War is always full of hardships and struggle. Unfortunately, the world has been full of wars throughout history and millions of people have sacrificed their lives in them. Throughout U.S. history, many honorable soldiers risked or lost their lives for the freedom of their nation and hundreds of thousands of soldiers continue to put their lives at risk. One of the most tumultuous wars that American soldiers fought in was the Vietnam War.
The Vietnam War took place between 1955 and 1975. It was fought between the communist Vietnamese South, the Viet Cong, and the anti-communist North also know as the People’s Army of Vietnam. Both sides were fighting to reunite the country but wanted to rule with opposing the ideologies. The United States got involved in the war with the goal of preventing the communist side from taking over. The war was not a popular one for the American people and there were many protests against the War. Before President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, he stated that he was not interested in getting involved in the war. After The President died, President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in and he turned his focus toward the war and he said about the U.S. involvement, “The battle against communism…must be joined…with strength and determination.”
58,220 American soldiers died fighting for the freedom of the Vietnamese people. However, back in the U.S., many people were against the war effort. While many soldiers died in the war, it was also a time of turmoil for the citizens of Vietnam. Their lives were turned upside down as they were living in a war zone and many innocent civilians died in the midst of the battle. For one Vietnamese woman, the war changed her life forever. The woman gave birth to a illegitimate child that she never thought she would see again. Why was her son taken away from her and would the two ever reunite?
An American soldier
While the Vietnam War was raging, one Vietnamese woman was experiencing her own personal issues as a result of the war. The woman’s name is Thuy-Nga Thi and during the war, she fell in love with an American who was serving in the war effort. He was charming and handsome and the two began to develop a relationship, which Thuy-Nga’s father was not happy about.
An unexpected surprise
With the chaotic war raging all around her, their relationship gave Thuy-Nga some hope and joy during a dark time. However, that happy relationship ended too soon as her military boyfriend got transferred to a different base in Vietnam. Before the American soldier was taken away from Thuy-Nga, she fell pregnant. She was only seventeen years-old, un-married and expecting a child. This was not accepted in her family as well as her community and the young mother was not given many options by her father.
An unhappy father
Needless to say, Thuy-Nga’s father was not happy about her daughter’s unexpected pregnancy out of wedlock. Her father was upset at every aspect of the situation, including that the child’s father was American and that his daughter was going to become a young, single mother. While Thuy-Nga wanted to keep the child, she was still a child herself and she was living in her father’s house and had to obey his rules.
Two loses at once
Thuy-Nga was not given the choice to keep her son. Her father was certain that the child would be viewed negatively in their town and he himself did not think well of the child. After Thuy-Nga gave birth to her son, her father immediately took him away and the young mother believed she wouldn’t see him again. At this point, Thuy-Nga had lost two people she loved, her son and the boy’s father.
A normal life
When the child named Kirk turned two he got a chance at a bright future when he was taken and adopted from his Vietnamese orphanage by an American couple. The Kellerhals took the little boy who had no father or mother home with them and raised him as their own. He was raised in Texas and graduated from high school. Kirk then attended a public university in Austin and lived a happy life with his adoptive parents.
He thought his parents were killed
Kirk could not imagine that he would ever be reunited with his birth parents. He believed that they were killed in the war or that they had died from other reasons. Kirk was now 47 and accepted the fact that he would never know his birth parents. He had moved on from the fact that he was born an orphan and was enjoying his life. There was not a point in thinking about his real parents as he believed he would never know them.
Building his family
Kirk accepted his adoptive parents and began to build his own life and family. He married and was the father of a son named Andrew. He had been living with his family in Virginia Beach since 2010 and had a happy life. He turned his hobby into his job and worked in multimedia in video editing and photography. He never could have imagined how much is life was about to change.
His mother was searching for him
While Kirk was moving on with his life and had forgotten about his birth parents, his mother Thuy-Nga always had her son in the back of her mind. She was a very religious woman and she constantly prayed that she would be reunited with her long lost son. She only had a few seconds with her son after his birth and she desperately wanted to meet him and know who he had become. A heartbroken Thuy-Nga was always searching for her son.
Thuy-Nga built her life
Although her son was always in her thoughts, Thuy-Nga had to move on too. Shortly after Thuy-Nga birthed her child, she moved to the United States where she met her husband William Nibblett. They got married in 1971 and William was employed in the Air Force for over two decades. The couple had two children a daughter named Tina and a son named CJ.
Posting on Facebook
Thuy-Nga’s family knew about Kirk and they knew how much she wanted to find him. Her daughter Tina decided to join in on the search for Kirk and turned to social media for help. Tina decided to post a picture of herself on Facebook holding a sign giving information about her lost brother. She did not know his American name so she put his original name his mother gave him, Tran Van Hung. The post went viral and was shared over 10,000 times. While she received the names of people who could be her potential brother, none of them were Kirk.
Turning to DNA
After they did not receive any answer from the Facebook post, Thuy-Nga came up with a new plan in order to find her son. Thuy-Nga turned to a genealogy website and looked at a DNA family tree program in an attempt to track them down. The website has many options for different ethnic backgrounds and it can help its users track down family members. It is also an extremely popular DNA matching site.
Kirk joins the website
Meanwhile, Kirk was not really thinking about searching for his birth parents. He did not want to try due to the thought of failing or finding out something he did not want to know. However, Kirk was interested in discovering things about his parents and his birth home, but he used traditional methods to do his research. Eventually, Kirk’s wife asked him to try searching on the internet and that is when he joined the online DNA program.
It’s a match
Only a few days after Kirk joined the online program, he found that he was sent an email saying that they found a potential match. Kirk was stunned when he read what the match was for. “It said parent-child match. I just kind of shook my head and said that’s a mistake. That’s impossible.” Kirk, who believed that his mother had died, now got the surprise of his life and he realized that his mother was still alive and looking for him.
She always had faith
It was not only Kirk who was surprised. Thuy-Nga could also not believe how lucky she got. For almost 50 years she searched for her son and now she was closer to finding him than ever due to an online program. Thuy-Nga “I knew that God would answer if I just keep faith and keep believing. God sent my son to me. I remember in the Bible it said knock and it shall be opened, ask and you shall receive. I wouldn’t let go.”
Meeting face to face
Thuy-Nga finally had the opportunity to meet her son! She could not wait to meet him and the two set up a date to be introduced. Thuy-Nga lived with her family in San Antonio and Kirk and his family were in Virginia Beach. The mother and son were finally about to meet and neither of them could hide their excitement.
A long trip
While stilled stunned at the news that she found her son after so many years, Thuy-Nga and her husband began packing for their trip to Virginia Beach. There must have been quite of lot of anxiety and excitement throughout the 23 hour car tip as Thuy-Nga had a lot of time to think about how the reunion would go. They made the long journey through 8 states and Thuy-Nga could not wait to meet Kirk.
Meeting his mom
Thuy-Nga was not the only anxious person. Kirk was also getting nervous in the anticipation of the meeting. Throughout his whole life, Kirk never imagined this day would come and after almost 50 years, he was going to meet the mother he thought was dead. Kirk waited for his mother to arrive and thought about how the encounter would go. Would the two even get along?
An emotional experience
The big day was finally here and Thuy-Nga was about to meet the child she was forced to give up. Kirk waited anxiously in his driveway for the car to pull up and when Thuy-Nga stepped out of the car, neither of them could contain their emotions? With just one look at Kirk, Thuy-Nga knew he was her son and she lovingly embraced her child.
A long awaited reunion
While Kirk was waiting for his mother to arrive, it was clear that this was an emotional experience. After waiting for almost half a century, this was the moment where he would meet his biological mother. He said of the moment, “This is pretty surreal. Less than an hour and it’s been 48 years. This is going to be the longest hour of my life.” This was also a moment that Kirk never thought he would experience and he did not know what to think.
Not letting go
In the moment where she hugged her son for the first time, Thuy-Nga was humbled and thanked God. She said, “Thank you so much God, thank you, Jesus. I know you knew where my son is.” She could not control the tears from streaming down her cheeks as she held on to her son tighter and would not let him go. Kirk did not let go either.
The meaningful moment
After they were reunited, Kirk and his mother sat down with CBN for an interview. Kirk recalled the moment he first saw his mother saying,“To see her pulling up, I don’t want to say it was an out of body experience, but it was pretty darn close. It is almost like living a dream.” After so many years of hoping and searching, Thuy-Nga’s dream finally came true and it turned out to be a dream for Kirk too.
Her prayers were answered
Thuy-Nga believes that God was the reason for her reunion with her long lost son. She said, “I just knew that it was my son because I prayed and he answered. Just keep continue on believing and sooner or later god will open that door. (It’s been) 48 years for us, but for God it’s not.” Throughout her whole life, Thuy-Nga never gave up hope and she knew that eventually she would find her son.
The rest of the family
After the initial meeting, Kirk and his mother began to speak and he realized that he had siblings that he never knew about. Kirk was not only gaining one new family member but several. Kirk was unaware that his sister Tina posted on social media and he did not know she existed until he met Thuy-Nga. Thuy-Nga was excited to introduce Kirk to the rest of his family and Kirk was excited to meet them.
Reuniting the whole family
Soon after Kirk met his mother, he was able to find his biological father. The mystery of the nameless serviceman was finally about to be revealed. Kirk assumed that both of his parents and Thuy-Nga never heard from the father of her child after the war. The serviceman’s name was Skip Soule and now they were all about to be together for the first time ever.
All on camera
Kirk arranged a meeting with his father and invited Thuy-Nga to come along to meet the man she had not seen in almost 50 years. Kirk, Thuy-Nga and her husband William all went to visit Skip in his home. When Thuy-Nga walked into Skip’s house she said, “Wow, I would never recognize you.” She then turned to Skip’s grandchild and said, “Hi sweetie. I don’t know who you are, but I’ll give you a hug.”
An unexpected reunion
Skip’s front room of his house was now the meeting place for a family separated by war. A father, mother and son were finally reunited after years of not even knowing if they were alive. Kirk was taking in the beautiful moment and said, “This is awesome,” to which his father replied, “Yeah, it is.” This whole time, Skip never even knew that Thuy-Nga got pregnant and now he was standing next to the son he never knew he had.
While this was the first time Kirk met his father, it was also a reunion between two people who were once in love, Thuy-Nga and Skip. Since their brief relationship, both of the parties had moved on and built new families. Thuy-Nga had two children and Skip had many grandchildren and was never aware that Kirk existed. While the reunited family embraced, Skip turned to Thuy-Nga and said, “You’re still beautiful. That’s all that counts.”
Kirk must have been overwhelmed meeting his parents for the first time but now he was about to meet many more relatives he never knew existed. Kirk took a trip to New York in order to meet his new half siblings. Family is a very important part of Kirk’s life so he did not miss this opportunity to get to know his siblings. He first met his sister Amy and then his brothers Brian and Patrick.
When Kirk met his long lost relatives, he realized they were related as soon as he saw them. Kirk could tell the family resemblances immediately and he posted a caption in a picture of him and his brother on Facebook saying, “Yes…I know.. the similarities between Pat and I are… INSANE!” Patrick and his wife live in Syracuse and they enjoyed their time getting to know Kirk.
More reunions to come
After the whole ordeal, Kirk made a post on Facebook explaining how he felt about finally meeting his parents. He wrote, “The amazing story of how God is working to reconnect me with family I didn’t even know existed continues to unfold….the dust is FAR from settling…The conversations I’ve had with them in the past couple of days has again been a living testament to the real living truth of Jeremiah 29:11! We are working on “Family Reunion – Part II”! I love you guys!”