Daughter from Danang

Daughter from Danang

Ratings: 5.60/10 from 35 users.

Daughter from DanangA heartbreaking documentary that upsets your expectations of happily-ever-afters, Daughter from Danang is a riveting emotional drama of longing, identity, and the personal legacy of war.

To all outward appearances, Heidi is the proverbial "all-American girl", hailing from small town Pulaski, Tenn. But her birth name was Mai Thi Hiep. Born in Danang, Vietnam in 1968, she’s the mixed-race daughter of an American serviceman and a Vietnamese woman.

Fearing for her daughter’s safety at the war’s end, Hiep’s mother sent her to the U.S. on “Operation Babylift”, a Ford administration plan to relocate orphans and mixed-race children to the U.S. for adoption before they fell victim to a frighteningly uncertain future in Vietnam after the Americans pulled out. Mother and daughter would know nothing about each other for 22 years.

Now, as if by a miracle, they are reunited in Danang. But what seems like the cue for a happy ending is anything but. Heidi and her Vietnamese relatives find themselves caught in a confusing clash of cultures and at the mercy of conflicting emotions that will change their lives forever.

Through intimate and sometimes excruciating moments, Daughter from Danang profoundly shows how wide the chasms of cultural difference and how deep the wounds of war can run--even within one family.

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109 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Heidi owes the people in Vietnam nothing. She was looking for a mother who loved her, period. I have been there, done that..long story. These people were strangers to her. I am appalled at the lack of empathy for her in the posts here. She was a very young woman when she went back to meet her biological mother hoping for just plain love, understanding and caring. What she got was, "take care of us"; sorry, but I see a huge culture clash and Heidi had absolutely no say in coming to the U.S. I know what it is like to have a biological mother who "wants" and she is a complete stranger, and an adopted mother who was a horror. No one can possibly understand unless it was their life also.

  2. I was absolutely offended by Heidi's reaction and behavior. And I honestly wished her mom would've kept her during the war so she would've suffered and learned her lesson. I'm Salvadorean, I've heard the stories of the struggle that people went through during the Salvadorean Civil War, I can only imagine how bad it was for the Vietnamese people during the war in their home. Heidi's mom did what she had to do in order to protect her and save her life, yet when she meets up with her biological family she wants to be an ungrateful, b*****y american brat. That's sad, I could see how much pain her mother was in and it broke my heart because guess what? Her family was not being greedy or selfish, you could clearly see how bad they were struggling to keep a roof over their heads. As a Latina, we help our family out. If our grandmothers, our mothers, our brothers, sisters, cousins, FAMILY are struggling, we help. We do what we can to give them what they need and if they ask for more, we don't get offended by the fact that they NEED help and can only come to us for it. And it sickens me how easy it is for other people to criticize her family and talk all this shit about them being selfish and greedy, in case you didn't notice, they barely had a home, greedy implies having A LOT and wanting MORE. They barely had a kitchen to cook in. And you can't call them lazy when they lack any type of opportunity to find a good job and education so quit being so damn narrow-minded and excusing what Heidi did. She wanted to reunite and all this bs then acts like she has a stick shoved up her a** when it doesn't turn out to be what she expected. She got her mother's hopes up, she should've never gone or contacted her family in any way if she wasn't ready to be a grown up. All she proved was that SHE was the selfish one, not her family.

  3. OMG @matt parke I completely agree with you! My family is the same way! It's frustrating and annoying because we are not exactly well off. We still live in a rented house while they have their own big house in Saigon and they still want money from us. I seriously hate this mentality, I rather do it the western way and only help when it's seriously needed. Seriously the obligation thing is only an excuse to cover up their greediness and their selfishness and also their laziness as well. Like you said, my dad's brothers have plenty of job opportunities yet they sit on their butt and rely on the money that we send. Then they spend it on gambling and stuff. They also ask for money once in a while and we have to send them otherwise they will create a scene and act like we are so heartless and evil that we refuse to help our own family. Many people don't understand this because they don't have families in Vietnam and they have not experienced this money begging thing. But if they do, I'm sure their attitude will change. I myself have all my sympathy, empathy and support for this poor woman. She's not only experienced such a difficult childhood and confused identity but also this shocking and cruel reality that her family expects her to send money to them like she is some sort of atm machine. If I were her, it's easy, I would just tell them yea it's nice to meet you l, but you know what, I have a different life now and you know I have my own family who raised me

  4. Me and my parents live in America. My mom has sent hundreds of dollars back to her sister in Vietnam to help her build her business. But guess what? The sister says there's never enough. There is no love in Vietnam. Notice all the parties, all the gifts. After that comes the begging.

    1. My cousins, who live in Vietnam, ALL have Accounting degrees. But they sit on their butt hoping that my mom will send them money. If this is not greedy, I don't know what is.

  5. I can't believe she wouldn't help her mother or at least be in her life. I saw the horrible pain her mother was in. She would have been happy just to be with her. How sad.

    1. You seem to only look at the superficial. Heidi loved her family. I could see it clearly, but she was being used as a money machine.

    2. You are so right....she did but was not properly inform on what to expect nor how to handle it. I knew Heidi and she was over whelmed with the demands placed upon her. The entire family, which was many, felt she should bring them and totally take care of them. As with all media or documentaries; we never see the whole truth...not entirely. So, unless you havae walked in someones shoes don't be so condeming.

  6. this movie was heartbreaking for the mom..she HAD to do what she did in order for her daugter to live.can you imagine what the guilt the mom had throughout the years wondering what happened to her daughter. heidi pissed me off..how can she be so heartless? rejecting her family...why? because they are poor? im sorry to say heidi im busting your bubble..no matter what you will always have philipine blood in you..they are a part of you...no matter how hard you try to be the all american white girl. it was very sad to see her mom stroking her daughters face and crying of pure joy seeing her daughter..knowing shes alive.it was also sad to see the family heidis blood get rejected..how she does that without a thought is shameful..especially to the woman who gave birth to her.heidi has no heart..and to think her mom still wanted contact with her..i hope that when heidi gets old her guilt bites her in the ass for the way she treated them..

    1. Vietnamese, not Filipino. Jeez and I haven't even watched the movie.

  7. I would say it was a sad ending. I'm not an American and obviously, I had been raised in other way. I don't know how things are in Vietnam, but I saw this as bad manner of asking money for everything. On the other hand, I may say that Heidi didn't handle the situation well. She acted rude at the touchy and warm way her mom showed to her. Moms outside of this country are very touchy and whenever you are in town obviously they always want to be with you. For me, Heidi acted unrespectful with her mom and the way she looked at life in Vietnam.

    1. Heidi accepted all the touching when she first arrived. Even when I returned to Vietnam, I felt uncomfortable with all the touching. Heidi is not in the wrong. She was being honest.

  8. Such a sad documentary, i weeped when i saw the re-union at the airport and changed from then onwards but kind of expected it judging from Heidi's reaction and attitude from the beginning. I feel for her to some extend that she didn't see 'money' part coming but mostly i blame her mom in TN that didn't raised her to know basic humanity especially in her situation whereby Heidi was given away in a poor country due to war and what poverty is in most of other countries. $20/month by no means would put Heidi on the street and to 'shut the door' on her poor mom with a 'smile' while her grandmother's fridge is stocked all the way up with food, yet she is worried about the carrot going bad, that my friend is priceless! Her family in vietnam may not be rich but they have something most other families don't and that is love while in america love comes only twice a year (thanksgiving and christmas), even then only if one is willing to spend a few hundred bucks to fly or drive to justify if it's worth to begin with. Not judging any culture by any means but learn to appreciate what we have here and most importantly, learn to love other human beings (humanity 101) who are less fortunate. After all tithing is something every religion teaches, why not help your own biological mother in this case....................

  9. I'm 40, never met my dad, I know I have half brothers and sisters somewhere in Australia. If i went back for a week to meet them and they demanded money off me within the first week, I would be royally pissed off too so I 100% identify with the daughter in this doc. The only difference being I would have told them to their face how offensive that was and I would not have held back.
    And as for needing some "space" in the first week of ever meeting them..damn straight! Its like you didn't give a shit about me for all that time..back off!

    Now as a new student on a MA documentary course, this doc is amazing. It has everything. I was captivated the whole journey through. Fantastic doc!

    1. When I just saw the movies, I thought I understood what Heidi felt . She was shocked, she searched for mother's love, turned out they asked her help. Especially, at the end of the film, she said she closed the door but she did not lock the door . I hoped that someday with time her wound would be healing . But I am so wrong, she did lock the door, even she knew that her birth mother really loved har, felt guilty, and missed her everyday . And she did find out why her mother let her go to live in America ,for her better future, and it is . In front of the family's altar, the mother prayed her and her family for the best . The movies also revealed that her birth mother's family was very poor, and if she helped as little as she could , and let them know about her struggling life, I think it's better that way . Her birth family, just like any poor person in Vietnam may thought that America life was heaven , and at certain point, it is . More than ten years past, I wondered if she ever watched the movie again .
      Her adoptive mother loved Heidi in her own's way . For some people, rules are rules , and we did know in the past if Heidi how many times broke the rules . Did she ever thought why she had a good education , and good family if she was not raised by this single lady ? Did she ever try to reconcile with her adoptive mother ?

    2. Tracy, return to Vietnam and I bet your family will demand money from you, too. Actually not all families will be up-front. Some are very subtle in their demands.

  10. I think the daughter is sob... What cold heartless woman she is!!! Had the opportunity and why not say the gift to meet all her first family, and no appreciation whatsoever!!! She had no compassion for the poor family of hers. I really hope that one day her daughters turn their back on her, so she maybe would suffer a little!!! as far as i am concern she should go to hell, being a piece of cramp the she is!!!

    1. Her family is not poor. I've seen worst

  11. 100% selfish Western thinking if I was the MOM i would proudly locked the door en trow the key in the deepest river , it is more than normal to help someone in this place your family , if you have a better life , many Asian in the world and also South Americans are sending money back home to support the family and try to give the young ones better education ..
    I really dont want such a Greedy woman in my family .
    Generosity is something from the heart too bad some westerners dont have that in their heart .. my advise is Don't go back you don't belong there

  12. I can understand how Heidi felt when she was under pressure for a long term commitment. But as a grown up girl after a few hours she should be able to differentiate the the unconditional love and the money. How about one day her own children react to her when she is in need. Heidi's mum found her after 22 years of painstaking research and then lost her again in 7 days. I feel for the poor lady. I don't know as a human being how can Heidi close the door for them at least not wanting to know how your mother is doing. YOU MAY BE AMERICAN HEIDI AFTER ALL YOU ARE A HUMAN BEING BEFORE YOU BECAME AN AMERICAN.

  13. the door is not lock because deep in your heart, you know they love you and you care too...the affection she showed you, you never felt from your adoptive mom...with or without money they will love you just the same...in some part of asia, when the child support the parent, it's like the parents crown and pride that they raise a good and loving child...it's nt about the money only, its not like they make you like money machine, but it is about the family helping each other...even if your mother gave you away for your good life, she will never tell you that you cannot live in her house anymore in normal circumstances such as coming home late from a date and that you cannot live in her house anymore, just like what your second mom said to you...i'm sure if heidi grew up in vietnam, she would also help without being offended if she is capable of helping....your reaction does not mean your a bad person, the only reason is because your upbringing is so very different, you will never understand the meaning of it....

  14. This was a very sad documentary and goes to show how shallow and selfish western culture is.

    Does anyone know how I can get the address of Heidi's family in Vietnam?

    I will gladly be their benefactor since her daughter is too offended to help.

  15. I can't help to post this after reading the reviews.

    To Heidi: I am glad and sorry for your experience. I wish that you had prepare yourself for more than you expected. Cultural differences is very complex. Things that are insulting to you might not be to others. Sadly, poverty drives people to do blunt thing that are otherwise shameful. I agree, they should only focuses on catching up with you. Your emotion is normal as an independent person growing up in USA. I hope time will help you understand their point of view. People should not judge you for your reaction. However, If you still want to connect with your mother, you need better understanding of the way of life there. I hope this does not give you a general view of Vietnam and more importantly, your mother. As a mother now, you might have deeper understanding in her decision to give you up. Especially when keeping you means death for both. Her situation is quite unique where as her husband is a Communist and your father is an American.

    With that said, please DON'T quote any thing as "That's how asian is" or "Asian is very up front with money". I won't argue that people need money and look to the west as a money tree. To generalize, especially the Vietnamese translator that travel with her, and to quote that Vietnamese are very up front with money is crappy journalism.

  16. at first i felt bad for Heidi, horribly bad. and i still do. but the attitude she learned in America is so f****** UNBELEIVABLE! i am SO mad and her comments she made every now and then. they are not strangers! they are your BLOOD. of course, she was raised in a naive society where she was told to SHUN her identity of being half Vietnamese. the stuff your mother went through just for being with your Father but she doesn't see you as a mistake, loves you unconditionally, tried looking for you first. yet, you just go live your spoiled life in your amazing town. atleast they accepted you when you went to visit, unlike the community you're living with.

  17. I feel so bad for Heidi's mother and the rest of her family in Vietnam. I was married to a man from a very poor country and we sent money to them regularly. It helped them to build a good house and to buy land to earn money. I cannot understand not wanting to help someone in need--especially your own family. I don't understand Heidi AT ALL.

    1. what was so strange , is what she said , THE MOTHER BECAME THE CHILD and THE CHILD BECOME A MOTHER .. that is the superior feeling from someone who think that she is better than the other, in this case her own mother , i was so proud to can send money every month for my mom in south America

  18. The scout leader: Heidi had to spend an extra year in kindergarten, because SHE NO SPEAK AT THE ENGLISH GOOD. Well, enough quoted here I think.

  19. I think after she acknowledged how much her mother had done for her by giving her up that it wouldn't have killed her to send twenty dollars a month even. She behaved like a spoiled brat. What did she expect to find there? People who were perfection personified? She wanted the reunion but, no ties. I really disliked this girl.

    1. I think this is too simple. I do agree that she was probably not well enough prepared for what she would find there, but to be so blatantly asked for money by people who are virtually strangers (even if they are family) must be very difficult. It's a cultural difference and I am indeed looking at it from a Western perspective, but the Vietnamese family could have brought it a little more respectfully. This is a lot of pressure to put on someone that doesn't actively know you, and I am sure that if they would have taken time building up a bond first things might have been very different.

    2. I know that to a westerner this is a somewhat outrageous thing to do but as a Vietnamese myself, I know for a fact that the most well off person helps out the family. I thought that persistant asking money from the family was kind of too much but completely ignoring them from her side is not right either.

    3. in our south American society it is a MUST to help your family . her white mom kick her out and locked her outside , now she is the one who closed the door for the woman who puts her on the earth her REAL MOTHER , but wait!! she has 2 girls lets wait and see ..

    4. I’m married to a south American, he sends money monthly to his mother. His married sisters with their families live off this money too . If he his late with a payment, he is harassed by his sisters they claim that he is neglecting his mother. However, did I mention that none of his sisters or their husbands work, yet they all claim to have university degrees. What good is a university degree if you don’t use your qualifications and find a job so you can support yourself and the family you put on this earth. This has been going on for over 20 years now.. We have been approach by his sister who has requested we pay to put her two children through university, I don’t think this is correct. Just because we have migrated to a different country does not mean we are better off financially especially now with the economy the way it is. We work very hard for what we earn and I think his family is taking advantage of us. I wondering when it will stop.

    5. Stangers? A mother that is so selfless and fearing for her child's life so much as to giving her up, cannot be called a stranger doesn't matter how much time has passed. People commenting here can only watch in from a Western perspective, I appreciate that, but please understand that other cultures respect the family so much that it is MANDATORY to give back to the elderly and the remaining of your family that doesn't do as well as you. The Western society could learn a little.

    6. As an African this is nothing unusual, your parents are your responsibility. Yes, westerners are more about self than family. You see how Kim's whole family live in that house together, you'd never get that in the western world. My mother has brought us up in the western environment but she has kept us rooted, no matter what, we MUST provide for her when she is old, all of us, it is paying your parents back for everything they went through for you.

      The problem here is that Heidi doesn't see what her mum has done for her, she goes from saying that from day one, she felt loved, she felt like she belonged, and the memories flooded back, to feeling overwhelmed, and wishing the memories away. It's strange that she would rather remember being beaten and locked out of the house than remember frolicking in the village with her siblings, yes it is painful, but the earlier is the authentic one.

      Shame, they've just become so detached I guess. I know when my grandma who I hadn't seen for years was saying I have to take care of my parents and family, she meant I should not forget them, I should contribute and I completely understand why, in Africa we don't have care homes, we take care of our parents and ensure that they feel loved to the very last breath.

    7. This debate could not more clearly illustrate the fundamental rift in, as her mother said, the "notion of love" between the two cultures. I'm sad I'm the only "Westerner" in the group to hold the view that Western society to stand to learn something.

    8. As someone who also left Vietnam at age 7, I must say I still remember my family well and also my language and if I still had family to support, I'd offer it without even being asked, so I'd say this is also a cultural difference but much more a difference in character! And this girl is just too much...first she's like: "oh they're my family, I felt all the memories coming back upon seeing them" but when things became too uncomfortable, suddenly they're only strangers.

    9. Christine You are so right , you have an Asian Heart !!!!, That is what everybody do HELPING YOUR MOM the woman who puts you on this earth , but when it comes about money uuuhhhhh i must run away you cannot take money into your grave this is something a lot people have to learn .. If I was the Mother i would ask her NO NEE NEVER to come back..

    10. You remember your family and she doesn't. that's the difference. I can't imagine that one day I come back to the place that I saw as a little child and a lot of adult people who remember me (but I dont remeber them) come around me, stare at me, speak a foreign language and the first sentence they say is give us money every months for the rest of your life. I could also not feel love from such people. This family is like all others in Vietnam. They see a foreigner and they imagine a big dollar in stead of a foreigner's face. I experienced that. People judged me by my foreign passport, but most of these people that were hoping for some money from me were in fact much reacher than me. They were greedy so much that I can't imagine being more greedy. they were living in houses many times biger than mine and were eating million times beter food than me, but only looking at my foreign face and passport they imagined I wake up every day and I find 10000$ under my bed. I know how greedy Vietnamese people are. Heidi is an independent adult with her own family. She works now to support her children. Parents support children until the age when they are adults and go to work. But children don't support adult parents who should work. She has no obligation to give her own money to anybody else than her small children. Everybody at her place would be shocked and cry. She came to find forgoten love and she found greedy people who saw dollars in stead her face.

    11. As an African this is nothing unusual, your parents are your responsibility. Yes, westerners are more about self than family. You see how Kim's whole family live in that house together, you'd never get that in the western world. My mother has brought us up in the western environment but she has kept us rooted, no matter what, we MUST provide for her when she is old, all of us, it is paying your parents back for everything they went through for you.

      The problem here is that Heidi doesn't see what her mum has done for her, she goes from saying that from day one, she felt loved, she felt like she belonged, and the memories flooded back, to feeling overwhelmed, and wishing the memories away. It's strange that she would rather remember being beaten and locked out of the house than remember frolicking in the village with her siblings, yes it is painful, but the earlier is the authentic one.

      Shame, they've just become so detached I guess. I know when my grandma who I hadn't seen for years was saying I have to take care of my parents and family, she meant I should not forget them, I should contribute and I completely understand why, in Africa we don't have care homes, we take care of our parents and ensure that they feel loved to the very last breath.

    12. An 100% right !!!! the fact is ; without the mother she would not be on this Earth , the mother could die when she had given birth , so this documentary was an eye opener 20 dollars a month will not kill here , she proofs that she has no Asian heart, but a selfish spoiled westerner .........

  20. gran documental, una magnifica narración, nada que sobre ni falte. Totalmente recomendable.

  21. It is heartbreaking to watch a daughter turn her back on her Mother. This piece left me wanting to hug my own Mother and tell her I will care for her forever. I just returned from a trip to Vietnam and I was so touched by so many people and there incredible level of kindness. It is such a beautiful country and so full of love. It seems that Heidi did not take the time or respect to understand her own culture. We live in such excess in North America and she could have done so much for her family in Vietnam as they would have done for her with their love.
    A truely sad film.

  22. What a tragic piece, I feel both for Heidi and her birth mother.

    I think some of the commentators are being too hard on Heidi, taking sides when it would have been more just to feel pity for both.

    She has dreamed of receiving unconditional love from her birth mother - something she felt she never got from her adopted one, only to see her dreams being crushed down by cultural differences, incompatible values and different perception of what family ties are meant to be.

    If all you ever wanted is unconditional love, then being asked for money or any kind of material support will seem insensitive to say the least.

    The tragedy of this story is that both mother and daughter had dreams, but their dreams ended up diametrically opposite, which could only lead to disappointment for both sides.

    "The two years later" was absolutely heart-wrenching, it showed that neither Heidi nor her family (still asking for money after the failed attempt?) has managed to free themselves of their respective cultural concepts and find some common ground. Too sad for words.

  23. If you examine other stories of reunions between adoptees and their birth families, you will see this same pattern. After an initial happy reunion, one or both parties backs off. Just because there is a blood bond doesn't mean that there is instantly love and devotion between total strangers. I don't think that Hiep is selfish so much as she is scared to let her emotional guard down and who can blame her? He birth father abandoned her, her birth mother sent her away (albiet for her own good) AND her adoptive mother rejected her for selfish reasons. Her birth family meant well but I think that because of cultural differences they just came on way too strong. I felt bad for all of them because they seemed like good people with good intentions.

  24. I agree wit Ziggy, I am part Asian and I know my duty as a daughter. When my parents need help I help them in any way I can and when my mother gets older and cannot do for herself I will be her arms and legs. This is expected of me and natural. I and my family are in the states ans have been all of my life but I know my place as a daughter. I feel Hiep is selfish.

    1. I am not Asian, I could easily understand she was being selfish. She wanted things to be the way she pictured, maybe to spoiled to realized to see things the way they are!

    2. Catherine you are 100% daughter with a heart of GOLD

  25. I don't know how I would react in her situation, but ,logically, she has the life she has now because her mother loved her very much. i think heidi is mean and selfish

  26. I agree. They were asking because they were in need. Who wants to live the way her sister lived. I`m sure Heidi lived that way for a week instead of staying at a hotel. She would be dishing out some dough pretty fast. If they had kept her in Vietnam, the whole family would have suffered more discrimination and abuse from others. I think they made the right choice to send her away.

    Heidi needs to work on herself first instead of trying to fill the void with her dream family expectations. Real relationships take a lot of work and effort. Families even more. She sounds pretty irresponsible to me. If you read the FAQ, they wrote that she was not even prepare for the trip.

  27. Heidi is 32 years old, an adult, a wife and a mother. She needs to stand up and think that she is not a victim. To feel insulted that she was asked to help her mother is childish. People ask for donations for lot of different charities all the time in North America. Can you imagine an adult breaking down and crying if you asked them for money to help support research for a cure to cancer. COME ON. Let`s not play the race sympathy card or adoptee card. I know a lot of white & Asian people who are expected to pay rent or help pay expenses at home. It`s not based on culture. It is based on pure economics, not on culture.

    As she stated, she went on vacations and lived a good life that was more than expected for child of a single mother in her area. TO me, it sounds like Heidi grew up not knowing the value of money. She complained that her mother cut ties with her bc she did not respect her mother`s rules and that her mother felt Heidi owed her. So its apparent that Heidi has her own issues with her American family already and she is blaming her mother for it.

    Heidi does not really value her American mother as someone who gave so much to her even though she is a complete stranger. Heidi complains that these people (vietnamese family) are complete strangers and she cannot give them money or help them.

    Does she not feel blessed that someone did that for her- fed her, clothes her, looked after her for years? Her Vietnamese family knows her and raised her and gave her life. I have no idea how she thinks that they are complete strangers?

    Have you ever helped a complete stranger in need? Give them a helping hand? It happens all the time in North America Ie. Soup kitchens, food drives, fund raisers, meals on wheels,...etc. She acts as helping others is something that is totally alien to her.

    Even though she can see that they need help, she cannot see anyone beyond herself. At the age of 32, I would think that you could learn to be giving, understanding and compassionate. It is not based on living in a North American culture or being adopted. Get off that crutch and learn to be responsible for your life and how you act.

    It is very apparent that Heidi does not appreciate the blessings in her life. She lucky to have her wishes come true and lacks ability to appreciate them.

    1. She got out of Vietnam safely and was raised by someone who was financially stable as a single parent. (Lots of orphans dont get adopted and get passed around from abusive foster parents.She could have stayed in Vietnam and been picked on bc she was mixed or killed as her mother feared. )
    2. She went to college. (Lots of people do not have the financial or educationally ability to go. Look at her sister, Grade 6)
    3. She has a brother that was supportive. (Someone to talk to and help her.)
    4. She got married to a person she loves and was able to have 2 beautiful daughters. (Could she even imagine what her mother went thru giving up one child to complete strangers hoping that your child will be adopted by good American parents? Could you do the same? Could you just give up one of your children to some foreigners telling you that other people could do a better job than you?)
    5. She finally gets the love that she craved for and feels smothered. (How would you feel if your lost child finally came back to you? Would you let that child out of your sight?)
    6. She asked for help from all sorts of different people to help find her mother. She was pretty desperate in seeking out her Vietnamese mother. Her Vietnamese family feels the same way in their economic situation. If you were dirt poor and your parents struggled every day to survive, what won`t you do to ease your mother`s pain. $400 a year is an annual income in Vietnam. That is less than $1.50 a day to help ease her parents suffering.

    1. Heidi is very selfish & uncaring inheriting the traits of her adoptive mother. Hein would understand the familial responsiblity to a parent(s). Wonder if her daughters will help her when she is in need? She has a very hard lesson in life to learn. I pray for her biological mother who made the ultimate sacrifice.

    2. Panda eat Bamboo your words are like a flaming sword but 100% true man you have the best response 100% my Respect

  28. I feel so sorry for Heidi, she was perfectly justified by our cultural standards to react in the way she did. If I were to go to a family reunion, and someone I hadn't seen in 22 years asked me for money, I would feel insulted. It's just our culture, and you can't blame her for reacting the way she did, but on that same note, you can't blame the family for acting the way they did. We have two vastly different cultures, that's just the way it is.

    1. I think we should learn from the Asian culture where is mandatory to help out your family in need. We became too much of individualistic selfish people. She could have given 20 bucks a moth to keep them happy. She owes her mother for the life she enjoyed in the US. And 20 is nothing to pay that back.

    2. Is it Normal the kids don't have to look after the elders in America ??
      which shows to be the "' very best country'' in the world ???
      uuuuugghhhh well i really do not want to be there

  29. Americans should be careful when boasting their open-heartedness and generosity. There have been a string of wars-for-empire dating back to the 1800s run by a government called the United States of America. You yourself may be a very kind and generous person, but kindness and generosity were certainly not overwhelming themes of US foreign policy in the past. Whether they are now is most certainly up for debate. Selling the American people on the idea that we are out doing the world a string of favors - or that we are simply incredibly entitled - hasnt been easy over the years, but apparently there has been some success in that area :D

    Can the mother or the daughter really be faulted here at any point. Both are to a large degree products of their respective cultures. In agrarian cultures, children are your retirement plan, your food stamps, etc. Just 2 generations before me, my family worked the land in Ontario, Canada. My mother is one of 11 children. It is how they know life (and how America used to know life) and the bond of family is quite different from urban America. We dont have to come down on either side to learn something about ourselves and about the world :)

  30. @ sam: You say most of the posts are too hard on Heidi and I agree but you are much to hard on the family.

    First of all, meanings become lost in translation. In reading subtitles, no matter how accurately it is translated, you are subjected to bias based on your personal experiences with the words. And, a translated word cannot take on the full meaning and intent of the source word. The way the brothers were speaking (ie. the language, phrases and tone) were not as cold and calculating as the subtitles may lead you to conclude. Also, this was not in the subtitles, but the mother told her sons to stop when they began that ill-fated conversation - oversight by the production team or suggestive of some particular agenda?

    I believe that the mother, despite her actions in the past, truly loves the daughter she gave up years ago. There is a deep unbreakable emotional bond tying mothers with their children, eclipsing even that of the fathers' love - this is a time-honoured belief in the VN culture. Whether it is true or not is irrelevant because this is how Heidi's mother was raised and thus it is her reality. She loves her daughter and not the money. Obviously, I cannot say the same for the rest of the family. However, despite the very clumsy and poorly-timed approach, their request for her financial support does not make them "greedy" in any sense. Children have a duty to care for their parents no matter the circumstances. My parents are not wealthy and my family in Da Nang are nowhere near the poverty of Heidi's VN family but we continue to send financial support. This is the way things are in my culture.

    In addition to this being a case of culture clash, it is a case of individuals and specifically individuals who lack the ability to empathize and think outside themselves for even a second - a symptom, which I am afraid, is all too common in this world. The VN family cannot conceive that Heidi, being raised in a different culture, would be so upset by their "ambush". But if the family is inconsiderate, so is Heidi. She wanted to know her past and then leave it behind, not recognizing that these are real people and not inconsequential objects there for her personal discovery. The lack of understanding stems from both sides. There is no need to call either of their actions "repugnant" or "disrespectful" when we consider that there are two different points of reference.

    1. sarah i do know why Asian and other foreigners are booming in usa the answere is that they have something many Americans dont have . They have strong family ties and that makes them like an iron fist

  31. Great documentary film. I won't blame Heidi for being who she is. I'm just sad that how Americans raise their kids.
    I feel like they don't know true meaning of life. I understand money is important but can not be priotirized above family. From being Asian background, we grew up watching our elders to help each other financially and emotionally. I also live in the states but I also support my family back in my country. I just have to work harder to help them. At the end of the day, I'm happy and I have a strong family and friends on my back.

    I just hope that Heidi will change her mind about "closed door" and at least write her mom a letter. I hope she can feel her mother's love and bond since she is a mother herself. It breaks my heart to think about Heidi's mother's situation. Afterwall, she did everything to protect and save her children.
    I just want to tell her she made a great choice to send her one of children to USA. If she ever doubted in her decision. At least one of her children had a chance to see a different world.

  32. @ Chrissy - I was very interested to read your post and want to thank you for your opinions.

    You make several assumptions about me, most of which are incorrect. I'm neither American nor do I go to church every Sunday....show me a Christian and I'll show you a hypocrite. Equally, I come from a family that only just escaped Nazi persecution and became refugees spread all over the world. I know also how badly my family were treated by their new countries and what horrible struggles they went through. I have also lived in and worked for 'third world' countries. I have some understanding of the fact that differnt cultures have different values.

    But my contention was that this sad story was about PEOPLE and their expectations. On both sides the expectations were unrealistic. 'Culture differences' cannot entirely explain personal irresponsibility, failure of empathy and self-seeking.

    Also, I wrote that American PEOPLE are amongst the most openhearted and generous in the world (not 'the most'). That's a vast difference from the political America, which is often aggressive and rapacious and self-centred. I did say that I felt this film was about people not politics. Do you really believe that ordinary American people have any say about how their governments attack other countries?

    You didn't take up my point about the way the mother had conveniently sent her half-American child away when that child's presence may have endangered her and her family. I also endeavoured to make the point that this child was one conceived as an accident of convenience (I noted also that the mother DID have a paid job at the US base at the time and that the mother's husband had irresponsibly chosen to run away and join the Viet Cong fighting against the Americans). After sending her child away for so many years, the mother assumed that she could expect money from her estranged daughter without thinking about how that expectation would feel to her daughter. I personally found that quite repugnant and obviously so did Heidi.

    I hope this helps to clarify a few things. Maybe I didn't write plainly enough, if so I apologise.

  33. Im young and my english isnt my main language ill try my best to explain.

    Lady above truthfully you being a mother with two kid and you said you lived overseas in very diverse cultures what type of culture are you talking about? you sound like an American to me.

    But ill tell you a little bit of VietNam culture if you like to know. If you've watchec closely in the video not just her Family are so close and so bond together but include all those villegers too, family bond for Vietnam is like no others cause of such hard time over the year cause of war.
    And you mending her mom was greedy and stick to the American for money?? You have any idea how hard it was for many to survived and those with family to feeds?, as fact that i know some hudsban had to regretfully let their wife go with the American to make money so they could feed the whole family. Back in the day few dollar was alot even now, even she gave them like 10-20 dollar which only few Ham Burgur worth.

    I dont blame you since youre reading in subtitles so most of you dont know the true expression in their words. But Her family seem very kind and understanding and theyre trying their best to make her feel comfortable, they didnt ask till the very end cause they expect this might happen that she might not understand.
    They even explain when they talk that she might miss understood and they kindly said it in their word that its not her fault cause the different in culture thats she is in, and they regretfully that she doesnt seem to understand when they want to apologized making her feel this way.
    In VietNam theres is no goverment support what so ever when your not able to work your kids they have to take care of you and no there no such thing as retirement home either over there.

    Im sure youre a very kinda person by what you had said and im sure youre going to Church every Sunday too, but i think youre lacking with some understanding about culture different as the Movie State. There are many kind and nice people here in Canada where i live and America but you need to face the truth people here most treat one another like Crap and most Racist country in the world cause of so much different in culture.

    This story also take place during the American war with VietNam and do you know the real reasion why American attacking VietNam funny you said American is the most OpenHeart Country yes OpenHeart to attack other country for their own benifits please do some search before you leave comments thank you good day :D

  34. As a mother and a daughter, I felt so happy and so sad for both Heidi and her mum.

    A story of unfulfilled needs and unrealistic expectations on all parts? Yes, though inevitable.

    I must say that I completely disagree with all the posters here who've given Heidi such a hard time. There was a culture clash to be sure, but the Vietnamese family's demands were gobsmacking. I've lived overseas in very diverse cultures and I've never seen such blatant moneygrubbing.

    No wonder poor Heidi felt as she did - her VN family had no shame in trying to tap her for $$$$. They seemed to be mostly fit and well with several men who presumbably were able to work.

    Yet they seemed to see her as a meal ticket. And, Heidi, bless you, please forgive me for what I'm about to say....Heidi was conceived through her mother's desire to feather her own nest and provide for herself and her children. This lady took up with an American soldier for the goodies (though she was working and earning at a US base). And she was still trying to use Heidi in the same way.

    It didn't matter that her husband had essentially deserted his young family to join the communist forces fighting the Americans - no one seemed to question the scruples of that man and the fact that he was complicit in encouraging his wife and children to shamelessly beg Heidi for money, even thought two decades before he obviously couldn't wait to kill Americans....Added to this, mum did pack her little girl off to America when it looked like Heidi's American provenance could incur inconvenience to her, even though her husband would have accepted the little girl as his own.

    No wonder you were angry and so upset Heidi. My heart goes out to you. Frankly, your VN family came over as a feckless, entitlement-hungry bunch of perpetual victims. This may be an effect of many years of war and being accustomed to US military generosity. However, it wasn't Heidi's responsibility to singlehandedly carry on making reparations! She was even more of a casualty of the war than her VN family. There's culture clash and then there's refusal to take responsibility for one's choices. Heidi's VN mother and her husband were simply not taking responsibility for the choices they each made years before. They damaged all their kids from the looks of it.

    I am disgusted at all those here who have denigrated Heidi, and somehow used her pain and honesty to bash America/Americans - who are amongst the most openhearted and generous people in the world. This is not about politics, this is an intensely personal and very sad story - and one where the self-appointed victims pulled the wool over many eyes judging by the superficial comments here.

  35. I think things could have progressed more slowly rather than all of a sudden.I can see how reunification of two different lost individuals could go wrong , especially, when they have two different expectations coming from two different cultures. Obviously Heidi could see that she was well off than her Vietnamese raised siblings ,however she felt that she had no emotional connections built up with them. So,it felt awkward for her to help them even though if she really wanted, she could help them. Compare this analogy to a guy going out with a girl on a date, and a guy would ask out to her if she would marry her at the end of the date. Can you really imagine how awkward would that be for the girl, even though the girl could have really liked the guy and had a good impression about him,it's a spoil start.

  36. ssf

    her birth mother loves her. It is unconditional. As a parent I cannot imagine being in a place to be giving up a child for any reason. She gave up her daughter and raised the rest of her children. It was the ultimate sacrifice unimaginable to me. But look at how Heidi benifited from her mothers heartache and loss.

    The roles had reversed as Heidi says. She was the mother and her mother was like the child. Well DUH Heidi your mother is from that culture in that environment and your mother is a unique person who is the way she is. Does she expect her mother to have some great emotional intelligence that even Heidi clearly does not possess.

    Her mother clearly felt bad about asking for help but to look at how they lived and not want to offer anything says more about Heidi than her Vietnamese family seeking assistance.

    And for those who still don't understand it is pretty simple in many countries in the world. You don't have money you don't eat and you die. You don't have money for birth control and you have babies and large families and need help and have to do things you thought unimagineable to provide for your family. It is basic empathy to view Heidi as being a bit over the top with selfishness.

  37. Great documentary about cultural differences.

    Heidi....unempathetic and lacks understanding even though she got to go there and see how they lived what they had or had not and smelled the smells saw her mother wash clothes by hand etc etc.

    $20 to $30 a month was worth all that emotion? To the mother that gave you the life you have today?

    If the inlaws came to Tennesse then some of you may have a point but it did not go that way.

    Heidi may you never be in a place where you are in need financially but I think only then will you understand your experience...basically because you are unempathetic.

  38. test

  39. This was moving, until the impression grew that the young woman was typically western,shallow & selfish. Is that it? She's done & finished? The remark, "I couldn't live like this" was revealing. Everything was about her & her precious bloody feelings. Having seen how her poor family lived, she was not touched by compassion, she just wanted to run. Or did she later try to help? OGT

  40. I can't believe how blind rich people are. They can't see how important family is because they are in love with their easy life. I can't believe you did that to your family. I am a CPA that enjoyed wealth, but now I teach English in Korea and love my simple life, helping people and family. If you knew the true and living God as found in Jesus Christ, then you would understand what I am talking about.
    I can't believe the selfish reaction of you, to turn your back on your family...but actually I do believe it, you are a typical overfed american in love with STUFF!!

  41. @ (Long )Chris Nguyen - It appears English isn't your primary language. But, you said that wonderfully. Respect!

  42. Such a touching doc on so many levels. I feel for both Heidi and the Birth Mother.

    Heidi, for missing out on being raised by her loving mother and for being raised by a adopted mother that apparently was not a very good one. It seems to me, in spite of her adoptive mothers faults and wrong doings, Heidi is a very well adjusted and happy person. Yes, even in light of her emotional break down during the extortion meeting. Now, having made that last comment, that is what it appears at face value from someone who isn't familiar with Vietnamese culture.

    I feel for the birth mother for having felt that she had no other option but to send her daughter (fathered by an American Soldier) to America, for fear of harm coming to her baby girl. And now, after Heidi's visit, it appears the Mother is whithering away. On the verge of a major nervous breakdown, she's probably reliving the day she handed her daughter over to the Hoyt Agency.

    For those of you of the opinion Heidi should do everything (including selling a kidney) to pay a stipend to the mother that didn't raise her, TOUGH. Regardless of why mom gave up the child, that ship has sailed. Simply giving birth does not mean the child owes you nothing more than respect. Folks not of American descent are constantly griping about America being home of the money-hungry consumer. Yet, it's OK if you're from Vietnam for it to be all about money. PLEASE - don't be a two-faced pig!

    1. Her birth mom did more than just pop her out, she raised her as hers for 7 years, this is 7 years to come to the best decision she could, she sent her abroad, only on the condition that her life would be much better than it is now, and on the impression that she would return very soon to her again when all calmed down.

  43. Before traveling, let alone your own, you research and learn about the culture of any other country. This girl is one more self-centered product of stupefied American culture raised on genetically modified fattening food we see traveling all over the world demanding attention only to themselves while disregarding others'.

  44. People please! The girl is living in military housing on a military salary not even the new housing, the old housing development which is basic housing conditions. She barely has enough for herself and her family let alone sending money to a family that she knows nothing about. She merely went there to find her roots. It is an inherent part of our being to want to know where one comes from. She had every right to turn these people down when they expected money from her. She has her own children to think about and those people back there in Viet Nam are NOT her responsibility. She did not leave Viet Nam by choice. She owes these people nothing. I understand the difference in culture, had she not been given away, she would have been exactly like her Vietnamese sister....dirt poor. Period. In all fairness to Heidi, these people are strangers to her. Say what you will but Heidi if you are reading this, your responsibility lies with your own children now, not a family that you do not know- it is not your job or your responsibility to any of them. Best of luck to you.

    1. Ìn mine opinion it would be better for her not to go to Vietnam , but ok .. now it will be better NEVER t go there again ..
      I dont think that she belongs to that loving Family , she even don't want to be with the mom on the market , If I was the Mom i would never want to meet her again . others are just proud to give their family a helping hand . but some are too ECONOMIC to share one black cent

  45. This is a great documentary because it shows the reunion very clearly from two totally different culture perspectives.Heidi from a very comfortable American educated lifestyle while her mother and brothers and sisters live in a rural part of Viet Nam. I found the culture clash very disturbing but understandable. I spent 6 months in the East as far as India about 35 years ago and Iam still adjusting because everything was absolutely foreign. I did not realize the Vietnamese are as open about mmoney as this family is but that is simply cultural, this is frowned on in the West.Ultimately this situation will be resolved when both sides take the time to understand the others viewpoint.

  46. There is no way for these womento reconcile what happened to them so many years ago. It's frustrating to see that because she couldn't begin to manage the trauma she had lived through heidi decided to become unusually and inappropriately emotional about a very simple very human request.

    I hope that she changed, and lavished her mother with kindness and comfort in the form of compassion, love and money.

  47. To everyone out there:
    How much does a cup of coffe cost where you live? How much do you spend on "garbage" food, movies, alcohol, party and so on?
    Im sure we all spend some money on stuff we realy dont need. If you can live whitout 1 cup of coffe for 1 day im pretty sure you can help someone out there who's not as lucky as we are.

    1. Hey Mary here in Europe a cup of coffee cost 2.00 euros well if i can send that 2 euros for the Mom in Vietnam I would love to do it

  48. Its simply show how greatly Vietnam peoples is showing and express their love toward their family and love one. Loves that is so deep such words that consider offensive(shocks) in differences of culture don't matter.
    Shouldn't blame her for this, I'm simply sad she can't feel their loves because of different in words of culture, things like this takes time to fully understand.

  49. I am with ZIGGY.
    Heidy just wanted to know her roots (maternal) but she did not and does not want to "BELONG".

    She just acted like a western tourist without much of a real agenda to VN and simply could not digest the Love of her biological mother and her siblings because Love of such nature is a foreign thing for her.

    I hope Heidy is reading this.

  50. >>I understand your disdain for western sloth
    >>It doesn’t make your cultures way wrong

    You're confused. I'm from N. America. I'm not even Asian. I'm slothful like you :-)

    >>Heidi’s brothers/sisters have lack of education so they didn’t think what they were asking was out of the ordinary.

    100% wrong and a typical Western "oh, those poor people, if only we could educate them" misunderstanding that has led to disastrous Christian and other "interventions" over the years. It is an ordinary part of being in a family in VN - and was a long time ago in the West too - that you sacrifice for each other, it has nothing to do with education level. You'd be "uneducated" not to - like Heidi.

    In N. America we have almost no notion of family any longer, or of any institutions, other than as temporary contracts of convenience, or usually begrudging inconvenience. For example, children in N. America typically abandon parents as soon as they are a burden upon their freedom. Yet, as we speak, my mother-in-law in VN is in the hospital and various members of the extended family, even in-laws, have spent 24 hours a day there sitting and sleeping on a rattan mat on the concrete floor outside in a courtyard for 12 days or so already (many of which have been very rainy), missing work, so as to be able to do anything needed for her at any hour (the hospital staff are awful). I doubt I could do that for my mother in N. America. But they'll continue to help likewise when she returns home. And they do it without thinking they are "being used". Family here is not a contract where you measure up what you get out of it.

    That is why Heidi's reaction was so selfish and shallow: she wanted the VN family love and ties BUT to contribute absolutely nothing unlike all the other members of the family. And hers would be the least "costly" contribution of all, writing an occasional small check. If she were part of the family, she'd learn that they'd do most anything for her too.

    (This seems to have been shot around 1997 when even $50/month would have been huge in the countryside. We give my mother-in-law about $100/month pocket money now.)

    And people say, but that's not done in N. America? Well, where was she? She was in VN, not America, in a Vietnamese family. Don't stumble through the world as a demanding tourist. The VN family displayed vastly more understanding of foreigners than Heidi did and forgave her "ignorance" of local culture and over-the-top reaction to a simple request she knew was expected.

    But maybe her mom was just another sight-seeing attraction for her? The ultimate home-stay tourist experience? (She was already complaining after 3 days that her "host" wanted to spend too much time with her.)

    Either way, if Heidi doesn't want to contribute like other members of the family, then she isn't part of the family. Seemingly she has chosen that, which is so strange given her life and expressed need to connect. There's nothing "wrong" with that, but it does grow out of a fundamentally atomistic, myopic and often shallow culture.

    I hope she goes back one day and rejoins her family.

    1. Great reaction Ziggy Iam agree with you EXCEPT that last sentence
      It would be better if she never have return back to VN
      Because she leaved the Mother with MUCH more pain and suffer than before she went there . and you know most of these kind of people are don't read the 4th commandment in the bible

    2. Heidi didn't contribute?! What? She gave money to her sister, she gave what she could, but her sister asked for "MORE!". Heidi would sacrifice it all, but these people are demanding too much! Another thing, people in Vietnam don't realize the blood and sweat the overseas Viets spill for a few bucks.

  51. Neither Heidi or her Mother's family are in the wrong. This is a classic culture clash! This is what happens when someone travels to a very different place. I wouldnt blame Heidi for having the reaction she did to it, and dont forget all of the pain of being an adopted child in her situation. Her facilitator should have warned her and Heidi should have read up more on Vietnam. She also should have absolutely not worn all of those chunky rings she did, that just says that she is fabulously wealthy to the average Vietnamese person.

    Even with warning and travel experience, I couldnt have imagined what Vietnamese people would be like. Coming from western culture, it was very hard to trust anyone because money ALWAYS came up and exchange was never even close to fair. It seemed like if they could, almost any Vietnamese person, from a five year old boy to someone's 'nice' old granny, would rob me and leave me for dead in the street! Its an uncomfortable feeling, but travel isnt always supposed to be comfortable. Neither is meeting your biological parents.

  52. I don't know why you people are saying ignorant things about Heidi? If you were in her shoes wouldn't you want to find out where your roots are?
    But on aside note I know exactly how Heidi feels, I've been back to Vietnam myself although I've been here in Canada almost all my life and the one thing I've noticed about the Asian culture is money literally walks and talks there. Everything is about money. I mean for crying out loud I was at a restaurant they wanted to charge me for using the restroom !! It was only worth maybe 10 cent US dollars but the fact is, that's how the country runs there.
    Heidi's brothers/sisters have lack of education so they didn't think what they were asking was out of the ordinary. But to us in North American asking for money right on the spot after being separated for 22 years is just too much.
    All I can say to Heidi is don't think any less of your roots just take it as it is and move on with your life, at least now you know your roots and also know how life would of been like for you if you were left in Vietnam.
    8/10 Doc. :)

    1. carpenter you better dont go to cheap and poor countries this will never happened when you spend your free times in LAS VEGAS
      this will never happened

    2. Lampiao, do you live in the U.S? How much effort do you give at work? People in Asia don't realize how hard life is in America.

  53. I felt you heidi, as a educated person you would have a better aunderstand about asian way of living, I am from sri lnka lived in USA for 13 years now, people back at home always have money problems. I help my family , some time never ends their money problems, but I keep my mom special, I think forget about all the help thay want, just a little bit of monthly for your mom once a year for your sister , brothers. I always tell them I do not have a "DOLLER TREE IN MY BACK YARD."

    Take your time, It has to come from you.

  54. to heidi: if you are living in america and have imdiate family members living in asia, its sorta like "automatic" to offer them financial support.

    its a sterotype in asia to look at people who live in a western country to be financially stable/richer so they ask for help.

    she should have offered help before they even asked for it. i mean how much worse of a living condition that her mother is living does she need to see b4 offering any imediate assistance? a $100 spent in vietnam definetely has more purchasing power than a $100 spent in america.

    to be fair. her sister or brother should have been more discrete about asking for money. be thankful on whats given to you. heidi isnt even that rich in america. great documentary.

    1. Heidi gave money to her sister. Her sister demanded MORE!


    1. No, as a Vietnamese, I thought her behavior was very appropriate. If you are not a Vietnamese living oversees, you will not understand the pain we feel.

  56. I am shocked beyond words about Hiep's reaction to love and oneness expressed by her maternal family and her biological mother.
    This story reflects insensitivity of Americans to all foreign cultures of east.

    After all what the poor Vietnamese needed was a few dollars to make their life better.
    300 Dollars can win freedom for a child prostitute in Cambodia and give her family a rice field that can give enough food to last for some years.
    Vietnam is not much different.

    She(Hiep) should understand that the intensity with which she loves her daughters, her own mother does love her.
    Why not she compare the lady who adopted her and did not give her any love with her own mother who showered her with love.

    I hated her last comment.
    "I have closed the door but not locked it"
    A true easterner will never go to a place where you are not welcome.

    If some one can give me the address of Hiep's mother in Danang, I will send her some money (even though I am out of work, retired and suffering from possibly cancer)

    Hemant Trivedi

    1. @Herman Trivedi Iam totally agree with you , but if I was the mom i would love to LOCK THE DOOR and trow the key in the deepest River , she don't deserve such a ........thing

  57. I know it is probably not so but it seems that every other country seems to think we, Americans, automatically have a lot of money just because we are American. I live in an area riddled with poverty. Over 50 % of the population is on some kind of govt assistance. Now I realize that even so we live a better life than a lot of other people in other countries. That being said we do not have enough income to both get by here in this country and support someone in another country. With the economy where it is now the same is true of the whole US. If we ever want to be the source of light and hope that we used to be to the rest of the world we have to take care of ourselves for a while. Memphis is about two hours up the road from me and is doing no better. Even people like these that seemed well off are really one or two checks away from ruin. The injection of billions of dollars into the money stream has created a temporary recovery I believe. Soon we will see another decline. Besides,we ceated this world of monetary value and class stratification and until we unbuild it we can not expect the haves to give an equal amount to the have nots.No one wants to talk about that though, just throw some American dollars at it- it'll be all right. Yeh, all right for you right now, what about tommorrow? Are you gonna support this person forever? If not you are just putting off the inevidable. Don't give them a fish, teach them to catch thier own. I'm all for that, I'll even volunteer to help but i'm not just giving away what I had to work for and I need to get by. She should have offered to help her mom find a way to have a better life, but she should not pay for it.

  58. Great doc, this should be filed under Psychology rather than Society. We casually employ mental models of other people that are more or less reflections of ourselves. If we are careless and not self-aware enough, then predictions of other people's behavior based on such narrow models are bound to fail and harm us.

    The trick is to realize that people, despite some universal traits and needs, are heavily shaped by their environment and the so-called "culture" (which is mostly a load of primitive rules-of-thumb passed across generations, a somewhat less idiotic sister of religion). Then erase those "silent inherited assumptions" as far as possible and hypothesize more freely about how others might behave given all known circumstances. Also take into account that *they* are very unlikely to drop their assumptions; it's always safer to think them not being as clever and self-aware as yourself. Treat other people like adults treat children, but don't let them notice. Granted, this converts you into an unemotional robot, but it surely protects from embarassment, disillusion, social pressure, dishonesty, and I dare say unhappiness. It even helps others by making you more appear more "considerate" and less-prone to committing "social blunders" in their eyes. There is also an alternative (shorter) route which is simply to give up on those people rather than spend efforts in "simulating" and "humoring" them.

    Both the protagonist and her Vietnamese family score low on my scale for acting before thinking (aka being "spontaneous").

  59. Sorry for my english,it is not my language,but I must say that this is an very,very interesting documentary witch revels such fundamental questions.I think that there is nothing wrong if somebody learns once in a life to share.She is 22 and when she went to Vietnam she couldn't expect to find a rich mother.She should be prepared to help,even if that was not her mother.I think that she should offer her help before thay asked for it.That would avoid that tragic,bad taste scene with crying.I am shure thay didn't expect a fortune from her,but some money by month.Why the money stands between people before verything else? If you look like that,this is not heartbreacking story,but cheap journey to yhe far-east.And I am asking myself what the solgers in Iraque are doing now?Are thay creating future documentaries witch are going to put our concience and criterions in question?

  60. Agreed, ssf. I don't think we're really thinking from her point of view if we claim its completely her fault she isn't able to provide some monetary support or have her mother live with her in America. If she could - she would have. However, she had a life in America as part of a history - but one where she did wish to know more about her biological mother and finally meet with her. However, her circumstances are that she has a family of her own, and her memories of a period of growing up ... American-style. Shouldn't we recognise that having to accept this sudden change came more than a reunion, to relive her past and ultimately - be happy with her family. Its really a pity that things went wrong due to the personal perspectives of "family", probably deriving from that cultural difference.
    Not as if things were bad enough due to the difficulties in communication (language differences), but the differences in the physical and human environment in Vietnam and the US broadens the bridge of accepting or "fitting in" into this land...
    For one though, I really do pity her mother. All she wanted was true love with her daughter, and being able to be close to her. Those ~20 years were much of a torture to her in itself, not as if she wanted to give Heidi up ... and she just wanted to let those days be the time she could make it up to Heidi, and learn more about her ...

  61. A very good documentary, but I must admit that I was waiting on the financial bug to raise it's ugly head. Heidi never asked to be born so why should she take on the financial burden of her birth family. She only wanted to find her root's and now her memorie's have been tarnished I feel very sorry for her.
    Linda ;-*

  62. I really felt for Heidi. She just wanted to know where she came from and reunite with her birth mother and siblings. That's it. If she had of known they would be asking her for money left and right she would of rethought that trip. I blame the lady that she went with. She should of told Heidi what to expect and more about the Vietnamese culture. Heidi and I are about the same age, both female, both of us have grown up in the same culture (the south) and she stayed a WHOLE LOT longer than I would of stayed. I doubt I would of made it 24 hours. So Heidi if your reading any of these comments here, I appauled you for enduring what you did. And for the above to say you are "emotionally immature" because you cried. Well, all I have to say about that is she was feeling the love from two mothers was conditional...the adoptive mother would only love her if she obeyed every house rule and the birth mother (and family) would only love and accept her if she gave them money. I would close that chapter of my life for good. She has a beautiful family of her own now. Concentrate on them.

  63. @ ziggy - "And being an economically spoiled and individualized Westerner, she has no understanding of real self-sacrifice. Compare her to her Vietnamese sister who has almost nothing but still serves her mother and the family. And yet this girl bawls like an infant because they asked for some financial help?"

    I was raised in a conservative southern household. I was taught that god helps those that help themselves. I am not religious but I see the wisdom in it.

    When someone asks me for money I consider it insulting as they are trying to take advantage of either my stupidity or kindness. Even as a child I got an allowance from chores. If I needed more money I asked to do more work. So once again I was taught its ok to ask for work but its not ok to ask just for money.

    As an American I was also raised that the parents ALWAYS sacrificed for the children. My father would starve to death in a cold ditch before asking me for money. I would never let that happen, but I have no doubt it would happen.

    If a stranger comes up to me and says they are my family and here is the address that I should start sending the check... I would kick them in the baby maker.

  64. When I found out that Heidi was ugly I stopped watching...

  65. sorry-didn't finish the paragraph after "locked it"- am just hoping, that with time, she WILL garner a deeper understanding.

  66. Perhaps it's just my own personality. More likely it's a combination of that plus my own intimate knowledge and exposure to Eastern Cultures-including Vietnamese. But I actually felt my own twinge of anger at Heidi's reaction; especially after she'd had time to really think about it, absorb her experience, and hopefully come through with her own, deeper understanding of her Vietnamese family. I suppose the fact that at the very end-she claimed that while she'd closed the door; she hasn't "locked it".
    I agree with Ziggy above-and I guess my heart & "pocketbook" are NOT "disconnected"-Not when it comes to those truly in need.
    I believe if Westerners would become more aware and learned about Eastern Culture: we'd be a better people for it.

  67. @ Ziggy

    I understand your disdain for western sloth, even though I am part of the problem. That said try and understand that since she was raised in America to her asking for the money when they hardly had met her cheapen the whole event. I understand that they meant no harm and come from a culture that is much more realistic and disciplined. But being raised in Tennessee your idea of family would include the golden rule, never lend money or do business with family. In the US we feel this reduces the family relationship as it should be about more than money. Don't get me wrong we lend family members money all the time but if someone you haven't seen in years asks for money as soon as you see them, it makes you feel like they just missed your money not you. It makes you wonder if the feelings they are conveying are from the heart or because they may need finacial help. I know this still seems petty or wrong to you but we mean no harm. Americans are tricked out of thier money left a right by emotional ploys in commercials, we have learned to disconnect our pocket book from our heart. It doesn't make your cultures way wrong nor does it mean we are wrong. We are just different.

  68. John, that's a ignorant comment. And many spellings have 5 different meanings depending the accents. It's like claiming "friend" almost means "sell" in Vietnamese.

    As a foreigner living in Vietnam and now having a Vietnamese family, I have to say the American woman needs to grow up emotionally. She said she didn't want to be the savior of the family, just "unite" with them - proving she doesn't understand at all what "family" means, particularly what being a part of a Vietnamese family in Vietnam means. It's not a collection of individuals who interact only when convenient, it is a unit that lives, works, grows, sacrifices and enjoys together. You can't pick from a Vietnamese family like it's a buffet.

    And being an economically spoiled and individualized Westerner, she has no understanding of real self-sacrifice. Compare her to her Vietnamese sister who has almost nothing but still serves her mother and the family. And yet this girl bawls like an infant because they asked for some financial help?At worst she could have just said, "Let me think about it and answer Mom later." For example, later when she was digging into Grandma's well-stocked fridge. (Nicely handled, director.) A few less video games and Mom can probably buy some meat too.

    Why didn't the American Vietnamese facilitator explain any of this to her before??? What family means, what they would expect from their rich Western sister, etc. Baffling. Or she simply couldn't grasp it?

    Excellent documentary, very well done. It would have been so easy to overstep and do it badly but it was perfect.

  69. her Vietnamese name with a few accent on it means rape-- hiep.