It was hot and humid in the van careening through the mass of motor scooters, which make up the bulk of Saigon’s traffic.
We were headed for the orphanage where we would be meeting our son for the first time. A variety of feelings competed for space in my mind. Excitement—we had waited 18 long months for this moment. Trepidation—our first adopted son’s transition was difficult; how would this new son react? Numbness—the idea of adding a new child, over 2 years old, with an already formed personality, is difficult to fully wrap your head around.
How did we get here, sweating in a van halfway around the world from home? This little boy would be our seventh child and our second adoption. My husband and I love our children and love being parents. We already had five children who were born to us, but we wanted to share our love with a child who needed a mommy and a daddy.
Our first adoption was difficult. Our son, also born in Vietnam, was nearly 4 years old when we adopted him. He grieved the loss of his foster family and made his dislike of us perfectly clear. It took a long time for us to learn to love and trust one another, and for our family to regain its equilibrium. And here we were, doing the whole crazy thing again.
After the obligatory tea with the orphanage director, our son was brought in. He was so tiny; much smaller than I expected. He didn’t cry, but stared and stared at us with huge eyes, which showed his shock. As we were rushed out of the orphanage to make our next appointment, this small, scared boy clung to us, never uttering a sound.
As emotionally difficult as our first adoption was, this one was easy. But it became clear that our new son would have other challenges: low muscle tone and lack of any speech, as well as the fact that he had never had solid food in his life. There was a lot of catching up to do.
Today we have nine children, and are in the process of adopting an 8-year-old girl from China. I love my Vietnamese children as fiercely as I love my biological children. Parenthood has been the adventure of our lives.
Questions about adoption? Try The Cradle, a North Shore resource.