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You tell the the And I remember this for as long as I left, it was just so vivid. We were standing there and we holding hands.
They literally had to pry us apart to get me on that plane. How could you do this to me? How could you just give up a child like that? How could you just give up a child like that? How could you just give up a child like that? How could you just give up a child like that? I've always wanted to know about my birth mom.
I still had memories but as the years went, the picture of her face in my mind was fading. And that's why I had to find her and get ready to go over there and meeting her face to face for the first time in 22 years. Good morning ladies and gentlemen on behalf of Vietnam Online. We're going home. I hear those planes and so many memories, so many memories. I was born in Denang in 1968.
I remember here in the gunfire and every once in a while, you know, we'll be playing outside and somebody would rush us inside real quick. There were a lot of people in Denang. I remember when I was in the U.S. and I was in the U.S. I remember when I was in the U.S. and I was in the U.S.
I remember when I was in the U.S. and I was in the U.S. When I left, I was confused more than anything. I didn't understand what was going on and why my mother wasn't coming with me. But then I thought, well, it must have been me. I must have been a bad child, you know, for her to give me up and not want me. That's what I remember.
I have directed that money from a $2 million special foreign aid children's fund. He made available to fly 2000 South Vietnamese orphans to the United States as soon as possible. We didn't notice at the time but as a last desperate attempt of the White House to gain sympathy for the war and possible additional funding for the war. They backed what was called the orphan airlift. And they asked for Vietnamese to come to the Presidia because they were bringing over lots of little children.
So I went to the Presidia. I was one of the few Vietnamese living in the Bay Area at the time. I remember going into a room and there was some kids who were about seven or ten years old. I remember saying to them, you don't understand what's going on now. But this is very important. You have to remember who you are. Her friends volunteered to assist. One of them called her and said, you know, these children. Many of them are not orphans. They're talking about their families. And we immediately notified the adoption agencies and the US government that many of the children did not appear to be orphans. And they didn't respond. There was zero response. There was an adoption industry in Vietnam where people would be able to adopt cute Vietnamese children. Their courts were true orphans. There's no question about that. But often these adoption homes were places where children were placed by their families who couldn't take care of them.
What this whole business was doing was creating a situation where families were being induced to give up their children. If you can't help me, if you know people who are poor, you cannot take care of their children. If they are mixed children, I would like to help them. I am not taking them away from them. I send them a good family to tell them because I can take their children to send them to America. And it's better for everyone. If they can go with you, they can go with that. Let it go with me. Can I take him? Can I take him to the United States? No. You think about it because he saw me take other boy, other boy, very happy. Yes. Very happy. The government never had a complete list of the children. They were literally dumping them on the plane. They might recall that one of the planes crashed and about 100 children were killed.
The government never had a complete list of the children. They were literally dumping them on the plane. They might recall that one of the planes crashed and about 100 children were killed. The government never had a complete list of the children. They were literally dumping them on the plane. I saw her try for just a little while. From the time I left Vietnam, and I came over here, it all runs together to me. It's all blurb. Looks a little perplexed now.
Well, first of all, he doesn't speak the language, so he's not quite sure what everybody is doing here. I remember meeting my adopted mom. They put us in this little white room. You know, kind of like the rooms you go in when you go to the pet store and you go see the pets. That's what it felt like to me. And I remember talking to me. And of course, I didn't understand a word. She said, I used to ask her for my mother. And I would cry and cry and cry. Here we are. This is the first day we went there. This is hiding with a baby doll. That's hideous adopted mother, Anne. The way I found out about Anne was adopting hidey. I think I was talking to my mom. And she told me over the telephone. I said, what in the world is she doing that for?
And I was very perturbed. I said, you know, with all of the kids in this country that need homes. Why? And she said, because the government and its infinite wisdom has thrown up so many barricades to a single mom adopting a kid. I remember going to her house, not knowing what was going on and why am I here with this lady. I remember watching her one time doing laundry and she put it in this machine and I thought, wow! You know, so I noticed one day she said the cat was dirty and you were not believe what I did. I put that cat in the washing machine. And all of a sudden, you hear this miracle and this thing thumping against the machine like that. And my cat, my mom, comes running into the room. She says, cat, cat, you know, that's all I could do. She used to get cat and I pointed to the machine and she pulled that cat out and that cat was just, oh!
It was so beautiful looking. It's the first time we met hiding. She was just a little dark-haired urgent. She just cut his button and couldn't speak any English. And of course, you know how much Vietnamese I could speak. Good morning! How are you today? Now, Ben, you say, good morning, Quay. Quay says, good morning, Ben. How are you today? How are you, Quay? How are you today? How are you fine? Thank you and you. And we're fine. I remember going to private school to learn English. And then we moved to Tennessee and that's where I spent the rest of my years. Heidi was very shy at first and I remember that she spent an extra year in kindergarten
because she knows big of the English good, you know, she had to learn. We had black and white children that had been going to school together for many years. But at the same time, we had black children and we had white children and we had not ever had one like Heidi before. My adopted mom, she did everything she could to make me American as possible. She's strictly all American. She loved Bologna. I don't know if you want me to get started about that. We made a Southern or Southern, I have her real quick as far as that goes. On my honor, I will try to serve God in my country. Heidi's features and her complexion of a thing is just like an American that's had a son tan. When she was growing up and even to now, I still look at her as a white American because there's really not much Oriental in her.
She really looked Oriental then. It was really, she was short, long, straight, black, real black hair. Then when we got to high school, I didn't recognize her because she had a perm. She permed her hair all the time back then. See, nobody knew. We were good toying about Pulaski, the blacks and white get along great. They go to school together, they're allowed to eat together, so it's a little community that's spied together. The racism, they keep it hidden. It is, I mean, it is the place where the KKK originated. Every year they marched on the anniversary, they know downtown all that. I think a majority were against the KKK. But there are also people we knew that were part of the group.
It's like, you know, you find out your teacher is, aren't you? She takes you by the chair? Yeah. She takes you by the surprise. She told me not to tell anyone that she was having enemies. And at the time, I understood and being in Pulaski. My adopted mom, I'm not sure how she felt about me being Vietnamese, but she would always tell me I'm not supposed to talk about this. This is not something you tell anybody. You know, if anybody asks you where you're born, you tell them Columbia, South Carolina. If you're with me, I'm the girl out there. Don't worry about me, I've found the little one. Don't call me a grey star.
Trust or you know where I belong. I had a friend who was interviewing people who wanted to come to America in the orderly departure program. And he met a woman from Danang whose name was Mai Ti Kim. She wrote him a letter and she explained in that letter that she had had this daughter and that in the age of seven that she had sent her away. But it was just by coincidence that she interviewed. There were plenty of other interviewers, but he was my friend. He was able to send the letter to me. So I sent a letter to the whole adoption agency. I was probably 21-22 when I started looking for her and you know writing letters and calling people and looking on the internet.
It was through the internet that I found the whole agency. And they say, yes, we have a file on you. In fact, we have a letter from your birth mom. It was like, there's no way this lady could be my mom. And then when I finally got the pictures in the mail, it's like, yes, this is true. You know, and I looked at her and I even went to the bathroom. I held her picture right up to the mirror so I could see, you know, if there was every semblance. And I was like, yes, this is definitely her, you know. I get a message on my machine. The person with a very deep Southern accent calling me up. I don't know if I could even take the Southern accent, but it really called me. This new, my name is Heidi Bub. I have reason to believe you know who my mother is.
When I heard that Heidi was going to Vietnam, like I say, I was just really, really surprised. I just, you know, I wished her well and everything else and hope that she would find what she was looking for. But yet at the same time, I just really didn't know what to expect or what she would find. Yeah, I said, no, I'm not. You'll be. I think that they would have stamped it as unbelievable. I would never dreamed in a million years that, you know, I'd be doing this. I'm still pinched myself. And this for me also was the fulfillment of some kind of dream that I'd had hoping that even if it didn't work for a lot of people, it would work at least for one person. That they would be able to be reunited with their mother to be reunited with Vietnam. Just for the sake of some sort of justice, some poetic ending. I think I believe that many, many words from her mother, but I believe she calls herself, man, man, man.
It goes down, man, man. Or she might call herself, man. It would be hard. It would be quite hard. I don't have to remember this because you want to say I love you, right? And gone is I on T-H-U-O-N-G. I just hope they understand I have been a hundred and one percent Americanized and I have no earthly idea of their expectations. I just cook on the street.
Hello. I worry that we're going to hurt somebody's feelings or insult them. If I do something, I just hope they overlook and say, she's American. She doesn't know any better. I fear most of seeing her husband. I know he tells her that he accepts his own, but there's got to be that little bit of resentment maybe because he's not my father. This morning, I got up at 6 and I tried on like 10 different outfits trying to figure out what to wear.
I'm kind of real nervous. I mean, nervousness can be. And I've done my makeup. I put on the waterproof mascara that John bought for me because he just knew I would need it. I'm just trying to calm my nerves. This fight is going to go too fast for me. I mean, it's only an hour flight, but it's going to feel like a minute. I have to carry me off the plane. I just know they're going to have to push me. It's going to be so healing for both of us, you know, to see each other. It's going to make all those bad memories go away.
And all those lost years, you know, just not matter anymore. That's it. I love you. I love you.
I love you. I love you. I love you. I'm very happy. I love you.
I love you. I love you. I see you're beautiful. I love you.
I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.
I love you. I love you. I love you.
I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.
I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.
I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.
I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.
I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.
I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.
I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.
I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.
I love you. I love you. I love you.
I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.
I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.
I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.
I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.
I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.
I don't know now that I could survive here after having the luxuries that I do. I love you. I love you. I love you.
I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.
I love you. Before I got here and actually, you know, face-to-face with my mother, I always had this image of soft-spoken, kind, loving, caring person. I mean, I see that in her, but I also see that she's very aggressive.
Very happy. One that I was hoping to have with her was acceptance of the little girl that she let go. And when I got here, it was like I was the parent and the parent was the child. She wants to be with me 24 hours a day and I'm feeling a little smothered. I just want to step back and say, whoa, you know, this is not what I had pictured. It's like, oh, I've had these two hours.
Like the day we went to the market to get the food for the feast. It was so hot in there and food was out in the fish smell and it was just not the best, you know, circumstance to be. And I was just, you know, trying to push her along saying, you know, come on, come on, what else do you need, what else, is this it, are we finished, you know? She's like, no, no, no, no. She wanted to take her time and she wanted to stop and talk to everybody and I would say, please don't try any more attention to us.
Please just keep walking and get what you need and get out of here. I love you. Ready? I love it. Yeah, yeah.
I love it. I love it. I love it. Since we've been here, it definitely has put me like in a different world.
I feel like I'm on another planet. I've been away this far from my own family, you know, my husband, my two little girls. I'm feeling the homesick, you know, setting in really hard. I know this might sound, I mean, so selfish of me, but it's just like, I just, I cannot wait to get out of here. I don't want to go home and skate this world and go back to the one I know and it's comfortable to me, you know, but saying almost. Sometimes I wish I could turn back the clock and not know any of this. The eve of our departure to Vietnam, Heidi gave me a little sore star and it was engraved.
Thank you for making my dreams come true. And in a way, her dream came true and it was much, much more than she had got bargained for. And see Heidi, and there was no way of really telling her what she was going to come up against. And I don't know if it was my job to tell her all of this, I mean, I was trying to just believe teacher had to say hello to her mother. I tried to warn her about how things were different in Vietnam. She said, I have to leave. I have to get out of here. I'm going to go back with you. I was going to go home a little early. And I, you know, tried to cover her. I said to her, listen, if you stay after a few days, things will become much less pressurized for you. Thank you.
Thank you. I've seen you for 22 years. I'm very happy now. I'm very happy to see you. I'm very happy to see you. I'm very happy to see you. I'm very happy to see you. I'm very happy to see you.
He wants me to bring her to the US to live with me. I'm very happy to see you. I'm very happy to see you. I'm very happy to see you.
I'm very happy to see you. I'm very happy to see you. I'm very happy to see you. I'm very happy to see you.
I'm very happy to see you. I'm very happy to see you. I'm very happy to see you. I'm very happy to see you.
I can't do this anymore. I can't do this anymore. I can't do this anymore. I can't do this anymore.
I can't do this anymore. I can't do this anymore. I can't do this anymore. I can't do this anymore.
I can't do this anymore. I can't do this anymore. I can't do this anymore. I can't do this anymore.
I can't do this anymore. I don't know what to do. I don't know what to do. I don't know what to do.
I don't know what to do. It breaks my heart to know your condition and that I can't help you as I want to. Your expectations of me are more than I can handle, and I wasn't prepared for it.
I wish I could fulfill all your needs, but I would do what I can. I hope that you would just... I just hope it will be enough. My mother gave me this picture of her and she said my father when he was here. He used to keep that picture in his room. I don't have much motivation as far as looking for my dad. Part of me really, really would like to know and find him and stuff. Do I want any more, do I want to open any more cans of worms?
I'm not sure I do. I don't have a lot of work to do. I don't have a lot of work to do. I keep your rest. You don't like the slaughter for me. Okay. Okay. Okay. Okay. Someone got to the airport. Oh my girl. Oh no cries, no cries.
I came home and I just, you know, surrounded myself with the kids. I didn't want to do anything but be with them. Go get my kids. I've only been back three weeks, you know. Oh, thank you. I'd ask her about the trip and she'd tell me in very general terms. And then she'd expect me to understand in depth how she felt and be able to discuss things with her. And I'm like, I asked you questions and you're not telling me anything. I mean, I don't know anything. I don't know how you felt while you were there. There's no way I could understand you're not even trying to make me understand. And that would really just infuriate her. It was just like last week that she told me. Here goes again, she says, why don't you ask me any questions about my trip? And I'm like, Heidi, it was a week ago that we just stopped talking about it because we weren't getting anywhere. Because you weren't telling me anything about it.
And I asked you plenty of questions. Oh, when did you ask me any questions? Yeah. I'm going to ask you and I'm going to take care of it so you can understand my feelings. I'm not going to let you go. I'm not going to let you go. I'm not going to let you go. The last day she gave me a self-adressed envelope with her address on it. It just sits on the table, you know, and I look at it.
But I just, it's like I look at it and I just walk by so I can't, you know, I wouldn't know what to say. That's still to me, still a fuzzy dream that happened. This is what I know and this is what I grew up with. I'm glad you went to go over there though. I'm glad you made a lot of pictures too. But you are who I know. As well as anybody I should, I guess. Grandma, how long have you had this corn in here?
Look at this. The few contacts I've had with them every letter they wrote was a plea for money. You know, I felt like I couldn't do this anymore. It was just too hard for me emotionally. And now it's, I hardly hear from them and of course they don't hear from me at all. Let's find your mommy, where is she? Let's see. That's my mommy. She was, and she's laughing out loud. Here, can't you hear laughing? Here. Yeah. She can hear laughing. All right, let's find another one. Your mommy said they were working in the rice fields. You know what rice is? You eat rice? I like rice. You do? I don't like rice. And you like, you like, I bet you know. You like me and she's like a mother. But I like rice now.
I've got so I like rice. This cooked real good. I like rice. I like rice. I like rice. Tucking back, I just feel really bad way I handled it. But I don't know them. I mean, they're strangers to me. I guess I have close the door on them. But I didn't lock the door. It's closed, but it's not locked.
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Program
Daughter from Danang
Producing Organization
Interfaze Productions
Contributing Organization
Center for Asian American Media (San Francisco, California)
AAPB ID
cpb-aacip-db1586e49c3
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip-db1586e49c3).
Description
Program Description
In 1975, as the Vietnam War was ending, thousands of orphans and Amerasian children were brought to the United States as part of Operation Babylift. Daughter From Danang tells the dramatic story of one of these children, Heidi Bub (a.k.a. Mai Thi Hiep), and her Vietnamese mother, Mai Thi Kim, separated at the war's end and reunited 22 years later.
Broadcast Date
2002
Asset type
Program
Genres
Documentary
Topics
War and Conflict
Race and Ethnicity
Parenting
Subjects
Operation Babylift, 1975; Identity (Psychology); Interracial adoption; Culture; Intercountry adoption
Media type
Moving Image
Duration
01:22:15.012
Credits
Director: Franco, Vicente
Director: Dolgin, Gail
Producer: Dolgin, Gail
Producing Organization: Interfaze Productions
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Center for Asian American Media
Identifier: cpb-aacip-ecdbe8e0f14 (Filename)
Format: Digital Betacam
Generation: Master
Duration: 01:22:15
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Citations
Chicago: “Daughter from Danang,” 2002, Center for Asian American Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 21, 2024, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-db1586e49c3.
MLA: “Daughter from Danang.” 2002. Center for Asian American Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 21, 2024. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-db1586e49c3>.
APA: Daughter from Danang. Boston, MA: Center for Asian American Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-db1586e49c3