“Our story has been a long and sometimes bumpy road, but our family has been the most beautiful gift that has come out of it. The name of our youngest daughter was like a promise: in Vietnamese it means “Springtime”.
Soon after marrying we met a girl who was around a year old. She was in the care of a centre for children with severe disabilities where my wife as working as a volunteer. Following a period of probation we were invited to adopt the child. Through her we experienced that maternity and paternity are more a matter of the soul and that it can reach beyond biology. Regrettably the bureaucracy forced us to give up our plan. But joy returned to us when our first son was born in Asia. This long and drawn out experience was our first encounter with the culture of the East where we lived for two years.
After returning to Italy we had our second son and then came the idea of adoption. We decided to approach the Focolare Movement’s Azione per Famiglie Nuove (New Families Projects) Foundation. On August 1st, they telephoned us to say that we should prepare to travel to Vietnam. We were there for a month and it was a truly beautiful adventure. Our firstborn – nine years old at the time – said “It was like giving birth all together.” The most touching moment was when my wife too her into her arms for the first time, and then we all held her. We visited Saigon and got to know about our daughter’s background. After a few days she began to smile; first for her brothers, as if she knew what an important role she would play in their lives and in the life of our family. They learnt to make room for her like when the second-born who was already six years old and loved to be in his father’s arms, was able to give up his place to the baby.
The network of families that we belong to since returning to Italy has turned out to be an important part of the experience we are living. It’s like one big extended family comprised of adoptive families from Vietnam and other countries. We also take long trips in order to meet and allow our children to grow with the awareness that adoption is a natural experience that many families share. It’s also a great opportunity to see that love is possible among people of different origins.
Our little daughter is now nine years old and is such a beautiful girl, well integrated both at school and in her larger family. With her two brothers she plays a lot of boys’ games but has managed to maintain her sweet and delicate charm. She love music and dancing and attends Celtic harp lessons with her mother.
The last few years – so beautiful but also so intense – led us to focus on the needs of our daughter. Now we may have to make up for a few lost steps with the other two. But the wave of springtime that has come into our family with her love for life and bubbly sweetness which is typical of her native land helps us to overcome even the most difficult and stormy of days.
Compiled by: Marzia Rigliani
Source: “Spazio Famiglia, Azione per familiglie nuove” monthly newsletter (www.afonlus.org), March 2013, pp. 12-13