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Remember Vietnam

"No matter what happened, saying goodbye was probably one of the hardest things she [your birth mother] ever had to do. Her wish for you was that you have a good life."

When You Were Born in Vietnam: A Memory Book for Children Adopted From Vietnam by Therese Bartlett is a beautifully written book meant for all children who have been adopted from Vietnam. The book is filled with stunning photographs that illuminate Vietnam's beautiful history, landscape, culture, and people. These photos and Bartlett's rich text create a visual and written account of the child's entire adoption journey and, most importantly, help keep the child tied to his or her traditions, customs, and roots in Vietnam. Details such as the smell of piping hot pho (traditional soup) or banh mi thit (delicious meat sandwiches) in the markets, the making of coconut candy, colorful incense sticks, and banh trang (rice paper), and the images of the thang be chan trau (the boys that tend to water buffalo in the fields) as well as many other resplendent elements in the book link the child to his or her Vietnam heritage no matter what new country is now his or her home.

Written in the second person point-of-view, this book speaks to the child in the easy-to-understand, calming voice of a storyteller, allowing the child to learn about his or her story as a baby before being welcomed into a "new and forever family." The book covers a brief overview of Vietnam, the child's time spent in the orphanage, the nannies who took care of the child, the meeting of the child's new family, the Giving and Receiving Ceremony, and the journey to the child's new home.

The most special and touching quality about this book is that it helps the child to understand some of the reasons why his or her birth parents may have given their baby up for adoption. Some of these reasons may have been poverty, the poor economy, sickness, or death, among others. The book reassures the child that his or her birth parents wanted the best for "his or her future. The child's birth parents learned that adoption is a way to give their child a loving family that can care for their son's or daughter's needs. Adoption seemed like the best plan for them." This message aids the child in understanding his or her birth parents' motives. This will ultimately lead the child to security in and understanding of his or her beginnings.

Bartlett's book is an everlasting gift to an adopted child from Vietnam. It will guide the child toward understanding who he or she is as a person of Vietnamese descent thereby facilitating the child's adapting to his or her new family and life. When You Were Born in Vietnam is an invaluable book for anyone who has embarked on the joys of adoption from Vietnam. It will help the adopted child as well as the adoptive parents to remember Vietnam!

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Work cited:
Bartlett, Therese. When You Were Born in Vietnam: A Memory Book for Children Adopted From Vietnam. St. Paul: Yeong and Yeong, 2001.

Available from Amazon

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Published on 10/18/06

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