The search for Zoe’s birthparents was not successful. We were not really hopeful that it would be since we had little information to go on, but we were able to get a bit more information about how she came to the orphanage.
Zoe was from Phu Tho province, which is about 50 miles northwest of Hanoi. In the first phase of the search, the searchers traveled to Hanoi to the office that handles all adoption files in the region. We didn’t expect to find much in Hanoi, but this is the process the searcers had to follow. They had to get the original files and make arrangements to contact the people in the province.
A few weeks later, they traveled to Phu Tho. The woman who was the orphanage director at the time of Zoe’s adoption has retired. The searchers talked to the current orphanage director, but he had no information. They were able to talk to the former orphanage director, but she was not cooperative and just referred them back to the Department of Justice. The small orphanage where Zoe was is now closed, so they were not able to talk to any of the nannies who cared for her.
However, they were successful in speaking to the police chief in the commune where she was found, and they they talked to the policeman who found her. This is where we gained the most information.
First, we found the origins of Zoe’s name from the police chief. Her name of her birth certificate was Nguyen Thi Ha. Nguyen is a very common Vietnamese family name, and it is the family name of the man who was the head of the Phu Tho People’s Committe, so we assume that is where that name came from. However, the police chief said that he gave her the names Thi Ha. Thi is a common middle name for a girl, but he named her Ha because she where she was found was on the road between Ha Noi and Ha Giang.
The policeman who found Zoe was also very coorperative. He was surprised to hear from someone about her because three years have passed. He found her in an abandoned house between two bridges during an inspection round. The searchers took photos of the location for us, but said that it looks very different now. The building has been replaced by a tree planting farm and is closed to the road.
The policeman found Zoe around 10pm. Although the day she was found is what is listed as her date of birth on her birth certificate (this is very common), he thinks she could have been up to a month-and-a-half old when he found her. He said he looked around for anyone else at the scene, but found no one. He took her to the police station, where she was given her name, and then he and the police chief took her to the medical center for a quick exam. Then she was taken to the large orphanage. He said this was the only baby her found, and she was the only baby found in this district. Once she was taken to the orphanage, he didn’t hear anything else about her and he never heard anything about her birthfamily in the district. The searchers did try to question people living in the area, but did not gain any additional information.