Friday, June 28, 2013


Hi guys, Bethany here again(:
Sorry, its been a few days, we were on a boat and I couldn't get a chance to write !! No worries! So where did I leave off, I know.
  So it's after I literally just met her we were all gathered around a table just kind of chit chatting, and if there's one word to describe the first couple hours, it was frustrating. Even though we had a translator I wanted to know every single word that was coming out of my moms and my brothers and my uncles mouths !!!
  We all decided to go to a nearby market to go shopping for clothes for my mom and brother.  Let me tell you and my brother have very similar taste and are very picky!!! He was picking out some jeans and he said I should pick out his  shirt so I picked out one I thought would  be pretty good and he didn't like it at all instead he got a really nice polo!!! Haha I guess that's where I get my pickiness from !!
  So I asked my birth mom if she wanted anything and the sweetest words came out of her mouth "you coming here to see me is the best gift I could ever ask for" and it just made my day !! So we got home from our shopping trip and it is around 5ish, and my uncles decided to hit the road because I knew they had a long journey in front of them. 
  The thing is right after my mom gave me up for adoption my mom left to go live in Saigon, and left my brothers and uncles behind in Danang, so every year my uncles and brother and sister would wait for my mom to come up for Tet, the Vietnamese holiday, but she could never afford it, so this was the first time in fourteen plus years they have seen each other, so it really was like one big family reunion.  So my brother went with them and I didn't really get to talk to him so i thought that was the last time I would see him.
  My family decided to let my mom get ready and settled in before dinner. Dinner time arrived and my mom and cousin joined us, and it was odd, they weren't eating! I was curious because being who I am I wanted them to take advantage of everything like the showers and of course the food, so I asked  them why thy weren't eating and they said they were too happy! How heartwarming! So then the neatest thing happened, I learned my cousin could kind of speak and hear English so we wrote notes back and forth it was amazing! And I got her email address and how I could find her on Facebook so that we could stay in touch!
  So we got back to the hotel and another family the Younes's , had found out their son Patrick was able to meet his birth mom in the lobby, so we watched that and of course like me, my mom is a crier and was just sobbing. Maybe that's where I get my super emotional side! Haha. Earlier in the day I got a bunch of pictures together from recent to back when I was a little tot and we developed them and bought a album so that my birth mom could take something home with her, we also got her lotion and soap and some crackers and a tote bag.
  By then it was late at night and time to head up to bed, there was a big day ahead of us. So my family woke up at 7 the next morning to go meet my birth mom at breakfast and I see her walking down the halls and THERE'S MY BROTHER!! I didn't think of ever see him again! So we sat down had some breakfast and before I knew it I had to catch a flight to Hanoi , it was probably the hardest thing I have ever had to do, say good bye to my family.
  They are so special to me and I cried so much, I didn't want them to leave at all, the lay words she said made me love her so much "work hard and you will prosper" pulling out of the driveway was very emotional and I even lost it later that night we were about to go out to dinner and I thought I couldn't do it I cried and cried about how I just wanted to hug my mom one last time, I am so blessed with this experience and I will NEVER forget it.
  I want to come back to Vietnam for sure in the future because this country is so near and dear to my heart, and this trip has pushed me to do things I never would have done before. Thank you guys for all being so supportive, and I love you all!!

12 hour layover...

We're leaving today! :( I'll blog more when I get home which will be Sunday...
i love you all. Thanks for reading!! We leave for the airport this afternoon at 4:00 pm to fly to Hong Kong. Then we have a 12 hour overnight layover there and then the next morning we leave for Chicago and then transfer to a different flight to Cleveland.
  This has been an indescribable experience and I'm so sad to leave Vietnam but I'm so thankful for the chance to be here. I'm definitely bringing home a lot of memories.
Talk to you in America...

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Heartbreaking goodbyes

Sorry for the late upload... we have been living in a boat with no wifi so here is Tuesday's blog.

 Today we woke up early to visit with Bethany's birth mom as much as we could at breakfast because we had to catch a flight to Hanoi and leave the hotel by 7:00am. 
  Bethany's mom and cousin stayed overnight in the hotel and Bethany's brother came back to say goodbye this morning. 
  It was so sweet...yesterday Bethany was so worried that her mom wouldn't take advantage of the shower and all the other ammenities because her mom was so humble and shy and didn't ask for anything. Bethany also wanted to have her mom's clothes washed at the hotel before she left so she could have clean clothes. 
  We communicated to Bethany's mom a lot through the translator and also through Bethany's cousin who could read and write in English. They exchanged email addresses so that Bethany could her email pictures and stay connected. 
  When it was time to say goodbye to Bethany's family, it was just heartbreaking. Everyone was crying. I've never seen someone sob and sob like Bethany's mother did. She didn't want to say goodbye again and was just so sad that she couldn't take care of her. I can't imagine what kind of emotions were going through her head. Goodbyes are so hard. 
  I rarely see Bethany get emotional or cry but it literally stabbed me in the chest when my mom and sister stood around Bethany's birth mom and just hugged her to tell her it would be okay. 
  Bethany's mom kept studying every part of Bethany. Her ears, her hands and her smell. I've never seen anything so sad before. She was literally holding onto Bethany's leg just sobbing. 
  The hotel worker that was working in the gardens outside was watching us, sobbing too with tears just streaming down her face. 
  Bethany's family lead us to the bus when it was time and Bethany watched them out the window and cried. 
We flew to Hanoi and were served rooster and goat at lunch. Then as we were walking to the bus afterwards we saw the goats and roosters in the pen behind the restaraunt ughh 

We had a little fun ...

The rooster is taking a rice bath!! 
After lunch we visited the orphanage that one of our fellow adoptees came from. 

After visiiting, we had to drive back into the city where our hotel was and along with the flight earlier and driving tithe orphanage, we were in the bus for a long time. 
Best Vietnamese snacks!!! Marine boys 

They're sorta animal crackers with seaweed and salt on them and they're sooo good!!!!
Along the way, our bus ran out of gas and our driver had to improvise on a way to get the diesel into the bus. He used water bottles...only in Vietnam. 

Once we got to the hotel we went to a restaraunt that served American food!!! Bethany was feeling really sad about leaving her birth family yeaterday and was really depressed and she almost didnt go, but once she talked about it and had a good cry she was okay. 
  We had cheeseburgers and fries and spaghetti and brownies and our tummys were really happy. 
Once we got back to our hotel we all took showers in our amazing hotel rooms!!! We stayed in a four star hotel (I think someone said that) yesterday night and man was it EXQUISITE!! I'll take pics and post them on here soon. 
  So once we were clean we all lounged in our friends room and watched Despicable Me. 
Sorry for not posting this earlier, I was beat! Talk to you later...


Sleeping outside in Ha Long Bay!!

This is my blog for Wed and today (Thursday)!
  Wednesday we left for five hour bus ride to Ha Long Bay to stay aboard a boat for two days and one night!!

 Ha Long Bay is a big tourist destination because of the amazing scenery.
There's over 2,000 islands in the bay and many cruise boats stay overnight there. And that's exactly what we did!

  It was sooo fun!! We had our goodbye ceremony yesterday night at dinner and we watched the video that was recorded on our first day here at Rachel's Bridge. 
  After dinner all the kids played cards and then we played a scary mafia-find out who the killer is game in the dark on the boat. 
  We all planned to sleep outside on the roof that night because it was going I be fun and plus the rooms were pretty small. We gave up air conditioning and a comfy bed but it was definitely memorable :) the  parents thought it was so amusing to find us in the morning sleeping on the wooden ground and wooden beach chairs. 
  We all took our pillows and blankets off our beds and brought them outside but it only provided some comfort. When we woke up we all were very achy hehe. 
There were about seven of us who slept outside...

In Vietnam when the sun goes down, it doesn't get cold so it was also very sticky and humid and hot as usual. 
  This morning we took a paddle boat into one of the caves and also hiked up to a cave with a bunch of stalagmite and tite configurations. 
After we packed up to leave the boat we headed back for the five hour bus ride to Hanoi. Tomorrow we have a free day and it's our last day! :( 
Talk to you tomorrow! 

Monday, June 24, 2013


  Today is going to mark a very monumental day in Bethany's life... today she met her birth mother!! Everything that lead up to this happened in less than 24 hours, we had no idea that this was going to happen when we came to Vietnam.
  Yesterday the director of our tour, Joy talked to my mom about the possibility of sending a search team to look for Bethany's birth parents. Before this trip, Bethany was always skeptical but after seeing Rachel meet her family again in the beginning of our trip (I blogged about that in my fist blog "This is Vietnam") she was a lot more curious and was ready to say yes to the possibility of finding her parents! So mom gave Joy and the search team she works with the OK yesterday, Sunday afternoon. 
  Thankfully my amazing grandparents in Ohio were able to scan and send us alll of Bethany's documents we needed to get information from!! 
  The search team used those records to go to the city that Bethany's birth mother left with the orphanage when she gave Bethany up. In that city they didn't find her birth mother but they found her two brothers! Bethany's uncles. They knew she lived in Ho Chi Minh City but they didn't know where, so the search team went into the markets and asked around if anyone knew her and they found information giving them where she lived and everything! 
  As soon as they found her, they had her,her uncles, and brothers book a bus ride to where we are staying. They left two hours after they received the phone call because the ride is half way across Vietnam. An all day bus ride. 
  Bethany meanwhile and our friend Patrick who also met his birth parents today, went and got a bunch of pictures off of Facebook and the computer to develop and put into a photo album as a gift for the family. 
  We were told that the family was suposed to arrive at dinner time, but when we got back to the hotel after lunch they were already there waiting! 
  Bethany of course was freaking out but she was more nervous than anything. 
  Joy, my mom and Bethany all joined hands as they walked into the room where Bethany's mom was waiting. 
  I was video recording this and let me tell you, there was not a dry eye in that room.

  As soon as Bethany's birth mom saw her, she enveloped her into her small petite frame and just started sobbing. 
  The pain and joy and thankfulness that were in those cries were so thick. It was so emotional. Bethany's birth mom couldn't stop staring at Bethany's face and couldn't stop kissing and holding her hand. It was so sweet...
  Our tour guide translated what she was saying to Bethany and she said that she loved her so much but she just couldn't take care of her or feed her because of the living conditions they were under. A month or so before Bethany was born, her birth father passed away leaving her birth mother alone. 
  Can you imagine the sorrow this woman  must have felt? That changed everything! What she did was incredible, and we couldn't thank her enough.
  Bethany's birth family was so smiley and looked a lot like her. Her brother was very attractive... he looked like he just stepped out of a jcpenney catalogue! And her uncles who are tailors were so kind and gentle. 
  We went to the market to buy gifts for the mother and son. Bethany's brother picked out an outfit but her birth mother was shy about picking something out and said she didn't want anything because now that she met Bethany, she had everything. 
  Her uncles and brother left after we came back to the hotel from the market so they could get an early start on getting home but Bethany's birth mother and cousin that showed up before went with us and the group to dinner. 
  During dinner, Bethany and the cousin were passing notes talking.
The cousin then would translate Bethany's notes to the mother. The cousin could read English but not speak it.
  It was such a surreal day, with Patrick's adoption reunion ending it.

  I'm sure I missed a whole lot so leave a comment and ask me anything you want to know! Tomorrow we're flying to Hanoi in the morning. Patrick and Bethany's birth parents both stayed over in our hotel so we'll say goodbye to them tomorrow at breakfast. 
Wow. Even as I'm writing this I am still processing it all. 

Here is the link to the Bethany's reunion video...

Talk to you tomorrow, blessings!!! Xoxo Marisa

Meeting my Birth Family :D (Bethany's version)

Hi, its Bethany here!!!
Wow!! today was insane! so many crazy, but awesome events happened!! The other day I was not feeling too well, so I sat the day out, and my mom walked into my hotel room and said "would you be interested in meeting your birth mom?" and I JUST woke up, so I was like "yeahh" half asleep!!   
  But thank God I did, because the next day my mom woke me up from my nap, and said 3 simple words, that would change the whole trip..."we found her" I was freaking out!! first shock, the nervousness hit, then I was like "I am so blessed" I can only imagine her sitting at home and receiving a phone call saying your daughter is here, she wants to meet you, get on a bus in a hour! CRAZY right!?!?!?
  So today was the day!! I was informed that she would be coming around dinner time, so in the morning we went to Danang, my home town, to visit a market and get some gifts for my birth mom, then we went out to lunch, and it was around 1 in the afternoon and we were almost at the hotel and my mom comes walking down the aisle and I thought "oh no, what did I do this time" hah and she said "your birth mom is at the hotel" she was at least 5 hours early, so I was not too presentable, and I haven't been able to get all of my thoughts together I just walked into the hotel, and the leader of the group pulled me along and there she was!!!!!!!!!!
  The second she saw me, the tears were flowing! I felt famous, there were flashes of cameras everywhere!!! I wish we could have froze the moment, she cried and cried, and I had the biggest smile on my face.
   All my life I was told I only had a older sister, and this super handsome guy walks in and being me I was like " WHO IS THAT" haha, and my translator was like "he's your brother" and my first reaction was "haha your joking...I HAVE A BROTHER??!!"  yes, I do I guess! I was in shock! and I also found out that my older sister is married and has 2 kids...IM A AUNT!!
  Everybody kept telling me that we looked alike, and we do! Its weird, all my life I have looked at a white mother, now I have a mother that looks just like me!!!!
  We all sat around a table, and I learned a piece of information that broke my heart, my birth moms husband had died right before I was delivered. Its super late, so I will keep you all on the edge, and finish this a bit later!!!


Can I just stay here forever!? This city is so's been a week since we have been here and it just keeps getting better! 
  Today we took a boat tour on the Hoi An river and we saw how fisherman use really big nets to catch the fish. 

The kids got to go and fetch the fish that were caught in the net. 
After that we went into these circular basket boats that a local person was in. Once we were in the basket boats, we paddled into the part of a river with a bunch of water coconut palms. Then the local gave us these little fishing poles with bait on the end, to catch crabs! It was a lot harder than I thought, because you had to first find the crab then you had to wait until the crab was fully latched onto the bait and then you could try to pull it in. Mom and I caught three and the local helped us catch one of ours by actually using her bare hands. 
This was the boat we were on...
After lunch, we went to an orphanage to visit. One of the vice directors actually remembered one of the kids in our group, when he was there waiting to be adopted. 
Most of the kids that we saw there were handicapped. They were so lovable and like most of the kids we've visited in orphanages, they just wanted to be held and loved. 
This little girl clung to mom and never wanted to be let go. Her eyes were so sad....
After visiting the orphanage we went into town to go to a silk making shop. We saw the process from the baby silk worms to the silk shirts and dresses the wore. I bought a 100% pashmina scarf!!! And yes for all my friends reading this yes  pashmina =)yolo .  
  So the pictures end here because I left my backpack in the bus and I didn't know that we wouldn't be seeing the bus till the next morning. Aaaaaand that's why I couldn't post yesterday night/morning. 
  After dinner we did more sightseeing in Hoi An at nighttime and mom,Bethany and I bought some lanterns to take home! 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

I touched the breast

Today was a day of traveling. We flew  to Danang and then drove to Hoi An. 
On our way to Hoi An we stopped along the way to a place where they make marble goods. Everything was so beautiful and we had a lot of fun wondering how on earth someone would take Buddhas this big, home with them..
Our new tour guide, Peter told us that rubbing Buddah's belly will give you old luck. 
Then we went to Marble Mountain and toured the many Buddah's in the mountain. The steps and walking were quite treacherous in the cave..
Our tour guide,Peter, showed us many goouck rituals in the cave such as two kind of stalactites that were called if I remember right,the lucky breasts. Yes you read right. And they did kinda look like breasts hanging! Sorry this is getting PG-13...Peter told us that years ago the breasts had milk dripping from them and if you rubbed the milk on a wound it would heal. So he had us all rub the breasts for good luck. Heheh

Bethany unfortunately didn't get to enjoy the sightseeing today because she wasn't feeling well. She skipped breakfast this morning to sleep and then stayed in the bus and slept while we were touring. She felt a little warm bit hopefuly sleeping it off will do her good. 
  After dinner, our tour guide wanted to show us around where we are staying in Hoi An. We were supposed to do it but tomorrow there's supposed to be a typhoon..?!!!
  There's a festival going on in town right now so there's a bunch of lanterns everywhere and it looks like in the movies. Absolutely breath taking... So much color. I tried taking pics but none do justice to the real thing. 
You could also by paper luminaries to drop in the river it reminded me of the scene in Tangeled of the setting the lanterns free!!
Many shops were selling lanterns and the colors just lit up the whole town. 
Talk to you more tomorrow!!!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Salty snorkeling

I smell like the sea!!! This morning we took a boat to Mun Island and we got to snorkel in a bay! I'm not sure what the bay was called. 
When we got in it was so warm... I'm used to cold Lake Erie water haha. Not to mention it was also veryyyyy salty. Bethany was like "I feel like I'm eating pretzels!!". Once we had a snorkeling stuff on we all went out and tried it! I've never snorkeled before so I had to get used to breathing through my mouth underwater.
A lot of the other kids quit after 10 min because it was tiring having to keep treading water and it was so salty but me and a few others stayed out for a half hr. it was sooo amazing!!! Definitely sonething I'll remember forever. I saw lots of coral and fish! The kind of fish you see in an aquarium. So pretty. 
  The boat was very bumpy on the way to the next island after snorkeling and mom got seasick :( Her motion sickness medicine she took before couldn't handle the bumpy waves and accidental sips of sea water while snorkeling. 
  Once we got to Mot Island, we had lunch and had freetime on the beach. Everyone was so drained from the long boat ride and snorkeling that all we wanted to do was lounge. So we waded in the bay and laid out. 
When we came back to the hotel we had freetime so we went to the spa! Here in Vietnam mani-pedis are only 120,000 dong. In US dollars that's SIX DOLLARS!!! And it was better if not than any better than any other mani pedi I have ever gotten in the states. Then I decided I wanted a leg massage (why not?) which was ony 100,000 dong which is 5 dollars. So altogether I got a mani pedi and a leg massage for 11 dollars. 
Because the beach was so close we decided to go walk in the sand. 
Tomorrow we're flying out to Danang! 
Here's a picture if a cyclo ride that we took back to our hotel tonight.