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It's not every day you hear of a Mayo man becoming the first person in history to do something in Vietnam of all places but today is that day. John Hennigan, of Ballina in Co. Mayo, has recently made headlines as he became the first single man to ever adopt a child in Vietnam.
In a heart-warming tale of love at first sight, John recently spoke on The Ryan Tubridy Show on RTÉ Radio One about first seeing his son Liam when his Vietnamese friend showed him a photograph of the baby who had then just been abandoned outside an orphanage centre in Hai Duong.
The baby was noticeable to John not just as his future son but also because of his cleft palate. "It was heart-wrenching when seeing the baby's incomplete smile. I immediately realised that he was the child I wanted to adopt," explained John who met his son for the first time on September 28 at the Vietnam-Cuba Friendship Hospital.
Determined and all as he was, the four-month process to adopt his son was not an easy journey for John. "In my life, I have never done anything as difficult as adopting Liam," said Hennigan, who has worked as an English teacher to children in Vietnam for over 15 years.
"The biggest hurdle really was trying to prove I was a worthy candidate to adopt, and also I had to obtain a no objection letter from Ireland," he elaborated to Vietnam News.
Finally on January 28 of this year, John officially became Liam's father. Since beginning their family life, he has also managed to get Liam the surgeries he needed to correct his cleft palate with the help of the charity Operation Smile.
From here on out, John is focussing on raising his son with respect to both his Vietnamese heritage and his newfound connection to Ireland. "It's very important to me that he grows up bilingually, both Vietnamese and English. And I really want him to get very familiar with Vietnamese culture and traditions," he said.
"I suppose that sometime in the future, probably the next five years plus, I'd like to bring him back to Ireland and maybe expose him to Irish culture, so he gets the best of both worlds really."
Featured Image Credit: VnExpress
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