As I said a few days ago, Zoe has been asking more about Vietnam and her birthfamily. I have really been trying to encourage these conversations, but not overwhelm her.
I am finally getting around to making her a photo album from Vietnam. She has seen photos on the blog, she has her referral photo framed in her room, and she has a small photo album that has about 12 pictures of her life (not all adoption related), including the one from her adoption ceremony. With all of the questions she has been asking, I knew it was finally time.
I ordered all 400+ pictures and I have started to put them in an album. I started with her referral photo, and then I put in photos from the search. I have pictures of the policeman who found her and the place where he found her. The he took her to The People’s Committee building in the commune where he met the police chief. I have photos of both. Then I have photos of some people from the commune, to show that they asked around to see if anyone knew who she was. Then I have a picture of the orphanage, of the orphanage director, and of her bed in the orphanage. That’s as far as I have gotten right now. Obviously, next I will show pictures from when we adopted her, when we too her back to the hotel, pictures from around Hanoi and Phu Tho, and then pictures when we came home and everyone met us at the airport.
A friend and her daughter went with Zoe and me to get pedicures last week. We went to a salon we had never been to before. Zoe has been around Vietnamese people when we go to Tet or Tet Trung Thu celebrations, when we’ve eaten at Vietnamese restaurants, and when we’ve been to other nail salons owned by Vietnamese families. The Vietnamese people we meet generally take a great deal of interest in Zoe, but she usually just gets pretty shy.
The people at this nail salon were very interested in her, of course, but I was especially happy to meet them. There was a woman named Jessica. She said she has a 14-year-old daughter and that she would love for her to meet Zoe. There was a man named Peter, who turns out to be the President of the Vietnamese American Community in our city. He helped do some major renovations at the local Vietnamese Buddhist Temple. I told him that I love the stone map of Vietnam at the temple, and that I take Zoe’s picture in front of it each year.
Zoe eventually warmed up a little while we were there, but she was still pretty quiet when we left. I said, “You know when they were talking to you and you couldn’t understand? They were speaking in Vietnamese. When we go to Vietnam, they will speak Vietnamese there.”
She said, “Mommy, I might be shy then, too.” I told her that was OK, but that maybe we should try to learn some Vietnamese before we go. She didn’t really answer yes or no.
The boys were out doing something with Christian when we got home. Zoe still seemed a little sad. I asked what she wanted to do, and she said, “Can we go watch a movie in your bed?”
We went upstairs. Before I started the movie, I pulled out the photo album. I showed her the stacks of pictures I still had to put in it, but asked if she wanted to see the pictures I had so far.
The plastic of the photo album was kind of sticking to her referral photo. When I showed her a picture of where she was found near a bridge, she turned back to the referral photo and said, “Is that blood!?” It broke.my.heart. I quickly peeled the plastic off the photo and showed her. She calmed down a little.
As I said, the album is not finished. When we got to the last page, the orphanage page, she said, “Mommy, I want to see the pictures when I came home!” Again, broke.my.heart. I started regretting showing her the unfinished album. I flipped through the blank pages though, and showed her where everything would go: the adoption ceremony, when we took her back to the hotel, her first haircut, pictures from around Hanoi and Phu Tho, flying home on the plane, and everyone who met us at the airport. She seemed satisfied with that.
Again, I hope I am not really screwing up these conversations. I need to get the rest of that album done ASAP.