This is me meeting my sister Thuy from Vietnam for the very first time. 46 years ago my father got Thuy’s mother pregnant, and then left and went back to the USA before she was even born. Our father never saw Thuy in the flesh, he died four years ago.
Meeting Half Sister from Vietnam
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Thanks to family trees online, and then genetic testing, Thuy found me, asked me to confirm what she thought, the results came back that beyond any reasonable doubt, we are brother and sister.
This video documents our first time meeting each other, from my point of view, starting out at the Tampa Airport all the way through to two months after the meeting for the first time reflecting back on the experience and what has happened since then.
My favorite part of the video is where Thuy talks about what her life was like in Vietnam growing up with the unknown father, of the losing invading army with an adoptive family.
This is where we talk about it in the hotel and the MGM Grand in Detroit. I love this talk we had and we are honored you are here to experience this with us.
I watched a video like this on the plane flight before I met Thuy and I cried for about 30 minutes watching the beauty and love in that story as children reconnected with their families after years of not knowing who their parents and their siblings were.
If you like anything that you see in this video, will you please leave a like on the video because that will help you feel good that you are doing something to empower more of us to experience the love and joy we share in this story?
If you like this half as much as we have enjoyed making this and sharing this with you, I think you will love it.
Thank you very much for starting this with us, we are honored to have you as a part of our story and we hope you enjoy it.
At the Tampa International Airport – Parking lot
Will you join me on my adventure as I go to meet my half-sister from Vietnam for the first time because you might love taking this journey with me?
At least, if you are like my wife, she wishes she could come along, she thinks this whole story is great and I hope you like it.
I’m in the car right now at the Tampa International Airport in Florida, which is in the USA. The day I’m making this is May 25, 2018.
My wife has been waiting to fly first class and she was hoping to do it together the first time, and I dashed all those hopes. We had a good conversation about that.
What’s happened today?
I’ve cried three different times today.
That’s like from the tears actually beginning to stopping.
“I think that’s wimpy, that’s weak man, it unlocks godlike superpowers.”
I will tell you, a superpower not to get aggravated, to stay calm, to genuinely enjoy life all day.
It’s emotional, my dad has died four years ago, my half-sister who was fathered in Vietnam while he was at war, never got to meet him at all, just found me about two months ago or a month ago or so via DNA testing.
After years of research, we came in at a 21% match, which is a half-sibling, or that kind of match could also be an aunt or an uncle or a grandparent.
She is definitely not my grandparent and pretty unlikely to be an aunt or an uncle, because my dad was the only one over in Vietnam.
It’s really emotional, my wife Laura is eight months pregnant, I’m just saying goodbye to her and my daughter Madeline who is almost three years old.
I love being at home, we just moved, we got a new home for our expanding family, our son is due in a month. Of course, I’ve had some fears, am I going to miss his birth?
We have talked to him because I’ve read lots of books and he can hear us, he’s not just a little helpless baby in there.
His soul is actually not so fixed in his body like my soul is real committed to that particular spot, but he can move around, we have talked to him, “We’d like to schedule your birth in about four weeks from now. Would that work for you? That would work really well for us.”
I’ve had some fear that he will just come out and get born while I’m gone.
I’m grateful I spend so much time with my wife and daughter every day.
I realized the separation anxiety missing them. I cried watching my daughter just play this morning, which it’s a beautiful thing to just love.
That’s where I’m at now.
I love my life and maybe talking about it, you love it too.
I got “Daring Greatly“ by Brené Brow, I hope my bookmark stay in it good.
I’ve been working on this for like a year.
This is my bookmark from my friend Liz and TK’s wedding, I love the bookmark. It’s just my face sitting in a photo booth expressionless, it’s great.
I also got “Drop the Rock… The Ripple Effect.“
I go to AA every day and that’s a fact of my life.
I’ve also got a documentary to watch on the lost children of Vietnam that my sister recommended. I’ve got three sisters now, I just discovered.
I got two older half-sisters from Dad’s first marriage. I have a brother from Dad’s marriage with my mother, and then an older half-sister from Vietnam.
I didn’t feel like, growing up, I was from that big of a family because I didn’t grow up around my half-sisters, but I’m one of five of Dad’s children, one of two of my mother’s.
I could go on for like an hour and a half of stuff.
At the Tampa International Airport – Checking in
It’s 40 minutes later now, I just got checked in, I just got my lunch here.
I got black unsweetened tea, I got unsweetened green tea, I got two fruit cups, and then I got a salad, I’m not even getting any dressing with it, it’s $32.
You might think, “Well, why would I do that?”
The only consideration I have for flying with what I’m eating is how I’m going to feel. I’ve learned the hard way if I eat crap, generally, but especially before I fly, I will likely not feel very good either.
I ate this big bag of peanuts with a whole bunch of extra added sugar and I felt bad on that next plane flight.
According to my experience and calculations, the unsweetened teas with two fruit cups and a salad, this is good odds of both keeping me full for several hours because I eat mostly whole plant vegan which means I’ve got a giant stomach capacity.
I’ve knocked out a whole pound bag of kale at once.
I need to eat quantity, and it needs to be good stuff.
I calculated that two fruit cups and a salad should fill me up that way completely. When I get to Detroit, I should still be full for hours from now, and it’s all good high-quality food that helps me have a good chance to live an ideal health life and be there for my family.
I was going to say not die like my father did several years ago. We are all gonna die, it’s just trying to be around for stuff, I don’t know. We are immortal spiritual beings.
I actually looked at most all the restaurants to see where I could get these healthiest options too.
My gate is back down over there, I will try to just jump down. If you are going to eat unconsciously, might as well dump down healthy stuff, so I’m going to probably shovel this food down my throat.
I’m going to move over closer to the boarding gate.
“Jerry, this is all pointless crap.”
At the Tampa International Airport – First-class seat
I am up in first class now in the very first seat.
Now, technically, it’s one Delta, so that’s technically one out, but might be the first seat.
Anyway, I’m in the first row, first time in first class.
It’s pretty much the same, except there is a lot more space, which is really nice, so I guess that makes a big difference.
You get free alcohol too, which five years ago, I would have loved that, but now I don’t drink, so then I’m missing out, you might say.
I’ve got half of my salad left here, which I ate with no dressing.
I got my grape thing over here.
It’s nice there is so much arm room here, I could put like four different drinks on it. I have tons of leg room, I can stretch out. My seat is wide, I think I could slip up someone else in the seat with me, which is cool.
We just landed and I had an amazing experience during the plane flight, I just wrote about it some.
At the Detroit Airport – Renting a car
I’m here at Enterprise Rent-A-Car, which is nice because I was wondering where is the best spot to rent a car in Detroit.
At the airport, I rented at Budget, I rented at Payless, and Enterprise is my favorite now.
Let me just show you what I did.
I got the pay… it was $10 more than the cheapest option and you just basically let them give you whatever car they want to.
Look at this, yes, they did give me a Dodge, I think.
What is this? I think it’s a Charger.
It’s a Charger, it’s so sexy.
It’s really, nice two doors.
Speaker: That’s the Challenger.
Yes, the Challenger, I’m really excited.
Yes, I did the pay, whatever you want. I did the cheapest plan too.
I’m really happy, though.
Thanks, man I’m doing a blog about it too.
Speaker: You got a great pick.
Speaker 2: That’s right, we’ll pick you up and take care of you.
That’s how life works, isn’t it?
You get everyone on a good day or a bad day.
This is a good day, though, I’m really thankful for the Challenger because I drive a four-door compact as my main car, a Toyota Corolla. Then my other car is a RAV4, which is really nice, but it’s a family car.
It’s cool when I’m going on a little adventure.
Here I get my two-door sports car without having to pay the big money or the inconvenience, and having skills you learned in your previous life.
Oh, man this is sexy and I know it. This is really nice.
How do I turn the air conditioner down in this thing?
Good, that turn the air conditioner.
I’m grateful for this sports car today, a 160 miles an hour on the dashboard, what am I going to do with that?
I told the guy that rented it to me, what was his name?
I told Dominique, I’m going to drive this car like an old lady. I’m going to go five miles an hour below the speed limit because I used to be a police officer, and I’ve done enough fast driving in a hurry for the rest of my life. I don’t need the speed or be making a scene.
Someone else just pulled around like screeching the tires in a parking lot.
I might exaggerate a little bit, someone was just driving fast in the parking lot, I don’t need to do that.
I’m going to drive this car slow and just enjoy being in it because I don’t know the next time I will be in a sports car, it might be a while.
I think it has been a few years since I’ve been in one.
I used to want a sports car in college, but then I didn’t want sports car payments and utility. This has a backseat too, which is nice in case I want to take someone the size myself around.
I was thinking about using Uber, but dude, for $200 for five days, I get to rent this car and I wouldn’t even make one month of payment on this.
Sometimes you dive too deep into things, the stuff I say doesn’t make any sense, and that’s okay.
We are having fun.
The big day!
Today is the big day, I am meeting my sister from Vietnam for the first time. I’m hoping to meet her in about four hours.
It has been an hour since I woke up, I woke up at about 10:30 today.
I don’t remember the last time I’ve slept until 10:30.
It’s nice to sleep in, I wrote a post about it on Steem last night.
I had a vulnerability hangover this morning, Brené Brown calls it.
I’m thinking about, “Oh, man, did I shoot too much in that post? Will I offend people?”
I remembered as soon as I wrote about it yesterday, as soon as I had the experience on the plane, I was so sure I needed to share it, but then my rational mind over the next hours brings in all these what-ifs and potential problems and scenarios.
I’m grateful today that I have the courage to just share and think about what might be the very most helpful thing to share instead of thinking about how it might affect me.
I remember the things that have helped me the most to share them, that’s why I take the time to film this today because I hope it might be useful for you to see in your life, I’m not sure exactly how, so I just try to tell the story.
I’m excited to see how that goes.
I cried so much yesterday, I’m pretty relaxed and peaceful today, which is nice.
Although I’ve got my Kleenex.
I’ve got my Kleenex just in case.
It’s not technically Kleenex, it’s called mini tissues. I’ve got a box of mini tissues, in case we need to have some more runny eyes.
My cousin Alex
Alex and I, my cousin Alex, what’s up, Alex?
Alex: How is it going?
Jerry: Thank you for having lunch with me, we had lunch at Chive behind us here. We had a wonderful lunch together, we talked video games and all the fun stuff in life like finances, women and families, houses.
Alex: All good stuff.
Jerry: Alex has worked for like two or three weeks in a row and it’s the first day you had off, we just scheduled this last minute. This is a really good luck.
Alex: Yes, good lunch.
Jerry: It is a vegan place too, which is nice because Alex does not eat vegan. I didn’t think Thuy was going to be available, she’s a couple hours early, so Alex and I, we are going to go meet her right now. We are excited, how do you feel, Alex?
Alex: I don’t know. She is my cousin, and your sister, so I don’t know.
Jerry: We will see how we feel afterwards.
Meeting with Thuy
Jerry: Here we go. We just met. I don’t know what else to say.
Alex: I think you already did that.
Jerry: Yes, I’ve cried for an hour or two yesterday. Maybe there is more, I have Kleenex.
At the Racetrack
I’m at the racetrack now, I’ve got number four, so let’s see what happens with this.
So far the number four is pretty close to the back. I don’t know how to switch the camera view.
Kathy: I think I got this show.
Jerry: You think you got the show?
Kathy: I do, I do.
Jerry: Nice. Number four was pretty far in the back, I think these tickets are worthless now.
Kathy: Tell me what the numbers, I can’t wait that far.
Jerry: We don’t even know if they won or not which is funny.
Kathy: I think I might have won. I don’t know for sure.
Jerry: I’m not sure yet either.
Kathy: Well, they got away for it to be official.
Jerry: Confusing. I guess the judges go over it and see who won, then you run the odds through, and then you can go cash out your ticket.
Mike: Number three wins, right?
Jerry: Did number three win? I don’t know, which one did you bet, Mike?
Mike: Number three.
Jerry: You’ve got number three?
Jerry: Did number three win?
Mike: Yes, I got it, right?
Kathy: That’s great, Mike.
Jerry: Yes, that looks like three is up on number one.
Talking with Thuy
Jerry: You were born, you did not know who your father was. How long ago did you find out who you thought your father was?
Thuy: I think three or four months ago.
Jerry: You’re 46 years old and up until three months ago, you didn’t know who your dad was?
Jerry: Not a name or anything, just that he was an American soldier.
Thuy: No. I did know he was an American soldier, but I don’t know his name or had pictures, I had nothing.
Jerry: The only way we’ve got together was through the DNA testing, because if you didn’t have DNA testing, you wouldn’t have known where to look.
Thuy: I’ve been looking for my father for seven years ago.
Jerry: Because you grew up with… Your mother gave you up for adoption, you didn’t know who your father was.
Thuy: No, and I only know what my mom said. Until I grew up, I think 15, something about that, but 15. When she gets married with a Vietnami, her husband, and then she had one daughter and one son. I have one half-sister and half-brother on my mom’s side.
When I look at you, I say, “Hey, this guy look like me. I’m so happy.”
It was some time ago, I believe in God. God has eyes. He takes something and he gives you something good back. I have to believe that, that’s why I tell myself never do anything bad. I always loved the people around and have a lot people without nothing back. I did like to help out, but I don’t have anything back. They treated me so bad, but I still treat them well.
Jerry: Your adoptive family and the people around you?
Thuy: Yes. I want to pay them back because it’s nice to know they keep me in their family. They don’t treat good or nothing, but I remember, without them, I cannot grow up.
You compare with my mom, I don’t know who that is and I don’t know who my mom is. The only thing I know is my adopted parent.
Even if they are good or bad, they treat me so badly that I know I’m not belonging to that family, that’s how they didn’t love me. I understand that because I look different with them.
They looked at me like a monster or something. They worry about I bite them or whatever. Look like, “Oh, American soldier. Yes, don’t touch it. Don’t let it stand also because I didn’t know, maybe she can kill you.”
No, they throw a rock at me, anybody can hit me. I wanted to say something I remember. They hit me, I cry, but after that, I knew it. I don’t care how many people can beat me up or hang me up or whatever. I don’t cry for that, I deal with it, but I’m not dying, I still here today.
The more the people treat me bad, the more I learn, and that how I am stronger. I don’t want to be bad, I want to do anything. I’m hopeful because I want to raise my own family and be different what I am missing in my life.
The mother made me sad because I don’t know whom I belong to, then I’m so happy after I find out I have a family, brother, sister, and then I go make me happier. That’s the most important in my life now, I have nothing, I have more than that.
I’m starting to find my life, I have a good husband, good children, and I have a good girl. Something more than enough. Someday we have to die, and you die you can’t bring the money with you. The family is very important, but some people don’t understand that. The money has two faces. Left and right.
The good money can bring the family back together. The bad money can destroy your family, the money has two faces, but depend on how you want to use it. Family is very important. We have to connect a time.
I love my husband, I love all my children. I work hard. I never hang out with bad family, no smoke, no drinking, no dancing, no nothing. I just work hard, bring the money home or cook, do everything to hang out with husband and kid only.
Because I don’t want to waste my time for something I don’t need. Because sometimes you never know, you hang out with your family, you get a good thing back. I hang out with them back, and then you can turn your back like them too.
Find a way to survive, work hard, protect your family, don’t get hurt because I know I have a lot of battlefields in Nevada. I don’t want my children be looked like me. I want both of them, all of my children have more parents, mom and dad loving them and support them, give them everything in life if they need it.
Two months later
We are two months later now, after the original blog got filmed.
Yes, it has taken me two months to ask for some help to get all 12 or 14 of these videos edited and rendered together into one comprehensive story, plus film an after-action review because I didn’t film anything else after the last talk with Thuy.
I had a safe trip home, obviously, and our son was born shortly after this. I just talked to Thuy last night on the phone, we had a great conversation. We are all helping each other piece together the details. Thuy was able to talk to her mother for the first time in a while, I guess, maybe ever about this, and we are all comparing notes now.
Even my mother’s getting to help out with this because Dad told her Vietnam stories, and we are all trying to put our notes together and enjoying getting connected, getting the story heard. I think it helps a lot of us to know our family and to know our history.
Those of us who have that mostly filled in like me, it’s easy for people like us to take it for granted and forget that some of us either know nothing or very little.
It’s also big consideration that when all this got started in the 70s, how could they comprehend that years in the future, there would be something called genetic testing that would allow things like discovering the parents of parents who otherwise might not be able to be known any other way?
It makes me wonder what we are going to have in 30 years from now that right now might seem hard to imagine. It gives good motivation to me to live a life that is completely open and transparent that I’d be happy with anyone learning anything about.
Because in the future there is probably more and more technologies that will become available, that will allow us to find out almost anything and experience almost anything in the world.
I want to be my best self for that, so that’s what I work on every day.
This has been a wonderful learning opportunity, I ended up the day or so after I got home making apologies to all of my sisters because I got so excited about this trip, I wanted to meet Thuy and her husband Mike so much that I didn’t spend that much time thinking about how everyone else, especially my family in Michigan, my aunt, my other aunts and uncles, my sisters, I didn’t consider as much how this might be experienced from their point of view.
I see an opportunity to continue thinking more about the other end of what I’m doing. When I’m doing something, how does this affect my wife, how does this affect my daughter, my son?
How do all the things I’m doing affect other people?
That’s a delicate balance to not people please, to try to make everyone happy.
I’m very grateful that Jaya has offered to help me render all this footage together because with having the baby… We are lucky, thanks to Jaya, that this will ever get a chance to be released because I had this sitting on my iPhone for two months, and this might be one of the best videos I’ve put out that has a real storyline in it.
I’m grateful you have made it all the way to the end of this.
If you have enjoyed watching this video, will you please leave a like on it, because you will feel good knowing you are helping other people find it?
You are helping people who might submit their DNA tests to help more of us find our families, you might be helping inspire someone else to feel good about whatever their present situation and to feel hope for something.
Something has stuck with me, when Thuy was a child, her situation looked really hopeless with an adoptive family, with a disconnection from her parents.
If you look at it 40 something years later, things look really good in her life today. If that would have been hard to imagine, the life she has today with a husband and children that love her, and now even reconnected with all sides of her family, that would have been really hard to imagine 40 years ago when she was a child of the losing invading army with adoptive parents.
I try to keep that in mind today that my life in 40 years might be hard to imagine today, and it might most likely be hard to imagine in a better way. My mind often can easily picture a scenario 40 years in the future that looks miserable, but picturing a life that’s amazing in 40 years, that might be more than my mind’s imagination is likely to process.
I’m grateful for the chance to be involved in this story.
I’m grateful I made the choice to open my heart and accept this.
The most painful part of this process, which probably slowed me down from making any more videos, especially the last day seeing Thuy and Mike is, we felt a lot of pain that most members of our Dad’s family were not open to experiencing this.
I obviously was really excited about this, I get really excited about a lot of stuff pretty easily.
I’m like a child, that’s why I have a happy life because I get excited about stuff easily.
My aunt Kathy was very open and Madison saw us as you can see from some of the pictures. I think there is one, aunt Kathy here.
Most of the rest of the family, understandably and you could say regrettably, was not available or interested in meeting with Thuy on the trip.
Now, of course, we could have planned farther advance, some of these things need more time, to realize your father had another child that no one knew about. I understand that and I’m grateful I made the choice to just open my heart and embrace this amazing reconnection.
After having my heart closed for a lot of years to new experiences, I find that having an open heart most of the time my life is just full of joy, beauty and happiness because I’m open to most new things that come along.
Sure, I get hurt by things sometimes that I might have protected myself from with a closed heart.
Occasionally, something new comes along and I just close up to it, and that’s why we help each other, we help each other with things like that.
I’m at the risk of turning this into an hour of me talking about myself. I will wrap it up now.
Thank you very much for joining us on this journey.
We love you, we are grateful you have experienced this with us.
We hope this was helpful for you, to share our story here, and if you would like to talk about it, we hope you will participate in the comments.
Thank you, we love you, and if you want to keep following me, will you please subscribe to my YouTube channel and/or like my Facebook page because you might enjoy spending the next 10 years listening to this voice?
You might not also, just saying.
Edits from video transcript by Michel Gerard at www.michelgerardonline.com.