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Vietnam Adoption...

This page is the central spot on our site to find out the latest developments and updates of our adoption from
Vietnam. Here you can find our blog, timeline, and a link to our pictures.


Eli Update...

Even though we have posted many pictures since we have been home, I realize that I have not posted anything to this blog since we were in Vietnam two months ago. I thought that what I would do is give a quick run down of what our little Eli is up to now that he has been home for two months.
-He turns 1 in just 2 weeks!
-He is walking/running- no more crawling for this little boy
-He adores his big sister
-He has 9 teeth (4 on the top, 4 on the bottom, 1 molar, plus 3 molars in the works)
-He still does not like to sleep at night (last night he only woke up 10-15 times!!!)
-He is down to one nap during the day (who wants to sleep when you can play)
-He loves to talk on the phone and gets really mad if you are talking on the phone and don't let him have his time to talk too
-Speaking of talking, yes, he does! He says Mama, Dada, KayKey (Katie), NighNigh (night night), Hi and Yeah plus he signs "Please" and "All Done". I am beginning to think that kids who hear a tonal language like Vietnamese first in life, have an easier time grasping language because they hear the different inflections better. Just a guess
-He is done with baby food (and has been for almost a month). If it is not what we are eating and has any resembleance to baby food, he does not want it. Everything just goes on his tray and he goes to town.
-He likes to eat!
-He is starting to drink out of a sippy cup and only takes a bottle 3 or so times a day
-He loves being outside
-He will take an American binky (thanks Lisa for finding them!) and actually doesn't like his Vietnamese binky as much now
-He has had one hair cut already but really needs another before his 1st birthday
-He hates shoes (except the soft leather ones he has been wearing since Vietnam)
-He is now wearing 12-18 month clothing
-He is also now wearing cloth diapers which work great (thanks for the encouragement Niki and thanks Eri for picking up the diaper covers in Japan)
-He is a snuggler, especially with Mommy when he hasn't slept well or isn't feeling good.
All in all, Eli has adjusted very well to life as a Lockwood and we are blessed to have him in our family.

Adoption Lessons (a really cute story!)...

So one of the biggest reasons we wanted to bring Katie on our trip to Vietnam (other than the fact that there's no way we could part with her for so long) was to show her the process of international adoption. We hoped that experiencing Eli’s adoption journey first hand would give her a better understanding of how she came to be a part of our family. Admittedly, we had no idea whether or not she would cognitively understand the difference, but today she said something that seemed to prove her awareness of international adoption. Here’s what happened:
As Sarah was feeding Eli his lunch, Katie was quietly playing nearby while watching the feeding process at the same time. Suddenly she stopped playing and said out loud, “I want babies”. We asked her what she said (just to clarify) and again she said, “I want babies”. We weren’t sure if she meant dollies or real babies so I asked her if she wanted babies like Mommy and Daddy and she said, “ya!”
Deciding to take our little discussion a step further (and trying to judge the depth of her thought process), I said, “Katie, do you want to grow babies in your tummy or do you want to adopt babies?” (of course we would have been OK with either answer). She responded with something that at sounded like gibberish at first (something like “ka-han”). Over and over again she kept saying it, and then it hit me; she was saying Kazakhstan! I asked if she meant Kazakhstan and she said replied, “Kaz-a-stan”. “You want to adopt babies from Kazakhstan” I asked, and she yelled “Ya!”, then she ran over and gave me excitedly hugged me over and over again.
For an adoptive dad, it was the coolest feeling! Knowing that my daughter not only seems to understand how adoption works, but that she recognizes her national origin and has even thought that she might also adopt someday… it all just blew me away. It was a great moment in adoptive parenting!

Baby food!!!

Yeah, tonight we found jars of baby food at the little grocery store that we discovered a few days ago. It is actually in a little mall and is much more western than any "grocery store" we have been to yet, since most are just little street vendors with a few select items. We got Eli some prunes, apricots, sweet potatoes, and mangos along with some more rice cereal and some teething biscuits. We had one very happy boy tonight. The cereal that they give to babies in both Vietnam and Kazakhstan is much different than the cereals we give to babies in the US. By just adding water to the powder, it is a yummy treat that Kevin has enjoyed with both of our kids :-) I know it probably has more sugar in it than I would like to be giving him, but it is all that there is here and I would rather have a little boy with a full tummy than an empty one. When we got done feeding him tonight, it was the first time that he indicated that he was finished eating (except with a bottle) since we have had him. Luckily, we now have all the supplies to keep his belly full till we can get home and transition him to American food.

Eli was also happy tonight because his tummy finally wasn't hurting him. We had given him some dragon fruit this morning (it is the only fruit that I could find that would mash up to a consistency that he would eat) and it finally helped him out in the poop department. We probably won't be giving him much more dragon fruit to eat but it is great to know that it works even better than prunes :-)

We are all still trying to figure out our flights home and waiting to see when we will actually get our embassy appointments. Since this is high travel time in most Asian countries, the flights home are very packed and difficult to get tickets on. Les and Sarah have a flight booked on the 18th and are trying to get on one sooner than that. Laura is working on going home this weekend to be with her family and Diane is working on finding flights for Wednesday or Thursday. We have been working all day to find some way to get home too and so far we are confirmed on a flight out of Hong Kong on Wednesday, but we don't have our flights to Hong Kong figured out and we don't even know for sure that we will have Eli's Visa in time to get on that flight. Right now Eri's dad is working from the Japan United office to try to help us figure out our flights too. Thanks Yoshi. We will keep praying and we will let everyone know once something is confirmed. Thank you everyone for your encouragement and prayers during this time.


As everyone other than our adoption agency predicted, we won't be coming home on the 11th. The frustrating part is that it's not really a delay at all; just the normal length of time it takes right now. As a result, we're trying to figure out how to get home. Our airline said there are no more flights available till September so we're really scrambling trying to figure something out, still not knowing exactly what date we'll be ready to leave. SO...IF YOU WERE MEETING US AT THE AIRPORT ON SATURDAY, YOU DON'T NEED TO COME ANYMORE.

Another problem that we are facing right now is that Eli is having a really rough time. We don't know if it is his teeth or if he is sick in any other way or if it is just being cooped up in the hotel with these strange people who call themselves "Mom, Dad and big sister". He is also having some problems with pooping which might be compounding things. Everyone had said that it was easy to find baby food in Vietnam and we have not been able to find any yet. We brought rice cereal from home and can find his formula just fine, but we can't find anything else that we can feed him. If we were at home, it would be easy just to make some out of some of these yummy fruits, but with no way to cook and a child who does not like any texture more than rice cereal, that is a near impossibility. Right now the only fruit product that either kid will consume is apple juice...
Healthy Baby Boy

This morning we had to get up early and finish breakfast by 7:45 so that we could go to Eli's doctor appointment. The US government requires everyone applying for an entry visa to have a medical check by a "Western" doctor. There are international clinics all over the world called the SOS clinics. For just $65 USD, the kids were checked over from head to toe and given a clean bill of health to enter the US. We found out that Eli is now 18lbs and is 29 inches long. At just a month older than the girls, he is quite a bit heavier and taller than either Clara or Chloe. Clara weighed in at around 16 pounds and Chloe has her medical check up tomorrow where we are guessing that she is going to weigh around 16 pounds as well.

After waiting around for what seemed like forever (an hour or more with a toddler and a 9 month old is forever), we finally got to go in and see the doctor. It was a very interesting experience for us. The doctor who checked him out was a middle aged, Middle Eastern woman who was very new to doing check ups. The head doctor of the clinic was also in the room and after the first doctor did her whole physical on Eli, the other doctor told her everything that she should have done differently. It was kind of strange to be there when she was told how she should have done it.

When all was said and done, we really knew no more about Eli's health than when we went in except his height and weight. She looked in his ears and mouth, listened to his heart and his breathing, checked his little boy parts and his Mongolian spots and said that he is fine. When we get home, we will be able to take him to Dr. Doan our pediatrician and get a full physical done with blood tests and new immunization shots. We love our doctor in the states because he is so good with Katie and he will be wonderful with Eli too, especially because he is Vietnamese too and will be able to speak to him in Vietnamese.

We still have not heard anything about our Embassy appointments and are starting to look into changing our flights home. We hate to have to do that, but it might be necessary. Please pray with us that we will get a call today or tomorrow morning telling us that we can go to our appointment for our exit interview on Thursday afternoon so that we can fly on Friday night. Keep checking back here to hear when we are coming home.
1st appointment finished

Today was another milestone in our trip. At 2:00 our coordinator, Thuy, picked us all up at our hotel and took us to the American Embassy. It was another wild drive through this city of motorbikes, but we made it without being hit, or hitting any of them. Up a flight of steps, through security and we were there, in a room that looked surprising like the room that we had to go to in the Sacramento court house to file all of Katie's paperwork for re-adoption. It was great to see a picture of our president hanging on the wall instead of a statue of Ho Chi Minh :-) As we were waiting our turn (we were the only ones in the room when we got there) 3 other families all came in with their newly adopted children. They were all with another adoption agency, Adoptions from the Heart, and they were there for their second interview. I recognized one family from the Blogs that I have been following so I introduced myself to them. It was great talking to other American families who are here right now.

So what happens next is that our paperwork will be sent down to the C.I.S. office in Saigon where they will review our adoption, criminal background, etc. and make a determination our our suitability as adoptive parents (as if this same process hasn't already happened a few times already). From there, C.I.S. will call the Embassy in Hanoi with their decision about us, and if it's favorable, then we'll be scheduled for a second interview. After we come in for that interview, it will take a little while (1-2 days) for Eli's visa to be prepared. That's it! (OK, that was meant sarcastically).

We attempted to find out if we would have the visa by Friday so that we could still make our flights on Friday night but the answer was a big "I don't know". We were told that it is not likely but at the same time, we were told that it is still possible. We would just have to have our second interview on Thursday to be able to get the visa by Friday at 5:00 and make it to the airport by 8:00pm. We are praying that there is a miracle and that we will get it done on time so that we do not have to go through the hassle of changing tickets.

Today was a bit of a rough day for all of us Lockwoods. Our newest addition is teething extremely hard and nothing seemed to sooth him today. He is also a bit of a wild child (and we though Katie had a lot of energy) so he keeps falling and hitting his head, which makes the whole thing more traumatic. Little Miss Katie has been a trouper this whole trip but we think that she is about to the end of her rope. She is tired of being stuck in the room with the same toys and the same people and eating out is very hard on her since she has to sit for an hour or so for every meal. We feel so bad for her but there is not much that we can do for her. We have purchased new toys, eat at least one meal in the room every day, and try to go out and get our wiggles out on a regular basis. With two grumpy get two grumpy parents :-o We also did not get much sleep last night so it made for a rough day. We are hoping for a great night of sleep for all four of us which will make for a much nicer day tomorrow.
Exploring Hanoi.

Now that we have spent a couple of full days in Hanoi, we are starting to feel much more comfortable about walking around, purchasing items from vendors and stores alike and crossing the streets without getting hit by a million motorbikes. Last night we really got brave and ventured out after dark. We made sure that we had on our deet and, after eating a nice dinner at our favorite restaurant "Paloma" which is just down the street from our hotel, we took a walk around the block. It was about 6:30 or so and just getting dark and the locals were just starting to come out for their dinner hour. There are a million street vendors who just bring a big pot of something to eat, a few stools, and dishes to eat out of. The locals all just pull up a stool and have their dinner right on the street. If we were a little braver (and not concerned about the health risks) we would probably try the real local fare that is probably sold for just pennies.

As we were walking around the block, there was an adorable little girl who was probably about 2 years old sitting on these little stools with her mom. As she watched us walk toward her, she jumped off her seat, grabbed a second stool from a stack of stools, and patted the seat while smiling at Katie. She really wanted Katie to sit with her but Katie is still a little scared of the locals and their extreme friendliness. That is one thing that we have found out about the Vietnamese people is that they are very friendly and love children. This means that sometimes they will literally jump at the kids and grab at them, all the while talking and smiling. While this is something that is totally acceptable in their culture, Katie has a hard time with people in her space.

We finally stumbled upon a wonderful little store that we will probably be going back to often. It was a little grocery store that had all the essentials ...diapers, formula, ice cream, candies, Oreos and ritz crackers. It was quite a find for us. We found Eli's formula in a box instead a can and it was only 56,000 Dong (about $3.50 USD). I think that we might stock up on it and keep him on Vietnamese formula for a while once we are home since it is so much cheaper than in the States, plus it seems to be very equivalent to US formula. The shopkeepers of this grocery store were fascinated with Katie and Eli and gave them each a lollipop after we had paid and were getting ready to leave. Everyone here is very curious about Katie because they recognize that she is Asian but that she is not Vietnamese. It is hard to explain that she is from Kazakhstan since I don't think that most people here know where Kaz is either. I think that I will have Thuy write up a little note in Vietnamese that says "I am an American. These are my parents. I was adopted from the country of Kazakhstan when I was 6 months old. I am 2 1/2 years old." It might just help people understand a little easier.

After a good night's sleep, we got up and had a nice breakfast again. It is so wonderful that this hotel has a great breakfast so that we can start the day off with plenty of energy to tackle any adventure. Many times we have a big breakfast, snack in the room around lunch time and then go to an early dinner. It is much easier on the kids (and thus us) if we do not eat all three meals a day out in restaurants. Plus we brought a lot of Katie's favorite foods with us so that she at least gets something that she is used to every day and not just steamed rice for lunch and dinner.

When we got back to the room we got a phone call from Gaga and Papa (Kevin's parents). It was great talking to them on the phone for the first time since we have been in Vietnam. Both of the kids really enjoyed talking to them and so did Kevin (I was busy feeding Eli his first yogurt-see the pictures from today). We also got a phone call from Uma (Sarah's mom), although the connection was much poorer quality today than it was earlier. It was great to hear voices from home and hear how everyone it doing.

Tomorrow afternoon (Monday morning at about 12:30am PST) we get to have our first Embassy appointment and hopefully hear a little more about whether we will be able to keep our original tickets for our flight home. Stay tuned if you are planning on meeting us at the airport so that you know when we are coming home.
Email problems...

Since moving to this current hotel in Hanoi, we have been experiencing many issues with our internet and emails. If you have not received personal emails from us in a while, please do not be alarmed, they keep getting bounced back to us and we have not figured out how to get them through without problems. We will try to update this site a little more regularly if we cannot get emails out. Also, if there is something very urgent, please contact either of our parents as they have our phone number here, and a cheap calling card to make the call with :-) Thanks, guys.

Last night we were very excited to go out to eat in the Old Quarter of Hanoi. Our whole group (Les, Sarah & Chloe, Diane, Laura and Clara, and the four of us) all piled into a cab and drove over to the Old Quarter where we walked around a little bit and then had a wonderful dinner over looking Hoan Kiem Lake. Katie really enjoyed it because she received an ice cream after dinner for sitting so nicely while we ate. The rest of us enjoyed it because it was good food, a beautiful view and the right price. I also liked it because it was outdoors and a little bit noisy so our very vocal nine month old did not disturb the whole restaurant, like he usually does. One funny little thing that we have learned here is that restaurants charge you for everything! At first we couldn't figure out what all these little charges were on our bills and then we realized that we were being charged for the napkins, the wet-wipes, place mats, etc. It is kind of funny, but we haven't figured out how to get out of paying for these little "amenities". We have also learned to barter for our taxi rides to and from places. Our ride to the Old Quarter was about 22,000 Dong (about $1.50 USD) but our ride home was around 45,000 Dong! It is amazing how they can get away with charging whatever they want. Granted, it is not a whole lot of money, but at the same time, it adds up pretty quickly when you have to take taxis to get to a lot of the places.

This morning we decided that it would work very nicely if the daddies of the group, (Les and Kevin) could stay at the hotel with the kids (Katie, Eli, Clara and Chloe) while the women all did some shopping. We decided that the earlier in the day we did it, the better because of the heat and the happiness of the babies. We planned to leave at 8 and were out of the hotel by 8:45, which wasn't bad considering it is the first time any of us mommies have left the new babies. Kevin was very confident in watching all the kids which I think was good because Les was a little more apprehensive. I love it that Kevin has been around my daycare kids so much and has been in charge of groups of young kids/babies before and has the ability to do that without stressing him out.

When we got to the shopping district, we started by following Laura's lead. She has traveled the world for business and pleasure and understands how things work so much better than the rest of us. The first shop we went into was a more upscale shop (meaning it had doors on the front of it and a little bit of AC) and we had a blast trying on clothes and haggling for good prices. I think that we all found something that we really liked in that shop and I think that we got some pretty good prices. I found this beautiful embroidered top made of purple silk that fit like it was made for me. I spent $20 on it and that was probably a little higher than I could have haggled for, but I feel like it was still a steal. Once we had finished in that shop, I felt like I could really hold my own a little better and got better and better at making deals. I found Eli a beautiful blue and gold silk Ao Dai (traditional Vietnamese outfit) for approximately $3 US (I talked her down from $5), an embroidered wall hanging and a few t-shirts along with some new binkies (since Eli does not like any of the ones that we brought with us). I also bought some fruit from a woman on the street that was very tasty. I have no idea what it was called, but it was red and spiky (for the Hoff family- they are like those green spiky things that we used find in the yard and play with when we were kids) but once you split them open, it is kind of a jelly surrounding a big seed. You just pop the whole thing in your mouth, suck the slime off the seed and then spit the seed out. The slime stuff is kind of like if you were to peel a grape and put the grape in your mouth. I got a whole bag of them for a dollar and everyone enjoyed a little fruit snack.

By the time we decided that it was time to head back, it had been about 3 hours and we figured that the guys and kids might like a little reprieve from each other. We got back to the hotel and everyone had done great. I guess that there was a little jealousy between Eli and Clara when Kevin would try to hold either one of them, but besides that, they had a lot of fun and there were some great pictures taken of all three of the babies.

Now Katie and Eli are napping, Mommy is working on the computer and Daddy is taking a walk around the block and buying some more water for us to drink. We are working hard at not getting dehydrated but also do not want to use the water out of the mini-bar at $3 a bottle :-o
Hello from Hanoi!

Wow, two posts in one day, we must be getting better at this. Today is our first full day in the capital city of Hanoi. It seems to be a very beautiful city and I am sure that we are going to have lots of time to explore in the week or more that we are going to be here. We were met at the airport yesterday by Thuy (pronounced Twee) who is the coordinator/translator who will be working with us while we are here in Hanoi. She is a very sweet younger woman who speaks very good English and has great people skills. On our one hour drive from the airport to our hotel in the center of the city, we were very excited to see more of the countryside and more of what we assumed more of Vietnam looked like (rice fields, banana trees, little shacks, etc). It was beautiful! As we entered the city, we also got a first hand experience with Vietnamese driving. It is quite a different approach to driving as we know it in the States. There are millions of motorbikes/mopeds everywhere here and each bike typically carries at least 3 people, plus their cargo. There are also regular bikes in this mix with anywhere from 1-3 people on them. Then add in the cars, busses, trucks, etc. Now, put it all on streets that are only about as wide as a typical 2 lane road with a turn lane in the States and make sure you don't forget to add in the honking of horns which is a must if your vehical has one. During a high time of traffic, there might be 3 cars or mini busses, about 15 motorbikes plus a regular bike or two all trying to drive down a 2 lane road (going both directions). We were all cracking up with how people just drive wherever they want (either direction on either side of the road) and our driver and Thuy were laughing at us, laughing at them. It was quite comical.

Once we made it safely to the hotel, we realized that we will be staying at a rather fancy (ie expensive) hotel for the 8+ days that we are in Hanoi. When we tried to tell Thuy that none of us were wanting anything this fancy, she told us that we were lucky to even have this hotel because this is high tourist season and everything is booked us. Oh well, there is not much that we can do about it. Unfortunately, IAAP had told us that our hotels were going to be much cheaper than they have actually been, so it has been a little stressful trying to figure it all out. We are going to make sure that other adoptive families know that the hotels are going to be priced very comparable to very nice US hotels. Just a little info that would have been nice to know from the beginning.

We also found out from Thuy that our first US Embassy appointment will be Monday at 2:30 and that the kids doctor's appointments (needed to get out of the country) will be on Wednesday. When we asked about the likelyhood of us making our flights on Friday night/Saturday morning, she told us that it is not likely because the Embassy is very backlogged right now and it is usually at least a week between your first and second Embassy appointments. We are praying that it will all work out so that we can still make our flights, but it is not looking very promising at this point. We will keep you updated as we find out more information. Thuy told us not to change our tickets until after our first appointment just in case we can still get out of here on time.

One very nice thing about this hotel is that we finally have a crib for Eli and he slept all the way through the night last night! Praise the Lord! For our nights in Danang, we tried putting him in makeshift beds the first two nights and then in our bed the third night, but he is such a mover and a flopper in his sleep that it made it impossible for any of us to get any rest. Last night was beautiful :-) Katie has also been a trooper when it comes to sleeping (and everything else) and slept on a makeshift bed on the floor. I am so glad that I brought extra blankets for her because they made the perfect bed.

After a great night of sleep, we went down to the hotel's buffet breakfast and feasted on all sorts of yummy goodies. There were made to order omelets, fruit, pastries (Katie loved the cake doughnuts), hot dishes and juices. It was wonderful. The kids are kind of having a hard time when we have to sit for a while at a meal, but we are managing the best we can. This hotel has highchairs which really helps for keeping Katie contained but for Eli, the only way to keep him happy (and not arching his back and making all sorts of noises) is to stand up or walk with him. We are trying all sorts of different things to entertain him but standing and bouncing seem to be the number one thing if he can't be down on the floor crawling everywhere.

Eli does seem to be adjusting very well to our family. He loves wrestling with his big sister, crawling everywhere, playing patty-cake, talking a ton, standing up and showing off by not holding on while he is standing. It looks like we might have an early walker on our hands with this one :-) I guess he is just trying to keep up with Katie and all that she can do.
Last days in Danang !

We are sorry for the lack of postings in the last 24-48 hours. The past 2 days have been a bit of a whirlwind for us. On Wednesday, we ate our breakfast in the hotel, came back to our rooms for a little nap, then went back to a restaurant that we had eaten lunch at the day before. Les, Sarah and baby Chloe joined us and we had a nice lunch on the river. After walking back to our hotel, the kids both took another nap. We are very fortunate that they both have been napping very well. When they both woke up we were adventurous for the first time and took a taxi to the beach. It is a world renowned beach and it was very beautiful and very crowded. We took a walk along the shore with our feet splashing in the warm water of the China Sea. It was an overcast afternoon (it actually started raining just as we got back to the hotel) so the pictures of the beach are a little dark but it made it much more bearable temperature wise. When we were done walking on the beach, we put our shoes back on and went to a restaurant for an early dinner. We were the only ones at the restaurant so we had the full attention of all 15 or so of the staff who were waiting for the dinner/night club rush. It was a unique experience for us, being waited on hand and foot. One of the waitresses even fed Katie her whole dinner and another held Eli (and took him a little farther away than we were comfortable with) while we ate our dinner. We have found that Eli does not like to sit down during meals...which makes eating out for every meal a little bit of a challenge. He is also extremely vocal which is very fun when we are in the hotel room, but we are not sure how people feel about it when we are sitting in a very quite restaurant full of business men :-)

When we got back to the hotel, we gave the kids a bath and got them ready for bed. We have found that Eli does not like baths that much so we do a very quick rinse for him and then let Katie play for a longer amount of time. The biggest challenge with bath time for Katie is convincing her not to drink the water or blow bubbles while she "swims" in the water. Poor thing can't figure out why we keep telling her that the water is going to make her sick. Once the kids were in their PJ's we tried something new with Eli. Previously we had only let him play on the bed (the floors didn't look all that clean) but he was getting very daring and trying to lunge off the bed so we finally let him down to see what he would do. He immediately crawled (full crawl not just scoot and lunge like he was doing on the bed) right over to the edge of the bed and pulled himself to standing. He was so proud of himself and was grinning from ear to ear! He then really started to show off by raising both arms above his head and standing for 10-20 seconds before putting his hands back on the bed. He thought it was great fun to see our reaction to him being so grown up. My guess is that he might be walking by the time he is 10 or 11 months old.

On Thursday morning, we did our normal morning routine of going to breakfast at the hotel (it is a complimentary, made to order breakfast every morning) and then it was back to the room to pack up. What a chore that was. We have 2 suitcases and three carry-on bags, with us and our stuff had been spread all over the hotel room. To try to corral all of our items while keeping 2 kids happy was quite a feat, but we did it! We checked out of the hotel and took another ride back to the airport. This time we all had our new babies with us so it was a much different feeling than when we arrived in Danang a few days earlier. At the airport, we were surprised to learn that Madame Chau had booked all of us Business Class tickets (don't know yet how much that is going to cost us :-) which gave us access to the Business Class lounge. This was a great feature for all of us because it was air conditioned where the rest of the airport is not and there were refreshments for us. Since it was lunch time and we had not been able to eat lunch, we were all very grateful for this. There was also room for the kids to crawl around. We got on our flight and settled in for our first flight with our new kids. Baby Chloe (Les and Sarah's daughter) did great and fell asleep right away and slept for the whole flight. Baby Clara (Diane's daughter) was content in the beginning and then cried at the very end of the flight. And then their was Eli :-) He actually did very good but he does not like to sit down so the beginning of the flight was very interesting. Luckily, after a little crying, I put him into the Baby Wrap, walked in the aisles a bit, and he was out for the rest of the 1 hour flight. Katie, like the flying champ that she is, took one more leg of our journey in stride and had a great flight.
Blessings abound!

As I sit here tonight watching my two children sleep, I feel so incredibly blessed by all that God has done for our family. I know that there were many times during this adoption process when I was frustrated with the wait and devastated about missing months of my precious little boys’ life, but as I watch him sleeping, curled up to his daddy, my heart sings with the amount of joy that he has already brought to our lives. I may never understand why it was that we had to wait so long to pick him up or if there was anything that could have been done to get us here faster, but that is not important to me now. What is important is that he is a very healthy, happy baby who is quickly developing and growing and learning. He obviously was well taken care of at his orphanage because he would not be as developed as he is without the proper love, care and attention. He can sit, he can crawl, he can pull himself up to standing…and then let go and with his hands high in the air and stay standing. It is amazing. He is such a blessing to us.

Fun as a family of four!

The past two days have been the most incredible experience we have had since we were in Kazakhstan 2 years ago. Being in Vietnam and receiving Eli into our family has been fun, scary, overwhelming, exciting, nerve racking, happy, sad, stimulating and it has been a huge blessing to all of us.

After having Eli Thanh for a full day, we are getting to know him more and he is starting to bond with all three of us very quickly. He slept very well last night, in spite of the fact that he is very congested and the fact that we did not have a crib for him so we had to have a make-shift bed for him. Katie is doing well with him and really can't wait till he is ready to play with her. She is always bringing him toys and trying to hold his hands or feet. Even though this whole trip has been a bit overwhelming for Katie, she has done so great and has traveled like a champ. She has figured out that it is OK to just fall asleep if she is tired and thus has fallen asleep in the car, at dinner, on the airplane, and while just playing in the room. We are so glad that we brought her with us and just can't imagine how empty it would have felt if we had left her at home. Granted, there are very hard moments with her when she has melt-downs (but I have had a few of those moments myself so I can't blame her), but overall she has done a tremendous job and we are so proud of her.

Some fun things that we have learned about Eli in the past 2 days...
-He is a daddy's boy
-He is extremely observant and watches everything that is happening
-He has HUGE hands and feet (little legs and arms but big hands and feet)
-He has long fingers and toes (they look a lot like Katie's)
-He has one freckle on his left shoulder
-He likes his binky (and not the ones we brought from home so he will have a pink binky until we can get to a store and find some other colors :-)
-He sleeps with his eyes half open (like most of the Hoff family)
-He is ready for a hair cut (at least around the ears)
-He can sit up and crawl (although he hasn't crawled since we picked him up)
-He has Mongolian spots (like most Asian babies)
-He sweats up a storm
-He loves holding onto a washcloth and loves on it like Katie loves on her Blankie
-He loves playing Peek-a-boo and he gave us his first smiles while playing it today
-He love the Baby Wrap that Niki made us (Thanks Niki)
-We are think that he has never had solid foods until today when he had rice cereal
-He has the greatest tongue and loves to lick stuff and kind of smack his lips by sticking it out and licking his upper lip
-We are all so in love with him and can't wait to bring him home to meet all of his wonderful family and friends.

He's Ours!

Today at 10:30 local time, we had our giving and receiving ceremony, declaring that Eli Thanh is now officially our son! After the ceremony, we drove back to the hotel where we are now. In another hour, we're going out to start working on the requirements needed to bring him back to the U.S. Our coordinator tells us that in a few days, we'll fly up to Hanoi where the rest of the appointments will take place in order to issue his passport and visa, but for the next 24 hrs., we're going to be doing some intense bonding. We know that it's really rocked Eli's world, having suddenly left the orphanage only 12 hrs. after meeting us. We're praying that he starts realizing our love for him. Luckily, it's easy to tell that he has been well taken care of, and loved by all his caregivers; you can tell he was really attached to them (which is a great sign!).
First visit...

So, contrary to what we thought, today's trip to Eli's orphanage was only a visit. Tomorrow we will go pick him up and take him to the G&R ceremony...then we'll get to keep him. If you look at the pictures below, you can see that Eli was a little overwhelmed. Honestly, if life had been the same for 9 months, then a bunch of funny looking people show up, shoving cameras in your face and touching you, you'd probably be a little wigged out too.
Well, despite the tears and stress, seeing Eli in person was very overwhelming. He is really cute and has an intense stare. We can see that he has bonded very well with his caregivers, which is a good sign, by the way. We actually feel bad that we're going to take him away so quickly, from everything he knows. We're just praying that God will allow a quick turnaround and that he'll start bonding with us quickly.
Tomorrow's the G&R, plus the day we take him home, so be watching for more updates!

Morning in Saigon...

We woke up this morning and had breakfast at the hotel. After eating, the other couple we're traveling with (Les and Sarah) and the single mom (Diane) happened to be coming to breakfast, so we all got to meet for the first time. In addition, our coordinator, Madame Chau, was with them. This gave us the chance to get a first hand report of what would be happening. Although we were surprised that we wouldn't be back to Saigon after today (except for our 10 hour layover on the way home), we were really excited to hear that we will be taking Eli home tonight! (We're still holding our breath because it's hard to know if something may have gotten lost in translation...but we're pretty sure that's what is happening.)
In a few hours, we'll be flying up to Da Nang where we will go to Eli's orphanage and meet him eye to eye for the first time! We can't wait to see his cute little face and hold him in our arms. We are praying that the immediate transition from the orphanage to our arms isn't terribly rough on him. If you think about it, please help us pray today; the meeting should take place between 3 and 5am PST. (Now we know many of you will still be in bed at that point, so when you wake up you can help us pray, especially since that will be near our bed time here.)

We're in Vietnam...
After traveling for 26 hrs., we finally made it to Vietnam! The journey was fairly uneventful (praise God!) and Katie did great the whole way. One thing that really helped was a half-empty plane on the way to Hong Kong. As a result we were able to take the bulkhead section (eventually, we had it all to ourselves...five seats across!). Upon arriving in Vietnam, we easily went through customs and found the driver for our hotel. The whole process reminded us of the night we flew in the Almaty, Kazakhstan during Katie's adoption, only this time we were less nervous.
For tonight, the adoption agency booked us in the Novatel Hotel in Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) and it's beautiful! We hope that tomorrow morning, we will meet the other couple and single mom who are also traveling to Da Nang with us. Our flight leaves in the afternoon, but than again, we're 14 hrs. ahead of the west coast so you can do the math.
Look for more updates tomorrow! For now we're going to get some much needed sleep.

Visas and plane tickets...
Yes, we have all of our visas and our tickets done! We got our visas in the mail today (the Vietnamese Consulate in SF is incredibly fast) and our plane tickets were finalized this morning. We were so blessed with our tickets because Kevin's grandma was very generous and gave us enough frequent flier miles for both Kevin and I to get free tickets to Vietnam. Since it is high tourist season there, the tickets for the three of us could have easily been over $6000. In the end we only had to purchase Katie's ticket which was very affordable compared to the adult tickets. Thank you so much, Grandma, we couldn't have done it without you.
We will post our itinerary in a couple of days so that anyone who wants to meet us at the airport can do so.
Travel dates are here...
After 6 months since our referral, we finally got our travel dates to Vietnam! We will be traveling on July 26th or 27th, will have our giving and receiving ceremony on July 30th, and head home around August 11th. We are thrilled to finally know when we will have our little boy, and how old he'll be when we get him. Stay tuned for more updates.
Still waiting...
Last week was kind of a crazy week for us in terms of this adoption. On Thursday we got an email from IAAP telling us that we had yet another letter/form to fill out for Eli's adoption. Instead of being told that we had our G& R dates and that we could get prepared to travel, we were told that until we get this new letter back to Vietnam, our paperwork will not progress at all! We scrambled to get it done and got it to UPS just in time to get it overnighted to IAAP. Hopefully this will be the last of the forms that we will have to do in order to bring home our son.

The one nice thing about last week was that we were able to find out some important dates in our adoption timeline. Previously we had no clue as to when our dossier actually made it to Vietnam or when it was technically logged into the DIA and now we know both. It made it to the staff in Vietnam on February 5th and after being translated (and waiting for TET to be finished) it was logged into the DIA on March 5th. What this mean exactly, we don't know for sure, but it at least gives us something to go off of. We are just praying right now for a very speedy processing of the rest of our paperwork so that we can get on an airplane and gather our baby boy into our arms forever! We are also praying that Eli's caregivers are able to give him lots of love and attention right now. He is coming up on his 7 month birthday and with every day that he is in the orphanage without the love and attention of his family, it will make his transition into our family harder. Thanks to everyone for your love, support and prayers during this wait. We couldn't do it without you!
Time does not fly when you are waiting for "The Call"
Eli is now 6 months old and we still have heard nothing of when we will be traveling to pick him up! This wait is killing us! The way it is beginning to look, we might not be traveling till this summer to get our little boy. To pass some of the time while we wait, we have been nesting. We finished his nursery this weekend and it looks so cute. Click here to see some pictures of it. Now we just wait....
Our baby boy is 5 months old today!
I can't believe that Eli is now 5 months old and we still have not heard anything about travel. We also have not heard any updates about where our paperwork is in the process of the Vietnamese government approvals but we assume it is still moving through the proper hands. We know that God is in control of the whole situation and that He will bring us to Vietnam in His perfect time, it is just that some days that is harder to think than others. When we first got our referral, I was thinking that we might actually be in Vietnam for Easter and now, it would take a miracle for us to leave anywhere near then. We know that God is the God of miracles and that He could make it happen, but we also know that His timing is better than ours. As we continue to wait to bring home our little Eli Thanh, I ask if you would please pray for us to be content with the wait. Some days are harder than others...and this is one of them. Thanks for being there for us.
The waiting is so hard...
It has now been over a month and a half since we received the referral of Eli and we are starting to get very anxious to hold him in our arms. He is now 4 1/2 months old and I am sure that he is getting bigger and doing more every day. It is so hard to know that he is on the other side of the world waiting for us and there is nothing that we can do except wait. We know that our paperwork is moving through the proper channels to get us our G&R date and that takes time, but we are still getting anxious. Katie is getting so excited about her baby "brudder" and every time she sees a picture of him, she squeals and says "EI" (that is Katie for Eli) "baby brudder, E-Nam" (that is, baby brother is in Vietnam). She is so cute. We just hope that she is this excited about him when we actually get him and he doesn't go away like the daycare kids do. To pass the time while we wait, we have painted Eli's room, bought his crib bumper and wallies (stick on wall paper airplanes for his walls) and started going to the local Vietnamese restaurant to get used to the cuisine that we will be experiencing while we are there. Other than that, we just wait, and wait, and wait....
Happy 4 month old birthday, Eli Thanh Lockwood. Mommy, Daddy and big sister pray that someone gives you some extra loves today for us. We love you.
In case you missed it, we just posted a picture page with all the pictures of Thanh Nhon. Just click here to see all the cute photos!
We couldn't wait to get to the adoption agency and see the pictures, so we packed all 5 kids into the car and got there right they opened. When we got to Heartsent, we got all the kids going with the toys, then Rachel had us sit on the couch together while she prepared to take a photo of us seeing our son for the first time.
It was so wonderful getting to see the referral pictures; we were both speechless! Everything about Thanh Nhon seems perfect. Although we were open to a special needs child, God chose a baby for us that seems 100% healthy. Getting a referral so soon, and for such a young, healthy baby is truly a miracle; even Rachel said so.
We'll try to add more info as we hear it, but for now, we hope you enjoy the pictures as much as we do.

Today at 12:48, we got the call from our agency that they had a referral ready for us! We were so excited to finally know the initial details (especially the sex). Since you might be anxious to know the details as well, here they are:

  Sex: It's a Boy!!!!!  
  Age: 3 months  
  Weight: 12 lbs / 5.5 kg  
  Birth date: Oct. 23rd, 2006  
  Location: Da Nang  
  Birth Name: Thanh Nhon  

We know you all want to see a picture, but we don't have one yet. Tomorrow we'll go to the adoption agency and get all the details with the picture and full referral (don't worry, we'll post the picture as soon as we get it!). For now, you can click here and view a zoomable satellite image of Da Nang, Vietnam. Stay tuned for more information in the coming days!

When we started the process of adopting from Vietnam, our thought was "Wow, this is so much easier and so much faster than Kaz." We are now realizing that it might have been easier in the beginning (most due to the fact that we understand the process a little better and know how to get the paperwork done a little easier now) but now it is getting a little more difficult.

Before Christmas, we were asked all the time about our referral and it didn't bother us at all. We knew that it would be very difficult to have a picture of our child and have to go through Christmas without being able to comfort them or give them their heart's desire. Now that the holidays are over, the wait is suddenly much harder. There are not very many distractions in our life now that we are done with the holidays so not knowing when we are getting the call is very hard.

Just two days ago, I got a call. "Hi, Sarah, this is Rachel from Heartsent." Those words stopped my heart. You see, Rachel at Heartsent is who "THE CALL" will come from when they have a referral for us. Unfortunately, it was not the call I was hoping for, it was actually one that I didn't really want to get. She told me that things are changing in Vietnam and that she didn't know how it was going to affect us but that we would have to fill out some additional forms and send them back to her as soon as possible.

It is kind of hard to explain what the difference in the process is now but I will try to do it in as few words as possible. Currently in Vietnam, the government would send a child's information to an agency that was licensed for that orphanage and the agency would match the child to a set of parents. Then, the child's info and the parent's dossier would be sent back to Vietnam to go through the government and then the parents would be issued a G&R date. As of Monday, Jan 15th, the parent's dossier will need to be sent to Vietnam first, it will need to be logged into the government's list and then the government will match a child to a set of parents. Then it would proceed as before and a G&R date will be issued.

Unfortunately for us, our dossier is not yet in Vietnam because we were waiting for our referral to be sent to IAAP. We do not yet know what this means for us or for our wait times, but as soon as we know, we post what we do know. Luckily, this is not a surprise to God :-) He has known which child that He had picked out for our family since the beginning of time. He knew the changes that were going to happen and He is in COMPLETE control! Please just pray for us that we will be patient as we wait. One really cool thing is that we got an email from IAAP that said that we are currently #4 on the wait list but that 2 of the families ahead of us are waiting for older children so we are technically now #2 in line for a baby! YEAH!!!

Best laid plans of mice and men...

It had been my intention to write more about our adoption on this site on a regular basis, but as you can see, that hasn't happened yet. These past two months have completely flown by and I haven't taken the time to update this site for a while. Over Thanksgiving weekend and the weekend following, we held two boutiques that featured all sorts of beautiful items that were hand made by many wonderful friends, family and local businesses. These two boutiques blessed us more than words can possibly describe. We were overwhelmed by the support of everyone who helped out and who came by to shop. Thank you! Over these two weekends we were able to raise almost everything that we were still in need of to complete this current adoption. God is so good to us!

Just after we finished the boutiques, we received word from Heartsent that our placement agency, IAAP, had told them that we were #4 on the waiting list and that we should hopefully receive our referral within the next two months! We were very excited. That means that as soon as the beginning of February, we could have our child's picture in our hands and we would hopefully travel within three months or so after that. Our prayer right now is that our wait time between referral and travel would be as short as possible. It will be so hard to have a picture of our child and not be able to hold him/her in our arms. But, that is part of the process in Vietnam and we know that our child is waiting in Vietnam for us, so might be what we have to go through. We are just praying that it will be in God's perfect time for us to get to Vietnam.


Our boutique made it in the newspaper! Actually, the main story in the paper is about our adoption (they wanted a public interest story), but they also put in a piece about the boutique. (Click here to see the stories and images of the pages) The fun part about it all is that the editor let us write the articles; it's the first time we've ever been "published". =D

The question that we have been asked the most recently is "What is the time frame of your adoption?" So far, this adoption has been moving along at a quick pace but it is now that it will slow down (quite possibly for a long time). The adoption process in Vietnam is a little different than Kazakhstan. In Kaz, our dossier had to be translated, then shipped over to Kaz where we waited for a Letter of Invitation from the Ministry of Education. For Vietnam, our dossier will stay at IAAP (our placement agency) until they receive referral information for a child who matches what we have said that we would like (it will take between 0-6 months for this to happen). Once we accept our referral, our dossier will be shipped to Vietnam, along with our child's paperwork where it will take between 2-4 months for the government to issue us our G&R date. After that point, we will finally be able to travel to Vietnam to meet our child and bring him/her home. So, from this point in the adoption process, we could be traveling in as little as three months (if we received a referral today) and in as much as eleven months. We are just praying that whenever it happens, that God will move it along at His perfect speed and that our child will be the child that He picked out for us from the very beginning.

In this "BLOG", I will be using some adoption terminology and abbreviations. I will try to list what they are here so that I am not leaving anyone in the dark. (I will add more as I learn more or think of more)

Dossier Packet of all the documents needed to adopt a child
DTV Dossier to Vietnam
Referral Photos/medical info etc, on a particular child
G&R Giving and Receiving Ceremony (the ceremony where we officially, legally receive our child)
HCMC Ho Chi Mihn City
TA Travel Approval

To see pictures, you can click the "Pictures" button on the left margin & proceed to the appropriate album, or you can click one of these links.
TIMELINE (Latest entry at bottom)
Signed application with Heartsent Adoptions
Got our fingerprints taken for the home study
Turned in final documents for home study
Home study is completed!
Got our fingerprints for C.I.S. (aka I.N.S.)
Received C.I.S. clearance
Turned in dossier (except for police clearance)
Received police clearance letters
Dossier processed at Secretary of State
Dossier sent to Vietnamese Consulate (in S.F.)
10.12.06 Dossier arrived at IAAP
Received letter from Heartsent - Said 2 month wait till referral
Found out about new way of getting referrals in Vietnam.
New forms set of forms sent off to Heartsent
Talked to IAAP, we are #2 on the list!!!
We accepted the referral and saw the first pictures
Dossier in Vietnam
Dossier officially "logged in" in Vietnam
Joan visits Eli and gets us new pictures
Received official travel dates
Visas arrive and tickets confirmed
Leave for Vietnam
Arrive in Danang
G&R date
Arrive in Hanoi
1st Embassy appointment

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