Category Archives: Adoption

Where’s Binh?

I was in DC the first part of the week getting “connected.”  Most naval engineering concepts and solutions come out of Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington.  It was eye opening to see where all those folks worked and hear about the issues they deal with.  Contrary what one might think, there are a great deal of very talented people working very hard there.

Just before heading to DC, the family met up with some close friends and hit the outlet malls.  Our friends have a daughter close in age to our kids.  Usually the dads would watch the kids while moms hit the girly stores and vice versa.  Well, we were in Old Navy and it was my time to watch the kids and my heart sank!  Were did Binh go?  I started to go into search and rescue mode, performing an expanding square but initially did not see him.  However, I did see a group of kids near the changing room so I moved in that direction…  Ahh… Not only was I happy to see Binh but I was happy to see what he was doing…  hangin with the ladies!

binh_n_ladies At the end of the day we all had good fun.  Did manage to get some good video so I will post a Youtube Tuesday next week.


Binh’s Growth

As we approach the point Binh has been with us longer than he was in Vietnam, I have been thinking about his development.  Binh’s first doctor visit in the US revealed he was below the 3rd percentile for vietnamese children.  This was obviously very alarming.  Our pediatrician in Boston referred us to the international adoption pediatrician Dr. Lori Miller at Tufts international adoption clinic.  She explained the importance of getting him back on track and some suggestions how.  As a small kid in grade school, Binh’s growth is something I have been watching.  We don’t really have much data about Binh until he was about 6 months of age, but beyond that we have monthly data points.  I decided to see how Binh was tracking with respect to other South East Asian Boys.  I found he most relevant height and weight data for Vietnamese children here.  I used the height data in the chart below.  The weight data actually lags the height data, which makes sence considering you usually grow in height before you add mass.  Using the growth charts located at the link above, I made an excel spreadsheet to plot the 3rd percentile and 50th percentile lines.  Then I simply added Binh’s line to the chart and the results are heart warming and encouraging.  The horizontal axis (X) represents time in months and the vertical axis (Y) represents height in inches.  A polynomial data fit was used to smooth the line so that it would be more representative of his actual growthbinh_height_inches The cool thing is that you can probably guess when we adopted him.  Just in case there is any question, we adopted him just days before his first birthday.  It appears that he began to grow just before the 12 month point but that is actually a function of the polynomial fit.  In reality his growth start just about the day we got him.  There are many opinions about why many adopted kids make the big leap shortly after adoption.  I found this really cool handout by Dr. Julian Davies and the center for adoption at the University of Washington.  It talks about the immediate post adoption growth spurt as well and most of the other big pre and post adoption issues.  Regardless, I like to think that it’s half better nutrition and half love!  I think the second little bump in the chart at the 21 month point is where we started giving him Pediasure daily.


He has become such a joy in our lives.  I could not imagine our family without him.

Child Telepathy

Binh is starting to talk a little more these days, but for a while he would try to communicate and we, or maybe I should say I, could nota-2figure out what he was trying to say.  One day Binh came storming into the the living room and began grunting and torquing a shoulder.  I had no idea what he was trying to say but Ava soon came into the room and without being prompted said, ” Binh wants some apple juice.”   Now Binh has always understood a large number of word so I then asked him if he wanted a drink of apple juice.  After asking he immediately ran to the refrigerator and began pulling on the door.  Turns out that was exactly what he wanted.  Initially I thought this little episode was coincidental.  However, this happened a number of times over the next couple of days about different things.  I was forced to consider the fact that Ava could actually be reading some other body language or perhaps… his mind!

Its pretty cool that after a considerably short time Binh and Ava are so in tune with one another.  I now know that if Binh is fussing I can simply ask Ava what he wants if I am having trouble understanding him and chances are she knows.  This transcends external factors and is just simply about brother and sister.

The “stay-at-home Mom”

The stay at home mom has to be the least appreciated role in society.  I find myself in a distinctly unique position to  observe just how amazing an impact my wife has on both our children.  Watching Char mother our first child Ava (biological), I could only see half the impact, the explicit piece if you will.  Ava grew and blossomed so fast and her heart grew just as fast as the rest of her.  She is such a blessing.  We have had friends in the past say things like, “You guys are so lucky to have a good natured child.” or “She’s so easy, wait until you have a boy.”  Well, we have a little boy now and that is were Char’s gifts come into focus.  We got Binh just about the time he turned one.  He lived most of that year without a mother in the harsh environment of an orphanage.  Needless to say, our first days, weeks, and months were difficult.  But today his personality shines and his heart is proportional to Ava’s.  It is simply amazing.  With Binh I sawbob-n-mom child start nearly from scratch and grow so rapidly before my eyes.  I don’t think I buy the good nature stuff so much.  When we got Binh he was not easy but today he is such a blessing and I owe it all to mom. 

Thanks baby, you are the best!  We are so  blessed.

This Single Asian Male – Things you may not know about me

One of the coolest aspects of parenting is watching your kids develop preferences.  I have no idea why Binh has developed his specific set of likes and dislikes but they are his.  I’m pretty sure we did not directly influence most of them.  Below is a list of interesting things you may not know about Binh as we suspect he would write:

Favorite Foods:  Grapes, Chips & Salsa (spicy like me please), and really everything else but black eyed peas

Favorite Restaurant:  Golden Corral (Management worries when I come in, they are about to loose money…  mostly because they didn’t charge in the first place)

Favorite outdoor activities:  long walks on the beach, swinging, collecting acorns (For the record, I’m not involved in any voter fraud efforts)

Favorite indoor activities:  Reading, surfing the Internet, playing in the toilet, trying on all the shoes by the door

Favorite clothing item:  Shoes (Girls and Guys)

Favorite TV show:  Not a TV watcher really, Sesame Street has never been the same since the writer’s strike

Favorite drink: Vanilla Soy Milk and straight fruit punch (Please don’t cut it)

Favorite Toy:  Anything with buttons, Fisher Price Doctor kit, or whatever my sister has

Given the choice of Email, Phone, Text, or in person:  Phone with txt close behind

First word: Up

First Sign: more, more, more, more, more, more…

Tattoos or Body Piercings – none

Current haircut:  Mohawk

Describes myself as:  sensitive and expressive but independent.  I do get on the computer from time to time so feel free to post direct questions in the comments.

Youtube Tuesday – Family Planning

 Char and I have planned most of the major events in our lives.  We spent our first years of marriage having fun overseas, traveling to wherever the Navy sent us.  After about four years our parents would subtly ask about our plans for having children.  After about seven years they were not so subtle and soon after figured that we may have decided not to have children at all.  We always planned to have children but wanted to have our fun first.  We knew that we would have more than one and that one of every two would be adopted.  We felt that if they were close in age they would play together and learn from each other.  However, we never expected for our first two to be as close at this…  Regardless of how much you plan, there will always be those things that you can’t control.  Binh and Ava are learning from each other but not exactly how we expected.  Binh has suddenly began learning a couple of new words and behaviors.  The most recent and significant word is “Mine” and the behavior is… well you should just watch the short video: 

Like a pack of wild animals, they will work out the order of things and settle down eventually… won’t they?

Weekend Ramblings – Dads and Children

I often wonder what genetic and environmental influences I have or will have on Ava and the proportion of the two.  Sometimes I see some not so good things like my stubbornness or temper as well as better things like active imagination or pattern recognition skills.  I herd a wise person recently say that one the most important parts of being a good parent is knowing yourself.  I guess that is partially because if you are aware of your baggage you can make a concerted effort not to pass it on.  Easier said than done but I am trying. 


Then I think about Binh, he arrived with a small bag that I can’t open.   Even if I could, I don’t think I would really know how to make the best use of it.  That is the amazing thing about love, it truly helps you get to the root of the problem.  I think about the fact that, up until months ago, I had absolutely no influence on who he was.  He is experiencing so many changes and taking everything in stride.   


Events over the last 24 hours had me thinking about these things.  Yesterday we went to the beach and this morning the kids and I played in the yard.  Watching Ava and Binh at the beach, exploring, discovering and learning, I saw my self equally in both of them.  Ava was cautious but curious to see where the fish went.  Binh loved to use a shovel in the sand.  Both found the waves intimidating but fascinated by how they broke into whitecaps.  This morning we went out back to play and give mom a break.  Ava chose to swing and Binh was distracted on his way to the slide by some brightly colored bugs.  When he looked up and realized that Ava and I were at the swing he quickly made his way over to the ladder / rock wall and began to climb.  Once at the top he chose to go down feet first on his belly. 


Everything Binh and Ava did by impulse in the last 24 hours remind me of stories told to me about how I was growing up.  Thinking back about this gave me a great feeling.  In the end, it doesn’t really matter whether your child is biological, adopted, or fostered, simply add love and you will find what you are looking for in your family. 


Lastly, one great thing about marrying the perfect person is that they are also the perfect person for the good and bad of your children.