Ask the Expert: Angelina Jolie adopts a Vietnamese son
Angelina Jolie has just adopted a son, Pax Thien Jolie, from Vietnam. What will life be like for the newly enlarged Jolie-Pitts clan? We spoke to Carrie Craft, About.com’s Adoption/Foster Care Guide, about the challenges and joys Angelina, Brad, Pax, and the rest of the family face may face with the new addition to their family and why some people are complaining.
Pax is 3 1/2 years old. What are the benefits and difficulties in adopting a child this age- one who is no longer a newborn, infant or toddler but not of schoolage? I can imagine the language barrier could be significant as the child is older.
Benefits: I think being done with “baby stuff” is a benefit, but that may not be true for other parents.
Challenges: I keep thinking of attachment issues as this is a problem with a lot of adoptions. Babies rely on us for everything so attachment through holding and feeding can come more naturally. Angelina and Brad will have to do a lot of work to attach to this child and help him work through his fears and the language barrier (The orphanage could have taught him some English which may be a possibility.).
Pax was called by another name at the orphanage- Pham Quang Sang- but Angelina has changed his name. Can a name change be an issue for older children?
A name change may cause problems down the road for him inregards to attachment and identity issues as a teen. The report said that she was very emotional trying to calm him as he wascrying. She is a stranger to him. This MAY be a different adoptionexperience for Angelina.
How common it is for Americans to adopt from Vietnam?
Vietnam just opened back up to the US for adoption in September 2005. So in 2005 only 6 kids were adopted from Vietnam. 2006 found 163 Vietnamese children finding homes in the US. Vietnam fell into spot number 14 in the top 20 countries for international adoption in 2006. There are more toddler boys available than toddler girls, so this isn’t a surprise [that they adopted a boy]. (For more on international adoption statistics, visit about.com.)
As to be expected with foreign celebrity adoptions lately, there is controversy over Angelina’s adoption of Pax. Can you tell us why people are up in arms?
This is the issue: Vietnam does allow for single women to adopt, single men on a case by case basis, and married couples. So, is Angelina being honest here? She really is not single. She does not live as a single person, yet this doesn’t seem to be an issue for her adoption. Would it be for an every day couple?
Here is another reason why some adoptive parents are making a stink. The child is chosen by adoption authorities in Vietnam, not by the prospective adoptive parents. A child referral is sent to the prospective adoptive parents for their review. The referral may include pictures, medical and social history, and perhaps a video tape of the child. The prospective adoptive parents then must accept or reject the referral.You don’t go and select your own child.
What is the consensus among families adopting that youmay be in touch with- do they feel that adoptions are unfairly sped upfor celebrities? Do they resent celebrities?
I’ve received one comment on this story and she was not happy as itseems that celebrities can solve all problems with money. That’s howit appears on the surface. That’s why I ask – if an everyday [unmarried] couplelived together and attempted to adopt from Vietnam, would they beallowed?
Have you adopted a child from Vietnam? Or an older child (from anywhere)? What was adjustment like?