15 years later, Pattaya orphans return home

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Twenty families from Germany and Switzerland arrived in Pattaya this month to introduce their adopted Thai children to their former home, the Pattaya Orphanage.

The families stayed at Nong Nooch Village for the four-day visit packed with stops at Pattaya’s many tourist attractions.

The first 15 families came to the Pattaya Orphanage Aug. 5, welcomed by Director Fr. Michael Weera Phangrak, Fr. Francis Xavier Kritsada Sukkhaphat, and Radchada Chomjinda, director of the Human Help Network Thailand, along with other executives and staff from the Social Development Department of Chonburi.

Radchada Chomjinda (right), the Director of the Human Help Network Thailand (HHN) and Director of Adoptions, and her assistant Suwanna Cheownawin (left) greet the arrivals.Radchada Chomjinda (right), the Director of the Human Help Network Thailand (HHN) and Director of Adoptions, and her assistant Suwanna Cheownawin (left) greet the arrivals.

There was great excitement when the children discovered baby photos taken of them during their stay in the orphanage. All lined up again and again in the front of their old pictures to be photographed not only by parents but by journalists.

Afterward, everyone moved to the nursery to cuddle infants while the returning children pondered which beds they once occupied.

All the other facilities were visited as well, with many remarking how much things had changed in the 14-15 years since some had departed.

Ewald Dietrich (right) presents Fr. Michael Weera Phangrak a check for 500,000 baht.Ewald Dietrich (right) presents Fr. Michael Weera Phangrak a check for 500,000 baht.

Lunch included socializing and speech-making. The floor then was turned over to parents who told how lucky they considered themselves to have become adoptive parents. Many a mother burst into tears of gratitude and joy.

On the last day of their stay in Pattaya, the many orphans and guests went to the memorial service of Fr. Ray Brennan who founded the orphanage.

The event closed with a Chinese-style dinner, complete with faux shark fin, and musical performances from students and teachers.

A speech from Bishop Emeritus Lawrence Thienchai Samanjit, who 40 years ago approved the request by “Father Ray” to found the orphanage, closed the evening.

The entire entourage poses for a happy group picture at the closing of the event.The entire entourage poses for a happy group picture at the closing of the event.