Cindy A Talker
Adoptive Mother – USA
Talker, C. (2000). Adopted Vietnamese Parents. Edited for Adopted Vietnamese International.
Archive from 2000
Mrs A Talker, mother of three Adopted Vietnamese Children
Mrs A Talker, mother of three adopted Vietnamese children, spoke to AV about her decision to adoped children from Vietnam and her recent addition, a Vietnamese pot-belly pig as part of a novel cultural link for her kids to keep in contact with the culture of their homeland.
AV: What made you decide to adopt Vietnamese children?
AT: We started out in the China adoption program. That didn’t work out because China changed all their rules. So we switched to Vietnam to adopt a child. We were looking for older children from a country with a good reputation with older children. Vietnam well suited what we wanted. We were waiting for a referral of a little girl and I saw two boys the same ages as my bio sons. We adopted them first, then went back for a girl. We have been really pleased with our decision to adopt older children from Vietnam. The kids are well behaved, respectful, happy, good athletes, musically inclined, adorable, sweet, and excellent students. We have had no adoption problems what so ever.
AV: What process did you go through i.e. an organisation, self travel to Vietnam etc. We adopted threw and adoption agency called MAPS. Maine Adoption Placement Services. I found them on the Internet. In fact I found out you could adopt from Vietnam from the Internet on Rainbow Kids.
I found your website comments about adopted Vietnamese pot belly pigs as part of preserving your kids heritage which is one of the more unusualstories I’ve heard. What else do you do in terms of recognising your children’s dual identities? Do your children learn Vietnamese language too? Any planned trips to Vietnam?
AT: The whole family participates in Vietnamese cultural activities together. I do not single out the adopted children. We have been to a Tet, Vietnamese Lunar New Year festival in a Vietnamese community. Several times a year we take all the kids to an Asian grocery store and let them pick out there favorite Vietnamese foods and then we go to a Vietnamese Pho restaurant for dinner. During the summer we travel to Denver, Colorado for Vietnamese Culture Camp. It last the whole weekend and everyone there has adopted kids from Vietnam. The kids learn Vietnamese culture and have adoption talks, and the parents have their own conferences. We celebrate two Vietnamese Holidays.
The Moon Festival and The Lunar New Year. For the Moon Festival we make a trip to the Asian store and buy moon cakes and paper lanterns. We hold our own private parade of lanterns in the back yard and we make a fire pit and daddy reads the kids the book about the Moon Lady. For the Lunar New Year we take this public. Every kid in the family has a Tet party thrown by me in their class at school. We have a dragon parade, make a Vietnamese art, and I read them some Vietnamese folk tales. One of the kids favorite activities is trying to eat pho noodles with chop sticks.
I think our most important thing we do as a family is recognize the kids adoption day. We have cake and party at school like a birthday party. Also we belong to an international adoption group that meets about 5 times a year. The parents chat and the kids play. It’s very informal, but the kids see other families just like ours. We also have a huge Vietnamese New Year party at our house for the adoption group. All the kids come dressed in their birth countries costume.
We adopted older kids and they still speak Vietnamese. However they choose not t speak Vietnamese and we don’t push it. They live in America now and need to learn English very well to be successful. When the kids are teenagers or maybe in college they can choose to take classes in Vietnamese language classes and we will encourage it.
We have Vietnamese art work in our home and the kids have lots of positive adoption/Vietnamese T-shirts they love to wear. The boys were 5 and 7 when they came home. They still believe in worshiping their ancestors. We all do this together at Tet and their adoption day. We say thank you for letting us adopt the kids. When great grandma died, the older child made grandma her own ancestral alter complete with photo, spirit house, food offerings, incense and candles. It stays up because he says he wants to talk to grandma whenever he wants to. We attend church and the kids two cultures are blending, but we don’t force our religion on them or insist they give up their beliefs.
AV: Do you think that one day they might be interested in finding out if they can meet any biological relatives? How do you feel about this?
AT: Because our kids were adopted from Vietnam, their birth certificates have all the information on the kids family. Our adoption agency has a community program were for $250 they train a family in a family run business and give them the tools they need. It could be raising chickens, an ox to plow with, or a sewing machine. We heard threw the adoption agency that our boys birth family was in this program and had been given an ox. I asked the orphanage for photos of the boys family and received it and a nice letter from the birth father. The kids were adopted at ages 3,5,and 7. It is not a secrete who their birth family is. We also asked the orphanage to put our daughters family in the family business program. We got photos back of her mother and sister. They are very poor and it said the mother was deaf and could not speak. Which explains why our daughter is not picking up English fast. We put our daughter in Speech therapy and she is whizzing along. Having that information has made a big difference, because we didn’t know why the child was being so slow.
We will take the kids back to Vietnam when they have graduated from college and yes of course we will find their birth family.
Last year we were asked by the boys birth family to adopt their youngest daughter age 5. We said yes, then the adoption fell threw. We have arranged threw the orphanage to sponsor this child. We are paying for her schooling and medical care and we told the family she may continue with school until she graduates from college. We will receive reports on the sibling we could not adopt every 3 months and all money spent will be verified with report cards and medical receipts. All the kids have seen the photos and letter we receive and it’s not a secrete.
At first it disturbed me that the birth family came to the orphanage to get our write ups and photos of the kids. In fact, I almost passed out when I was told this. But, now I think it is good for the kids to know everyone is OK and we are trying to help the birth family. It helps the kids to move on with their life.
AV: Through the 1960s to April 1975, more than two thousand children born inVietnam were adopted by families in the United States, do you hope your three children will be in contact with this group and the ones that followed? Are they in contact with other Vietnamese?
AT: It would be nice to be in contact with adoptees like that, but I don’t seek them out. It’s more important the kids have contacted with adopted kids and their families just so they know adoption is just another way to make a family. The kids need to know lots of people are adopted and they aren’t the only ones in the world with parents who aren’t the same race as them. We do not know very many other Vietnamese people, but I do make sure we have positive Asian role models for the kids.
AV: How did your relatives and friends react to your adoptee family? Before we adopted the kids, relatives and friends had lots of horrible things to say. Mainly they said the kids were to old and they would be crazy and hurt our other children. I heard lots of well meaning stupid comments. I choose to ignore them. We had done our homework and spoken with lots of parents who adopted from older kids Vietnam with great success. So we knew what we were doing. Once the kids came home we heard dumb thing for about week, then people got use to them and melt now because the kids are so sweet. No everyone has great things to say.
AV: Any problems with racism?
AT: Before we adopted some well meaning family and friends warned us we would have racism problems. But, the only racism we have encounter is people telling us we would have problems. No when we got out, no one ever says a word to us. We live in a mixed community and having a biracial family is very normal here.
AV: What are your hopes for your three lovely children?
AT: To grow up and be nice people who visit their mother often. They will go to college.
AV: How are those piggies going?
AT: We only have one Vietnamese potbelly pig. He is very adorable. We named him Gooey which is Vietnamese for pig (Con Gui). He is not as personable as we were told and his main goal in life is to be fed. I think he’s funny. He’s kind of fussy, spoiled, and stubborn. The kids love him.
Mrs A Talker, children and Vietnamese potbelly pig website: potbellypigs.com/ponref8.htm