Print Email Facebook Twitter More Vietnam’s Operation Babylift adoptee uses DNA testing to find close relative

ABC AM – By South-East Asia correspondent Samantha Hawley Updated

After landing at Ho Chi Minh City airport, Adelaide woman Chantal Doecke asks herself in a whisper: “Where are you mum?”

The 41-year-old is on an emotional journey to find a family she has never met and to connect with a nation where she has never lived.

In April, 1975, Ms Doecke was among 3,000 babies and infants bundled onto aircrafts and flown out of Saigon as part of Operation Babylift, which took place in the closing days of the Vietnam War.

Vietnam war baby Chantal Doecke as a toddler
Photo: Chantal Doecke was adopted by an Australian couple after the Vietnam War ended. (Supplied)

Many were placed in shoe-like boxes on aircraft seats and flown to nations including America, Canada and France.

Ms Doecke was adopted in Australia by a couple from Adelaide, where she still lives today.

For years she has searched for her biological parents and relatives. And now, fighting a battle against ovarian cancer after a diagnosis earlier this year, Ms Doecke has renewed her efforts with vigour.

“When I fly into Saigon, I burst into tears and I say ‘I’m home, I’m home now’,” Ms Doecke told the ABC.

“And I said … to myself, out loud, quietly, ‘Where are you mum? You’re here somewhere’.”

Last week, Ms Doecke came face-to-face with a blood relative for the first time in her life.

DNA testing had proven Thai Tho to be a second or third cousin and they met in a hotel lobby in Ho Chi Minh City.


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DNA’s new ‘miracle’: How adoptees are using online registries to find their blood relatives

The Washington Post – October 12, 2016

Last year, Bob Nore, a Vietnam War veteran in Huntsville, Ala., was working on a family tree and wanted to trace his ancestors’ history and origins. So he sent a vial of saliva and $89 to a DNA registry for analysis.

The results showed British and Nordic stock — no surprises. But then Nore received a message from the registry that floored him: We have found a very high probability of a father-son relationship between you and Son Vo.

“I showed it to my wife, and then I looked him up online and found out that he was born in Vietnam shortly after I left,” said Nore, 67.

He vaguely recalled a brief relationship with a Vietnamese woman in Saigon in 1970, but he remembered little about her and had no idea she was pregnant. Yet he had no doubt that Vo, a 45-year-old musician in Los Angeles, was his son. As an engineer, he said, “I have a lot of trust in DNA.”

Most people who register with DNA databases are looking for information about their ethnic origins or exploring distant branches of the family tree. But the rapidly expanding databases have also had an unintended consequence: They are helping people find biological parents whose identities had long been mysteries.

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Adoptee Reunions: A Happy Ending Can Be Elusive

Korean Expose, by Katelyn Hemmeke

When I tell South Korean nationals that I’m a Korean-American adoptee, their reactions vary from a kind of backhanded recognition (“Oh, so that’s why you can’t speak Korean”) to profuse apologies (“I’m so sorry that happened to you”) to expressions of jealousy (“You’re so lucky; I want to go to America, too”). There’s one question, though, that they almost always ask: “Do you know your Korean family?”

The follow-up to that question often includes eager suggestions of how to find my birth family. “It’s easy,” one South Korean woman told me. “All you have to do is put your Korean name on TV. People do this all the time. Your Korean mother will be watching the news, and she’ll see your name, and she’ll cry and cry and cry, and then she will find you and you can meet her. Don’t you want to?”

Her idea was not too far-fetched. Throughout the 2000s, television programs such as I Miss That Person (later re-titled as Missing Person) aired segments featuring transnational adoptees searching for their birth families.

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Adoptees advantaged by birth language memory

Science Daily, Date:January 18, 2017, Source:Radboud University

anguage learning very early on in life can be subconsciously retained even when no conscious knowledge of the early experience remains. The subconscious knowledge can then be tapped to speed up learning of the pronunciation of sounds of the lost tongue. A paper describing these results of language scientists from Radboud University, Western Sydney University and Hanyang University has been published in Royal Society Open Science on January 18.

Decades after their adoption, Korean adoptees are better in pronouncing Korean sounds than control participants, even if they were only a few months old at the moment of their adoption. That is shown in a study of international adoptees by Mirjam Broersma, language scientist at Radboud University and the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics (MPI), Anne Cutler (chief investigator at the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language — CoEDL — and Western Sydney University) and Jiyoun Choi of Hanyang University (previous postdoc at CoEDL). Their results show that babies start with the learning and storing of speech sounds much earlier than was hitherto known.

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Age Exclusive: Adoptions to get boost as fee for foreigners waived

The Asian Age, SREEPARNA CHAKRABARTY Published : Jan 15, 2017, 12:38 am IST

New Delhi: In a move that will encourage adoptions in a big way, the government has decided to do away with the adoption fee for foreigners which they had to pay if they wanted to take their adopted children abroad with them.

Prospective adoptive parents earlier had to submit an investment plan and also invest a certain amount of money in the name of their child. The women and child development ministry brought out fresh regulations last week, according to which the requirement for any kind of fees has been done away with.

Apart from this, the ministry has also decided to form a special tribunal to resolve adoption-related cases as child welfare committees — which were entrusted with this job — sometimes take too long, sources said.

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