Vietnamese adoptee Clare Larson reflects on her life, her family and her hopes and dreams for the child she sponsors in Vietnam. A longer version of this story originally appeared in Holt’s fall 2017 sponsorship magazine.
In January 2017, Holt’s sponsorship team received an unusual email from a woman named Clare Larson.
“In 1993,” it read, “I was fortunate enough to be adopted from Vietnam at 9 years old and went through the Holt adoption agency. At 33 years old with a career in management consulting and a student at Cornell’s Johnson MBA program, I am finally able to give back. I would like to sponsor a child from Vietnam.”
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.
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? Continue reading “Adoptee Perspective: A New Meaning to November”
As Holt reflects on 40 years since the Vietnam Babylift, Steve Kalb, Holt’s director of adoptee services, interviews Holt adoptee and board member Tara Linh Leaman about her recent travels to Vietnam, the beginnings of a search for her birth family, and her part in Holt’s continuing growth as an organization. Tara is the co-founder of AmerAsians Building Bridges, Inc. (AABB), and currently serves as the program director of Westchester Building Futures, a federally funded initiative that aims to better serve young people aging out of foster care in Westchester County, NY. She is a graduate of Cornell University and Georgetown University Law Center, and lives in the “People’s Republic of Brooklyn.”
SK: Share a little bit about your work with AmerAsians Building Bridges (AABB)? What inspired you to found this organization, and how does it help meet the needs of Vietnamese adoptees?
TL: My comrade, Nguyet Lam, and I co-founded the organization in 2005. Nguyet, like me, is Vietnamese and African American (aka Black Amerasian); but unlike me, grew up in Vietnam with her birth family. We created AABB because we recognized the discrimination Amerasians still face in Vietnam. In an effort to address that reality, AABB provides small educational and business loans to Amerasians in Vietnam, as well as family strengthening and pathways to citizenship classes for Amerasians in the Washington, DC region. In 2010, AABB expanded its mission to include resources for members of the adoption and foster care constellations, specifically in the area of nurturing healthy forms of identity(ies) within transethnic/transracial adoptees, our families and the communities in which we live. Continue reading “Adoptee to Adoptee”