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After Sorrow Comes Joy

By Cherie Clark

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Review by Allison Martin

After Sorrow Comes Joy is the autobiographical story of Cherie Clark's entry into the world of international adoption. It culminates in her humanitarian efforts to aid the babies and children left disolute by the aftermath of the Vietnamese American War. Inspired by her own adoptions and a meeting with Mother Teresa in India, Cherie responded to the call of her heart to journey to Vietnam where she founded the International Mission of Hope. After Sorrow Comes Joy documents the story of how Cherie found a home in Vietnam caring for the sick and abandoned babies and children trapped in a frightened and poor war-torn country.

Following the end of the Vietnamese-American war, Vietnam was still torn in two by fighting between the North and South Vietnamese armies. Americans, Europeans and thousands of Vietnamese people were rapidly fleeing the country as city after city fell to Communist rule. Cherie Clark describes how she cared for the babies and children of Vietnam during this period of chaos, uniting them with families and medical care and food that they needed to survive. It is also an account of bureaucracy gone amoke. Normal channels failed as families and even basic government services were caught in the a war crashing down upon them. During this upheaval the heroism of the Vietnamese and Americans who cared for the orphans and abandoned children is heart wrenching. After Sorrow Comes Joy brings this tulmultuous time back to life with clarity and intimacy.

Readers will find themselves captivated by many of the scenes in this book - including Cherie Clark's heartfelt return to Vietnam 20 years after the war, her children's escape from a collapsing Vietnam, her first visits to the orphanages that many continue to adopt from today, and several kidnapping attempts including that of her own daughter.

After Sorrow Comes Joy is informative and engrossing on many levels. It is an historical account of the beginning of adoption in Vietnam. It is a personal account of a family's growth through adoption. It is a stirring documentary of a period of history that for years has remained best forgotten, but which still startles in its immediacy. Hundreds of pictures flesh out the dramatic stories. I recommend this book to anyone interested in the history of Vietnam, in the antecedents of Vietnamese adoption or in the International Mission of Hope. Rarely do adoptive parents get such a personal glimpse into the lives of those who will be assisting them as they find their own forever families.

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Excerpt from "After Sorrow Comes Joy"

Friends and colleagues starting turning up outside the compound entrance, people who had worked in other orphanages and centers in the provinces. They had abandoned their centers to the advancing enemy and made their way to Saigon, along with a million other refugees. Many had traveled for days, risking their lives to reach us, knowing we wouldn't turn them away.

In their headlong flight, these people - nuns, nurses, volunteers and priests - had lost everything but the clothes on their backs. It broke my heart to see them in such pitiful states: tired to death, hungry, unwashed, clothes ripped - an yet each of them carried one or two babies, starving to death after the long, hot, frightening journey.

We looked after them as well as we were able. Without a moment's pause, we broke into our emergency stocks of kerosene, rice and some supplies donated from the American USAID stores. We gave them food and a place to wash; we relieved them of their precious bundles of life and cared for them as well.

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