Adoptee Perspective: A New Meaning to November

Adoptee Mai Anh Boaz had never heard of National Adoption Month before she started interning at Holt. Now, the month of November holds new meaning for her, and has inspired her to reflect on her own adoption story.  

Mai Anh Boaz.

During my first few weeks interning at Holt International, I remember sitting in the office and planning Instagram posts when I saw an article about National Adoption Month. Then, I remember asking, “There’s a month just for adoption awareness?” As an adoptee, I never knew people associated November with adoption. I loved the idea, but I was surprised I had never heard of National Adoption Month until this year.

Once I looked into previous posts and articles, I was intrigued by the multitude of stories from adoptees and adoptive families about what adoption meant to them. They were moving, inspiring and fun. Yet, reading other people’s stories made me realize that I never took time to reflect on my story. What does my adoption mean to me? How has this aspect of my life shaped me into who I am today? What would my life look like if adoption was not a part of the story?

At 6 weeks old, I was adopted from Nam Dinh, Vietnam in May 1997. My parents raised my brother and me in the suburbs of Portland, Oregon, and adoption was always a conversation in our family. A few years before, my mom and dad adopted my brother from a rural Oregon town. We loved how adoption brought us together, especially since we were all born in different areas of the world!

A young Mai Anh with her adoptive family in the snow.
“My parents would occasionally take us to Mt. Hood for a winter vacation full of inner tubing, hot chocolate and family time,” Mai Anh says. “My older brother, Kyle, and I loved to play in the snow together!”

My overall outlook on adoption was extremely positive, and I prided myself on being “different” from the majority of my family and friends. I loved telling people I was born in another country and how my dad traveled across the world to bring me home. Even as I entered high school, I thought adoption was a remarkable aspect of our lives. Adoption was a piece of my identity, and I wanted to share it with others.

When reflecting on adoption’s impact on my family’s lives — as well as my own — I can only sum it up in a couple words.

Gratitude. Overwhelming gratitude.

No, it is not because Thanksgiving occurs during National Adoption Month. Thanksgiving reminds me to be grateful, yet my adoption is typically not the first thought that pops into my mind. When I took the time to reflect on my story, gratitude extended into every memory and thought.

I felt grateful for the people that I would not have met if it were not for adoption. My family, fiancé and friends continue to uplift me and pour into my life.

Mai Anh with her brother Kyle when they were kids at Disneyland.
“Breakfast at Disneyland helped us stay energized throughout the day!” Mai Anh says of this photo with her brother, Kyle. “It was one of our first big family trips, and we fell in love meeting the Disney characters.”

I felt grateful for the opportunities I received, knowing that my circumstances would look different if adoption was not the case. From my education, travel experiences and even my internship with Holt, I know these opportunities would not have been a possibility if I were still in Vietnam.

That being said, I am grateful for my parents as they tackled the long adoption process. I am grateful that they raised us to know and trust God, even when it was hard. They continuously incorporated Vietnamese culture, food and traditions into our household, making me more aware of where I came from. Adoption was never a secret, and I appreciate how they always told my brother and me about our history.

Now I know why people celebrate and talk about National Adoption Month. This is the first year in which this month brings a new meaning to me — one that allows me to reflect and be thankful for those closest to me and the opportunities given through adoption. Once November comes around next year, I know I will remember my gratitude for adoption’s role in my story.

Mai Anh Boaz | Former Holt team member

mom adoptive son and dad holding hands and laughing

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