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French woman seeks out runaway birth mother in Vietnam

By Hai Hien   March 30, 2022 | 01:40 am PT
After learning she had a serious illness, Solène Martel was determined to find her Vietnamese birth mother, believing "if not now, then never."

She was born Tran Thi Thanh Xuan on August 27, 1998, at a local medical center in Phuc Xuan Commune in Thai Nguyen Town in the northern province of the same name.

When she was four months old, she was adopted by a French family.

Finding her biological mother has always been on the back of her mind over the years, but she began the journey only recently after being diagnosed with Cushing's syndrome caused by an adrenal gland abnormality.

Martel, who lives in Amiens (about 140 kilometers from Paris), underwent surgery last summer and is now on hormone therapy for six to 18 months.

Solène Martel, whose Vietnamese name is Tran Thi Thanh Xuan. Photo courtesy of Martel

Solène Martel's Vietnamese name is Tran Thi Thanh Xuan. Photo courtesy of Martel

The rare endocrine disorder that affects only one or two people in a million has caused her weight to rise uncontrollably.

Despite the constant encouragement and care of her adoptive parents and older sister, also adopted from Vietnam, she felt sorry for herself throughout her treatment.

"When I was in the hospital, all I wanted to know was who my biological mother was. Is she still alive and suffering from the same disease or not?"

Solène had known since she was a child that she was adopted.

She says: "All my papers were kept in a box by my adoptive mother, who handled them with care. When I was old enough to read, she showed them to me and told me that every child has the right to know about his or her ancestors".

The moment she opened the box, she realized she was more than Solène Martel.

Martels Vietnamese birth certificate. Photo courtesy of Martel

Martel's Vietnamese birth certificate. Photo courtesy of Martel

She always felt her parents' great love for her during her 18 years of living with them before moving out. She adores them in return, but deep down she still feels a void in her heart.

After getting permission from her adoptive mother, Solène has recently started sharing all of the information and pictures she has on Facebook, hoping her birth family will see them and get in touch with her.

She also has the name ‘Thanh Xuan’ tattooed on both her arms as a reminder to return to her roots.

According to the medical facility's records, her birth mother, who walked out five hours after delivering, said her name was Tran Thi Hao and she lived in Thinh Dan Commune, now Quyet Thang Commune in Thai Nguyen Town.

Doctors and nurses told the police to find the woman, but there was no one with the name mentioned in the documents.

After that the child was raised by a nanny before being adopted by the French couple.

Veronique Deremaux, Solène's adoptive mother, brought her to Vietnam in 2004 in the hope of finding her biological mother, but was unsuccessful.

The girl returned to Vietnam for a second time in 2019 as part of a six-month trip across Asia with friends. This journey taught her about her hair and skin colors.

"I felt very emotional as soon as I stepped foot in Vietnam," Solène says.

"That's when I started thinking about my biological mother and realized how desperately I wanted to find my true relatives".

She posted her information about a month ago on a Vietnamese group in France where she met many people similar to her.

They advised her to post on large Vietnamese Facebook groups.

She then met Nathalie Bui, a Vietnamese woman living in France who offered to help with the translation though she didn't speak Vietnamese.

Thanks to the help provided by many Internet users, the two were able to locate the old nanny as well as the nurses at the Phuc Xuan Commune health station, but no one knew where her mother was.

Martel and the nanny who took care of her for four months. Photo courtesy of Martel

Martel and the nanny who took care of her for four months. Photo courtesy of Martel

Solène has not found her mother but has received assistance from many people.

"Every day someone texts me to ask how I am doing and to wish me luck in finding my mother. Even though I still need to use a translation tool, I feel a deep sense of patriotism in my heart".

Solène has a university degree in human resource management and has worked as an office worker. She is currently not working and is recuperating at home.

Her plan is to return to Vietnam once her condition stabilizes and resume the search for her mother in the location mentioned in her birth certificate. In order to stay for an extended period of time, she has applied for Vietnamese citizenship.

Since posting the information about her mother's antecedents, she has had frequent dreams about her in which she sings lullabies to her and pats her on the back.

But she never sees her face.

"I hope I resemble her so that she would recognize me if she saw me while surfing the Internet".

She is learning Vietnamese in order to clearly say "Me oi" (Mom).

 
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