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Visiting Orphanages in Vietnam - Adoption Travel FAQ

By Joyce Yiu, Lotus Travel

Responses to questions frequently asked by families about orphanage visitations, including appropriate gifts and etiquette, during homeland tours to Vietnam.

According to clinical child psychologist Dr. Rebecca Nelson, birth country visits are essential as they are considered to be "prime opportunities for adoptees to learn about themselves and further a positive adoptive identity within a guided and emotionally supportive context." Positive cultural heritage reinforcements often contribute to healthy and happy upbringings of adopted children. Learning and exploring their ethnic backgrounds under the guidance and unconditional supports of their families as they mature often enhance self-confidence and positive adoptive identities.

Visitation Approval for Orphanages in Vietnam

The orphanage visitation approval in Vietnam is generally more informal, but it's inappropriate to show up at the orphanage without prior notice. The visitation needs to be set up through a local representative or an agency like Lotus Travel according to reliable source. Visitation applications can be filed through your local Vietnamese representative a few months prior to your planned visit date.

Appropriate Gifts for Orphanages in Vietnam

Orphanages often lacks children clothing, toys, crayons, basic stationeries and story books; these are usually nice gifts for the youngsters and Lotus Travel suggests families to check with the designated orphanage regarding its lacking of scarce necessities before deciding what to donate.

Perfume and cosmetics are good selections for female orphanage directors and caregivers. If you are uncertain about the gender of the directors, Lotus Travel highly recommends purchasing chocolate sets as gifts.

Observing Vietnamese Customs When You Travel to Orphanages in Vietnam

Adoptive parents are suggested to explain the cultural differences between America and Vietnam to their children prior to their trips.

Dinning with orphanage directors and staff

  • Dress code: casual business (best not to wear jeans and T-shirts).
  • Wait to be seated.
  • Pass all dishes with both hands.
  • Place your chopsticks on the designated chopsticks holder when taking a break to drink or to speak.
  • It is customary for Vietnamese to hold rice bowls close to their faces while dinning.
  • Never eat directly from the serving dish.
  • Hold the spoon in your left hand while consuming soup.
  • It is acceptable to ask for forks to avoid embarrassments. However, make sure to confess about your inadequacy before doing so.
  • Try every dish that is served before obtaining more of your favorite ones.
  • Do not consume only meat, as it is the most expensive ingredient of the meal. Be sure to leave some for others.
  • Meals are usually served in family style and remember to finish the food on your plate.
  • It is considered rude to turn down any food offerings despite being full; inform the host earlier that you are full to stay polite.
  • When you are done eating, place your chopsticks on top of your rice bowl.

Joyce Yiu is the Sales and Marketing Assistant for Lotus Travel, Inc. Lotus Travel is a premier tour operator and ticket consolidator specialized in adoption travel and birth country visits to Vietnam, China and Southeast Asia. In China, Lotus Travel works closely with local orphanages, the Provincial Civil Affairs Bureau (CAB) and BLAS to arrange meaningful visits under the recent changes.

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