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By Dan | June 19, 2007

Well, according to the Vietnamese Government we are officially the parents of Tran Quang Thanh and Tran Quang Vinh! We went to the orphanage this morning, and all the preparation for director quirks and all was for nothing, as we met the director, signed the papers, and then finally met Thanh and Vinh. It actually seemed a little ceremonious, as the director did not speak English, so everything he said was translated and spoken rather formally. Overall, we were probably at the orphanage about 45 minutes. They had us sign a book with a note that appeared to mostly be a register of everyone that had adopted there. Other than that, we spent a little time with Thanh and Vinh before we left, and asked a few questions of the nannies, but not much actual time at the orphanage.

When we first entered the baby room, Thanh and Vinh were in adjacent cribs, and the nannies quickly scooped one up and placed them in the same crib, where they both stood there clinging to the edge rail. The cribs were stainless steel or chrome – shiny, metallic, and rather institutional looking. Not like the old Romanian orphanage photos with worn paint, but still rather disheartening that someone had to start life that way. We saw a couple of the hammocks of which we had heard (unfortunately couldn’t get a good picture, but the above link shows one in the background). It appeared that the hammocks were as much as anything a way to make more crib space when they ran out of cribs. The cribs and play space had woven mats on the bottom (bamboo or palm fronds?), and while they looked very functional, they didn’t look very comfortable, and definitely weren’t very inviting.

For me it was pretty much love at first sight. I had grown attached somewhat to the picture that had been the wallpaper on my home computer for quite a while, but pictures for the most part just don’t provide enough reality for me for such a thing. Seeing them standing side by side in the crib (wearing matching outfits – of course they were going to make a challenge for us to begin with), was enough to make your heart melt. Hopefully the photo I got captured the moment pretty well (I haven’t pulled any off the camera yet).

They are both sick, most likely with colds. The caretakers said they had been running a fever of 102 a couple days ago, and they have stuffy noses and rattly chests. Most likely, they are finishing getting over what they had caught, and hopefully nothing else shows up in the medical exam tomorrow. The scabies patches look like they are starting to heal, and getting into the air conditioning should help that.

Thanh and Vinh both were extremely easy going from the get go, both clinging on and accepting us holding them without a fuss. (As opposed to the girl for the other “couple” who took quite a while to calm down when first introduced. Interestingly enough, she reached for the 5 year old boy, rather than her new mother, and did not settle down with her new mother for quite a while.) They were calm and curious, looking back and forth for quite a while until we got in the van to leave. The seemed to check for one another quite a while, but that may be us adults over-reading their curiosity. we snapped a few pictures with the director and the care-givers, and left.

Once we left, we went to the Ministry of Justice office in Vung Tau for the Giving and Receiving ceremony. This was an unremarkable office on the second floor over a motorbike parking area. We went in, signed a few more papers, snapped a few more pictures, and that was it. However, Thanh and Vinh seemed to realize that the activity of the morning wasn’t a joke, and both started screaming. Wow do they have powerful lungs! We tried to calm them and gave them bottles. They ate some, but they were having nothing to do with calming down. They went from shortly after we got into the MofJ office to back into the van, through 5 minutes down the road to KFC (yep, they have them here) and back into the van before finally Thanh took a pacifier and fell asleep, and Vinh followed a few minutes afterward. It was a rather interesting car ride back, as seatbelts are not standard equipment here, much less child seats. I was propped in trying to slouch in the seat so that Thanh could lie on me more than me holding him. Shannon was leaning against the van wall with Vinh tucked into her arm. It was an amazing two hours back to HCMC, with both boys soundly asleep almost all the way, but still somehow peeking out between slit eyelids from time to time (from a full sleep) to see if anything had changed.

Went back to the hotel, got pictures taken at the shop next door for the medical exam, and filled out the I600 visa application for submission to the Consulate. I think Anna or Thao was taking the application for submission yet today. They said that it has been taking a few days to get an interview rather than the week that we were expecting, so hopefully that is true. If so, it is much more likely that we will be able to return home early.

We got back upstairs and suddenly the room is full of cribs! Shannon was feeding Vinh and I was watching Thanh on the big bed while changing clothes, when suddenly he flipped over and started crawling toward Shannon’s black hair brush! Talk about unexpected! (I figured that wouldn’t be far away since they were already pulling up at the orphanage, but that still was not in the report that the orphanage personnel had relayed.) So far, anything black within range is automatically a toy, from socks to brushes to money clips.

We have spent almost the last two hours playing with them and getting a few pictures until I had to run out for water. (We tried to go together, but one of them did not take to the carrier, and wasn’t tolerating the stroller either. Oh yeah, Thao also bought two umbrella strollers for us on the way back – they were relatively inexpensive and will probably be donated in the end.) Sometime in there, Thanh fell asleep and Shannon put him down in one crib. Vinh has been playing still, but at one point rolled over so he was wedged against my legs and also fell asleep (in like 5 seconds). Shannon tried to move him too fast tho and woke him up, so we played some more, and now he has had a bath and finally fell sleep between us on the bed. I don’t think we will attempt to move him for a while.

Vinh is also babbling, and he clearly says ba-ba, and answers as well if he is in the mood. (I think Shannon said that Thanh had been too, although I have not observed this. I know I heard some when I was in the bathroom tho, but don’t know who it was.) They are identical, and telling them apart is difficult so far. Right now, I can tell because Vinh has some scratches on his face (from his fingernails most likely), but obviously that will only go so far. The nannies said they mostly told because Vinh’s head is flatter and Thanh’s is rounder, but we haven’t gotten proficient at this yet (especially because they were wearing hats all the way home). Thanh seems to be the more laid back, and more curious. I can tell that he is going to get into more than his share of trouble. Vinh seems less comfortable with the situation and seems a little more stressed by it. We have also been watching for dominant hand indicators (since identical twins should have one left hand, one right hand in the pair, this should be the sure way to always tell them apart), but have not identified them as of yet. Not surprising as I would imagine they wouldn’t be that prevalent until some of the small muscle coordination develops.

Tomorrow’s agenda: medical exam, and not sure what else. It’s a little more reasonable start time at 8am, and I’m guessing it won’t take long and that will be it for the day. Now it’s 5:45pm, and I think I am going to try to sleep a little before pulling pictures off the camera. We are going to try to email some home to arrive as early morning as we can manage, but right now it’s just been a very long day (pretty much 36 hours for me).

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