Thursday, July 12, 2007


Some photos have been posted throughout the blog -- enjoy!

Part Of The Family

Jack is slowly settling into his new surroundings and he is being welcomed into the family. We had a visit earlier today from his 5 cousins - Amanda Rachel, Ella, Cole, Adam and Danielle - all of whom were eager to see Jack today. While in Vietnam, we purchased some conical hats, commonly worn there, as gifts for the children. They were received with great enthusiam, for the most part.

Other members of the family, both here in Toronto and in England called and/or visited for part of the day. We also recieved a call from Vanessa's great-aunt Gert (Vanessa's grandmother's sister - the one remaining family member of that generation on her side of the family).

Aunt Beverley and Uncle David will be visiting from England for a couple of weeks at the beginning of August. Both are eagerly waiting the opportunity to meet Jack. Vanessa's parents are planning to come to Toronto in late September or early October.

On Taylor's side of the family, Jack has a great grandmother, Mrs. H. Sullivan aged 103. Sometime in the summer or fall we hope to take Jack to visit her and Taylor's great-aunt Florence who turns 100 in September. They both live in southern Ontario.

We know Jack will be blessed by the many members of our "extended family" of freinds, all of whom we thank for thoughts, prayers and support. We expect many of you would like to stop by the house and meet Jack. We welcome you to do so, however, please call ahead of time - that way we can make sure we don't have too many visitors at once (!)

best wishes to all
Vanessa, Taylor & Jack

Returning Home

We are home!

After a very long time travelling, we have returned safely to Toronto. The day on Wednesday began early in Ho Chi Minh City. On the way to the airport, we experienced a major traffic jam which slowed us up for about half an hour. Fortunately we decided to leave for the airport early, so this was not a big issue. It was an interesting experience though, with cars, motorcyles etc.... stop and go, moving in every direction possible - all at the same time. Because our flight date was finalized at the last minute, we did not have seats reserved, nor were we able to secure a bassinet for Jack for most of the flight. We had one for the initial two hour flight to Hong Kong, but not for the long haul trip to Toronto. We decided we would just face whatever we had to face and manage the best we could. The flight to Hong Kong went smoothly and we arrived at about 3:30pm. We did not have much time to board the flight to Toronto as it was leaving at 4:20pm. Upon boarding this flight, we took our seats, located in the middle section of the plane. There were four seats together in this seaction, and to our (pleasant) surprise the two seats beside us were empty --- someone was watching out for us, as this meant we had the whole section to ourselves and could spread out, making things a whole lot easier. These seats were vacant all the way to Toronto. The flight was very long, but Jack held up quite well, only getting restless a few times. We landed in Toronto and were greeted by most of Taylor's family, including 4 of his neices and nephews who were eagerly awaiting the arrival of their new cousin (!)

Home at last!

We are back home -- we arrived safely after a very long and relatively smooth flight. It is 12:30am Thursday morning (Toronto time). We will be taking it easy and keeping a low profile for the next few days. However, do check here in the next 24 hours or so as we hope to have some photos posted.

Vanessa, Taylor & Jack

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Long Journey Home

We have received word our return date has been moved up one day. The VISA has been processed and is on its way to us. We return to Toronto tomorrow (Wed., July 11). We leave Ho Chi Minh City at 11:25am (local time), fly to Hong Kong, where we leave at 4:20pm (again local time). We have a stop in Anchorage, and in a manner of speaking we actually arrive in Anchorage before we leave Hong Kong -- I'll let you figure that one out! From Anchorage, we complete our journey with the final stretch to Toronto, arriving at 9:55pm (local time). All together about 17 hours of flying -- with a little one.

Today, we are taking the opportunity to walk around town, stretch our legs and prepare for the journey ahead. We will probably try to keep Jack awake as much as possible in the hopes he will sleep most of the way home -- one can hope.

Once we have returned, we hope to post some photos of our journey. Be sure to check here later this week.

Vanessa, Taylor & Jack

Friday, July 6, 2007

Day By Day

We continue each day taking time to visit various places through the city. There is always a lot of hussle and bustle with all kinds of people quickly moving about on motorcycles and other vehicles. The big advantage of our hotel is its location in the heart of the city. We are close to just about everything, with numerous shops, sites, restaurants within a 5 minute walk. The weather continues hot and humid, and just about everyday around 3pm the dark storm clouds roll in and the heavens open wide.

Jack continues to take in the world around him. He is becoming more and more comfortable with us and his surroundings. He is laughing more and playing with simple toys, like a ball or a rattle.

We received the Vietnamese passport for Jack and this along with the Canadian VISA application has been sent off to Singapore. One more step along the way. Our return date has now been set for Thursday, July 12 - although, like everything else that could change.

Vanessa, Taylor & Jack

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Baby steps

Some have been asking about Jack's size -- he is 7.9kg and 71cm (measurements taken at the routine visit to the local medical clinic in town, the one that has all of his medical charts. A doctor from this clinic visits the orphanage and did the initial consultation on behalf of our adoption agency. Apart from a touch of a cold, which all the children from the orphanage get regularly, Jack is in good shape)

Slowly, day by day we are settling into a routine with Jack. Of coarse, once we are settled, we will have to make the long journey home which will disrupt any sense of routine (!) Gradually Jack is getting to know us and becoming comfortable in our presense. He is not as afraid when he gets up each morning or after a nap. He is starting to chuckle and laugh. He loves his bouncy chair (the best $40 investment we made for this trip). He is sleeping on average 2 to 2.5 hours at a time. Used to getting up at 4am at the orphanage, he does wake early. Initially he was very unsure of what to do with a simple toy, as at the orphanage, they did not have any to play with. He is gradually learning what to do with small things that make noises, or a ball that bounces. He likes to obverse and watch everything that goes on around him. At the hotel room we have a balcony overlooking the a busy square in town. Whenever Jack is restless, taking him out there, settles him down quite nicely. He is simply facinated with the new world around him.

The Vietnamese passport application was submitted yesterday. By tomorrow we should get a better idea of where things are in the process and from there when we will return home.

Vanessa, Taylor & Jack

Sunday, July 1, 2007

The world for one little boy just became much bigger

After a very, very long day on Friday, we are settling into a routine at the hotel with Jack. Friday morning saw us leave Ho Chi Minh City at 5:00am for a five hour mini-bus ride into the Mekong Delta to the town of Tra Vinh. This journey was long, tiring, and I have to add rather dangerous -- road safety standards in Vietnam (as in many parts of the world) compared to those of Europe and North America are virtually non-existant. There is really one highway into Tra Vinh, a main road that everyone and their mother, father, brother, sister, uncle, dog, cat, water buffulo etc.... takes this road. About 3/4 of the population scoot about in motorcyles going every which way they can along the highway (90 per cent of these people wear no helmut). Our driver was excellent though, and got us there and back safely.

We arrived in Tra Vinh Friday morning where we returned to the orphanage to spend some more time with Jack. We then headed to the department of Justice in the town for the formal giving ceremony which was to be held at 2pm. Once we arrived, though, we found they were not ready for us and the ceremony would be delayed. We went to visit a pagoda close to town. This pagoda was built in 626A.D. -- a very calming and relaxing place to be, given the stress and uncertainty of the moment. There was a real fear the giving ceremony would have been delayed yet again and we would have to, yet again, travel to Tra Vinh.

Upon leaving the pagoda, however, we received word the Department of Justice was ready for us. We had the giving ceremony at 4:15 Friday afternoon. The ceremony itself was quite simple, perhaps anti-climatic, however, a formal occasion that will remain in our memories always. After signing some papers, we asked to stand, the Justice Department officer declared the adoption process official and Jack was handed over to us. At that point, he become a part of our family.

After a brief stop at the orphanage we started out on the return trip back to Ho Chi Minh City. It was a difficult journey back in the mini-bus with 3 babies, 2 young children (under 6) and 8 very tired adults (and no seat-belts to be had). One of the babies vomited about 10 minutes into our journey.

Jack was probably quite overwhelmed by everything around him. This was his first venture outside the orphanage. He did eventually settled down and take bottle, falling asleep in daddy's arms. Mommy decided at that moment to take a nap herself. Not wanting to disturb Jack's sleep, daddy had to stay awake for the whole journey.

From that moment on, Jack's world grew. He is now experiencing all the sights, sounds, smells of the large city. He loves to look around at everything around him and seems to enjoy being carried around in the baby sling as we walk around town. So far, he has been sleeping pretty well, getting up at regular intervals. When he first awakens, he is quite afraid and unsure of his surroundings (and probably unsure of the two people looking at him!)

Now back in Ho Chi Minh city, Monday morning we will apply for a Vietnamese passport for Jack, then for a Canadian entry VISA. Once both of these have been processed, we can return home. We will update you on that once we know more.

All three of us thank-you for your thoughts and prayers that have helped bring us to this point in our lives.

Vanessa and Taylor and Jack

Saturday, June 30, 2007

welcome to Jack

We are pleased to announce the addition to our family of Jack Phuoc Dat Charles Sullivan. The adoption was made official as of 4:15pm (local time) Friday, June 29th/2007 in Tra Vinh, Vietnam. Jack is the son of proud parents Vanessa Charlesworth and Taylor Sullivan. He is grandson of Ron & Eileen Varney and John & Hazel Sullivan, nephew to Kendall, Julie, Mandy, Dan, David, Beverley, cousin to Danielle, Adam, Cole, Ella, Amanda-Rachel and great-grandson to Mrs. H. Sullivan.

It was a very long, tiring journey to Tra Vinh and back, but we have returned safely and are settling into our new routine at the hotel. Jack is adorable and somewhat verbal and is slowly taking in everything around him.

We will send further updates, once we are bit more settled and recovered from the weekend.

Vanessa and Taylor

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A mother's first lullaby

Early yesterday (Tuesday) morning we arrived in Tra Vinh. Once at the orphanage, we met the director and then we walked towards the building where the children live. We had to pass by other buildings where many elderly and physically challenged people live. It was very sad to see. At the end of the row of buildings there is a brand new building, recently built by TDH. A portion of our adoption fees paid to TDH, goes towards the construction and maintenance of such buildings. The 12 children are housed here and upon entering we were met by an adorable 18 month old boy who is the oldest child of the orphanage, soon to be adopted by a family from Montreal. The other children were all lying in their hammocks.

Our guide from TDH asked if we were able to find our child, based on the photographs we had. We found Jack, who looked absolutely bewildered and a little afraid. We picked him up and found him to be very "wobbly". None of the children are able to sit up by themselves or take any weight on their feet. Although they are well fed, they have nothing to play with and nothing to stimulate them. Jack is very much an "observer". He watched us and all the others with a very intense look on his face. After playing for a while, he did start to kick and punch and pull Taylor's beard - having never seen a person looking quite like him (!) By the end of the visit, he did start to "coo" and make some sounds. By the end of the day, we almost got a smile. He has at least two teeth and is bigger than we thought he would be. Hopefully he will not forget us and will be pleased to see us again on Friday.

Monday, June 25, 2007

With "The Quiet American"

After spending the weekend in a comfortable, but small hotel - which had the added attraction of being under construction throughout the daytime, we decided we needed a space with a larger room that would allow Jack to "roam". We are now at the Continental Hotel located in the downtown center of the city, opposite the opera house. This is an old style, colonial building that was the site for the movie "The Quiet American", starring Micheal Caine. If you have not seen this movie, you may wish to go to Rogers or Blockbuster and rent it. It is quite good and gives a good overview of the history of this country and the many conflicts that have gone on here. If you do watch it, look for a room on the third floor - that is where we

Very early (not necessarily "bright") tomorrow morning we will be heading down to Tra Vinh to meet Jack ! We are actually leaving at 2:30am local time, arriving there at about 7:30am. We still have no official date for the giving ceremony, most likely this will be held on Thursday. Unfortunately we will have to leave Jack at the orphanage at the end of the day tomorrow. (Probably just as well, as this would be a rough journey for him to do twice.) We return to Ho Chi Minh city Tuesday evening around 9:00pm and then travel back to Tra Vinh early Thursday morning (hopefully) -- we will certainly keep you posted once we have a more finalized date.

best wishes
Happy birthday Beverley

Vanessa and Taylor

Saturday, June 23, 2007

waiting for Jack

Dear friends - our journey continues.

Today we met with our guide from the agency to discuss plans for the upcoming week. As we expected, we do not have an official date yet for the giving ceremony. It looks like it will be later on in the week, possibly Thursday. The plan (at the moment) is to travel down to Tra Vinh on Tuesday and meet the babies and continue with more paper work. We would then return to Ho Chi Minh city that evening and leave again for the giving ceremony (hopefully Thursday). If the giving ceremony is not until Thursday, we likely won't return to Canada until closer to July 12/13 - again that could change. As we mentioned, this process unfolds on a day by day basis and we have to accept by faith what comes our way and that things will unfold as they need to. We have found it a blessing (somewhat) to have a few days orienting ourselves with the city we are in and acclimatizing ourselves to the very hot and humid conditions..... not to mention, learning how to cross the street (!)

Jack awaits us and we await Jack. Soon we are to be in each others company.

Vanessa and Taylor

Friday, June 22, 2007

Good morning (from) Vietnam!

Good morning (from) Vietnam!

It is Saturday morning at about 9:00am (june 23 - Vietnam time)
We are currently at the Spring Hotel - a small place, but quite nice overall. Once we find out more how things are going to unfold and what our needs will be, we may make a move to another location. The others travelling with us are at another Hotel about a 10 minute walk from here. As most of you know we are with two other families from Ontario - Heather and Steve from Toronto and Andrea and Jim from Ottawa. Heather and Steve have adopted two wonderful children a son from Vietnam (northern part, near Hanoi) and a very energetic/talkative daughter from China, both of whom are travelling with their parents. Andrea and Jim, like us, are adopting their first child. (Andrea is a pediatrician and Jim is a dentist - so we are in good company! However, for the time being, the Spring Hotel will suite our needs fine.

As mentioned, we had a good, but long flight. We flew from Toronto to Anchorage. We were in Anchorage for about 45 minutes, but as this is U.S. soil we had to go through the regular immigration/customs protocol, which took about 30 minutes -- I had to think, what would have happened if someone did not have proper paperwork, would they have been sent back to the plane?? After streching our legs for about 15 minutes, we were back on the plane. We were then off on the long 10 hour flight to Hong Kong. The Hong Kong airport is quite new - not the old airport that is located in the heart of the city, where the airplanes flight in and around all the buildings. After about a 2 hour lay over, we were on the 2 hour flight to Ho Chi Minh City. We arrived here about 10:30am local time.

We are having a meeting today to find out what will happen next. We are expecting to travel to Tra Vinh sometime next week, although the exact date is not finalized. As we shared with many of you, this process will unfold on a day by day basis. We will keep you posted as we have more information - which of coarse may end up changing.

blessings to all of you
Vanessa and Taylor

We have arrived

Greetings to all -

It is Friday June 22 at about 1:30pm (Vietnam time).
We have arrived, after a long but smooth flight. We are just getting settled into the hotel and will have more updates shortly.

Vanessa and Taylor

Friday, June 15, 2007

Our journey begins...

Hello to all our family and friends. This is the beginning of our journey to Vietnam to meet and bring home our son, Dat Phuoc Ho. As we shared with many of you earlier, Dat Phuoc is a beautiful name in Vietnamese. It roughtly translates as: accomplished child of blessings, hence the name of our blog.

All being well, we depart on Wednesday June 20th at about 11:30pm, arriving in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) at about noon on Friday June 22nd (Vietnamese Time) *

* Vietnam is 11 hours ahead of Toronto Time and 6 hours ahead of British Time.

Once in Vietnam we will be based in Ho Chi Minh City at the spring hotel. Our son is in an orphanage located about a 5 hour bus trip south of the city in the town of Tra Vinh in the heart of the Mekong Delta (yes big, VERY BIG mosquitos). We hope to travel to Tra Vinh very early on Monday morning (June 25th). The giving and receiving ceremony is scheduled for that day. Once this takes place Dat Phuoc Ho is officially our son and will be named

John (to be called Jack) Dat Phuoc Charles Sullivan

John is a family name in both Taylor's and Vanessa's family. John is the first name of every first born son in the family (for at least the five generations since the family settled in Canada)

Not much is known about the circumstances about Jack's birth. We were given a small amount of information from the orphanage, which we share with you here:

On November 3/2006 at about 10:30am he was found
wrapped in a blue table cloth in front of the home of
a Mrs. Ho in the hamlet of Lo Ngo (This of coarse is
not an uncommon occurance in many parts of the world.
This Mrs. Ho seems to be a town official of sorts and
considered someone responsible who would do what was
necessary for the child). Jack was then placed in
Mrs. Ho's care for two months while the officials went
through the process of finding his birth
mother/family. On December 29th/2006 he was placed in
the Tra Vinh orphanage.

The forecast in Ho Chi Minh City as of 4am Saturday, June 16th (note this 4:00 in the morning)

28 degrees celcius with a humidex of 39 degrees.

The latest update gives Jack as 7.6kg (approx. 16.5 pounds) and 66 cm. He is where he should be for his age.

This will be the first time Vanessa has travelled to Asia. She regularly travels to England and is used to the 7 hour flight there. She is somewhat apprehensive of the upcoming flight of about 20 hours. Taylor however has travelled extensively, including several long haul flights. This will be his second time travelling to Asia.

We hope to update you every so often during our journey. We of coarse have no idea what sort of internet facilities we will have in Vietnam, nor do we know how much time we will have to do this (!) However, we delight in the opportunity to share our exciting journey with you.

Vanessa and Taylor