Vietnamese woman forced to give up her baby during war finds daughter 44 years after adoption

Nguyen Thi Dep had no choice but to give her baby away after rumors started to spread about communist troops targeting biracial children.

The children of American troops and Vietnamese women were considered to be traitors.
“I was very afraid [of] many people telling me that if I don’t send my baby away, they will come in here and maybe she will be killed,” Dep told WBUR.

Dep had no other choice but to put her 3-year-old daughter Mei up for adoption in 1975.
Vietnamese woman forced to give up her baby during war finds daughter 44 years after adoption
Dep spent 44 years searching for her daughter and finally met again thanks to the internet DNA testing.
Dep said she originally joined the front lines during the Vietnam War to work so she could provide for her four younger sisters and ill father.

“I just wanted to do something to have some money to help my family,” Dep said.

She found a job at a U.S. Army base in Saigon, South Vietnam as an office cleaner.
She ended up having an affair with a U.S. sergeant who left her when she was two months pregnant.

Dep’s last moment with her daughter when she dropped her off at the orphanage was one she never forgot.

“When I go to the door … she say, ‘Mama don’t leave me!’ “ Dep recalled. “And I want to come in and bring her back home but then I think if I do that, she will be killed later.”

Dep’s daughter was a part of Operation Babylift where thousands of Vietnamese children were airlifted out of the country for adoption.

Dep tried to go back and get her daughter the next day but it was too late.
She began to relentlessly search for her daughter after tensions ceased in Vietnam. She shared her story with local media and reached out to the adoption agencies to find her daughter to no avail.

Eventually, the two were brought together after Leigh Small took a DNA test on and was connected to a half-sister she never knew she had.

Small ended up getting an email from a half-sister telling her that her mother had been looking for her.

Small, who knew she was half-Vietnamese, had no idea her mother had been searching for her all these years.

Small and Dep were on the phone together within 24 hours.
“I think she wanted to prove to me that when I was there she loved me and she wanted to make sure that I knew those three years she had me she gave me everything she could,” Small told WMTW.

Small then planned a trip to go and meet Dep in Vietnam.

“It filled in a lot for me,” Small said. “I was never one of those people who had a hole in their life from my adoption, but when that hole was fulfilled and found out my history — I don’t think I realized how much I needed that.”

They also took a DNA test to confirm that they are, in fact, mother and daughter.

Now that Small has brought Dep a smartphone the two can communicate through Facebook and Small says she will visit again.
“I told everyone in my family and said, ‘Oh, I found my daughter!’ And they said, ‘When you see your daughter, you don’t have to cry, OK?’ And I said, ‘No, I’ll never cry again,'” Dep said. “I’m very happy I found my daughter.”

Learn more about this happy ending in the video below.

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