Karon first wrote about her adoption journey in the article “Finding Lucan,” which appeared in the spring 2014 issue of Focus on Adoption. In this article, she shares an update on their life as a family.
This year, when many families celebrated Father’s Day, my son and I enjoyed a very special celebration: eight years as a forever family. June 17 marked the 8th anniversary of the day that I was granted custody of my baby boy in a courthouse in beautiful Hanoi, Vietnam.
We’ve come a long way since that day. With my mother’s and sister’s guidance, I’ve learned to be a great mom. Lucan Binh Tu Trenaman has become a fantastic little boy, who loves dragons, Lego, drawing, and musical theatre. He’s bright, observant, and opinionated, and is excited about our future trips to explore Vietnam.
A great adventure
I’ve enjoyed many international adventures, and I consider myself to be well-educated, but the greatest learning experience and biggest adventure of my life has been raising Lucan.
My son has taught me so much about patience, planning, and remaining still. In the past I was a restless spirit, always looking to climb the next horizon and never content with life in the present. People who knew me well weren’t likely to describe me as organized or focused.
Being a mother has shaped me. A colleague once said that when I became a mother I would discover a level of patience and selflessness that would amaze me. She was so right!
"One of the most important things I’ve learned from Lucan is to always be completely honest."
I sometimes felt overwhelmed by how dependant Lucan was on me, and how much responsibility I had. However, by rising to the occasion I developed a level of strength and resilience of which I didn’t know I was capable.
Following Lucan’s lead
I remember that when I returned with Lucan from Vietnam he often woke at 3 am. He wasn’t hungry or distressed. He just wanted to play. I decided to go along with it and let him adjust to the new time zone at his pace. I also remember all the times when I’d be out pushing Lucan in his stroller to get groceries even though I was exhausted or ill because, as I’d tell him, “there ain’t nobody here but us chickens.”
One thing I learned that adoptive families need to keep in mind is that you march to your own drum. There is no “normal” adoptive family. You are often in uncharted territory and you must follow your own instincts and make decisions that are best for your family. For example, Lucan walked at 11 months and was talking before he was year old, but he was always undersized in terms of height and weight. It was so reassuring when a doctor at Children’s Hospital consulted an Asian growth chart and declared Lucan to be “right on the mark.”
One of the most important things I’ve learned from Lucan is to always be completely honest. Children are very good at discerning truth, secrets, and lies. I never make promises I can’t keep and I definitely “walk the talk.”
Honesty about how our family came to be is particularly essential. I remember a summer day in Creston when Lucan and I were sitting in a car with my mom, looking at the house where she grew up. Lucan suddenly blurted out, “why did my parents abandon me?”
I felt like I’d been stabbed in heart (and wondered where my 5-year-old boy heard the word “abandon”). I rushed to reassure him, as did my mom. “Your parents love you! They were worried about your future if you stayed with them, and they wanted you to have the best chance. You are loved by all of us.”
As Lucan grows his questions about his birth family will likely become more complex and detailed, and I will encourage those questions. I have many questions myself, too. If there comes a day when Lucan wants to search for his birth parents, I’ll assist him every way I can.
I remember once asking a local birth mother about how to best to honour Lucan’s birth parents and she said, “teach him about their culture.” Lucan and I celebrate Vietnamese traditions like Lunar New Year and Autumn Moon Fest. Sometimes we attend the Lunar New Year parade in Chinatown, and sometimes we celebrate with other adoptive families.
Lucan and I have a close connection to two families who were part of our adoption group and spent weeks with us in Vietnam. The three children consider themselves cousins and we see them often. There’s something magical about Lucan’s joy and energy when he’s with Poppy and Evan. They love each other dearly and their bond is so strong.
When Lucan and I return to Vietnam one day it will be a great joy to see my Vietnamese-Canadian son immersed in the beautiful culture of his birth parents.
Karon Trenaman is a writer, a world traveller, an advocate for road safety and healthy and sustainable communities, a District Parent Advisory Council chair, and Lucan’s mom.