Vietnamese-American girl searches for biological mother

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Jolie Nhung Thi Hoang LaBarge with her American adoptive parents and her younger brother, Mnh La Barge, also a Vietnamese boy who was adopted by the couple in Vietnam in March

Eleven years after leaving Vietnam with her American adoptive parents, a young girl has returned to find her biological mother, and is still hopeful after initial efforts have proved futile.

Jolie Nhung Thi Hoang LaBarge was the first among dozens of children to return with a desire to find her biological parents after being adopted by foreigners from the Da Nang Orphanage, its former director Nguyen Thi Hien was quoted as saying in a VnExpress report.

Hien told the online newspaper that the girl was found as an abandoned newborn in front of the orphanage's gate on July 31, 2002.

They named her Hoang Thi Nhung and chose that day as her date of birth.

Four months later, she was adopted by Sherman LaBarge and his wife Carrie Welch, who said they wanted to adopt a Vietnamese child because they love Vietnamese people for their kindness and rich culture.

In 2007, the couple adopted a Vietnamese boy, Minh LaBarge, from the Mekong Delta province of Ben Tre.

The VnExpress report said the couple kept the children informed of and in touch with Vietnamese culture, cooking Vietnamese food, and collecting Vietnamese folk songs from the Internet and their Vietnamese friends. They also had Nhung wear the áo dài, Vietnamese traditional tunic, on occasions and encouraged her to sing Vietnamese songs.

During Tet Vietnam's Lunar New Year festival, they invited their Vietnamese friends to their home, had Nhung perform folk songs, and ate traditional dishes like bánh chưng.

Welch told VnExpress that Nhung has gotten along well with other Vietnamese children since she was three. She can sing Vietnamese songs very well, but can't speak the language fluently.

Nhung became curious about her origins and cried on knowing that she was not born to Welch. She urged her parents to bring her to Vietnam and help find her biological mother.

She arrived with her family in Vietnam towards the end of March. 

They started looking for Minh's parents in Ben Tre, but could not find any information. Later, they visited Da Nang, seeking  information from the orphanage and the city's Department of Justice, and made enquiries in nearby Hue Town and Hoi An Town.

LaBarge and his wife also visited several historical sites and relics so their children could learn more about the place they were born.

After nearly two weeks, the family returned to the U.S. empty-handed, but they have not given up hope.

Welch said they will return to Vietnam in five years to continue their search. She also said they hope that they will receive some clues as a result of Vietnamese newspapers reporting their search and carrying the children's pictures.

If they can find the kids' biological parents, they would keep in touch with each other so that both the biological parents and adoptive parents can see the kids grow up, Welch said.

Meanwhile, Nhung has said she wants both Vietnam and the U.S. to be her home country.

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