Where to begin…at the beginning, right. Our lives made huge changes in the year 2006, homeschooling, blogging, and the way we eat are just a few of the things that changed. It all culminatedtwo years ago this month with the adoption of our twin girls. I try to keep this blog to be very wide in topic, not just a mommy-blog. Today, forgive me, it will be all mommy blog and and sap.
Christmas is not the same to everyone, that is a given. We all have different memories, traditions, and the like. I can’t help but feel, though, that I look at December and Christmas so much differently than others. We just got home from a 10 day vacation with Mamaw and I got homesick something awful. Once before I spent a significant time away from home during the holidays, but this time was only a week plus a couple days…I’d be fine right? Forest didn’t go with us, though, and it bothered me not being with him. So, I’ll go back to the beginning and tell you a little story.
You see, on December 1st 2006 I said goodbye to my two daughters for (what I though would be) 2-3 weeks and had high hopes of it being less. They were excited to say goodbye, “no reason to cry mom.” The next time they saw me they would have two baby sisters and while I was gone they were taking a trip to Disney with Mamaw, Papaw, Great Grandma, Aunt Jean, and UnlceGeorge…very exciting. Here I was putting my two most precious gifts into a van (with very trusted family, no less) and I was a mess! I kept telling myself it was just a couple weeks and it would be worth it in the end.
The very next day we were off to the airport and started our big journey to Hanoi, Vietnam. A very long plane trip, nearly 24 hours without seeing daylight as the direction we flew kept us away from the sun. It was my first time away from my girls more than a weekend, my first time out of the States, and my first time not seeing the light of day like that. Switching planes in foreign countries, the official (and scary) face that communist countries put on, I was never so glad to get to a hotel in my life!
The city of Hanoi was so different. It smelled different, was very loud with announcements and horns honking. I was so tired and nervous. I missed my girls, but the next day we would double our fold….or not. You see, in Vietnam things are done how and when they want to. As frustrating as our government can be, we know that if you have an appointment somewhere you can fairly well bet you will have your appointment. So it was with joyful, but nervous and heavy hearts that we went to meet the twins for the first time…
…and then to hand them back again. Oh my goodness was that hard. It was a dark evening, the power was out at the orphanage and we only have a few precious minutes (15-20 minutes can really fly by) before the director cautioned that they should be taken back inside and for us to return in a couple days. The van ride back to the city (about 2 hours) was very quiet with each family offering a few sniffles here and there.
The week would pass and we still would have no word for sure when the twins would officially join our family, even though they were already ours in our hearts. We just waited every day, day after day, not talking about the fact that my husband had to leave on Sunday to go back home and back to work. He left that Sunday and I went to visit the twins and it was a wonderful visit, a couple hours long with lots of smiles and holding and kisses…but then the dreaded time to hand them back came and I was just heart-sick.
Here I was, alone in Vietnam, waiting for a day that should have already come. Wishing nothing more than to be with my family, my whole family! It was painful to visit them not knowing when I would see them next, not knowing when they would finally go back to Hanoi with me. I remember the day that we finally we to adopt them, the 4th or 5th of such days. I wasn’t going to believe that it was the day until it really happened. I remember staring at the van, wondering if it would have four beautiful babies in it on the way back to Hanoi. I still could hardly believe it was all real when we climbed back into the van to head out.
This photo is so surreal to me. I wish so much my husband had be there, but was so glad to have Bich there with an extra set of hands and good advice!
Meanwhile, back home, my big girls and my husband were anxious for every night to come so they could see the twins and talk with me. My dad flew over for about 10 days to help me come home….or not. You see, in Vietnam, the US Embassy was sorely understaffed and there were many people applying for Visas. My dad came, was there for my first interview with the twins, their physicals, and a few other odds and ends. Then the day after Chritmas he went home. We had a lovely Christmas Eve dinner with other families there to adopt. The Vietnamese really celebrate Christmas and it was lovely to hear hymns and see the decorations everywhere. It was also sort of bittersweet as well. You see, the other half of my family was at home and I missed them desperately. My girls decided along with their daddy to wait until I was home to open gifts. Here’s a photo of them opening their stockings while I was sleeping on the other side of the planet.
My dad left, I was alone with the twins (who were darn near angelic, by the way!) I was facing flying home solo which was proving to be quite a bit of work for my super amazing travel agent. I remember sitting there on Thursday morning thinking that the Embassy made calls in the morning and to get my Visa to go home before the holidays would require an appointment that very day. I couldn’t even eat lunch that day I was so upset and homesick. It’s a good thing to, as during the lunch hour I got a call that they had one opening for the day and I could have it. What a whirlwind that was. Taking a taxi to the other side of Hanoi, doing my interview, and hearing the bad news that an earthquake had shattered much of the trans-continental communication cables and that credit card services and faxing services were non-exist. My dad, thankfully had left me some extra cash so I had that end covered. The only way I could get visas for the girls by the weekend would be if overnight they could somehow get the fax to go through to check their ID’s against the Homeland Security list of terrorists. That’s right folks…there was absolutely no chance that my 5 month old twins were on that list, but a law is a law. It wasn’t until 1 in the afternoon the next day that I got the call that their Visas had processed. My travel agent was a champ and had me a schedule that left out of Hanoi that night! I had literally a couple hours to go to the airline office, finish packing, pay my hotel bill (remember, little to no credit card services), and communicate back home that I was coming. Never in my life was I so happy to spend $1 or so a minute to call home since the internet would not work!
The flights were long, but I made it with the help of amazing people along the way. When I landed I was so tired, but so happy that it didn’t matter. My husband was right there waiting for us and soon the girls would meet their sisters:
So, in the end, it was more than just a couple weeks, but it was worth it!
All this to say, today I re-directed the readers of my adoption blog to this as my new, and hopefully, permanent home. If my blog feels a bit more “mommy-blog” I won’t apologize, but I will try to keep much of my old format of food, recipes, crafts, and the like included. Two years felt like a good time frame to be done with the strictly adoption/mommy blog. I want a well balanced blog, that represents a picture of our lives, my thoughts, and what we as a family have to offer. Of course, that will include my children! If you are at all interested in my very first adoption blog, comment or email.
I hope I do not scare anyone away, but if I do…well, I do. Also, if I at all sound down on mommy-blogs, please know I am not. I still read many adoption/mommy blogs and love, love, love them! Most bloggers keep them for family that check in, my family for the most part does not. I find I tell the same things on my blog to my family multiple times and by the time I get to writting it down, well…let’s just say well balanced is just more my style and fits my personal wants for a blog. It is after all my blog, right?
If you made it this far, kudos to you. This was a very long post with a few pictures to help lighten the read. I have so much I want to write about in the next few days: Christmas, Williamsburg, food for the holidays, presents, time with family, and cold weather in relation to age. Much to say and little time.