Officials in Ho Chi Minh City have ordered a woman to provide DNA evidence that she is the mother of a toddler who was abandoned in a taxi early this month.
Ho Thi Thu Van, 22, produced a birth certificate and hospital birth records of the boy -- as well as her ID card and residency book.
An official in District 8's Ward 1 Office, which has cared for the toddler since December 2, said the papers are not enough to prove her maternity.
The official said the DNA test will be the final step. If her results match the boy’s, she can have him.
The family will have to cover the cost of the examination.
Twenty-month-old Ho Dinh Gia Huy (according to his birth certificate), is currently being looked after by the Tam Binh orphanage in Thu Duc District.
Ho Minh Thuan, the Vinasun taxi driver, said he picked up a woman carrying the boy at nearly midnight at Trung Son Circle, which links District 8 and Binh Chanh District.
The woman asked him to go back and forth to Ton Dan Street in District 4 four times until she asked him to drive her to an alley near Kenh Xang Bridge in Ward 1, District 8 so she could borrow money to pay her fare.
When they arrived at the alley at 2:30 a.m. on December 2, the woman asked Thuan to hold the boy, who was sleeping and wait for her.
He waited for roughly 90 minutes, but she did not come back.
Thuan's boss instructed him to drop off the boy at the ward office.
The office staff kept him for 18 days, during which time they reached out to his family.
No one was able to provide sufficient evidence for them to release the boy.
The regretful mother
Van told a Thanh Nien reporter that she regretted leaving her son, which she did because her husband Dinh Gia Thuan, 41, refused to accept him.
Ho Thi Thu Van (R) and her uncle-in-law Mai Thanh Liem review instructions on how to regain custody of the boy she says she left in a taxi on December 2, 2014. Photo: Duc Tien
Van said she and her husband have argued more since she became pregnant with the boy.
Thuan believed another man was the father. His family also doubted her honesty, she said.
Van claimed she hired a taxi to look for Thuan and ask him for money to buy the boy formula after she was unable to reach him on the phone.
Believing that the boy had caused her husband to treat her badly, she decided to abandon him.
“I was pushed into a corner. I never wanted to abandon my own son,” said the skinny mother with fair skin and curly hair which has been dyed yellow.
Van was sent to the Nhi Xuan Rehab Center on December 5, the day the city launched its campaign to rid the streets of drug users.
“I could not sleep because I was so worried about my son,” she said.
Van asked to leave the center after a week to finish get back her boy.
She has been rushing between Tu Du Hospital and the police to gather the evidence required. Van said she had lost the originals.
Van's husband, Thuan, was present during a two-hour interview with Thanh Nien, but he remained silent.
He nodded when his wife asked permission to submit a sample of his DNA to confirm his paternity.
Van said that, after she takes back her son, she will return him to Thuan's uncle Mai Thanh Liem, who has taken care of the boy since birth.
The couple has another 6-month old child but lack stable jobs.
As a result, they left Liem's family to care for their children.
Liem met with HCMC officials a couple days after hearing the news about Huy, but he could not provide any evidence to prove his connection, except for many photos of the boy, his vaccination records, some personal items and an account of all the scars and marks on the child's body.
He said he gave the boy to his paternal grandmother in neighboring Vung Tau on November 14 during a brief hospitalization.
The grandmother gave the boy back to his mother, who left him in a taxi.
“My wish is to take Huy back to care for him. I miss him a lot,” said Liem, who rents a house in the city with his wife and two children.
He has been urging Van to finish procedures to take the boy out of the orphanage after he failed to do so himself.
His landlord and neighbors confirmed that the family has been taking care of a boy for nearly two years now.
“The family is nice and seems to really love the boy,” said the landlord named An.