Starving to meet her birth parents, girl travels to Vietnam

Barbara Hootman,

Recently Camaryn Ormond traveled halfway around the world to meet her birth parents in Vietnam. She described the trip as fun, interesting and overwhelming. And it was a longtime dream come true.

Camaryn Ormond's birth mother's family, seen here, is large, providing her with many cousins. Camaryn is in the center of the photo in a blue top.

Her adopted mother, Mary Ormond told her  five adopted Asian children from the time they were young that if they wanted to find their birth parents when they were older, the Ormonds would help them.  

“Camaryn is the only one that ever showed any interest in finding their birth parents," Mary said, "so we helped her make that wish come true, and made it a family affair. My daughter Rachel and my granddaughter Lucia traveled to Vietnam with Camaryn and me.”

The Ormonds are a large family -  four biological children and five adopted children. They live in Black Mountain. Carmaryn graduated from Owen High School.

“Paul (her husband) and I agreed before we married 40 years ago that we would adopt children,” Mary said.  “Paul traveled to Vietnam to pick up our first adopted daughter, Kennedy, and I went to Vietnam when we adopted Camaryn.  It was a bit scary to be there by myself, but it all worked out.”

Camaryn was eight months old and weighed only nine pounds when Mary adopted her.

“She was literally starving to death,” Mary said.  “The agency said when they picked her up, she was lying on a dirt floor with a bottle containing polluted water with a little milk in it.  She was in poor shape.  We have been amazed that she has never had a cavity and has strong bones. She was not in an orphanage.  It was a hotel-like structure, and she was lying in a double bed when I first saw her.”

Camaryn said meeting her birth parents was overwhelming for everyone involved.  The Ormonds spent two weeks in Vietnam getting to know Camaryn’s birth family. 

“I don’t speak their language," Camaryn said, "and they don’t speak English, so we had to rely on an interpreter. I met my half-brother, Dau Van Lieu, who is 16 years old, and I am staying in contact with him through Facebook.  I am learning a little of his language, and he is learning a little English. I learned that I have a 96-year-old grandmother who does not speak at all, and many cousins.  My father and mother were not married when I was born, and he never married, saying my mother broke his heart."

She described her two weeks with her birth family "a happy time with lots of hugs from everyone, and lots of smiles.”

Mary said it was touching when one of the relatives approached her and thanked her for taking, rearing and educating  Camaryn.

“My birth parents do not speak to each other,” Camaryn said.  “Until four years ago my mother thought I was still with my father, who took me as a baby and left the area.  She did not know what happened to me and didn’t know that I had been adopted.  She was happy to reconnect with me.”

Mary said that Vietnamese women, especially in the area of Lang Son Province where Camaryn’s birth parents are from, speak little, likely because they do not have a voice in their culture, she said. Camaryn’s birth mother and father are very poor.  They farm, and her father also makes bricks. 

“When I adopted Camaryn almost 19 years ago, there were only dirt roads in Lang Son Province,” Mary said.  “Now there are paved roads, but progress has come slowly there.”

The Lang Son Province is located in northern Vietnam, close to the China border, and dates back historically to the Bronze Age. It used to be a gateway to traders to enter China.

Camaryn said she can see herself returning to Lang Son Province, possibly when she graduates from college.  She will be attending Mars Hill University in the fall.  She plans to major in zoology and maybe go into some kind of research as a profession.

“I plan to stay in contact with my Vietnam birth parents and relatives,” she said.  “I encourage other adopted children who want to find their birth parents to do so.  It may be overwhelming, but it is worth it.”