Many have asked, so I thought I would finally address the issue: No, we did not see Angelina Jolie while we were in Vietnam. For those of you who live on another planet and haven’t heard the news, Angelina adopted a three year old boy from Vietnam at approximately the same time we were there adopting Zoe.
We were in Hanoi in the north the entire time, and she was in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) in the south. In some ways we might as well have been in different coutries, because there are still strong divisions between the north and the south in Vietnam. Consider that there are still divisive feelings between the north and the south in the US more than 140 years after our Civil War, and it’s only been 30 years since the north and south were united after the Vietnam War (known in Vietnam as the “American War”). But that’s a separate issue…
Anyway, the Angelina comments started immediately. When we showed Zoe’s Vietnamese passport to the US customs officer in LA, he said, “Oh, Angelina.” He looked at Christian and said, “And that must make you Brad.” When we boarded our LA to Chicago flight and I told one of the other families we were traveling with about it, they said that the officer said the same thing to them. It must have been his schtick for the week.
I’m kind of annoyed that Angelina adopted at the same time as us. First, people are trying to say that she did not get any kind of special treatment. While we were in country for three and a half weeks, her adoption was complete in just over one week. We loved our time in Vietnam, but our time would have been much more enjoyable if we were not sitting by the phone waiting for a call from the US embassy to get Zoe’s visa so we could make our flight home (although if we had a private jet we would’t have had to worry about silly little things like commercial airline schedules). Also, I bet Angelina’s G&R wasn’t delayed because the Minister of Justice got drunk – yes, that is the actual reason our G&R was delayed.
Second, I’m annoyed by the implication that we adopted internationally because it was the trendy thing to do. We had no idea that Angelina was adopting from Vietnam, and we started our dossier before Madonna adopted from Malawi (but don’t even get me started on all of the things wrong with that adoption). We adopted Zoe because we wanted to adopt, and an international adoption was the right thing for our family. While there are more in depth explanations, the basic reason is simply that Zoe needed a family and we wanted a daughter.
While celebrity adoptions can bring positive attention to the poverty and the condition of orphaned children around the world, conversations about these adoptions are generally superficial and simplistic and end up merely as the topic of jokes on late night talk shows. I will get over being annoyed with Angelina’s adoption and the stupid comments about it because in the end we are both home with our babies and that is what is important. I hope that everyone else can get over the jokes and think more seriously about the need for future international adoptions and the need to fix the underlying social conditions (culture, economics, class, power, privilege, laws, welfare systems, access to medical care and education, etc.) which make them necessary.
Getting off my soap box for a second, I just realized the oddity of a blog entry about me and Angelina Jolie. Can’t say I ever thought that would happen! 🙂