The search agency we are using does the search in a two-step process. Since Zoe is from Phu Tho the closest regional government office is in Hanoi, so they started the search there. Today we got the following e-mail (I mentioned before that we are searching with another family, and I am omitting that family’s information here):
Dear XXXXX and Tracy,
We have just back from Ha Noi for the initial research regarding your daughter (XXXXX and Nguyen Thi Ha). Through our connections there and the documents you sent us, we succeeded in contacting with People’s Committee in Viet Tri, Phu Tho province.
Unfortunately, we got the information that no one came and asked about Nguyen Thi Ha and XXXXX. Both of their name is named by the chairman of the orphanage.
In addition, we tried to ask for the contact of Mr. Dinh Van Thang and Mr. XXXXX who pick the kids [policemen named on the finding reports], they said also that after bring the kids to the orphanage, they try to wait and find birthparents so that they can ask them come to the orphanage to pick up their daughter, but until now, they still have no news. On the day they met the children, it was around midnight, so hardly to see whoever on the road on the dark.
We try our best to find more and more information with hope we can link and find out the place of the birthparents. We’re afraid that the news we provided to you do not reach your expectations. So please advise what should be our next steps.
In case you would like to pursue, we can eventually manage a second trip and go the orphanage, setup a meeting with the police in Tien Phu, try to find out the men who discover the kids to get any possible additional information.
Since the chance to find out birthparents is quite low on this situation, please for your decision to move forward or not…
I am sad. I am not surprised, so I cannot explain why I am so sad. It’s not rational, but I am sad. I feel ike I have been on the verge of tears all day.
Here the thing though: Of course no one came and asked about Nguyen Thi Ha. That was not the name her birthparents gave her. It was the name the orphanage gave her. And her birthparents likely would have no idea where to look if they wanted to find her. They would have no way of knowing that she had been taken from Tien Phu Commune to an orphanage in Viet Tri. Beyond that, if things in Phu Tho province, and specifically in Zoe’s orphanage, were corrupt as the US government alleges, there’s no way the orphanage officials or representatives of the Phu Tho People’s Committee would give our searcher any answer other than, “Sorry, but we have no information.”
So, in talking with the other family today, we think that we need to press the searcher a bit. However, we don’t want to offend the searcher in the process. How do we say, “Look, no offense, but we know corruption is common in Vietnam, and we’re fairly certain that our daughters’ paperwork is bullsh*t,” without sounding totally obnoxious? What we really need them to do is to meet with the policemen and to ask around in the communes where our daughters were found. If anyone has ideas for how to say this without being offensive, please let me know.
I’m also trying to think of a list of specific questions. So far, I have:
- Does the policeman named in the report really exist? (though there’s probably a nicer way to say this)
- How long has he been a police officer?
- How many babies did he find and take to the orphanage?
- Were there more babies found in 2006-2007 (when the province was open to US adoptions) than there were in the years prior to or since then?
- Did he know to be looking for a child in that location, at that particular time?
- Can we get a photo of the place she was found?
Any other suggestions?