Category Archives: Vietnam

The girl in the picture…from tragedy to hope

Vietnam holds a special place in my heart as it was the birthplace of Little Man. Not only that, we completely fell in love with the nation, its culture and its people during our month long stay.  After all, Vietnam gave us the precious gift of parenthood.

For obvious but vastly different reasons, Vietnam also holds a place in the history of our nation.  I think I could write a novel about my experience in Vietnam, including the time we spent at the war museum in Ho Chi Minh City.  It was a lot to take in and process.  Sometimes I still feel like I’m processing it…

But this isn’t a pro-war/anti-war post.  Far from it, actually.  Just like in adoption, I’ve learned that beautiful things can be made from tragic situations.  I think war at any time, anywhere is a tragedy.  So when I read stories like what I’m about to share, all feels right in the world  again.

You don’t want to miss this.  Please read and see how one life that was tragically affected by war is now helping to pass along hope to others. http://www.joemcnally.com/blog/2012/06/04/on-a-road-40-years-ago/

World Changers: Breaking the Cycle of Poverty in Vietnam (empowering single mothers and their children)

Did you know that in Vietnam, the birth country of Little Man, 50% of the population lives on less than $2/day?

We fell in love with this amazing country and its people when we had the honor of adopting Little Man in 2008.  After a month stay in Vietnam, we knew our hearts would be forever tied to this beautiful land.

Once back in the United States, I sought out organizations that were fighting to empower women, children and families in Vietnam.  One such organization is called Children of Vietnam.

Please take a few moments to watch this video and see how they are breaking the cycle of poverty in Vietnam.  One of their efforts involves empowering single mothers to obtain economic stability so that they can provide for their families and so that their children can receive an education.  Please watch and please consider how you can make a difference.

World Changers–those who change the world for one person at a time.  Pass it on….

The Power of We

Today is Blog Action Day, a time for bloggers from around the globe to unite and join a global discussion about one important topic.

“The purpose of Blog Action Day is to create a positive discussion that enables social good about an important topic. We ask bloggers to take a single day out of their schedule and focus it on an important issue.

By blogging about the same issue, on the same day, from their own perspectives, the blogging community focuses discussion and give their audiences the opportunities to take part in a global conversation, raise awareness or even funds for not-for-profits.”

The topic for today is The Power of We.  I love this topic so much and was really excited to write about it.

the reason I started blogging in the first place…..Little Man and I meeting at the orphanage in Vietnam for the first time

I started blogging in 2007 as a way to chronicle our adoption journey.  At the time, it was just a way for us to keep family and friends updated on the long, complicated journey.  Over time, my blog changed a lot.  I wasn’t sure what to write about or how to use my online presence.  But then slowly, after the adoption of our second child (a special needs, older child adoption) I knew what purpose I wanted my blog to serve.

My blog, you see, became my voice.  A voice to raise awareness on the issues that had affected my life personally: autism, special needs adoption, older child adoption, HIV adoption and the HIV/AIDS orphan crisis and non-profits providing aid to orphanages and children around the world.  I  even found my voice in encouraging others that adventure and the outdooors are for everyone–especially for children and those with special needs.

In 2009, through the power of blogging, I was able to team up with some other adoptive mama’s to start a series of campaigns to raise funds for children and families in Vietnam.  We had never even met in real life, but we had forged a connection through our sons’ shared heritages and our online voices.  We took a small idea and using he Power of We, were able to give life-saving surgeries, meals and other resources to people in need.

In 2012, again through blogging, I was able to connect and meet with the moms involved in the World Moms Blog and was able to spread my voice even further by becoming a contributor to their social good column.

And again in 2012, I was able to join a coalition of moms called the Global Team of 200 in an effort to spread my message of social good far and wide.

I am just beginning to harness the Power of We.  I don’t know where I’m heading, but I know it’s right where I’m supposed to be.  Blogging has not only let me find my voice, but has let me truly discover the amazing Power of We. I am so excited to see where this journey takes me.

Together, our voices united, we can bring about the changes we seek.  I have seen it happen before and I am honored to be a part of the Power of We.

Won’t you join me?

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. ~Margaret Mead 

4 Years Ago {Happy Family Day, Little Man!}

On this day 4 years ago, my life was forever changed. The hubby and I walked into an orphanage in Vietnam as a family of two, but left as a family of three.

the first time I held my son…he looked terrified 

our official “giving and receiving” ceremony

It’s hard to believe that it has been 4 years. It has been (and continues to be) an honor and a privilege to call Little Man my son. There is not a single day that passes that I don’t stop and reflect on what an amazing blessing I’ve been given.  Watching him grow and change over these past 4 years has been the most magnificent experience of my life.  I’m a lucky, lucky mama whose heart is bursting over with joy and love.  I don’t know how I got so lucky, but I am thankful to spend each day with this wonderful little boy!!! Happy Family Day, sweet Little Man.  I love you to the moon and back, a million times over.

 

Have Kids, Will Travel

….and explore, and venture to new places, and seek new thrills…

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We may have only been a family for all of one week, but what better time for our first family adventure? We started our family out with a bang…..spending the night on a junk boat in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam. Now that was some adventure!

Traveling the world is something that I always wanted to do as a child, and I hope that my travel adventures continue as I age. As a child, however, I could have never anticipated that I would end up traversing the globe on two separate occasions with small children in tow.

But traveling with young children can still be civilized, as long as you have a loose definition of the word. Oh, I kid, I kid. Traveling with children is an adventure in and of itself. We have traveled the globe and made many a long road trips with our two wild boys. We are always seeking new thrills and adventures with our kiddos. From hiking, canoeing, caving, rafting and just plain wandering, we have reaped the rewards of adventuring with children.

So in that spirit, I decided to become a regular contributor for Civilized Travel, a web resource geared for those who love civilized travel spiked with a healthy dose of adventure. I hope that I can bring a fresh perspective to what travel and adventure is really like with young children. Having kids doesn’t have to slow you down and you certainly don’t have to leave them at home. Family adventure rocks!

You can read my first piece Civilized Travel, Family Style where I give tips on traveling with kids. If you have some tips or advice to share, I encourage you to head on over and give some comment love to my first article :) I’m excited to embark on this new writing adventure and will be posting over at Civilized Travel once a week. Let me know if you have any topics you would like to see discussed!

The Mom I Was Supposed to Be

Before I became a mom to two little boys from hard places, I had all kinds of grand ideas of what I envisioned motherhood to be. In fact, I even knew what kind of mother I was going to be. I knew what issues I was passionate about. I knew what mattered to me and what I stood for. I believed organic was good, processed was bad; natural was safer, chemicals were dangerous; plastic never, glass and wood always; technology nada, nature only. I thought I had it all figured out.

I had a game plan and I was going to follow through, gosh darnent!

And then it happened. On February 15, 2008, I received a phone call from our adoption agency. There was a little boy in Vietnam with medical special needs. He was 4 months old and he needed a family. “Would we like to be that family?” they had asked. They sent his picture to my email box. With one click of the mouse, my life changed forever. I saw my son’s face for the first time and I was totally smitten.

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My heart saored and my stomach turned flips. Was this really happening? After all these years, was I really going to be a mommy? Was this precious baby really my baby? I had never felt so much joy in all of my life. I felt like I was flaoting above the earth and waltzing through the clouds. I was going to be a mommy to Little Man.

Little did I know at the time that the next 6 months would be the most grueling, soul-crushing time of my life as we waited and fought tooth and nail to bring our son home. What turned into a political battle of wills between two nations resulted in one of the darkest times of my life. After watching our beloved son grow up through pictures in an orphanage 10,000 miles away, we finally boarded a plane to Vietnam after a long, hard fight. Our little baby that we hadn’t even met in real life yet was nearly a year old now. He was hardly a tiny baby anymore and we prayed he would be resistant to the wounds of institutionalization. Oh how I wish he could have been.

After 36 hours of travel, my son was placed into my arms and immediately all the would-of, could-of, should-be’s fell to the ground. The most important turths of life selectively came into focus. My son was safe, alive and in my arms. We were all together. The battle was over. Little Man had survived his first year alone in an orphanage. We were all alive and safe.

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That evening-our first evening together as a family of three-I would learn just how dark and horrible the downward spiral of institutionalization can be for a child. And in that long, sad night, I said goodbye to all my frivalous mommy plans and laid a new path instead. It would be a path of healing, of gratitude and of awareness. It would be a path whose goal had nothing to do with being trendy, popular, mainstream or full of ideals. My new path would hinge on the fact that life is so fragile, so short and so magnificent that I needn’t worry about the small, fleeting issues of daily life. Maybe the trauma of the preceeding months had reshaped how I saw the world and motherhood. Maybe I was just too busy and overwhelmed to even care. Or maybe I was just so grateful at the chance to be a mother to this child that nothing else even mattered. All those other issues seemed so silly compared to what I now knew to be important.

While I still prefer to stick to my ideals when given a chance, I don’t worry if I fall short. Because around here, that happens often, especially now with a special needs child in the picture. Somedays we are lucky if we even check one issue off of the list. And I’m okay with that. I am so thankful that this new path has taught me time and time again to take nothing for granted…to find joy in every day and to remember that life really is a miracle. Enjoy it now and everything else will fall into place. Or at least you won’t feel guilty if it doesn’t.