, Thy was really taken with Savannah. He had two boys but really wanted a girl. He told Mike that he was lucky that he had 4 daughters. They would take care of him in his old age. We asked him what Savannah's Vietnamese name meant. Her name is Nhu Y (pronounced Newie). He said that it meant "Good things will come to pass" or in other words "Lucky". He also said that since she was born in 2007 that she will have great luck. This was the year of the Golden Pig - a very lucky year. On the way to and from Kien Giang we stopped at a group of restaurants. It was located on one of the many canels in Vietnam. According to Thy, the canels were made across Vietnam to bring fresh water to the central part of the country. They are used to feed to rice fields as well as provide fishing (and livelihood to the people).
Sept. 30th - On Tuesday we go with Madame Chau to one of the Vietnam government buildings to apply for Savannah's passport. This only took about an hour and half. Then we had the rest of the day on our own.
Our hotel in Ho Chi Minh City was called the Lan Lan 2. It was nice and the people were very friendly and helpful. The price of our room also included a breakfast buffet. We paid the equivalent of $42.00 a night. It wasn't fancy (no pool, etc.) but it was comfortable.
The money in Vietnam is called Dong. One of our American dollars are worth a little less than 17,000 of their Dong. This took a little getting used to. We would pay $50,000 Dong for a meal. At first thought that would seem like a lot (of course because we were at a brief instant thinking $50,000 - which we have never seen in our lives). But that is actually about $3.00.
The food was pretty good. We did eat one day from KFC. It tasted the same as it does in the States.
Oct. 1st - We had to take Savannah to the hospital for her medical check up. This took about an hour. Madame Chau went with us. The doctor wanted to see her most recent medical report. We did not have this with us, but Madame Chau took care of it later.
Over the 30th and 1st we did a little sightseeing and shopping. A few blocks from our hotel was a market. This is a combination on a tourist attraction as well as where the local people get their day to day supplies. I referred to the market as our version of a flea market on steriods. It is hard to see from the pictures but it is a huge building where every space is filled with a vendor. Only the main area had a wide corridor. The side corridors were very narrow.
There is a little funny story from the market. You could actually barter with most of the vendor's and get a lower price. We weren't very good at this though I did a few times.
Anyway, I told my sister I would get her some tea. We stopped at one of the tea vendor's and we smelled the different kinds of tea. I decided on Jasmine. She asked how much we wanted. Everything is in the metric system, so when she asked it I would like a kilo, I said sure. It is 2.2 pounds of tea. They ground it for me and put it in a sealed bag. But when they handed it to me it looked like a brick. All this tea for only $9.00. Well when we entered the United States we did not get our luggage at our final destination. When they luggage was finally delivered to our house, only one of the 4 suitcases had the lock cut off. We are guessing that when they x-rayed
that piece of luggage they saw the "kilo brick" of tea and though it might be something else and opened the suitcase to make sure.
We also went to a small mall. We were looking for an umbrella stroller. We had been told to buy this in Vietnam because it would be very inexpensive. We didn't find one until the next to the last day in Vietnam (so we didn't buy one). We did find several very nice larger kind strollers but we didn't want a big one and when we saw the price of 2,800,000 Dong, we didn't want to spend that kind of money ($143.00). We finally found an umbrella stroller at a store called Citimart. This is a department/grocery store. We got several cans of the Vietnamese formula here. This can of formula is 2 1/2 times bigger than a can from the U.S. and only cost about $7.00 compared to about $20.00 here. We tried to get some just general pictures of the city itself and the traffic. There was a white line that divided the street for traffic to go one or the other. However, this must have just been a suggestion because people drove on either side of the road. There are 9 million people in Ho Chi Minh City. There is no public transportation, but lots of taxi's and lots and lots of scooters. We saw as many as 4 people on a scooter. They used the scooters as delivery trucks as well with boxes stacked high on them. Everyone driving honked - to say I am coming through. Of course, during these days we took pictures of Savannah. She is doing great. We were told to expect developmental delays. But she has none. She is walking holding on to things or holding our fingers. She babbles saying baba, mama, etc. (although the babbles are not connected to a word just yet). Her weight is appropriate to her height (she weighs about 20 pounds). She has bonded with us very well. She might let someone else hold her but she wants to come back to us. The people of Vietnam were very taken with her. They would ask us if she was Vietnamese. They would all make over her and how beautiful she is.
It is interesting though she has not really had any food. Only formula. She didn't like our baby cereal so we bought some Vietnamese cereal which she will eat a little. She wouldn't have anythig to do with the baby food we brought. I didn't push it while we were in Vietnam.
She also doesn't put anything in her mouth. I don't know if this is an orphanage thing or just part of her personality. She is so inquisitive. When she does have something in her hand she just turns it over and over and investigates it.
Oct. 2nd - Mike had to go with the adoption facilitator to complete the passport process but that was in the afternoon. So in the morning we did a little sightseeing. The afternoon before the taxi driver whose taxi we got in when we left the International Mall said he would show us the sights for $30.00 American dollars. We agreed. He picked us up the next morning and took us to several points of interest.
We could have joined a tour that took you to the same places for $70.00 with an interpreter but this way we were able to go at our pace. Hob (the taxi driver) just waited outside for us. We went to the War Museum, the History Museum, to several Pagoda's, and The Reunification Center. We found the people in Ho Chi Minh City to be very friendly and helpful. Most could speak enough English for us to understand. Oct. 3rd - we board the plane for Hanoi. We were given first class seats on this flight which got us access to the first class lounge. This was very nice as was flying first class (something Mike and I have never done). It was a few hour flight. The Hanoi adoption facilitator met us at the airport. Her name was Twee (unsure how to spell it but that is how it is pronounced). She was expecting her first baby at any time.
On the way to our hotel we stopped by the U.S. Consulate. Twee dropped off the initial paperwork for Savannah's Visa. Twee said that we would have an appointment for our Consulate interview on Monday and we would be able to get Savannah's Visa at 4:00 so we would be able toleave after that. When we got to our hotel I was able to get a hold of AAA and get our flights chaged to leave on Monday evening (we were originally scheduled to fly out on Wednesday).
Oct. 4th - We had to take Savannah to get a new Passport/Visa picture taken. The Consulate said that the first one was too light. So Twee picked us at 10:00 am and took us to a picture shop. This gave us a look into how the people live (but we didn't take any pictures). We could seehow the store front hides their homes. They did a really nice job on the picture. Savannah had gotten a terrible rash and they even fixed it so the rash couldn't be seen in the photo.
Then we had the weekend to ourselves. Hanoi seemed to have a little more infrastructure. There were organized roads with one way streets and a lot more stop lights. There were public buses, thus less taxi's. Taxi rides here were much more expensive. We didn't pay over 20,000 Dong in Ho Chi Minh City. But one trip here was close to 75,000. There are about 3 million people in Hanoi. The people didn't seem to speak English quite as well either. And most people kept to themselves here. The hotel staff was friendly and spoke ok English though.
During our time in Vietnam, Savannah developed a terrible rash. Her skin became very dry from ging in air conditioning (which she wasn't used to). I had cream I put on it but it didn't really help. As the skin cracked the milk got in the cracks which made it worse. You can see the rash in some of the pictures. By the time we got home, it was infected. We had to take her to the doctor for antibiotic creme as soon as we got back.
Oct. 6 - We go to the Consulate for our interview. There were 4 other families there completing their adoptions as well. This was the first time we saw other adopting families. Of course, Savannah was the most beautiful of all of them. She was also the oldest. But she entertained them all - toddling and dancing.
The interview was nothing. All we were asked was if we agreed to have her vacinnated when we got her back to the States and if we had an appointment scheduled for her to see a cardiologist. Then we signed some papers. They said that the Visa would be available after 4. We waited longer than the actual interview was.
We went back to the hotel. Twee picked up the Visa and brought it to us when she picked us up to head to the airport. At the airport, there was a slight issue as her ticket listed her middle name as her first name. So we had to get special clearance from security but it was no big deal.
Our flight from Hanoi to Toyko was about 5 hours. Savannah only slept about a half hour. She was too interested in what was going on around her.
We had a 4 hour lay over in Toyko. She slept about another half hour then. Once on the plane to Dallas she only slept about 3 hours straight. This flight was a little over 10 hours. She had a couple of half hour naps but that was it. She was actually good though. She only had two sessions of crying. She was just too interested in what was going on around her. She is very inquisitive. Mike got sick the day before and was still sick on this part of the trip. He took medicine which made him sleepy.
We had a couple of hour lay over at Dallas. We had to go through customs here plus we had to deliver that paperwork for Savannah to Homeland Security. They said we should receive everything back in about 6 weeks.
Oct. 7th - We arrive home at the Cincinnati airport. Mom and Nancy were there waiting on us. I was never more glad to see them. Savannah went right to them. She sat on Mom's lap while we waited for our luggage (which never came).
Finally home, Savannah met her two sisters (Brittany and Breanna). She has really taken to them and them to her. In a short period she has taken several more steps, learned how a fishy goes, how sputter (thanks to Aleck). She has finally began to eat baby food (not her favorite thing though). She has met a lot of her extended family at a baby shower.
Now we settle in with life with our new daughter.