Vietnamese Adoptee Reunion
In May 1973, 28-year-old Susan Carol McDonald SL arrived in Vietnam to work with Rosemary Taylor, an Australian nurse who had been caring for orphans and arranging for their adoptions since 1968. In September 1973, 29-year-old Mary Nelle Gage SL joined Susan at New Haven Nursery in Saigon, one of four nurseries sponsored by Friends For All Children in Colorado. When they returned from Vietnam in 1975, they knew their lives had changed. They knew that the work they felt privileged to do in Vietnam with abandoned children would be a major part of their lives going forward.
Susan Carol and Mary Nelle stayed in touch with many of the adoptive parents as they began to raise the infant they had welcomed into their families. They answered questions, told stories, shared memories of each child and their known beginnings with adoptive parents worldwide.
As the children became adults they had questions about the Vietnam they left, about their beginnings, where they were found and why. Through the years, both Susan and Mary Nelle organized gatherings at the Motherhouse, in Colorado and St. Louis so that “cribmates” could become friends and form bonds as well as learn about Vietnam, its history, culture, language, etc. A dozen Motherland trips to explore their roots were led by Susan Carol and Mary Nelle.
In early August, over 55 adoptees, spouses and children, Mary Nelle and Ruth Routten CoL gathered in Colorado to share thoughts and feelings about being adopted. Says Tobi Peters, one of the adoptee reunion organizers and one of the first orphans to be adopted into Colorado, “We had such a wonderfully packed agenda … some rest and relaxation, a documentary about Vietnamese adoptees and their personal journey with adoption, a global video chat, food and more food, a couple of Asian cooking classes, getting to know the elders who were in Vietnam and helped save us, a remembrance for those close to us who have passed, nonprofit work for Vietnamese orphans, sharing of our own adoption stories, looking at books and adoption records, enjoying videos of our orphanages and trips back to Vietnam! We packed all of this into three days! Lots of wonderful connections, bonding, growth and a deeper sense of our adoption journey.”
To learrn more about Loretto in Vietnam click here to read the Fall 2021 edition of Loretto Magazine. A report on the adoptee reunion also appeared in the Winter 2024 issue of Loretto Magazine. To watch a photo montage of the adoptee event please click the video below.