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时间:2019-12-08 15:31来源:互联网 提供网友:nan   字体: [ ]

A Mother and Daughter Reunite After Separation in the Vietnam War

The mother and daughter wondered about each other over the years. They separated in Vietnam in 1975, when the girl was only three. The child went to the United States, to grow up with an American family. The mother stayed in Vietnam. But last month Leigh Mai Boughton Small, now age 47, met with her birth mother, Nguyen thi Dep in Ho Chi Minh City.

It began with awkward1 hugs. The 70-year-old Dep was afraid her daughter would be displeased2 with her. But, Leigh Mai explained to Dep that she felt no anger about being sent to the United States.

The two women hugged, cried and laughed.

Leigh Mai said what struck her most sharply4 was realizing she had lost more than a mother. She had lost a Vietnamese family. She said, "...there was love there... and aunts and uncles and that never crossed my mind."

She also said she realized how hard it had been for Dep to decide to send her daughter to an unknown future.

Saigon's chaotic5 evacuation

In 1975 in Vietnam, American troops were leaving Vietnam after twenty years of conflict. Communist forces were about to take control of the country's capital, then called Saigon.

Many South Vietnamese parents and guardians6 sought a safer homeland for their children. As a result, more than 3,000 children caught in the conflict were flown to new families overseas. The action became known as "Operation Babylift."

Among them was Leigh Mai Boughton Small. Dep met Leigh Mai's biological father, an American soldier named Joe O'Neal, in Saigon in the early 1970s. She lost contact with him after he was sent home in 1973. The little girl, who the mother had named Phuong Mai, was about a year old then.

Dep said her friends suggested she get her little girl onto an Operation Babylift flight to protect her from the fighting in the country.

"I panicked and decided7 to send Mai away. It took only a week from when I filed her paperwork till when the plane took her away," said Dep.

Like other parents who gave up their children, Dep believed she would reunite with her child soon after the violence ended. But Vietnam and the United States, where most of the children were sent, did not reestablish normal ties until 1995.

The last time Dep saw her daughter was just before her flight out. Dep was about to walk out of the building when, she said, the little girl called out, "Mom, don't leave."

Dep remembered, "At that moment all I wanted was to turn around and take her home." But she did not.

Dep said she cried "every night for months." But Dep never gave up hope of finding8 Leigh Mai.

The good life

Leigh Mai knew from an early age she was adopted and half-Vietnamese. But no one had any idea who her birth parents were. The children of Operation Babylift arrived with little or no documentation.

Leigh Mai said she enjoyed the good life Dep had hoped for. She lived happily with her adoptive parents and a brother and sister in a nice house. All three children were adopted.

Leigh Mai wondered about her birth mother from time to time when she was growing up. But she did not start looking for her until 2000, after she married and decided to have children.

The search began with a trip to Vietnam with her adoptive mother.

The women knew only Leigh Mai's Vietnamese name, the town she was born in, and the group home she was placed in just before Operation Babylift.

But the group home did not have any helpful information. Its records dated from a month after Operation Babylift ended. It had no documentation from the period that Leigh Mai was there. So, she gave up her search and went on with her life.

Then, four years ago, Leigh Mai found the website ancestry9.com. She sent the company a small amount of her genetic10 material for testing. The website began sending her information periodically11 about distant relatives.

In October, however, Leigh Mai received a much more interesting email from ancestry.com. The company had found a connection between her and a "sibling12 or first cousin."

Then, another email arrived. It read, "I think you're my sister. Your Vietnamese mother is looking for you."

Leigh Mai exchanged several messages with the woman. The two shared a father, who had died in 2011. A man in Vietnam saw the death announcement and told O'Neal's American children about Dep and Leigh Mai.

At last, the half-sisters connected. "And I think it just exploded from there," Leigh Mai said.

Validated13 decision

For Dep, Leigh Mai was always a 3-year-old child. "Seeing her as this grown-up woman with a family, it isn't as emotional14 as when I looked at her photos as a small baby," she said after the reunion.

But the meeting did give her peace about her daughter's life in America.

"I love her a lot and I am at ease3 because Mai has grown up, having her own family, can take care of her own self, as opposed to before when it was always ‘Is my baby still alive? If she is, what life does she have? I was worried she had it hard."

Leigh Mai thought about bringing her birth mother back to the United States, but Dep likes her life in Vietnam.

With technology, Leigh Mai thinks they can stay in touch. She wants to share pictures of her husband and three children and their future experiences.

"So I'm hoping that she can get into the iPhone," Leigh Mai said with a laugh. The mother and daughter are still divided by an ocean, but now they are also connected.

Words in This Story

awkward – adj. showing a lack of expertise15

hug – n. the action of pressing one's arms around another person

panic – v. to become frightened

adopt – v. to accept as one's own

sibling – n. one or two of more individuals sharing at least one parent

cousin – n. a person belonging to the same extended family


1 awkward eu6ze     
  • John is so shy and awkward that everyone notices him.约翰如此害羞狼狈,以至于大家都注意到了他。
  • I was the only man among the guests and felt rather awkward.作为客人中的唯一男性,我有些窘迫。
2 displeased 1uFz5L     
  • The old man was displeased and darted an angry look at me. 老人不高兴了,瞪了我一眼。
  • He was displeased about the whole affair. 他对整个事情感到很不高兴。
3 ease wruxN     
n. 安乐,安逸,悠闲; v. 使...安乐,使...安心,减轻,放松
  • His mind was at ease and he felt confident in the future. 他心情舒畅,对前途很有信心。
  • You should ease up on the child and stop scolding her. 你应该对那个孩子宽松些,不要再骂她了。
4 sharply UiRziL     
  • The plane dived sharply and rose again.飞机猛然俯冲而后又拉了起来。
  • Demand for personal computers has risen sharply.对个人电脑的需求急剧增长。
5 chaotic rUTyD     
  • Things have been getting chaotic in the office recently.最近办公室的情况越来越乱了。
  • The traffic in the city was chaotic.这城市的交通糟透了。
6 guardians 648b3519bd4469e1a48dff4dc4827315     
监护人( guardian的名词复数 ); 保护者,维护者
  • Farmers should be guardians of the countryside. 农民应是乡村的保卫者。
  • The police are guardians of law and order. 警察是法律和秩序的护卫者。
7 decided lvqzZd     
  • This gave them a decided advantage over their opponents.这使他们比对手具有明显的优势。
  • There is a decided difference between British and Chinese way of greeting.英国人和中国人打招呼的方式有很明显的区别。
8 finding 5tAzVe     
  • The finding makes some sense.该发现具有一定的意义。
  • That's an encouraging finding.这是一个鼓舞人心的发现。
9 ancestry BNvzf     
  • Their ancestry settled the land in 1856.他们的祖辈1856年在这块土地上定居下来。
  • He is an American of French ancestry.他是法国血统的美国人。
10 genetic PgIxp     
  • It's very difficult to treat genetic diseases.遗传性疾病治疗起来很困难。
  • Each daughter cell can receive a full complement of the genetic information.每个子细胞可以收到遗传信息的一个完全补偿物。
11 periodically ElzzvQ     
  • The geyser erupts periodically. 间歇泉周期性地喷发。
  • Economic crises recur periodically. 经济危机周期性地发生。
12 sibling TEszc     
  • Many of us hate living in the shadows of a more successful sibling.我们很多人都讨厌活在更为成功的手足的阴影下。
  • Sibling ravalry has been common in this family.这个家里,兄弟姊妹之间的矛盾很平常。
13 validated c9e825f4641cd3bec0ba01a0c2d67755     
v.证实( validate的过去式和过去分词 );确证;使生效;使有法律效力
  • Time validated our suspicion. 时间证实了我们的怀疑。 来自《现代英汉综合大词典》
  • The decade of history since 1927 had richly validated their thesis. 1927年以来的十年的历史,充分证明了他们的论点。 来自辞典例句
14 emotional 3pDxl     
  • Emotional people don't stop to calculate.感情容易冲动的人做事往往不加考虑。
  • This is an emotional scene in the play.这是剧中动人的一幕。
15 expertise fmTx0     
  • We were amazed at his expertise on the ski slopes.他斜坡滑雪的技能使我们赞叹不已。
  • You really have the technical expertise in a new breakthrough.让你真正在专业技术上有一个全新的突破。
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