VietNamNet Bridge – Convincing her American adoptive parents to return to Vietnam with her to find her birth mother, during the search process, Jolie Nhung Thi Hoang LaBarge always wore Vietnamese ao dai and occasionally babbled a few sentences in Vietnamese.
Nhung in the Vietnamese ao dai with her foster parents and
brother come back to Vietnam to find her mother after 10 years living in
the United States.
In late March, Ms. Nguyen Thi Hien, Chairman of the Association for Da Nang’s Victims of Agent Orange, former director of the Da Nang Center for Orphans was moved to tears when she knew that Jolie Nhung Thi Hoang LaBarge had returned to Vietnam.
“I was choked because so far, of dozens of orphans in the centers who were adopted by foreigners, this is the first child returning to Vietnam with the longing to find her birthplace,” said Hien.
According to Hien, Jolie Thi Hoang LaBarge’s birth name was Hoang Thi Nhung. On the night of July 31, 2002, an officer of the Da Nang Center for Orphans found a 3-day-old girl abandoned in front of the center’s gate. The center named the baby and got the day the baby was found as her birthday.
Four months later, during a visit to Da Nang, Mr. Sherman LaBarge and his wife Carrie Welch adopted Nhung.
Carrie Welch said they used to cook Vietnamese cuisines for Nhung and collected Vietnamese folk songs on the Internet for her. The adoptive parents also bought Vietnamese ao dai for Nhung and encouraged Nhung to sing Vietnamese folk songs. During the Vietnamese traditional Tet, the small house of Carrie Welch welcomed many Vietnamese guests. They listened to Vietnamese folk songs, performed by Nhung, and tasted Vietnamese cuisines like banh chung and vegetable pickles. Nhung began being curious about her origin. She always asked her mum: “I was born out of this belly?” She burst into tears after her adoptive mother shook her head.
Nhung had her brother Minh Labarge, a Vietnamese boy, who was adopted by Sherman LaBarge and his wife in 2007. Sometimes, after playing with her brother, Nhung told her mother to take her back to Vietnam to seek her birth mother. In late March, she cried when her foster parents said: “Let’s go to Vietnam!”
Carrie Welch said that Nhung studied very well. Though she can sing Vietnamese folk songs well, Nhung can only say a few words in Vietnamese.
After going to Ben Tre province to find Minh’s parents but failing, the whole family went to Da Nang find Nhung’s mother. They also visited the ancient capital of Hue and Hoi An ancient town to learn about the culture of their birth place.
Carrie Welch said, if they find Nhung’s birth mother, the two families will keep contact to together see Nhung growing up. Nhung said: “I want the U.S. and Vietnam as home!”
Before leaving Da Nang to Ho Chi Minh City, Carrie Welch said they will return to Vietnam in five years to continue finding the biological parents to their adopted children. “We hope the Vietnamese media will help us find the parents of our kids, through these photos.”
Sherman LaBarge and Carrie Welch would like to receive information from Nhung’s family in Vietnam through Mrs. Nguyen Thi Hien, Chair of the Association for Da Nang’s Agent Orange Victims and the local Department of Justice.
Compiled by Mai Lan