The next day, we went to see some things in McKenna’s town. We went to the Ministry of Justice where her Giving and Receiving ceremony took place. And I now know that the reason Thao (I am using a different name for McKenna’s birth mother to preserve her privacy) was not there not because she “went to visit a friend” which is what I was told by the adoption facilitators in Vietnam. But that she was given too short a notice by them to be able to get back from the town she was working in to be there.
We went to a museum “of the people” which was really cool and Steve got interviewed by a new organization about what he liked there.
We stopped and bought McKenna’s little sister a birthday present and tried to find something for her little brother but nothing we found at the store we stopped at worked and so left without anything for him. And we felt very badly about this.
The time was getting close for our second meeting and we needed to get back to the hotel and get cleaned up. McKenna asked me all day about whether or not she was going to get to meet her brother and sister. And I just did not know. I wasn’t sure how this situation would be explained to them.
“You have a sister who has come from America. She won’t be staying….” I didn’t know how they would explain it.
I had been nervous all day with an underlying fear of one thing. Meeting the grandparents. What if Thao’s mother, who I met at the Ministry of Justice 12 years ago, was not the grandmother who came tonight? Then that would mean that these lovely people were not really McKenna’s birth parents. And we would be in a pretty emotionally icky situation. One that we would all be doggy paddling in.
Luckily, when the knock on the door came that evening and in walked Thao’s mother, it was the lady I had met and I hugged her with a lot of relief. She remembered me too and we had our picture taken together.
This meeting was when McKenna’s birthfather’s magnanimity and personality came through. He first presented McKenna with a beautiful bracelet. He had drawn on the box where he also put his name and the date.
He presented both Steve and Sheridan with embroidered scenes that are famous in Hanoi area.
We took lots of pictures of these presentations.
He and Steve drank beer together at dinner. His sense of humor showed through and we now know where McKenna gets hers!
Before we had dinner with them, we took a lot of pictures of all of us together.
We had a wonderful dinner with the whole family and, in retrospect, I so wish that I had known some Vietnamese then so I could spoken with McKenna’s grandmother. She was the main connection we had to McKenna’s past and I wanted to tell her how much her rush to get to the Ministry of Justice that day 12 years ago meant to me. I wanted to tell her how heartbroken I was taking her granddaughter away….seeing how heartbroken she was.
What we did not get to do was really spend any time alone with McKenna’s birthmother Thao. The next day presented that opportunity for me for a few minutes but I blew it.
The last part of this series will be posted in a few days.
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