IN a humid town hall in Hanoi, Frans, an eight-year-old Danish boy, approached a frightened Vietnamese girl called Thi Hau who was soon to become his little sister. He looked at her, then back at his parents. He smiled and said: 'She's so cute.' There were just two chairs in the hall where the adoption ceremony took place. Frans sat with his father on one; his mother held Thi Hau on her lap occupying the other chair. 'She was scared but she accepted us and let us hold her,' said Frans' mother, 34-year-old Marianne Frokjaer-Jensen. 'We brought a big teddy bear and gave it to her.' Long before the Hong Kong-based Jensens arrived in Hanoi, Thi Hau's social worker in the orphanage had told her she would soon have a farewell party and go to live with new parents and a big brother. 'It must have been a shocking experience for her to see us, she had never seen white people before,' Mrs Jensen said. Thi Hau was an illegitimate child living with her physically handicapped mother in the Vietnamese countryside until she was three. Her mother could not take care of her, having to depend on her own parents and two brothers. With her grandparents becoming old and her two uncles unwilling to support her and her mother, she was taken to the orphanage to be put up for adoption. The Jensens took to Thi Hau immediately and named their four-year-old daughter Nina. They returned to Hong Kong and Nina began her new life. 'She's a quick learner and managed to adapt to a completely new situation,' said Mrs Jensen. 'All her life, she has lived in a very poor area in Vietnam with rice farmers. 'But here, everything is new to her - the television, the fax machine, the food we eat and having her own room with toys.' 'From where she came from, she has never seen cars, trains and planes before,' said Nikolai Frokjaer-Jensen, Nina's new father. 'When she first came to Hong Kong, she would be scared of even a parked car on the street.' But there were some hard habits to break in the beginning. 'When we served a meal, Nina wanted to eat everything on the table,' Mrs Jensen said. 'I think it was because back in Vietnam when they had food, they would eat everything and didn't know when they would have the next meal. 'But now I think she has learned that she doesn't have to eat like this.' Mr Jensen, 32, came to Hong Kong with his wife and son last January. He was offered a job teaching at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in the New Territories. Nina joined the family of three in July this year. In 1987, the Jensens had their first biological child, Frans, but then discovered they could not have another child. 'In Denmark, there are other ways to have children but instead of trying out expensive treatments, we thought of those children who are already born and have nowhere to go to and no family to stay with; they are unwanted,' Mrs Jensen said. Since no babies are available for adoption in Denmark, the Jensens thought of adopting a baby from China, but the Chinese authorities objected to the Danish adoption law which states the child must stay in Denmark for three months before he becomes adopted. It was a four-year wait before the Jensens could adopt. 'The Danish Government has very strict criteria for adoption,' Mr Jensen said. 'We had to go through medical checkups, they checked to see if I have a criminal record, my financial situation, whether I have any big debts or if I was unemployed.' After the clearance procedure, further negotiations took place between the Danish and Vietnamese authorities. In January this year, the Jensens got a small photo of Nina, and on June 17, they travelled to Hanoi and adopted her. 'We didn't actually pay for Nina, which would sound as if we are trading for a child,' Mrs Jensen said. 'It is a totally official adoption negotiated between the Danish and Vietnamese authorities.' But the Jensens had to pay an organisation in Denmark which has connections with orphanages in different parts of the world $50,000 for their agent in Vietnam who translated legal documents and arranged for the adoption. All this took place in Denmark before the Jensens came to Hong Kong. 'Although Nina has been with us for only a few months, I feel she's our natural child,' Mr Jensen said. 'I don't feel that she is different from our son. I feel she's been with us since she was born. The feeling I have for her is exactly the same I have for Frans.' Their son shares their feelings. 'I felt she's been here all the time,' Frans said. Mr Jensen said: 'They are very fond of each other. Nina loves her brother. For Frans, it means a lot to have a little sister.' Mrs Jensen added: 'They react to each other as real brother and sister, having a fight now and then and then being good friends again. If necessary, I think Frans would always protect Nina.' Before the Jensens adopted Nina, they had decided to bring her up as they had brought Frans up. They were determined not to make any difference between the two. 'By birth she is Vietnamese and we want to let her learn about Vietnam,' Mrs Jensen said. 'Children will ask at a certain age, where do I come from? I think that is natural and I feel this is what we should do for her just as we'll teach Frans about Denmark.' 'We follow developments in Vietnam closely,' Mr Jensen said. 'As we are living close to Vietnam, we'll probably take Nina to visit it in a couple of years.' The Jensens promise Nina a good education and that they will support her in whatever she wants to do depending on her talents. 'But in the beginning, it's mainly love and care she needs,' Mrs Jensen said.