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Vietnam Adoptive Families

Vietnam trip

We adopted our 2 children (current ages 18 & 20) from Vietnam in 1998 and are planning a trip back this summer. We located and contacted their orphanages and birth mothers who have agreed to a visit. We were hoping to locate other families that went back and would be willing to share their experience and advice. Any insight would be appeeciated. Thanks!


A nice gift for the birth mothers might be an album of pictures as the children grew. It is bound to be emotional so have your children prepare a list of questions they want answered. Take loads of pictures on a few devices in case the only one gets lost.

I don’t know the cultural issues, you might want to contact your adoption agency or try Holt and ask for advice.

Posted by Regina on May 21, 2016 at 1:38pm

Not just pictures of the kids, but also their environment, if I were a birthmom I would want to see that my child grew up in a nice house or went to a modern school or had the chance to visit the beach, etc. It a such awind Erik opportunity for you all, I hope it goes well!

Posted by rn4kidz on May 21, 2016 at 2:07pm

My auto correct is awful, it turned “awesome” into ” a wind Erik”, because that makes so much sense!

Posted by rn4kidz on May 21, 2016 at 2:54pm

A good movie about a reunion between a Korean adoptee and her birth family is First Person Plural. Sometimes you can find if you google first person plural and adoption. The characters express many of the mixed emotions. From birth family shame, reason for placement, identity,transracial issues,  adoptive parents lack of understanding, the adoptee’s inability to relearn Korean etc etc.

Posted by Regina on May 21, 2016 at 6:55pm

I have a question for you. I am adopting from Vietnam. I am half Viet, have been there 2x and also still have family in Saigon. My question may sound silly, but having seen the orphanages, it really is an anxiety point for me. how do I prepare a room for her?
I dont want to send her into sensory overload, esp since just having her own room will be more than she has in Vietnam, but I also want to make it nice since she will be my only child

Posted by cheyenne on Aug 17, 2016 at 6:09pm

That’s an excellent question.

How old will your daughter be?  With many babies and young children, they often need to sleep in their parents’ room initially, because they are not used to being alone in a room.  Even older children may need permission to bring a sleeping bag into their parents’ room occasionally, when they are feeling scared or have had a nightmare.  Alternatively, to help a child get used to staying in his/her own room, some parents sleep in their child’s room for a few weeks or months—first next to their child’s bed, then a little farther away, and still farther away, until they are out in the hall and the child is sleeping on his/her own.

When a child is sleeping alone in his/her own room, he/she might do best if you provide a nightlight, a simple tape player with Vietnamese and American lullaby music, and so on. 

As far as room décor, keep it simple, with calming colors and no items that might be scary—no clown faces, for example, as many young children are frightened of clowns. You can do a fairly typical girl’s or boy’s room—I gave my daughter a white crib with a beautiful pink and white crib set, and so on; luckily, she turned out to be very “girly” and loved it.  But you can also do the room in a Vietnamese theme, with wallpaper showing children in traditional garb, objects brought home from your adoption trip, and so on.

If you are adopting a school aged child, you can limit the amount of decorating you do until you bring him/her home and he/she can participate in the task.  As an example, you might paint the room in a neutral color, then add a few things, just to personalize it a bit.  When he/she comes home, you can then buy new linens in a pattern he/she likes, get a lamp in a nice color, and decide what motif, if any, to use.

Make sure that your child has a comfort object, such as a teddy bear or stuffed doggy to cling to when scared, although some children are used to using a scrap of fabric, even a clean, dry washcloth, or a piece of an old, soft blanket, as a comfort object.

While your tendency may be to purchase loads of clothes and toys, and that’s not really a problem, consider giving a very young child only a few of the toys at a time, refreshing the collection when the child seems to be bored.  And help your child learn to decide on clothing by putting out only two choices—for example, the pink or the yellow pajamas at night, or the blue dress or the green dress for the party.

Frankly, most newly adopted young children will LOVE almost anything you do for them, as their real need is not for objects, but for love and attention.  But remember, too, that there may be grief—grief over the loss of birthparents, if they are old enough to remember them, grief over the loss of caregivers and children from the orphanage or foster home, and grief over being in a new place where the language is strange, people look and smell different, and so on.


Posted by sak9645 on Aug 17, 2016 at 6:58pm

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