Searching for Zoe’s birthfamily

Colin’s adoption has been a semi-open adoption until just recently, when we went to a completely open adoption. We’ve had contact via phone, e-mail, and letters with Colin’s birthmom, aunt, grandma, half-brother (Jason), and half-sister (Hailey). On Christmas day, we talked to Jason and Hailey on the phone for the first time. We put them on speaker and Noah, Zoe, and Colin were all in the room. After the phone call, we were explaining that Jason and Hailey were part of Colin’s birthfamily, that they lived a few hours away, and that we would go visit them this summer.

Zoe looked at us and said, “Where’s my family?”

We tried to explain that we are her forever family, but that her birthfamily was in Vietnam, and that it was very far away. We said that we would take her to Vietnam again someday, but that we didn’t know her “Vietnam Mama.” Then I went in the bathroom and cried.

Christian and I have been talking about searching for Zoe’s birthfamily since a few months after she came home, when Phu Tho shut down to US adoptions. The allegations of corruption made us sick, and we felt like we needed to know more. We really wanted to know if Zoe’s adoption had been clean, and if this was what her birthfamily really wanted for her. At the time, no one in Phu Tho was talking though. We spoke to one searcher who simply said a birthparent search for an abandoned child (as opposed to one who had been relinquished with birthparent info) was not possible, especially in that province. We spoke to another searcher who said it may be possible, but that we needed to wait until the dust settled. However, now that some time has passed and people in Phu Tho might be more willing to cooperate, that person is no longer doing searches.

So, long story short, it’s been difficult to even figure out where to begin. I joined a Yahoo Gr0up called BirthParentContact, but didn’t have much luck with the searchers in the database there either. Luckily a friend, whose daughter is also from Phu Tho, was even more determined that I have been and got a recommendation from a non-profit group doing work in Vietnam. I will e-mail information about the search group to those who commented on the last post or contacted me privately, but I’m not comfortable sharing that info here until the search is completed. I am also telling the people I e-mail to please not consider this a recommendation for the searcher. So far they seem professional and thorough, but I can’t recommend or not recommend them until the search is complete. I learned the hard way when I took recommendations for the adoption agency we used for Zoe from people who were in process, rather than people who had completed adoptions or who had failed adoptions through that agency. There are a few families ahead of us, so we don’t expect to get any results for at least two months.

There are three possible outcomes to this search:

1. We won’t find anything.

This is a very big possibility, but we still feel like it’s worth the investment of time and money to be able to tell Zoe that we did everything we could. In Zoe’s finding report, it says that she was found by a policeman on patrol with no identifying information, so there’s not much to go on. The searchers will try to track down that policeman and everyone else named in her paperwork to see if they know anything more. If they don’t know more (or know more, but won’t admit to it), we’re at a bit of  a dead-end. I mentioned in my last post that some adult adoptees believe it should be the adoptee’s right to decide to search, but since we don’t think there is very good chance of finding anything now, we think the chances of finding anything in 10-15 years would be nill. Will we search again if we don’t find anything now? I don’t know. I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

2. We locate Zoe’s birthparents and find they wanted her to be placed for adoption.

Even this possibility has variables. We hope that we will be able to begin some sort of communication through letters, phone calls, e-mails, etc. We would eventually like to take Zoe back to Vietnam to meet them.  However, it’s possible that they won’t want to have contact with us for one reason or another. If this happens, we hope that we can at least get some general history and family medical information for Zoe.

3. We locate Zoe’s birthparents and find that they were tricked or coerced into the adoption, or that Zoe was kidnapped.

This is the scariest outcome, and believe me, it does scare us. However, we have absolutely no intention of “giving Zoe back,” and we would never be embarking on this search if we thought there was even the most remote possibility that we would have to. There is no legal precedent for children being returned to their birthfamiles against the wishes of their American adoptive parents. Adoptive parents have done it, but never on the orders of the US government, even when there is CLEAR evidence of fraud (speaking of specific cases in India, Samoa, and Guatemala). Also, if Zoe’s birthfamily did contest her adoption, Christian and I likely have more resources and money to fight it out than her birthparents would. I know that writing that sentence may make me seem like a horrible person, but it is the cold hard truth. If we had found something like this out a month after we adopted her we might have chosen to return her to her birthparents, but three years later, when we are the only thing she knows, there’s not a chance in hell we would do it. Instead, we would hope to open lines of communication with her birthparents – letters, phone calls, visits, etc.

Whatever the outcome, Christian and I just feel like this is something we have to do. I hope I have more information to share over the next couple of months!


7 thoughts on “Searching for Zoe’s birthfamily

  1. As always, I appreciate your honestly. I wish I could write more about my struggles with this. We have a name and address…

    Thank you for the info you emailed me today. Like you said, it’s impossible to know whether a company, agency, or person is really “good” until the process has been completed. We’re planning on gathering a bit more info, then waiting to hear how it goes.

    Thank you again, Tracy.

    BTW, that must have been really hard with Zoe. We’ve been talking a lot about domestic adoption and I worry how it will affect each of my children. Then again, the circumstances and info about each of our children that we already have is so different. So much to consider.

  2. I would love to know of the non-profit that you are using. We are lucky that we have a name and address for Jacob’s birthfamily. Grandma, at least, if mom is no longer there. We met them. That too was an experience that I know you experienced with Colin. Very hard when you can’t communicate well with them. Contact with them wasn’t something we had really considered with an international adoption, but it is something that we are working on. I would love to discuss this further with you, as we are at a crossroads with contact and it can be a difficult slope. You have experience with Colin, and I had the information that I pray you find for Zoe. I too agree with your 3rd possibility. My rude students ask me and they are SHOCKED when I saw I wouldn’t give him back to a bio father if he appeared.

  3. I was actually wondering how much something like this costs? Do you mind emailing me with that?

    We are seriously considering this. I don’t want to let too much time go by…

  4. I have started a response to this post several times, but it’s difficult to find the words. I am in awe of the courage you and Christian show in order to be the best possible parents for all of your children. Lucky, lucky Noah, Zoe and Colin.

  5. Pingback: INPUT NEEDED: First Round of Zoe’s Birthfamily Search Unsuccessful « My Minivan Rocks!

  6. Pingback: Does money have an impact on our open adoptions? « My Minivan Rocks!

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