The Vietnam War is one of the most documented conflicts in history. It was a period of conflict between the communist North Vietnam, along with its allies, and South Vietnam, which was backed by the United States, that lasted from 1954 to 1975.
That span of time provided the opportunity for love to blossom between American soldiers and Vietnamese women. The fruits of such companionship in the midst of devastating conflict are known as “GI babies.”
Unfortunately, not all GI babies escaped the war-torn country. Some were even abandoned and indefinitely orphaned until someone picked them up.
Voice of America profiled three GI babies who shared their stories of life struggles and their search for their biological fathers. Now, they all live in the U.S. and use DNA to search for their American kin.
A Need for Medical History
Coming from an orphanage, Moki was adopted and brought to a loving, California home. She attended a good school, made friends and had her own child at the age of 18 in 1992. She named her Kaitlin.
Moki’s quest for her biological parents is prompted by medical necessity. Kaitlin had something growing on her neck a year after her birth, and Moki had no information to give to the doctors.
“This is my child and I don’t know what’s wrong. And the doctors don’t seem to know what’s wrong. And I have no information.”
Tam was left in a box outside a bar when he was just three days old. The owner of the bar found and took him as her own child. Unfortunately, his adopted grandparents were not very nice, requiring him to work if he wanted to eat. Eventually, he was sold by his adopted mother for 56 grams of gold.
Ultimately, Tam reached the U.S. through the Amerasian Homecoming Act. Through DNA, he found his uncle Chris Murray, who informed him that his father was his brother named Danny. But to Tam’s misfortune, Danny had died in 1989 in an automobile accident:
“I’ve spent 43 years looking for my father. And he’s no longer alive when I found him.”
Tam has since changed his name to Thomas Danny Murray to honor the memory of his father and paternal grandfather.
What Family Is
Jannies was with her American father, Sol, until she was four months old. At the time, Sol was ordered to withdraw from Vietnam but maintained contact with Jannies and her mother Chin.
When enemies penetrated their city, Chin and Jannies fled. Chin did everything to obliterate any memory of Sol, including straightening Jannies’ curly hair and insisting that her father was just dark-skinned — not black American.
Jannies grew up being ostracized for her appearance. Eventually, she also learned of the Amerasian Homecoming Act and flew to the U.S. with her mother and stepsister. She has not found Sol yet, but meeting other abandoned children brought her to realize:
“This is my family. These are my brothers and sisters.”