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Bonjour Delayed

Posted on November 1, 2019, by Mary Louise Denny SL

From left, Phil Wise (Frank Antoine Marzan’s friend from Michigan), Frank Antoine, Susan Carol McDonald, Asamu Johnson, Frank Antoine’s biological father, and Frank’s wife, Inesia Marzan, are all smiles after their visit with Susan Carol. Frank Antoine and Inesia were able to put another piece of Frank Antoine’s family puzzle together, and Susan Carol saw another one of ‘her babies’ as a grown man, happy and alive. (Photo by Mary Louise Denny)

1973, Saigon, Vietnam, New Haven Nursery

 A newborn, male, was dropped off at New Haven Nursery. Susan Carol McDonald was the director/nurse at New Haven. She logged the baby into the register that she kept, as she did with every child that lived at New Haven. “Name: Frank Antoine. Arrival February 6, 1973. From Allambie (another nursery in Saigon for older children). Left May 19, 1973 to France. Marzan family.”

June 2019

Susan received a message from a woman in France who is married to Francois (Frank) Antoine Marzan. She had been looking for Susan because her husband had just located his biological father through DNA testing. The biological father lives in Grand Rapids, Mich., is a blues musician and also had put his DNA in the “bank.” The match had been made! Frank Antoine, his wife and their two children were coming to meet the biological father, and they also wanted to come to St. Louis to see Susan. 

A DNA match in these circumstances is no small miracle. Vietnamese adoptees are sending their DNA in growing numbers. DNA from fathers is not common, and practically impossible from birth mothers.

August 2019

Frank Antoine and Inesia Marzan came to our house with Asamu Johnson, the biological father. They had spent a week in Grand Rapids with their “new” family. Frank spoke some English, Inesia spoke English, and she translated much of the conversation between Frank and Susan. 

Frank said, ‘This is the first time I have touched anything and any person who knew me as an infant.’

At one point, Susan showed them the register she had kept. They paged through it looking for Frank’s entry. When they found it, Frank 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.

I had mentioned to Frank Antoine that he resembled his biological father. They both beamed, and Frank said this is the first time he resembled anyone!  

They stayed all day, looking through Susan’s “Vietnam room,” photos of New Haven Nursery and other 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, well, satisfaction. Frank Antoine and Inesia felt they had put another piece of the puzzle together; Susan had seen another of “her babies” as a grown man, happy and alive.

Mary Louise Denny SL

Mary Louise Denny SL

Mary Louise and Susan Carol McDonald SL have lived in St. Louis for the past 20 years. A nurse, Mary Louise has assisted many Loretto members with their health needs. She also traveled to Vietnam several times accompanying Susan in Susan's work with those orphaned in the Vietnam War. Noted Mary Louise, "I have learned a lot from Susan and continue to be amazed at her compassion and love."
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