So far, it hasn't been easy. The days are filled with one constant: waiting. Lam waits for his cousin to make her weekly visit and take the family grocery shopping in Little Saigon. He waits to take the driver's test again. He waits for a job and a source of income.
Yet, he has never been happier.
"I have to get my driver's license first because people tell me that you have to have [a car] to get around California," Lam said.
Lam and his son Tuan spend nights reading old driving tests, unaware there are study guides in Vietnamese. And Le is anxious to place an ad in one of the area's many Vietnamese newspapers to find a job as a baby-sitter. But that would cost at least $20, and she would need a ride to the newspaper. For now, neither the cash nor the ride is available.
Lam says he fears his children won't adjust to their new lives, but they already seem far ahead of their father. They play basketball in the backyard, watch television with friends and have already discovered hamburgers at McDonald's.
On a recent day, Huyen, 9, sported a tight, ruffled crop top that showed her stomach. She wants to change her name to Mary, a character she remembers from a book.
Duy and Huy want to change their names to John and Paul, after Pope John Paul II.
Despite the adjustments, Lam says he feels safe and stable, and smells freedom.
"No one can take away my house or my car for no reason. No one can arrest me for no reason. I get to work hard, buy what I want and no one can take it from me," Lam said. "I have to start my life all over again, but at least my children won't have to go through what I did. They will have opportunities."