July 2001 to Summer 2002
July and August 2001
Christina: Surprisingly, I find waiting to travel to Vietnam pretty easy, because there's so much to do. We need to get vaccinations, amass enormous quantities of prescription and over-the-counter drugs (Vietnam's are not necessarily reliable or accessible), prepare Olivia for a big trip, find her old crib and baby stuff, and on and on. We're happy when Josh's parents call and offer to help out by joining us on our trip.
And through all the preparations, our single photograph of Lucy beckons. We memorize her lovely face, her little feet, her clenched fists; we ask the picture, "Who are you?" What will it be like to finally meet her and to incorporate her into our tight threesome?
August 23, 2001
Christina: The travel call comes while I'm organizing a kitchen drawer. (Nesting, I guess.) We need to be in Hanoi on September 9, to pick up Lucy the next day!
September 7, 2001
Christina: Our itinerary is New York-San Francisco-Taipei-Hanoi: about 24 hours worth of travel time with an 11-hour time change to boot. We board an American Airlines jet, which, ironically, is showing reruns of I Love Lucy as we wait to take off.
September 21, 2001
Josh: Our time in Vietnam has ended up being a blur. We arrived in Hanoi on September 9, were given Lucy on the 10th, and were blown out of our self-involved world the next day when Christina's mother called with news of the terrorist attacks. What was supposed to have been an exciting and joyous two weeks has become more about coping and counting the days until we can leave.
Christina: I never expected the trip to be exciting or joyous. There have been a lot of stressful aspects to it—a new baby, a foreign country to get used to, Olivia's adjustment to being a big sister. And on top of that, September 11.
Epilogue: Summer 2002
Josh: Now we're home. We have two daughters. The insanity of the process is just a hard-to-conjure memory. Lucy is a smiley, wonderful baby who fits right in with us. She seems like an obvious and natural member of the family. We can't imagine anyone else being here, blending in better.
The adoption process, of course, is absurd. But what else could it be? A baby is born to a woman who's unable, for whatever reason, to take care of her, and on the other side of the world, a man and a woman want nothing more than to have a baby. Somehow we accomplish a transfer. And despite the randomness of the entire process, the result—Lucy—seems inevitable.
I find myself wondering about Lucy's mother, and thinking that I'd like to write her. Before the thousands of questions I want to ask her, the first thing I'd say would be thank you.
Christina Frank is a freelance writer. Josh Lerman is a senior editor at PARENTING.