Saturday, August 31, 2013

Day Two

It's the end of day two with my son and I don't know what to say... I have no words yet too many words all at the same time. Truly, the day could not have been more perfect. My sweet son slept a solid eleven hours last night, woke up content and, after a nice cuddle with mama, was ready to play. He had a breakfast of champions (3 slices of watermelon, 2 yogurts, Vietnamese noodle soup and half of mama's omelet) and spent a good part of the morning playing with cars and blocks.




We went on our first outing today and I was so impressed with how well he did. He enjoyed a walk around the lake from the safety of his stroller but the highlight for him was definitely our stop at a nearby cafe where he enjoyed sampling mommy and grandma's drinks before devouring his own.

At Hoan Kiem Lake

Trying Grandma's chocolate milkshake... he liked :)

There wasn't a drop of watermelon juice left when he was finished...
this boy loves watermelon!

After that little man literally skipped back to the hotel all while humming a little tune (no, I am not making this up!) and aside from some fatigue, his mood stayed pretty muh the same throughout the rest of the day. He thoroughly enjoyed his dinner (and by that I mean mommy's pasta, which he definitely preferred over his Vietnamese noodles), loved his shower and was even excited about having his teeth brushed! After a nice lotion massage he curled up in mommy's arms where he fell peacefully asleep loving his life, at least for today.

Can I just brag on my son for a minute??? He is sooo smart! I watched him play with cars and blocks for over an hour this morning and was in total awe. Those of you who have spnt time with orphaned and/or recently unorphaned children know how rare it is for these kids, whether specia needs or "typical", to play appropriately with toys for any length of time, let alone a full hour. Yet there my son was driving cars back and forth, building structures of all shapes and sizes, loading the back of his truck with as many blocks as possible and even engaging in imaginary play, babbling back and forth with himself in a language all his own. Samuel picks up new things quickly and remembers how to do it the next time. Over and over today he would struggle to get blocks to stick together or come apart or the tower he was building would fall and break but he never once got frustrated. He has such patience in figuring things out and is determined to get, which he does every time. His new English words for today: uh-oh, boom and all done.

My boy is also so brave... He has been hurt before yet is choosing to trust me and is already beginning to open up his heart to me. Watching him take in all these new things today has been inspiring. He has every reason to be scared, overwhelmed, angry, sad, etc. yet he is embracing each new experience and taking it all in. While I know that the grieving is not over, today was so beautiful and I feel so privileged to be a part of what God is doing in Samuel's life. This little boy is an absolute joy and all I kept thinking today was, "What did I ever do to deserve suh a good and perfect gift?".

Friday, August 30, 2013

Gotcha Day!

I am writing this post with my son asleep in bed beside me... Yes, that's right, I am officially a mother and Samuel is officially my son! Today was both a beautiful and heartbreaking day all at the same time. When Samuel arrived at the Department of Justice with the director of the orphanage he willingly came to me and it was as if he understood what was going on and was ready for me to become his mom. The ceremony was short and simple yet all I needed to hear was, "On this day, August 30 2013, we approve you to become this child's mother..." and I was done in.


Waiting...


Happily signing my life away


The hardest part of the ceremony was watching the director say goodbye to Samuel. She kept hugging and kissing him, reminding me of his likes and dislikes, telling me to make sure I hold on to him as he didn't understand danger and would likely run out into the street, etc. You could tell she really loves him and how much she is going to miss him and, as someone who has had to say goodbye to many orphaned children whom I have loved as my own, my heart really went out to her.


Samuel did so well in the car and as we stopped to get his passport pictures taken. I don't know what God has been whispering to Samuel's heart these past couple of days but it was clear God had been preparing him. You could tell he was overwhelmed and definitely scared but he melted into my arms and seemed to feel safe with me.

First picture as mother and son


Of course mama brought a truck...


The tears started when my facilitator dropped us off at the hotel and continued off and on over the course of the afternoon. There were no screaming fits or long bouts of sobbing but tears of sadness and grief which broke this mama's heart. Nevertheless, he looked to me for comfort and clung to me most of the afternoon and I was so thankful to God for the opportunity to pray over my son and hold him close.

The blocks and cars didn't quite bring a smile to his face,
but they were a welcomed distraction

I ordered my son Vietnamese fried rice for supper but he preferred mommy's pasta (great news for mommy who much prefers pasta to rice!) and the day ended with a sweet smelling boy, freshly showered, falling asleep in his mama's arms...

Handsome boy, all clean and ready for bed
 
Looking at his family book
- family members, he has now seen your faces!

Safe in mama's arms... truck still in hand :)

As much as I am grieving all that my son lost today, I also cant help but celebrate the victory that this day represents. my facilitator has made it clear that if Samuel was not adopted he was likely within a month of being transferred to an orphanage for older children and adults with special needs where he would have remained for the rest of his life with his basic needs taken care if but nothing more. Today however, Samuel was given hope and a future. So turn your speakers and celebrate with me... There's One Less Orphan in the World Tonight!!!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Change of plans

Well, there was a change of plans this morning (welcome to the world of adoption!). The director of the orphanage couldn't make it to the adoption ceremony this afternoon so it was postponed until tomorrow morning. I didn't care though because this morning, I was granted a true miracle. I guess I should start at the beginning...

Even though the adoption ceremony was postponed until tomorrow, the orphanage still held Samuel's  adoption party this morning. I have to say, I have been so impressed by how much the staff at Samuel's orphanage love and care about him. Those of you who have adopted from Eastern Europe will understand how significant this is... This morning the orphanage threw a party for all the staff and kids with a table full of sweets and fruit, all provided by the orphanage. The director presented me with a big bouquet of flowers to congratulate/thank me. After the ceremony tomorrow I will get to keep the clothes Samuel is wearing. The orphanage is also giving me one of Samuel's bottles and the stuffed animal/pillow he sleeps with in order to help maintain some familiarity for him.


At the adoption party

For those of you who don't read Vietnamese,
the letters on the wall say Samuel's name and the date he was adopted


Samuel and his therapist - she loves him so much
and was having a really hard time saying goodbye today

Samuel and his favourite caregiver - you can tell that he really
does love her and I believe his primary attachment is to her

The highlight of the party was when Samuel showed me a whole new side of himself that I never could have fathomed... The boy was made for show business!!! They handed him a microphone and before I knew it, without anyone saying a word, my son stood up on his chair and started singing a song! I was laughing so hard, I couldn't contain myself.


Canadian Idol here we come!

Now back to my miracle... Honestly, I don't even know how it happened. We went back to his room after the party and were just hanging around and all of a sudden this little boy, who wanted pretty much nothing to do with me yesterday, was up in my arms - by his own volition! I must have held him for a least 10-15 minutes, his legs wrapped around me, his hands holding onto my shoulder... He didn't want me to put him down. If you had seen him litterally running away from me yesterday you might be able to understand a bit better what a true miracle this was. Even the caregivers were shocked and my facilitator was in tears (not to mention my mother and myself). All I kept saying was "Thank you Jesus, thank you Jesus, thank you Jesus..." When it was time to leave, the caregivers told Samuel to say goodbye to me as they have done every other time. Normally he just stares at me blankly as they pick his arm up and wave for him but today he came over to me, put his arms up to be held and wouldn't let me go. Now if that's not a miracle, I don't know what is. (and in case all that wasn't enough, my son also said his second English word today - water)

Watching construction...
 have I mentioned my son loves trucks?!?!

Sweetest boy around


So, I didn't become a mom today but I did hold my son in my arms for the first time, I did kiss his sweet face for the first time, I did have the privilege of meeting one of his basic needs for the first time, I did get to tell my son I love him for the first time, I did get to whisper prayers into his ear for the first time... How could I ask for anything more? 

I am by no means assuming that this means that tomorrow will be any easier for him however this morning did this mama's heart good. Thank you so much to the army of people who were praying. Your prayers were certainly not wasted and God is answering them, although He clearly had a different plan for today. The adoption ceremony is at 10:00 tomorrow morning (9 p.m. Thursday Montreal time) and I would so appreciate your continued prayers. After the ceremony tomorrow we will be going to apply for his Vietnamese passport and then the rest of the paperwork will likely take place on Tuesday. My facilitator says that his passport could be ready in as little as a week so we may very well be out of here early. That said, this is adoption and anything can happen :)

Next time you hear from me, I should officially be a mother! 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Last Night

Tonight is my last night as a family of one. My last night knowing that my child is out there somewhere but not with me. My last night waiting and wondering if he is sick, sad, lonely or afraid.

Tonight is Samuel's last night in a hard, metal crib. His last night with nothing and no one to call his own. His last night as one of the 163 million children in the world without a family.

Tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. (that's Thursday at 4:00 a.m. Montreal time) I become a mom and Samuel becomes an orphan no more. I could not be more ready to have my son with me but this is going to be very hard for Samuel. Sweet boy wanted pretty much nothing to do with me today, although I was able to engage him for a few minutes so long as he was within the safe security of his crib. My son's love affair with all things cars and trucks continues and one thing is certain - mama needs to buy this boy some trucks!


I'm glad the visits are over as it seems to be making things harder rather than easier. Nevertheless, I anticipate that tomorrow is going to be rough. Please be praying for my precious son, that God would fill Samuel with His peace which passes all understanding and that he would begin to be able to trust me little by little. Pray that God would give me divine insight into Samuel's needs and wisdom in how to respond.

The paper chase also begins tomorrow and my facilitator is hopeful that we should be able to get our part done by the end of the day on Friday otherwise it'll have to wait until Tuesday as the embassy will be closed on Monday for Labour Day. Once all our paperwork is filed we wait for Samuel's passport to be ready, then we're out of here.

Like I said, I have no idea what these next few days are going to look like with Samuel but will do my best to keep you up to date.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

I met him... and now you can too!!!

Well, today was the day I finally got to meet my son!!! We got to the orphanage a little after 9:00 and after meeting with the director for a bit we went down to his room and they brought him outside to meet us.

Poor little guy was a little overwhelmed - all these people crowded around him, his caregivers pushing him towards this strange lady he's only seen in pictures who they keep telling him is his mom who is going to take him to Canada but of course he has no idea what that means..




According to my facilitator, this is the best orphanage she has worked with in Vietnam as far as care of the kids goes. Although the culture is certainly different, it is clear that the staff really love Samuel and he appears to have a positive attachment to them as well. Although this is going to make it that much harder for him to leave, it will ultimately be a good thing as he learns to trust and attach to me as well.


Here are some things I learned about my son today...

- I better get my running shoes ready because he is busy! He is constantly on the move running, jumping, climbing and rolling on the ground.

- He is all limbs and super bouncy, just like his uncle,
and a little clumbsy, just like his mom :)

- He hates all kinds of fish and loves eggs (also just like his mom!).

- He is a builder! He loves playing with blocks and is really good
at figuring out how to put them together.

- He loves cars and is especially fond of blocks that can be built into cars.

- He is the big man on campus and the caregivers' number one helper. He stacks chairs, moves tables and brings them whatever they ask for. He is very eager to please his caregivers and seems to thrive on all the little jobs they give him.

- Although he is busy, he has a very good attention span when you find something that interests him and in those moments he can be very calm and focused.

- He communicates well by pointing, nodding and shaking his head and
the occasional Vietnamese word which, according to my facilitator,
is incomprehendable to everyone but his day-to-day caregivers.

- He has a sweet spirit and a heart of compassion and he looks out for another little girl in his group with more significant special needs.

- He rarely makes eye contact but when he does,
those gorgeous big brown eyes pierce stright through my soul.



Samuel wanted little to do with me this morning but I was able to catch a glimpse of his smile by giving him a ride in the toy basket :)


We went back in the afternoon and although his initial reaction seemed to be something along the lines of, "oh no, not her again..." I pulled out my bubbles and was able to spend some good one-on-one time with him.
Bubbles - they work every time! 



I continued to work on engaging him for the rest of the afternoon and then, guess whose "non-verbal" child said his first English word?!?! The word? More.
What on earth got him to say it? Being swung in a laundry basket of course!


(Note to self - buy a laundry basket... On second thought...
Note to self - DON'T buy a laundry basket; it might kill you!) 

Picture of the day :)
But don't get the wrong idea... little man did not want me holding him
but decided that he was not opposed to being thrown in the air!
After today I would have to say that Samuel's not too sure about me (although he is warming up little by little) but I don't have a single doubt about him. He's perfect and I so look forward to getting to know him more and more and learning how to be the mother he needs me to be.

We will continue to visit him at the orphanage twice a day, about 2 hours each in the morning and afternoon, until the adoption ceremony which could be on Thursday, Friday or next week. I've been having some technical difficulties over here but will do my best to continue blogging regularly at least until I get him and then...
did I mention that he's busy???

Thank you so much for prayers.
Please continue to pray that God would soften Samuel's heart towards me and prepare him for the day he has to say goodbye to all that he knows.

You can also pray for the two sweetest little girls who I will call Hannah and Chantal... Hannah is diagnosed with autism and is an absolute love bug who wanted nothing more than to be in my arms all day. Chantal appears to have Cerebral Palsy and is just bursting wqith potential that will never be realized as long as she is living in an institution. One of the caregivers today suggested I take both Samuel and Hannah. I would take all three if I could but I can't.
That won't stop me however for begging God for the right family for each of them... if you think it might be you, let's talk :)
 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Tomorrow

Well, I am happy to report that we have made it safe and sound to Vietnam. The flights could not have gone any smoother and I actually managed to sleep on the plane for the first time ever. I can only hope that things go just as smoothly on the way home when we have Samuel.

There are quiet a few this about Vietnam that remind me of Africa (the motorcycles, the street side vendors, the traffic...) which is helping it to feel more like home. We took a quick tour of the neighbourhood and got lost a few times (seems neither one of us is good with a map... We miss you Corina!) but managed to find our way without asking for help which made me feel pretty good.

I had thought I was going to meet Samuel today but it turns out it'll be tomorrow instead. For tonight, I will fall asleep knowing that my son is a mere 20 minutes away and that tomorrow morning I will finally see him with my very own eyes.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Ready For You

I am setting this to auto post so that by the time you read this I will be in the air somewhere getting closer and closer to my son. I can't wait to share pictures with you but in the meantime I thought I'd tide you over with some pictures of his new room. Who am I kidding, no home decor pictures can substitute for his sweet face... but they are cute :)







Sweet Samuel, my heart and my home are ready... all that's missing is you.
Praying that God would be at work preparing your heart just as He has prepared mine.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Samuel here I come!

I leave in 12 short hours and the range emotions I have experienced over the past few days have been enough to drive anyone mad! This morning however I woke up with peace in my heart and all I could think was this - just over six months ago I was told that it would be a waste of time to continue with my homestudy as ultimately, they would not be approving me to adopt any child... today, I am leaving to bring my son home. God you are so good!

That's not to say I'm not still nervous but I know that God is in this. I am not alone. My God is with me. I am claiming this song as the anthem for this trip. I know that God has got every detail in the palm of His hands and the last seven years have been my training ground for this moment, proving to me that He is trustworthy.




"What’s more, I am with you, and I will protect you wherever you go. One day I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you."
Genesis 28:15

Saturday, August 10, 2013

GOT A TRAVEL DATE!

I know that in my last blog post, two months ago, I said that I was hoping to be able to introduce you to my little boy really soon... The unfortunate news is that my agency has decided it would be best to wait until the adoption is finalized before posting his picture online. The good news is that in three weeks he will be mine and I can show him off to the world!!!

I got a travel date earlier this week and will be leaving on August 24 to bring my baby (a.k.a. big boy) home. Normally in Vietnam you get custody of your child on day one but due to Samuel's age, they decided that I could visit him in the orphanage for a couple of days first (a very good thing). The adoption ceremony will be on August 30 (no court necessary in Vietnam) then I drag the poor boy around with me while we chase papers for about two weeks before coming home.

Can't believe I'm just two weeks away from holding my sweet boy in my arms! I have several blog posts composed in my head that I will try to post before I leave (we'll see how that goes...) and will do my best to keep my blog updated while I'm over there. Thanks for praying and following along!