First round of Zoe’s birthfamily search unsuccessful

A few days ago, I posted about how we had started a search for Zoe’s birthfamily. (For background, I wrote about Zoe’s dossier and finding report here in 2007.)

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:

  1. Does the policeman named in the report really exist? (though there’s probably a nicer way to say this)
  2. How long has he been a police officer?
  3. How many babies did he find and take to the orphanage?
  4. 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?
  5. Did he know to be looking for a child in that location, at that particular time?
  6. Can we get a photo of the place she was found?

Any other suggestions?


11 thoughts on “First round of Zoe’s birthfamily search unsuccessful

  1. I think all of those questions are good. Do you have any info about any of the nannies? My contact with the search agency told me they would contact the nanny I have a name for as well as the resident I have the name for. I am just hoping that will give me more information, even if I don’t find Aiden’s first family. I would definitely ask for the picture of the finding place. I’m sorry you weren’t able to get more information.

  2. A photo of the finding place is a great start. Jocelyn’s finding place was very specific, but I’ve looked in every guidebook and map and website I can find and none of them has any reference to the pagoda by name. We’re planning on going back in 5 years and hopefully by then I can find some evidence of the place’s existence. The minority group she’s from doesn’t even reside close to where she was found…

    I’m sorry the first round didn’t give information.

  3. I think they are all good questions. I would take the searchers up on their suggestion of making contact with the police. That way it seems like their idea. Give them the questions you’d like asked. I think asking them to take pictures of the finding place is reasonable too.

  4. I have no expereince with any of this but what is wrong with the ?’s you have? I know you don’t want to offend the searchers but I would assume you are paying them??

  5. I would definitely press them a bit- I think that you can certainly diplomatically say that you have many reasons to believe that some of the documents are not accurate and that they will have to do more digging. Remember- they are working FOR you and providing you a service that you are paying for. I know that you can respectfully say what you need to say and get your point across. If there are any articles that you can send them regarding the province and the potential for corruption I bet that would be a big help.

    Keep us posted!!!

  6. I would definitely ask the questions and go forward. I’m not sure how much more you’ll learn, but if you don’t, you are always going to have those what-ifs.

    I would just say that you are trying to gather as much info now as you can so that Zoe can have the info when she’s older. That your paperwork was very vague and you would love to have a better account of what happened that night.

  7. I second Katherine. Press on and be nice, but say what you need to say. Let us know how it goes. I’m going to email you b/c I have a few questions.

  8. Good luck with your search! It is tricky, being able to ask the questions you need to ask without offending the searchers in the process. Language barriers and cultural differences and all that. I am curious, and I don’t know if you would want to write a post about this or not, but what if you do find her birth mother/parents, and what if you do find out her adoption was a direct result of corruption? What then? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not questioning what you are doing (I totally understand wanting to know as much as possible about your child’s history), I’m just wondering what you plan to do going forward if you get really bad news.

    • Elaine-

      I probably will post about this. If we found out that there was corruption, I think we would be honest with her about that and we would try to have some sort of contact with her birthparents. What will be trickier is if we don’t get ANY information from the seach. I feel like we need to tell her about corruption in Vietnam adoptions, especially since her province was directly involved, but I don’t know how we will do that. I don’t want to say that he adoption WAS tainted if it wasn’t, but I also feel like she should know about the possibilities.

  9. Pingback: The search for Zoe’s birthparents « My Minivan Rocks!

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