Daughter from Danang

Daughter from Danang

Ratings: 5.72/10 from 36 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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Mary Kay Nafe
7 years ago

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.

9 years ago

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.

9 years ago

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

Matt Parke
10 years ago

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.

10 years ago

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.

10 years ago

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..

10 years ago

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.

10 years ago

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....................

10 years ago

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!

11 years ago

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!!!

11 years ago

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

11 years ago

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.

11 years ago

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....

11 years ago

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.

11 years ago

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.

11 years ago

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.

12 years ago

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.

12 years ago

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.

Ruth Anne Freeborn
12 years ago

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.

12 years ago

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

12 years ago

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.

12 years ago

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.

12 years ago

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.

12 years ago

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.

12 years ago

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

12 years ago

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.

Panda eat bamboo
12 years ago

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.

12 years ago

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.

12 years ago

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 :)

12 years ago

@ 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.

12 years ago

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.

12 years ago

@ 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.

12 years ago

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

12 years ago

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.

12 years ago

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.

12 years ago


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.

12 years ago

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.

12 years ago


12 years ago

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

Harry Tritt
13 years ago

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!!

13 years ago

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

13 years ago

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!

13 years ago

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'.

13 years ago

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.

13 years ago

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.

13 years ago

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.

13 years ago

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.

(Long )Chris Nguyen
13 years ago

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.

Hemant Trivedi
13 years ago

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.

13 years ago

>>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.