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Friday, May 9, 2014

Options and rambling thoughts on returning to Vietnam

I'm usually a stay-off-the-soapbox kind of gal.  I usually a post-pretty-pics-and-be-done-with-it kind of gal.  But as our trip approaches my head it full.  Forewarning, there is no solution or real ending to this post.  It just ends with options. 

2 weeks from today we'll be on our way to Hanoi.  

I'm excited to go!  Don't get me wrong, but I'm not excited to get there!  Understandably even the thought of 36 hours of travel makes me want to toss my cookies.  But as much as I am having mixed feelings about traveling, I'm having even more mixed-up feelings about going to the orphanage.  Don't get me wrong.  I want to be there. I want to help out and spread the love and pass on the supplies.  But I'm worried about my reaction.  Like more orphanages around the world, St An's is not an orphanage that participates in adoptions. There are very few adoption programs going on in VietNam right now and the United States is not one of them.  Even when the US did have an adoption program, this was not an orphanage that had any adoptions from it. There are a host of reasons why an orphanage might not participate in adoption programs, the least of which is that it's costly for the orphanage to gather the documentation necessary to get the process started and I can only image this orphanage, as many around the world, don't have the extra funds to do that.  

Anywho, all this to say, these children will stay forever orphans and grow up in St An's in this nontraditional family.  With love but orphans none the less. I don't want to pity these children, yet I know that they will never know the love of a mom and a dad and a traditional family, and I can't help but be saddened by  that.  Really sad.  I want to share my smiles, fun and happiness, yet I can't help but wonder how much happiness I'd have without my family.  I wonder what it would be like to never know a families unconditional love.  I know I'll fall in love with the children there, but I've imagined the life my children, my son and my daughter, and how it would have been had they stayed in the orphanage, grown up there, and it isn't good. Doesn't every child deserve a family?

In my ideal world option #1 is that families are never broken apart.  That they are preserved, and that globally we do all we can to make that happen.  Most orphaned children have at least 1 living parent.   Yep, you read that right!  Often both parents are alive!  But a lack of resources and money makes it so these parents think they have no option but to give their child up to someone else's care or abandon them altogether.  As a worldwide community we need to think about that.  let me say that again. There are 153 million orphans and most of them have a living parent that feels they have no choice but to abandon their child.  What does that say about us as a civilization?  And what are we willing to sacrifice to change it.  Is is all about money?  Is it all about the have's and the have not's?  And how can we, how can I fix it?  Is it one child at a time?  Or is it something bigger that needs to be done?  I have no answers but these are questions I wrestle with, questions I think we should all be wrestling with as we raise the next generation that will live with the repercussions of our actions.  Or lack of them as the case might be. 

Option #2 is that orphaned children be adopted in their own countries and never forced to lose their identity, culture, language, heritage, history...  Ya, I make phở and celebrate Tết in a really feeble way compared to how it should be done.  But really I can not teach Tess and Jude what it means to be Vietnamese.  I can't even teach them when it means to be Vietnamese Americans! And for children that had no say as to whether or not they lose all that, there's something about that that's really unfair about it all.  As adoptive parents, did we contribute to that problem?  Ummm probably.  Were there other options for Tess and Jude to stay in VietNam and be adopted by a Vietnamese family.  No. Again... what should I do about it?  I haven't a clue yet, and despite a huge void of answers, I am thinking about it.  I hope all adoptive parents to do that and talk to one another about it.

Option #3 is that they are adopted to a loving family anywhere.  Somewhere. Any country wherever it be, so long as it's a good family that has unconditional love and a forever commitment that is backed up with actions.  Oh yea, and mint chocolate chip ice cream and hair bows, and a dog that sleep by their bed, and getting grounded when he stays out too late, and a grandpa that doesn't mind it when you pull on his mustache... those would be nice too!  You know what I mean... a family.  Anywhere.  And while I'm in my ideal la-la land option #3 would be all about finding families for children that needed them and have little to do with money.  All that money changes everything.  

But the kiddos of St. An's don't have any of these 3 options.  And that seems to have them fall into option #4.  Growing up in institutionalized care.  And that just plain ol' makes me sad.  I'm sure there are more options.  Like a really awesome foster care system with lots of room?  My country hasn't seemed to figure that one out yet now do I think it's making it a priority.  

What are the other options?  Let's brainstorm, think out of the box and review the options at a minimum.  
They deserve that. 

So all this to say... we want to go to St An's and help out, spread the love and pass on the supplies!  But in my heart it just doesn't seem like it's enough.  It isn't. There needs to be more.  The children deserve a solution to this problem.
Liv and one of the sweet little ones in the Mexico orphanage having fun and spreading the love!


  1. Some-days feel heavy. The more I learn, the sadder I am. Praying for you to get through these days - and take one little sliver at a time, to find the joy in the moments, and be used as a light!

  2. You've put your finger on the down side of adoption: it brings one face-to-face with the problem of children who are orphaned or abandoned. In a perfect world, no child's story should include those words. No child should start life in a box in a park.

    I am happy to (soon) be an adoptive father. I hope that my daughter will be happy; I will do my best to see to it that she is. But... This is not how her story should have been written.

  3. Thanks so much for sharing this. So many of these same thoughts go through my head as well. It's a lot to think about...overwhelming.....and sad. There is good in this world, but there is also too much injustice.

  4. Boy I've had these same thoughts and discussions. Hard stuff, this life. But I take comfort in our sovereign Lord working all things out for His glory.

    By any chance have y'all read Kisses From Katie by Katie Davis? Awesome. But read with tissues near!!


  5. Amen. Well said, my friend.
    As a mother of nine adopted kids from China, Ethiopia, Peru, Honduras, and Bulgaria, I still do not believe adoption is the solution to the orphan crisis. Do not get me wrong: I love them each to the moon and back and adoption has been a tremendous blessing, but its not fair that they must have me as their mom instead of their biological mothers. I would have happily sent over the money needed to repair Rachel's heart in China before she was abandoned if it had meant that she would be with her bio mom and never became my daughter. I know that sounds harsh and like I do not love my daughter, but I do. I love her immensely and my heart aches for every one of my children.
    Adoption was their only choice after being separated from their bio families, so I am humbled that Christ chose me to be their mother after those nine tragedies.


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