The Warren family from North Carolina in the US is finally complete, after the missing piece of their jigsaw was slotted into place, albeit a little later than they had hoped.
Three years ago, Quinn and Jordan Warren decided to adopt a Vietnamese baby, but not long after making their choice, COVID struck and closed down all borders.
That meant baby Diễm had an agonising wait to meet her new mum and dad, and her struggles were matched by her parents who were desperate to bring their new daughter home.
“It was really hard,” Quinn, 28, said.
“We heard about her existence in February 2020 and then we saw photos of her. At that point, she was about six months and we just fell in love with her.
“But then the Delta variant hit and the border shut down completely. I think the hardest part was in October, which was her birthday, and then we had Thanksgiving, then we had Christmas and both of our birthdays, my husband and my birthday.
“So it was really sad, we had really wanted her to be home for the holidays and thinking of her being in an orphanage on Christmas Day just broke our hearts.”
|The Warren family at a park in Hà Nội before leaving the country for their home in the US. VNS Photo Hồng Vân|
Despite the lengthy struggles, the Warrens knew they had to be patient. Eventually as Việt Nam opened up to tourists, they were finally allowed to come and collect their child.
Back home in North Carolina, the couple had refurbished part of their house to cater for Diễm’s special needs, kitted out her new room with flags and maps of Việt Nam and even held a baby shower.
They were more than ready to welcome their new daughter, but was their daughter ready to welcome mum and dad?
The couple travelled from HCM City to Bình Dương Province where Diễm had been raised in a social care centre.
That was where for their first time in their lives, they met the new addition to their family.
Quinn said: “When I saw her first it was just wonderful. It was so special. It was emotional because she was crying at that time.
“We met her at a government building in her province and so she was a little scared. It was a lot of change. People in the orphanage had put her in a sweet little dress.
“She was so sweet. We had some snacks and toys, and it's been wonderful to see her bond with us.
“After being in an orphanage, she was used to living with a lot of other children. And a rotating staff of nannies. So now being with two grown-ups all the time, I think was a bit of a shock. I think she missed her friends.
“So we just tried to take it really easy but she attached to us really quickly. It's almost like the opposite problem now. She doesn't want to be with anyone else.
“I think it's because she's afraid we're going to leave her. So we have got to work on her confidence and her trust that we're never, ever, ever going to leave her.
“She's going to be with us forever. And she does get a little anxious when she sees us packing our suitcases because I think she thinks we're going to leave.”
|After only a short time meeting her parents, baby Diễm (now Blair Evelyn) quickly became attached to them. VNS Photo Hồng Vân|
To help her settle in the US, Diễm has been renamed Blair Evelyn Warren, a nod to their Aunt and a way to help feel part of the family.
But when she’s old enough to understand, the parents have no problems if she wanted to revert to her Vietnamese name.
“Her English name is Blair Evelyn. The Evelyn is after my aunt who loved me so much. She was in the Peace Corps, and it's just a kindred spirit.
“We wanted Blair to have an American name. We wanted her to feel like a member of the family and have a connection to other relatives, but we'll always keep her Vietnamese name, and we'll tell it to her.
“And if she chooses to go by it one day we support that. She'll always have both identities. It's not one or the other.”
Baby Blair arrived home in the US to a warm welcome. Family and friends were waiting at the airport to meet the new arrival.
And although the Warrens will take things one step at a time, big plans are in place to introduce their daughter to her new life.
Dad Jordan, 28, said: “We have lots of grandparents, aunts, uncles so she's not just getting a mom and dad, she's getting a whole village.
“We are very excited to take her on lots of adventures. We've both taken off a couple of months from work, so this summer, we have no plans except for travelling.
“We don't want to overdo it, but we want to take her to the beach, take her to the mountains, take her to the pool and go on a boat and just do lots of fun things with her because she hasn't seen much of the world yet. And we're excited to show it to her.”
In the future, the Warrens want children of their own. But by adopting first, let’s Blair be the oldest child.
The road to adoption has been long and extremely bumpy, but now they are finally together as one, and ready for the next chapter in their lives. VNS