A Vietnamese mother has been reunited in a tear-jerking scenes with the Australian son she left at an orphanage at four years of age in 1975.
Jamie Fry, who was raised in Adelaide after being adopted by an Australian family, finally got to hug his birth mother 47 years later at her home in Georgia, in the United States.
The tender mother-and-son moment showed her breaking into tears as she hugged Mr Fry, who was told she was dead when he started looking for her in his early 20s.
The remarkable emotion-charged scene was ‘closure’ for Mr Fry, now 51, who spent 30 years looking for her.
In the chaotic final weeks of the Vietnam War more than 3,000 children were airlifted out of the country and ‘into the arms of waiting couples in the US, Canada, Britain, Europe and Australia’.
The displacement of Vietnamese children was later dubbed ‘Operation Babylift’.
Jamie Fry, who was raised in Adelaide after being adopted by an Australian family, finally got to hug his Vietnamese birth mother 47 years later at her home in Georgia, in the United States.
After 47 years apart Mr Fry gets to embrace his birth mother, who is overjoyed. Her happiness quickly turns to grief and overwhelm as the moment sinks in.
Mr Fry eventually tracked his mother down using DNA tests from other adopted children who were at the same Vietnamese orphanage he was.
Do you remember this face? he asked his birth mother when he showed his childhood photos
He comforted his emotional long-lost mum in the most Aussie way imaginable in the segment, which was part on a powerful SBS special on adopted children reconnecting with birth family.
Mr Fry mum grabbed onto her son, saying, ‘Jamie. I’m very happy.’
Then visibly overwhelmed, she broke down.
‘You right?’ her son replied.
When they went inside his house for drinks and a meal, he asked his still-dazed mum, ‘How are you feeling?’
‘I feel good but I guess I don’t know,’ she said. ‘I see you and I cry.’
‘We’re here now,’ he told his emotional mum.
Jamie Fry (back left) with his American siblings. They reunited recently in Georgia
‘I want to say I miss him, I love him,’ Mr Fry told viewers.
Mr Fry also finally got to meet his brother and sister for the first time and shared a meal and drinks with them.
He took Carlton footy club memorabilia as gifts for his family.
Adopting children from overseas
Inter-country adoption has waned in popularity since the 1970s as concerns surfaced about corruption and the ethics of adoption processes in some cases.
Just 37 children were adopted in this way by Australian parents in 2020.
Australia has active inter-country adoption programs with 13 countries—Bulgaria, Chile, China, Colombia, Hong Kong, India, Latvia, Poland, South Africa, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and Thailand.
There is currently no agreement in place with nations Australians have adopted from including Vietnam and the Philippines.
He then sat with his mum showing her photos of his upbringing in far-off Australia.
‘Do you remember this face?’ he asked, pointing to his earliest photo.
Mr Fry was the son of an African-American soldier who served in Vietnam.
When the US army left Vietnam, Mr Fry’s mum was left unemployed with three children to raise. She made the heartbreaking decision to leave him at an orphanage.
He grew up in a middle-class family and went to a private school in Adelaide.
Growing up, he had identity issues and found it hard to get traction in his life.
‘I’m happy that he has married. He has a family and a job in Australia,’ his mum said.
‘It’s better than if he stayed in Vietnam, he’d have suffered.’
Mr. Fry admitted he sensed a lot of guilt in his mother.
‘The first time I hugged mum I could feel a lot of mixed emotions in her,’ he said.’
‘I think there is still a sense of guilt with mum, she hopes that I don’t hold anything against her, which of course I don’t.
‘Being a single female with a mixed race child back during the war things would have been tough.’
His mum explained. ‘It was hard, I was working for the Americans, but now they were leaving I had two children to take care of and no job.’
Mr Fry was told about his roots in his early 20s and given adoption papers that led him back to the orphanage.
He traveled there looking for answers soon after but admitted he felt he wasn’t accepted as part-Vietnamese.
He was also told his mother has died, but didn’t believe it.
Mr Fry eventually tracked his mother down using DNA tests from other adopted children who were at the same Vietnamese orphanage he was
Mr Fry (center) having drinks in the United States with his two of his American siblings
‘They had told me that my birth mother had passed away which didn’t feel quite right.
The breakthrough came when he got a DNA match to a half-brother in the United States just before Covid locked down the border.
Finally meeting his siblings was ‘brilliant’ he said.
‘[It was] something I’ve dreamed of all my life. I’ve got to know them over the years but the actual face to face and to be able to give them a hug and all of those things were absolutely brilliant.’
Adoption expert Jane Adams, from the Benevolent Society said the reality of being adopted could become an issue for that person at any point in their life.
‘Often at those big moments of identity, so firstly in adolescence, meeting their life partner, when their parent dies – so when big things happen it comes up for them again,’ she said.
‘It’s never really life threatening but it’s always there – it sits with them through every event, it’s part of who they are.’