Vietnamese-Swedish woman wishes to find her mother after 31 years

Iris Dagger (Photo: private)

“My name is Iris Dager. My Vietnamese name is Nguyen Mai Thanh. I was born on September 21, 1992. I was adopted when I was 2 months old (November 1992). My adoptive father is a Swedish and my adoptive mother is an Icelandic, so I have the above two nationalities.”

This is what Iris shared with Vietnamese Dan Tri website a few days before she returned to Vietnam for the fourth time.

This time, more special than the previous ones, Iris will spend a month in her homeland looking for clues to find her real mother – who left her in the hospital 31 years ago. The only information her mother gave to Iris was her Vietnamese name: “Mai Thanh”.

“I was born at Hanoi Obstetrics and Gynecology Hospital. My mother left some information for the hospital’s nurses but they were not official information and I don’t know if they are completely accurate. According to the nurses, my mother’s name is Ngo Thi Dung. She was probably 18 years old at that time (which means she was probably born in 1974) and came from Gia Lam district, Hanoi,” Iris said.

Iris at the time she was adopted in 1992 (Photo: Private)

She assumed that her mother had left this information apparently because her mother thought Mai Thanh would care about it when growing up. This is one of the motivations for Iris to decide to find her mother after more than 30 years of separation, although she admits the clues she has are too few and uncertain.

After being adopted by the Dager family, Mai Thanh now lives in Sweden under her new name, in the loving arms of a multicultural family.

Under the guidance and nurturing of her adoptive parents – who gave her a wonderful life, Iris really feels happy. She has lived in Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, attended university in England and Scotland; working, traveling, volunteering in France, Greece, North-Macedonia, India, Kenya… She is currently a consultant for the Icelandic police agency, cooperating with international police agencies.

Although having a happy life, she admits her heart still feels a need for a piece, an answer to the question: “Who am I? Where do I come from?”.

Iris is expected to return to Vietnam from March 25 to April 25, 2023, spending a month to start following the clues. For the girl who has made many journeys to many parts of the world, this trip is full of excitement because she does not know what awaits her ahead.

“I feel really stressed, which I have never felt in my previous trips. I have been planning to return to Vietnam to find my mother for many years and now I feel this is very surreal. It’s so surreal that I can’t even imagine how crazy things would be if I was lucky enough to find my real mother, so I’m trying not to expect too much but just thinking about work. Being able to find my mother makes me extremely excited,” she shared.

In Iris’s memory, Vietnam is a place with many beautiful sights, friendly people and great food “that even a picky eater like me is infatuated”. Iris believes that the Vietnamese blood flowing in her body has made her a friendly, hard-working person like other compatriots she has ever met in her life.

“I used to wonder why my Vietnamese mother let me be adopted by someone else, but I have never blamed her for any reason. I have never felt angry or hurt because of this. I still admire her for making the hardest decision of her life, to let me go. I’m grateful that she was strong (when she decided to have me)”, Mai Thanh said when asked about her feelings towards her biological mother.

Through the media, Mai Thanh wants to send a message to her Vietnamese mother:

“If you read these words, I just want to say, you don’t have to blame yourself. To me, you are still a wonderful person. Although I tried to imagine and mentally prepare for every possible scenario when I found you, but I still can’t imagine what you went through when you decided to leave me. All I want is you can live a life full of love and happiness and that you were not obsessed with painful memories or regrets about me.”

“I really hope you will contact me to find me again. It means a lot to me because I really look forward to seeing you,” Iris shared.

Nguyen Mai Thanh has a month to find her biological mother in Vietnam before returning home. She wishes to receive help from other people and share her story so that she can find her mother faster. Readers if there is any information that can help, please contact her through email: [email protected]


About Viet Nguyen

Viet Nguyen is a writer for ScandAsia specialized in Nordic-Vietnamese bilateral affairs.

View all posts by Viet Nguyen

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *