What We Know About Pax Jolie-Pitt's Adoption Story

Angelina Jolie's adoption story began with Maddox Jolie-Pitt in 2002. Since then, she has welcomed three biological children with her now ex-husband, Brad Pitt, and adopted two more, Zahara and Pax Jolie-Pitt. Speaking to Vogue India, the actor shared her thoughts on her children, noting, "Each is a beautiful way of becoming family." Jolie continued, "'Adoption' and 'orphanage' are positive words in our home. With my adopted children, I can't speak of pregnancy, but I speak with much detail and love about the journey to find them and what it was like to look in their eyes for the first time." 

The "Salt" star also asserted that it was imperative that her children never lose touch with their culture, arguing that adoptive parents shouldn't shy away from this because they might just learn something new from them too. The Oscar winner concluded the chat on a heartfelt note by stating simply, "I am very blessed to have been allowed to be their mom. I am grateful every day." 

In 2007, Jolie adopted three-year-old Pax from an orphanage in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The actor and activist revealed that the idea of adopting a Vietnamese child came to her after she read a book detailing the horrific crimes that the country suffered at the hands of the U.S., presumably during the Vietnam War. She also paid the country a visit before adopting Pax, and later even the Con Son "Tiger Cage" prison, where countless Vietnamese people were horrifically tortured by French colonizers and US imperialists alike. 

Pax Jolie-Pitt grew up with limited freedom

While speaking to MSN, in 2007, Angelina Jolie shared Pax Jolie-Pitt's adoption story: "He's recently just come home. He spent 3 1/2 years of his life in one place, in one room, in this one little iron bed with 20 other kids, and having no choice for himself to do things, having no freedom." The actor continued by explaining how Pax had a stunning transformation after his adoption, gushing, "He's so loving and he's wild and free 'cause he suddenly has freedom so he's a little wild and crazy. But what a tough, remarkable little person," (via People). 

Though Jolie was dating Brad Pitt at the time, she adopted Pax by herself because Vietnamese laws only permitted international adoptions for married couples or single people. Nevertheless, Pitt also legally adopted him in 2008. Pax was originally named Pham Quang Sang. Even his new name, Pax Thien, was a mix of cultures because Pax means peace in Latin, while Thien is sky in Vietnamese. They came together to give Pax's name the beautiful meaning of "peaceful sky." 

Speaking to TIME, orphanage director Nguyen Van Trung divulged that Pax dissolved into tears when Jolie first approached him. Pax's primary caretaker, Bui Thi Thanh Tuyen, suggested that Pax might've been taken aback because the orphanage hadn't told him he was getting adopted yet since they didn't want to scare him. However, they got Pax ready by teaching him basic English phrases and helping him pack, making sure to include his favorite miniature plastic piano.

Pax stays true to his Vietnamese culture

In another TIME interview, Nguyen Van Trung admitted that Pax Jolie-Pitt's birth mother actually abandoned him at the hospital shortly after his birth. Though Vietnamese authorities attempted to find her, their search ended unfruitfully, and Pax was ultimately sent to the orphanage. Trung also clarified that Pax's birth name means "bright light," and actually came with his hospital forms. Still, it almost seems like Pax was destined to be with Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt because he was the only kid in the orphanage who perfectly met all of their criteria. 

Trung described Pax as a cheerful, friendly kid who was only shy when separated from a group. His primary caretaker, Bui Thi Bach Tuyen, acknowledged they were sad to see him go, noting, "We have mixed feelings — happy, proud of him, missing him." She added. "He's very clever and I hope he has a good life. We just hope he will return to visit us. But we don't know."

Indeed, Pax moved on to a lavish life alongside the other Jolie-Pitt children, but his adoptive mom stayed true to her word and ensured Pax was in touch with his culture. In 2011, the celebrity couple took Pax on his first trip back to Vietnam, where he reportedly met his grandmother. Jolie also encouraged Maddox and Pax to snack on crickets because she didn't want them to think the local delicacy from their homelands was strange. However, the gesture backfired because her boys got addicted to the crickets, and Jolie had to temporarily ban them.