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Adopting Abby from Danang, Vietnam

By Cindi Sitz-Davanzo

Our trip was amazing - Vietnam and it's people are so warm and friendly.

We spent the first 7 days in Danang at the Furama Resort. I would highly recommend the Furama. It's a little pricey, but so nice and the staff is very accommodating. It's right on the beach, has 2 pools and 3 great restaurant. We really enjoyed it because it is away from the hustle and bustle of the city. It's about a 10 minute cab ride from downtown Danang.

We didn't do much sight seeing there because we felt it was important just to be with Abby and all get to know each other. She grieved for her caregiver and orphanage the first 2 days. The only thing that would comfort her would be to hold her and walk with her. We walked miles in the hotel room and around the resort. She didn't cry as much the 3rd and 4th days, she just looked like she was in shock. By the 5th day she started playing with some of her toys and we started to see a little bit of personality. We finally saw her smile on the 6th day - it was the most beautiful smile I have ever seen!!! And it's gotten better and better everyday. She is wonderful. She giggles and plays all day. It has been such fun watching her blossom and see her sweet personality come through.

We laughed during the trip about the things she played with the most. We lugged $1000 worth of toys half way around the world and the things she played with most were a deck of playing cards, Cheerios in one of those little round yellow holders that looks like a big Cheerio, Animal Crackers, and the basket in the hotel rooms with the little shampoos and soaps.

The last 4 days were spent in HCMC. We stayed at the Rex which was very nice. It's an older hotel but is traditional Vietnamese. The staff is very accommodating as well. For those of you who are yet to travel, even if you don't stay at the Rex, there is a restaurant on the roof that has great food and a beautiful view of the city.

Abby has adjusted so well, I can hardly believe she is the same scared little girl that we first met. When we got to the orphanage she was sitting on the floor with her favorite caregiver taking a bottle. I sat on the floor and tried to talk to her and stoke her arm and she immediately began screaming and crying. My husband and I tried talking to her and giving her toys and she continued to cry. The entire time we were at the orphanage she cried or was sleeping because she was exhausted from crying so much. She stopped crying when we got in the cab to go to the Department of Justice for the Giving and Receiving Ceremony. And she sat quitely on my lap during the G&R. We got a chance to meet Abby's birth mother and birth grandmother. Both were very sad to say goodbye but stressed to us that they wanted Abby to have a better future than they could provide. They had been visiting her in the orphanage frequently.

The orphanage had told us that she could walk about 5 steps by herself. For the first week and a half, all we saw was 2 at the most. Then one afternoon while we were in HCMC we came back to the hotel room from shopping. We sat Abby on the floor with some toys while we were looking at all of our treasures. Before we knew it Abby had pulled up on a chair, walked around it holding on, then took off around the room! And she hasn't stopped! Then she had to walk down the hall way of the hotel, to the elevator and back, then we went down to the lobby and she walked all over the lobby! Then she discovered she could walk backwards. She really thought that was neat. She was looking at us with a big grin on her face like, 'Hey, look at me! I'm so cool, I can walk backwards!' Since we've been home she has explored every inch of the house.

She can say Ma-Ma-Ma and Da-Da-Da and Dog-Dog-Dog. We have 2 dogs. The first meeting between Abby and the dogs wasn't very good, she was very afraid. But little by little they are getting used to each other. The first few mornings we were home, Chuck put Abby in the back pack carrier and took the dogs for a walk. She really liked that because she could watch them, but she didn't have to get too close. Now she and the dogs more or less ignore each other. Every once in a while she forgets herself and walks up to them and touches one of them. Then she realizes what she is doing and giggles and walks away.

We flew Eve Airways, Evergreen Deluxe Class. I would highly recommend this. It was only about $80 more per ticket than Cathay Pacific coach class, and there was a lot more room than standard coach. I would say it was almost like Business Class. We had the bulkhead seat coming back with the bassinet which was wonderful. Abby slept 8 of the 11 hours from Taipei to San Francisco. We were on a 747 and we had the very front row in the nose of the plane. There was a wall with a closet in front of us, and there was a lot of space between our seats and the wall, plus a really big aisle. Before Abby went to sleep, we spread a blanket and pillow our on the floor between our seats and the wall and she sat down there and played with her toys for a long time. The airline also gave us a baby gift pack with a bib and some toys in it, plus we got baby meals for Abby.

Going out we went from St. Louis - LA - Taipei - HCMC - Danang. Then coming home HCMC - Taipei - San Francisco - St. Louis. We were a little worried about our trip home, while we were in Danang, Taiwan had a major earthquake. But we found out that it was in the south and Taipei is in the north and the airport was not affected.

I can't believe after the mounds of paperwork and months of waiting that we are actually home with our daughter. For all of you waiting - it will happen and it will be better than you ever expected it to be (really it will, when I was waiting I didn't believe all of the people who said this, but it's true! :-) ) No one can prepare you for what you will experience when you are in Vietnam and meet your little angel for the first time. Abby is truly a blessing and was defiantly worth the wait!

© Cindi Sitz-Davanzo

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Cindi Sitz-Davanzo adopted Abby via the Holt adoption agency in September, 1999 when Abby was fifteen months old. She can be reached at <ccdav@juno.com>.


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