A mother's love for her adopted son

By Thanh Nguyen   December 9, 2016 | 09:00 pm PT
She has raised her adopted son with a brain tumor by selling lottery tickets.

Nguyen Anh Hong, 45, is not the birth mother of 15-year-old Nguyen Hong Tam. “About 14 years ago, when I was selling lottery tickets, I met my son’s mother. The woman in the first months of her pregnancy said that she would have an abortion. I told her to keep the baby and I would raise him. Three months after birth, she left the baby for me. Since then I have never met her again,” Hong said.


“I have never used my son’s story to get sympathy from anyone in order to make money. Just a year ago, we were in hospital more often than at home,” Hong said.


In 2014, after an operation to remove part of his brain tumor, Tam developed mental disorders. “He bites his hand; he jumps around when we are in crowded places. I have no choice but to tie his hand and mine with a rope so that I won't lose him. I've almost lost him four times this year."


Vendors at An Dong Market are familiar with Hong and her son. “I have seen them around for quite a long time. I really feel sorry for them,” said a shop owner.


Hong sometimes lets her son bite. “It hurts but I just got used to it,” she said.


“There were times he couldn't walk or talk. I had to carry him on my back while trying to sell lottery tickets,” Hong continued. 


Hong has to work two or three jobs to earn enough money to cover hospital treatment expenses, selling lottery tickets between 6 in the morning and around 9 in the evening every day and doing housework and running errands for families whenever she can.


They save money by eating cheap fast food.


Hong said in the past she was able to easily sell more than 200 tickets and earn VND200,000 ($8.80) per day but things get harder now. She can only sell around 100 tickets.


They live in a 15-square-meter derelict house on the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City. “Apart from Tam, I have a 22-year-old daughter who also sells lottery tickets. All I want now is to quickly pay off all my debts, then work hard to save enough money to fix the house and send Tam to school,” Hong said. 


“Tam is really lucky to have his mother. He has been at death’s door for quite a few times. His mother has stayed tough and strong to help him get through all those times,” said Nguyen Thi Muoi, a neighbor.


At the end of the day, Hong finds peace in her son’s hug. “He told me the other day that he would learn to repair motorcycles to take care of me, his words brought tears to my eyes. For me, having him in my life is fate,” Hong said.

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