Stacy Thuy Meredith
VN Adoptee – Colorado, USA
Meredith. S. T. (2000). Adopted Vietnamese Experiences. Edited for Adopted Vietnamese International.
Archive / posted 2000
S. T. Meredith in Vietnam
My name is Stacy Thuy Meredith, and this is my story.
My mother’s name was Ngo Thi Diep; She was a 19 year old Vietnamese girl from the City of Can Tho. She left Can Tho without the permission of her parents and went to Saigon to work as a clerk in a bar. During her stay in Saigon, she met an American Soldier with whom she had a personal relationship and even lived with for a short time. The American soldier (my father), apparently left her and returned to the States during her pregnancy. I don’t know if he really went back to the States or was even aware that she was pregnant, or that he left because she was pregnant and didn’t want the fatherly responsibility. On July 22, 1972, she had a daughter; naming me Ngo Thi Ngoc Thuy. I was born in a Hospital in Saigon, at 284 Cong Quynh.
Maybe family honor, or fear of the family disowning her, she hired a woman to help raise me in a remote province, so her family would not know about me. When I was 25 months old, she decided that she could no longer take care of me. On August 23, 1974, she brought me to the Holt Nutrition Center. Shortly after I was put with a Foster Family. My foster Mother was married to an MP Officer and had five children of their own. I lived with them until I was put on Northwest Airlines, Flight 6 out of Saigon; arriving in Anchorage, Alaska on March 6, 1975 at 6:30 A.M. My new parents (Larry and Jeanne McLaughlin), and new brothers (Shawn and Scott) were there awaiting my arrival. They had chosen the name Stacy Thuy McLaughlin; keeping my Vietnamese first name as my new middle name.
I would like to say it was happily ever after from then on, but I can not. My childhood was a struggle of survival and it wasn’t until my adulthood that life and my adoption, became a blessing.
My adoptive father was an Air force Pilot and flew in the Vietnam War. My adoptive mother had two biological boys, and decided to adopt a girl, after two miscarriages. Maybe my father’s intentions were good, and he really wanted to adopt a daughter. Sometimes I wonder if he struggled from postwar memories and it caused him to resent me. His reasons I will never know, but the scars he left me with, will never go away.
As a child, I struggled with severe nightmares which would cause me to scream, sweat and even sleep walk on occasion. My mom described my scream to be so horrific, that it would sound like someone was physically attacking me. When I was awake, I would even get upset if I heard the sounds of a siren from a fire truck or even the sound of a tea pot whistling. She said I would become hysterical, then run and hide under the kitchen table or my bed. The nightmares continued for years into my young teenage years, until I began seeing a Dream Psychologist who help interpret my dreams.
He said my dreams were so detailed and I knew too much info that many of them were probably actual things I had experienced as a baby prior to arriving at the Orphanage. They began to subside after working through my fears. I struggled with the prejudices of looking different from my family. People would come up and make remarks such as, “Is that really your child too?”. I struggled living in an all white community wherever we moved; little kids coming up to me with their eyes pushed back and chanting slang remarks towards me. The weird thing is, my eyes are round like a Caucasian. I was under the assumption as a child, that my biological mother gave me up because she didn’t love me.
At home through my entire childhood, I was physically beaten by my father and brothers; repeatedly told ” I am the Devil and no one wanted me.” I felt that there was something terribly wrong with me; no one loved me or wanted me. I felt it was my fault and wished I’d never been born; at age 8, I tried to kill myself with a knife.
As a teenager, things got progressively worse. Once my school discovered the abuse, that began a vicious cycle of being placed in and out of foster homes; making my father more abusive with each return home. I avoided reality through drugs, loud music, skipping school and running away from home. I was placed in and out of Hospitals for suicidal thoughts and attempts. At age 17, I took a bottle of antidepressants (about 100 pills). The doctors said I shouldn’t have survived. I hated God and really had lost all faith that there was a God, at least a God that I should love and be grateful to. If he did have a plan for me, it sure was hard to understand his plan and even appreciate it. He put me through HELL to get to where I am, and I am not thankful for that. I hated him even more for keeping me alive and not letting me end the pain.
It took many years for me to believe again, and return to the church; I believe now, that God had a future planned for me and wasn’t going to let me go just yet. I am thankful for that, but I am still not thankful for the childhood I was given. When I was 18, my father was trying to strangle me; a friend walked up to the house just at that moment to carry me to safety. I immediately dropped out of High School, got my GED, moved out of the house and found work to support myself.
January 18, 1991, I met my future husband. The very first night I met him, I knew in my heart he was the one. This was the turning point of my life; this is what God had waiting for me. Unfortunately I was addicted to cocaine at the time. I wasn’t about to lose the first good thing that had happened to me in my life. I admitted myself into rehab a few months later. He stood by me every step of the way; we married 2 ½ years later.
We have two wonderful children, which we are devoted to raise with all the love and structure I did not get. I am a full time Mom and wife, and I do Day Care in my home to help. My husband is an incredible husband; which my girlfriends are always envious. He is a devoted father who is never too tired to play and spend time with his children. We’ve been together for 9 ½ years and life is the greatest thing that happened to me. To think, I struggled for so many years wondering why I was even alive. I felt so alone and my life seemed meaningless; to want to die and feel no one would even miss me. Now, each day I am so grateful that God knew there was so much still for me to experience…..to live! I look at the family I have now with my husband and realize I am where I am suppose to be. There is no sense of not belonging; I would not have this if not for being adopted. If I had to go through all of that to get here, it was worth it. I would not want to go through it again, but I think that the obstacles and challenges in my childhood may have helped me become a more strong-willed person, and appreciate just how wonderful life can be. To help with some closure in my life, my oldest brother (Shawn), apologized about 10 years ago for the way he treated me when we were children. Since then, we have a closer relationship and my children adore him.
Another closure came when my Mother came to me a couple years ago and apologized for not being the “Mother” I needed her to be. She said she regretted turning away when she knew what was happening to me, but felt she was too weak of a person to do anything. I feel sorry for my Mother, but I give her so much respect coming to me to say those things. Our relationship has grown so close and is finally the relationship I have always wanted it to be.
January 2000 I received a letter in the mail from Holt International. It was an invitation to a Reunion for the first Generation of Vietnamese adoptees prior to the Fall of Saigon April 30th, 1975. At first I made the decision not to go for financial reasons. We had worked so hard to get out of debt the year before and had just paid off everything, but didn’t have any extra money yet. I didn’t want to set us back again for my selfish reasons. My Mother said that I couldn’t miss this and I’d regret it forever if I didn’t go. Between her and my brothers, our trip for two to Baltimore was paid for and we were on a way!
As April came closer and we prepared for our trip; my journey down a new path laid ahead. I was finally going to meet others “like me” for the first time. I wondered if they had gone through similar experiences as me growing up as a child, or if they were all going to have happy stories with happy endings. I wondered if we would have a connection with each other, even though we’d never really met, or if it was going to be awkward and distant. A couple days before our trip, I began to experience a huge range of emotions returning, that I had not in a long time. Whenever I had talked about my past in the previous years, it had brought me to tears. This too was having the same affect. Maybe because I felt this was the only way I would get to connect with my Vietnamese heritage…… I have now learned, this is not so.
The reunion was an incredible experience for me as well as my husband. He was able to share a part of me that was so deep and personal that he had never done before. We met so many wonderful people; adoptees and others who had first hand experiences with adoptees and our journey to the States. The connection with the other adoptees was so intense. It was like we had found lost siblings from years past and being reunited once again. It was a time for many to give thanks for adoption, and a few to still question whether the adoption experience was a good thing. It was a chance to share our similar experiences of childhood uncertainties and success stories. It was a weekend of making special long lasting friendships that will last I lifetime. All of it went well for me though I had trouble speaking with the parents who attended; asking me questions about my adoption. I had a Mom come up to me and chat. She just kept saying that I should be thankful for my adoption and that my parents did the best they could.
If my father beating me for 16 years, and my Mom turning her back instead of protecting me and act as if nothing was happening to me, is the best, then that is a distorted definition of “best”. I believe in God, and I have come to terms with him. I have gone on with my life and have a wonderful one at that one, but the baggage is still there, the wounds are still there, and always will be. I decided not to talk with other parents about my adoption, because they didn’t want to here the truth about how many “lives after adoption” really were; they wanted to hear the happy stories. The Reunion also gave of us the opportunity to hear success stories of adoptees who traveled back to our mother land and found their biological families. This helped me to decide that it was time to search for my biological mother and journey back to Vietnam.
Recently I began the search for my biological mother. I am still in the very beginning stages of the search; a lot of paperwork. The reason for my search is not to “replace my mother”; I already have one. It’s not to find a sense of belonging; I have that too. I‘ve decided to search for her for me and my family. I want to learn about the “mother land” I came from. I want my children and husband to learn too about the place on the other side of the world that a little frighten and lost child came from. A place where the people look different, speak different and have a way of life unfamiliar to us. I want to meet my Mother to thank her for trying her best and giving me up when she felt she couldn’t give me what I needed.
To my mother who gave me life; thank you and I hope someday we can be reunited. To my mother who adopted me; thank you for your love and support over the last few years. Thank you for apologizing for my childhood; that was an incredible step for you and for our relationship. You are my one true Mom and no one can take that from you…I love you.
My journey has only just begun……..