Actress Angelina Jolie has adopted a 3-year-old Vietnamese boy, but faces a few last procedural hurdles before she can take him home to the United States, an official said Thursday.
Vietnamese officials approved the adoption on Thursday, but the boy still must have a medical checkup before US officials will issue him a visa, said Nguyen Van Trung, director of the Tam Binh orphanage, where Jolie picked up the child at around 9 a.m.
The procedures could be completed within the next day or two, an adoption official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to discuss the case.
The child's name is Pax Thien Jolie, said Trevor Neilson, Jolie's adviser on international affairs, by phone from South Africa. Pax means peace in Latin, while Thien means heaven in Vietnamese. Jolie and her 5-year-old son Maddox whom she adopted in neighboring Cambodia in 2002 arrived in Vietnam on Wednesday night, and she took Maddox with her to the orphanage on Thursday. About 20 orphans dressed in traditional Vietnamese tunics, called ao dai, welcomed the pair with flowers.
Trung, the orphanage director, said Jolie greeted the boy with a kiss and a hug. The child at first seemed shy with his mother-to-be, he said.
"This morning he woke up at 6, just like all the children," Trung said. "He put on new clothes, and he was very excited." "It seemed like she was very good at getting along with children," Trung said, adding that he told Jolie her new son likes teddy bears and toy cars.
The boy has been living at the Tam Binh orphanage on the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City since he was abandoned at a hospital as an infant, according to adoption officials. Tam Binh staff have been unsuccessful in attempts to locate his birth parents. Jolie and Maddox left the orphanage with the latest addition to their family after about 20 minutes to a round of applause from the orphanage staff.
The Vietnamese child's face was obscured from photographers by an umbrella as he was ushered into a waiting minivan with dark windows. The vehicle later arrived at the Department of Justice in Ho Chi Minh City, where Vietnamese adoption officials said Jolie officially took possession of the child.
If all goes to plan, Jolie could take the child home by the weekend, officials have said.
Neilson, Jolie's adviser, said she was at a hotel in Ho Chi Minh City on Thursday afternoon and that she has no plans to return home this weekend.
He said that as far as the adoption was concerned, she was receiving "no preferential treatment of any kind." "She is going through the process in the exact same way as other American parents except that she is under siege from the paparazzi," he said.
Since arriving Wednesday night, Jolie and her entourage have been preceded by a phalanx of security guards, and followed by a buzz of reporters and photographers.
Neilson said she complained in a telephone call to him that paparazzi had attacked her car as she left the orphanage, pounding on the door and throwing things under the vehicle to prevent it from going.
"Angelina understands the interest in her life, but we hope that the paparazzi can have some restraint when it comes to the safety and emotional health of this boy," Neilson said. Jolie filed adoption papers as a single parent, because she and her superstar partner Brad Pitt are not married.
They already have three children: Maddox, adopted from Cambodia; 2-year-old Zahara, adopted from Ethiopia; and another daughter, Shiloh, who was born to the couple in May.
The pair made a surprise visit to the Tam Binh orphanage in November last year, when they were spotted cruising around Ho Chi Minh City on a motorbike. Their pictures were splashed across Vietnamese newspapers and magazines.
Pitt did not accompany Jolie and Maddox to Vietnam on this trip. Vietnam suspended its adoption programs for several years due to concerns that children were being trafficked and exploited. After the government implemented new regulations to address those concerns, the United States and Vietnam signed a new adoption agreement in 2005.
US adoptions resumed last year, and since then a growing number of Americans have been coming to Vietnam for children. More than 450 US adoptions have been processed since January 2006. Jolie is a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and has traveled extensively to countries in the developing world.