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British Family is United by Adoption with their Vietnamese Son

By Maxine Caswell

An English family adopts a young boy from Vietnam in this personal adoption story.

Issac joins his adoptive familyWe are English and live in Yorkshire (north of England). International adoption is very uncommon here, most of the overseas adoptions are from China as it is the easiest country for us (currently about 400 families). There are less than ten families with young children from Viet Nam. We made our decision to adopt in September 1996. In April 1997 whilst undergoing our home study - which by the way takes months and about eight interviews of three hours here - we travelled to VN to find out how we could go about our adoption. Well, after our trip the way forward was 'as clear as mud', what we had learned, apart from how much we loved the country, was that to undertake an independent adoption would require a stay of around four months. Therefore, we decided to try using a US agency. The UK does not have private or public agencies to facilitate overseas adoption and there is no charge for domestic adoption. Given that there is no culture of paying for adoption services in the UK it came as a bit of a shock to discover the sort of sums involved.

All of this was at an early stage of the development of adoption information on the internet - at least we couldn't find it. Therefore, we contacted a US agency based on the experience of an English woman who had used them to adopt from Chile many years ago. They seemed OK and we did not have anything to compare them with so in October 1997 our dossier went off. It was many months later that we realised something was amiss with their programme and we decided to look for another agency.

Eureka, that was at the point Andy discovered the Adoptive Parents of Vietnam list. Lo and behold, in August 1998 a post about our dear son was made to the list. I responded to the post not believing that anything would come of it, after all we had now contacted numerous larger agencies who did not want to work with non US citizens.

As we adopted from HCM which requires two trips or a long stay, we opted for the latter and were there from the end of October until December the 20th. We had a wonderful experience and of course we were able to visit Isaac daily until the G&R. There were some very difficult times, for instance when we took a Vietnamese friend to the centre to visit Isaac and one of the carers told her how he cried and cried each day when we left. It was also very difficult to cope when he had one of many infections and we could not watch over him constantly. When we first arrived Isaac was very passive and took a few days to raise a smile, imagine our joy when after the G&R he laughed for three days solid. We were so proud to wheel him around HCM (we carried the pushchair across the road of course!).

Now at nineteen months our floppy little boy who could not sit up properly is a terror. He has been slow to get going on his feet as he is double jointed and needs special boots to balance. However, he now climbs the stairs and today when I turned my back for a few moments, he had climbed from the sofa to the table and was perched precariously near the edge. He is a total joy and has lightened our lives immensely.

© Maxine Caswell

Maxine Caswell is the proud mother of Isaac Le Van Thanh Shaw adopted at 15 months in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.

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