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A miracle meeting brings sweet tears

Posted on December 7, 2021, by Christina Manweller

Three men and two women stand together, smiling, for the photographer.
From left, Phil Wise (Frank Antoine Marzan’s American friend), Frank Antoine, Susan Carol McDonald SL, Asamu Johnson (Frank Antoine’s biological father) and Frank’s wife, Inesia Marzan, feel a rush of emotion after their visit with Susan Carol.
Photo by Mary Louise Denny SL

1973, Saigon, Vietnam, New Haven Nursery

The newborn was dropped off at New Haven Nursery where Susan Carol McDonald SL was the director. She logged the baby into her register, as she did with every arrival.

“Name: Frank Antoine. Arrival February 6, 1973. From Allambie (another nursery in Saigon). Left May 19, 1973 to France. Marzan family.”

June 2019, Missouri and France

Susan received a message from France. Francois (Frank) Antoine Marzan had just located his biological father through DNA testing. His father, Asamu Johnson, is a blues musician living in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Frank Antoine, his wife Inesia, and their two children were coming to the U.S. to meet Asamu, and they wanted to visit Susan in St. Louis.

A DNA match in these circumstances is no small miracle. Though Vietnamese adoptees are sending in their DNA in growing numbers, DNA submissions from fathers is not common, and is practically unheard of from birth mothers. The fact that Francois Antoine and his father had each submitted their DNA and connected was, truly, remarkable.

August 2019, St. Louis, Mo.

Frank Antoine and Inesia came to the house Susan Carol shared with Mary Louise Denny SL. They brought Asamu, Frank’s biological father. They’d just spent a week in Grand Rapids with their “new” family.

Mary Louise Denny SL shares about Frank Antoine and Inesia’s visit to Susan Carol:

Susan showed them the register. When they found Frank’s entry, he was holding Susan’s hand and with his other hand was running his finger over his entry. He began to cry. Susan teared up. Frank said, “This is the first time I have touched anything and any person who knew me as an infant.” Tears all around.

They stayed all day, looking through Susan’s “Vietnam room,” photos of New Haven Nursery and the babies, caretakers and so on. Susan answered many of the questions they had about that time in Vietnam.

When they left, there was a great feeling of satisfaction. Frank Antoine and Inesia felt they had put together another piece of the puzzle and Susan had seen another of “her babies” as a grown man, happy and alive.

With thanks to Mary Louise Denny SL.

Christina Manweller

Christina Manweller

Editor of Loretto Magazine, Christina’s nonfiction and poetry has appeared in numerous publications. For many years she served as Director of Communications for a Colorado-based peace and justice organization. Her background also includes English and writing instruction at a local community college, digital and print design work, and photography. One of her joys is visiting the Loretto Motherhouse once or twice a year.