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Medical Exam and Passport Applications

By Dan | June 20, 2007

Long day today, and it isn’t even over… Vinh finally fell asleep next to me after being generally cranky for the last hour, and Thanh is playing with Shannon on the bed after already having gotten up from his nap. It is still amazing, getting to know them. Their personalities are very similar, yet very distinct at the same time. Before long, I think I will be able to tell them apart by personality, and we have gotten better at by looks as well. (Some of this is due to a scratch pattern on Vinh’s face that will be healed in the next day or so, however.)

Today was the medical exam and the Vietnamese passport application. We elected to pay extra for expedited passport service, which meant hiring someone to walk through the application essentially. It’s about $300 each, which isn’t cheap, but well worth it rather than waiting 2-3 weeks. We met the guy the facilitators hired at the Vietnamese passport agency, and filed, which amounted to me signing twice and proving that could pronounce Vinh’s name correctly. (Actually, that apparently wasn’t that important, as I didn’t get it quite right.) Anyway, the experience was rather like waiting at any number of US government offices – sit in rows of chairs until your name is called. Since we had the expediter there, it didn’t take long, and he was called on his cell phone when we were ready rather than over the loudspeaker.

Then we went to the medical exam. The hospital is a semi-open air complex, with some waiting areas inside and some outside. The doctor was very nice and understood English very well, although it took some work for him to speak it. We spoke about where we were from, and our general observations of the twins (although he was shocked to hear that we had them only about 24 hours). Their coughs are significantly better today, and the doctor agreed that is probably any number of the adjustment to A/C, allergies, and the remnants of a cold. He gave us something to give them if they should develop fevers, but said otherwise they should be fine as is and gave his medical clearance.

The drive through the city was fairly unremarkable, other than the bad air conditions and traffic. We did drive through an older part, with power and telephone lines everywhere. It looked very “Hollywood Hong Kong” if that makes any sense. I managed to get a picture (the only one of the day, it was tough to handle a camera today), but I don’t think it will do justice to the effect.

When we got back to the hotel, we were told to wait for Anna. (Thao was the only person with us today. I’m guessing that Anna was doing paperwork for us at the consulate.) Anna informed us that the consulate would not accept the documentation of the boys as twins (which amounted to a statement from the orphanage saying something to the effect that they were found together, looked identical, and had similar temperaments). Therefore, we would have to pay a second I600 fee prior ($545) to our interview tomorrow or it would be canceled. Transportation is an issue to do so this afternoon, and the facilitators are not allowed into the part of the consulate where I must do so, so this “minor” change is a little nerve wracking. The facilitators must have sensed this, as Thao offered to take my by motor-scooter one way, but I will still have to navigate back by cab due to having to wait there and her having other business this afternoon. Hopefully this isn’t a problem, and hopefully they take credit cards as indicated, as the extra cash things are starting to add up. I’m bringing cash as well just in case tho.

They also coached us on the interview tomorrow. We need to learn some information from the paperwork in case the CIS officer asks, such as the circumstances of abandonment. More on this after the interview.

Anna says that if the interview goes well and they grant CIS approval tomorrow, we will leave for Hanoi on Friday. If that happens, we may be home by the middle of next week. I’m certainly ready to go home, tho this has been a very whirlwind experience, and some part of me wishes it would have taken a little longer to be able to let it really sink in a little more, and experience a little more of the culture. It is a concern of the Vietnamese government (and most of at least the Asian programs) that adopted children are at least exposed to the cultures of their heritage, and this is likely the only first-hand exposure we will be able to take with us. At the same time, the twins are what is important, and I suspect when we get home that adjustment will just go that much quicker (and not just because we had a head start). Again, I speak of the middle of next week like it is tomorrow tho, and it is just the middle of this week now, so even under the perfect circumstances we will have a week to go. It also might be nice to have the weekend to spend in Hanoi, since we basically already spent a weekend here (not that we did much with it).

Thanh would like to add a few remarks:

mu0ojuhnmmm

(that is to say, he just climbed up on the keyboard). Vinh has been successfully moved to his bed. I should really remove temptation, as this big black device looks like a wonderful toy to them.

Alright, now he has lost interest. (Until I started typing again.) Both were laughing and giggling today, Vinh when I was bouncing him around in the carrier, and Thanh when Shannon was playing peekaboo. It gets easier and easier to make them grin and giggle with each passing hour, so hopefully that is another sign of increased comfort with us. They also have been babbling a little more (and we have witnessed them babbling individually). Thanh tends to say ‘ba-ba-ba’ and Vinh says more ‘ga-ga’, but they both have variations. (Coincidentally, as I type this Thanh just put together a ‘sentence’ of 4-5 sounds, not all of which are typeable…)

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