Vietnam: A Destination

Vietnam is a destination. The reasons for travel to this wonderfully complex country very, for us, it was for our son, Cody Luong. This emotional adventure began 1996 when my husband and I made the decision to adopt our second child rather than going at it the traditional way. Our first step was to contact Jefferson County Social Services in Colorado. Our intent was to adopt a child at least 2 years old, but younger than our daughter who was 4 at the time. After classes, applications, paperwork, and an intensive homestudy, the county denied our application. What a heart-wrenching thing to hear! Our first reaction; “Are we not good parents?” After many months of soul searching we found that the county was right in their decision. Our application was declined because of the strain a “system” child puts on a family and our family would have suffered had they placed a child with us.

Our next step was with a private agency. Adoption Alliance in Aurora was our choice of agencies. Our initial meeting was to become acquainted and determine what our goal was in the adoption. We wanted a child from the US but we were too old (if you consider 40 old). Our wait would be at least 6 years and then there were no guarantees we would receive a child. Foreign adoption was our only choice if we wanted to have our family together within a short time.

There are many countries that have many children in need of a home, but we could only choose one country and one child. After much research we chose Vietnam. Again, we did paperwork, a homestudy, and the dossier for Vietnam, police background checks, and classes.

In Thai Nguyen, Vietnam, a little boy was born on November12, 1997 to a woman who could not raise him. She already had two children and her husband had died. This child would become our son. We received word about him in December of 1997, along with a photograph and medical profile. From this sketchy information we had to make the decision that would change our lives (and his) forever. Yes, we accepted the referral and began the longest, hardest 6 months of our lives!

There was still more paperwork both here and abroad, but we spent most of our time waiting. There was little or no communication from Vietnam concerning our son. Where was he? How was his health? Was he in an orphanage or foster care? Was he still near Ha Noi? Was he back in Thai Nguyen? The lack of information was excruciating. I began searching the internet for information, sending E-mails to everyone and anyone I could find, including the embassy in Ha Noi. All of these things made the wait less painful, but no shorter.

We finally reached the day that every foreign adoptive family awaits, a travel date! We would be leaving for Ha Noi, Vietnam on June 10, 1998, nearly a year since we first stepped into Adoption Alliance’s office. Now the scramble was underway to get our visas, and airline tickets, plus wind things up at work and school. We had 2 weeks to get ready for a trip of a lifetime.

We arrived in Vietnam on the morning of June 13, 1998. Stepping off the plane was like walking into a steam sauna fully dressed. The heat and humidity were nothing like we had ever experienced! We now know that 103( Fahrenheit and 95% humidity makes for a very wet day. After whisking through customs and loading onto vans we, and 10 other families, went to 2 hotels in the heart of old town Ha Noi. The smells, the noise, and the people filled our senses to capacity.

We had only a few hours rest then aroused and hurriedly sent to the lobby of the hotel where they were unloading 11 beautiful bundles of joy! What a happy day! We were exhausted, yet so happy, very much like the day I gave birth to our daughter nearly 5 years before. Our son was laid in my arms dressed only in a Tweety-bird T-shirt with his eyes taking in everything; he was 7 months and one day old. Physically, he was beautiful! He was healthy. What more could new parents ask for!

Our stay in Ha Noi lasted 2 weeks. We saw all that we could see and bought all that we could carry. We visited Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, temples, pagodas, the zoo, the art museum, the literature museum, the ethnology museum, a ceramics village, and the city where our son was born. The people all stopped to talk and say “Hello” in their best English. They touched our hair, felt our skin, and took pictures of their children with ours. We did more paperwork.

The 2 weeks passed faster than a speeding train, but our son was with us. Our last steps in this adventure of adoption were to get him through immigrations in Bangkok then home for the adoption to be filed in the United States. On January 19, 1999, our son, who was born Dang Van Luong, became Cody Luong Scrimgeour for the rest of his life.

Today, our family of four is complete. We now wait for the day we can make Vietnam a destination again to show our son where he was born and spent the first 7 months of his life.

Published on 9/5/01 “ThingsAsian”

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