Adopting "Gentle Water"


John Blackstone is a CBS News correspondent based in San Francisco.
A couple of weeks ago I saw a story in a Northern California newspaper about a local couple adopting a child from Vietnam. On the surface that is not a big news story; international adoptions are relatively common these days. But this story had an interesting twist.

The couple, Tallia Hart and Mark Bodenhamer, had waited for months after applying to adopt. One morning, by e-mail, a photo arrived of an infant girl. A note on her sweater spelled out her name in Vietnamese characters. In English her name means "Gentle Water".

Her story could seem sad. She was abandoned near Hanoi when she was just a few months old, wearing only a little t-shirt decorated with cartoon characters. But whoever left her seemed determined to make sure she was found and well cared for. She was left in the garden at the front gate of an orphanage.

Tallia is certain the baby's mother abandoned her only because she wanted her to have a better life. And in a way that makes her a perfect child for Tallia because Tallia's story is almost exactly the same. She is an orphan of the Vietnam War. When she was just a few months old she was abandoned in a rice field. The nuns who took her in at an orphanage thought she wouldn't live.

But a family in Colorado offered to adopt her and she was put on a plane to America.

Tallia was nursed back to health and grew up as an all American girl. When it was time to start a family she knew where it had to begin. She and Mark decided to adopt from Vietnam.

For the first time since she was a baby, Tallia returned last month to the land of her birth to pick up her new daughter. She's determined to give her daughter the same gift of a new life that she was given.

Tallia and Mark have chosen an English name for the daughter. They call her Lola. They tell their story and hers in this blog.

  • John Blackstone

    From his base in San Francisco, CBS News correspondent John Blackstone covers breaking stories throughout the West. That often means he is on the scene of wildfires, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and rumbling volcanoes. He also reports on the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley and on social and economic trends that frequently begin in the West.