My Gift From Vietnam

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In 1993, I started carrying around in my purse an envelop with nine pictures in it. I showed these pictures to everyone I met, whether they wanted to see them or not. These were my daughters. Or rather, they weren’t yet, but they were going to be. They were three little girls, ages 5, 8, and 9 in an orphanage in Vietnam.

I will not subject you to the agony and frustration that I went through that year, especially in dealing with immigration and governments on both sides, let’s just say, I avoid bad language, and it would be impossible to tell the tale without it. But finally after a year, we received the call that our girls would be arriving in the US. That was even better news, since I had originally planned on flying. But I don’t fly well, I don’t unbuckle my seat belt, and I don’t go to the bathroom on airplanes (hello…I said I don’t unbuckle my belt, which means I don’t get out of my seat). They arrived in Nashville and we greeted them with hugs and raggedy ann dolls.


When we got home, we found that some adoption friends had hung a banner on our house welcoming the girls.


I’d always dreamed of making matching red corduroy jumpers and making my children wear them and pose for pictures.


What good is having children, if you can’t make their Halloween costumes and put lots of make-up on them. Their first Halloween, they could only speak a few words of English. I taught them how to say “Trick or Treat” and with help from a Vietnamese friend, explained the whole knocking on a door and getting candy routine. They looked doubtful, but after the first few houses, they were fully in the swing of things! Things were going smooth, until one lady tried to talk to them. She kept asking them what they were supposed to be, and they kept repeating “trick or treat”. Each time they said it a little more firmly, finally looking back at me, as if to say, “what is with this woman, why doesn’t she get it”, finally I told her that they didn’t speak any English and they weren’t going away until she gave them some candy.


So, yes, I know I didn’t post any current pictures. That’s because…gulp… they are adults now, and I respect their privacy (except not enough to stop me from showing them in matching red jumpers!). They are 19, 22, and 23 and I am just plain old.

Oh, and sorry the pictures are so crappy. Thank you Microsoft Vista for taking two hours of my life that I will never get back, while I tried to load my scanner software. Yes, two hours, and I still can’t get it loaded. So, I had to take pictures of my pictures.

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  1. says

    You are AMAZING! And your girls … my gosh they are beautiful in these photos; I bet they are stunning today! What a lovely family you are blessed with, and what an amazing journey you have had. Love the family photo. Wow, Pam. You impressed me before by touching the lives of special needs kids. Now this. Talk about making a difference. You are a jewel.

  2. says

    these pictures couldn’t be any more precious. your daughters are beautiful and so are you and your husband. i love this post. it brought tears to my eyes because everything about this is right and good. you rock.

  3. says

    Your girls are so beautiful!
    And so are you, I might add. I didn’t know anything about your family before. What a wonderful present. I love the matching outfits, you are a great mom.

  4. says

    Pam, your post has brought tears to my eyes. So, so beautiful. Knowing that there are people like you in the world makes it a better place. You are a generous, loving and kind person and deserves to be happy. I’m glad you got your wish of having kids and made the adorable jumpsuits and had all the fun with your girls. They are absolutely gorgeous, by the way. Love how happy they are – and they should, having you in their lives.

    Thank you for sharing such precious moments with us. Be sure you have a huge fan in the other half of the globe.

  5. says

    Pam, I really appreciate you showing this facet of yourself, sharing something personal and allowing to know you better.

    You’ve made a connection with me and I’m moved.

  6. says

    This is such a touching post. I loved reading it and seeing this glimpse of your family. Last year I had a little girl from Vietnam in my class and I just adored her.

  7. says

    Pam! This was so wonderful. I so wish you would tell us their adoption story. I’m assuming they were sisters. How did you find them?

    What an amazing story I bet you have to tell. Just wonderful.

  8. says

    They are beautiful! And so are you and your husband. Thank you for showing us this precious part of your life (and I love the matching jumpers). As for the jumpers, well, let’s say that when I finally paid a photographer to take a family portrait, last spring, everyone was required to match. Boys, girls, everyone!

  9. says

    And I had to come back and see your pictures again this morning, because this was such a nice story. You got an entire family at once! How wonderful!

  10. says

    So proud to call you my friend. It was a sweet surprise to see that first picture of the girls when I loaded your blog just now. It made me cry.

  11. Pam says

    Paula – thank you! Yes, they are stunning today, if I do say so myself!

    Jen Yu – thank you!

    Natashya – I think they’re beautiful! Thank you!

    Patricia – you are so sweet!

    Peter – thank you!

    Kalyn – it’s funny, I’ve never had any Vietnamese students.

    Noble (Cathy) – yes they are sisters. We found them through an adoption agency that specialized in Vietnam adoptions.

    Mary – thank you!

    Marjie – I’m with you, I’m all about the matching outfit photos!

    Wandering – I wish I’d had your blog as a resource when I first got them, just think of all the yummy Vietnamese food I could have made.

    Lydia – thank you, we consider ourselves very lucky!

    Jin Hooi – thank you!

    Katherine – oh, you are so sweet!

    Marjie – you are so sweet! Yep, it was an instant family, we went from 2 to 5 over night.

    Grace – thank you!

    Joy – no crying allowed.

    Hip chick – I know, time seems to go faster and faster every year!

  12. says

    Oh my god, your daughters are GORGEOUS!!! What an amazing story, too- I love adoption stories! (My little sister is adopted, and so is her boyfriend and all three of his siblings.) I know how wonderful it is, and I think it’s so fantastic that you guys were able to adopt THREE older children and keep them together! Thank you for sharing this! :)

  13. says

    I missed this post the first time around, so I’m glad you linked to it! What a great story and your daughters were adorable then, and I’m sure lovely now. My girls are similar ages (21 and 23) and for a long time the oldest didn’t want her face or name used on my blog. (She did allow one picture back at Thanksgiving) So I had childhood pictures of them on my sidebar until an attempt at blog re-design (with my oldest daughter) accidentally deleted my entire sidebar. Haven’t taken the time to recreate it, and my blog seems to be surviving…

  14. says

    Oh wow, what a gorgeous family you are. And what a lovely post. I’m sure your daughters will forgive you for posting those matching clothes photos. One day 😉


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