Emmanuelle Babey Reflections (2009)

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Also see Emmanuelle’s AVI Bio

Emmanuelle Lê Thi My Hoàng – Writes July 2009

Saigon, 1969, I was born in a humid and heavy heat of a winter day.So my first days in contact with my mother would remain in a cornerof my memory forever without finding any pictures, any souvenirs…She had left so early that I could not find her smell, thetaste of her skin, the sound of her voice and her arms that had rocked me.I know nothing about her; she would have lived as any Vietnamese womenin war time and in hunger, I only know that she had confided me in the careof soft unknown devoted persons who had taught me the first steps and thefirst words. From this country that we do not know of any season, still and always since I sense the smells, the plain and sweet aroma of the rice flowers, the voluptuous perfumes of the jasmine flowers mixing with the stalls of meat  and fish. My mother had dropped me at the Sa Dec orphanage, famous city for the forbidden loves. For a long time, the answers to numerous <why> have remained a mystery, she left the world without seeing me again, without knowing how I became, without knowing thatI thought of her; and yet… At the age when children ask us « and why », my young son has convinced meto go and search for my origins, without really believing in it but how can I know if I did not try? It’s then that I carried out searches on Internet and with the help of my acquaintances that little by little, the missing pieces to my puzzle appeared there, in front of me as an evidence: it’s a miracle! I realize that the world is indeed very small and it was without any difficulties thatI found the footprint of my first steps. In only two years, my life falls over and the astonishment was replaced by a big relief.In front of the mirror, the reflection was no longer really the same… My only regret is not to have the time to show to my mother the affection and my gratitude to acknowledge me on a birth certificate and abaptism certificate, precious documents as they have allowed me to find my father. April 2006, after thirty four years of exile, I set off to meet the person who remained a witness of my childhood to gather the pieces since then scattered in my mind. My father lived with his wife of always and his children, this man would never have known me and nevertheless… he would never have stopped thinking about my existence.His family and the one of my mother were neighbors in the same street, everybodyknew their story, it’s for that reason that my return was subject to a lot of curiosity. From this trip back home, I keep an undying souvenir and the reflection from the mirror today is of a Vietnamese woman who has left a part of herself in Vietnam …There is not a single day that my soul travels between the past and the present, between the sky and the earth, I have found my identity…

Emmanuelle Lê Thi My Hoàng

(French Below)

Saigon, 1969, c’est dans la chaleur moite et pesante d’un jour d’hiver que je vis le jour. Ainsi, mes premiers jours au contact de ma mère resteront dans un coin de ma mémoire à jamais sans en retrouver les images, ni les souvenirs … Elle s’en est allée bien trop tôt sans que je puisse retrouver son odeur, le goût de sa peau, le timbre de sa voix et ses bras qui m’ont bercée. Je ne sais rien d’elle ; elle aurait vécu comme toutes femmes vietnamiennes en temps de guerre et de famine, je sais seulement qu’elle m’a confiée aux bras de douces inconnues dévouées qui m’apprirent les premiers pas et les premiers mots. De ce pays où l’on ne connaît pas de saison, je perçois encore et depuis toujours les senteurs, l’arôme discret et suave des fleurs de riz, des parfums voluptueux des fleurs de jasmin se mêlant aux odeurs des étals de viande et de poissons. Ma mère m’a déposée à l’orphelinat de Sa Dec, ville célèbre pour ses amours interdits. Longtemps les réponses aux pourquoi sont restées un mystère, elle quitta le monde sans m’avoir revue, sans savoir ce que j’étais devenue, sans savoir que je pensais à elle ; et pourtant… A l’âge où les enfants nous posent des « et pourquoi », mon cadet me convainc de partir sur ses traces, sans vraiment y croire mais comment le savoir si je n’essayais pas ? C’est alors qu’en effectuant des recherches sur Internet et à l’aide de mes connaissances que petit à petit, les pièces qui manquaient à mon puzzle apparaissaient là ,devant moi comme une évidence :c’est un miracle! Je m’aperçois que le monde était bien petit et c’était sans peine, que je retrouvai l’emprunte de mes premiers pas. En seulement deux ans ma vie bascule et l’étonnement laissa place à un grand soulagement .devant le miroir le reflet n’était plus tout à fait  le même … Seul regret est de n’avoir eu le temps de montrer à ma mère mon affection et ma reconnaissance de m’avoir fait exister sur un acte de naissance et un certificat de baptême, documents précieux car ils m’ont permis  de retrouver mon père. Avril 2006, après trente quatre  ans d’exil, je partis à la rencontre de ce qui restait témoin de mon enfance pour en recoller les morceaux  jusqu’à lors restés éparpillés dans mon esprit. Mon père vivait avec sa femme de toujours et ses enfants, cet homme ne m’aura jamais connue et pourtant… il n’aurait jamais cessé de penser à mon existence. Sa famille et celle de ma mère étaient voisines dans la même rue, tout le monde connaissait leur histoire, c’est pour cela que mon retour fut sujet à beaucoup de curiosité. De ce retour au pays, j’en garde un souvenir impérissable et ce reflet dans le miroir aujourd’hui c’est celui d’une femme vietnamienne dont une partie  est restée là bas au Vietnam … Pas un seul jour où mon âme voyage entre le passé et le présent ,entre le ciel et la terre ,j’ai trouvé mon identité …

Emmanuelle Lê Thi My Hoàng


Hello, my name is Emmanuelle.
I am married and have 3 children.
I am adopted as all of you and I come from Vietnam.
I came in France on December 22, 1972 with my adoptive brother from Danang.
I have started my research 3 years ago without any hope.
In October 2004, I learn of the website Origines Vietnam.
On April 2005, Marita has resumed contact with me. This has boosted again the energy and the faith in my
October 2005, Marita has sent me a link of the website Voyage Forum. I have gone through a message mentioning an orphanage in Sadec. It is not the one I came from.
Finally, I did not know why on January 19, 2006, I have posted aresearchannouncement on Voyage Forum.
The next day, a Vietnamese Canadian has answered it and told me that she hasa cousin living in my village and that they are going to help me in myresearch.
The Destiny…Since, everything has gone so fast.
How great was my surprise when her cousin has confirmed with me that the orphanage has never been wiped out, nor burned down, but that it was taken over by the government.
On Saturday, February 12, 2006, he has located my family.
Now, I have known more or less all my story…
If you would like to know it, here it is.
I am born Le Thi My Hoang on December 7th, 1969.
I come from the Delta of Mekong, from Sadec exactly.
You certainly know of Marguerite Duras’ story and her handsome Chinese lover.
Well, that’s the fact. It’s in the district of Sadec, Hoa-Khanh that I have lived my first few moments of my Vietnamese life, among the fruits, the flowers and the rice fields of the Mekong.
I have grown up the first three years of my life at the orphanage : LA PROVIDENCE of Hoa-Khanh. For me, this always remains my first house.It was my mother who has placed me in the orphanage by obligation.
Why? Because I am < a fruit of the passion> born from a secret relation…
I would not have the time to hug her in my arms so she would leave in peace.
I know that she had lived unhappily, until the end of her life hauntedby my souvenir.
I would have wanted to thank her for having <acknowledged> me and for having left at the orphanage my birth certificate and my baptism certificate.
These two papers have helped me in locating my father whose name did not appear on any of these documents.
On April 14th, 2006, I have arrived in Vietnam with my husband, at last…
I have been able to meet my father as well as his wife and my half-brothersand sisters.I can read in their eyes all their regrets and all the love towards me.
It was a beautiful reunion, mostly with these first words in French : <ma fille> (my daughter).
I have also been able to pay respects to my mother’s grave and met with some members of her family.
From my mother’s side, I am the only surviving child.My three half-brothers have all passed away.
I discover that All the family of my father and my mother live in the same street, along one of the arms of the Mekong river.
The old people look at me as a <ghost>… they are aware of my story.
I have visited Sister Sainte-Croix at the Monastery that has become also a daycare and I have consulted the registry with her.
There, I have discovered another photo of myself, much younger.
I have also paid a visit to Sister Benedicta who runs the new orphanage Maison Amour.
Well, this journey to Vietnam has been a real rebirth.
Since, I feel myself Vietnamese more than before.
All the Vietnamese side that I have buried deep down in me has freed itself little by little.
I have started the Vietnamese lessons, I am going to create an altar to worship my mother…
Today, I am in harmony with my past and I am happy for my children.
I finally got the answers to their questions, to my questions.
Thanks to Internet, my children can see the family of my father via the webcam.
However, since my return to my birth place, there is not a moment that my mind is not there. Actually, it is still too early to say if all these reunions will help me become more radiant.
All my life, I tell myself that my family is the one that I will create and it is true.
In conclusion, I would like to thank Marita for her wonderful work and devotion;
Sister Susan for her kindness and spontaneity,
M. from Canada, her parents and her cousin of Sadec, whom I owe this Happy End and other persons that have encouraged me in this adventure.
To those who are still searching, I wish that you would find the answers to your questions.
And mostly a lot of happiness.

With all my kind regards.