Riding the Wave

As I type I am sitting in the International Terminal at LAX. In one hour we will board a plane that will take us to China, then into Cambodia, and ultimately into Vietnam. It is completely surreal to think this day is here.

Things are still up in the air with Rob’s visa. We have two different well-connected people who are working to help us get Rob a visa. If it turns out he ultimately cannot get a visa, the plan is for him to remain in Cambodia while Nathan and I travel into Vietnam and complete the adoption. Once the adoption is complete, Rob will head for home while Nathan and I get Kim a passport and a visa so we can return to the States. I am entirely at peace with the idea of traveling into Vietnam without Rob. Do I like the idea? Heavens, no! But I have accepted it and am okay completing Kim’s adoption on my own.

What causes me intense stress is the idea that our adoption could be cancelled. Our adoption agency’s in-country employee is VERY worried if we push immigration too hard they will begin looking into the adoption and potentially cancel it entirely. Our other allies who are assisting Rob in his quest to get a visa do not share this concern. But, oh how it gets my mama heart racing to think there’s even a small chance we might not be able to bring Kim home.

The thing that sustains me is an abiding belief God is at the helm. I’ve said it before, but Kim is His daughter and He has a plan for her. For now, we are putting our trust in those who are advocating for Rob, and more than that we are putting our trust in God to guide them, and to soften any hearts that may need softened.

 

Anyone who knows me well knows I tend to function from a place of pretty high anxiety. I have worked very hard to learn coping skills and feel I have made extraordinary progress. The true miracle is, through all of this emotional turmoil I have had peace. My worries are present, but they do not dominate me. I have truly been blessed by the faith and prayers of so many of you.

I have been thinking a lot about a scripture in the Book of Mormon found in Mosiah 24:14-15, it reads:

14  And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.

15  And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.

That promise has been made very real in our life. In spite of all the ups and downs, we have been mostly cheerful. Sometimes I have to take a lot of deep breaths before the cheerfulness returns, but overall we have truly been strengthened.

 

Now that we have all that serious stuff out of the way, I must say it is an absolute blast flying with Nathan. He hasn’t been on airplane since he was 3 years old, so everything is new and exciting.

We’ll be off the grid for the next 14.5 hours, next time I write I’ll be in ASIA! I want all my little loves at home to know they are in my heart every moment! I  can’t wait to Facetime from Cambodia!

 

 

Rollercoaster Ride

There are many titles I considered for this post: Giants Fall, Blessed are they who Humble Themselves without being Compelled to be Humble, Wherein I Try Not to Curl Up in the Fetal Position, Waiting for Mountains to Move, the list could go on.

As many of you have probably heard, the visa currently residing happily in Rob’s passport is no longer valid. Receiving that news was a bit of a punch in the gut, and we’re feeling pretty humble and utterly dependent upon God right now.

So where does that leave us??? We haven’t given up hope yet and are still working toward a resolution. We now have the San Francisco Consulate’s full attention, for it appears they issued Rob a visa when they shouldn’t have. Rob has sent them every bit of documentation we have, showing that his trip to Vietnam last year was authorized and legal, and showing we have been approved by the Vietnamese government to adopt Kim. Our big hope now is that Rob can get a visa through a sponsor in Vietnam. When Steve spoke with the immigration officer he was told everyone blacklisted as a result of last year’s trip was welcome to enter Vietnam again, but they would need to have a sponsor. Our adoption agency is waiting for one more piece of documentation and then they will approach immigration and ask to sponsor Rob. I really believe this is the most likely course to getting Rob into the country.

In the mean time, we’re completing the process of getting Rob’s Power of Attornry legalized by the Vietnamese consulate. When San Francisco issued him a visa, he didn’t bother with the Power of Attorny. We regeret that big time now. Yesterday we overnighted the POA to our wonderful sister-in-law, Katie, who lives in Washington D.C.. On Monday Katie will take it to the embassy, get it legalized, then overnight it back to us so we can have it in hand on Tuesday. I hereby appoint Katie to be Kim’s Godmother! 🙂

We still plan to leave for Cambodia on Wednesday with hope that Rob will have a visa before we to travel into Vietnam on Monday, October 31st. If Rob still has not received a visa, Nathan and I will head to Vietnam without him. Once in Vietnam we will be met by a representative from our agency who will transport us out to Kim’s province. We will spend Tuesday and Wednesday at her orphanage getting to know her in an environment which is familiar to her. I am so grateful we are being allowed this time with her before we take custody of her as I think it will do much to ease her transition into our care. I’m also thrilled with the opportunity to see where she has spent the first two years of her life and to get to know those who have cared for her. Then, on Thursday we will head with Kim to the  Department of Justice in her province and sign papers that will make her legally ours! I am so hopeful Rob will be there, he hasn’t missed the birth of any of our children yet, and my fingers are crossed he won’t start now!

About a week ago I heard the song “Giants Fall” by Francesca Battistelli. I think it is the perfect theme song for the road we are currently walking. I want to make it clear we in no way feel the Vietnamese government is a mean giant we need to topple. We truly believe they are good and doing their best to protect their citizens. That said, navigating this process can feel a little like fighting a giant. This song has given me hope and courage as we have struggled this past week to work through the lot that has been handed us.

Giants Fall

Everyone’s telling you
To let go of what you’re holding to
It’s too late, too far
You’re too small, it’s too hard
Throwing water on that spark
Living deep inside your heart
With oceans of reasons
The things you’re not seeing
But oh, maybe they don’t
Know what you know
That you’re not alone

Don’t you be afraid
Of giants in your way
With God you know that anything’s possible
So step into the fight
He’s right there by your side
The stones inside your hand might be too small
But watch the giants fall

We could really live like this
Can’t you imagine it
So bold, so brave
With childlike faith
Miracles could happen
Mountains would start moving
So whatever you may face

Don’t you be afraid
Of giants in your way
With God you know that anything’s possible
So step into the fight
He’s right there by your side
The stones inside your hand might be too small
But watch the giants fall

Ask and believe
You’re gonna see
The hand of God in every little thing

Don’t you be afraid
Of giants in your way
With God you know that anything’s possible
So step into the fight
He’s right there by your side
The stones inside your hand might be too small
But watch the giants fall

Miracles can happen
Anything is possible
Watch the giants fall

We know God is at the helm and is very aware of our plight. We know He will be “right there by our side” and are waiting as patiently as possible for His arm to be revealed.

We would also like to express immense gratitude for the love and support we have felt. There have been so many who have rallied around us and prayed with us. Thank you, thank you all!

I Left My Heart in San Francisco

Ugh.

That pretty much sums up how things are going right now.

Steve’s conversation with the Vietnamese Immigration Officer didn’t magically solve all of our visa issues, so naturally it’s time for a trip to San Francisco.

Well, it’s not really about San Francisco, but entirely about the Vietnamese Consulate located there. The plan is for Rob to fly out tonight and back Friday morning. That will give him a full day at the Consulate. Our goals are two fold:

  1. We are attempting to secure Rob’s Power of Attorney so I can complete the adoption without him. In order for his POA to be valid in Vietnam, it must first be notarized, then authenticated by the Utah State government, and finally it must be legalized at the Vietnamese consulate. Cue trip to the State Capital followed by a flight to good old San Fran.
  2. We are hoping to work out his visa issues so we won’t actually need the POA.

Any prayers, well wishes, shout-outs to the universe, and other good juju are welcome and appreciated.

If Rob is unable to get a visa, then we will cancel his plane ticket and buy one for Ruby instead. While I know Ruby would make a most excellent traveling companion and that she, Nathan, and I would totally rock Vietnam, I’d feel a lot more comfortable traveling with the man who actually speaks the language. That and I simply cannot imagine Rob having to wait to meet his new daughter until we get back to the States. She needs him. She needs to get to know him in her country of origin. She needs his playful, loving, tender heart during this time of newness as she learns to know us and trust us.

Keep the prayers coming.

Faith and Fear

It has been said that Faith and Fear cannot exist in the same heart at the same time for one will dispel the other. I’ll tell you this, faith and fear may not be able to exist together at the same time, but they sure do a good job of taking turns standing on center stage.

Who would have thought this part of our adoption would be this hard?

We’ve made a lot of progress in the last 24 hours, nothing is resolved, but at least we now know what is happening. What do we know? Rob has indeed been blacklisted. Through a few different miracles we were able to discover what caused the blacklisting and I’ll tell you this– knowledge is power.

In November of last year Rob headed to Vietnam for his second time to do humanitarian work. The day before he left was the day we fist saw Kim’s picture and committed to adopt her. It was a good trip for Rob, everything went according to plan and he came home happy. That trip is the root of all of our current difficulties. The trip organizers decided everyone in the group should travel to Vietnam on Tourist Visas rather than a more difficult to get, but needed for what they were doing, Work Visas. An immigration officer found out about this and flagged the passport of every member for the group, so now Rob cannot enter Vietnam due to visa violations.

Here’s the cool part of this rather desolate situation, a few months ago the group’s organizer, Steve, applied for a Vietnam Visa. Naturally, Steve was denied. It took him two trips to the Vietnamese Consulate in San Francisco and some serious detective work to discover the root of the problem. Amazingly, a few days ago Steve was able to track down the phone number of the exact Immigration Officer who flagged all of their visas and was already planning to call him tonight to apologize and ask forgiveness. When Rob called Steve last night hoping he may have some answers, Steve had already done months of preparation to give us the help we need.

Please pray for Steve as he talks to the immigration officer. Steve needs the right words to say; also, please pray  the immigration officer’s heart will be softened in our favor. Please pray this will not interrupt our adoption because there is some concern immigration could call the DOJ and alert them that Rob cannot get a visa and then the adoption could be cancelled all together. It’s potentially scary stuff.

If Rob cannot get a visa the only alternative for our adoption to proceed is for Rob to give me his Power of Attorney and then I can sign the adoption documents for him. While this is not ideal, it still keeps us moving forward. That said, it will take 2-4 weeks to get the Power of Attorney authenticated and legalized and as such, we would most definitely need to move our G&R date back.

We are hopeful, but oh how we need everyone’s faith.

Roadblocks and Stumbling Blocks

Just when you think everything is smooth sailing, leave it to life to set up a roadblock.

Between the craziness of travel preparations and the newness of this blog, I forgot to share: WE HAVE A G&R DATE! On November 3rd Tien Kim Nguyen will legally be our daughter!

Upon receiving this news I immediately called Rob but couldn’t get through. I remembered he was in the middle of a meeting so I sent him a text that read, “November 3rd”.  That got his attention. After so much waiting, wondering, and worrying there was finally an end in sight!  Rob was so happy, he cried like a baby.

We immediately began to make travel plans and were thrilled to discover our plane tickets were going to cost several hundred dollars less than we had initially thought. Previously we had decided to bring Nathan along on this adventure, so we booked three tickets for the outbound trip and FOUR  for the return trip. We also decided to leave a few days early and first fly into Cambodia to see where Rob served his mission and to take a trip up to Angkor Wat. We began researching and booking hotel rooms in Phnom Phenh and Siem Reap Cambodia, as well as in Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam. I also applied for our visas into both countries.

Cue Roadblock.

On Friday I received word our Vietnamese visas had been approved, but upon further investigation I found that only Nathan and I had been approved. Rob had not. At first I thought this was a mistake and requested they send Rob’s visa documentation. That’s when the crisis began. They told me Rob had been “blacklisted” and could not get a visa. I was told to contact the embassy to see what to do from here. Maybe it was a mistake?

This was horrible news to receive, but particularly so on a Friday afternoon. It was 3:00 am on Saturday in Vietnam, there was NO chance of resolving this before Monday. Worst case scenarios began to play out in my head. What if this is something we cannot overcome? If Rob cannot enter the country then we cannot adopt Kim. I felt like someone had just told me, “Prepare yourself, there’s a chance your baby will be stillborn.”

We reached out to everyone we could, which was tricky considering it was a weekend. We were fortunate to have a few resources in Vietnam and at this point there are two different men looking into it. One of them was able to do a search on Rob’s passport number and couldn’t detect any problems. That gives me hope this is all a big mistake and Monday morning we will receive the happy news that we are good to go! In the mean time we are asking for prayers for a quick resolution. I have also felt the prayers of peace and comfort that many have said for us.

Today we are nervous, but hopeful. We also have great compassion for all who worry and grieve over children whether they be biological, adopted, or in process of adoption. Uncertainty over a child you love is gut wrenching; but, we also testify to the peace that can come from our loving Father. Throughout our adoption process when things have been difficult I have had to repeatedly reminded myself: Kim is His daughter too, He knows her, He loves her more than I can understand, He is aware of her and He is aware of me.