Homeland Visit Vietnam
Think about a homeland visit organized by The Children’s Bridge, an adoption agency with over 20 years of experience working and travelling throughout Asia.
Why go on a homeland visit with your child?
Travelling to your child’s country of birth to learn about his/her heritage is an irreplaceable experience. It can open the door for discussions about his/her culture and adoption. I know, from first-hand experience with my child that it instils a sense of pride built on direct contact. The trip makes the culture a lively, rich reality far more tangible for a child than sporadic celebrations at occasional events. Visiting Vietnam makes your child a participant in the culture of an evolving and exciting country rather than being a distant observer of a far off “foreign” land. The trip sends a strong message that your family values Vietnam and its place in your family history.
I encourage you to look at the following story (and photos!) written by a family who experienced our homeland tour:
Vietnam Homeland Visit
By Ben and Kim
How old should my child be?
Children’s Bridge Homeland Visits are open to adoptees 6 years and older at the time of the trip.
Should I visit the orphanage with my child?
A trip to Vietnam does not have to include a visit to your child’s orphanage. That decision is yours to make in the best interest of your child. Most families do choose to visit their child’s orphanage. I will be happy to talk to you in a general way about the variety of encounters.
Can I visit both of my children’s orphanage cities?….
Yes, there is time built in to the itinerary for families to visit 2 orphanage cities.
We would be happy to a customize a Vietnam Homeland experience for you.
In April 2018 we took our 10-year-old twin daughters Elise and Claire to Vietnam for a homeland visit. Ever since we arrived in Canada with them when they were 11 months old, we have shared stories of Vietnam with our daughters so they were very excited to see it for themselves.
We planned to cover the country from south to north in 3 hops, finishing off in Hanoi and visiting their orphanage.
After a long flight via Hong Kong, we arrived in Ho Chi Minh City, which was new to all of us because the children’s orphanage was in Hai Duong, in the north near Hanoi.
We stayed in a lovely historic Art Deco hotel by the river. The traffic in front of our hotel was extraordinary, making crossing the street quite a challenge and something we had to get reacquainted with. We were used to lots of motorbike traffic on the roads 9 years ago, but today there are many more cars and larger vehicles.
Our guide took us to several interesting museums including the former presidential palace. Elise was quite intrigued when we visited the bunker under the building.
From Ho Chi Minh City we took a side trip to the Mekong delta and visited a floating fruit market, where on the deck of a boat we sampled the best pineapple I have ever tasted, cut to order for us. The children got a real feeling for the importance of water in daily the lives of the Vietnamese while hearing stories from our guide during a boat trip on the Mekong river in a small sampan.
Our first in-country flight took us to Danang, where we all enjoyed the spectacular beach with a view of the statue of the Lady Buddha of Danang and watched a few courageous individuals parasailing.
Another highlight on the same day was a visit to Danang Sun World amusement park, which, because it was the day after a long weekend, we essentially had all to ourselves with no lines at all. Our girls loved it but they may now be spoiled for any other amusement park in the future where they won’t be able to just walk onto the ride of their choice without waiting.
Later that same day, we headed off to a lovely resort near Hoi An, a beautiful well-preserved ancient town with interesting historical architecture. A family home near the river in Hoi An has the annual water levels from the spring floods marked on a pillar; some years it reached well above our heads. The beach here was splendid and offered some great family time and an awesome sunrise.
We took a bike excursion to a farm outside Hoi An where they grow organic produce fertilized with seaweed and at a local restaurant we helped prepare our own lunch of traditional egg pancakes with rice wraps called Banh Xeo. We also helped on the farm, preparing the soil and planting basil, a fun experience for all.
Our second in-country hop landed us in Hanoi, where we had spent a month on our adoption trip 9 years ago. It was fun to be in familiar territory and to visit sites the girls recognized from photos taken when they were babies, although much has changed since our last visit.
We took the family to see the water puppets, strolled around Hoan Kiem Lake, found our favourite ice cream parlour from years past, and prepared for our trip to the Hai Duong orphanage.
In the morning, a driver and a translator picked us up for the 90 minute drive to Hai Duong. We learned that there are several orphanages in Hai Duong but fortunately we had provided a picture of the sign at the gate so our driver, a Hai Duong resident, was able to take us to the correct one right away. When we entered the gate the courtyard was full of children curious to observe us and some who wanted to say hello. We responded with Vietnamese greetings to the best of our ability. The girls were uncomfortable with some of the spontaneous hugs, but we had prepared them that this might happen. A director at the facility explained that the orphanage no longer has any babies and that they focus on education for the disabled. We also had a serendipitous encounter with the security guard who was on duty at the time our daughters were found — he remembered the girls on account of them being twins.
We were fortunate to be able to arrange a meeting with the nanny that cared for our twins during their first 10 months. We met her at a coffee shop and she clearly remembered our daughters, addressing them as “Chi” (older sister) and “Em” (younger sister) immediately based on one having a small mole on her temple. Interestingly enough, our daughters have always known who was the eldest from the moment they could speak and they were very pleased to have that confirmed by their nanny. She shared photos with us of her children and grandchildren, making for a very memorable and emotional visit.
For our final excursion in Vietnam, we took an overnight cruise on Halong Bay among the majestic limestone islands that have become so famous. It was peaceful, relaxing and awe inspiring. The children were fascinated when we went to explore the caves.
Our homeland visit was a wonderful experience filled with great family memories we will cherish forever and no sooner were we home, the girls were asking when we’d go back.
Ben and Kim