Sat. May 18th, 2024

The sisters never thought they’d see each other again.
In April of 1975, in the midst of the Vietnam War, it became clear that Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam, would eventually fall.

The People’s Army of Vietnam and the Viet Cong were approaching and rumors swirled that women with Amerasian babies would be targetted when these soldiers arrived.

So, whoever had the chance to evacuate the city didn’t have time to think twice.
Operation Babylift was a mass evacuation of children from South Vietnam. Although about 3,000 children managed to leave the country, there were another 20,000 Amerasians that were left behind.

Sisters separated when family fled war are finally reunited more than 40 years later

One of those children who didn’t make it to the evacuation planes was Rose.
Her father, an American soldier, her mother, South Vietnamese, and her sister Berni were all rushing to the planes when Rose suddenly disappeared.

The dilemma was heartbreaking for her mother. She could either leave with the rest of the family or stay behind to look for Rose, risking her life.

The decision was hard to make, but she finally left.

“I can’t even imagine making that choice,” said Berni Slowey, a Denver mom, documentary film producer, and business woman. “I have two sons, and I can’t imagine being in that position my mother was in.”

In the years that followed, the family grew, but there was always this gap in their hearts, they were terribly missing Rose.
After Rose went missing, the 2-year-old was found and adopted by a woman in Vietnam, and they, too, immigrated to the US when Rose- now renamed Vanessa- was 11 years old.

Vanessa’s stepmother brought her up as her own, and she never revealed the truth about how they ended up together until more than four decades later.

When Vanessa found out that the woman that brought her up was not her biological mother, she started searching for her biological family.
She even took one of the popular DNA tests, and that’s when she realized there was someone related to her who was alive and living in the US.

The cousin she had newly found was in Colorado. They got in touch, and he told her that she might have a sister.

Berni and Vanessa-Rose soon got on the phone and started sharing details about their lives, trying to put the puzzle together.

After that, the women took another, more precise DNA test, which showed that they were full sisters.

Although they were both extremely happy to have found each other again, there was sad news Berni had to share with her newly-found sister.

Their mother had passed away six years before, of what Berni believed was a broken heart.

“It felt like a thousand heavy weights dropped. It was like a big disappointment. And I was like, ‘I am only six years late,’” Vanessa said.

After countless hours on the phone, the two women met in person, months after they found out they were biological sisters.

Their reunion was deeply emotional, and the two women could not hold back their tears.

The two, along with the other siblings that were born when the family moved to the US, plan on making up for the lost time in the years to come.