A few random pics


A nice welcome home


Grandma and Elise


Trying something new

the short hair keeps her looking more boy than girl

the short hair keeps her looking a bit boyish

add a beret to give her a more girly look

add a barrette for a more girly look


dad and Elise

Part of the Family

Martin is doing his best to adjust to the newest member of the family.


Ready to go

We got Elise’s temporary Canadian passport so we’re good to go. The thought of a 13 hour flight with a 9 month old that has an attention span of about 30 seconds leaves me in a cold sweat, but we’re going to have to get through it. We have front row seats confirmed, so I know we won’t have anyone sitting in front of us, and we’ll have a bit of leg room, but we may also be sitting right next to the bathrooms, which sucks.

Bath time

Bath time

Sad to say goodbye to Hanoi. It’s probably the best city in Southeast Asia I’ve been in and we are going to miss it. I won’t miss the air pollution though, and am looking forward to breathing some clean mountain air again. I can imagine what our lungs must look like by now.


Arrive in Vancouver Oct 20 at 1:45 pm.

One passport done, one to go

Spent the morning at the Canadian embassy applying for Elise’s passport. That’s the last big chunk of paperwork done now. Went this afternoon to the Vietnamese embassy and picked up her Vietnamese passport. Her Canadian one should be ready either tomorrow or the next day. After that we are done. Finally.

I decided to try to walk back to our apartment from the Vietnamese embassy. Didn’t have a map with me, and only had a vague idea of the general direction. It took awhile, and a lot of walking, but suddenly I found myself on a street I recognized and made it back. I was tempted a few times to give up and jump on the back of a moto-taxi, but I was determined to find my way on my own.

Elise still has a wet cough, but she seems ok otherwise. She hadn’t pooped for 3 days so we started to get worried. Shuko’s hospital background was helpful and she gave her a suppository – something she’s done many times at work. Luckily she brought along some baby suppositories. Within a few minutes the dam broke and there was a veritable shit-storm. Literally. Next time I think we’ll just try some prunes.

Trying hard to push one out...

Trying hard to push one out...

She’s eating well. Can’t say if she’s put on any weight yet, but I think she may have. We gave her a bit of banana last night, and she’s had a cucumber. Other than that it’s just been formula and baby cereal. Shuko has been logging everything so we can tell the doctor when we get back. She drinks about 20 – 23 ounces of formula each day. She’ll now have up to 5 ounces at a time if she’s really hungry, which is up from the 3 ounces she would only drink the first couple days. I have no idea what any of that means of course, but it makes me feel empowered to talk like I know.

The heat seems to have broke, at least for today. We had a couple showers and it was quite windy which cleaned up the air a bit. It’s the first time I’ve been outside where I didn’t feel sticky. The forecast for tomorrow is only 29 degrees which sounds perfect. It’s meant to go back up to the mid 30’s the next day though.

Walking back from the embassy today I noticed that there’s an old colonial prison located right behind our apartment, and they allow you to go inside and tour around. Can’t believe I hadn’t noticed it before. That’s my day sorted tomorrow.

Settling into a nice routine

We’ve all settled into a comfortable routine by now. Elise’s cold seems to be a bit better. She still has a bit of a rattling cough, but her nose isn’t running quite as much. 

Been doing a whole lot of walking, exploring the city. Carrying a baby around in 34 degree heat does get tiring, but there’s always some place nearby to stop for a rest and a glass of ice coffee. The evenings are fantastic. The temperature cools down a couple degrees and the air pollution isn’t nearly as bad. I’m going to miss the heat when we go back to Vancouver, but it’s going to be an even bigger shock to Elise’s system.

We are off tomorrow to pick up her Vietnamese passport and send off her Canadian passport application. Fingers crossed there are no problems or delays and we will be able to make our flight home on the 20th.


Sqid on the bbq, a plate of beef and chicken are next.

Sqid on the bbq, a plate of beef and chicken are next.

Her nose runneth over

Elise has developed a bit of a cold, and is coughing a bit and her nose is a vertitable fountain of snot. She doesn’t appear to be particularly bothered by it though, and hopefully it won’t develop into anything more serious. I don’t really want to have to deal with going to the doctor here. Hanoi is a lot more modern than I expected, but I’d rather deal with going to the doctor back home.


We took her to get her passport photo taken yesterday, and sent off some documents to be translated. We should get back the translations early next week and we can then send off her Canadian passport application. Her Vietnamese passport application is already submitted and it should be ready to pick up next Tuesday.

We went out to a restaurant with her last night for the first time. I can’t say that dinner was a relaxing affair with long lingering drinks over candlelight. It was more like stuff the food in my mouth as quickly as possible and then hold the baby while Shuko did the same. The new reality.

Discovered a play room they have set up in our building. It’s a nice room packed with hundreds of toys for little kids. We put her down in the middle of it all and watched her face for the next two hours as she played. After 9 months of sitting alone in her crib she must be experiencing sensory overload. Pretty much everything she is seeing these days is a new world for her. She seems to know who mom and dad are already, and not surprisingly she prefers mommy when she’s feeling tired. She wants to be held a lot, which again isn’t surprising for someone that hasn’t had that luxury before. We are trying hard not to spoil her, but she needs to know she isn’t alone any more.

She’s still sleeping through the night, and wakes up at 5am on the dot for her bottle. Needless to say I’ve had to adjust my schedule and habits accordingly. In other words the late nights out drinking have come to a screeching halt. Traveling with a baby is a world apart from backpacking solo that’s for sure. I did manage to slip out last night after she went to bed for a quick cold one down the street however, which I think is allowed.

Once she wakes up from her nap we’re going to head out for a walk around the city. There’s a small lake nearby that’s really nice to walk around.


Oh yeah – I met someone yesterday from Quebec who’s here to pick up his baby as well. Turns out this is his 7th adoption. He has kids from China, Korea and Vietnam. And he’s only 37. He’s so used to it that he’s here without his wife, dealing with everything on his own. Incredible.

By the way, you may notice the occassional typo in my posts – I’m just trying to get these things posted before I lose the internet connection.

A video of the big moment

They gave us no notice, so there wasn’t time to get particularly emotional. Suddenly there she was. The video quality isn’t great, but here it is.

Introducing Elise Hayden Johner

Here she is!

Elise Hayden Johner

Elise Hayden Johner

Everything went extremely smoothly. We left Hanoi around 4:15 am and drove for about 4 hours to the orphanage. They brought her out, we took a little walk around the orphanage, and then headed to the Justice Dept for the Giving & Receiving ceremony. A couple hours later we were back on the road to Hanoi.

So far she’s a really good baby. She was happy and played the whole way here, and is upstairs in our apartment now playing with Shuko. I know nothing about babies, but I suspect she’s a bit smaller than average, and I think she could use an extra pound or two of baby fat on her, but she’s pretty adorable.


She fell asleep right away when they handed her to Shuko.


At the orphanage

The Giving & Receiving Ceremony. Signing the official documents.

The Giving & Receiving Ceremony. Signing the official documents.

ANd it's official. We're now parents!

And it's official. We're now parents!

Back home in Hanoi after a very long day. She likes her new ducky.

Back home in Hanoi after a very long day. She likes her new duck toy.

I took a video and am attempting to upload it to YouTube so that I can insert it here. Might be expecting too much from this computer and internet access though… I’ll add it later if I’m able.

Here we go

We didn’t hear from the agent this morning as we expected, so spent the day wandering around the city. Did some shopping, got myself a new pair of prescription sunglasses and we bought some new wedding rings.

Market in the Old Quarter

Market in the Old Quarter

Back at the hotel and we got a call around 6:30 pm telling us the Giving & Receiving ceremony is happening tomorrow at around 09:00 am, so we have to be ready to depart at 04:15. Would have liked another day to get settled in and to catch up on all the sleep we’ve missed, but I suppose once we have the baby we’ll have lots of time to sleep. So I’ve got a few hours to scramble and get ready, it looks like it’s actually going to happen. Hope we don’t sleep in.

Weather is still ridiculously hot and humid, around 34 degrees. Shuko’s lost about a kilo from sweating, but I think I’ve already acclimatized myself. You just have to focus. And not walk too fast.

I better go now. It’s time to start freaking out a bit. I’ll try to post an update tomorrow after we get back. The internet connection here is sp0tty at best, and I don’t know if I’ll be able to post any pictures, but I’ll do my best. I guess we better come up with a name too.


Made it to Hanoi, along with our luggage. We met up with the agent here and she told us that our ceremony had been scheduled for tomorrow (Monday), but it had to be rescheduled. She thinks it may be on Tuesday or Wednesday, but not sure. She should know tomorrow.

Hanoi is great – unspeakably hot and humid, just like a sauna. The traffic is chaos and the smells are an assault on the senses. It’s just as I pictured it and I think I’m gonna love it here.

Going to go have a shower and then go find something to eat and a cold beer. And some mangosteens. I haven’t broken a sweat yet but Shuko looks like she’s been swimming.

I’ll post again once we know when the ceremony is scheduled for. I’m glad we have a day or two to get settled in. Hopefully it won’t be delayed much longer than that.

View from our apartment

View from our apartment