A French son gets closer to finding his Vietnamese mother

By Phan Than   December 19, 2018 | 08:43 pm GMT+7
A lifelong curiosity about his difference solidified into a search for his biological mother, and he is agonizingly close.

When he turned 17, Aurline Malnoury got the shock of his life.

The teenager, who knew nothing beyond a farming life in a town in the north of France, always knew he looked different from the rest of the people in town and wondered why his hair was black, and why his nose, eyes and skin color were different.

When he turned 17, his parents told him the truth - that he was a Vietnamese boy abandoned by his biological mother at birth.

After he overcame the initial shock and clamor in his mind to see his mother and ask her why she’d abandoned him, Manoury’s curiosity about himself grew. While he studied in a sports school, he began to read about Vietnam, its culture and wondered about his parents.

This is his story.

One day in June 1992, nurses at Ho Chi Minh City’s Go Vap orphanage and childcare center heard a baby crying outside. They hurried out and saw a baby behind the door.

The baby had a birth certificate. Phan Van Giang was six months old then.

Phan Van Giang when he was 6 months old

Phan Van Giang when he was 6 months old. Photo courtesy of Phan Van Giang 

Under the nurse’s care, the baby grew up healthy and cute. Four months later, he was adopted by a French couple. 

"My parents told me they liked me immediately because I had big and bright eyes," said Malnoury, who now wants to be known by his Vietnamese name Giang.

His parents lived in a town in the north of France. Because they were farmers, Giang learned how to plant, weed, fertilize, and harvest crops since he was young. 

"My childhood was quite hard, but my parents loved and cared for me," he told VnExpress.

The only thing that bothered him was the scrutiny by other people wherever he went. Among white people, his skin color and black hair stood out. At that time he could only hide behind his mother. At home, he would often look at himself in the mirror and wonder why he looked different.

"My parents hid the truth, not wanting to give me a shock."

But the shock could not be avoided forever. They told him the truth after he turned 17.  

"I was shocked at that moment. I wanted to find my birth mother immediately to ask why she abandoned me," Giang lowered his voice, holding tightly to the bag he’d brought along. 

Giang does not blame his mother, but wants to find her.

Giang does not blame his mother, but wants to find her. Photo courtesy of Phan Van Giang 

He gradually forgot the pain of abandonment, but his curiosity about himself grew. During his years at the sports school, he secretly read about the culture and people of Vietnam, as well as articles on abandoned children and families looking for lost children. 

"Whenever I read, I would wonder if my parents were going to find me, whether they knew I was healthy and had a good life. I wanted to find them to get answers to all my questions."

Three years ago, after his adoptive father passed away, his 70-year-old mother brought him to Vietnam for the first time. Giang told her than that he intended to find his biological parents. Looking into her son’s eyes, she immediately said yes. She herself had wanted to do it, but was constrained by her difficult financial situation.

On returning to France, she showed him the adoption document with some information about Giang's mother. It had lain in a locker. 

"You are our happiness, but you still have relatives, go find them." She advised him to return to Vietnam to live and learn Vietnamese so that he could find a job.After putting affairs in order for his adoptive mother, Giang returned to Saigon at the end of 2017 and got a job as a tennis coach. 

Once a week Giang visits the childcare center where he had been nurtured. He cooks, does the laundry and teaches the children. Photo courtesy of Phan Van Giang

Once a week Giang visits the childcare center where he had been nurtured. He cooks, does the laundry and teaches the children. Photo courtesy of Phan Van Giang

He also began learning Vietnamese. "I am learning Vietnamese to be able to communicate if one day I can find my mother. I always have the fear, 'How can I talk to my biological parents if I do not speak Vietnamese,'" he wrote in application to an agency that helps connect adopted children with their biological parents.

After living in Saigon for more than a year, the 27-year-old can write his name, his mother’s name, his mother's address, and the sentence "I love mom" in Vietnamese. 

He has also fully adapted to living in the city.

Every weekend he returns to the center where he had been abandoned by his mother to cook, wash clothes and teach physical training to disadvantaged children. "When I look at them, I think of myself in the past. I feel very sorry for them."

Last month, Giang was informed by the Go Vap Center for Cultivation and Sponsorship of Children that his birth certificate and some information about his biological family had been found.

He was born on December 13, 1991, in the central city of Da Nang. His mother, Phan Thi Anh Hoa, 52, was from Thanh Son in Phuoc Buu Town, Ba Ria Vung Tau Province. She had a son four years older than Giang. His father died in an accident soon after Giang was born.

Holding the file in his hand, Giang cried in happiness. He thought maybe he had been abandoned only because his mother could not afford to raise two children alone after the death of her husband.

Son Pham, founder of Children Without Borders, said Giang's was among the easiest of the cases he has received because his biological mother had left detailed information about her place of residence, his place of birth and information about the family. 

Ho Thanh Loan, director of the Go Vap center, said: "The center has sent a request for information about Hoa. But it is difficult since the address is from 1992 and we don’t know if she is still living there."

But Giang is hopeful.

His face reddening with emotion, he said: "I do not blame her. I want people to call me Phan Van Giang. It's the name my mother put in my birth certificate. Now I want to use it to find my mother and thank her for giving birth to me."



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