Vietnamese reunited with Taiwanese dad
January 23, 2008, 12:00 am TWN
TAIPEI, Taiwan -- A Vietnamese caregiver has been reunited with her Taiwanese biological father after 40 years of separation thanks to an old photo, a gold ring and aid from a kind-hearted police officer.
Tran Thi Kham came to Taiwan for the first time in 2004 to work as a caregiver, harboring a dream of finding her father whom she had never met. After many twists and turns, she discovered that her first employer, Tsai Chao-han, was in fact her biological father.
According to Tran, she was raised by her birth mother's sister, who kept secret her origin until the eve of her marriage in 1989. Her aunt told her that her birth mother met her father in Hong Kong in 1967. Her mother was pregnant when she had to return to her hometown in northern Vietnam to care for her ailing mother. At the time, Vietnam was mired in a civil war, so the Taiwanese man did not accompany his lover to Vietnam and instead gave her his photo and a gold ring as mementos.
Her mother was unable to return to Hong Kong and died two months after giving birth to Tran. On her deathbed, she asked her sister to care for her daughter and divulged that the man in the photo was Taiwanese and the baby's father.
After learning her story, Tran said she vowed to find her biological father. She later gave birth to a daughter and a son, but her marriage was not a happy one. She often fell victim to domestic violence and was the family's only breadwinner. She decided to travel to Taiwan to realize her lifetime wish after her two children grew up.
Through the arrangement of manpower agents, Tran was employed by the Tsai family in Taipei County's Hsinchuang City to care for Tsai's wife, who was disabled after suffering a stroke.
Seven months later, the woman died and Tran went to work as a caregiver on the outlying island of Kinmen.
In late 2005, Tran told a police officer at Kinmen's Chincheng police precinct, Ku Ke-ya, while he was conducting a household call, that she had lost her most important mementos that might help her find her father.
Through their conversations, Ku had the idea that the articles might have been left in the home of Tran's first Taiwanese employer, so he telephoned Tsai and asked him to search for Tran's bag in which she kept the photo of her father and the ring.
Tsai found the bag in his late wife's bedroom and out of curiosity and with Tran's consent, opened the bag and found the photo — of himself in his 30s. On the back of the photo was inscribed his name and date of birth.
Tsai, now in his late 70s, then traveled to Kinmen to meet Tran with the assistance of Ku. After listening to Tran's life story, a tearful Tsai told a baffled Tran that she is his daughter.
Subsequent DNA tests proved their blood relations. Tsai was originally scheduled to accompany Tran to Vietnam earlier this month to complete legal procedures for recognizing Tran as his daughter, but a relapse of his heart disease ended his travel plan. Tran returned to Vietnam alone in mid-January in the hope of changing her nationality.
Ku told CNA reporters Tuesday that he is hopeful the Taiwan government will provide assistance for Tran to obtain Taiwanese citizenship so that she can return to Taipei to care for her senile father.
A photo of young Tsai Chao-han kept by Tran Thi Kham when she was searching for her father in Taiwan. (CNA)
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