The formal introduction of Pax Thien Jolie to his new mother didn’t exactly go smoothly: The 3-year-old Vietnamese boy started crying when Angelina Jolie knelt down to speak to him at Thursday morning’s welcoming ceremony at Tam Binh Orphanage in Ho Chi Minh, according to the orphanage director, Mr. Nguyen Van Trung.
Jolie wasn’t fazed. “She told me she understands – that it’s normal for all young children to be scared,” Trung recalled Thursday.
Jolie took the boy (whose given name before he was adopted was Pham Quang) aside in a separate room from the ceremony for him to recover his composure. “Later he was okay, very cheerful and happy,” Trung said. “He even played with his new brother Maddox.”
The star completed adoption procedures in Ho Chi Minh City on Thursday morning after picking her new son up from the orphanage – the same one that she and Brad Pitt visited during a trip to the former Saigon last November. This time, Jolie came without Pitt. She adopted the boy as a single parent because Vietnam’s adoption regulations don’t allow unmarried couples to co-adopt. But Jolie didn’t come alone to the orphanage – she brought along son Maddox to meet his new brother.
The boy’s main caretaker at the orphanage, Ms. Bui Thi Thanh Tuyen, said there was a reason that Pax – usually known as an exceptionally cheerful child – was caught off guard Thursday: He wasn’t actually told by the staff that he was being adopted that day.
“We did not say anything to him, afraid we might put pressure on him and more frightened,” Tuyen said. “We just told him that we are taking him out. You are going to play outside – play with a mother and father.”
Still, the orphanage staff prepared him as best they could: They packed a small box with two sets of clothes for him to take, and his favorite toys, especially a small plastic piano. They also taught him a few phrases of English: “How are you?” and “What’s your name?”
Tuyen said she’ll miss the boy but adds that any day a child is adopted is a special day at the orphanage. “We are glad that he’s adopted. He’s very clever and I hope he has a good life,” Tuyen said. “We just hope he will return to visit us one day.”